Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Idler, Friday, December 21, 2018

Brexit row

enters a

new phase

A FURIOUS row has broken out in the Westminster bubble over whether or not Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition in the UK, called Prime Minister Theresa May a "stupid woman" during an exchange across the floor of the House of Commons.

Corbyn says his words were "stupid people", but lip-readers have been called in to analyse the video recording, and they say he definitely said "stupid woman".

It seems the offence is not in the word "stupid" but in its combination with the word "woman", making it practically a hanging offence in the lexicon of the gender activists. In today's climate it totally eclipses in importance the matter that had been at issue – Brexit, whether there should be another referendum or whether the Brits should simply crash out of the EU and to hell with the consequences.

Lip readers come into play. Did Britain's Leader of the Opposition insult women? Will Corbyn be marched out of the Commons at swordpoint by the Sergeant-at-arms? We enter uncharted waters.



HO, HO, HO! A child writes to Santa Claus:

"Dear Santa,

"I'm writing to tell you I've been naughty and it was worth it.

"You fat, judgmental bastard."

Ho, ho, ho!



INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener turns his attention, in his latest grumpy newsletter, to the effects of digital technology on the legal profession as well as on the future of cash as an instrument of exchange.

"When just one man, albeit an ex-president with a litigious streak and shocking advice, can ring up a legal bill of R16 million and probably more, it explains those gilded lawyer-infested towers that are forever springing up in the smarter parts of town.

"At a recent presentation of what the future might hold it was explained to the audience that the legal profession was very nervous about the arrival of artificial intelligence and what it would do to their income stream The argument is that since the law deals with facts and is pretty much black and white (the old-fashioned use of the term) it is ripe for replacement by a robot that has been loaded not only with the laws of the land but also has unparalleled instant access to every judgment ever made.

"However, it is not obvious that this potential impact has yet worried our own brand of legal eagles.

"A similar forecast about the disappearance of cash in favour of purely electronic money and value transfer leaves local observers wondering if the futurists responsible for this have ever ventured out of the New York coffee bar where they thought this one up.

"Exciting as it may seem to do away with cash and have every transaction pass through a record- keeping system, the champions of this idea are perhaps naive about the scale of the informal and illegal economies where records are neither required nor indeed wanted.

"Even if the formal banking institutions agree to penalise cash handling further than they currently do, the demand for undetectable money flows will persist for as long as governments collect tax.

"And then what about the tooth fairy's coin?"



A CIVIL servant goes to his doctor with sleep problems.

"I get to sleep at night," he says. "And the mornings are OK. But I'm having trouble dropping off in the afternoons."


Last word

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. - Stephen King

The Idler, Thursday, December 20, 2018

Music to

Bring the house



ABOUT 200 of us were well and truly launched into festive mode the other evening by local group iGrandi Tenori at their Christmas Music Extravaganza, put on by Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Club.


It was an awesome affair by this ensemble of highly talented vocalists, grand piano and string quartet, marred only by my blonde companion holding a knife to my throat to discourage me from singing along in accompaniment of Shani Mwelase in his lovely rendition of Danny Boy.


What a faultless performance this was, such practised musicality. iGrandi Tenori are youngsters – two of them still at school – and it seems they are about to embark on a wider world stage. They'll bring the house down wherever they go.


Ahem! Tonight I'll be singing my own much-acclaimed rendition of Danny Boy at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.




IF YOU think our political situation is currently fraught, just wait 'til next year when the politicos get into election mode. Reader Leslie Noble, of Brighton Beach, pens a few lines under the snappy title, "Current affairs (from Eskom) and Parrot Parasites (Polly Ticks)"


A custom has now started

In pre-election days

Of getting all light-hearted

In entertaining ways.


(Light-hearted, though, can only come

In rationed little lumps,

Between the periods when some

With shedding, Eskom dumps.


Though called 'Supply Commission',

Renaming should take place:

More like, 'Supply Omission'

Would tend to fit the case.)


Still, form a brand-new party

To benefit the trades,

Or yet another, tarty,

That can be joined by maids.


Next, maybe, comes a leader

Who will distil free beer;

Or some quite nasty bleeder

Just out to instil fear.


