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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 9 (December 1, 1939)

Christennial Capers

page 14

Christennial Capers

The Big Shots Shoot.

We have enjoyed many “straight” Christmasses but, this year, the spirit of the season is a Christennial cocktail packing a kick from the gold-shod hoof of the carnival trick horse, Pegasusceptible. It is one of those kicks with which there is no kick coming. It is one time when you don't care whether you ever come-to. With King Carnival waving the decanter on one side and Father Christmas filling 'em up on the other you are persuaded to distrust the advantages of consciousness and the sense in common sense.

Santa Claus, alone, is a knocker of mercenary Reason and a router of competent Calculation; but, when matched in machination with Santa Centennial, aided and abetted by capering Carnival, and sooled on by your own personal sprite who has slipped the leash of repression, there is little chance of escaping that multi-coloured condition in which there is no to-morrow and yesterdays are but swing doors giving swift access to today.

Whoopee Incorp.

This partnership, Sant & Cent, also known as Whoopee Incorp., purveyors of Care-killer, anti-knock fluid and Jubilation Julep, is one for which we have waited a century. In fact we can claim without fear of contradiction that this is literally One Christmas in a Hundred.

And if we don't make it look like one Christmas in a thousand it will not be the fault of the old firm mentioned above.

It is not every Christmas that one can claim the accumulation of a hundred years with faculties and facilities in their prime. It is not every Christmas that a country can spring into the “long 'uns” of maturity, tailored by Time and pressed by Experience.

The Gauge of Age.

Not that a century is any gauge of age except that it might justly be accepted as a coming-of-age, justifying a claim to the key of the door, and the door itself.

What's a hundred years when the heart is strong,

And the courage is bold—it's not so long?

What's a century, son, when you're fit and rorty—

Just look what you've done since eighteen-forty?

You're just in your prime. A hundred years

Is not such a slice as it first appears.

In fact, though Time has given you weight, You're better than ever up-to-date.

And, though we can't claim it with much authority,

“Getting into Long'uns.”

“Getting into Long'uns.”

We think we can say you've reached your majority.

There's many a country twice as old

Has gone no farther when all is told.

You're not so big we have to admit,

But you've always been able to do your bit,

And, if such a vanity you'll allow,

Your moniker's Mister New Zealand from now.

They say you take after John, your dad,

And that's to the good, young feller-me-lad,

And now you're of age and wear long breeches,

You'll grow more like him in mind and features,

Acquiring besides, as youngsters are prone,

Additional character all your own.

Now this is your birthday, sonny boy,

And a slap-up party we'll all enjoy.

With Uncle Carnival, nose a'glow,

And Father Christmas to make it go.

With a fine display of what you've done,

Achievements surprisingly good, old son,

page 15

And all the contraptions and fun of the fair,

To make nineteen-forty a red-letter year.

And here's the toast we drink to this free land,

“Maintain all the zeal that you've put into Zealand.”

The kiwi is a wingless bird, but who said it couldn't fly! This being one Christmas in a hundred, a double-header in Christmasses, we should wish each other a Merry Chrismatennial.

A Century of Digestion.

Christmas dishes should be fittingly concocted to celebrate a century of digestion. Up to the present this phase of our progress appears to have been overlooked and underdone. For instance: “from spotted dog to superhet, two-way, streamline brandy-fed duff!” One, the mother of necessity emanating from tradition but short on ingredient, being rather a pale reflection of a pudding with freckles, or a case of culinary anaemia, due to the uncertainty of overseas transport for the current spice and raisin trade; but, nevertheless, attacked by the hardy pioneer with a digestive courage and determination now lacking in a community which shies at chewing anything tougher than blancmange. That was a pudding which had to be overpowered before it could be reduced to food. But, whilst it leapt and bounded in its flour-bag overcoat in the three-legged iron pot over the open fire, it sang a Christmas carry-all to our grandmothers and grandfathers just as truly as does the more richly-comparisoned product of the present day.

Two, the duff de luxe with the skin you love to touch and an interior redolent of all the spices, myrrh and frankincense of the East and containing everything a pudding could wish for except the jaw-developing qualities which reposed in its 1840 counterpart, constructed mainly with flour and enthusiasm, and consumed with that grim determination which attacked both bush and pudding with axe and fire.

“Who said the kiwi couldn't fly?”

“Who said the kiwi couldn't fly?”

Maestros of the Mixer.

The growth and evolution of the duff, accompanied by a graph demonstrating how it has grown in vitamins whilst deteriorating in nutriment, would make an interesting exhibit, especially as there still are extant a few of the old maestros of the mixer. These men could make a duff which would turn the edge of a cross-cut saw, yet gladden the digestions of shepherds, shearers and swaggers. They have aged but have lost nothing of their cunning and would be glad to come out of retirement to demonstrate the kind of duff which enabled our grandfathers and grandmothers to bite tracks through the uncharted bush.

Flapping the Jack.

And what of the flapjack? Where amongst the exhibits marking the progress of the century do we find a framed flapjack? They talk of the men who opened up the land; but the flapjack has opened more land than the scrub-hook. No doubt, to-day, six flapjacks would open up six feet of land for any person daring enough to wrap himself round them. But, time was when one of the chief qualifications of wifehood was the ability to flap a jack.

To-day flapjacks could be used to re-tread tyres and could be guaranteed to outlive the toughest rubber. Even in the old days there were instances of hard-pressed pioneers using a flapjack to patch a pair of moleskins, and cases are recorded of moleskin trousers being discovered with only the flapjack remaining.

Yes, “A Century of Digestion” certainly should have a place in our Centennial memories.