Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Idler, Friday, February 24, 2017

The forces sang to their sweetheart

There'll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Just you wait and see …

IS VERA Lynn, The Forces' Sweetheart, really turning 100? Yes, next month. Is she really bringing out a new album? Yep, on her 100th birthday – new arrangements, apparently also involving current singers, of all the old wartime numbers -  We'll meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, Lili Marlene, A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square…

Since I interviewed her yonks ago at the Edward, then accompanied her to lunch at the Air Force Club, Vera has been made a Dame of the Realm for her contribution to morale in World War II. She was much like our own Lady In White, Perla Siedle Gibson, who sang to the troopships and warships from the dockside in Durban harbour during the war.

That lunch at the Air Force Club? It was quite a shindig.

"Give us a song, Vera!" the fellows inevitably called.

"No, it's your turn to sing to me!"

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again
Some sunny day …

The fellows huskily belted it out at the lunch table as Vera beat time. In musical terms it was absolutely awful. In terms of sentiment it was wonderful. The forces sang to their sweetheart.

This album will be for a generation that has all but disappeared. Who knows, it might catch on with the youngsters. It's history anyway.


ALL eyes on Brisbane. Can the Sharks pull it off? What are the pointers for the season ahead? Has the Lambkin made a complete recovery from the physical pounding he took last season?

I myself have every confidence in Robert du Preez as a coach. The side put together is about as strong as you can assemble. I'm sure the Lambkin will razzle-dazzle.

'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!

Stand by for a blizzard of knickers at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, a shooting-out of streetlights in the traditional celebratory feu de joie with catapults fashioned from the gals' knicker elastic. It's rugby season at last!

Fiat Cub

WE'VE been discussing of late the potential of various cars - such as the old Volkswagen Beetle and the old Datsun Bluebird – in, shall we say, unorthodox off-road manoeuvrings. It would be remiss not to mention the qualities of the old 500cc Fiat Cub.

This tiny little car was the only one that could drive at night down the pedestrian lanes in the Maritzburg CBD during varsity days. Great fun! The night watchmen would blow their whistles and give chase.

I refer to the old Fiat Cubs, the high-wheeled model – magnificent roadholding – and with the engine under the bonnet where it belongs, not behind. Mine actually had a foldaway canvas roof, you could call it a sportscar. Vroom, vroom! - 500cc – here we come!

With a Fiat Cub you could leave a place – say the Imperial Hotel – late at night and drive all the way home on the pavement, just for fun. But the pedestrian lanes, with all the lawyers' offices – those were the real thing.

I was on such a sortie one night. In the passenger's seat was a fellow who was later to play wing for Natal. We had the canopy open. Exuberance took over. My pal leapt up and started swinging on an attorney's signboard that hung out over the lane.

Then – crack! – the thing came away from the wall and my pal and the sign came down in the car.

Whistles were blowing, boots pounding. I managed to get rid of the sign and put foot on gas, my pal complaining volubly that he wanted to keep the sign as a souvenir. We got away.

It's the kind of thing you could do only in a Fiat Cub.



THIS fellow goes into a bar with a small dog. He sits the dog down on the piano stool and it starts playing hot honky-tonk. The place is entranced.

Then a big dog runs in, grabs the small one by the scruff of the neck and drags him outside.

Barman: "That little dog's amazing. But what's with the big dog?"

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

Last word

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

Laurence J Peter




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