Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Idler, Nonday, March 2, 2015

A long time at sea

A DOZEN mermaids had to be rescued from a storm drain in 

Florida. They had got stuck there after crawling into culverts from a 

lagoon at a place called Satellite Beach.

Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the local 

fire department worked through the night to rescue the mermaids. 

They had to use earth-moving equipment.

Rain was forecast and there was thought to be a risk the mermaids 

could drown if the culverts filled with water - but fortunately the 

rescuers got them free in time.

Mermaids? Er sorry, not mermaids, manatees. But it's the same 

thing anyway.

Manatees are seal-like, platypus-like amphibians that live in 

tropical waters. Off Mozambique they're called dugongs.

Female manatees/dugongs are pretty nicely stacked and gave 

rise to the old seafarers' legends about mermaids. They're often 

upright in the water and when you've been at sea a long time they 

can be quite alluring.

In fact I'm sure I've spotted a manatee or two in the Street Shelter 

for the Over-Forties. They probably swim up the drains like the 

Florida ones.

These manatees can also be quite alluring. But you have to have 

been at sea a long time.


AT THE harbourside in Copenhagen they've got a statue of "The 

Little Manatee", based on the famous children's story by Hans 

Christian Anderson. 

Er, sorry, Little Mermaid I mean. (Oops! Saved by dugong!)

More kicks

A DELUGE of reader responses tells me Toffee Sharp was not the pioneer 

in the early sixties of the "round-the-corner" rugby place kick, with 

the instep instead of the toe of the boot. It was being done back in the 

fifties. There seems to have been a strong connection with soccer.

John Nortier says a fellow named Johnny Welbourne was using the 

round-the-corner kick for Mansfield High School, several years before 


Allan Coppin says a flyhalf named Cliffie Durant was doing it for 

King Edward back in 1957.

"He was always greeted by howls of derision from the opposing 

team's supporters on placing the ball and lining up the kick, only to 

be silenced by the effectiveness of his style."

Durant was also a soccer player and went on to play professional 

football  in Britain.

Brian Strode says Joey Farmer was using this style for DHS in 

1953, and was very accurate.

My old colleague Keith Ross says he was at Rhodes University in 

the late 1950s when Cradock Rovers came to play a fixture.

"These country yokels had a flyhalf who kicked in this peculiar 

fashion and we all laughed uproariously the first time he lined up 

the ball. But, by the end of the game, we had stopped laughing. He 

had converted four or five kicks from all angles to take the day."

Ron Coppin says Neville Butler played flyhalf for Glenwood in the 

early fifties and used the round-the-corner style with considerable 

success. He too played good soccer.

Derek Moe says he himself was using the soccer-style place kick 

in the late fifties (he doesn't say who he was playing for) and his 

friend Geoff in the UK had been doing the same since 1953.

"But let's give Toffee credit for bringing it to everyone's attention."

Meanwhile, Ian Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, plays bowls 

with Toffee Sharp, who tells him his style of kicking came about 

because his right boot hurt his toe, so he used his instep. Ian says 

he uses the same style to kick bowls on the green.

This sore toe thing is the tallest of tall stories.  I refuse to believe it, 

not even if Ian sets it out in verse.


IT'S their 50th

a celebratory pint.

He leans across and says: "Mabel, remember the first time we ever 'ad it? 

Against the wire fence round behind this 'ere pub?"

 wedding anniversary. They go down to the old Bull and Bush for 

"'Ow could I forget it, Bert?"

"Let's 'ave it there again, for old times' sake."

They make their way outside. A frantic coupling ensues. It lasts a long time. At 

last they break free and fall back panting and exhausted.

"Cor, that was livelier than the first time, Bert.""

"Yep. The fence wasn't electrified in them days."

Last word

I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to 

sit still in a room. 

Blaise Pascal

The Idler, Friday, February 27, 2015

Drones over Paris

THE French authorities are perplexed by the sighting of mystery drones in the 

sky over Paris at night. One was spotted above the US embassy, others near the 

Eiffel Tower and the Place de la Concorde.

There have been other reports in recent weeks. One drone was seen over the 

presidential palace not too long ago. The authorities have so far been unable to 

trace who the operators are. In the light of the Charlie Hebdo incident, it is most 


Clearly, this is a case for Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective. In fact 

he has already been engaged. Through close contacts I have with the French 

Surete, I am able to relay Poirot's preliminary report.


"In zis report preliminaire I am able to inform you zat the city of Paris indeed 

faces a most sinister plot revolutionaire.

"Ze drones are coming from across ze Channel Anglais. Zey come from a 

localitee in Londres, known as ze Drones Club.

"Ze Drones Club is inhabitee by dangereux revolutionaires led by un homme le 

nom Bertie Wooster. Wooster 'as accomplicees Gussie Fink-Nottle, Catsmeat 

Potter-Pirbright, Bingo Little and pSmith. Ze revolutionaire pSmith is dangereux 


"Ze Drones Club is estable by philosophe revolutionaire PG Wodehouse wiz aim 

to reverte ze world to le systeme feudale. Wooster 'as support intellectuale from 

ze butler compradoriste, Jeeves.

"Ze threat of ze Drones is real, Monsieurs . Call out ze Gendarmerie!"

Rugby weekend

A HECTIC weekend of rugby lies ahead. Sharks versus Bulls and, in the Six 

Nations, England versus Ireland.

England and Ireland are both of them strong contenders to win the World Cup 

later in the year. Yet at Loftus we'll be watching so many contenders for the Bok 

squad, it gets bewildering.

Lambie against Pollard will be interesting.

Bring it on, bring it on!

Ages of man

READER Laurie Kaplan is a wine connoisseur. He sends in a formulation that 

links four of our well-known quality wines to what he calls "The four ages of man".

Here goes: 15 to 30 years old – Kanonkop; 31 to 50 – Meerlust; 51 to 60 – Rust 

en Vrede; 61 plus – Allesverloren.


MURPHY is a great philosopher. Here are some of his lesser-known laws:

• Light travels faster than sound. Therefore some people 

appear bright until you hear them speak.

• A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing 


• He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

• A day without sunshine is like, well, night.

• Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

• Those who live by the sword get shot by those who 


• Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

• The 50-50-90 rule: Any time you have a 50-50 chance of 

getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll 

get it wrong.

• It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-
to-end, someone from Joburg would be stupid enough 

to try to pass them.

• If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

• The things that come to those who wait, may be the 

things left by those who got there first.

• Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man 

to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

• Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.

• God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in 

the dark.

• When you go into court, you're putting yourself in the 

hands of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out 

of jury duty.


SHE'S looking especially sexy and seductive.

"Have you ever seen R100 all crumpled up?"

"Show me."

She undoes  the top four buttons of her blouse, slowly reaches down into the cleavage, pulls out a 

crumpled R100 note and hands it to him.

"Have you ever seen R200 all crumpled up?"

 "Show me."

She gives a another sexy little smile, pulls up her skirt and reaches into her panties to pull out a 

crumpled R200 note.

He takes it from her. What now?

"Have you ever seen R300 000 all crumpled up?"


"Check the garage."

Last word

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on 

the joke of the century. 

Dame Edna Everage

The Idler, Thursday, February 26, 2015

Manie's party trick

THE stories keep rolling in about Manie Blom, the famous banana 

man who used to run on at King's Park before an inter- provincial 

rugby match.

Manie was barman at the Stamford Hill Hotel, just across the road 

from the ground. A reader, who calls himself "Errol", recalls a party 

trick he used to perform in the bar in return for a cash collection.

