Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Idler, Friday, August 31, 2018

Go Sharks, go!

FREE State Cheetahs tomorrow in Bloemfontein – do we make it two in a row in this foreshortened Currie Cup? It ought to be a shoo-in, given our form last Saturday and the week before; great handling, adventurous running and gin-trap tackling. Also given that Free State have their main focus on the PRO 14 competition in Europe. (That's the penalty these days for failing to make the cut in Super Rugby – you get to play in Europe).

But, as we all know, in rugby there's no such thing as a shoo-in. You have to show up with the kop in the right place, stick to the game plan and play like a dog with turpentine on its backside. Anything can happen.

The damsels of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties are already strumming at their knickers in anticipation of supplying elastic for the fashioning of catapults for the traditional celebratory feu de joie when the streetlights are shot out. The Sharks must not let them down. The behaviour of these gals can turn ugly indeed if they're disappointed.

'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!


Moving north?

AS ARGUED last week, the Currie Cup had always been the furnace in which great Springbok sides were forged. Could the decline in the Boks' performance be connected to the Currie Cup giving way more than somewhat to Super Rugby, with its southern hemisphere international; component?

Is it really possible that the Currie Cup could re-emerge as the furnace? Or is the drift in the opposite direction?

Free State have been having a whale of a time playing up north, and they say the boodle is better. North-south travel, no more jetlag. What a punishment!

And now former Springbok flanker Schalk Burger says it outright: Our super rugby sides should be competing in the northern hemisphere; the Boks should be playing in what would become the Seven Nations.

To some this will sound shocking, a discarding of the traditional rivalry between the Boks, the All Blacks and the Wallabies. But times have changed.

In days of yore, the Boks would travel to Australasia by sea, staying fit as they could on board with press-ups and wind-sprints down the promenade decks, hurdling any passengers stretched out on their sunbeds.

Then a protracted and leisurely tour of Australia and New Zealand. There was no such thing as jetlag.

Not so today. Distance. Cross-longitudinal travel. Jetlag. It affects performance and results. It's also damned expensive.

Who knows how it will turn out? But for the present it's Free State tomorrow and points at stake in the Currie Cup. Watch that Bosch boy!

'Ole, ole, ole!


RETIRED MP Val Volker comments on this week's discussion of the historical points system in rugby, which he says is corroborated by the annals of the Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg – founded in 1856 by Lutheran missionaries – and Maritzburg College.

"It is recorded in the historical annals of the Hermannsburg School that their rugby team played a match in Pietermaritzburg against Maritzburg College on the old Market Square next to the present municipal library.

"According to the annals, Maritzburg College won by a comfortable margin.

"It is also recorded that the Hermannsburg team travelled to Pietermaritzburg by oxwagon and the trip there and back, including the game and the celebrations, took 11 days.

"When Hermannsburg School celebrated their 150th Anniversary in 2006, two teams from Maritzburg College again played against Hermannsburg – and again won by comfortable margins."

Keep trying, Hermannsburg! I like that 11-day trek. How many days were celebration?



POET Sarita Mathur is sceptical of the existence of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.


Shelter for the Over 40s

Is it real,

Seems a bit surreal

Like 221 B Baker Street.

I surfed the internet

To find,

Did these girls really have a dwelling place,

Enjoying Life

In their own space.

Or is this shelter a figment

Of the mind,

Truly, it just needs

A Sherlock Holmes :

A detective to:

Apply his mind.


I like that reference to Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes. London bobbies get pestered by tourists looking for the great detective's fictional flat.

But, Sarita, our Street Shelter certainly exists.




WHAT do you call a Frenchman in sandals?


Philippe Philoppe.


Last word


Men live in a fantasy world. I know this because I am one, and I actually receive my mail there.

Scott Adams


The Idler, Thursday, August 30, 2018

Downing Street boogie


BRITISH prime minister Theresa May has made an unscheduled detour to Durban This follows her spectacular rendition of abandoned Downing Street boogie at the ID Mkhize High School in Gugulethu, Cape Town, on Tuesday.

Members of UKZN's Centre for Creative Arts spotted the footage on TV and immediately phoned the British Embassy in Cape Town.

"This is amazing talent," said UKZN choreographer Flatfoot Murphy. "We just had to have her for this 20th anniversary of Jomba! the dance spectacular."

Mrs May was flown in secret from Cape Town in an RAF jet and taken to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for a late-night audition with some of the cast, attended by a handful of dance afficionados (myself included, ahem).

She passed with flying colours and was immediately handed a contract for the rest of the run of Jomba! which ends on September 9.

"Never before have I seen such talent, such natural rhythm, such an empathy for the African dance style," said Murphy. "She knocks Barack Obama into a cocked hat.

"Okay, the Downing Street boogie is perhaps a little suggestive and naughty, but I think Durban people are grown-up and mature enough to handle it.

"This will be Jomba!'s most spectacular presentation ever and it gives credence to Mrs May's commitment to engagement with Africa."


Book on way


Literary news: Raconteur Spyker Koekemoer (aka Pat Smythe) is about to embark on writing a book.

Tentative title: "The zuma of my discontent".


Seasonal change

Spring is sprung,

Da sun is riz;

I wonder where da boidies is?

Da boids is on da wing.

Or so I hoid, But dat's absoid –

Da wings is on da boid.


Well, that's The Bronx Spring, generally attributed to Damon Runyan. It will officially be springtime day after tomorrow and reader Dave Holland gives us his Ode to Spring.


