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THE FRETFUL PORCUPINE, Observer, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 39, 1 June 1918
THE FRETFUL PORCUPINE
AMBON " quotes: "At the conclusion of the lectiire it was unanimously decided to send the following resolution to Mr Lloyd George: 'Hearty Empire Day greetings. We hail you as the Empire's organiser of victory, its only possible l leader. The German beasts must be beaten. Falter not! Heed not the purblind Lansdowne, nor Asquith's crude inanities. Boot out all traitors. God save the King and the united Empire.' "
"Amron " writes: Regale your literary lassitude Avith a perusal of the enclosure.. It is extracted from the "Star" of Saturday, the 25th inst., and represents the grand finale or last shot fired at a lecture delivered on Empire Day at the Town Hall by Mr. W. J. Napier. You can recall nothing more downright nor grotesque from the ejaculations of Sancho Panza to Don Quixote, nor the deliberate fantasticisms of Sir Ralpho and Sir Hudibras. Behold, in the syntax and phraseology, the pith and apotheosis of jingoism. Here is surely the eacoethes declamandi with inflammations. It surpasses the sensationalisms of the schoolboy's "penny dreadful," and beats to a batter the very best of the mosaic exhortations. Poor Asquith ! Poor Lansdowne!
Christian charity has gone agag, reason run awry, and in the wrathful cacophony of an Auckland resolution, you're both damned for ever! Sic transit gloria mundi! © . "® ® "Blind Vote" writes: It's wonderful the things that this war has made come to pass—things that one ~ thought previously would surely bring about the end of the world should they happen. For instance, the other day Thomas Wilford, member of Parliament, faithful follower of Joseph Ward, and caustic critic of everything Massey, was invited to speak at Wyndham Street, the home of Masseyism, the Reform Club! And, what's more, Thomas Wilford accepted the invitation. He went along and spoke learnedly about the war, which, next to the weather, .seems to be the safest thing to discuss nowadays. At the end of the discourse the Beformers present were most liberal—that is not a joke, merely a slip—in their applause, and told Tommy nice things about his grasp of his subject, etc. Great, isn't it? By the way, Tommy Wilford a while ago used to deliver war lectures in Wellington. All the best people went to hear him, and were full of enthusiasm when he told them what a power Italy was, and what she was going to do. Unfortunately, that Hun drive came along, and the stocks of Thomas as a war prophet were badly bruised in the fall. ®> @ tiS> Lieut, "Billy" Hill, who went to the Great War some more with the 33rds, after having been bulleted several times in Gallipoli and France, sends along "te Huia," the rein- - forcement magazine. "Billy" (once the sporting scribe of the "Herald," but for the last four years soldiering like anything), was joint editor with another journalist. Sergeant Trevor M. Geddis, son of the Hon. W. J.
Geddis, editor of the New Zealand "Times." The mark of the professional scribe is over the magazine. Trevor has a good descriptive article, well illustrated, dealing with the training of the reinforcement, and "Billy" not only writes prose withour prosiness, but, like the celebrated Mr. Wegg, occasionally "drops into verse." Anyone knowing the characteristics of the renowned William will recognise a predilection in the following:— While poets sing of halcyon days, Of childhood clays and May days, We must regret That they forget Those happy days—the pay days. Though pay days come and pay days go, There rarely is a sad one, The poets, too, Would tell it 3'ou, But perhaps they never had one. W. J. R, H. « * • He also writes a page of imaginary book reviews, a poem "Why?" in which he implores everybody, "and just be straight and honest, and worth while," and other things. War always discovers the poets, and "Pills," J. M. Primrose, C. P. 0'Hanlon, and A. F. Graham hurl the measured word. Corporal L. P. Davison does an alphabetical rhyme, and F. H. Hildreth tells everybody in verse about the mess. "Ginger" is also rhymically alphabetical.There are a number of drawings in "Te Huia." Any of these would be recognisable to the subjects of them, as the names are underneath. ®> © @ Extract from an English letter: "Most of our time is taken up trying to get something to eat. To see the women tearing up and down the streets with their bags is rather amusing. All hands are hard as nails, and trained to a hair. Don't feel sorry for us. We like it. There :s a good deal of the ancient spirit of predation about it, and the woman who beats another woman for twopennyworth of gravy bones looks
