The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1943
"'Tis in mortals to command success
But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it."
It has become customary over the last few years to explain the moribund state of many of our clubs by saying "the war, you know," and assuming the look of silent suffering which characterises the club secretary. The excuse has long since worn thin and proves little beyond a sad lack of adaptability on the part of students.
The initial impact of the war on clubs was of course a heavy drop in membership. Added to this was the disorder caused by those remaining never being sure of what their committments would be from one week to the next. It is over four years since the war began, four years for the clubs to adjust themselves to these changed conditions, but still they have not done so. The roll number at Victoria is little diminished and manpower regulations have largely stabilized the formerly ever-changing uncertain situation of the students, yet the improvement in club activity which might reasonably be expected in consequence has not come about. The multiplicity of minor factors which can be produced to explain this situation can be summed up as deriving from two major causes. The first is that in the main those who have gone were the older, more experi page 35 enced, students who comprised, to use a military term, the club "cadres" essential for efficient functioning. The few experienced students left have little or no contact with the large numbers of young students who have since come to the college—the gap is too wide, the links too few. The second major cause more important and certainly more general is the indifference displayed by students even many former enthusiasts. The insecurity of war-time life has induced in some a "what's-the-use" atttiude to everything. Fortunate it is that these are in the minority. The great majority are preoccupied with work and study which to them appear more important in war-time than recreational activities. It is a laudable and in the main it is the correct view but it ignores one very important point. Such students see University life as something completely divorced from reality in a warring world—an irksome necessity or a pleasant sideline according to individual viewpoints but still quite detached. As V.U.C. is at present constituted this view is largely justified but even so it is no reason for student apathy. The students of the U.S.S.R., China and Republican Spain faced with the same situation in incomparably greater degree did not adopt such a defeatist attitude. They saw their responsibility and did not shirk it. Without relaxing their activities outside the University they set about reorientating the whole of their University life in order that they might more effectively play their full part in the nation's struggle. Victoria must learn from them. If the University is to change to a position where it takes its rightful place as an integral part of the community in war or peace then it is the students who must change it. To leave the job to somebody else would be cowardice.
This benevolent institution provided a temporary resting place for many a transient cricketer claiming senior status in his own home town be it Auckland or Owhango. To accommodate these stalwarts various seniors retired gracefully to the seconds and consequently several seconds retired to the sidelines, the only difference being the marked lack of grace. In the words of the poet, they "made sweet moan" but what-the-hell, who are the seconds anyway? It is not uncommon for cricket clubs to be run so as to ensure that the senior team wins as many matches as possible while the other club members merely pay their subscriptions in order to aid and abet this laudable objective. It was indeed unfortunate for Varsity that the seniors caddishly failed to co-operate by carrying out their allotted task.
Anyone who, like the writer, has ever had the task of selecting Varsity cricket teams can sympathise with a committee which succumbs to the temptation complained of here, especially during the long vacation, but there are limits and last season they were certainly ignored.
There were only two teams fielded last season but they partly compensated for this by being stronger than the previous season. The seniors had an impressive batting string which nonetheless performed rather erratically until near the end of the season. By far the most consistent were Gilbert Stringer and Bernie Paetz who put up some excellent performances including a century by Stringer. The less said about the bowling the better. By contrast the seconds were relatively stronger in bowling with the two Moores and the speed merchants Brian and Anderson. Captained by the wily Henry Moore this team at one stage won five games in a row and finished well up in its grade championship.
The Hain Trophy for fielding was won by Bob Vance.
Last season was a satisfactory one for the Tennis Club. The weather was reasonably kind and although many of the players were busy with seasonal work during the vacation there was always a good crowd of enthusiasts present on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The two teams took a successful part in the W.L.T.A. inter-club competitions. Owing to difficulties arising from the war these matches now consist of four doubles matches played on club courts. The men's team, playing in the first grade, won over half their matches, as did the women. Two matches played against Training College teams were also won by narrow margins.
