The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 1, 1933)
Life's Little Lunacies
Life's Little Lunacies
Life has as many ups and downs as a fireman's ladder at a house-warming, but the fire-fighter who can pause during the heat and burning of the day to unleash a little love and laughter into the contentious conflagration called life, pours better for the pause. He is the cheerful chump who knows that all work and no quirk makes Jack grow up into a financier, or even worse. So thank God for the cheerful chump who gives to the woozy world a fitful fillup with laughing gas—the age-old antidote for To-moan poisoning. The “bright and chary,” nor does it include such specimens of perpetual commotion as the bibulous-backbanger and opportunist-optimist. Also out, is the early bacon-and yeggster who, with his ghoulish gaiety, causes our breakfast sausage to grovel in its gravy, at the protozen period of our progress when all we ask is a little “largo” in the limbo of the “tempo” while we change gear from “shake-down” to shake-up.
The cheerful chump is a confidence-man whose gold-bricks are not lead-lined, and who passes the buck-up instead of the “buck.”
When Hope is laid low with ruematism; when the pessimist plays Luck's Lament on the melancholia; when everything seems as bad as it is and nothing even as good as it was; when the world has pawned its faith and lost the ticket; when all these things have happened the cheerful chump refuses to throw in the towel simply because both eyes are bunged and the floor has got stuck to his chest. For taking all in gall, “cheer” flutters among the flowers of fortitude, while the misery — merchant like a bottled beetle burbles that contentment is corked and beautitude “bootlegged.” Such briefly is a brief for the champion of cheer, the producer of Honour Bright's Pop-o-light Pills for people who pall.
Broadcasting on the Hooraydio.
So let's turn on the hooraydio and liberate a laughful lyric by Doctor D. Light, the eye-ear-and-knows specialist:
The sloth is glum, the walrus too,
They haven't had the chance, like you,
To differentiate between
Their lot and what it might have been.
We more enblightened sons of sin
With mental means above the chin,
Should pause before we “chew the rag,”
Because we deem we're “in the bag,”
And contemplate how Fortune terse
Could possibly have made it worse.
The cheerful chump who dodges Doom.
And daily gives the gate to Gloom,
Is not a flippant kind of flop
Deficient round about the top;
But one who sees the show compact
And not a solitary act.
Thank God the cheerful cove is yet
Among us in our doubt and debt,
To make our sense of humour keener
When things appear not worth a “deener.”
Who wants to be a woozy whelk
Or else a frigid frozen elk?
Such samples never grieve their lot,
Because they never know “what's what,”
Or even get a ghostly gleam
That things are seldom what they seem.
But cheery chumps, with confidence
That living's worth the high expense,
Do more in half a brace of twists
Than hundreds of economists.
So here's hand to those who cheer
When things are looking kind of queer,
And though the grade is one in two
Keep chugging up towards the blue.
They never pause to whip the cat,
But climb their best when things are “flat.”
The Tree of Adventure and the “Root of All Weevil.”
The cheer-germinator demonstrates that the exiguous exorbitancies of economic existence are equivalent to the music of dumbell exercises in a carillon, as compared with the ineradicable effervescence of the ego; for the essence of human existence is persistence.
Elasticity is the spring of man's mental machinery and catapults his consciousness beyond the circumscription of circumstance; unless, of course, his spring has been busted by too many barrages in the siege of Boodle. But life, thanks to human hope and humour, is full of facts figurating that the tree of adventure rises above the “root of all weevil,” and that in the midst of debt man can still put a little life into “living.” For courage is the evaluation of evolution, and the “homo” would have been blotto in half a jiffo had he not pitted his puny but palpable penchants against the atrocities of atrophy. His highest hope has always been his maddest moment. When he soars above the murmuring of Mammon he leaves his monica on the pages of the past. When he moves among the shades of Sharon and emulates the heroic “hobos” of history he robs the improbable of improbability and ticks off timidity. Foolish he may appear to his cozened cousin courting the inglenook in pampered prolixity, but he lives life, even if it kills him.
Why do men defy the ethics of the air in pervious pantechnicons? Why do they risk a permanent change of address in regions with a dark brown taste where necking-parties are carried to excess and only the guest who keeps his head gets away with it? Why does he tickle the ivories in the elephant-haunted quavers and crochets of Pianoforte, put the leopard on the spot, go on a jag with the jaguar, hunt the gorilla when it has its monkey up, and pot the python in the Serpentine? Why do men leave bed and breakfast, hearth and home, work and wages, bath and boodle, tax and “tick,” to mooch through mud, shiver in shorts, offer their bodies as lunch for lepidoptera and enjoy the advantages of being rid of the advantages of Progress? Why?page 52
Because the call of the wild is the only contemporary call which is not a call to alms. Men brave the wide and free because it is the only freedom free from finance and the terrors of Progress. Hence they risk the unknown knowing that it can't be any worse than the dun known. Whence the tracker, the trekker and the tramper.
Trampers are called trampers because they don't tramp. They crawl, clamber, slip, slither, slide and shiver, but they can no more tramp than a gopher can goose-step. They rope themselves together by their whiskers, keep their feet from freezing in alpensocks, leap chasms in short “strides,” and subsist on eidelweis and enthusiasm. They speak the Yodel, which is a sort of Swiss with a swizzle, and they get so close to Nature that they often have to be chipped off with an ice axe. To us poor flat-fish who live on the level and eat our meals without the necessity of jacking them up, such upended enthusiasm is inexplicable. Not for us the glory of the sun rising with difficulty like an egg nog vacating an ice box. Not for us the thrill of subsisting on a sub-section of sausage with the mercury registering two hundred fathoms below plimsol off a rock-bound coast, and the mountain crag shivering in its sockets. Never shall we tote “Matilda” up the perpendiculous pinnacles, or glissade down the glossary on an empty stomach. We are denied the joy of being fished up fissures and sorting out our feet in the morning after a night spent like an atom of frozen mutton in an Eskimo pie.
The Sky-scrapers Anthem.
But we admit that there exists such cold-soarage souls who warp and wilt in warmth, to whom goose-flesh is the skin you love to touch, who glory in Nature's frozen products, to whom a nip in the air is worth two in the bar, and whose favourite tunes are “I Miss my Swiss” and “Old King Cold.” They are tough and turgid guys to whom anything flatter than ninety degrees below zero is conducive to fallen arches and general lowness. They are mountainous mathematicians who recognise only ice-sozzleys try-angles, and believe that a line taken in any direction will meet itself coming back. This is why they never lose themselves. Sometimes, of course, they mislay the particular mountain they had in mind, and sometimes they find that someone has gone and ratted a ravine. This explains why the slogan of the sky-scraper's club is “not lost but gone before.” Speaking mountatudinously, it is practically impossible to mistake going down a mountain for going up it, and vice versatile, so that it is fair to assume that as long as they keep descending they must be on the way down. So how can anyone ever be lost? Q.E.D., C.O.D., and so on. Let us sing a mountain air with or without a nip, as the cork may be.
Some men are made for merriment,
And some are made for work,
And some to try experiment
Where Nature's labours lurk.
At every opportunity
They risk their tender loins,
By vieing with impunity
With Nature's granite groins.
They give the granite tit for tat,
And prove that man's a trier,
Who, even though his life is flat,
Aspires to something higher.