And then a party-party,

For partying all day,

Quite popularly start-y

For those who like to play.


A party for the San and Khoi,

Who want their land back, please;

And then one, purely to annoy

For paying legal fees.


And, come to that, a lobby

To bring back Zuma rule,

Where everybody's hobby

Will be to play the fool.


I don't suppose will come to pass

When those we will elect

Are best, ignoring race or class

As things of no effect.




READER Eric Hodgson supplies some linguistic twisters:

·       The meaning of opaque is unclear.

·       I wasn't going to get a brain transplant but then I changed my mind.

·       Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It's very time-consuming.

·       A man tried to assault me with milk, cream and butter. How dairy!

·       I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.

·       If there was someone selling marijuana in our neighbourhood, weed know about it.

·       It's a lengthy article about ancient Japanese sword fighters but I can Sumurais it for you.

·       It's not that the man couldn't juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

·       So what if I don't know the meaning of the word "apocalypse"? It's not the end of the world.

·       Police were called to the daycare centre. A 3-year old was resisting a rest.

·       The other day I held the door open for a clown. I thought it was a nice jester.


A-a-a-r-r-rgh! He supplies 21 of them. Enough, enough!




TWO cowboys stagger out of a zoo, their clothes in shreds. One says: "This lion dancin' sure ain't as restful and relaxin' as they make out."


Last word


Democracy means that anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be vice-president.

Johnny Carson


The Idler Wwednesday, December 19, 2018

THE Brexit fiasco has made it on to America's Saturday Night Live satirical show – Prime Minister Theresa May dancing with four London bobbies.

"What a dreadful week it's been," she says. "My Brexit deal is falling apart, I almost got voted out and no one in the world likes me at all. But it's still Christmas, so let's try to have some cheer tonight, shall we?"

Also there is her predecessor, David Cameron, "the man who called for the Brexit vote – then, when it passed, he bounced and left me to clean up his mess."

"You know what's funny?" Cameron says. "People hate me, but they really hate you. Even though I did Brexit. I mean, you've got to laugh."

It's not quite hilarious. In fact it captures the sadness The Brits now sit with a deal that relegates them to the permanent status of something like a colony of the EU, with no role in formulating the rules (and which parliament will almost certainly reject); alternatively the crash-out option, which would be ruinous; or, second alternative, the humble pie option – scrapping the whole thing.

The solution might seem obvious but rationality has flown out the window. How did the thing get on the road in the first place?

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.


THERE'S also talk of a second referendum. Hoo boy! Wasn't it a referendum that caused the whole vortex?

The referendum (also known as a plebiscite) is not truly part of the traditional British system of government (from which our own derives). The plebiscite is used by generalissimos and other populists to whip the plebs into a frenzy of support for one cause or another.

The Brit-style tradition leaves it to representatives of the people – parliament – to decide such things. These representatives are most of them familiar with the issues. It's their job to be.

So now in Britain it's tradition (parliament) against the plebiscite. Which prevails? As the political scientists so succinctly put it – a total gemors.

HEY, this is progress. At my local Spar shop the other day, the lass at check-out asked me: "Plastic bag or paper bag?"

I opted for the paper bag, of course, a stoutly built thing with handles that will last for months – maybe even years – and, when it eventually becomes too tattered and torn for use, will be thrown aside to decompose into its wholesome natural elements with no damage whatever to the environment.

The plastic bag, by contrast, is around virtually forever unless it is recycled into another plastic bag. It's likely ultimately to end up in the ocean, stifling life there, breaking down into pellets that enter the food chain. It could even end up part of one of those vast floating islands of plastic that have formed in the Pacific and elsewhere.

We once did very well without plastics. Paper, cardboard and glass were perfectly adequate. It seems the shops are waking up to the need to get back to environment-friendly wrappings. More strength to their elbow.

Next step: what about the packages that go into the large paper n bag? Many of them are still wrapped in plastic. There's still a way to go.


HOW does a Russian commit suicide? He smells his armpits.

How does an American commit suicide? He tells the joke to a Russian.