as proud as an Indian after a successful sealn-hunting party. Money is plentiful, and people spend it like '.' a ter. When the food rush is over the whole town relapses into a deadly lethargy, only emerging next morning to pursue its daily meal. Sow that the service age is raised r.r fifty there are a lot of old boys or my acquaintance who are spinii: 'g cuffers about their age. Rein timber and . Both are well over sixty, and both have j:ti>uaded the authorities they are imd.-i* the new limit." ® GB> 9> "Contented" writes: Glad to see that there's somebody who endorses my outlook and objects strenuously to the grousing of our civilian popiilation. "Don't grouse!" he says. "Our forebears lived without sugar until the 13th century, without coal until the 14th„ without butter until the 15th, without tobacco and potatoes until the 16th, without tea, coffee, and soap until the 17th, without umbrellas, lamps, and puddings until the 18th, and without telegrams, trains, gas, matches, and chloroform until the 19th." And he might very well have added that we could very well do without our grousers in the present century. © © ® "Hone" wrotes: Our brown soldier brother from Rarotonga and other islands in the same group is not on a good wicket. About 160 of them are in Narrow Neck Camp, and, of course, get soldiers' pay. They are almost all married men, as these people mate early. As soon as the young husband leaves the wives are in distress unless they take their husbands' places on the plantation, or the Church Mission look after them. The Government does not give the Barotongan -soldier's wife "separation allowance" until he is away from New Zealand, although it most certainly should begin the separation allowance as soon as the soldier leaves his island. The Barotongan soldier in Auckland supports his wife as best he can by sending his pay borne, but as everybody
knows the sea service is irregular, and a woman and her family might be in the greatest distress before pay arrives. lam sure it was' never the intention of the New Zealand Government to punish these Barotongan women and children in this way. The whole point is that the separation allowance be paid from the day the soldier leaves his home, and not from the day he leave* New Zealand.
Although women labour in NewZealand has not been organised, anel the State has not interested itself in the matter, townsmen who begin to understand that the earth does not eat bricks and mortar would be interested in the quiet slog of hundreds of New Zealand girls. In many districts the whole of the fit men have gone, including many married men, and Raglan is one of these districts. There one may see girls driving ploughs and generally taking on the toughest jobs of the farm. In the bush districts one may sec young women dressed in denims chopping and cross-cutting, musterin -• and doing everything possible to' "keep the home fires burning. A southern paper relates that there are women in Canterbury who have tackled wheat handling. Anybody who has loaded sacks* of wheat all day will know that it is work of the hardest description, although one reference by a southern reporter sounds "very like a whale. He declares that he saw a young lady picking up sacks of wheat off the mrrna and putting them on the tailboard of a dray. This is a feat of strength that not one wharf labourer in a hundred could perform. © ® ®
The average sheep man when he desires to catch the hurtling jumbuck makes a blackguard dive for him seizes him by the hind leg—or one of them—twists him on his back sits him up on the end where his tad used to be, and renders him hors de combat. Surgeons need sheep sometimes. For instance, on a recent day at the hospital Lieut.-Col. Maguire and Mr. Bobertson, surgeon, required a sheep, as a section of the animal's backbone was to be grafted in a man whose spine was in a bad way. The sheep was present in the operating theatre, and had apparently evaded his guards, and was prancing about the room evidently in search of grass. It being required for immediate slaughter—this isn't a vivesection yarn—Lieut.-Col. Maguire made military dispositions for
the recapture. With patient assiduity he crooked a finger, and beckoned the sheep to its doom, Avhistling to it and bidding it to "come on then." The sheep was not susceptible to persuasion, so with the aid of the staff the mutton on the hoof was driven into a corner while several pairs of eager hands buried themselves in its wool. It was duly executed in a masterly manner. One is happy to say, however, that the deceased, juinbuck was not necessary to the operation, for by the removal of a cyst the patient was set on the way to recovery.
