The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 2 (June 2, 1930)
Off and On the Ball
The Gravity of Force.
Brother, when you see a crimsoncorpuscled, three-ply, double-yolked, wire-woven, cable-edged, two-hundred per cent, he-male, ornamented with oriel jaw and sporting an optic calculated to infect a python with a Dunlop complex, rise up in the banqueting hall and libel the ladies “the weaker sex,” you know full well, that he either is well “full” or is emulating the ostrich. He is ignoring the gravity of force, and casting calumny on the athletic Amazon, the tennis-terror, the spinster-sprinter, the demon-dancer, and the lady-bird, who have made the world fit for feminism. For the nonce, he has overlooked the muscular maidens of his own marital menage, in whose hands he is potter's clay and Fuller's Earth.
Brother, the bitter truth is that we have been buncoed from birth, and this “emancipation of woman” talky is but final proof of woman's ability to screw the scrum, work the blind side of man, and present him with the dummy, ad lib, in toto, and in the neck.
For the minutes of the meeting disclose that Woman was fully and finally emancipated five seconds after Eve made a rib-stone pippin of Adam while he slept on the job; for a while she concealed her fire-arms and relied on fainting and feinting to lead man to lower his guard, while she slipped over sundry sly wallops on his wide open spaces, to the secret delight and profit of her sex; but now she has come openly into the market-place, has proclaimed herself the queen-bee and has stung man on his superiority complex.
There remain certain mutinous males, how-ever, who, with their backs to the mantelpiece, still defend the fallacious fabrication of male domiuation.
Cool Action and Hot Air.
But for us, brother, deeds not words—cool action, not hot air. To prove our claim to the title of Head Man, it behoves us to down-pens, don an aeroplane, and zoom over the horizon with a jerkin, a pair of odd socks, and a grim determination to impinge on Terra Firma, Gorgonzola, or the Hook of Holland, in one complete piece.
Can we do it —or is it for us, the white man's burden? Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, sisters, we hasten to assure you that our hearts thicken with manly appreciation of your athletic adroitness, your mental mastery, and your aerial activities.
But we have our pride, sisters; we have our pride.
The ladies, God bless ’em,
God bless ’em, the ladies;
We bow to their prowess,
And unship our “cadies,”
We're not above shouting,
“Hurrah” or “Tres bon,”
When they bring home the bacon,
By air from Ceylon,
Or hop to Australia
From London (by ’plane).
Then hop off to Antimacassar again,
Or some other place
(Any country will serve),
Believe us, dear sisters,
We're proud of your nerve,
And not a bit jealous,
Or piqued by the pip
(Though it's hard to suspect
That we're losing our grip),
But nevertheless we
Are glad to address ’em,
No longer “the weaker,” but—
Bless ’em, God bless ’em.
The Revolution of Man.
It is true that Woman has pegged out her claim in nearly every field of endeavour, but there still remains the football field, where strong silent balls of muscle roll each other in the ooze, step on each other's windpipes, and generally react in accordance with Nature's original specifications; for since the institution of the Riot Act man has been rigorously repressed and suppressed; he is forbidden by law to give his boy-friend a thick ear in a public place; he cannot even recline on a business rival's neck on the main highway, or split a competitor's coat up the back in the marketplace. Is it any wonder that this restraint often results in such discords in his choral tone as the Rugby rabies, severe scrumatism, forward-tactics, calf-worrying, full-back aches, falling fits, dust-biting, muddy complexion, and that severe form of shortness of breath, known in football parlance, as loss-of-pants?
Uncorking the Emotions.
Only once a week is he licensed to uncork his emotions and come down to earth—with a thud. Saturd'y! Football! Coatless, collared but collarless, breathless, sockless, and practically pantless, he sentences himself to half-a-day's hard labour for the privilege of tucking an oval bag of wind under his wing and getting his features pushed into the mud for his pains; but it is moments like these, virile reader, which have made the Umpire, forgive me, the Referee; and even if the leather-snatcher's thatch is a mating place for worms, and he looks like a clay model by Epstein, before it has dried, “A man's no mug for a’ that,” as Bob McBurns, the Scottish front-ranker, might have remarked.
