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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

Topical Tilts And Chatty Charges

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Topical Tilts And Chatty Charges

The Pleasure of Business.

Considered without consideration, life is mostly business and pleasure, but the terms are titularly topsy and tortuously turvy, for to some psychologies business is pleasure, and to others pleasure is business. When business is pleasure the game is worth the candle, provided the pleasure-sneaker resists the temptation to kindle the candle fore and aft simultaneously; for when business is pleasure ‘tis oft’ indulged beyond measure, resulting in biznomania, and a reduction of the “alter ego” to an altered ego—a torpid tick in the chronometer of commerce, a cheque-chaser, and a moron of Mammon. Business as a means to a spend is gilt without guilt, altruism without egotism, and concentration without aberration; but in business as in boozeness, nothing exceeds like excess.

A Rift in the Loot.

Business is a game of give-and-take or a quest for the “quid pro quo,” but too often the “quid” gives the k.o. to the “pro quo” thereby causing a rift in the loot and reducing the lilt of life to a broken malady; for the most flagrant form of monomania is money-mania, and it is better to work to live than live to work. When business is pleasure the pleasure of business should be diluted with the business of pleasure lest the day dawn when the clash of cash no longer registers as a beatific broadcast, and the buzz of the gold-bug begets static in the attic. For “the years that the locusts have eaten” are nought to the yearns that the gold-bugs have beaten, and the past is a pasture which, if not watered by the rains of relaxation, becomes as arid as an Arab's antecedents. With the advent of age the optics are opened to the years that are closed, and the enfeebled faculties grope in vain for the jettisoned gems of jocundity ‘midst the mudheaps of Mammon.

“Dough” and Digestion.

What profitith a man if he gain the whole hog and loseth his digestion? This is a back-bite at big business, for the flesh-pots mean as little to the dyspeptic dough-getter as cat's meat to a pussy-willow or gum-boots to a “goanna.” There have been awful examples of successful victims of money-myosis surrounded by all the outward and visible signs or inward and invisible sins subsisting on the fare of a shipwrecked sailor because the stomach had failed to follow the ambit of the ambition, or stand up to the pull of the purse-strings. Thus does hope interred make life listless, for life without hope is as hopless as a brewery flea.

The Amity in Calamity.

But “big business” has been slammed by Slump, which proves the proverb that “out of evil cometh the goods”; and dibs-omania hasbeen dissipated by Depression, which proves again that a gain is only a loss with its face lifted, and that there is amity in calamity. Even a Slump has a silver lining, but it needs a shining with the polish of perception. The disadvantages of slumps are so adjectively evident that to mention them would be tantamount to enlarging on an elephant or getting a close-up of an oyster, but let us put on a bold front and face facts; although a bold front oft’ creates suspicion, frontier fighting is better than backknocks. So here goes for a fling at the famous aesthetic sport known as tossing the discuss:

Every copper-plated chump
Who complains about the slump,
With its awful obligations
And its arrant operations,
Should be asked at once to pause
And consider not the cause
Or the cure for all our woes
(Which of course each of us knows),
But the evils of the Boom
Which have met their proper doom
(Having merited the bump)
At the hands of Uncle Slump.
For when life was gay and gladsome.
And most everybody had some
Kale or cash to cut a caper,

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“Life without hope is hopless.”

“Life without hope is hopless.”

We were rich—at least on paper—
And our arrogance was such
That we didn't worry much
On the other fellow's score—
We were busy making more
We were snobs and worshipped Mammon,
Gobbled up his guilty gammon,
And the under-dog went under,
When it came to plucking plunder.
And we worshipped at the bowser,
(Don't mistake me for a wowser)
And our gods were Gold and Guzzle—
Life was not a jig-saw puzzle
In the palmy days of plunder,
Ere the bark of Boom went under.
If the practice of confession
Is a sorrowful expression
Of the sins in our agendum,
And our promise to amend ‘em,
Uncle Slump's the right relation
To effect a reformation.
But his style is not too tasty,
And he's just a little hasty,
But—say guy, you sure have said it—
We have got to give him credit
For his psychologic spanking,
And his swatting of our swanking.
When he's gone and left us reeling.
There will be a better feeling.
Though he's bowled us middle stump,
We must grant that Uncle Slump,
On a bad and bumpy wicket,
Has contrived to teach us Cricket.

The Business of Pleasure.

Talking of cricket brings us to the business of pleasure; that is to say, if “pleasure” can be sought to signify sport, for the essence of sport is sportiveness. But time was when sport was a pastime rather than a “crime passionelle,” and it was possible to brandish a bat without committing battery, and to bowl a ball without a bawl. Then, the game was mightier than the gate, there was less “am” in ambition and more ambulants than ambulance. The will-to-win was not the main motif in the poetry of motion. Tennis could be committed without having to train like a tin-hare or a stream-lined road-racer and dress like the Queen of the May gone ga-ga. Sport was emotion in slow motion, or pleasure at leisure; but now most sports are perpetrated with passionate pandemonium, and pleasure is leisure with hiccoughs. Cricket is often a game of chance, golf is frequently pot-hunting by swat-stunting, boxing is more concerned with cash-boxes than bash-boxers, wrestling embraces everything from back-biting to frontier fighting, and horse-racing is merely a species of cash-as-cash-can or “mokes” for “makes.” Pleasure has been bitten by “big business.” It has lost that schoolgirl complexion and is more bashing than bashful.

