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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (September 1, 1933)

A Touch Of Spring

page 13

A Touch Of Spring

Life with the Lid Off.

What is life? Some say that life is how you take it, others that it is all stings to all men, and that to be is to be stung. But life is merely more or less, according to the lights of the liver. To some it means the sun and the rain, to others the sum and the gain. Some back the bank, the swank and the rank, others find riches in poverty, and beauty in the face of Nature rather than in the raddled “restorations” begot of the beauty boosters. One man's moiety is another's misery, one's rapture is another's rupture, one's solace is another's solecism. Some like life in the raw, others like it served with tasty trimmings and condimented accoutrements on platinum plate. But the discerning diner demands the appetite to appreciate the “appetizer,” whether it be tripe or snipe, pullet or pheasant. An appetite finds flavour in divers dishes, and the wish is father to the dish. Life leads the liver who looks for life, and the dishes of destiny await the diner with an appetite accentuated by a sense of smell. Some who think they live should be arrested for false pretences. There was once a man who thought he had lived and discovered, seventy minutes before he died, that he had been dead for seventy years. Life is yearning rather than years, seeing rather than seething, desiring rather than acquiring. Life is real, not realty; life is full not fulsome; propitious for the unambitious, and “the goods” when the goods are not dry-goods.

Assets and Asses.

Slumps, dumps, bumps and “humps” are only an outward indication of inward perturbation—a skin eruption on the derm of Destiny, a result of wrongness in the “righteous,” and of sin in sincerity. The only slump possible is a slump in salubrity, and as long as the world wears whiskers, there is no dearth on the earth. Which reminds me that I met an ass in a paddock.

“Good morrow,” says I.

“Chin-chin brother,” says he, “and when I say chin-chin I don't mean just chin.”

“How so?” says I.

“Well, ass-k yourself brother,” says he. “Looking at things as a plain ass, they seem pretty good to me. Take this paddock f'instance! Why, you never seen sich clover, and a stream that's always as cool as a cow's nose; and when it's sunny the sun seems warmer if it's been raining the day before—and there's a thrush with the greatest voice you ever did hear, that sings in the elder-berries every evening. No brother, chin-chin is no exaggeration of the situation.”

“But this dreadful slump!” says I.

“What slump?” says he.

“Why, this awful depression,” says I.

“What depression?” says he. “I've been in this ‘ere paddock nigh fifteen years and I've never heerd tell of no sich animal; what's it like? Does it kick, does it bite?”

“No, it's just a condition,” says I.

page 14
“It takes an ass to ass-ess the assets.”

“It takes an ass to ass-ess the assets.”

“Where is it, then?” says the ass.

“It's all over the world,” says I.

“Well it might be,” says he; “but I've never heerd of it, and when I've never heerd of a thing it naturally don't exist.”

“It's difficult to explain,” says I.

“Well, a thing that's difficult to explain ain't worth explaining,” says the ass. “Does it wither the crops or nip off the grass, or put a cloud over the sun, or kill the trees, or silence the birds, or turn the soil sour, or kill the beasts?”

“Oh, no,” says I; “it doesn't do any of that.”

“Well,” says the ass; “as far as I can judge brother, you've been done in the eye. Believe me, there ain't no sich animal. Look at the turnips, sniff the hay, count the cows, see the sheep, hear the separator a'singing, look at the sun, smell the breeze, and cast your peepers over this ‘ere grass. Hear the birds a-warblin', the wind in the trees, see the fat clouds a-burstin’ to water the earth, and tell me if you see anything wrong with this ‘ere outfit. Brother, this’ were slump is only a gnat under your hat, and your trouble is that your face is too long, your ears are too short, and your nose is too far from the earth. Take my tip, brother, give up trying to be something you're not and be just a plain ass like me.”

So saying, the ass lifted his loudspeaker until he looked just like a real elocutionist, and got it off his bronchials as follows: —

“I'm an ass
Calm and crass,
Not versed in euphonics
Or new economics,
I'm simply a cross
Twixt a donk’ and a “hoss” —
I'm an ass!
But I judge
From such fudge,
And your verbal expression
About this depression,
It's lucky for me
That I happen to be —
Just an ass.
And I guess —
More or less —
That you'd far better be
Just a muggins like me,
Than be what you are,
Which is not very far —
From an ass.

Fundamental Facts and Fact-demental Funks.

The beauty of being a plain ass is that it is useless to pretend that you are anything else. When you're unused to speeding on the cinder-track of knowledge a sharp collision with learning oft’ causes a compound facture of the intelligence. Thus fundamental facts are more useful than fact-demental funks. Some things are too plain to be noticed and others are too noticeable to be plain, but take it or leave it—there are things worth taking and things better left; for often the “left” is right and the right is left, and it takes an ass to ass-ess the assets.