The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)
Our Women's Section
A Word on Noses.
“Mary,” I said, “how would you describe my nose?”
“Your nose?” she said.
“Yes,” I said, “my nose.”
“Oh, I shouldn't attempt to,” said Mary, deep in the usual book of feminine fashions. “Why do you want your nose described?”
Her tone suggested that there are things even in these days, which are better left to the imagination.
“I am not the one who wants it described,” I said, suddenly becoming acutely conscious of its defects as a nose. “But according to the latest publication on psycho-analysis (Mary groans), if one forwards an accurate description of one's nose, one will receive in return (the exchange seems a fair one) an accurate diagnosis of one's inner self and real character.”
“Oh, I do hope not,” said Mary fervently, “because as a matter of fact, darling, I married you simply because of your nose!”
Now, what on earth is a man to say to such an outrageous statement—if it had been eyes, legs or even ears, I should have felt happier—but a nose! I steadied myself and determined to hear the worst —as a brave man should. Had I been drifting gaily through life not thinking for a moment how my nose might appear in the eyes of my fellows? The day of reckoning had arrived.
“Mary,” I went on firmly, “have the goodness to inform me whether my nose (please refrain from levity) fits roughly into one of these neat little columns—details don't matter—just an estimate.
“Oh, but they do in your nose,” said Mary calmly. “In fact dear, it is all details!” This with feminine precision.
I read from my pamphlet:—
(1) “The man with a small straight nose—”
“Pass on,” Mary interrupts dashingly, “yours is neither!”
“Rather a pity,” I murmur. “Such a one has a mind gentle, idealistic and devoted to beauty.” I immediately picture myself savage, uncouth, squatting at my cottage consuming large quantities of beef and beer. I continue somewhat subdued.
(2) “The man with a large, irregular, generously wide nose” (I finger my breathing apparatus tenderly—my heart rising).page 52
Came Mary's liquid tones: “No, darling. What next?” Very much as a mother to a capricious infant. It is a pity Mary cannot be serious upon an occasion demanding attention and gravity. “Yours isn't any of those!”
I realise now how extraordinarily sensitive a man can be about his nose. I begin to long for a large and bumpy structure. I begin to suspect psychoanalysis. I begin to feel that mine indicates a mere nothing.
“Such a man,” I continue weakly, “is energetic, generous and fond of children.”
“Mary,” I snap out in a hoarse tense voice, “you have no soul. How can you treat this affair with such flippancy? Women are all the same—minds quite satisfied with trivial nonsense.”
“Yes dear,” says Mary meekly, and as I stride haughtily from the room— “but at least we merely powder our noses and don't have them psycho-analysed!”
There is something distressingly final about women.
As Others See Us.
Have New Zealand women a special National characteristic? I have heard this question asked frequently lately—have sat silent while two males dissected the fair sex quite unmercifully. I pondered over it for some time, thinking of the women I knew and wondering whether we had already developed a pronounced racial characteristic by which we could be recognised the world over as “New Zealanders”—or whether we are still too disunited, too separated one from the other.
It is commonly acknowledged that in a far off country national traits and peculiarities develop extraordinarily rapidly—and we are all familiar with the popular lament that New Zealanders are already mutilating their Mother-tongue in a really shocking and shameful way. People actually declare that it is almost impossible to understand what on earth our young hopefuls are yelling to one another across the school play-grounds. Perhaps the talkies will eliminate this distressing accent—if in the meantime the youth of New Zealand does not assimilate a really good imitation of a Yankee drawl and a fair stock of American slang.
It is with the women of New Zealand, however, that we are concerned for the moment. I think with anger and resentment of Rupert Brooke's description of my sisters as being badly dressed, thoroughly ugly, and confirmed smokers. True that was some time ago—also the standards of a youthful poet are appallingly high—but there can be an astounding difference in the people of a young country in a short space of time—and I think most English visitors and foreigners agree now that although we may be somewhat deficient in physical charm, as compared with the Parisienne, there is a characteristic freshness and joyousness about the New Zealand women. A modern writer has said that the men of our country are characterized by a certain complacency and also a perfect lack of originality in thought, while the women are the most capable in the world and while not beautiful, are universally page 53 pleasant (or was it pleasing?) to look upon.
