The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 12 (April 1, 1930)
The Way We Go — Ins And Outs Of Life — Told By Leo Fanning
The Way We Go
Ins And Outs Of Life
Told By Leo Fanning
What would not some irrepressible, persistent writers of unsolicited letters to newspapers like to say to editors who fail to appreciate the importance of their stuff? The editor who sees not eye to eye with all enthusiastic guides, philosophers, and friends of the public, is hard to elude. He has an extinguisher in one hand and an acid bottle in the other—and his is the final touch, one way or another. Trying to win a fight with an editor is like trying to dominate a sausage-machine by going into it head first.
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If Cabinet Ministers could only speak their minds to some of the vexatious deputations! How often would a Minister like to be free to speak like this? “Well, gentlemen, I will not pretend that I have been pleased to hear what you call your representations, which seem to me to be the most utter rot. You have taken more than an hour to dodder tediously all round the subject—more than an hour to say unclearly what a child could have said clearly in two minutes. You have representatives in Parliament, but you believe, apparently, that their principal job should be merely to introduce deputations. You have taken the long way, which is also the wrong way, but I am going to take a short way with you. Your request is preposterous; worse—it is blatantly absurd. It will not receive careful consideration; it will get no kind of consideration. Good-bye, gentlemen. I do not thank you for calling.”
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Electors are at liberty—particularly at public meetings—to say what they like to candidates, but the wooers have to be wary. Many a candidate, suave and bland on the surface, but rankling and seething underneath, would like to talk to his audience thus: “I see before me a sort of zoo—a good few rabbits (some wild, others tame), numerous goats, plenty of sheep, and some asses. Much against my better judgment, common-sense, and self-respect. I have to play the part of an ass myself to please you. I have to pretend that I'll be able to put quarts into pint-pots, square the circle, circle the square, raise magic money-plants, and often make nothing look like something pretty good. Your unwillingness or inability to learn or understand simple principles of political economy compels me to humbug you with a hotchpotch of something for nothing.”
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I know a few clergymen who would like to open fire in the pulpit some Sunday, thus:— “My dear brethren, I do love you, although it is hard, but sometimes I would like to call you my undear blockheads. If I felt that you would take seriously one of the old-time sermons sermons on eternal hell-fire, believe me I would well and truly roast you to-day—and I would like to give some of you a taste of it in advance. For example, the donors of threepenny bits (except those which would be widows’ mites) would be compelled to swallow them red-hot.”
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The doctor who feels that it may be advisable to humour a faddy, wealthy patient, must find it very difficult sometimes to cork up his real opinions. If he released the imprisoned words they might be like these: “You are too fat; you are too lazy; you eat too much; you drink too much, and don't think half enough. You don't need pills so much as pulls—pulls of the hair, pulls of the ears, pulls of the nose. I have to pull your leg—but I would much prefer to pull you out of bed and out of doors, give you a few kicks, and a few punches, and compel you to scratch for a living on the ash-heaps of life for a few weeks. You would be better in body and mind after a large dose of the simple life.”page 55
Think of the remarks which the punter would like to make to the dear friend who put his “fancy” to flight—the only time he had sorted out a winner for months—“and it paid seventeen quid, too.” He had been sticking to that horse, and “lost pots” on him, but knew the owner, trainer, and jockey would be going for the goods that day. “A flutter with a fiver for me,” runs part of the long story which he tells to any listener, for weeks after the disappointment. “I knew I was going to get some of my own back, but I ran into that ‘mug’ just as I was heading for the ‘tote,’ and he put me off my fancy and on to a ‘stoomer!”
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What would some of the victims of civic receptions, or guests of honour at banquets, like to say? Here is a reading of their thoughts: “Dear friends, your intentions have been very good, very heart-warming, but your execution has been terrible. My bones feel as if they had been riddled with borer. It seems more than a month since your speeches began. I know you have done your best to welcome me, but you make me feel that you have done your worst. There is only one kind of speech that I like on these occasions—and that is the short one. It can't be too short.”
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Long before man learned how to write—perhaps long before he learned to speak—his mind and soul had yearnings for better lands, where the fruit and the fish would be bigger and better, and life would be wholly sweetful instead of sweatful. Have we not all had our dreams of the fairy fields of Avalon, meads of Asphodel, the Land of Cockaigne, Prester John's Realm of Romance, and the Country of Beulah?
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Alas; There is ever the ridiculous lurking at the skirt of the sublime. Our Better Lands are mostly lazy lands, where something for everybody grows on the tree of nothing. The Better Land in the day-dreams of some of us would prove to be like the Town of No Good, in these verses:—
Kind friends, have you heard of the town of No Good,
On the banks of the River Slow.
Where the Some-time-or-other scents the air,
And the soft Go-easies grow?
It lies in the valley of What's-the-use,
In the province of Let-her-slide;
It's the home of the reckless I-don't-care,
Where the Give-it-ups abide.
The town is as old as the human race,
And it grows with the flight of years;
It is wrapped in the fog of the idler's dreams;
It's streets are paved with discarded schemes;
And are sprinkled with useless tears.