Manie would place a beer glass on the bar counter and fill it with a 

pint of beer.

Then he would bend over and put his entire mouth over the glass.

Then he would straighten, tilt his head, open his throat and let the 

entire pint go down his gullet – glugl glug, glug!

Then he'd bend over again and place the empty glass back on the 

counter, not a drop spilled.

"It was the most amazing trick I ever saw," says Errol. "I never 

knew anyone else who could get his mouth over a beer glass like 

that. I saw him do it time after time."

He says Manie always drank Lion Ale. Natch – "The beer Natal 

made famous!"


MEANWHILE, Barabara Lane, of Winklespruit, also expresses 

nostalgia for those days.

"I remember the 'Push-up Boys' who used to do just that: do the 

total points in push-ups every time we scored. I felt so sorry for 

them when the score rose to 30 or 40.

"Then there was the gentleman who would emerge from the

tunnel with his dog just before the match, and they would run 

round the entire field to great applause from the spectators. 

"And who will forget our 'Banana Boys'?"

Good news, Barbara. The Push-up Boys are back and they were 

working overtime last Saturday.

I'm afraid I don't remember the gentleman running about with his 

dog (Unless it was myself and my Airedale terrier, who was always 

on offer to the selectors because of her uncanny ability to bury the 

ball in a tight spot).

Maybe the Push-up Boys can be persuaded to emulate Manie 

Blom's party trick. That would be quite something in a 30-pointer.

Place kicks

MEANWHILE, more on round-the-corner place kicking, with the 

instep instead of the toe. Peter Harris, of Ballito, says it couldn't 

have been copied by our own Toffee Sharp from French fly-half 

Guy Camberabero, who toured South Africa in 1967.

"Toffee was kicking like that at school in 1963. I think he's the one 

who started it."

This is an interesting question. Did the rugby place-kicking style 

that is now used around the world at every level really start 

at Maritzburg College? Or was it some sort of spontaneous 

evolutionary thing that developed simultaneously in every rugby-
playing country?

If the former, Toffee Sharp was not as radical as William Webb-
Ellis but he's still had a profound impact on the game.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties:

"You feel like a bit of slap and tickle?"

"Your place or mine?"

"Well if you're going to argue, forget it!"

Going to pot

ALASKA has become the third American state to legalise smoking, growing and 

owning small amounts of marijuana. The others are Washington (not the same thing 

as Washington DC) and Colorado.

Marijuana is, of course, what we call dagga.

Anyone aged 21 or older can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Alaska and 

can grow up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering.

I'd have thought Alaska, with its permafrost, would be rather inhospitable to 

marijuana. Maybe they've developed hothouse igloos.

Mush! Mush! A zol, ek se. Dog-sledding can never be the same again.


FIVE Germans are in an Audi Quattro at the Italian border. The 

Italian Iimmigration officer says: "It'sa illegala to putta da five 

people in a Quattro."

"Vot you mean illegal?".

"Quattro meana four."

"Quattro is ze name of ze automobile, you fool! Look at ze damn 

papers: Ze car is designed to carry five." 

"You canta pulla dat-a one on me! Quattro meana four. You gotta 

da five. You breaka da law!" 

 "Dumkopf! You call your supervisor over. I vant to speak to 

somevun viz more intelligence!"

"Sorry. He can'ta come. He a-busy with two guys in a Fiat Uno."

Last word

Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised 

at how little you have. 

Ernest Haskins

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Idler, Wednesday, February 25, 2014

Underpants too tight

THEY were about to vote in the Canadian House of 

Commons when MP Pat Martin suddenly dashed out of the 

chamber, missing the vote.

Challenged on his return by a rival MP as to why he had 

abstained, he said his underpants were too tight.

He said he had bought men's underwear at half-price. "But 

it's clearly too small for me. I find it difficult to sit for any 

length of time."

We're not told, but presumably he had been speaking, until 

he managed to change his Y-fronts, in a high falsetto.

We've had more than enough distractions lately in our own 

parliament. We don't need squeaky-voiced male MPs. 

Maybe they should set up a committee to look into the issue 

of tight underpants as well as red overalls and hard hats – 

forestall the problem.

Now Muffy

RECENTLY we had the story of Sissy the Schnauzer who ran 20 

blocks in a town in Iowa, in the US, to visit her owner in a hospital 

she had never been to before.

A reader, who calls himself "Mell", says he had a dog, Muffy the 

Mongrel, who did very much the same thing – twice.

It was the early 1950s. His family lived at Illovo Beach, on the 

South Coast. Mell was in boarding school at Estcourt. His dad was 

manager of the Moth Club in Old Fort Road.

Because of the distance between home and work, Dad had 

accommodation at the club and often overnighted.

One July school holiday the family – mother, granny and Mell - 

took a flat on the corner of Point Road and Rutherford Street. 

Muffy moved in with Dad at the Moth Club.

The flat was a long way from Old Fort Road. Yet one morning as 

he was heading for the beach, Mell met up with Muffy crossing 

the road, obviously come to visit. Another time he found him in the 

block of flats, sniffing around.

The only time he had ever been there before was in Dad's car.

Twice across the CBD – that's quite something. How do dogs 



PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma again gave us a history lesson in 

Parliament last week about how South Africa's ills began with Jan 

van Riebeeck. A reader sends in a British response to this.

"We had the same problems in England. First we had the Picts and 

the Scots. And then came the Romans who stuck around for about 

four centuries. Then we had the Angles and the Saxons and all 

those other Germanic tribes.

"Then came the Danes and their Viking mates, a nauseating bunch 

of horny, helmeted rapists and looters they were.

"The Danes were eventually displaced by the Normans who turned 

out to be Frenchmen in disguise. 

"And then the Dutch when William of Orange and Mary of Hanover 

started causing nonsense with the Irish at the Battle of the Boyne.

"The Irish have never completely forgiven us so they came over 

and settled all our building sites.

"Then the Germans came back again, surreptitiously, and 

occupied the top of the Mall in Buckingham Palace.

"And where are we now? We have Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians, 

Caribbeans, Syrians, Australians, Italians, Americans, Canadians, 

Poles, Portuguese, Saudis , Kuwaitis, Moroccans, Egyptians, 

Iranians, Palestinians, Israelis, Ethiopians, Somalis, Nigerians, 

Zimbabweans, Scots (to run the government)... and (whoa!) South 


"It's been going on for 2 000 years. It's an outrage. And yet, and 

yet... all these people (well most) have contributed to making 

England and the English a great and democratic nation."

And here endeth the lesson for today.

Answer sheet

READER Eric Hodgson sends in an examination paper and 

answer sheet, for which the candidate got 0%. Or was it 100%?

• Where was the American Declaration of Independence 

signed? - At the bottom of the page.

• The River Ravi flows in which state? – Liquid.

• What is the main reason for divorce? – Marriage.

• What is the main reason for failure? – Exams.

• What can you never eat for breakfast? – Lunch or dinner.

• What looks like half an apple? – The other half.

• If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will 

become? – Wet.

• How can a man go eight days without sleeping? - No 

problem, he sleeps at night.

• How can you lift an elephant with one hand? - You will never 

find an elephant that has one hand.

• If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and 

four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would 

you have? - Very large hands.

• If it took eight men 10 hours to build a wall, how long would 

it take four men to build it? - No time at all, the wall is already 


• How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without 

cracking it? - Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to 



AN EXPATRIATE Irishman writes in to say he and his pals are jolted 

by a survey which finds the average Irishman has sex two or three 

times a week, whereas with the Japanese it's only twice a year. 

