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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)

Variety in Brief

page 16

Variety in Brief

Art often claims the connoisseur, the poet or the millionaire, and it also claims the railway porter, the signalman, the stationmaster, the ticket collector, and the crossing-keeper—in London at anyrate. The prerogative of these officials to exchange the company's cap for the black hat of Bohemia —in their spare time, of course—was firmly established there recently at the seventh annual arts and crafts exhibition of the Great Western Railway. It was disclosed that their artistic leanings are manifested in a multiplicity of ways. They paint in water colours, they paint in oils, they carve, they sketch, they photograph. Some make rugs, others wicker work, and one group of officials knits. These latter displayed excellent specimens of knitting at the exhibition, submitting several pairs of socks, two jumpers, and two sets of baby clothes. One porter had painted a water-colour a thirtieth the size of a postage stamp. A magnifying glass was supplied so that visitors could see the wealth of detail worked into so small a space.—Jasmine.

* * *

The journey by rail from Auckland to Rotorua, a distance of 171 miles, taking only six hours and twenty minutes, can now be made on any week-day—in the perfect comfort of a de luxe carriage.

What a different story Brett's Almanac had to tell in 1886 (only forty-eight years ago!) “There are several routes by which the Lakes may be reached. The principal one is by train from Auckland to Cambridge, about ninety-five miles (occupying six and a quarter hours by express), and thence by coach or other conveyance to Rotorua… The space between Cambridge and Rotorua can easily be covered in one day… . Tourist trains leave Auckland at 8 a.m. and 11.45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.” The writer refers in all seriousness to “these days of rapid travelling!”

Te Awamutu receives special mention: “The most English-looking little township in the Waikato, Te Awamutu, is the present terminus of the main line. This is to be the starting point of the great trunk line which is to penetrate the King Country, junctioning with the southern constructed portion at Marton.”—“Pohutu.”

* * *

How many names of countries can you write down from memory? Probably a smaller number than you think. Recently the secretary of a big social movement, speaking of her organisation work, said: “Our activities spread into fifty-one different countries. Think of it! Try to remember fifty-one and you will very likely be stumped at about thirty-seven.” A subsequent test proved this estimate to be fairly correct among persons of a moderately good education. One very well-read individual wrote down fifty names in ten minutes; others, however, who might have been expected to be better informed, could rake together not more than twenty or so. A competition on these lines should be an interesting little item for a party.—“Waikite.”

* * *

Some months ago while travelling as the only passenger on an early Sunday morning goods train from Lyttelton to Christchurch, I fell into conversation with the shunter, who was acting as guard, and it appeared that he fought in the war in the 2nd Otagos with the immortal Sergeant Dick Travis. Naturally our talk turned to the interesting article on Travis which had appeared in that month's “New Zealand Railways Magazine,” which as good railway folk we had both read, and he challenged the account of Dick's death which is given in that article and also in the official history, “The New Zealand Division, 1916–1919.” In both of these accounts it is said that he was killed while walking along a trench during a bombardment. This private, who was only a few yards away at the time, declares that he was killed, with his “cobber,” by a stray shell which pierced their dug-out where they were at the moment. He praised Travis as a fine man who never expected his men to go where he would not go himself, and recalled the attack which Dick made possible by crawling out and blowing up the German barbed wire entanglements with Stokes mortar bombs, when a fine rain such as was then drenching Canterbury, was dampening the Otagos as they waited to go over the top. Seeing this man to-day engaged in shunting one would never think that he once “diced with death” in the mud of Flanders under the leadership of the redoubtable Sergt. R. C. Travis, V.C., the deadliest fighter New Zealand has ever produced.—D.G.D.