But no doubt this craze is a phase, and will pass like the Roman Umpire, bustles, antimacassars, hansom cabs, and rich uncles; and even if sport is no longer pastime it serves to uncork the pent-up passions of the populace and promote pacification by perspiration. Again we call on the choristers:

If our gamesters make it snappy,
What's the odds, if they are happy?
Everybody seems quite cheery
On the body-bowling theory.
And if tennis smacks of pelting
Other blokes with balls of felting,
No one seems to care or rue it—
Least of all the coves who do it.
So it's waste of time to mutter
While they have their little flutter,
For it's clearly just a whim
For releasing surplus vim.
And if pace is part of pleasure,
And they like to spend their leisure
Working harder, so to speak,
Than they do throughout the week,
Using up their strength in wads,
If they like it—what's the odds
If it all seems sort of dippy,
It's the age for “looking slippy”
And the logic use of leisure
Is to work like mad at “pleasure.”

“A bold front oft’ creates suspicion.”

“A bold front oft’ creates suspicion.”

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After all it is better to drive a bad bargain with Existence than never to have had a look in at the old curiosity shop.

Fashions in Fustian.

The most curious curiosity in the emporium of existence is the fad of fashion. Fashion in fustian is a fusion of cut and custom, or a reflection of the times on the torso. Periods plus persons produce sartorial sensibility harmonising with the mood of the moment. The extent of each era's error can be measured with the tape of the tailor, for clothing has ever been an index to outlook and, conversely to conversion, a gain in garments has always reflected a loss in liberty. It is strange but true that a bare skin betokens freedom from fretting, and thus the barer the body, the less the body bears of the cares which are contemporary with collars and tied to ties. For the tie of Progress is a noose round the neck of freedom, and the collar dogs the dollar and dolor, and hounds happiness to the bow-wows. The edge of the ocean provides an illustration of the victory of bareness over bearishness when sun and sand provide proof of the proverb that “clothes hide a multitude of sins.” For even near-nudity is a destroyer of distinction and it is impossible to wear an air of importance with only the air to wear. It is the irony of fat that often lesser men look the greater the lesser they wear and the greater grate the greater when reduced to skin and bone. It is possible that Caesar, realising the limitations of greatness, hoisted his standard on the beach when he went in off the deep end, so that the citizenry might be seized of the fact that he was Caesar, although he may have looked more like Brutus.

A Tilt at Trousers.

If clothes make the man, trousers make the mug; for of all the miasmas of the moribund mind these twin shin-shafts called trousers are the prize leg-pullers. Trousers are as unnatural to normal man as plug-hats to penguins. Nobody with a sense of humour ever wore them. The Greeks and the Romans scorned them as a badge of barbarity. The Scot never pushed foot through them until he learnt the value of pockets, and he discards them now when the occasion calls for pleasure rather than business.

Driving A Poor Bargain.

Driving A Poor Bargain.

The enlightened savage values his legacy of leg-easy too deeply to exchange loin cloth for long-cloth. If civilisation has risen in leaps and bounds its fall will be in “strides,” for while the luck's in we can progress in pants, but for flight you can't beat freedom of action. To sum up in song:

Pants or trousers or breeks,
Whichever the name you prefer,
Are only sartorial freaks,
Invented methink to deter
The natural instincts of man,
For gaining some innocent fun,
By fighting to win—if he can—
Or, losing the verdict, to run.
For legs to be fleet must be freed,
And thus he is beat by a mile,
By having to wear tubes of tweed,
Which put a half-hitch in his style.
No wonder he's got sort of tame,
And thinks once or twice ere he speaks,
It's only thus since he became
The innocent victim of breeks.
He's built on the lines of a peg,
For hanging up clothes in a row,
But he would and he could shake a leg,
If the poor blighter got a fair go.
But prithee, I'll bet that it's true,
Though to prove it I'll not get the chance
That a Woollamaloo kangaroo,
Couldn't jump if he had to wear pants.


From the Manager, H. L. Tapley and Company Ltd., Dunedin, to the District Traffic Manager, Dunedin: —

Now that the wool season is over we feel it is our duty to write and thank the officers of your Department for the excellent service rendered us throughout the season. In this period we shipped at Port Chalmers a very large quantity of wool and apples, also meat, cheese and butter, and we can assure you that the assistance rendered by your Department has been very much appreciated. We also desire to mention the Port Chalmers staff, who, under difficult congestive conditions, enabled us to give prompt despatch to our vessels, the wharf staff being specially helpful.

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