Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Idler, Monday, May 28, 2018

Remember the Alamo!

ALL is not lost. We're still in the hunt. The Sharks went down to the Jaguares, away in Buenos Aires, in an absolute bruiser of a match, but there was much in our performance from which to take heart, especially some ferocious tackling and some great off-loading.

Three missed penalties could have made all the difference. There was a moment when we seemed to have scored another try to take the lead, but the ball turned out to have been knocked on.

After that things unravelled somewhat as we started running out of time. But that's showbiz. More is nog 'n dag. We next meet the hombres here in Durban. Remember the Alamo!

Meanwhile, Florida Road was like Piccadilly Circus on Saturday night as the fans flocked in from far and wide to watch Liverpool versus Real Madrid in the European Champions League Final.

Wedged into a spot in The Pub With No Name I watched the spectacle unfold. What a miserable evening for Liverpool keeper Loris Karius. That routine clearance throw where Real player Karim Benzema just stuck his foot out and sent it back into the goal.

Then that superb semi-backward-somersault kick by Real's Gareth Bale for an unstoppable goal. Then Bale again from far out with a scorcher that Karius got his hands to but just couldn't stop.

But the pub erupted with jubilation at Liverpool's solitary (and at that stage equalising goal). The Zulu barmen were hugging one another with delight. Durban is Scouser country.


Number crunching

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener crunches a few numbers in his latest grumpy newsletter.

"I suppose one needs to be a proper accountant to feel comfortable with numbers quoted to 12 significant figures. That's what is being used in discussions about the likely misuse (misappropriation even) of funds by the dubious characters who were responsible for the social grants programme.

"Apparently, R1 325 538 482.50 has gone missing. A whip-round in the tea-room should raise at least the 50c and save two digits. But it's unlikely that very much more than that will be located let alone repaid."

Still with figures, Greener says a new faux-currency unit has been developed to measure public value that has been lost.

"At this time of robust discussion about who owns what land – a topic which is throwing up its own contributions to foolishness and idiocy - a new and useful faux-currency unit has been introduced to highlight the amount of public value that has been 'lost' by those who were entrusted to use it wisely.

"This is the unit of 'hectares handed over'. And it is based on quite reasonable assumptions about the market prices of land on offer or even already acquired by government, plus set-up costs where necessary.

"It turns out that the public money that went missing/stolen during the Zuma era would have been able to hand over more hectares than there is currently demand for.

"Most of the supporters of the 'Expropriation without Compensation' slogan are probably hoping for a three bedroom two bathroom bungalow on 2 000m2 with pool and triple garage in a leafy suburb close to schools and shops.

"Few are that keen on living in the sticks, starting work on a tractor at 4am, waiting for rain and dealing with unpredictable markets for produce."

On love

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

·       Where does one look to find eternal love? The English ladies' tennis team scoreboard would be an obvious start. – Humphrey Lyttleton.

·       Love is just a system to get someone to call you darling after sex. – Julian Barnes.

·       The test for true love is whether you can endure the thought of cutting your sweetheart's toenails.

·       I met my husband when I worked in a delicatessen  on the King's Road. He had come in to buy an apple pie. I sold him a meat pie by mistake and we fell in love over a plate of steak and kidney and custard. – Alice Thomas Ellis.

·       My motto is "Love and Let Love" – with the one stipulation that people who love in glasshouses should breathe on the windows. – PG Wodehouse.



PUB dialogue:

"I love you."

"Is that you talking or is it the beer talking?"

"It's me talking to the beer."

Last word

I don't have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who'd be mad at me for saying that. - Mitch Hedberg

The Idler, Friday, May 25, 2018

Late-night hi-jinks

OH BOY, a late night beckons as the Sharks take on the Pumas, er Jaguares, at home in Buenos Aires. And this is a tough 'un.

The Jaguares have been going from strength to strength. Our guys have been moving from brilliance to silly buggers and back to brilliance, all in the same game.

Last week against Waikato Chiefs it was mainly brilliance. Let's have 80 minutes of it this time. Okay, 79 and a half minutes, let's be reasonable.

This one is going to be a grinder. If our pack can turn it on the way they did last week, we're on our way. If our defence stick to their guns the way they have all season – and especially last week – it will be telling.