Taken by and large the Rugby Club has had a moderately successful but uninspiring season., all its teams maintaining a high level of mediocrity. Though originally four teams were fielded one third grade team was withdrawn early in the season after considerable dithering on the part of club officials.
The seniors, making a radical change from the usual Varsity custom, started off poorly but finished up very well maintaining a high place in the Hard-ham Cup competition. With a bit of good luck for a change they might even have won the competition for the material to do so was there. MacLennan in the forwards and Don Patrick at five-eighth were the mainstays of the team. Both these players were selected to play for the Wellington representative team. Apart from club games the team lost to McKenzie (alias C.U.C.) and A.U.C., and soundly defeated Massey College.
The juniors, ably captained by the experienced Buck Ryder who played sound football at five-eighth, had a moderately successful season playing fast open football. The backs were a capable set but the forwards could have displayed a bit more cohesion and vigour. Outstanding were Fox on the wing and the halves Te Punga and his successor Corkhill, who was the find of the season. Pottinger, Bense-man and MacLennan performed well in the forwards.
The third grade team was young and promised well under the coaching of Pat Caird. They suffered a good deal especially at the beginning of the season from constant changes in personnel. A team composed of thirds and juniors drew 6—6 with Te Aute in the annual match.
For the first time since 1932 Varsity won the senior A championship. Truly they had to share the honour with Dorset having drawn with them in the play-off, but at least they had the satisfaction of beating them in every one of four previous encounters. The team fielded a fast tricky set of forwards with Ivor Ting outstanding at centre-forward well supported by Griff. Jones at left-wing. Graham Speight, who has now gone overseas, played excellently at centre-half and his presence was sorely missed in the final match against Dorset. Others who distinglished themselves were the captain, Ken page 37 Kiddle, at full-back, and Arch. Ives, who made a come-back to play fine hockey at right-wing.
The other senior team was not very distinguished and finished well down the list. The captain, Bill Osten, was the backbone of the team at left fullback.
The only other team, playing in the third grade, though consisting mainly of young inexperienced players, had an excellent season and came out as runners-up in the championship. At centre-forward Mac Allcock supplied the main drive, being well supported by Jack Shapiro at left-half, Colin Button centre-half, and Brian Nash full-back.
Like the men the women's club fielded three teams but here the resemblance stopped short. The senior team played well in the qualifying rounds and was graded senior A, an honour which has eluded them for some time, but once there they found the going a bit tough. The juniors with Shona Bell, Betty Boyes, Pat Gardiner and Marie Simpson very prominent, played well, among their victims being the grade champions. Constant changes in personnel made it difficult to work up a combination. The intermediates had a hard struggle to field a full team and had to default several games. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the team's record was not very bright.
Neither of the two basketball teams entered this year had a good season. There were some fine players in both teams as evidenced by the number who were selected as Wellington representatives, but the teams were constantly being changed around owing to players not being available. In several instances both the senior A and the senior B team turned out one or two short. Joyce Strange, who played sterling basketball throughout the season, was selected for the N.Z.U. team and also for the Wellington reps. Others who were selected for representative honours were Margaret Beattie, Mira Parsons and Thea Muir from the A team and Margaret Henderson from the B team.
As usual the swimming club's main support came this year from Weir House, though the unmelodious yelps of Vic. House B from the bank could not be ignored except by the stone deaf. The energetic Gib Bogle was the main spirit in organising several meetings at Thorndon Baths which were very enjoyable, despite the low temperatures and small attendances. Fleischl and Bogle among the men and Margaret Eichelbaum and Pat Gardiner among the women were the best of those who competed.
All summer sports clubs at V.U.C. curse the long vacation but none more vehemently than the swimming club for this period includes the best time of the year for swimming.