"Dis was upsettin' news to me and my friends. We had no idea we 

wuz Japanese."


First old soldier: "When did you last have a woman?"

Second old soldier: ""It was 1947."

First old soldier: "That's a long time ago."

Second old soldier: "Not really. It's only a quarter past eight now."

Last word

Anyone who has gumption knows what it is, and anyone who hasn't can 

never know what it is. So there is no need of defining it. 

LM Montgomery

The Idler, Tuesday, February 24

A sabbatical is in order

IRAN'S foreign minister has been told to cheer up when taking part 

in international negotiations on the country's nuclear programme.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been told by none 

other than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei not to rant and rave during the 

talks but make his point with a smile.

Apparently things got so heated during previous meetings that it 

had the bodyguards peering nervously round the door.

The answer obviously is for Mohammad Javad Zarif to take a 

sabbatical at Nkandla. A few weeks in the company of JZ would 

have him so giggling and chortling over the issues of uranium 

enrichment and nuclear weaponry that the talks would run to the 

smoothest of conclusions.

Alertness test

FOR older readers, here is the annual mental alertness 

test. Exercising of the brain is as important as the 

exercising of muscles. You use it or lose it.

Younger readers may pass on to the next item if they 


• What do you put in a toaster?

Answer – bread. If you said "toast", just give up 

now and go do something else and try not to hurt 

yourself. If you did say "bread", proceed to the next 


• Say "silk"" five times. Now spell "silk." What do 

cows drink?

 Answer: Cows drink water. If you said "milk," don't 

attempt the next question.Your brain is already over-
stressed and may even overheat. However, if you did 

say "water" proceed to the next question..

* If a red house is made from red bricks and a blue 

house is made from blue bricks and a pink house is 

made from pink bricks and a black house is made 

from black bricks, what is a green house made from?

Answer:Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said 

"green bricks", why are you still reading this? Please go 

and lie down. But if you said "'glass," go on to the next 


 * Do not use a calculator for this: You are driving 

a bus from New York City to Philadelphia . In Staten 

Island, 17 people get on the bus. In New Brunswick, 

six people get off the bus and nine get on. In Windsor, 

two people get off and four get on. In Trenton, 11 people 

get off and 16 get on. In Bristol, three people get off 

and five people get on. And in Camden , six people get 

off and three get on. 

You then arrive at Philadelphia Station.

Without going back to review, how old is the bus driver?

Oh, for crying out loud! Don't you remember your 

own age? It was YOU driving the bus!

Now where were we ...?


LAST week we discussed the origins of the "round-the-corner" 

place-kicking style that has taken over in rugby world-wide, which 

seems to have had its origins in South Africa in the 1960s at 

Maritzburg College.

But reader Graham Rogers says he recalls that when the French 

toured in the sixties they had a kicker who kicked "soccer 

style", and at the time it was unique. He thinks his name was 


Interesting. Maybe that's where Butch James got the idea.

Meanwhile, it seems I was wrong when I described Gerald Bosch 

as one of the last toe-of-the- boot place kickers. Correspondent 

Barrie (with an "ie") says he was in regular contact with Gerald at 

the time and he used to rag him about his round-the-corner style.

I must have been thinking about Okey Geffin and Bennie Osler.

Arrest warrant

THE COPS down in ol' Kentucky have issued a warrant 

for the arrest of Queen Elsa, leading character in the Walt 

Disney animation, Frozen.

The snow is standing a foot (30cm) deep in the small rural 

town of Harlan, and the weatherman says there's more to 


Obviously Queen Elsa is to blame, which is why the local cops 

have issued the warrant on their Facebook page: "Suspect is a 

blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and known to 

burst into song, Let It Go!"

With the crime these days, it's also high time they arrested Ali 

Baba And The Forty Thieves.


THIS fellow escapes from prison and makes his way home.

Wife: "Where have you been? You escaped eight hours ago."

Last word

Intimacy is what makes a marriage, not a ceremony, not a piece of paper 

from the state. 

Kathleen Norris

The Idler, Monday, February 23, 2015

Every card wild

WHAT a sousing last Saturday. You don't know who to admire most: the Sharks for 

taking a grip on the game in the most difficult conditions – every card is a wild one 

– or the King's Park squeejee squad for converting a lake into a sponge in a couple 

of hours.

Patrick Lambie had some excellent conditions experience for the World Cup in 

England later this year, and revelled in it. Those diagonal kicks were beautifully 


The Iron Chancellor – Bismarck – has brought purpose into the side and the 

previous week's jinx seems to have been well and truly shaken off. Most pleasing. 

Let the good times roll!

Return hoax

NASA have been hoaxing us in recent times with photographs of arid, stony, 

leafless landscapes they claim are the surface of Mars, when anyone can see it's 

the Griquas rugby field at Kimberley.

I'm going to get my own back. I'm sending them a photo of King's Park underwater 

and telling them it's the Lost City of Atlantis.


AS THE torrent poured down, I was fortunate enough to be watching from the 

snugness of a private box, in the company of a Viking lady and a couple of 

Maritzburg College old boys,

At half-time I encountered in the box next door an old shipmate who was schooled 

at Kearseny. He said he was pleased to see I have toned down my writing about 

Maritzburg College.

It's not a matter of "toning down", it's a matter merely of treating things on their 

mertis. Back in our box I noted on the wall a large picture of Joel Stransky 

(Maritzburg College) kicking the winning drop goal for South Africa in the 1995 

World Cup.

I mention this purely on its merits. Also that a Viking lady can be rather horny and 

intimidating. It's those helmets.


LAST week we had a picture of elephants in John Morrison's front garden at 

Makakatana, on the western shores of Lake St Lucia.

Now, he tells us, a lady elephant took a dip in his pool the other evening, 

unfortunately holing the pool with her tusks, causing a major leak.

He says baby elephants were milling about the place panic-stricken, it was total 


Can you imagine the noise? I hope he wasn't trying to watch cricket on TV.

Anyway, John has decided he has no option – he's got to put up an electric fence.

Rogue unit

IN HIS latest grumpy newsletter, investment analyst Dr James Greener expresses 

the bewilderment we all feel about the "rogue unit"that has been operating inside 


"There is something very odd and rather mysterious about this alleged 'rogue 

unit' operating inside the South African Revenue Services. What on earth can 

they be up to? 

"Surely the only thing a tax collector does is ferret out both people and monies 

that are hiding from them.

"Does going 'rogue' mean that the fellows in the unit had changed sides? Were 

they deliberately not looking, or perhaps they have unearthed some juicy prey?

"Will we ever find out or have they summoned that junior official to make 

another error and operate the jammer/shredder in order to secure the no-fly zone 

around the president?


WE'VE made mention in recent weeks of the way Manie Blom 

used to run on at King's Park before a Natal game, carrying a 

bunch of bananas – sometimes an entire banana tree.

Lyn Courtney-Smith points out that the act was eventually taken 

over by Joe Reyersbach, who got exactly the same rapturous 

support from the crowd.

Yes, that's true. Manie – who was barman at the Stamford Hill 

Hotel, across the road - was getting a bit long in the tooth. That 

zigging and zagging and dummying was getting hectic.

I recall a shameful incident, at the time the new American razzle 

dazzle was being rammed down our throats by the marketing 

ponytails, when somebody carrying a banana tree into King's Park 

had it confiscated, and he was escorted from the ground.

Would that have been Joe?