But these are tough hombres. We have to take it to them.

The late night is a concern. When the damsels of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties have been drinking vino and strumming their knickers in anticipation for hours on end, anything can happen.

We hope for the best. We stand by in hope of a sedate fashioning of catapults from knicker elastic for the traditional celebratory feu de joie in which the streetlights are shot out.

'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!



IS THERE or isn't there a Loch Ness Monster? It's baffled the fundis for decades. Photographs show odd things breaking the water surface; odd ripples. Nothing definitive.

Go to Urqurhart Castle on the edge of the loch and view the dark, deep waters between the hills. It's spooky. If there's such a thing as a monster anywhere, this is the place for it to be.

Among theories, one is that it's a surviving plesiosaur that survived the extinction of the rest of its kind around 66 million years ago.

But why can't Nessie just be a species of freshwater dolphin – you get them all over the world? Why not an otter or something of the sort?

Anyway, scientists are determined to find out. According to Sky News, they're planning to take water samples from the loch so they can carry out tests on the tiny fragments of DNA left behind by skin, feathers, scales and urine to find out what species live in there.

Professor Neil Gemmell, of the University of Otago, in New Zealand, is among the scientists taking part. He's not convinced of the existence of a monster

"What we'll get is a really nice survey of the biodiversity of Loch Ness."

He'd better watch what he says. If the monster doesn't get him, the Scottish tourist authorities will.


Brilliant Bryson

AT LAST I've got round to reading Bill Bryson's monumental yet hugely entertaining book, At Home: A short history of private life (Swan). It's 632 pages of densely assembled fact and analysis on England's and North America's transition from the semi-mediaeval 18th century to the present.

This is quality scholarship, yet presented in such a readable, entertaining and humorous way that it is very much a downhill marathon. Bryson – an American living in England - has brought us much in this vein before but At Home is surely an apogee.

He takes us on a conducted tour of his home, an old former rectory in Norfolk, exploring on the way the industrial revolution, architectural styles, agricultural and horticultural innovation, disease, epidemics, crude medicine – with frequent flips also into prehistory. Then at last into recognisable modernity – Charles Darwin, even Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (whose personal lifestyles were anything but proletarian).

Bryson's descriptions of the wretched poverty of 18th and 19th century England are vivid and disturbing; he also brings us the rigid class divide.

One reflects that conditions in England then were considerably worse than in South Africa today, where another generation has chaotically urbanised. They got through it in a relatively short time, considering. Maybe there's hope in this for us.




A Mexican is being hypnotised by a stage magician in his home town.

"You're in the desert," says the hypnotist. "It's very hot and you want a drink."

The Mexican pants and licks his lips.

"Now you're at the North Pole. It's below freezing."

The Mexican shivers.

"Now you're in the US. You have a good job, a nice house, health care …"

The Mexican opens one eye: "You wake me up, Senor, and I break your arms!"

Last word

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Idler, Thursday, May 24

Tories pitch for Nando's

THE Conservative Party in Britain has suggested using Nando's – the Mozambican-Portuguese chicken restaurant chain originating in South Africa – for a membership drive.

The London Times quotes a senior party source saying the Tories are considering offering members a discount card for shops and restaurants, including Nando's.

"These are early discussions: we don't know how many businesses would want to take part, but we're keen to give members more in return for their membership."

The Conservative Party has 124 000 members against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, which has 550 000. Sky News quotes a Tory source saying many local Conservative associations effectively exist "on paper only". The fear is that being thin on the ground could disadvantage them in marginal constituencies.

However, Nando's has no intention of linking up with the Tories.

According to a spokesperson: "Nando's has no political affiliations as a brand and no political discount card exists. We have a Nando's loyalty card and standard gift cards that anyone can use, and we offer a 20% discount to police, fire services, the ambulance service and National Health Service."

So bad luck for the Tories. Chicken piri-piri won't help swell their numbers.

Maybe they should try Bobby's Bunnychows. It's only a matter of time before they relocate to the UK.

Floral art

READER Sheila Astill congratulates us on yesterday's picture of a floral Union Jack at the Chelsea In Bloom festival in London.


