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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 3 (August 1, 1931)

Zoo-logicalities and Man-ifestations

page 49

Zoo-logicalities and Man-ifestations.

The Accident of Birth.

Human culture has cultivated schemes for providing consolation prizes for those who hit the cinders in the human race. For cash in advance, a citizen can insure himself against bodily blights, perils of the seize, benighted motors, ignited metres, banana skins, pillow-slips, sleep-walking, land-slides, gravel rash, dog-bite, catsnip, mat-slip, broken promises, fractured relations, and the unnatural force of natural forces. But actuarily, no plausible scheme has been evolved for insuring man against the accident of birth. In fact, it is equal odds whether a reputable rate-payer will enter the ring as a ring-worm or a contagious disease. Nature gives no guarantee that the vital spark intended for the latest addition to the O'Hades (both doing well), is not sparking round the jungles of Siam decorated with monkey glands and nut-crackers, and versus vices.

Perusing the fallacious fauna at the Zoo, I shudder to think how easily I might have been precipitated into this hyphenated world, wearing all-over whiskers, four-handed feet, an incurable spinal promontory on the southern seaboard, an appetite for vitamin A straight; a weakness for mud-rolls, taking an upside down view of life, expressing myself bronchially, keeping my hair on, and taking life as it comes without fear of flavour.

Appearances and Disappearances.

Brooding over our caged cousins, who sacrifice outer appearances for inner disappearances, it seems to me that, taken with a drop of eau-de-Cologne, they are not any more unpleasant to the naked eye than some of the later and more vertical models. Whatever they are they are what they are, and if happiness means ignorance of what happiness means, they must all be happy. In any case the basis of happiness seems to be as elastic as the plython of a python or the average conscience.

Man is not happy, because he has appointed himself the judge of all things except himself, and he floats in an atmosphere of his own vapouring in a balloon blown up with his own air, and his landing-ground is his own dust. It is a question whether he is the big pea in the horticultural holocaust or a victim of his own vicariousness.

If contentment is the purse for Life's Handicap, then the pig flies in, and the pug misses by a short nose; the boaconstrictor's content is cubic content, and the leopard is happy in spots. Speaking zoo-logically, I confess that:

Whenever I attend the zoo,
And contemplate the varied crew,
Respectively and in the mass,
I feel contrained to brood, alas,
That only accident of birth,
Prevents me rooting in the earth,
Or gliding round in aqueous ease,
Beneath exotic tropic seas,
Or leaping o'er the mountain slopes,
Like kangaroos or antelopes.
The fact that I was born to sin,
And shave the shavings off my chin,
And try to exercise my will,

page 50
“Man's collar is the badge of serfdom.”

“Man's collar is the badge of serfdom.”

Has made me what I am, but still
I think the polar bear is cute,
And so are both the nit and newt;
The pelican is also quaint,
The skunk is bright despite his taint,
The dromedary's not a chump,
Although he's always got the hump.
I often envy little fish,
And think their tails are awf'ly swish—
Of course it must be dull to park,
Indefinitely in a shark.
I watch the chimpanzee at play.
The mustang masticating hay,
The wart-hog watering his warts,
The nautilus notating noughts,
The elephant who packs his trunk,
The penguins—always slightly drunk—
The reptiles sleeping in a bunch,
Recovering from last week's lunch;
Flamingos on their painted stilts,
Resembling Scots without their kilts;
The merry monk, the musty mink—
They all combine to make me think
That though we've learnt to wash with soap,
And fill our heads with dismal dope,
We're justified to take the view
That, when we made our own debut,
We might have been a monk or mole,
A salamander or a sole,
And lived contented on the earth,
Despite The Accident Of Birth.

Presence of Mind and Absence of Thought.

Civilisation is a man-ifestation that happiness is more a matter of absence of thought than presence of mind. The beast of the field is happy because he hasn't got the thought to think that he is miserable even when he is. In his case ignorance is bliss and brains would be blisters. Lepidoptera leap before they look, and seem to buzz through life with-getting stung. The truth is that Man has risen so sky-high that he gasps for breath in the rarified atmosphere of refinement and cannot get down to earth for a roll in the daisies, or go gay with the March Hare, without shattering his superiority, wounding his dignity, and soiling his collar.

The Choker in the Pack.

Man's collar is his badge of serfdom. It is the choker in the pack that euchres all his tricks in the game of life, and causes him to shuffle off without a point in his favour. If he could unstarch his natural instincts and unleash the joy-hounds, he might be able to enjoy life as much as a bull-ant, the bull's aunt, the bullock's uncle, the moth's mother, and the rabbit's foreign relations. But the homo-globule is so impressed by himself that he can seldom forget himself long enough to remember to forget to remember himself.

The Lawlessness of Levity.

The law of gravity insists that the higher you go the harder you go to keep going, and when you stop you drop; but the law of levity is lawless, which is why—

“The Prize Pullet.”

“The Prize Pullet.”

page 51

I never pity lesser things,
That buzz and bite and flap their wings,
And wot not of arithmetic,
Or why the money-market's sick.
I guess that if they only guessed,
The things by which my mind's oppressed,
And how I'm tied to L.S.D.,
They'd feel inclined to pity Me.

Roles and Rolls.

But doubtless, everything in this world has its role to play, and Man has the advantage that one of his roles is to roll on rails. Without wishing to be a roller-skite I must say that the railway is the one way in which man gets his way over the furred and feathered fauna.

Rolling on regardless,
Rolling night and day,
Bowling on retardless,
On the raily way.
Rolling down to glee-oh,
Bowling up the grade,
Skimming o'er the metals,
Swiftly on parade.
Sweeping up the minutes,
Eating up the miles,
Hark-away and hop-a-long,
Listen to the engine's song,
In the deep defiles.
Whirling on, purling on,
Eating up the miles.

After all the engine is traction's greatest attraction, and when it comes to “pull” it is the prize pullet, a bird of passage, and a Great Lark.

The Automatic Signalling System

The Automatic Signalling System

Railway Gardens. Presentation of Prizes

At the annual meeting of the Canterbury Horticultural Society on June 29th the prizes won in the competition between the Railway Station gardens of Canterbury were presented.

Fourteen gardens were judged, there being two divisions, classed according to the time they had been established.

Two challenge cups were presented, one donated by Mr. L. B. Hart to the senior division, and the other to the junior division by the Canterbury Horticultural Society.

The members of the Christchurch Traffic Department also donated four cups to the station officers who were instrumental in carrying off the prizes.

Mr. L. B. Hart, in handing over the challenge trophies to the successful competitors, complimented them on their excellent work, and assured them that their efforts to improve the railway station surroundings were much appreciated by the public.

Mr. O. W. B. Anderson in presenting the miniature cups to the various successful station officers, expressed the pleasure of the Society in controlling such a competition, and speaking from a personal inspection while the gardens were being judged, was convinced that quite a substantial advance had been made during the past season. He felt sure that even more improvement would be made during the coming year.

The District Traffic Manager thanked the Society for its co-operation in the good work of railway station advancement, and assured the Society that he would do everything in his power to give the movement further encouragement.

The winners were as follows:—

Class A—Heathcote Railway Station 1, Rakaia 2.

Class B—Little River Railway Station 1, Ric-carton 2.—(From “The City Beautiful.”)