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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)

Romance On The Rail

page 9

Romance On The Rail

Back-knocks and Knock-backs.

Dear Reader, the question in question is whether the world is Man's Play Area or his Pay Arrear; whether the globe is Man's marble in the game of back-knocks, or whether the World plays the back-knocks and leaves Man the knock-backs; whether Man is the Captain or the Capstan—whether he is the big noise or only the echo. Possibly the World would manage to keep on the roll even if Man were struck off it, for all Man's efforts are directed towards the betterment of Man. He snips bits off Nature with one hand and returns half with the other, that he may take again and make a gain. It almost looks as if he were dutiable as a luxury; as if he were an authorised expenditure within the meaning of the law of Supply and Demand; a parasitical paradox or even a paradoxical pillarbox filling himself with letters of credit for which he deserves no credit. But seeing that Man is rather the jest than the guest of Nature he is obliged either to conquer or conk out.

Idealism and I-do-ism.

Man has conquered almost everything except himself. He has soared to the point where he has nothing to grab if he loses his balance, and he realises that the higher he goes the harder he falls. He is whirled without end, tossed on the horns of his own dilemmas, pursued by his pursuits, torn betwixt Idealism and I-do-ism, withered by hot air, and frozen in the currents of cold reason. One half of him asserts that the game is not worth the candle, and the other half shields the candle; he curses his fate and nurses his fat; he takes all he can and cans all he takes. He claims that life is not worth living, but leavens his liver to live the longer.

The Incredibility of Credit.

Man has a lot to his credit and he owes a lot to Credit; for he is a natural creature of Credit. Credit is the breath of his strife, and shortness of breath is a prevalent penalty of Progress. Credit is a sort of L.S.Delirium to which he is heir; it is a swivelisation of civilisation, and without Credit he would be discredited. The idea of Credit is to get something for nothing on the understanding that you pay twice as much for it as you would if you paid for it before—or something as incredible. Before you can get Credit you must prove that you don't need it. But he who needs it most can't get it unless he can prove that he can do without it, which he can't. A country that would raise a loan must shew reason why it doesn't need it, and the supplicant who gets Credit must first prove that he should'nt. All of which seems discernible and incredible; boiled down and oiled up it means: “If you can't you can” and “If you don't you do.” ‘Tis a mad world, shipmates. Credit is really the echo of Bullion's bellow or cash incog.

Weilding the Willow and Swinging the Lead.

Credit is like Cricket in that you are apt to get stumped if you lash out with page 10
“Man must either conquer or conk out.”

“Man must either conquer or conk out.”

abandon. Otherwise the resemblance is null and void, for Cricket demands all the qualities which have painted parts of the map pink; i.e., the determination of a porous plaster, a well oiled eye, an arm as tireless as a bowser-handle, the cunning of a hunted collar stud, the alacrity of a cat-burglar, and the swiftness of a dog-catcher. Cricket is not as batty as it looks; nevertheless and overmore ‘tis strange to witness otherwise moral ratepayers pelting each other with orbs of tailored bull's skin. If you have studied this game of hit-and-miss you will note that the assailant or balloonist strives to get under the guard of the defendant or batman by fair means or googley, and thus kill his goose by landing him for a duck. On the other hand the batter endeavours to paste the missile and thus render the bowler's cake dough in accordance with the rules laid down by the late Mrs. Beaton. The bat or stump-protector is a blunt instrument constructed mostly of willow, and the hero at the end of it is said to Wield The Willow, as the plumber swings the lead, and the butcher slings his hook or takes a cut off the leg. The Umpire is an unbiassed spectator, and wears a motor-coat to prove it. Although next to the horse he is the most perfect exponent of vertical slumber extant, he is rarely caught napping, and when appealed to immediately reacts vocally against popular public opinion. The Crease is called a crease because it is uncreased, and the batsman always comes out to go in, and often goes in to go out. Every cricket eleven is a band of hope, for the cricketer who fails to register hope may as well stay at home on Saturday afternoons and weed the garden, or do something equally as foolish.