But you ain't seen nuttin' she says. Come to St Elizabeth's Church and the church hall (Salisbury Avenue, Westville) on June 1 and 2, between 9am and 4pm, for a Floral Extravaganza/Showcase.


At least 40 members of the Durban Floral Art Club will be arranging flowers in the church hall and 12 others will be decorating the church itself.


"It's not a competition but we are asking members of the public to vote on which display or arrangement they enjoyed the most.


"Our members include winners of provincial, national and international awards, including the Chelsea Flower Show and World Floral Art shows."


Admission is R50 (children under 12 free), the Edith Benson Babies' Home to benefit.


Sheila adds: "Our knicker elastic is much stronger than the sort they use at St. Clements."


So the Durban Floral Art Club are rugby enthusiasts. They fashion catapults to shoot out the streetlights in the traditional celebratory feu de joie in the event of a Sharks victory. Attagirl, Sheila!

Baffling decline

HERE'S something to baffle the mathematicians. Two species of marsupial in Australia – that is, creatures where the young are carried in a pouch by the female, ranging downward from kangaroos to small rodents – indulge in mating sessions that are so prolonged and frenzied the observing scientists get embarrassed.

Yet the black-tailed dusky antechinus and the silver-headed antechinus – tiny critters discovered only in 2013 – appear to be heading for extinction. The males die after marathon sex sessions.

Scientists at Queensland University of Technology  are racing against the clock to save the species from extinction, according to Sky News..

"They are very frantic and try to get from one mate to another and the mating itself can last hours, so it's very tiring," says Andrew Baker, mammalogist at the university.

"Males go from "absolutely prime health... to falling to pieces before your very eyes" within the annual frenzied fortnight of mating at the end of the winter, he says.

Er, a reminder, we're talking here about the black-tailed dusky antechinus and the silver-headed antechinus, not a varsity digs. But it does seem an astonishing contradiction of the Malthusian doctrine of population increase - wealth growing by one two three and population growing by one two four.

Well at least the females don't bite the males' heads off before the snoring starts, as with the black widow spiders. That's something.


A FELLOW walks into the office of a theatrical agent and says he does bird imitations.

"Bird imitators are 10 a penny," says the agent. "It's not worth putting you on my books."

"Oh well," says the imitator. "I'll leave you my card just in case you change your mind."

Then he drops his trousers, lays an egg and flies out of the window.

Last word

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Will Rogers

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Idler, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A porcine encounter

It was a year ago, September,
A day I well remember,
I was walking up and down
In drunken pride,
When my knees began to flutter
And I fell down in the gutter
And a pig came by and lay down by my side.
As I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
I thought I heard a passing lady say:
'You can tell a man who boozes
by the company he chooses...'
And with that the pig got up and walked away.


OHIO police thought they had found a local version of the old Irish ditty when they received a 911 call from a man in North Ridgeville who complained that he was being followed home from the railway station by a pig that was molesting him.

They presumed the caller was drunk but, according to US radio station NPR, they found a "very sober" man who was indeed being pursued by a pig that kept nudging him.

The pig was loaded into the patrol vehicle then put in police kennels while his picture was posted on the internet.

Soon enough, the pig's owner arrived to claim him. He was indeed a pet and had merely been looking for affection.

Those Irish songsters knew all about these things.

Big Mac record

AN American man has celebrated eating his 30 000th Big Mac hamburger, according to Sky News.

A crowd gathered at McDonald's in Military Road, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to watch 64-year-old Don Gorske polish off his milestone burger, along with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, all on a sesame-seed bun.

It's a well documented milestone. Gorske has thousands of receipts, wrappers and containers that detail his two Big Macs a day culinary procession since his first in 1972 (though 7 000 styrofoam containers disappeared in a tornado in 1990).

He also has a wife, to whom he proposed under the McDonald's golden arches, when he got a chance between munching.

Gorske describes the Big Mac as his "perfect food". He has never had to supplement it with anything else, he says.

On only two occasions has he gone without. On August 13, 1994, he went on a motoring trip of some 900km and, to his great astonishment, did not encounter a single McDonald's. In 1988 he went without a Big Mac for a day in remembrance of his mother.

