Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)

Sun Soaked

page 30

Sun Soaked

Jan. U. Airy.

Another January is gone—peeled off Time's roll to pay the price of Pleasure; a note we barter for a fling of freedom. And what a note! A note that reverberates through the long corridor of the year and titillates the remaining eleven months with mellifluous memory.

January is the rich relation of recollection, the most generous of the genealogical gentry. He rumbles up the stairs with sun in his eye and pleasurable promise on his sun-peeled pan. He pokes his head through the door and chants:

I'm Sunshine Jan,
The vagabond man,
I'm tough and I'm rough
And I wear a tan,
And I don't care a durn
For collar and tie,
I'm a beach-combin’
Real tough guy.
I'm holiday free,
Wild Jan—that's me!
I live in the open
And splash in the sea,
I eat my meals from a frying pan
And I wouldn't exchange
With the richest man.
I'm a rip-roarin’
Road-borin' outdoor man,
I'm free—that's me,
I'm Joyful Jan.
So jamb on your hat,
Bring Maud and Merry,
And take the air
With Jan. U. Airy.

And it's a tin of tongues to a mosquito bite that you did. And though January is now but an echo of a camp-fire croon or an itch on the shoulder blades, there still is much by which to remember him.

Back to Nature.

He introduced you to the delights of sleeping in a caravan with your feet protruding through the door and the primus stove in the small of your back. He taught you how to strain billy tea through your teeth, what to do when a cow leans against the tent in the stilly watches, how to lose the lilting laugh when you discover that practically all the food is permanently imprisoned because you forgot the tin-opener.

He instructed you in the art of living so close to nature that yards of it dropped into the tea, seeped into the sandwiches and stuck in your hair.

He taught you the freemasonry of the camp where no neighbour minds if you step back into his breakfast or literally drop in to lunch.

January educated you in the ethics of elementary endeavour. He stripped you of the pomps and vanities and vapid vestments of cuticular culture. He encouraged you to wear shorts that were too short and whiskers that were too long.
“Literally drop in to lunch.”

“Literally drop in to lunch.”

With one flourish he peeled you of the panoply of gentility and put you where you belong.

He shoved you into trains which were going somewhere, anywhere—what did you care? He inspired you with the desire to know your fellow man so that you broke bread and swapped fags and philosophies with perfect strangers in the propitious propinquity of your railway carriage. At January's behest you went a'wooing of nature. You hit the high-spots of humanity and equanimity. You went down to the sea in ships and out on the spree in slips. You took things as they came and if they didn't come you went after them.

And you still have most of the skin off your nose, a face like one of those pink pumpkins which never look quite sober, and lumps on your legs where the mosquitos put the nips in; you have returned reluctantly to the roost and January has retired into some hibernatory hermitage to sleep it off until the gong goes for the next round.

page 31
“Inured to the glorious vicissitudes of the wide open spaces.”

“Inured to the glorious vicissitudes of the wide open spaces.”

The Simmer of Summer.

But there's still February. Good old Feb! Not so free and easy as January, perhaps, but somewhat hot stuff all the same. In truth, he makes it so hot that he is unable to keep up the pace for more than twenty-eigght days, with an occasional burst of twenty-nine when he's on the leap.

If January makes the pace in short pants February reduces us to long gasps. He exemplifies the simmer of summer, he is the son and heir of sun and air—a red-hot poppa.

February provides a kind of encore when, soaked in sun and innured to the glorious vicissitudes of the wide open spaces, we spread ourselves all over landscape and seascape whenever we can make a toilscape. We know that if the sandfly bites us he'll get the worst of it. We are no longer a tender target for dancing Diptera as we were when we stepped off the ice in October. Sandflies stagger, moaning away, mosquitos take one look at our hardened hides and fly to the zoo for a nip of hippopotamus. Now we know why there was no mention of sandflies and mosquitos in the Garden of Eden. Adam was too tough, and so are we. Our legs are like a pair of mahogany palm pedestals that have warped in the sun. No longer does the skin on our backs flutter like tattered cigarette papers. We can even wear braces when we have to. The Begum of Bosh has nothing on us for the dark brown outlook. The sun has seeped through our pores, impregnated our interiors and illuminated the refractory recesses of our being until we glow as though we had swallowed an electric light globe.

What a life if the year could be divided into six Januaries and six Februaries with a couple of Christ-masses slipped in! The trouble then, of course, would be to get Santa Claus off the beach to do his song and dance. We can imagine a deputation of The Commercial Travellers’ Association and The Child Welfare Department on the shore with a megaphone striving to get Santa out of the sea where he is playing porpoises with Uncle Neptune and a bunch of mermaids.

Summer Solecisms.

Such a seasonal revolution would also influence the sartorial semblances of the man in the street.
Shouldering His Responsibilities

Shouldering His Responsibilities

Gentlemen of the highest commercial integrity would be seen accelerating the wheels of commerce in the lower half of a bathing suit while tame sea-horses galloped round the office. Typistes would tap their tidings with starfishes on their heads, beach attire beneath, and the sweetest little overskirt of rucked seaweed trimmed with crayfish legs.

The office boy would be found in the basement boiling the billy for the morning tea and dropping in a few tadpoles for the sake of realism. The cashier would pay out on the roof, up to his neck in a tub of brine. There would be a slump in the clothing trade and tailors would go into the skin and hide business.

The house problem would settle itself because nobody would live in them. All railway trains would be provided with floats, and springboards on the platforms, and would simply keep on going when the supply of land ran out. Passengers would thus be enabled to go in off the deep end without delay. Enginedrivers, of course, would have to hold sea-going tickets and guards would be certificated life savers with a spot of deep-sea diving to their credit.

The main streets would be deeply sanded, with a few rusty anchors strewn about, and the water cart would squirt pedestrians at regular intervals. Policemen would have power to arrest anyone wearing more than 6½ ounces of clothing on the grounds of false pretensions. The board of trade would be a surf board and business would be a picnic if,

All the year were summer,
And all the days were hot,
'Twould seem a little rummer
No doubt, but what a lot
Of fun we'd have pursuing
A life devoid of fuss,
Without this constant stewing,
To make our minus plus.
If Jan and Feb were static,
Conditions might be wuss,
We'd make our plans, emphatic,
That sea and sun seek us.

page 32

page 33