Last word

Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. - Laurence J Peter


The Idler, Tuesday, December 18, 2018

May the

Christmas cheer


CHRISTMAS cheer … 835 tubas performed a rousing Silent Night the other evening in Kansas City, in the US.

Eight hundred and thirty-five tubas and Silent Night – is this not a contradiction? At any rate, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra have now smashed the Guinness World Record for tubas playing Silent Night, according to Huffington Post. The previous record was set by 502 tuba players in California in 2007.

A week or so ago, 1 Medical Battalion Pipe Band played Christmas carols on the bagpipes in their Kilts and Carols concerts here in Durban. Silent Night presumably featured in their repertoire, perhaps even more of a contradiction than tubas.

Do we have a theme here, a developing trend in Christmas carols? Silent Night performed by massed tubas, bagpipes and perhaps a cannonade as in the 1812 Overture?

The Christmas message needs to be heard.


MEANWHILE, something not quite in the seasonal spirit. Santa Claus suddenly departed from the script of "Ho, ho, ho!" and patting kids on their heads at a festival at St Ives, in Cambridgeshire, England.

Fire and smoke alarms suddenly sounded in his grotto (set off by smoke from a nearby function) at which Santa lost his cool, according to Sky News.

He ripped off his hat and beard and urged folk to get out fast, employing the vivid vocabulary of a ship's bosun in an emergency.

It shocked parents and the dozens of kids who were waiting to meet Santa.

Said a parent: "People were vacating the building and in came angry Santa swearing, using the most vile language, ripping off his hat and beard with steam almost coming from his ears... I'm  not sure why he was so cross?"

I suppose when you've been practising "Ho, ho. Ho!" all week, you don't like a sudden change in script.


DONALD Trump's chief of staff, General John Kelly, has departed through the White House revolving door.

However, according to the New Yorker, he left with the nation's nuclear codes hidden in his pants. He snitched them while Trump was preoccupied watching Fox & Friends on TV plus sending off a Tweet.

These are the codes which a US president would use to launch nuclear strikes against the enemy – the apocalypse option. Many are nervous that President Trump could confuse the nuclear codes with his Twitter button

The New Yorker quotes General Kelly – whose military career spanned five decades – describing his absconding with the nuclear codes as "my greatest act of service to my country."

They're still in his pants and that's where they'll stay, he says. So General Kelly's pantaloons become, for the moment, the locus of political struggle in America.

But before folk draw too much encouragement, this is satirist Andy Borowitz again. You can't take literally everything he says.



JULIUS Caesar is addressing the crowd in the Colosseum. "Friends, Romans, countrymen!" he cries. "I have returned from my campaign in France, where I killed 40 000 Gauls."

The crowd rise to their feet, cheering: "Hail, mighty Caesar!"

Brutus is on his feet: "Caesar lies! He killed only 20 000 Gauls!"

Caesar: "Ah, but remember - away Gauls count for double in Europe."



Last word


But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Carl Sagan

The Ideler, Friday, December 14, 2018



on high …

TOK-TOKKIE in Alaska … except there they apparently call it "ding dong ditch". Kyle Stultz and his partner, Allie Johnstone, were wakened in the middle of the night in Anchorage by their front doorbell going crazy.

Stultz checked on his dogs and looked out of the door but saw no signs of anything, just a friendly moose hanging about, according to Huffington Post.

"We were thinking kids coming through playing ding dong ditch or maybe a neighbour. We had no idea," Stultz said.

But security footage didn't show the presence of teenage pranksters, missionaries, or even a lost pizza driver. But there was this moose.

And next thing the moose backed up to the door and pressed the bell with his bum. He seemed to enjoy the sound.

As the Scots might say: "Hoots mon, it's a hoose, it's a moose, it's a braw bricht nicht on a moonlicht nicht."


MORE from Rosemarie Jarski's Great British Wit. Topic: Horseracing.

·       Owning a racehorse is probably the most expensive way of getting on to a racecourse for nothing. – Clement Freud

·       One way to stop a runaway horse is to bet on him. – Jeffrey Bernard.