One searches in vain for Big Mac reviews by our local restaurant connoisseurs.




A DAIRY farm worker in New Zealand was calling in the cows early one morning when suddenly it seemed much of the pasture had disappeared.

A giant sinkhole had opened up after heavy rain at Rotorua, on the North Island, revealing rock deposits from a 60 000-year-old volcano.

The hole is as deep as four double-decker buses (20m or so)  and  200m long.

Geologists believe that thousands of years of rain eroded underground limestone, causing the ground to collapse.

"This is pretty spectacular, it's a lot bigger than the ones I'd normally see," volcanologist Brad Scott told TV New Zealand.

Hmmm. So this is what is likely to happen in Hawaii in 60 000 years' time.


Brits on marriage

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

·       It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen.

·       Damnit, it's your duty to get married. You can't always be living for pleasure. – Oscar Wilde.

·       Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity. – George Bernard Shaw.

·       Marriage is like the witness protection programme; you get all new clothes, you live in the suburbs and you're not allowed to see your friends anymore. – Jeremy Hardy.

·       I don't believe that people would ever fall in love or want to be married if they hadn't been told about it. It's like abroad: no one would want to go there if they hadn't been told it existed. – Evelyn Waugh.

·       I was engaged to a contortionist but she broke it off. - Les Dawson.


TWO military veterans are chatting in a bar.

"When did you last make love to a woman?"

"Er, 1957."

"My goodness, that's a long time ago."

"Not really, it's only five past eight now."

Last word

Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.

Albert Camus

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday May 22, 2018

Another Trump withdrawal?

PRESIDENT Donald Trump is very much a new broom. He's withdrawn the US from the Paris Climate Accord, which was signed by just about every other country.

He's withdrawn the US from the Iran Nuclear Accord, which was signed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, describing the agreement as "a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made."

And now, according to the New Yorker, he's considering pulling the US out of the US Constitution, calling it "the worst deal ever".

"I've seen a lot of bad deals in my life, but this Constitution is a total mess," the New Yorker quotes him saying. "We need to tear it up and start over."

He was scathing on the Constitution's insistence on three branches of government.

"The branches thing is maybe the worst part of this deal, The first thing we do when we pull out of the Constitution is get rid of two of those branches."

He also called the First Amendment – freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press - "something that really has to go."

"No one in his right mind would put something like that in a Constitution. Russia doesn't have it. North Korea doesn't have it. All the best countries don't have it."

Yes, this is satirist Andy Borowitz again. The First Amendment is still very much in place.

'Gator extortion

A KIDNAPPER in Connecticut, in the US, used an alligator in an attempt to extort money from the family of his victim, according to Huffington Post.

"They got this alligator on me, and they saying that if no money is given they are gonna have him chewing on me," the victim said in a phone call to his aunt.

The kidnapper also texted to the aunt a photo of her nephew trussed up in a bathtub with a 1m alligator on his back, showing its teeth.

Police traced the phone that had been used to communicate with the aunt and eventually found the kidnapper and his victim – a 21-year-old man- at a hotel in Shelton.

The kidnapper was arrested and taken into custody, the alligator was put in the care of the state environmental service and the victim was returned to his family.


"It is an outrageous case, but it is clear from the evidence that this young man's life was in danger," Bridgeport Police Lieutenantt. Christopher LaMaine said. "This was no joke."



Where, where?


READER Pieter Aarsen did not appreciate last week's Tailpiece about the 86-year-old with the 23-year-old cordon bleu girlfriend, who couldn't remember where he lives.

"I am 87 (soon 88) and I remember perfectly well where I live. But I do not know where to find a beautiful 23-year–old- girl to cook for me.

"Making love? What is that?"



Tax evaders

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener turns his attention in his latest grumpy newsletter to ther epidemic of cash heists.

"The upturn in the frequency and ferocity of attacks on those armoured vans which are used to carry and deliver cash is extremely alarming.

"It is obvious and indeed proven that many of the perpetrators are members of either the police or army and are proficient in the use of tactics and munitions.

"That makes it very difficult to stop and so one wonders whether urgent attention is being given to move South Africa towards a cashless society. The facts about which nations have made how much progress with such plans are very interesting and even Kenya is already some way down the road.

