The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)
The Glad New Year
The Old Identity.
Dear reader, this is the glad New Year—tra-la-la, so let's ignore the evolutionary evidence of sophomorical scientists regarding the geological genealogy of Terra Firma and accept the version of the Director of Dates and Measures to the effect that this is the nineteen hundred and thirtieth birthday of Old Man Earth. Let's tune in to the gas meter and hear what He thinks about it.
“You are old, Father Earth,” the reporter averred,
“And yet while it sounds not a little absurd,
You still keep rotating and doing your bit;
I venture to say you're remarkably fit;
For a sphere that's experienced so many cares,
You're perfectly marvellous, sir, for your years;
‘Twere almost impossible rightly to gauge,
From outward appearance your wonderful age;
Pray, what are the factors or causes—or both,
To which you attribute your prodigal growth
And faculties faultless—there's never a doubt—
When far larger planets have gone up the spout?
Your movements are brisk, I would almost say flirty,
For one who has reached nineteen hundred and thirty.”
“I'm ancient, no doubt, or geologists lie,”
Said Old Father Earth who was moved to reply.
“But golly, I never felt fitter or spryer
Except when I whirled as a globule of fire,
And but for occasional shivers and shakes,
I'm free as a fiddle from bodily aches;
It's true—if you'll pardon such verbal corruptions—
I sometimes am troubled with things like eruptions;
But gen'rally speaking, as men always are,
I never felt better or more up to par;
In fact I get harder and firmer I think,
As the fires of my youth imperceptibly sink;
I get my days off when I feel a bit ‘shirty,’
But still I'm not feeble for nineteen and thirty.
My troubles, although some arise from inside,
Are mostly from parasites perched on my hide,
Who squabble and bicker and kick up a din,
Or fire off their pop-guns and pepper my skin,
Or yelp at each other and threaten to fight;
My life very often has been far from bright,
But all things considered my chances are fair,
To see many happy returns of the year.
I am ancient—so old you could hardly absorb it,
And yet I continue to stick to my orbit,
But should I perchance ever cease to rotate,
It's safe to predict that you'll go for a skate,
And ere my gyrations are finally done,
Why friends—you will all find a place in the sun.”
Let's quaff a bumper to Old Man Earth; after all, he has been very patient with us. We are proud of him, but we are more proud of those small bits of his cuticle which we inhabit pro tem.
“My Country ‘tis of thee.”
Daylight-Slaving and the Curse of the Core.
But fully to digest the spirit of this dicephalous diffusion, it is necessary to escalate retrospectively to the earliest instance of daylight-slaving, consequent on Uncle Adam's paucity of perception in failing to swallow the core. The occasion, besides establishing the fact that it was the serpent who first slipped over the slogan “Eat More Fruit,” proved to be an ominous omen to man, who on account of Adam's failure to comply with the Orchard Act, was obliged to hitch up his hosiery and handle a hoe. Protestingly he proceeded to dig Old Man Earth in the ribs until he in his turn realised the necessity of hoisting his “holeproofs” and attending to his greengroceries, with the result that man plucked from his bosom herbaceous haberdashery both edible and elegant.
From this moment man experienced the psychological solecism, “Pride of Place,” and out of his uppishness, combined with this access of agricultural activity, there sprang towns, like corns on the cuticle of cultivation, or excrescences on the hands of husbandry, thus proving that the Town and Country are really one, the town being merely the country with its hat on.
To quote the quips of Barnyard Stripling, the pastoral poet:— Each is least and both are best, And ever the twain shall meet.
The Hat Trick.
Speaking of hats, let us digress, dear reader. Mr. Winsome Chuckle, an eminent English statesman, has demonstrated frequently that a hat is a useful utensil for putting the lid on foreign relations, but even he cannot deny that it often weighs heavily on the mind, conceals the vegetation on the roof garden, and is prone to produce those wide open spaces on the dome which are the bane of barbers and often put the “mar” in marriage. How true is the ancient adage that freer than a misspent youth is a hatless thatch.page 43
And what of the town? Comparisons, dear reader, are ultra vires or ultra modern or something to this effect, and the best we can say of Town and Country is that there is a great deal to be said of both (as the fortuitous father remarked to the terrible twins). They both seem to say “I'll get you yet Coquette.” To burst into song again:—
Sons of a Noun.
Town and country, country and town,
Equally excellent sons of a noun;
Gog and Magog and Jekyll and Hyde,
One of them surely will make you his bride.
Kick as you will and rebuff their advances,
Choose one you must, for you've only two chances;
Both may lay siege to your pristine affection,
One is assured of your predilection.
Town and country—country and town,
Both irresistible sons of a noun.
Having skimmed lightly over the earth generally, let us return to New Zealand. What, proud reader, is it that has put the zeal into Zealand? You answer—and rightly so—“Pride of Place.” Certainly there exist pessimiscreants who would have us believe that New Zealand is Now Zooland, a jazz jungle inhabited by prowling bankrupts and howling saxophonists, but they suffer from solidity of the skull. While agreeing that this little lump of Antarctic erosion is not always a thing of beauty and a joy for weather we will defend it with our last postage stamp. Anyway, what of our oysters? Whatever else might fail us we always have our oysters to fall back on. If you have ever stepped on an undraped oyster, dear reader, you will know what I mean.
What a wonderful fish is an oyster,
So moist that it couldn't be moister,
Experts never chew it—
‘Twere madness to do it,
Instead, they inhale “a la roister.”
Even though you may not be a reckless roisterer or a bigoted bivalvist you must agree that an oyster, unless it is shell-shocked, is the most perfect lubricant for the oEsophagus yet produced by Nature. Bootless, dear reader (and sockless too, if you will), an oyster quiescent on a plate of vinegar might well serve as New Zealand's coat of arms.page 44
Hearken to the stout stanzas of Musselini Shelley, the restaurant reveller, in his famous oyster-opening chorus:—
The Cloistered Oyster.
How doth the gentle oyster grow,
A picture good to see,
Itself for you and me;
It wots not of such maladies
As whooping cough or housemaid's knees.
How innocent the oyster grows,
In cool sequestered calm,
Securely parked in briny beds,
Removed from any harm.
It murmurs happy little songs—
It's never heard of restaurants.
Oh, oyster, as you disappear,
I love to hear you glug,
And gurgle with a sound that's like
The pulling of a plug.
I love your famous glide to death;
In vinegar, how often to
Destruction have you leaped.
The Garden of Allurement.
January is the door to the magic garden of 1930; it stands the slightest bit ajar so that while we cannot discern the wonders it shelters we get a glimpse of a rosy mist which envelops it; our hearts are filled with expectation and hope as we peer in at the garden of alluroment, and we feel convinced that as the door is opened slowly by the attendant Time we will be vouchsafed the sight of all our hopes in glorious detail.
Here's hoping, expectant reader, that you will pluck as many blooms as you can comfortably carry.
“Whatever the past year may have meant to you, make it dead history. But let the new year be a living issue. With a big fresh sponge, dripping with the clear water of forgiveness, wipe clean the slate of your heart.”
“Every day is a fresh beginning,
Listen, my soul, to the glad refrain,
And spite of old sorrow, and older sinning,
And troubles forecasted and possible pain,
Take heart with the day, and begin again.”