The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)
The Sweet Buy and Buy.
The time man spends in trying to find out where he came from might be better spent in trying to work out where he's going to. He has taken so long getting to where he has got that he has forgotten how he got where he is; and so, to keep his mind off where he is drifting to, he digs up the past to discover where he has drifted from. He has found out almost all about man—except why man is. He has dug up osseous oddments' of prehistoric personalities with skulls so thick that they must have belonged to a civilised race. He has unearthed obsequiel segments of persons so pre-dated that they thought jelly-fish were high-brow, and the result is that he has given himself an inferiority complex because he has discovered that he branched off the same family tree as the monkey. This branching was a fortunate thing for the monkey, who is still comparatively happy, thanks to his fondness for swinging by his anterior appendage and eating bananas upside down. But man has lost at both ends, for he is neither happy nor happy. But there are people who, out of respect for the merry “munk” refuse to admit him as a relation; and why drag him in, anyway, when he is so happy? He is content to “swing for it” and let the rest of the world go buy. The fact that he never buys explains why he is never “sold.” Man's trouble is that he has allowed himself to drift into the sweet buy and buy; he has to buy and buy to keep ahead over his roof, and vicey worser.
Gills and Drams.
Some scientists who have followed man back right over the edge and into the sea assert that, originally, every man was a fish. Many men still are, but, speaking un-officiously, a man's life is usually much drier than a fish's, except those people who spend their time floating wild cats and launching bears and bulls. Scientists also say that every human being has the remnants of gills. This may explain the craving some men have to keep the inside of their necks continuously moist. But whether man came from monkeys, fish or fowl doesn't matter much. What does matter is that a happy man is harder to find than a land agent in Venice. If man really rose from the animal world, Nature handed him a gold-brick, for with all the advantages of his glorious “progress,” with all his mutter of mind over matter, he still regards fur, fin and feather with a good deal of envy; and what's more, he has a sneaking suspicion that the animals look down on him as a poor sap who hasn't the courage to live next to Nature nor the brains to see that brains, and not the sweat of his brow, are the real curse of Adam. In proof of this, allow me to tell you a little tale about tails in palsied prose.
Who's Who at the Zoo.
This tale may sound a little steep, but at the zoo I fell asleep. “Twas after visiting the gnu that I felt drowsy at the zoo. I never knew a gnu could do such things to one's subconscious stew. It seemed so sad and glum and cheap, in self-defence I went to sleep. The vulture, too, made me depressed, it looked so sadly under-dressed. It looked worth less than half a dollar without a “cady” or a collar. The eagle may have helped, methinks, to put me off for forty winks; the way it sat with stony eye, upturned towards the distant sky; its plumage, rusty brown and fuzzy, most likely made my senses muzzy. The monkeys bounding in their pen, looked far too much like fellow men; the thought that I—if quite undressed, might look like that made me depressed. The tiger seemed to look at me with deep disgust and I could see, about his eyes a plain suggestion, that I suggested indigestion. The camel, to my jaundiced sight, suggested ticks and sandy blight; and all the buffalo could do, was chew and chew and chew and chew; I'd always heard that buffalo, could give most anything “what-ho”; but this one masticating lunch, apparently had lost his punch. The elephant was one huge frown, with wrinkles running up and down, and back and forth from stern to stem—his hide was quite criss-crossed with them. They made him look—from trunk to tail—like twenty tons of curly kale.
“I know its name,” a monkey said. “It's never safe until it's dead. On Sunday afternoons it brings, its young up here with sticks and things, to poke at us and make us spring—a very nasty sort of thing.”
“Yes, Leo, that is true as true,” yelled every member of the zoo.
“A very nasty beast, my Jingo!” remarked a rusty little dingo. “He often used to shoot at me when I was young and fancy free.”
“I'm sure,” said I, “you've made an error.”
“A reg'lar little holy terror,” a canvas duck said dreamily. “He often used to pot at me.”
“And full of sinful vanity,” remarked an ancient chimpanzee. “Why, bust my beans, the little cuss, has claimed that he is one of us. In fact the silly jackanapes, says man took origin from apes.”
“A perfect piece of boastful bunk! a libel on the genus “munk,'” declared a monkey lithe and slim. “More likely, monkeys rose from him. He's miserably slow and pale, and hasn't even got a tail; we'd knock him stiff, I'll guarantee, at playing tag from tree to tree. Why, dash it, one can easily see he's lacking in agility; and judging from the way he stands, he only has one pair of hands, while we can justly boast of two.”
“He's just a bluff,” remarked the gnu.
“A bluff!” yelled every bird and beast. “A boastful bluff—to say the least.”
“He thinks he flies,” the eagle said. “I'd do it better on me head. The noise he makes when on the wing! Enough to frighten anything! It beats me how he nabs his prey in such a beastly noisy way. Of course, you've noticed how I fly—I simply slide across the sky.”
“The way he boasts fair makes me laugh,” ejaculated the giraffe.
“He says he's Evolution's pride—I'd shew him what!” the tiger cried. “If I should choose to cut up rough, I'd fix that evolution stuff.”
“They say he always has to wear, those rags instead of decent hair; he's bald all over I should think,” remarked a very costly mink.
“He learnt to fly—the copy-cat—by watching us,” declared the bat.
“Not only that,” exclaimed the stoat. “He'd skin us for an overcoat.”
A pole-cat said, direct and snappy, “We know for sure he's never happy.”
“That's why,” remarked a haughty kite, “he makes us suffer for his spite.”
The atmosphere was getting tense. ‘You've heard my clients’ evidence,” said Leo, taking up the tale. “They seem to hit it on the nail.”
“I'm sorry if I've caused them pain,” said I, “but I would make it plain, that after this I'll start anew, and try to lift myself to you. I realise from what you say, that every human has to pay for sinful faults and vain presumin', by being sourly, sadly human. But after this, as sure as knife, I swear to lead a better life, and now you've shewn me what to do, I'll try to be less human too.”
The beasts all cried: “The little cuss, in time might be like one of us.”
And now, to end this reckless rhyme—the keeper said, “It's closing time.”
For some months past the Railways have been trying out a new form of matting in several of the Main Trunk Express cars. These mats are a New Zealand product of a link design, and any dirt is caught in the interstices of the mat, making it almost impossible for it to be tramped or blown through the carriages.
The matting is soft and silent to walk upon, and in those cars where it has been tried it has been favourably commented upon by people walking through the carriages.
The Victorian Railways have used these mats for a number of years, with complete satisfaction, and it will be interesting to hear the further comments of New Zealand railwaymen and railway passengers, on the greater cleanliness of travelling which it is considered this matting now makes possible.*