The harrier club is a glorious exception to the statements made at the beginning of these notes about moribund clubs. Its large membership gathered Saturday after Saturday scantily clad to dash madly over the hills "through bush, through briar," in mud, muck and misery interspersed with a little sunshine. After these profitless excursions they would return to their base to don respectable clothes which convention requires must be done before engulfing some tons of carbohydrates made soggy by tea. This enthusiasm was general throughout the harrier movement in Wellington, and a women's club was even formed, though which came first—the enthusiasm or the women—is hard to say. No doubt the women are training keenly for next leap year.
The club was successful, through first-class team work, in recapturing the Dixon Trophy from O.U. by a very narrow margin.
The club championship was won by Ian McDowell with Giff. Rowberry runner-up. Others to run well were Doug. Olson, who performed splendidly for a newcomer to the sport, and Peter de la Mare, the club captain.
Despite the loss of many experienced trampers the club maintained a very active programme culminating in a ten-day skiing and climbing trip to Arthur's Pass. Besides several trips to the Orongorongos and Tauherenikau parties completed a southern crossing of the Tararuas, crossed from Wairongomai to Silverstream, were rained upon at Waitewaewae at Easter, and did the Arete-Dundas trip, besides scaling Holdsworth in search of snow.
These also served - - - -
One helpful sign this year has been the revival of the rowing and the table-tennis club. The former while still operating on a small scale has met with moderate success. The latter, however, under the energetic direction of Doug. Yen, entered two teams in the C and D grades of the local competitions and they swept all before them.
A newcomer to Varsity clubs, not very much publicised, is the Soccer club, which has performed quite successfully with one team in one of the lower senior grades. The Athletic club on the other hand no longer appears to function as a club, though individuals, notably Dicky Daniell and Rowberry competed at the local meetings.
Non-Sport Clubs-a Post Mortem
Debates included such subjects as "The U.S.S.R. is the Spearhead of Modern Civilisation," "That Weir House is a Good Thing," "British Government's Policy in India is Bankrupt," and "Swing ha? no Place in the Cultural Life of College." This year the Debating Society was affiliated with the Wellington Union of Public Speaking Societies and a debate was organised with the Hutt Valley Debating Society on "N.Z. Workers are Pulling their Weight in the War Effort," in which V.U.C. took the negative side, and needless to say Hutt Valley won.
In general, however, the debating was of a low standard, and the conduct of the somewhat meagre audiences showed an almost complete lack of decorum on occasions, due mainly to a mild epidemic of rather loud but ill-informed freshers, with an even louder and somewhat demagoguic leader. Their presence unfortunately rendered it at times almost impossible to treat the discussions seriously, as most of the speakers with whom they disagreed were rendered almost inaudible, whilst if a speaker had the temerity to as much as mention such subjects as the Soviet Union, the War, or Fascism, he was usually greeted with such a torrent of contumely that the premises rather resembled a Billingsgate fish market page 39 on a Friday. The cure for this distressing complaint seems to be an immediate transfusion of mature healthy blood, before the canker completely chokes the dying body.
This rather illusive club seems to resemble that mythical creation
"- - - Meagre and hollow but crisp:
Like a coat that is too high in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-Wisp."
Although it has, it appears, produced one or two one act plays, its major production scheduled for the second term was unavoidably postponed until the third term. The club's officers: Miss P. Hildreth is president. Miss P. Hildreth is to take the major part in the major production.
Spike 1942 suggested that this club "was tottering to a dismal grave," but as it appears to be still lingering painfully, we might suggest a speedy cremation to obviate any undue suffering, for the major production's audience.
International Relations — Discussion Peace, War and Civil Liberties.
As these two corpses have failed to stir during the last two years, we may safely conclude that they are well and truly buried.
After a somewhat ephemeral appearance last year, this club appears to have subsided again. Perhaps, in the words of Lurcat, "L' art n'est plus un jeu gratuit; c'est une activite offensive."