I i Auckland for a holiday, Mr. Al-l-.ert Cohen, confirmed journalist. Albert years and years and years ago was a Dunedin scholars-hip' boy, left school, went to the Dunedlirti "Star," and has been there for 47 years. Mark, his brother, the editor, is in his fifty-third year with the paper. Albert still feels young. That's why the other day he whipped off an Auckland car in a hurry, slipped, and fell, hitting the ground hard. The accident, however, hasn't affected his geniality, and he hopes to get rid of the visible reMilts before going back to the Scotch city. Albert, for a whole raft of years, went up to Wellington, and took his place in the Parliamentary press gallery, and what he doesn't know about, the inside and outside of New Zealand politics isn't worth knowing.
If one remembers aright, he was once brought before the bar of the House for making a "scoop." Heaven knows there's little enough in politics to worry about. Harry was talking about friendship, a subject on which he knows a neap, as he never saw a pal stuck himself, and never forgets anybody or anything. He has a penchant for theatrical things, and for a large part of his service with the "Star" was "Call Boy." He has a son—Harry. Harry has been round here with large theatrical enterprises, and Angus McLeod, entrepreneur, declared him to be the best theatrical treasurer he ever knew. When they parted in Australia Angus said that if ever Harry hit the Old Dart he was to come straight along to him and live in his house.
After Harry had tried to enlist in both Australia and New Zealand he turned his prow for the Old Country, and wondered if London
would be kind to him. It wasn't, He stayed at a hotel, and all hi.s wealth was in his pockets. Somebody stole the lot out of a bathroom, so Harry was j>enniless and friendless in London. He bethought him of the words of Angus, and hit him up. Mr. McLeod asked him why he didn't come before, as he was looking for exactly the kind of chap Harry was. That is why Harry Cohen is now general manager of the Empire Theatre in London with a four-figure screw at the age of 27. Harry is able in London to do a great many things for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. He has the warm heart of his father and mother, and you bet lie is good to meet. Mrs. Cohen accompanied Albert to Auckland to keep him from hurrying too much. Nobody in Auckland hurries, Albert! People in Lotus land don't jump off cars. The conductors have to push 'em before they will go.
The uncanny skill of doctor men who daily examine the human frame to see if it is fit to be shot at surprises all sorts of men. For instance, when a well set-up young chap strips off before Bones, and proudly informs him that "I've never had a day's sickness in my life," Bones goes on
with the exam, and often classes him C 2 without any apologies. In the, majority of cases Bones l really KNOWS. There was a yarn current that a man in Auckland was circularising Second Divisioniste, declaring that for a fiver he could make any man temporarily unfit, and that the doctors would pass him out. Doctors used to handling men daily are rarely now deceived by artificially created ills, and the soap pill racket, the heart stimulator, and all the rest of the wicked dodges, are getting a bad spin nowadays—as they ought to do.
A man called up the other day badly wanted to go soldiering, as he had been a soldier before. The doctor turned him down on the grip of his hands. "You've had a deuce of a shock some time," he said. It was quite true. The man had been in a violent explosion and fire a good many .years ago. Dear old people still become violently indignant when the florid Fred is turned down for flatfoot. Lot of people seem to believe that flatfoot is something mild like a summer pimple or an indigestion cough. Try it for yourselves. Pack one hundred weight of gear on a man with the Achilles tendon "let down" (proving a most interesting medical family history), and set him going at the double over mud paddocks, and watch him win V.C.'s. But the average citizen reasons this way, "What? Jimmy turned down ?—he looks as strong as a horse. See what a nice complexion he has."
The platoon was practising, passing of orders. The day was warm, and the men correspondingly sleepy. A perspiring sergeant went to the end of the line and gave the following message to be passed down: —; "(T.C'. troops seen leading patrol of nursing sisters towards No. 1 troop deck at 11 a.m." "Well, Brown," inquired the sergeant when the message reached the man at the other flank, "what message did you receive?" 'The message I got, sergeant," grinned Brown,, "was: troops seen nursing sister No. 1 troop deck at 11 p.m.' "
Mr. Peter Virtue has a remarkable system of advertising. He gives the people food for thought, and sells food for their stomachs. He is a profound student of economics, and his carefully thought-out article, "Farmers and Citizens Beware," in this issu,e, shows how deeply he delves into the problems affecting the great flour-eating proletariat. His closely reasoned arguments concerning harbour and freight taxes commend themselves to all thoughtful people, who will glean a great deal of information not usuall v available to them.
THE FRETFUL PORCUPINE, Observer, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 39, 1 June 1918
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