Since Rupert Brooke passed his youthful criticism after the fashion of Paris, we have advanced somewhat in matters of dress and are gradually emerging from semi-barbarism. In fact we even display a fleeting interest in clothes! Perhaps some day we may even be smart—although that seems rather too much to demand from the women in an isolated, half-civilised Pacific Island! I think the women of other countries imagine that we cultivate the soil while our husbands hunt the fugitive Moa. Could they be present at a fashion parade at one of our big emporiums they would be somewhat astonished.
Travellers from our own land all agree that English women are terribly in ignorance about the lives of their sisters out in “little New Zealand”—and are often quite frankly astounded at the cultivation and appearance of visitors to the Homeland.
Have we developed a racial characteristic? It is a difficult question to answer—but surely we cannot complain if we are becoming noted for a certain freshness and joyousness. One day we may even be beautiful! Then, oh women of England, Paris and America—you will have a dangerous rival!
A Ballad of 1930. Then and Now.
“Oh wilt thou go a-motoring?” said a
gallant swain one day.
“I've packed our grub and bathing-togs
and bought a Ford coupé.”
I asked him rather faintly was he competent to steer;
He said he'd studied pamphlets on the
mysteries of gear.
They used to mount a dashing steed in
good King Arthur's day.
But now we speed by town and mead
in a really nice coupé.
“Oh wilt thou come a-dancing?” said a
gallant swain to me.
“I've found a really topping place—
tickets two and three.”
I asked him who had tied his tie and
where he'd bought his sox.
He said my lips were rather red but
matched his dashing clocks.
They used to sweep the ball-rooms in
But now we swerve in dizzy curve to
the tune of “Happy Days.”
“Oh wilt thou come a-‘Talkying’?” said
a gallant swain to me.
“I've booked our seats for Saturday—to
a ‘thing’ with Lila Lee.”
They say the songs are really good—
the story doesn't matter.
I told him I agreed with him and hoped
he wouldn't chatter.
They used to take a theatre-box and rave
about the Drama,
But now we gaze in breathless daze at
tinted talking charmer.
The Vogue of the Jacket.
Have you noticed that nearly all the Spring frocks this year are billowy fluffy affairs, with a little jacket or coatee to match? Even the masculine girl won't be able to resist the charm of these page 54 “creations”—never before have frocks been so lovely nor fabrics so numerous and cheap. Flowers are to be worn by everyone—frills, flounces, and large hats. The other day I imagined I had drifted back at least a century, when I wandered into an afternoon tea party. The only difference was that modern fashions don't demand an extraordinary and quite unlovely outline. We can now be comfortable and yet graceful, and trust to sports and health to keep our figures as Nature intended them to be.
This little frock can be made up from georgette. voile, ninon, or any one of the hundreds of species of crepes displayed everywhere.
Waistlines are to be high and frocks long. This does not apply to our sports rig-outs—but certainly to this type of dainty afternoon frock. Notice the three frills on the skirt and the little belt—also the short straight little coat. The edges of the frills look very dainty when picoted and a flower on the shoulder gives a smart finish. This frock may be worn with a large straw hat and also a light felt.
They lie—black hulks at rest—
Quite unconscious of their beauty
And unoppressed by any sense of slavery.
And yet, the little waves have wound
A chain about them, and the Great Winds
Have rocked them, and the Sea
Has told them they are Hers.
They sleep—dark shapes and squat—
They scrawl among the fair vessels there
Proud of their gloom against the blue
And the bright blaze of gorse.
And now—the little waves have waked them
From their sleep, and the Sea
Once again has told them they are Hers.
They sail—old ships and tired
Out beyond the headland—still possessing
Something of their strength and pride
But black and squat and solid.
And they leave a space in the harbour
To be filled by busy foreign ships,
And in my heart an ache
For the black hulks, tired, but ready
When the Sea whispers that they are Hers:
Lure of Train Travel.
Herein, I think, lies the chief attraction of railway travel. The speed is so easy, and the train disturbs so little the scenes through which it takes us, that our heart becomes so full of the placidity and stillness of the country; and while the body is borne forward in the flying chain of carriages, the thoughts alight, as the humour moves them, at unfrequented stations; they make haste up the poplar alley that leads towards town; they are left behind with the signalman as, shading his eyes with his hand, he watches the long train sweep away into the golden distance.—From “The Pocket R.L.S.”