EARLIER this week we discussed the fact that a group of scientists from Bristol, in the west of England, are in Durban on a research project that seeks to produce electricity from urine. We surmised – urine being urine wherever you are in the world – that they must be here because only in Durban are you likely to find urine that began as Durban Poison, the cannabis lager now on sale in Florida Road. That urine no doubt has the potential to produce electricity in veritable lightning bolts.
It struck a chord with reader Gregory Rogers, who belongs to a Facebook group that focuses on "British Mediaeval History".
"The chaps on board in this particular group are experts of no mean quality and posts and queries often result in a goldmine of information.
"Some hapless chap innocently posted a query: 'I recently read that Newcastle was once a huge exporter of urine. On checking, it appears to have eventually become their third biggest export. My questions are: Why did this come about when obviously the whole country needed to pee every day? How long ago did the practice start? And what was so good about this region's pee that made it worth collecting, and shipping around the country?'"
Exactly. Since when did urine have any monetary value (save in the exceptional case noted above when it starts out as cannabis lager)? Why would anyone want to collect and sell it? More to the point, who would want to buy it?
"The Facebook thread exploded," Gregory says. "No less than 125 comments later, every expert from John O'Groats to Gretna Green was giving his 10 shillings' worth as to the historical hows and whys of British urine. If you were not an expert before, you certainly were by the end, right at the business-end of urine in the Green and Pleasant Land.
"I'm afraid my only contribution was a Blackadder quote, courtesy of the Red Baron: 'How fortunate you English are to find the toilet so amusing. For us it is a mundane and functional item; for you it is the basis of an entire culture.'"
Gregory supplies a long and complicated web address which, he says, will get me the relevant Facebook "thread", which will answer all these questions I have raised. But – alas! – all it gets me is the Nkandla party line. And nobody out there is putting a monetary value on urine.
Perhaps these Bristol scientists can be persuaded to elucidate over a pint or two of Durban Poison.
RETIRED senior colleague Clyde Bawden says it was almost like an away game for Griquas last Saturday, so green and lush was the playing field.
"I can't recall ever seeing such a lush, green surface in Kimberley."
What's happened, Clyde, is that the Griqualand West Rugby Union have planted their field with dagga, now it's been legalised.
Before the match they run a mower over it, which leaves a nice playing surface plus a lucrative harvest of zol. I'm told they're looking closely at the Durban Poison cannabis lager project, with a view to producing their own Kimberley Gif.
WHEN he was young, Van der Merwe's grandmother told him to sprinkle gunpowder on his cornflakes every morning if he wanted to live to a great old age.
Van died at 95, leaving four children, eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren – and a three-metre hole in the wall of the crematorium.
Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.