AWKWARD moment: The feminist picnic when it's discovered nobody's 

made the sandwiches.


"YOU gotta help me, doctor. I'm under a lot of stress. I keep losing my 

temper with people and insulting them. You gotta help me."

"Tell me your problem."

"I just did, you stupid bastard!"

Last word

People seldom become famous for what they say until after they are famous 

for what they've done. 

Cullen Hightower

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Idler, Friday, February 20, 2015

Here we go again

ONCE more unto the breach, dear friends ... do we get the chestnuts out of the fire 

tomorrow? The astonishing thing about last weekend's opening matches of the Super 

15 is that almost all the wins chalked up were away wins – which of course means 

home losses, ours included..

Maybe it was some strange international jinx that had our fellows dropping passes 

and spilling the ball in the tackle the way they did. Or trying to break out of our 22, 

alone and unsupported. Maybe the jinx has lifted. Maybe Gary Gold has pep-talked 

them sufficiently. They obviously have the skills, which showed sporadically.

We faithful will be there, even at the ridiculous kick-off time of 7pm. May they put on 

the kind of display we know they can. Sterkte! This time we'll put it together properly. 

And with Patrick Lambie kicking like a metronome – one of the few bright spots – the 

points must surely flow.

Speaking of which, I'm in receipt of a letter from retired headmaster Tom Lambert, 

who wants to know who was the first player to use the "round-the-corner" kick, using 

the instep for place kicks instead of the toe of the boot?

He thinks it was winger Toffee Sharp at Maritzburg College, encouraged by that 

visionary coach, Skonk Nicholson.

I think he's right. I remember being astounded, watching a schools match in the 60s, 

at the outlandish way Sharp kicked – and at his success rate.

Until then, everyone – including internationals like the great Keith Oxlee and Gerald 

Bosch – kicked with the toe of the boot. But now everyone is round-the-corner, at 

every level everywhere in the world.

Tom has spoken to Toffee about it on the bowling green. Toffee says he once played 

for Natal Under 20 as curtain-raiser to a Test in Bloemfontein. When he lined up for 

a penalty, the crowd roared with laughter and those in the section of the crowd he 

seemed to be aiming for ducked derisively.

He said to himself: "If ever I have to get a kick over, this is it." The kick sailed over 

and the rest is history.

Except the history is not quite complete. Was Toffee Sharp the first? Did the 

round-the-corner kick spread overseas from here, or was it developing elsewhere 


Can anyone out there enlighten us?


CAN the US stand aside and allow this humiliation? Six hundred Japanese have 

established a new world record in snowman-making, smashing a record until now 

held by America.

The 600 built 1 585 snowmen in an hour in the city of Iiyama, north-west of Tokyo,

To count towards the record, the snowmen had to be more than three feet (91cm) tall 

and have facial features and arms. No tools could be used, just the traditional glove-
covered hands. 

Guinness World Records confirms the new record. The previous one of 1 279 

snowmen had been set by 350 participants in the US in 2011. Earlier this month, 

hundreds of people in the Canadian city of Ottawa bettered that number by building 

1 299 snowmen in 60 minutes, but it wasn't officially confirmed and the title now 

belongs to Iiyama. Guinness are very strict about such things.

Iiyama is in the mountainous north of Nagano Prefecture and has heavy snow every 

year. The new world record was set during its annual snow festival.

The US must be smarting over this setback, such a blow to its world prestige. But 

we live in civilised times. The response is unlikely to be giant snowballs dropped on 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


CHALKED sign outside a pub:

"No hipsters!

"Don't be coming round here with your hairy faces, your vegan 

diets, tiny feet and your sawdust bedding.

"No, wait ... Hamsters. No hamsters!"


A MAN walks into a bar with a small dog. He seats the dog at the piano 

and next thing he's playing the most wonderful tunes. Then a big dog 

comes in, grabs the small dog by the scruff of the neck and drags him 


"That was quite something," says the bartender. "That little dog's 

amazing. But what's with the big dog?"

"Oh, that's his mother. She wants him to be a doctor."

Last word

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man 

hardly anything. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Idler, Thursday, February 19, 2015

These ferocious limpets

HAVE you ever been bitten by a limpet? No, me neither. But actually they have 

the strongest teeth in the world and they use them to cling on to the rocks the 

way they do.

That's according to scientists in Britain, who have been researching these things. 

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth say the limpet's teeth contain a 

substance called goethite, which is stronger than spider's silk, which until now 

had been thought the strongest substance produced in nature.

They say the atomic structure of goethite can be analysed and mimicked to 

artificially produce super-strong material for use in Formula One cars, the hulls of 

boats and aircraft fuselages.

Whatever next? Who would have suspected a limpet to have the strongest teeth 

in the world? I can't remember one so much as snarling at me.


DISCOVERIES such as the above are inevitably reported as properties to be 

found in the "humble" limpet.

But who says limpets are humble? They're uncommunicative, to be sure, but they 

might, as they cling there to the rocks with their super-strong teeth, be egotistical, 

swaggering self-opinionated little bastards.

"Hey, I've got goethite, I've got the world's strongest teeth. Step aside, buster! 

I'm gonna be the prototype for F-1! I'm gonna set up the world water speed 

record! I'm gonna be the next super jet! Hey, it's me, me, me!"

Let us not be over-hasty about the attributes of limpets.


THEY do drink a lot of vodka in Russia but when three suns appeared over the 

horizon the other morning, it was something out of the ordinary.

It happened at the city of Chelyabinsk, and pretty soon photos of the phenomenon 

were appearing on social media.

According to meteorologists, the "halo" effect was caused by ice crystals in the air 

refracting the sunlight. The crystals, which are invisible to the naked eye, were the 

product of a particularly chilly morning, with temperatures around -25C.

Chelyabinsk blues

THEY'RE getting accustomed to these strange phenomena in Chelyabinsk. A few 

days earlier, the streets were covered in blue-tinged snow.

It turned out that a local factory had been making Easter eggs. It had a spill of its 

decorative blue powdered dye, some of which escaped into the atmosphere and 

blended with the snow.

A blues singer could surely make something of this. "Woke up this mornin'..."


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "Non-
alcoholic beer is like a hooker who just wants to cuddle."

Mystery haze

SCIENTISTS are puzzled by a mysterious haze that has shown itself high above 

Mars. The vast plume was initially spotted in 2012, and appeared twice before 


Now it's back again, stretching more than 1 000km. Scientists say it could be a large 

cloud or an exceptionally bright aurora. However they are unsure how these could 

have formed in the thin upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere.

I sincerely hope this is not another hoax. Or could it be that Nasa and the rest have 

now become victim of their own tomfoolery?

For years now they have been putting out images of arid, flinty, leafless landscapes, 

claiming they're the surface of Mars, when anyone can see it's the Griquas rugby 

field at Kimberley.

A mysterious haze stretching 1 000km ... they do have braais at the Griquas rugby 

field, you know.


IT'S a bitterly cold winter's morning in Dublin. A 

couple listen to the radio over breakfast.

Says the announcer: "We are going to have eight 

to 10 inches of snow today. You must park your 

car on the even-numbered side of the street, so 

the snowploughs can get through. "

The wife goes out and moves her car.

A week later the radio announcer says: "We are 

expecting 10 to 12 inches of snow today. You must 

park your car on the odd-numbered side of the 

street, so the snow ploughs can get through."

She goes out and moves her car again.

The following week the announcer says: "We are 

expecting 12 to 14 inches of snow today. You must 

park ..."

