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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 1 (May 1, 1932.)

The Spirit of The Age

page 53

The Spirit of The Age

The Core of the Corpuscle.

The spirit of the age, and all ages, stages and rages, is Optimism. Optimism is vitamin X, and X equals the core of the corpuscle, or the spirit of X-istence.

It is true that Optimism sometimes sleeps, but like a flea at the dog show or an onion in a Spanish garden, it is always there. On the other hand, there is no such vegetable as Pessimism, for Pessimism is the seed that doubts and never sprouts; it soils not, neither does it spinach.

So-called pessimists are Bluff oysters, who bluff that all shellfish are selfish and that an oyster can never royster, nor a winkle twinkle. But when their bluff is called with an oyster opener, it is discovered that they have been hiding their light under a boo-shell. Thence they suffer oystracism and die of shell-shock.

Optimism makes the world ‘op round, even if it does bump a bit on the bends. It is as impossible to support life without optimism as without oxygen. A fly in a treacle factory has as equally good a chance of buzzing off as a pessimist in a mud bath.

Wait for Age.

Life is largely a matter of waits and measures, and the waiter who waits generally gets full weight and measure of treasure and pleasure. In effect, as an effervescent effort:—

When things appear as black as soot,
And look as if they'd come unput
For good and all, the optimist
Pulls up his socks, and takes a twist
Abaft the belt, for well he wots
That luck is only bad in spots.
The world seems often false and flat
To even those with all the fat.
The bacon makes the hunger keen,
That's streaked with fat as well as lean;
And “good” is only good, me lad.
As recognizable from “bad”—
For otherwise we never could
Appreciate the good in “good.”
Thus never give Ma Hope the gate,
But simply hoist the hose and WAIT.

The Human Race is a wait-for-age. Age is the bigger bit of “sage,” and, like left-handed feet at a boot-legger's remnant sale, it has its advantages. Age is true proportional representation, when little things that used to count have forgotten their arithmetic, and only the big things matter but don't mutter. Ripe old age is the ideal fruit of the tree of life. Sung to apple peals, the core of the argument is:—

The ribstone pippin on the tree
Is similar to you and me.
When young and green all things are rippin'.
So sings the youthful ribstone pippin.
But later, what with codlin moth
And blights, it finds life's not all froth
And things appear not quite so rippin'.

page 54

So thinks the ageing ribstone pippin.
Eventually, ripe and red,
The ribstone pippin nods his head,
And though perhaps his stalk is slippin',
He's glad to be a ribstone pippin.
With pesky pests he's had to grapple,
Which only add to Adam's apple,
Until he's wise enough to see
The other apples on the tree,
And also other apple trees,
All battered by the selfsame breeze,
All more or less by beetles tortured.
In fact the pippin sees the orchard,
And knows, though life is not so rippin',
The pip is mightier than the pippin.

“Life is largely a matter of waits and measures.”

“Life is largely a matter of waits and measures.”

Adam's Evesdropper.

From ribstone pippins we naturally turn to the apple of Adam's eye, his rib-bone counter, or his Evesdropper. “Woman!” What a word to wangle! “Woo man,” “Whoa man,” likewise, “fee male,” “fie male,” and generally speaking, the last word in dictation.

But when everything is said and done—which of course it never is—what is the loss of a rib compared with the gain of a whole wife?

History has not done woman justice, mainly because historians are usually male-factors.

Certainly Helen of Troy got a write-up. If Helen were not Irish she should have been, for if I am not mistaken (which is improbable) it was Helen who rode a wooden horse through Cork, or a cork horse through the wood, singing:—

“If at first you don't succeed, Troy, troy again.”

There is also the Queen of Sheba, who is the only woman who has ever admitted the wisdom of Soloman; Lady Godiva who condemned the “barberous” bustercut, and invented the slogan, “wear more hair,” and Annie Laurie, for love of whom even Scotsmen were prepared to risk the expense of a funeral. Then we know of Little Miss Muffet and Nellie Bly in their famous recitation, “The Spider and the Fly;” also the Maid of Athens who invented the part-time kiss, and Bertha, The Sewing-machine Girl, who pedalled her own canoes and popularised the silent singer. Again, there are King Henry's eight wives who lost their heads over him, with the exception of the last, who trumped his ace with a queen.

No doubt there are many others who should have been in history if the fair sex had had a fair deal.

What we men owe on account of woman it is impossible to compute without a ready-reckoner. Woman's has always been the hand that locks the stable and “socks” the fable. She is the power behind the groan and the little thing that counts—our cash.

When a man marries he leads a double life—and both of them are his wife's. Truly, many a wife makes the billets that her husband gets shot into. But woman never boasts of her achievements; she realises more than man that speech was invented as a wind-screen to think behind.

The ladies, God bless ‘em,
We labour to dress ‘em,
We work for their glory,
(Or that is the story),
We think we are Galahads
Daring and bold,
When all that we do
Is to do as we're told.

“Some things are too utter to utter.”

“Some things are too utter to utter.”

page 55

If the truth about Noah were known, it was his wife who pushed him into the boat-building business; Caesar's* wife, no doubt, was behind his seizures. The fact is that no married man is the captain of his soul. His wife lets him do the speaking while she wields the spokes of the wheel. We know it, and they know we know it, but they never let us know that they know that we know that they know it.

What would the world be without woman? There would be a conspiracy of silence; we would have no homes to stay away from, no wives to tell bed-time stories to, no shirts for us to sew buttons on, no household jobs to dodge, no woman's hand to take our pay envelope, no pay envelope to take; in fact, no nothing nowhere. Consequently we reiterate the toast:—

“Oh Hades, the ladies,
We doubt ‘em,
Know about ‘em,
But—oh Hades! THE LADIES! ! !”

New Zealand in Short.

New Zealand has often been written up at length but never in short. So let us take a pilgrimage in pill form. Meatly speaking, New Zealand is a singular “joint,” although plural to the third degree. She consists of the top-side or upper cut, the undercut, and the bit over. The upper cut, or North Island, consists, among other things, of the floating dock, the Blue Bath, and Auckland Harbour. The under cut, or South Island, contains (inter alia) both banks of the Avon and the bank of Scotland. The South Island
An Open Track For The “Special.”

An Open Track For The “Special.”

is a dependency of Dunedin. Stewart Island, which is the bit that broke off, almost impinges on the pole, and sleeps by itself on a bed of oysters.

The whole is surrounded by water for as far as a ship can reach without getting wrecked. New Zealand is so singularly scenic that railway trains spend all their time running from one attraction to another. New Zealand, in addition to butter and wool, meat and cheese, produces in tourists an irresistible impulse to write to the papers about it. Tourists who previously thought that New Zealand was seal oil or a brand of cheese have been carried onto their ships prostrated with foot and mouth disease and writer's cramp through trying to express their reactions to our attractions. Some things are too utter to utter. And that, in short, is New Zealand in short.

Public Relations

An outstanding feature of the many representations made to the Government Railways Board in the course of its recent visit to Southland, was that warm tributes were paid by many of the speakers to the courteous and efficient service rendered to users of the railways by stationmasters and other officers in the districts through which the Board travelled. The Board expressed its keen satisfaction at the fine sentiment and goodwill prevailing between its officers and those whom they served.—“Southland News.”