Spring, Oh spring, Oh  glorious Spring

What hopes and joy will the  new season bring?

My favourite season  has just begun

Let's hope it's going to be a fabulous one.

When I look back to this time last year

I can remember us all living in daily  fear

Waiting for the next new shocking  revelation

About the man who was  elected to lead our nation.

Thank goodness that chapter is now a thing of the past

Although I wonder just how long the new incumbent will last

After promising expropriation of land without compensation

Does this really bode well for the future of our nation?

The older one gets the more time seems to go by in a flash

Now I might be a bit slow when it comes to the hundred yard dash

But as the Spring arrives and the new summer rapidly beckons

I reckon I'll soon be doing the half minute in twenty five seconds.


Puzzling satire

PRESIDENT Donald Trump sends angry tweets about Africa, based on misinformation he's just had from Fox News. Satirist Andy Borowitz waxes lyrical in the New Yorker on an African theme. Are we becoming flavour of the month in the US?

Here's Borowitz: "Ostriches across Africa erupted into spontaneous celebrations on Tuesday over the guilty verdict of Donald J Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

"As the verdict was read out in open court, jubilant ostriches broke into what was described as an orgy of running, squawking, and indiscriminate mating.

"An emotional ostrich spokesperson called the verdict 'a great day for the entire ostrich species.'

"'Waiting for the verdict over the past few days has been incredibly nerve-racking,' the ostrich said. 'Many of us have been glued to the TV. Some of us were too stressed to watch and kept our heads in the sand. But tonight we are all partying.'

"According to wildlife officials, ostriches held celebratory rallies in dozens of African capitals, where they were joined by equally delirious pythons."

Huh? It reads amusingly, but what exactly is our Andy getting at? Okay, maybe you can say the Yanks were being ostrich-like about the verneukery surrounding Manafort. But African capitals?

We sincerely hope Andy has not been indulging in Durban Poison.






Bank heist:

"Hand over the cash or you're geography!"

"You mean history?"

"Don't change the subject!"


Last word


Never judge a book by its movie.

J W Eagan

The Idler, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A try is a poging


HOW many points was a try worth when rugby started? This is a teaser Clive Phelps puts out this week in his regular rugby bulletin.


The answer is none.


"When rugby started, a try didn't score any points. What we call a 'try' today was then only an attempt (a 'try') to 'convert' the 'touch-down' for a 'goal'.

"To 'try' for a 'goal', the rugby ball had to be kicked into the goal (the space between the posts, as in soccer, not over the crossbar the way we do today). 

"After some years, the 'touch-down' then did not have to be 'goaled', but just dotted down across a defender's line, as we do today.

"Soon, a try reached the stage where it was awarded three points (the same as a penalty), where the value remained for a long time.


"Most rugby fans would have known a try when it was worth three points? An Afrikaner would roar: 'Hy druk sy drie!'"


Yes, of course. Placing the ball over the opponent's goal line merely gave you the right top "try" a kick at goal. The word had nothing to do with "tri" or "tres".


Following from that, to be anally correct, the Afrikaans for a try should be "poging". But it wouldn't have the right ring.


In fact, as far as I know, the Afrikaans word for a try remains "drie", even though its value has leaped upward.


As Clive says: "As rugby progressed and tries became more appreciated, the value of a try was increased to four points - and then to five points (where we are today).

"The value of a try has always been further increased by converting it. Today it earns an extra two points when converted.


Today, teams in major competitions (like the current four-nations Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship) can earn 'bonus points' for scoring extra tries.


Yep tries are the thing, and rightly so. You hardly ever see a drop-goal these days (three points) though until about the thirties it was worth four.


Rugby's essential formula: ADP (agter die pale).

Twickers debate


I FIRST learned of the try's new value in England. I'd been on the continent for a while, then returned. I went to watch a club game at Twickenham.


A try was scored. Four points went up on the board. I nudged my neighbour, a stranger.


"Hey, look. The bloody fools have put upofour points."


"So what? It's a try.

"Four points for a try? Since when?"


"Where are you from?"


I told him. People were giving me strange looks.


"I'm sure South African rugby falls under the IRB."


"Of course it does. I was playing club rugby myself just a couple of months ago and a try was three points."


Oh dear. The IRB had increased the value of a try while I was in Sweden. The Swedish newspapers give scant attention to rugby, and even if they had I could not have understood it.

How they laughed at this daft colonial.


Impossible outcome


THEN there was the rugby match where a winning score of 2-0 was recorded, supposedly an impossibility.


It was a third division club game in Durban, back in the fifties. The refs were given a stamped postcard with which to send in the results to the sub-union. This fellow sent in a 2-0 result.


A senior ref phoned him. What was this?


"Well, I awarded a try," the third div ref explained. "But driving home afterwards I had second thoughts. I decided it wasn't a try.


"But there was bugger-all wrong with the conversion."




FROM the coarseness of rugby to the philosophy of Confucius:


·       Man who wants pretty nurse, must be patient.

·       Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intent.

·       Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.

·       Man who eats many prunes get good run for money.

·       War does not determine who is right, it determines who is left.

·       Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.

·       Man who stand on toilet is high on pot.

·       Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

·       A lion will not cheat on wife, but a Tiger Wood.



What's furry, has whiskers and catches outlaws?

A posse cat.


Last word


Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

Oscar Wilde