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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 12 (March 1, 1938.)

Yo-Ho! And All That — Nomadic Nostalgia

page 30

Yo-Ho! And All That
Nomadic Nostalgia

In every red-blooded being there lies a latent gipsy or a dormant desperado who would a'wandering go across the mighty main or into the wild and woolly waste.

In the heart of the most mousey man there lurks a bad bold buccaneer with a scarlet bandana bound round his pagan pate and a glistening bean-slicer in his teeth. Few can escape for ever the prankish promptings of this ulterior rascal who has passed from father to son since the good old days. Deep beneath the braces of courteous cavaliers of commerce crouches a morganatic Morgan, a hibernating Hayes or a tentative Turpin awaiting that moment which comes to all men when they rebel against the tyranny of the tie and the servitude of the serviette and say, “To heck with pants, petrol-pumps and plumbers—let's hit the horizon!”

For twenty years they may cock a deaf'un to the wheezy whisperings of their atavistic lodger. They may ignore him when he mutters on Monday mornings, “C'mon! Let's hop it. The world's wide and there's lots to see.” But the day will come when a seagull will give them the raspberry or they will sniff a burst cocoanut while passing the fruit market and for the nonce they will be running up the Jolly Roger off Callao or hunting wild men in Borneo.

Then their vagabond varlet, their nomadic nostalgia will pounce upon them and possess them. The name of their tempestuous termagant is Sir Footloose FitzFreedom, and when he shakes the cobwebs off and blows down the barrel of his trusty rusty blunderbus it's time to pack the old port-sam and say goodbye to home and mother. His answer to each pale protest is “To horse!” or “Yo ho!” which are the ancient equivalents of “Step on it,” “What time does the train go?” or “If you don't stop trying on hats, Annie, we'll miss the boat.”

Delights and Sidelights.

It's useless to kick and squirm when old Sir Footloose has you in a travelholt. He wheezes in your ear of surf bursting over distant reefs with the primitive abandon of an explosion in an ice-cream factory. He speaks of cocoa-coloured maids with googly eyes, of the husky whispering of cocoa-nut husks in the lonely Cocos, where the tom-tom calls eerily to its paw-paw. He tells of the delights of the doldrums where it's so still that all you can hear is The Hotcha Kids of the Hotel Neurotic, New York, on the saloon radio. He exhorts you to try it once, to sip the cup of derring-do ere the cup goes dry; to rule off the ledger, to dump the overdraft, to shake the gold-dust of civilisation off your Bostocks and run the easting down.

About to take a Round Trip.

About to take a Round Trip.

With the result that one evening you return to the connubial roost and say, “Semolena, how about a trip round the world, or—ahem!—as far round as the old brown sock will take us.” There is an “up-boys-and-at-'em” glint in your eye and a roll in your gait. Semolena has seen it before and determines to count your loose coin as soon as you are asleep. She objects that the only round trip you can afford is on a hurdy-gurdy. She has ninety-nine other objections which you trump with page 31 a bang. For you are no longer the man who said “I will.” You are a fire-eating filibuster a'rearing to tear the celophane off the world and look it over. You command. “Semolena, pack your war-paint! We're off!”

“Wrestle mightily with bags that bulge but won't budge.“

“Wrestle mightily with bags that bulge but won't budge.“

Your friends murmur, “Fancy the MacMildews! How do they do it!” Your office boy says, “Old wire-whiskers is off at last. I hope the ship goes down.” Your creditors go cross-eyed with apprehension, but what do you care? Sir Footloose FitzFreedom reminds you that your great great great grandfather was a merry old sea dog, a jolly old water spaniel, who had a way with creditors until they caught him and suspended his activities from the yard arm. In this manner are most travel decisions born.

The unthinking imagine that you are carried away by enterprise and enthusiasm; the knowing know that you are led away by that submerged old rascal who, ever since your deluded parents said what a lovely baby you were, has been waiting to get you where he wants you.

Working His Passage Home

Working His Passage Home

Gullible's Travels.

Once having had your mind made up for you you get down to business.

It is every man's ambition to “travel light,” and every woman's determination to take everything except the grand piano.

Thus Scene 1, entitled “packing,” may be described in the script as follows:

“Room in wild confusion; fifteen trunks and seven hat boxes strewn willy-nilly and all-to-glory. Wife enters, leff, and dumps armful of clothes in trunk. Husband enters, right, and undumps them. Wife explains why they are necessary. Husband explains why they're not. Conversation swiftly moves to topics of a painfully personal nature. Dog walks in, left centre, and goes to sleep on clothes. Scene closes with husband repacking all clothes in all trunks.”

Briefly, that is the story of the packing, but there is more to it, far, far, more. Many a man has resisted the call of the wide open spaces solely because he has dreaded the call of the wide open suit cases. Most men could travel to Tartary and back with nothing more than two pairs of socks, a toothbrush and corkscrew, but when they take their wives—well, you know, brothers, you know!

It's In The Bag!

Packing, like woman's work, is never done. When a man has finished rolling on the floor trying to snap a latch-scissors on a trunk whose lid flies up at every wrench and jolts him under the chin; after he has wrestled mightily with bags that bulge like Willie after the party, when he has jumped on lids that won't close and striven with catches that won't open he naturally thinks the job is done. But he has only begun. His wife says, “You didn't pack my hair crimper!” It appears that he did, but he doesn't know where.

“But I can't, I simply can't do without it,” she wails.

So he unpacks all the bags and asks himself if it wouldn't be easier in the long run if he stayed home and took a job on the wharf. But everything is all right when the crimper is found — on a shelf in the bathroom.

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