Hope and Soap.

Speaking of Hope, January is the advance agent for a brand new line of this luxury. Hope, like soap, is slippery when it gets damp, and is liable to slither out of reach; but every new year is a brand new cake of unsampled fragrance with the promise of its qualities advertised on its wrapper.

No human here below could cope
With this and that, bereft of hope.
He'd merely wither day by day,
Until he curled and blew away.
The person who would stifle care,
Must overhaul his Hope each year,
And if it needs a patch or two,
Or wants a dab of liquid glue,
Such service makes it nearly new.
The octopus and antelope,
Are each imbued with heaps of hope.
The octoroon is also rich
In Hope, although as black as pitch,
And even little things like gnats,
All harbour Hope beneath their hats.
The motto in this homily,
Is hitch your hope and wait and see.

Hope is guaranteed to remove the wrinkles off an oyster's cloister, bring back the merry laughter to a bored borer, and renew the bloom of a cold stew. If the future were an open book man would grow leaves instead of turning them.

Riding with Romance.

The New Year is like a railway journey, there is always something to look forward to.
“The umpire is an unbiassed spectator.”

“The umpire is an unbiassed spectator.”

page 11 In both cases you ride with Romance. Even the old scenes are new scenes. The wooded hill you saw shimmering like a mirage against the heat haze is capped with cloud, and glooms in sombre grandeur. The river that mocked you as it ramped between its quivering banks now lisps over the smooth brown boulders and titters shamelessly in the shallows. The fat flat lands swirl at your feet, but you hardly recognise them as the parched and golden sheets of your previous passing. Here is something new each time; merely the old remodelled, perhaps, but new to you; Nature in fancy dress—decked out for light opera, stark drama, or wearing the simple habiliments of the countryside. The world comes to you as you ride with Romance. You are Mohamed drawing the mountain; trees glide towards you as if they would brush your cheek; the blue distance rolls up its curtain and admits you to its veiled secrets. You are a wizard opening up magic vistas. You sit back in upholstered ease while the world peers in at the window, shouts, whispers, reaches out a hand, and passes. There are no pot-holes in the permanent way; the rails run clean and true. Metal skims metal as light as thought, when you ride with Romance by Rail.


New Zealand is likely to become a suburb of Sydney if the cream of Aussie's youth continues to descend upon it out of the blue, thereby making the Tasman look small. When Mr. Menzies dropped in
The Railway Buffer

The Railway Buffer

the other day he found Welcome on the mat, but had he given us the wheeze we might have arranged for him to meet New Zealand on firmer ground. Under the circumstances it would have been excusable had his first impression been that New Zealand's name is mud; however, we prefixed “mire” with “ad” and all was well. Let ‘em all came; where there's life there's hops. For to-day Man is a gas-hopper, and the whole earth is his hop-patch. Such once little-known outposts as Neuralgia, Central Heating, Upper Tooting, Lower Honking, The Far Yeast, The Near Beer, Alice Springs, Bertha Bounds, Sciatica, Lumbago, The Steppes of Siberia, The Ladders of Hosiery, The Canaries, The Hen and Chickens, The Two Black Crows, Jamaica, and other rum places, are to-day more accessible than a hot lunch on washing day. The gas-hopper or aeroplane has knit the loose strands of the earth into a zig-zag jumper, and transported civilisation to the heat spots of the earth, where once the uneducated savage regarded the human head more as an aid to interior decoration than a business asset.

The planet's dimensions have been reduced aeroplanetically. To-day it is possible to visit your rich uncle in Fiji, touch him for a fiver and return after a loan flight, in time to circulate the good news among the local licensed victuallers. It is nothing nowadays for a lady to take a fly round the well-known shopping routes. Its a small world, dear reader, and getting smaller every day.