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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)

Wheels And Whizzdom

page 49

Wheels And Whizzdom

Live Wires and Dead Marines.

Human existence is not necessarily a straight line, although there are some who look upon it as a means of connecting two or more given pints; others assert that life is either straight or straitened, and that a rolling pin gathers no dough. Ethically speaking, the straight and narrow path is a “moral,” but adumbrating actual-airily it is a long lane that has no learning. A straight life-line needs no life-belt, but neither does a dead marine need a muzzle, for his shouting days are over.

A life that is more unctuous than anxious may flow with the mellifluency of an oiled octave on the zither, an icecream cone in the frigid zone, or a slippery customer in Greece; but the caretaker who gets no kicks from life gets no kick out of it. On the one hand the boot is on the other foot, and the life-line that loops the loop loopily, like the temperature chart of an Eskimo with a hoodoo on the igloo, or a cross-eyed cat in a shunting-yard, provides more variety to the running foot than macaroni.

Life is a lesson in knowing what not to know and experience is the only antidote for fake-bite. If life is not an adventure it's a sad venture, and drear at the price. After all life is after all; it is not what you make it, but what it makes you. You are either libelled or labelled, and the hand that socks the label is the hand that fools the world.

The One-Way Mind.

Adventure stands at every cross-road and only the dun-grey kind with the oneway mind ignore him. But the variety-artist knows what his nose knows and goes where his nose goes, for it's hinged, although apparently unhinged, and if it leads him into trouble it also teaches him the scent of it. Ruts are not made by the wheels of Destiny, but by the cart of Care, and to stick in them is to be in the cart. It is dangerous to tread the treads of temperament, follow trains of thought to the terminus, and explore the existence of existence, but it is also dangerous to take a breath of air for there are more possibilities in a lung-full of atmosphere than there are in an invitation to a meeting of the Heads in New Guinea. Days are either days or daze according to the temper of the tempter. To the tempestuous, every day is different from every other day, and no day is a mere stitch in Time. Every day is a reveille to revalues, a parade of possibilities, and a muster of the mustard. Making a “bust” of life is not making the best of it, but taking it all in all it is all or pall.

The I.O.U.'s Have It.

The mind is a mint and its coin is currency for the mental merchandise of man; put up the shutters and the brain is bankrupt though bursting with bullion, and the I.O.U.'s have it. Days are stringed instruments and every one strikes a different page 50
“I wished that Dad would be his age.”

“I wished that Dad would be his age.”

note. Many a man goes to bed with a bare living and arises in shot-silk pyjamas or a law suit. Adventure comes with the milk and only goes when it gets the go-bye.

Perhaps the greatest adventure in life is that period between the ignorance of knowledge and the knowledge of ignorance, called Middle Age. In the latitude of forty, human beings become human for the first time, and realise the impotence of being earnest. Having suffered the youthful pains of Age they enjoy the soothful pæans of agelessness; for they are neither in the “jeer and callow” nor the “sere and yellow.” They neither are taken to task like Lot's wife nor shaken to ask “what's life?” They make up for the time lost in being young by being young, although no longer young. They are neither young nor old, callow nor sallow, foolish nor mulish, puerile nor senile, half-baked nor fully cooked. They pause in their flight, and for a moment call a strike against the tyrant Time. They are for the nonce as ageless as Julius Caesar's unformed thoughts and their emotions are as piquant as a pickled pin-cushion. Middle-age is neither muddle-age nor fuddle-age —it is the age of reason defying “reason”; the age when man sees himself as mothers see him; thin on top and plump beneath, slightly gone in wind and teeth, caring naught for looks or “lacks,” out to show that “tacks is tacks.”

The Roaring Forties.

Middle-age is the Roaring Forties when man with all sails set rounds the capabilities.

Let us lilt with the foolish fathers:—

When I was young with lots to learn,
And steeped in thought from stem to stern,
I used to think how foolish dad
Appeared, with life so grim and sad.
I grieved that he made light of things,
That seemed to me so full of stings.
Although his hair was turning grey,
He grew more youthful every day.
Full many a moon I whipped the cat,
To think I had a sire like that.
He seemed to have no dignity,
And laughed at things that worried me.
I often wished with inward rage,
That dad would try to be his age,
And told him so in accents terse,
Which only seemed to make him worse,
He'd even in his mad conceit,
Sing songs when walking in the street.
I often mourned the fact that he
Was so devoid of dignity.
And though I took him oft’ to task,
He merely paused awhile to ask,
“What's up my son? upon my Sam,
I'm only being what I am.”
But now that I am thin on top,
And sagging slightly round the crop,
I realise what father meant,
By saying he was quite content,
To be what Time intended he
By all the laws of life should be.
For now I'm neither old nor young,
I'm free to give the subject tongue,
And say that when a man's a sport he's
Sailing in the roaring forties.

“Keeping a tryst with Time.”

“Keeping a tryst with Time.”

page 51

For Wheel or Whoa.

In life we are all rolling stock running on the rails of Destiny, and if we fail to stop when flagged by Fate we miss our freight. On Life's railroad there is only one set of rails and no turntable. But why turn back; the scene improves as we travel onward; or we appreciate it better; that is, those who keep their eyes to the window. But there are some who would rather sleep than peep, and some who are so occupied with their ingrown eyebrows, their over-investments and under-devestments, the price of lead-headed eye-teeth, and the fate of the fat, that they are blind to the beauty of Being. Life should be like a train—–eager, pressing forward as if bent on keeping a tryst with Time round the next bend; taking the grades sturdily, and running to Time. A train epitomizes human existence; with its black mane trailing over its shoulder it converts the Present into the Past. Every second is a chip of the Future to be caught and whirled beneath the bogies into History. Forward to the next bend, onward to the next bridge; chasing the sun, pursuing the beckoning hand of unachieved achievement, leaping to new experiences and defying the light of Hope to sink beneath the horizon of Despair. Sounding a warning at the crossings, braving the gloom of the tunnels, bowling along, trolling a song, beating the rails of Life.

We are all trains—trains with beating brains; pulsing living motived men, oft’ pausing to pant with the signal against us; stopping to pick up new ideas and set down old; halting to fill up at the tank of
The Home Signal Against Him

The Home Signal Against Him

Experience; but ever moving—moving on to a terminus which evades us. Our ticket is an open pass to the beyond beyond beyond. The train is crowded, but there is always room for more. Move up and make a place, and share the bag of peanuts. Crack a jest, get the old lady a cup of tea, hold the tired dame's baby, open the window for the large lady who craves oxygen, laugh with the crowd and sing in the chorus, and be all things to all men.

A train is life in little, existence on distance, a fleeting thought, and a forward move.

Technical Education for Railwaymen

Europe has always paid much attention to the subject of the technical education of the railwayman, and the endeavours of the railways in this direction are exemplified by the recent opening of two new educational establishments by the Home railways—one on the London and North Eastern line and the other on the London Underground system.

At York the first-named railway has opened what probably ranks as the best equipped signalling school in Britain. In this school there will be given to the staff dealing with the constructional and maintenance of signal, telegraph and telephone installations, instruction in the principles of electrical and mechanical signalling and of telegraphy and telephony. In addition, instruction will also be given the operating employees in block working and traffic handling.—(From our London Correspondent).

page 52