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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 3 (July 1, 1932)

Steam, Hot-Air, and Various Vapourings

page 12

Steam, Hot-Air, and Various Vapourings.

The Vice of Advice.

Life is what other people make it. Apart from writing to the papers, and suchlike bawl games, the most popular perennial pastime is giving advice to people who are giving advice to other people who are too busy giving advice to take it. Advice is a cyclonic disturbance, or “free air” circulating in a “viscious” circle.

“Judge your neighbour by yourself” is good advice except when it isn't, for what is good advice for the duck is death by drowning for the hen.

Advice, strictly speaking, is an oblique objurgation of your neighbour's reputation, and an insinuation on the limitation of his mentality and morality, or a diplomatic discernment of his disparity. Thus advice never should be sought unless a prior decision to reject it has been registered in the cerebral cells of the seeker—which, of course, always is the case. Such does not include expert advice which, being a circumvention of common sense, is beyond the reach of the average intelligence.

“Judge your neighbour” is the oldest inhuman sport known to inhumanity. Excluding our own, there exist nine hundred and ninety-nine million points of view in the mental microplasm of Man, so that the chance of ours being the only authentic oyster is equal to the life-span of a cheer-germ at the pessimists' picnic.

The Hint and the Hit.

“Good advice,” to be really good, should take the form of an insinuatory injection of bicipital bacilli left to react in accordance with the climatic conditions dominating the dome of the victim; in other words, a hint is better than a hit. Let us vaporate with vivacity:—

Good advice is never nice,
It never seems to tally,
With what we thought or sadly sought—
It's neither plain nor “pally.”
We always find the only kind
Of solace we're afforded
Is just the kind that leaves the mind
Deflated or defrauded.
When all is said, the human head
In this is most deceiving.
It's evident more time is spent
In giving than receiving.

The Sarcophagus of the Aesophagus.

The appetite is the white man's burden. The stomach, not the conscience, makes cowards of us all. Every action is dictated by interior motives. An army moves on its stomach—except when it lies down on it; commerce is a question of digestion; finance fructifies fallaciously on food; and even Art prefers the palate to the palette when confronted with the sarcophagus of the aesophagus. Progress is limited by lubrication. Nine tenths of man's time is spent in garnering the gastronomies and the other tenth in dispatching them: this is called the submerged tenth. He toils to titillate his tessellated topography with root crops and fret-worked fauna. He works to eat to live to work to eat to live, until he ceases to live to work to eat to live.

page 13
“A little knowledge develops the imagination.”

“A little knowledge develops the imagination.”


The mocker, Money, is the root of this evil. Money is not a square root. It is an L.S.D.-ceit, a canker in the Casabianca, and a blight on the Upas tree; it is the medium of derange between Nature and ill-nature, and has done more harm in the world than good intentions and bad jokes. However, the joke's on us, and with your permission, or without it as the case may or may not be, we will incubate a cash-registration of L.S.D.-lirium:—

This is a tale
Of Old King Kale,
Who rules the earth
For what it's worth.
Who owns the goose,
Whose favourite ruse
Is laying jokes
With golden yokes.
Old King Kale
Has “pitched the tale,”
Since Man was young.
King Kale has stung
To vanity,
And pulled its foot
With take-and-put.
King Kale is old,
And cold with gold,
And we must rust,
Or chase his “dust.”
We must admit
He does his bit,
But oft' he'll frown
And let us down.
But here's the pinch,
He gives an inch,
And—sad to tell—
He takes an “ell.”
And yet we must,
Unless we'd bust,
Explore the trail,
With Old King Kale.

(N.B.—“Kale” is Tuscan or Cosmetic, or something, for “Oscar,” “Hoot,” “Spondulix,” or “Dough.”)


Money is like knowledge insofar (and further) that too much is a dangerous thing. Too much knowledge leads to lecturing, writing for the papers, school-teaching, and kindred evils. In its most debauched stage it even develops into that head complaint known as the “Radio Rabies,” in which the victim suffers the delusion that people are listening to him while he builds broadcastles in the air. On the other hand, a little knowledge develops the imagination by encouraging the owner of the deficiency to make up what he doesn't know. Thus, knowing how little I know about railways and their contiguous aspirations, I feel a fit and improper person to divulge any lack of knowledge I am fortunate enough to possess, to any one foolish enough to listen. Most particularly do I address those young railwaders who are anxious to reach the top of the ladder without using the ladder.

Now, in the railway the main thing to remember is to remember. A good memory is better even than knowing the score at half-time of contemporary Rugby riots, or possessing the ultimate result of a Grand National before its inception. In fact, the young railweigher who can remember what time the 3.42 gets in
“A hot box.”

“A hot box.”

page 14 before it gets in, is a better boy than the boy who remembers what time it gets in after it has got out. Likewise, the guard who starts his train off without the engine and has to come back for it is rather a gourd than a guard. The engine-driver who forgets whether he is going or coming back is insufficiently conversant with his ironmongery. The wheel-tapper, or railway carillonist, who forgets his taps may as well join the plumbers' union at once. By the same token, the train-assembler who is a train-dissembler and forgets his “rake” may finish up with a pick. Not that these things have ever happened in the N.Z. Railways, but—well one has got to say something, even if it isn't.

As one who knows what he is talking about, except when he is talking about it, allow me to acerbate a few rules and tribulations for the guidance of those about to look back with satisfaction on their futures:—

Rules for the Young of Railways.

1. Never wear the stationmaster's hat until you have his head and his salary under it.

2. Remember Moses and the “tablets.”

3. The engine must always proceed in front except when it is going in the opposite direction.

4. Always tell the truth—unless you have an exceptionally good memory.

5. It's a wrong train that has no earning.

A Railway Turntable

A Railway Turntable

6. Railways run on steam; you can't get results with hot air.

7. Take no notice of “nit-wits” who think they can tell you how to run the railway. (This is really the only one of the above rules you need heed.)

Delirious Data and Demented Definitions.

For the benefit of the unasphyxiated I offer the following deleterious definitions and explanations in a purely unauthentic and care-free spirit, trusting you are the same:—

1. X wagons are used for drawing beer.

2. Railway couplings are young refreshment-room waitresses.

3. A railway platform is a place where strangers may kiss—and get away with it.

4. A railway “jigger” is a rowing boat without the boat.

5. A hot-box is connected with Willie's ear.

6. A turntable is where father sleeps when visitors come to stay.

7. A ganger is a Scotch walker.

8. The permanent way is a straight line drawn between home and work.

9. Shunters are neither here nor there—for any length of time.

10. The home signal is a dinner bell if you're in time, and a ringing in the ears if you're not.

Note.—Delete clauses 1 to 10.