The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3 (July 1, 1930)
Frozen Sports and Other Cold Comfort
Dear reader, unless you are one of those frozen products of humanity, boasting a body of chilled steel and the heart of a sea-lion, who love to battle with the elephants of nature, who scorn the frozen mitt, the icy optic and the cold shoulder, and who wot not of the cool reception nor the chilly greeting—unless you are one of those ice-breakers who titillate the matutinal tub with a harpoon or an alpenstock—unless you are a frosted caramel, a white frost or a chunk of chilled cheese, you will have observed that winter has put the merry party in the ice-box and slammed the door.
Assuming, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that you are one of those whose blood stream refuses to visit the outlying suburbs of the physiology, whose cuticular quilting smacks of the goose's underclothing, and whose sniffing-set glows like an illuminated address or the beacon at the cross-roads, it is to you these congruities of cold comfort are conveyed.
Despite the fact that snow and ice and the other cold collations of the cosmography have prompted poets to release avalanches of avouchment anent the romance of ice cakes. Eskimo pies and chilled livers, you are not dissuade from applying to your auditorium a woof or a weft of the world's wool clip, and encouraging the coalmining industry to the limit of your credit. Therefore, hunger not to emulate the shivering sheik who, imperfectly garbed in a strange device and a good recording voice, essayed to keep a date above the snow line with a flippant flapper named Excelsior, and was only saved from permanent association with the refrigerating industry by the efforts of the St. Bernard free ambulance.
Likewise, tender reader, who is there among those present, who would willingly take his little daughter to sail the wintry sea without bed-socks or a mother's care, as did the skipper of the schooner Hesperus, whose craving for company exceeded his sympathy with the child welfare movement? Whatever way you regard the subject, winter is a big frost.
Mud In The Blood.
When winter comes it's safe to say,
That spring is not so far away,
And yet it's hard to rid the blood,
Of cakes of ice and slabs of mud,
And optimistic thoughts pursue,
When mind and body both are blue.
It's difficult to rout regrets,
When knee-caps clash like castaNETS,
And southerlies assail the soul,
And turn the thoughts to sacks of coal.
It's hard to keep one's spirits up
By wotting of the buttercup,
When all one craves as rightful “dibs”
Is something hot beneath the ribs.page 13
The Cold Jiggers.
But, dear reader, in addition to those well-known indoor winter sports, tossing the coalscuttle, rolling the eiderdown, whipping the cat, and keeping the funny side up, winter has hatched a horde of cold jiggers, a band of human igloos, to whom snow is the ambrosial ambergris, and ice an incentive to physical violence. When the mercury has sunk a foot below Plimsoll, and the mountain goat has gone into cold storage, these snow-bawlers lope over the wind-swept slopes in packs; they climb the highest mountains armed with yodels, “eidelwhizzers,” and slabs of Swiss cheese, and slide down per medium of their ulterior motives. They lash scantlings to their understandings and slither over the face of nature like a poached egg in a porcelain tub, unless, of course, one leg claims that east is west and the other essays a solo flight, where-upon they part at the cross-roads and precipitate their proprietor into the great white south.
When the frisky freezers aforesaid feel that southerly storms and the other cold confections of the lower levels have become too enervating for their concrete constitutions, they grab a pickaxe and a horse-hair shirt and head for the ice-cream cones and snow-slides preserved for the purpose of keeping them comfortably cold. And, astonished reader, they wallow in their altitudinisms, and have been known to shed hailstones when, with the melting of the big snows, they have been forced to return to the horizontal haunts of humanity. But doubtless, dear reader, were these snow-eaters requested to disinter a tub of tubers from the kitchen garden during a blizzard they would create a frosty atmosphere in the domiciliary wigwam.
Strange indeed are the ways of man, and amazing the avenues of human endeavour; but it is the nature of the homocrat to be constantly doing something or someone. He must at all costs, or even at sale price, find something upon which to project his ultra-violent rays; before and since the days of the chiropodist king—William the Corn-curer—man has been busy rearranging nature. When he has finished conquering the earth and the air he doubtless will reassemble the sign of the Zodiac and straighten out the kinks in the Spiral Nebula.