Then the electric power cuts off. 

"Now I don't know what to do. Which side of de 

street do I need to park so de snowploughs can get 


"For pity's sake, m'dear, just leave de car in de 

garage dis time."

Last word

I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way. 

Carl Sandburg

The Idler, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Bobby we all remember

A LONDON Metropolitan Police officer, PC Bob Brown, has 

retired after 47 years' service.

Two things comes to mind. One is that it's remarkable how after 

47 years he should still have been a PC – police constable – 

nothing like the rocket promotion some of our lot get. But he says 

that's all he ever wanted to be, a policeman on the beat with 

whistle and truncheon. He didn't want promotion.

The second is that, after 47 years on the beat in London, he must 

have a yarn or two to tell about South Africans he's encountered.

In fact there's something very familiar about him. Could this be the 

copper whose boot I almost ran over in Warwick Road?

I'd just picked up a second-hand A40 I'd bought and was 

driving back to Earl's Court with some pals. As a pedestrian you 

tend not to notice such things as one-way systems.

We swung right into Warwick Road – which is a very wide 

thoroughfare – to find it absolutely empty of traffic. But then we 

approached traffic lights with four lanes of vehicles strung across 

the road. The lights were red. Then they turned green.

At which I took the A40 right on to the pavement – and almost ran 

over the boot of a policeman on the beat who, I am now sure, must 

have been PC Brown.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm a visitor, I don't know the roads here."

"I wouldn't have thought so, sir."

He strode out, held up the traffic and let me make a U-turn.

You can't beat the London Bobbies for sang froid and humour. PC 

Bob Brown, enjoy your retirement!


ON OUR front page yesterday we had that story about Sissy the Schnauzer who 

ran 20 blocks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the US, to visit her sick owner in hospital.

What prompted that? How could she possibly have known her owner was there 

after undergoing a serious operation? Is there some kind of canine-human 


"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your 

philosophy ..."

More kittens

READER Brenda Shepherd notes how quickly theatre personality 

Caroline Smart was able to find homes for the three kittens that 

invaded her house with their mother.

Brenda herself is playing host to two kittens born in the local 

Pick 'n Pay car park. They're socialised and lovely but she would 

like to find them homes.

Apparently people were queuing for Caroline's kittens so if they're 

still looking, here are two more.

Manie Blom

READERS Granny Joan and Colin McClean recall that the fellow 

who used to run on to the field at King's Park with a bunch of 

bananas was called Manie Blom.

That's quite correct. He was barman at the Stamford Hill Hotel, 

across the road from King's Park, and he performed this duty for 

many years.

After a sweeping bow to every quarter of the stadium, he would set 

off downfield, zigzagging and throwing dummies, then he'd dive 

over under then posts.

It brought the house down. So simple yet so effective. I can't recall 

anything similar anywhere else in the world. Why we jettisoned it, 

only the marketing gurus know.


IAN Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, pens some lines on the 

goings-on in Parliament:

The EFFies are behaving like hooligans,

And should be sent back to school again;

But if Zuma'd come clean

And calmed down the scene,

We'd all be feeling strong again.


SHERLOCK Holmes and Watson are out camping. It's 3am and 

the stars are ablaze and diamond-clear.

"Watson, observe the canopy of the heavens, the splendour of the 

firmament. What does it all tell you?"

"Astronomically, Holmes, it tells me of the millions upon millions 

of heavenly bodies that whirl in awe-inspiring majesty through the 

vastness of the universe.

"Astrologically, it tells me that Mars is in conjunction with Venus.

"Horologically, it tells me it is approximately 3 am.

"Theologically, it tells me of the greatness of God and the puny 

insignificance of man.

"Meteorologically, it tells me we will have a fine day.

"What does it tell you, Holmes?"

"My dear Watson, it tells me some blighter has stolen our tent!"

Last word

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide 

stupidity, there ain't nothin' can beat teamwork. 

Edward Abbey

The Idler, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Heist Down Under

NEWS from Australia. Melbourne police are looking for an individual in blonde 

wig, high heels and fishnet stockings – but with a stubbled chin – who threatened 

to blow up a McDonald's fast food outlet.

The crossdresser came in and demanded cash, telling staff he had a detonator in 

a plastic cup. He got some money then fled the scene, dropping much of his haul 

in his haste. CCTV cameras picked him up as he left.

He lost his blonde wig as he fled. Police searched the scene but did not find a 


Hmmm. There was a streaker at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the ODI 

World Cup match between Australia and England. But the incidents are probably 

not related.


ALASTAIR Cameron, of Richards Bay, wants to know if he is reading things right.

"Am I correct, in reading The Mercury, that Durban Exco intend spending about 

R100 million tendering for an international event, which if they succeed in securing it 

they have no idea of what it will cost them?

"Are they perhaps being advised by Eskom?

"There will certainly be no 'common wealth' left to spread about afterwards."

Seam and spin

CAN a bowler convert from seam to spin, then back again? 

That's what cricket aficionado Chris Taylor (a fellow member of 

the Natal Cricket Society) says he managed back in the days 

when he was playing at club level with some top names in the Ou 


He was a new ball quickie with Berea Park, Pretoria, when he 

was transferred to Joburg. There he joined Wanderers, which was 

awash with quicks.

So he went to the nets, placed a handkerchief on the pitch as 

a target, practised legspin diligently and by the opening of the 

season was able to offer himself as a spinner. By Christmas he'd 

taken 20 wickets.

Then he got transferred again to Durban, where he reverted to 


I'm not sure what Cris is getting at. Is he suggesting that I, an 

accomplished legspin bowler (I once took 4 for 32 for the Durban 

Press XI against the RAF Red Arrows), should convert to swing?

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing ... who can argue with 

Duke Ellington?


DOES anyone know anything about an artist called A Grieve who 

was painting landscapes 70 or more years ago?

Anne Youngleson inherited from her grandmother an oil painting 

of the Amphitheatre, in the Drakensberg. It is signed "A Grieve" 

and on the back is pencilled "A Grieve, 35B Longmarket Street, 


"So far I have been unsuccessful in finding out anything at all 

about the artist," Anne says.

"I have recently had the painting cleaned, and re-framed. It looks 

lovely. I am keen to know more about the artist."

Can anyone out there help?

Apun my word!

THERE was this fellow who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at

least one of the puns would make them laugh.

No pun in ten did.

Robot attack

A SOUTH Korean woman woke in agony with a robot vacuum cleaner trying to 

swallow her hair. She had fallen asleep lying on the floor of her home in the city 

of Changwon and the robot cleaner – apparently they're very popular in South 

Korea – went into action, mistaking her coiffure for a ball of fluff.

She called the fire department and it took emergency workers half an hour to free 

her from the device – her hair still intact.

Weird and perilous is this 21st


A COUPLE order Chicken Surprise in a Chinese restaurant.. The 

waiter brings it in a lidded cast-iron pot.

She's about to serve herself when the lid of the pot rises slightly 

and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before 

the lid slams back down.

She screams: "'Good grief, did you see that?"

He hadn't. He reaches for the pot and again the lid rises and he 

sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down again.

He calls the waiter and asks what's going on..

"Please sir, what you order?"

""Chicken Surprise."

"'Ah! So solly. My mistake! I bling you Peeking Duck!"

Last word

The follies which a man regrets most, in his life, are those which he didn't 

commit when he had the opportunity. 

Helen Rowland

 century world.

