Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Perpetuation of a myth


BRIAN Kearney, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of KZN, says I perpetuated one of the great Durban myths the other day by saying the roof of the old Durban station was designed to hold 10m of snow, and that the architectural plan came from Canada.


He attaches a drawing of the roof of the old station, prepared by the Crown Agents in London in 1894 and titled "Roof for Central Station in Durban", prepared for the Natal Government Railways.


Oh dear. This then also confounds my accompanying theory that the central station in Winnipeg, Canada, was designed with a giant thatched beehive roof which constantly collapsed under snow. (The architectural plan being supplied, of course, by the Natal Government).


"I have spent most of my life trying hard to dispel such myths," says Prof Kearney. "I had almost given up until the phrase 'alternative facts' appeared from the US.

"Another 'alternative fact' about Durban is that the City Hall is an exact replica of the one in Belfast.

"This is a very alternative fact as the City Hall has many other lookalikes of the same period, just as the US Consulate in St Petersburg has." (The issue cropped up when I remarked that on TV footage the US consulate in St Petersburg, which was closed by the Russians, looked remarkably like the old Durban station).


Actually I've seen the Belfast City Hall. It does look very much like ours, except it has no palm trees round it. But, as the prof says, it's a matter of architectural styles of the day, not replicas.


One thing remains incontrovertible however. The roof of Durban's old station has never collapsed under snow.


No sopranos

HOW'S this for a piece of politically correct insanity? A police male voice choir in Derbyshire, England, has been forced to change its name and disassociate itself from its force because it refuses to allow women to join.

A male voice choir by definition, surely, has to be made up of male choristers. Sopranos, contraltos etc just don't fit in.

Derbyshire Constabulary Male Voice Choir had been singing and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity since 1956.

But Chief Constable Peter Goodman says the name is not acceptable.

"We are an equal opportunities employer and we are committed to having an organisation where there are no enclaves where people from different backgrounds cannot go."

Different backgrounds? Hoo boy!




Space hotel

TOURISTS will soon be able to spend time in a luxury hotel in space, for a trifling $9.5 million (R113m) a person..

This was announced during last week's Space 2.0 summit in San Jose, California, according to Sky News.

The Aurora Station project plans to allow six people - including two crew members - the opportunity to enjoy first-class accommodation above Earth as part of a 12-day odyssey among the stars.

The once-in-a-lifetime experience will allow guests to experience the exhilaration of zero gravity and gaze upon stunning views of the planet below without the fear of getting lost in space, with the added perk of being able to witness an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets a day.

Hmmm, zero gravity? We hope this will not lead to raunchy and unseemly behaviour on the ceiling.


Racoon acrobats

RACOONS in Youngstown, Ohio, in the US, started behaving very strangely recently. Normally nocturnal, they have been appearing in the daytime, standing on their hind feet, baring their teeth then doing backflips.

The police got dozens of calls reporting it.

Photographer Robert Coggeshall told the news agency WKBN  he was playing with his dogs outside his home last week when one of the raccoons approached them.

"He would stand up on his hind legs, which I've never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition."

City officials said the racoons had contracted distemper, a viral disease that causes them to behave this way and lose their fear of humans. They had to be euthanased. How sad.



A CIVIL servant goes to the doctor with a sleep problem.

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

Last word

What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, its body brevity, and wit its soul.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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