“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow.
(From Ashburton Herald, July VI.)
With a chum of mine, who is exceedingly fond of betting, I took a walk along the line of the Borough fire-prevention and channel-flushing watercourse. We started from that thing-’m-fcob made of concrete at the corner of the Domain, where the contractor has built up such a cairn of boulders, and went right up to Ben Ede’s ground. I have been taught to look upon everything belonging to Ashburton as something very grand, and not having looked over the ground of this water scheme before, I had come to believe that the scheme was something that would make the ears of the world tingle, when the world came to take in its magnitude and its great triumph as an engineering feat. But I was disappointed with it. Why, it is as simple an affair as can be ; and if an engineer of the abilities of your humble Chispa, or of the greater abilities of Councillors St. Hill or Robinson, had sketched out the idea, I should have set the thing down as just a decent sized ditch, and that, really, is all the scheme is I But, about my betting friend. He had been over the.ground before, and he was willing before we started to bet a new hat the water would not reach Jim Bradley’s channels before this time twelvemonths. Of course, I took him. Do you think I’d let any man think I believed it possible for any Ashburton, thing to fail—not I. Standing on the bank of the gully, he pointed out to me where the water would get down to, and then refuse to proceed. He spoke so learnedly on the subject, that I began to think my chance of winning a new tile was small, and I looked down on the still dry gully sorrowfully. “ Now,” said he, “ we’ll just cross over to the other side.” And he tried to cross over, but he did not know the state of affairs in the bottom of that gully, and before you could say “ Jack Robinson” he was up to the knees amongst water. He got muddled up like, you know. The thing came so unexpectedly upon him that he lost his head, and down he went. He wore my greatcoat all the rest of the way, not to let anybody see that he had been convinced against his will that the water will come down that gully.
His Worship the Mayor goes in big licks when he has to look after the main chance. He won’t back out of this tussle with the County Council, and the Longbeach Road Board tell he has beaten them both, or been beaten by them. But he has two hard nuts to crack in John Grigg and W. C. Walker. I have bet a new hat he don’t get this money. And if he goes on pegging away as he is now doing, and gets the thing brought to a head before E. G. Wright and Alfred Saunders come back from Wellington, I’ll win my hat. He’d better wait till E. G. comes. The member for Coleridge knows all about the matter, and the Mayor will have a chance then, but if he allows the Council to fight the battle to a conclusion while the reserve forces are in Wellington, he’ll get sold as sure as he is alive.
The Russo-Turkish war, and the various financial and military operations in connection therewith, occupied your columns for some time, Mr. Editor. I find that the effects of the war have at last reached Ashburton. Mehemet Ali, Esq., generalissimo of the forces, has been tearing around East street to-day with a view of storming the Borough. Gatling guns, 100-ton Armstrongs, Krupp guns and Whitworths form no part of M.A.’s equipment : he appears to rely upon a display of timber from the Holy Land. If his woodware isn’t any better than his trousers I shouldn’t feel inclined to speculate in his furniture. I shouldn’t mind backing a bucking colt I know r to put him off if he rode in those pants before he went ten chains. Still, as a cheap exhibit, Mr. Ali has been an attraction to-day, and if he can shew me a better sample of Jerusalem timber than some of our native totara, I am willing to give the Holy Land best, and then Mr, Ali provides us, supposing the needful is forthcoming, with chibouk pipes and cigar cases. Now you know, Noah and Rehoboam and the rest of the ancient Scriptural swells didn’t use matches or guaranteed Havanahs, so I think that I will go on Wednesday night to investigate this peculiar developement of Turkish bonds.
The Fire Brigade don’t hide their light under a bushel. The Secretary seems fond of staining paper, and an individual styling himself “ a member of the Fire Brigade ” called attention to the funds of the Brigade, also making reflections on the support given by the public. Now, allowing that the Brigade is a most meritorious body, and that they have done all sorts of good service, and that the Secretary is a particularly painstaking and energetic officer, I can’t see but they have been fairly treated by the Borough Council, and the howl made by one or two growlers does not by any means represent the feelings of the Brigade. I enquired into the subject, and I find that on the whole this useful body is quite satisfied with the Borough; but one of the members, say Chispa, is not content with having tunics provided, but also wants trousers, boots, washing, and beer provided by the Council. This is, I think, beyond the requisitions necessary to be levied oh the Council or the insurance companies. Chispa.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 128, 20 July 1880
CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 128, 20 July 1880
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