·       I have no intention of watching undersized Englishmen perched on horses with matchstick legs race along courses planned to amuse Nell Gwynn. – Gilbert Harding

·       A real racehorse should have a head like a lady and a behind like a cook. – Jack Leach


AND now some gems of jurisprudence from American court records. The exchanges are between attorney and witness.

·       "What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?"
:He said: 'Where am I, Cathy?'"
"And why did that upset you?"
"My name is Susan!"

·       "What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?"
"Gucci sweats and Reeboks".

·       "Are you sexually active?"
"No, I just lie there."

·       "This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?"
"And in what ways does it affect your memory?"
"I forget."
"You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?"

·       "So the date of conception of the baby was August 8?"
"And what were you doing at that time?"
"Getting laid."

·       "Can you describe the individual?"
"He was about medium height and had a beard."
"Was this a male or a female?"
"Unless the circus was in town I'm going with male."

·       "Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?"

"No, this is how I dress when I go to work."

·       "Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?"
"All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight."

·       "Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?"
"Did you check for blood pressure?"
"Did you check for breathing?"
" No."
"So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?"
" No."
"How can you be so sure, Doctor?"
"Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar."
"I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?"
"Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law."



THE robber points a gun at the cashier and says: "Give me all the money or you're geography!"

"You mean history?"

"Don't change the subject!"


Last word

After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.

Fred Thompson

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Idler, Thursday, December 13, 2018

Durban –

better than


THINGS seem not quite as they should be. Meter maids are a common enough sight in our streets. But why are these two in Florida Road dressed as chorus girls in fishnet tights as they go about their ticketing duties?

Further down, there's yet another traffic light failure. An admiral is on point duty, directing traffic. An admiral? Has the navy taken over traffic control duties? Do we have enough admirals for all the city's intersections?

No we don't. At the next intersection a matador is on point duty.

Down on the beachfront the mounted police are patrolling in preparation for the Christmas rush. Except these cops are Canadian Mounties. No, not all of them. Some are Mexican gauchos. Others are Russian Cossacks.

What the heck is going on?

As I am pondering in bewilderment, a metro police motorcycle roars past, the rider hanging desperately on to his top hat.

The penny drops. As reported a few days ago, the metro cops are pitching for work in motley because their stores department has run out of uniforms due to procurement hassles.

But why these exotic rigs? It turns out that the Playhouse costumes department has come to the rescue. Therefore we can expect the beaches to be patrolled this Christmas by Roman gladiators, cowboys, the cast of the Mikado and clog-dancers.

Durban turns crisis into opportunity. Where else in the world do you get ticketed by a girl in fishnet tights? Where else do you get frisked by the Pirates of Penzance? It's better than Disneyland.



WHO fancies a surfing holiday at Zuma Beach, in California?

At a time he is beleaguered in so many ways, it seems a beach in California has been named after our former president. That's one bright spot for him, I suppose.

We're obliged to Rob Nicolai, Howick's resident theoretical physicist, for the information about Zuma Beach.

However, the name turns out to be purely coincidental and in part caused by a misspelling. The name Zuma Beach – it's one of the safest and most popular in California – derives from the nearby Point Dume, named in 1793 after Father Francisco Dumetz, of the Mission San Buenaventura.

"Dume" has elided into "Duma", alternatively "Zuma", which is officially used today in all the tourist literature.

Oh well – surf's up!



STILL with California, police got a surprise when a bear, walking on its hind legs, opened the door to their station and strolled in as if it were checking in a for a shift..

It happened in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, according to Huffington Post.

The bear wandered past some vending machines, then just as casually strolled back and by the same door he'd come in, followed for a while by two police officers.

Bears in the area are foraging for food 20 hours a day as they prepare to go into winter hibernation.

This particular bear needs to get smarter than just walking on his hind legs and opening doors. He needs to acquire a police star to avoid being hassled. Also, he needs some small change to get grub out of those vending machines. Then zzzzz…



A YACHT is in trouble off the German coast. They send out a frantic radio message: "Mayday, Mayday! We're sinking! We're sinking!"

Their radio crackles into life: "Und vot iss you sinking about?"


Last word

You cannot be mad at somebody who makes you laugh - it's as simple as that.

Jay Leno