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
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
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
Er, sorry, Little Mermaid I mean. (Oops! Saved by dugong!)
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."
I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to
sit still in a room.