One of these Monday mornings the world will give us justification for feeling like the recoil of a spring onion, by suddenly rolling from north to south, and then man will have to velocitate on his elbow—which will put a kink in his high-tension hoppy-go-pop and aeroplanistic veloci-projection. It is true that many motorologists habitually recline on their rear collar studs, but to gyrate round the terrain on one's funny bone would be too much of a joke. Man expends much energy in drilling tunnels in the atmosphere for the purpose of connecting one “aerodrone” with another, but if he were fully cognisant of his “aeromatics,” he would follow the advice of the collier's daughter who entreated: “Don't go down the mine, daddy, let the mine come up to you.” In other words, he would simply soar above the sky so high like a duck egg in the sky and let the rest of the world go by, until the piece his mind was set on came into juxtaposition with his ambition, when he would merely dive down and capture it, thereby performing a globular circuit every twenty-four hours.
Man, dear reader, has reached the stage where he views life through a windscreen; the future is wrapped in gasolene, but through the mists of monoxide I see a bowserised biped boasting balloon lungs and an eye where his hat used to be, for the purpose of overhead observation. The infant of this benzinian period will be born with baby “balloons” on the hips in place of pedals, and will wear two-wheel brakes on his undercarriage. He will converse in a series of honks and hoots, and will breakfast at a bowser. Imagine the touching picture of the infant Ben Zino dashing to his mother's mudguard at forty miles to the gallon, and uttering little honks of baby glee:
Little Ben Zino come honk me your horn,
Your headlights are dim and your covers are worn,
I very much fear if your chassis gets weak,
You'll be under the scrap-pile all of a heap.
Thus the two thousand-and-thirty model mother will apply the maternal brake to her little one-seater, when he essays to break the by-laws.
The Survival of the Flittest.
Is it not amazing, when we recollect how our own mothers of yesteryear warned us against venturing too near the rear bumpers of the horse on the cab stand, that we have managed to reach our years of whiskers and wisdom in the piece? That we are here to-day is further confirmation of the truth of those old lines: “He who hops out of the way will live to hop another day.” The term, “The quick and the dead” bears greater significance to-day than heretofore, for those who are not quick on the uptake, quickly become but a memory. Is it surprising that modern man is more alert at both ends than his ancestry, and that “The survival of the flittest” applies to-day with greater emphasis on the “flit” than it did before the world took to bounding on ball-bearings?
But modern reader, while acknowledging the advantages of gasoleneous gliding, the fact remains that the motorist is a lone wolf, cut off from contact with his fellow wolf by his internal combustiousness, and isolated by celerity. Practically the only conversation he indulges in is when he broods over a burst tyre, and as the tyre has made its final remark before he begins, the meeting is liable to lapse for lack of a quorum or a twosome, and the conversation to resemble lonesome and lopsided loquacity. No sir and madam, for human communion and the exchange of the spoken word, give us the railway train; thus:
The (Rail)Way to Happiness.
For cheery folks and those who crave To talk on topics bright or grave,
To exercise both tongue and brain,
I'd recommend the railway train,
’Tis here you hear the merry quip,
That banishes the morning pip,
And takes the mind from carping care—
There's friendly feeling in the air.
For half an hour or half a day,
You watch the landscape roll away,
And feel that after all you CAN
Appreciate your fellow man.
For here you see him at his best,
With body soothed and mind at rest.
He feels relieved from stress and strain,
When resting in a railway train.
Each traveller distinctly feels,
The friendly throbbing of the wheels,
And if he's glum he'll soon regain
His ginger in a railway train.
In a letter to the Editor (dated 26th June, 1930), Mr. James McAllister, Headmaster, Pahia School (via Invercargill), pays the following tribute to our Magazine: “With the regular monthly arrival of your most excellent Magazine, I have always felt that you should be informed of the real and lasting pleasure it affords both teachers and pupils. I should add that all the parents, also, are keen that their children should be first in turn to merit the privilege of taking home each copy. Therefore, Sir, I take this opportunity of extending sincerest thanks for your fine publication; and I can assure you that in this district the “N.Z.R. Magazine” is creating a really live interest in our national transport system.”page break