The Idler, Monday, February 16, 2015

A rough game

VISITORS from Canada were enthralled last Thursday to watch their first game 

of rugby on TV. The rucking and scrumming were much more robust than they 

had expected. It was only with difficulty that investment analyst Dr James 

Greener was able to convince his guests that this was the State of the Nation 

address in Parliament; that the Super 15 would begin only at the weekend.

What a state! Over to James and his latest grumpy newsletter, in which he notes 

an ominous and disappointing phase in the nation's political development.

"Almost everyone present in Cape Town behaved badly, even if was just in their 

choice of clothing. Apparently nearly every rule in the parliamentary book was 

broken. The ease with which 'honourable members' are able to quote the number and 

wording of each paragraph in that book in support of their 'point of order' is amazing. 

"Equally astonishing is the firm adherence to the supposedly despised British 

traditions of gun salutes, mounted police and kilted pipers. The man who lugged the 

ceremonial mace into the chamber looked suspiciously like that sign language non-
interpreter who embarrassed us all at Madiba's funeral.

"The whole unedifying farrago was arranged to allow the president to deliver his 

annual wish-list. Filled as usual with tortuous grammar to avoid saying anything 

definitive, he nevertheless appeared to outline many horrifying and blatantly 

investment-unfriendly ideas. 

"For example, the plea for foreign investors to send us their money didn't exactly 

mesh with banning them from owning property.

"The assurance that the energy shortages were being tackled with a plan to draw up a 

plan was not reassuring. There was a lot of talk about unlocking and revitalising stuff 

which should in the first place never have been locked up or allowed to die. It seemed 

a sure thing that the markets' reaction would be a sharp collapse.

"But they certainly did not. The JSE has set a record high and the rand has not 

noticeably weakened against the US dollar (although it is fading versus the pound). So 

what the Sona debacle has definitely achieved is a complete disconnect between the 

fantasy world of politics and the real world of people making their own decisions."

That's quite a thought. Maybe we should just ignore the government and get on with 

things. They seem to have reached a point where they're incapable of doing anything, 

good or bad.


MEANWHILE, at King's Park on Saturday we had scenes reminiscent of Parliament. 

At times it seemed t the Free State pack were recruited from the parliamentary strong-
arm squad.

We blew it, of course, in a blizzard of heavy flakes of rust from our fellows. Who ever 

saw before so many dropped passes and spills in the tackle?

But the match had its moments, not least the pulsating finale when the Sharks 

wakened from the dagga dream to play some real rugby. Let's take from it this 

positive thought: At least they've abandoned that dreary kicking game of last season. 

All they have to do now is play running rugby for 80 minutes instead of 12.

Pop concert?

BUMS on seats? I don't think I ever saw a smaller crowd at King's 

Park– and this for the opening match of the season.

What will the response be? More gormless Americanisation? More 

blasting music? Pop concert rugby?

It's actually becoming offensive. Do they think rugby fans are 


Let's have quality curtain-raisers – good schools rugby – instead of 

this Sunday school picnic so-called entertainment. And if there has 

to be entertainment, bring on the pipe bands and the Zulu dancers.

Now listen!

OUR rugby administrators do listen to the fans. The point was 

made on Saturday when the "Sharkie" mascot of recent seasons 

– who looked more like a Friesland bull than anything else – was 

banished to make way for the original Sharkie – a lean and mean 

critter with huge teeth.

It's an excellent principle – listen to the fans. Any day now, Sharkie 

will give way to the fellow with the bunch of bananas who used to 

dive over under the posts, to the acclamation of a packed stadium 

– which is what I think they're looking for.

Sigh! But nobody's listening.


A GIRAFFE walks into a bar.

Barman: "We've never had a giraffe in here before."

Giraffe: "I'm not surprised. That doorframe's much too low."

Last word

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it. 

Mae West


The Idler, Friday, February 13

In love with rugby

TOMORROW is a day on which we forgo the deluge of valentines from the lovelies 

and sally forth to King's Park for the start of yet another season, with Twickers and 

the World Cup something more than a mirage on the distant horizon.

Free State is the foe. It should be an encounter in which our fellows demonstrate that 

they have rid themselves of the constipation which gave our Super Rugby a great 

sluggishness last season.

Let us show dash and verve - Lambie and Reinach playing their natural game; 

everyone running into space, short passing, the game as it should be played.

John Smit wants to put bums on seats? Running, handling rugby is a great start. 

That's what packed King's Park over the decades.

And let us by no means ignore St Valentine's Day. It's a day for the lovelies. Cossack 

dancing on the bar counter of the Duikers'Club will give way eventually to soulful 

renditions of those traditional romantic numbers, Girls Were Made To Hug And Kiss

and There Is Nothing Like A Dame.

The Sharks have been in heavy training. So have the choristers.

Banana Boy

READER Hugh Ahrens – who describes himself as a long-time 

season ticket holder and ardent Banana Boy – says the rugby 

authorities seem to be missing a few things when they talk of 

"putting bums on seats" at King's Park.

Super rugby no longer has the emphasis on matches against 

overseas teams it once had. Instead under the "conference" 

system, we have "local derbies" which belong in the Currie Cup – 

which itself has been devalued by removing the Springbok players.

As for the 5pm and 7pm matches – "They really excite those 

supporters who used to travel from Zululand, the South Coast and 

the Midlands.before hitting the long road home after the game. I 

don't see too many of them around the park any more."

Quite. A fellow told me he'd given up his tickets because a 5pm or 

7pm game meant putting the dogs into kennels in Howick and he 

and the missus checking into a B&B in Durban.

Bums on seats? Those bums and those seats are in front of the 

flatscreens in the sports bars of Kokstad and Kwambonambi

Big names

 "HE'S very young, but he could definitely become the next Bismarck" – so says 

Lions coach of hooker Malcolm Marx.

Well, Bismarck du Plessis has already shown himself to be an Iron Chancellor. What 

kind of Marx will the young Lions hooker become?

Most of us would probably prefer Groucho to Karl, but then can anyone imagine 

either of them on a rugby field?

No, names really have nothing to do with it.


IF YOU'RE making astonishing progress with that sensational new barmaid, and 

you'd rather the information was not bruited abroad, don't chat her up in front of 

your new Samsung TV.

It seems Samsung's "smart" TVs listen in as assiduously as the tannies on 

the old party lines. People's conversation is translated into text and stored in a 

central computer.

Samsung has taken the step of warning people against discussing "sensitive and 

private information" in the vicinity of its TV sets.

Is this not the kind of thing George Orwell warned against? Institutionalised 

eavesdropping, I mean, not sensational barmaids.

Attic operators

THE big freeze-up in Europe is hitting the cannabis growers of the 

Netherlands. The plants are grown mainly in attics at temperatures 

maintained above the surrounding mean.

With most roofs covered in snow, it's a dead giveaway if the 

snow has melted. The Dutch police have been pouncing on attic 

operators all over the place.

It's odd that in the Netherlands it should not be illegal to possess 

cannabis yet definitely illegal to grow it.

It's not known what the effects, if any, of the freeze-up are on the 

gals of the Kanalzone. This requires further research.


THIS fellow finds in his attic an old violin and an old oil painting. He 

takes them in to be valued.

"You know what you've got here?" says the antiques leader. "A 

Stradivarius and a Rembrandt."

"Wow! Worth a fortune!"

"Unfortunately not. Rembrandt made the violin and Stradivarius 

painted the picture."

Last word

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? 

Vince Lombardi

The Idler Thursday, February 12, 2015

In the ignition

DRAMA in the US, where some people actually do leave their car 

keys in the ignition, and from whence comes this account.