At present there are three organisations (four including the orchestra, but it is not an affiliated organisation), all fairly lively, although the support enjoyed by two of them seems to be rather restricted. There is the Gramophone Club (secretary J. Money) still providing for those unfortunate enough not to be able to find anything to do during the lunch-hour. Also the hep-cats were to some extent catered for this year by a couple of "swing sessions" conducted under the aegis of D. Yen.
Next there is ths Glee Club, still struggling, under the baton of A. Alpers, who we are informed, enjoys a very stern taste in music which seems to be reflected in the items, consisting mainly of madrigals and Bach chorales. Mr. A. Alpers has a Mus. Bach. The Glee Club has suffered this year from a surfeit of male voices, but which unfortunately does not seem to have prevented them, up to date, from arranging a concert for the third term, though on a much more restricted scale than last year.
Finally there is the Music Makers' Club, an exclusive (though not necessarily select) club where, it appears, a performance on some musical instrument (the human voice is included), is a necessary condition for membership, fortunately a condition which must severely restrict the club's activities.
In conclusion, it may be said that music still remains a comparatively healthy spot on an otherwise rapidly mortifying body.
Law Faculty Club.
Officers, 1942-43: President, Professor D. McGechan; Chairman, Mr. K. Gibson. An address on "Law and Legal Education " was given by Lt. N. J. Leidner, of the U.S.N., a former attorney. Also the club participated in debates held by the Wellington Union Public Speaking Societies. Chief attraction of the year seems to have been the dinner held in the Grand Hotel. Thus it appears "that in spite of the depleted ranks, the club was able to take satisfaction in the highly successful nature of the activities conducted during the year"—the voice in the wilderness!
During the second term a few industrious, if somewhat misguided grave-diggers, exhumed the "Maths, and Physics Society," but the mustiness of this slightly decayed cadaver seems to pervade its few lectures, and so it was hastily interred again before the stench became too over-powering.
The Chemical Society, after being packed away from 1942, was taken out and shaken, and managed to arrange a few lectures. Mr. Keys, of the D.S.I.R., delivered quite an enlightening address on "Patent Medicines," which seemed to somewhat annoy a patent medicines manufacturer present, particularly the slander that patent medicine pushers were just racketeers. However the odour of moth-balls seemed to cling to the society, in spite of the club officers' most courageous and determined efforts to deodorise it; so the society was again hurriedly packed away. Perhaps next year, or the year after, or the year after that, the society will be given a hearty dusting, which will either bring it back to life, or choke it once and for all.
The Biological Society of all the Scientific Societies seems to have been the liveliest. Lectures included one of a Botanical flava, by Dr. Blair, and a Zoological one by Mrs. Richardson. Also a tour was arranged to Red Docks where numerous specimens, etc., were collected.
In general the Scientific Societies have relatively little to show, in spite of the fact that the number of science students has greatly increased this year. Perhaps it is due to the war. I wonder when we will reach the stage when in the words of A. Tolstoy
"We should find it very difficult to draw a line of demarcation, showing where in the consciousness of the citizen, science ends and arts begins. Both the one and the other are essential for perceiving and knowing the world as it is." I wonder!
Or why is it? to quote J. D. Bernal," The way in which educated people respond, to such quackeries as spiritualism or astrology, not to say more dangerous ones such as racial theories, or currency myths shows that fifty years of education in the method of science in Britain or Germany has produced no visible effect whatever."
Include the S.C.M., E.U., and the Catholic Students' Guild. If information is wanted on the first two societies, all that is necessary is to peruse any old Spike, say '42 or '41; for the disciples of these two organisations still seem to be stamping around the same old totem poles, chanting the same old credos.
The Catholic Students' Guild, judging by their advertisements, are very lively this year. Sunday discussions seem to be their principal form of amusement, and such subjects as "Socialism" and "Evolution" appear to have received some prominence, though rather than explain them, I've no doubt they were more concerned with explaining them away.