It certainly is true that, as the English schoolboy wrote, the inhabitants of New Zealand are all blacks, if not in actuality, then in spirit, for even the infant Enzed kicks his feeding bottle neatly into touch, dribbles with easy facility, and questions the referee's decision like a veteran when she announces the order of the bath. Every real New Zealander, for the term of his snatcheral life, either pursues a football or tells others how to do it from the grandstand; and every male Maorilander of youthful years carries his All-Black (toe)-cap on his boot.
Full Stomachs and Full Backs.
You, fond parent, who have decreed that little Theobald shall function as a Director of Railways, have you never considered the possibility of him going even higher and becoming a Porter? You, proud proprietor of infantile masculinity—page 14
who have arranged that the child Harold shall manage grand hotels, has it never occurred to you that he might take the ball in his own hands and develop even into a Cooke? For truly, the future of New Zealand Rugby lurks in the pram, and the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that screws the scrum. When marvelling at the voracity of Victor, does it never occur to you that full stomachs in infancy make full-backs in maturity; and that:
In a hundred thousand cradles,
In a multitude of prams,
Hostile Hectors, Wailing Waldos,
Weeping Willies, Sobbing Sams,
Chew their nighties while they ponder.
On the Possibility,
Of their ultimate inclusion,
In the team for “fifty-three,”
While their mothers (how prophetic Of the future), cry “Alack,
How the Dickens does he do it,
I declare the child's ALL BLACK.”
Football! What fruity memories the word weaves in the mind grown moribund with meals and mathematics; memories of youth when, the world forgetting by the world forgot, you committed a larceny called “footy,” a distant and depraved relation of Rugby, which was perpetrated with your father's second-of-best “bun” as the casus belli, and two teams of at least twenty head each. Do you remember how, inflamed to the point of madness by the exploits of “Billy” Wallace and “Jimmy” Duncan, and further intoxicated by the possession of an alleged jersey, which suffered from advanced wooly aphis and moth-bites, you led your side through the hole in the fence, yelping like a mal-nourished man-eater? Do you not recollect how, as the riot progressed, members of the teams registered a proneness to ignore the ball and concentrate on the personal aspect of the the meeting, with the result that your father's second-grade “bun” (now a mere mess of pottage) lay forgotten beneath the hedge while the personnel proceeded to amend the rules of Rugby to their individual tastes, by force of arms, fists and teeth?
And further—do you mind how, when you appealed with tears in your eyes, to Cæsar for a REAL football, he compromised despicably by palming off on you an inflatable fragment of a pig's inside conformation, presented to him by the butcher as a mark of esteem? Does it not seem but yesterday that you lodged an informal objection on the grounds that the contemptible piece of physiology was a lighter-than-air vessel and therefore ultra vires and no bloomin’ good? And, happy days—don't you recollect how Cæsar snatched the poor substitute arrogantly from your hands and, with a hoot of disbelief, hoofed it violently across the yard with such abandon that it sped with a glorious crash clean through the scullery window, to the utter downfall of Cæsar and the subterranean satisfaction of yourself?
Ah, those were the days, when the germs of football germinated in a thousand paddocks, and All-Blacks crooned in their cradles.
The Paradoxical Pastime.
There must be something in this Rugby recreation, when roving bands of muscular masculinity move up and down the face of the earth seeking whom they may defeat; the latest invasion is by a bunch of burly Britishers who have slid over the bulge of the earth to take the ball away from New Zealand, if they can. Will they do it? Will it said that “They came, they scored, they conquered”?
No tongue can tell—not even the tongue of the ball—until the final numbers go up; but it is safe to predict, without fear of ostracism by “Fair Play,” “Old Rugbyite” and the armchair experts, that the side which wins will be the victor.
The Railway Reps.
But if things look really all black we always have the Railways to fall back on; the Railways reek Rugby, for are not railway servants constantly on the TRAIN? Do they not “find the line” invariably, never miss their “passes,” obey the whistle without question, run straight and fast (although they can side-track neatly when required), have got the “goods” all along the line, and are equally efficient whether they “follow the sun” or run up the line in “Daylight Limited”; the Railways are full of ’Prentices and Porters, and you will always find railway footballers in the van.
With these few words, dear reader, let us touch down and take the ball home.
“That in view of the serious effect which road motor transport is having on Irish railways, members should see that their general household commodities and clothing, etc., are purchased only from those traders who support railroad transport, and whenever possible, encourage relatives and friends to do likewise.”—A resolution passed by the Limerick Junction Branch. (Ireland), of the National Union of Railwaymen.page break