A woman and her husband had always disagreed over this. She 

felt the ignition was the safest place. He said that was asking for 

the car to be stolen.

Came the fateful day when, after a meeting, she could not find her 

car keys. 

"They were not in my pockets. A quick search in the meeting room

revealed nothing. Suddenly I realised I must have left them in the 

car. Frantically, I headed for the car park.

"My husband has scolded me many times for leaving the keys in 

the ignition. Then as I scanned the car park I came to a terrifying 

conclusion. His theory was right. The car park was empty.

"I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, 

confessed that I had left my keys in the car, and that it had been 

stolen. Then I made the most difficult call of all.

"Hello My Love." (I always call him "My Love" in times

like these. "I left my keys in the car, and it's been stolen."

"Silence. I thought the call had disconnected. But then he 

barked: 'I dropped you off!'

"It was my time to be silent. Embarrassed, I said: 'Well, come and

get me.'

"He said: 'I will, as soon as I can convince this policeman I haven't 

stolen your damn car!'"

Oh boy!


THE above recalls the local case of a fellow who was Mayor of 

Newcastle and an enthusiastic member of the Naval Association, 

which used to meet in Maritzburg.

After a most convivial Naval Association dinner, he went to where 

he'd parked his car. It was gone. He was not far from the police 

station so he went inside and reported the theft.

Somebody gave him a lift to where he was staying overnight. Next 

morning he woke from a refreshing sleep, to recall that in fact he'd 

parked his car somewhere entirely different. Sure enough, there it 

was, safe and sound. He got in and headed back to Newcastle.

About Mooi River he was stopped in a police roadblock and 

arrested for being in possession of a stolen vehicle.

"But I'm the Mayor of Newcastle!"

"And I'm Father Christmas! Get in the van!"

Involvement in local government can be most demanding.

Guinea pig

PALAENTOLOGISTS in England have discovered the fossilised remains of a 

giant guinea pig that lived about three million years ago. It weighed more than a 

ton, was the size of a buffalo and would have had a bite as strong as a tiger's.

I wonder. If you picked it up by its tail, would its eyes have dropped out?

Computer chat

A DIALOGUE follows, which fully captures the spirit of our times:

Windows: Please enter your new password.

User: cabbage

Windows: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

User: boiled cabbage

Windows: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

User: 1 boiled cabbage

Windows: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.

User: 50bloodyboiledcabbages

Windows: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper 



User: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

Windows: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper 


character consecutively

User: 50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon't


Windows: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

User: 50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYou


Windows: Sorry, that password is already in use.


DISHY Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has accepted a marriage proposal delivered by drone. 

She was celebrating her birthday when the white unmanned aircraft flew towards her.

Boyfriend Wang Feng, a rock singer and composer, retrieved an engagement 

ring from inside the drone, got down on one knee and popped the question.

Zhang said "Yes!" The newly engaged couple kissed and embraced as the night 

sky lit up with fireworks.

Things have picked up somewhat in China since the days of Chairman Mao.



IT'S pelting with rain and a deep puddle has formed outside the 

Irish pub. An old man is standing there in the rain, holding a stick 

with a piece of string on it, jiggling the string in the water.

"What are you doing?" asks a passer-by.


"Come inside and I'll get you a drink."

"Ah, tank yez!"

They're standing at the bar with whiskeys.

"And how many have you caught?"

"Eight now, including yezelf."

Last word

Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

– Albert Einstein

The Idler, Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The school run

THESE Maris Stella mums are getting flightier by the day. In the Street Shelter 

for the Over-Forties the other evening, one was telling me about a hiccup she 

had on her school run.

Everything was planned to a T. Departure time. Route. Traffic time. Drop-off time. 

Quick peck on the cheek time for daughter. Then scoot on to work.

It went well. She jumped some traffic lights to gain a few minutes. She wove in 

and out through the Berea traffic. She pulled up outside Maris Stella.

Then quick peck on the cheek ... er, no daughter. She'd left without her.

Race back home. Daughter standing at gate trying to get her nutty mum on 

cellphone. Quick pick-up. Race through heavier Berea traffic. Pull up outside 

Maris Stella, just in time for school assembly. Quick peck on cheek for daughter – 

and this time it materialises.

No names, no packdrill. Children have to be protected against embarrassment 

caused by their parents.

Cricket greats

MEMORY Lane time. A book has been written about Eric Rowan, 

the great South African Test captain of yesteryear. Readers have 

been writing in about Jackie McGlew and Neil Adcock and the way 

Old Collegians, which previously had been open only to Maritzburg 

College old boys, suddenly changed the rules so that McGlew 

could have in his club side the great Neil Adcock, his attack bowler 

at Test level.

Now Chris Taylor tells of a club game in Joburg, in which he was 


He was playing for Wanderers against Jeppe Old Boys. 

Wanderers were preparing to bat and as Jeppe walked out to field, 

Athol Rowan (Eric's brother) was puffing on a cigarette.

Eric: "No one plays in my team and smokes on the field."

Athol: "Is that so, Eric? Now you have 10 men."

At which he got into his car and drove off.

Eric then spotted a young lad in a Jeppe blazer.

"Got your kit?"

"Yes sir."

The lad was Neil Adcock He took five Wanderers wickets. Tony 

Harris said he was one of the fastest bowlers he had ever faced.

"It was Adcock's first league game - as a schoolboy."

Chris notes that playing in that club game were not just Eric and 

Athol Rowan, Neil Adcock and Tony Harris but other big names 

such as Geoff Chubb and Mick Melle – South Africa's opening pair 

– Transvaal captain John Ellis and Ola Grinaker.

"What was a 21-year-old squirt doing there?"

Not smoking, I'll bet.

Collegians confusion

MEANWHILE, some light is shed on the Zingari/Old Collegians 

set-up in Maritzburg club cricket.

Collegians club has rugby, hockey, bowls, tennis and squash 

sections. It has a football section who play under the name 

Savages. And it has a cricket section called Zingari.

There is also a cricket club called Old Collegians. Its members 

are all of them members of the Collegians parent club. But the 

Collegians cricket section is Zingari.

It's a little confusing – the way the town itself is officially known as 

both Maritzburg and Pietermaritzburg – and it goes back to the 

days when Old Collegians wanted to open their cricket club to all 

comers – not just Maritzburg College old boys – but the codgers 

voted against.

Collegians then disaffiliated them and Zingari took their place. 

But they all hoist a pint in the same bar, where there is also an 

unofficial choral section.

I'm obliged for this information to my old mate Freddie Davel, who 

played rugby for Collegians and cricket for Old Collegians and was 

for many years my gallant skipper and flyhalf.

Fred is a picture of fitness today, attributable to his years of 

alternately leaping skyward to take my scrumhalf passes and 

stooping to take them as they hurtled at grass-top level. You've got 

to keep these flyhalves on their toes.


SIGN on a wine lorry: "IN CASE OF ACCIDENT – bring cheese 

and crackers. Lots and lots of cheese and crackers."


THE Lone Ranger finds Tonto lying on the ground.

"Stage coach come this way,"says Tonto. "Two men, four horses. 

Stagecoach have lady inside. One horse got only three shoes."

"Tonto, you know all that just from listening to the ground?"

"No, him run me over two days ago."

Last word

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a 

very narrow field. 

Niels Bohr

The Idler, Tuesday, February 10

Is this Bigfoot?

HAS the mythical Bigfoot been captured on camera? Footage shot in the snow at Yellowstone National 

Park, in the US, appears to show not one but four of the creatures.