"But banning, for example, any cash transaction above a really quite low level, like a few thousand, as is done in many European countries, will be deeply unpopular among the very many tax evaders that walk our streets."

That wrangle


IAN Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, expresses disillusionment with the adolescent behaviour on all sides in the De Lille/DA wrangle in the Western Cape.


Cape Town's Mayor De Lille

Over the DA casts a big chill;

For she's too hot to handle,

As all they do is wrangle

About how to go for the kill.



"FANCY a game of darts?


"Nearest to the bull starts."

"Okay. Ba-a-a-a!"


"You're closest. You start."

Last word

Criminal: A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.

Howard Scott


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Udler, Monday, May 21

The trifecta comes up

'TIS with my customary diffidence and modesty that I point out that I had the trifecta on Saturday.

As predicted, Harry and Meghan were successfully spliced at Windsor and neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Donald Trump gave away the bride. It was Prince Charles who did the honours.

As predicted, Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

And - whee! – as predicted, the Sharks beat Waikato Chiefs. What a game, our fellows shoving them around in the scrums, some exhilarating running by the backs and superb tackling.

Those Chiefs threequarters are hombres who mean business but it was as if they were running into a wire fence. Not once did they break our line.

Yet at times it seemed we were doing our best to throw things away with two soft tries – one vas aan die slaap at a line-out near our own line, the other an interception that was telegraphed way upfront.

Mama mia! But thanks, we'll take the points! Ole, ole, ole!

Extra special

WAS this royal wedding not a firm cementing of the special relationship between the US and the Poms?

A feature of the ceremony was a splendid sermon by an African-American cleric, delivered in the style of the old time religion of the Deep South.

As an American remarked on Sky TV afterwards, she felt as if she was back in Virginia.

A cementing of the special relationship – yep. And given the never-ending ructions surrounding the White House, could this be the beginning of a restoration of the monarchy in America?

Probably not. But if it should happen, remember where you read it first!


I TRIED to closely watch the FA Cup Final but was badly distracted by a blonde vision of loveliness with whom I was having dinner.

Loveliness aside, this blonde is capable of great severity. She was glad to note my sudden interest in football, she said. Did this mean I was being weaned of the boorishness of rugby?

Where do these gals get such outlandish ideas?

Bothy Boys

ON FRIDAY I attended a splendid lunch to mark the 65th birthday of my old "Bothy Boy" pal, Captain Allen Brink, a former ship's master, currently a member of the executive board of the Nautical Institute, in London, and through this connection a Freeman of the City of London (which I think entitles him to dance a hornpipe along the Victoria Embankment on the north bank of the Thames).

A Bothy Boy is somebody who qualified as a merchant navy officer at the South African Nautical College, in the Western Cape, also known as the General Botha.

Allen is always kind enough to describe me as a fellow Bothy Boy because I once spent three months there for a navigation course while with the South African Navy.

On arrival at Joop's Place I was hailed by Allen and told to sit with two other Maritzburg College fellows so they could keep an eye on us. And blow me down! One was a former ship's chief engineer I was not just at College with but Merchiston also, The other a master mariner, some years younger, who had also been through Merchiston and College. Beat that!

Also in the vicinity at our table were Mike Procter, demon fast bowler of yesteryear, and a fellow named Ben Lamaletie, also known as Ben the Benefactor because he used to be chief brewer at SA Breweries. A jolly crew.

I was relating all this to the aforementioned blonde, who expressed horror at the thought of being in the company of such a bunch of old duffers. (I told you she can be severe).

So I told her of a splendid jape involving Father Daine, of the Anglican parish of St Cyprian's.

He arrived rather peckish and declared he was looking forward to a nice steak. The waitress eventually handed him a minuscule steak, about the girth of a meatball. As the good reverend registered shock and dismay, she handed him another plate with a whopper of a steak on it.

The company fell upon a roar, as Boswell would have put it.

"How absolutely childish," said my lovely blonde. "I'm glad I wasn't there."

Gals can be difficult to fathom.





HE DOESN'T drink anything stronger than pop. Mind you, Pop will drink anything.

Last word

Blame someone else and get on with your life.

Alan Woods