The footage shows bison roaming near the geyser, Old Faithful.- until four creatures walking upright 

appear in the background. They are huge. Bigfoot is the North American counterpart of the Himalayan 

Yeti, or Abominable Snowman.

Bigfoot enthusiasts have long sought evidence proving the existence of the creature. Scientists believe 

sightings are cases of misidentification of other animals or hoaxes.

Yellowstone National Park spokesperson Al Nash says: "Bigfoot sightings are not frequent, but they 

happen. People say a lot of crazy things about Yellowstone and Bigfoot is just one of them."

Could the sighting have been of my old colleague, Peter Younghusband, doyen in his day of Africa's 

foreign correspondents? The hulking Younghusband had the nickname, Bigfoot. Maybe he and his tribe 

took a trip to Yellowstone.

In his book, Every Meal A Banquet, Every Night A Honeymoon, Younghusband describes how, 

pestered by his newspaper in London to provide colourful material to fill space in an emergency, he sent 

off an over-the-top piece about a tribe in the Okavango Swamps of Botswana who lived off mosquitoes 

and had evolved into becoming so light they could jump from one lily pad to the next as they hunted 


Unfortunately, his editor was thrilled by the piece and splashed it under the headline: "The spidermen of 

Okavango". He also sent Younghusband a cable congratulating him.

But things turned sour next day when the Botswana High Commissioner paid a visit to point out that the 

story, er, lacked substance.

Maybe this Bigfoot sighting falls into much the same category.

Telex exchange

YOUNGHUSBAND'S book took its title from an exchange by telex between a Fleet Street news editor 

and a correspondent who had been sent to Africa but had filed not a thing in several weeks.

"Presume you alive and well and living in Africa?"

"Every meal a banquet, every night a honeymoon."

Those caps

THE mystery of the two cricket caps in Chris Burger's collection of memorabilia is now solved. The red, 

black and white one (as published last week) is of Crockett's XI, Michaelhouse and Hilton old boys who 

had achieved provincial honours. The blue, cream, gold and black one is of Western Province Cricket 

Club (the club, not the provincial side).

The caps are among the collection of Chris Burger, who captained Zingari and was a swashbuckling 

batsman for Natal and South Africa in the late 50s and early sixties. He died last year and the 

memorabilia has been donated by Chris's son, David, to his old school, Michaelhouse.

My old pal, sailing maestro Richard Crockett, says the XI was founded by his grandfather HL 

Crockett (who went on to become president of Natal and then South African cricket). The red was for 

Michaelhouse, the black for Hilton and white was common to both schools.

The bird on the badge is a Cornish Chough, which is the Crockett coat-of-arms. The Crockett's XI used 

to play twice a year and the pupils at Michaelhouse and Hilton were given half-days so they could 


"Regrettably, with the advent of TV and a glut of sport, Crockett's XI eventually folded."

The Western Province Cricket Club cap was identified by Barry Foster, Dave Peters, Peter Maccallum 

and Struan Robertson.


DAVE Peters recognised the Western Province Cricket Club colours because his dad, Donnie, and his 

Uncle Arthur played for them in days of yore.

In fact Uncle Arthur once scored a double century, also winning a huge supply of beer.

It was from a wager entered into in the Olympics Club, in Rondebosch, one evening when one Rex 

Ainslie told Uncle Arthur he would buy him a pint of beer for every run he made above nine next day. 

Arthur scored 204, which meant Ainslie owed him 195 beers.


PADDY goes to the doctor and asks for a complete medical examination. The doctor is astonished to 

find banknotes stuffed into his ears his nostrils and another orifice. He removes them and counts them.

"There's one thousand nine hundred and fifty pounds here."

"Dat's right. I knew I wasn't feelin' two grand."

Last word

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others 

are here for I don't know.

W H Auden

The Idler Monday, February 9

Drama at city hall

I WAS hoisting a pint of beer last Friday at Point Yacht Club, in company 

with a lass who is a regular at the St Clement's arts soiree. She had stopped 

in at the club on her way back from the Red-Eye arts shindig in the city hall.

Suddenly her cellphone gave tongue (to use the PG Wodehouse idiom). She 

answered. Her eyes widened in alarm. Then she started pressing the phone 

buttons herself, rather frantically.

What had happened was this: Two fellows (who also frequent St Clement's) 

had stayed on at Red-Eye and found themselves wandering about the city 

hall, whose ancient corridors and staircases they found fascinating.

Up a spiral staircase they went, coming to a small door. This they opened 

and, to their astonishment, found they were on the city hall roof, right near 

the dome. A thunderstorm was approaching, a magnificent spectacle with its 

jagged forks of lightning.

Then the wind. Then the first lashings of rain. Then the door slammed shut 

in a gust. It had a Yale lock.

There was no chance of competing with a thunderstorm and the Red-Eye 

shindig to attract attention. They were there for the night. And (presuming 

they survived the thunderstorm) that part of town is quiet on a Saturday 

morning, while the few citizens about don't respond too well to lunatics 

calling from the city hall roof to be rescued. They were there for the 

weekend at least.

Except, of course, that we live in the age of the cellphone. The lass in PYC 

put through a call to Suzie Bell, compere of Red-Eye. She contacted city 

hall security and our lads were rescued.

I'm looking forward to meeting them tonight at the first St Clement's jolly 

of the year. A generous supply of good claret might be sufficient to persuade 

silence as to identities.

PG rides again

DURBAN has a lot of PG Wodehouse aficionados, judging from the packed 

Elizabeth Sneddon theatre the other evening. They were not disappointed by 

Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, an absolutely hilarious translocation 

to the stage of Wodehouse's superbly crafted stories of the old Etonian set 

in England between the two world wars.

Wodehouse misled an entire generation of Americans into believing 

England was peopled by chinless wonders, butlers, dotty aunts and fellows 

like Gussie Fink-Nottle, an expert on newts.

His magic is in his lines – like the fellow with a monocle whose stare could 

open an oyster at 20 paces.

To the Wodehouse magic is added, in this production by Pieter Toerien and 

KickstArt, acting and stagecraft that are simply sublime, heightening the 

comedy. The character whose one side is a severe, pipe-smoking magistrate 

and the other a supposedly glamorous damsel – depending which side is 

presented to the audience - was simply uncanny. It worked.

Graham Hopkins, Jonathan Roxmouth and Robert Fridjhon between them 

play various roles, male and female. What a hilarious romp this is.

What ho!

ANOTHER bit of the Wodehouse magic.

"'What ho!' I said.

"'What ho!' said Motty.

"'What ho! What ho!'

" 'What ho! What ho! What ho!'

"After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation."

Razzling Durban

ON THE downside, after a show like this, worthy of the London West End 

and Broadway, you have to traipse around Durban, dodging the whoonga 

addicts, to find at place that's still open for a meal and a glass or two – at 10 

pm on a Saturday night.

Mama mia! And they say we're one of the world's top cities? Maybe 

KickstArt can help them get their act together.

TV sex

OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "There's nothing 

wrong with sex on TV – just as long as you don't fall off."

Super watches

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener remarks in his latest grumpy 

newsletter that last year about R320m was spent in South Africa on "super-
luxury" watches. 

"For a nation where time and punctuality are not thought particularly 

important that seems rather odd."


BABY bear: "Where's my porridge?"

Papa bear: "Where's my porridge?"

Mama bear (from kitchen): "Knock it off, you two! Eskom are load-

Last word

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. 

W C Fields