Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More Wacky Signs

     I hope you enjoyed my last collection of unusual signs. However, as I continue to digitalise my old slides, I continue to find new signs to include, so I have decided to make a new collection. As before, this post will be up-dated at irregular intervals until it is sufficiently large to be closed, and a new collection started.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Pub With No Dyke

     I collected this poem in the mid-1970s, its authorship apparently being that prolific producer of ballads, limericks, and jokes: Anonymous. For my readers outside Australia - I know I have a few - I should explain that the title is a parody of Slim Dusty's most famous song, The Pub With No Beer, and a "dyke" is a toilet, or lavatory. For those who speak American, that means the restroom where you don't rest, the bathroom without a bath, or the washroom where you wash only after the event - although my experiences in the U.S. suggest this is a custom honoured as much in the breach as in the observance.
     At any rate, here it is: -

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wacky Signs

    As I mentioned on my home blog, I have travelled to 83 different countries over my lifetime. I am now busy digitalising the thousands of slides and photos I took during these adventures, and am therefore taking the opportunity to share with you some of the unusual signs I photographed overseas. This is a work in progress, so feel free to come back every few months to discover what new sign has been added.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Christmas with the Demythologizers

     My late spiritual mentor, Dr Alan Cole once lent me a book of humorous verse by the Rev. E. L. Mascall, entitled, Pi in the High, The Faith Press, London (1959). I have already shared one of its poems in my previous post. This one is the second half of "Christmas with the Demythologizers", which was inspired by the book, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, by Rudolf Bultmann, Ernest Lohmeyer, Julius Schniewind, Friedrich Schumann, and Helmut Thielicke, with an appreciation by Austin Farrer (S.P.C.K., 1955).
     To appreciate it, you must understand the background. The "demythologizers" were a group of German theologians who wished to remove from Christianity what they considered "myths" - which they defined rather broadly. "Kerygma", the Greek word for preaching or proclamation, was what they considered to be the essential message left after the "myths" were removed. Du und ich is German for "Thou and I". The footnote regarding "many ancient authorities" will create no confusion with readers of modern Bible translations; it is used to alert the reader to variant readings of the text. 
     So, here it is:
Christmas with the Demythologizers. II.
Air: Good King Wenceslas

Dr. Bultmann ventured forth
    Boldly from his study,
When the wind was in the north
    And the roads were muddy.
All his thoughts were in a maze;
    This was not surprising.
He had spent some weary days
    Demythologizing.

"Hither, pupil, strain thy sight
    If thou canst, descrying
Yonder folk who shove and fight -
    What can they be buying?"
"Sir, 'tis cards with scraps of verse,
    Pictured with a fable:
Shepherds and astrologers
    Kneeling in a stable."

"Bring my writings, if you please,
    In the last editions.
Du und ich we'll stifle these
    Outworn superstitions."
Sage and pupil forth they go,
    Braving every stigma,
Shedding myths like billy-o, 1
    Clinging to kerygma.

"Sir, my thoughts begin to stray
    And my faith grows bleaker.
Since I threw my myths away
    My kerygma's weaker."
"Think on Heidegger, my lad,
    That pellucid Teuton;
Then you won't feel half so bad
    When they talk of Newton."

Existentially he thought,
    As his master hinted.
All the learned works he bought
    Which the sage had printed.
Therefore, folk, when science sends
    Doubts and fears depressing,
Demythologize your friends -
    Then you'll win their blessing.

1.  Many ancient authorities read, flakes of snow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mushrooms to Ozonides

   I had been planning to entertain you with several comic poems, such as Nothing to Wear, or some Australian classics, like The Integrated Adjective, or The Spider by the Gwydir. However, it seems some other well-read bloggers have provided the service for me. Instead, I shall quote a poem you probably haven't seen before. It comes from a small book by the Rev. E. L. Mascall, itle Pi in the High, The Faith Press, London, 1959. The footnotes are in the original.

          A False Trail
by E. L. Mascall

With what delight thy leaves we scan,
Encyclopaedia Britann-
Ica, of which the Fourteenth Ed.
Is much the best, so it is said.
It has a transatlantic touch,
But not, like later eds., too much.
Each volume bears, in chaste design,
Its sweet content upon the spine.
Thus I may range with Vol. 19
from Raynal unto Sarreguemines.
Sarsparilla taketh me
(Vol. 20) unto Sorcery.
In 21, dark horrors hinting,
Sordello leads to Textile Printing.
And so I pass, till 24,
Proclaiming knowledge is no more,
Staves off the wearied soul's collapse
With hosts of indices and maps.

But in my woes I chiefly lean
For comfort on sweet Vol. 16,
Which leads me softly by degrees
From Mushrooms to Ozonides.

O Mushrooms to Ozonides!
What grand inspiring words are these
To float upon the salty wind
And echo in each patriot mind!
How few the ills which we endure
That mushrooms cannot kill or cure
(Cure, if benignant fungi they,
But kill, if toadstools claim their prey)!
How subtly, too, the human mid
Is elevated and refined,
How purged of gross and sensual seeds,
By meditating on the deeds
Of noble Greek and Roman chaps,
Immune from any moral lapse 1,


Like Cicero or Socrates
Or, most of all, Ozonides -
Ozonides, who, on the day
When all the ramparts open lay,
And he was offered, to betray
His comrades who had run away,
Six hundred times his normal pay.
Spurned at the sordid lust of pelf
And simply ran away himself.
He then avoided serious harm
By hiding on a mushroom farm,
And kept a long and lonely tryst
Disguised as a mycologist;
Till fortune turned and freedom came,
And he emerged to lasting fame,
While all his friends were sunk in shame.

What coals to Novocastrians are,
To generals what caviare,
To Hecuba what divers he's,
Were mushrooms to Ozonides;
And, while a solemn oath he swore
That mushrooms he would taste no more,
His grateful countrymen decreed,
In token of his deathless deed,
A mighty mushroom, carved in stone,
Should stand, tremendous and alone,
Proclaiming to the tumbling seas
The glory of Ozonides;
And mothers to the end of time,
When bells each day at vespers chime,
Dandling their infants on their knees
Croon 'Mushrooms to Ozonides.'

O Mushrooms to Ozonides!
What lovely, limpid words are these!
Let Orientals stoutly band
To take the road to Samarkand;
Let Highlanders beyond the seas
In dreams behold the Hebrides;
Let blubbered Eskimos patrol;
Let fellahin, with magic ease
Scale Pharaƶh's pyrimides; 2
Let Switzers yodel on the Alps;
Let Redskins tell their toll of scalps;
Let Coleridge, that able man,
Seek Xanadu and Kubla Khan;
Let drowsy babes depart each night
For Babylon by candlelight;
With other dreams my temples throb,
For other shores I pant and sob,
Where every lingering autumn breeze
Lisps 'Mushrooms to Ozonides.'

Disillusioned Postscript

Alas, what dreadful tidings these?
Woe, woe, for great Ozonides!
The art., which closes Vol. 16,
As these my weeping eyes have seen,
Was written by a scientist.
Ozonides does not exist,
Though many fact that art. provides
Re substances called Ozonides.

1. perhaps
2. a very highbrow line.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ye Shall Occupy the Land

    It's amazing what you can find at the Lifeline Bookfest. I happened to turn up a 1925 publication called, Island Films, reminiscences of "German New Guinea", by Capt. James Lyng. He had taken part in the initial Australian occupation of the island of New Britain during the First World War, and was thus able to shine light on a period of history of which the average Australian knows nothing.
     For some reason, he chose to describe his adventures under the name of Captain Jones, and on pages 96-98 he prints a poem attributed to a Private Andrews in Rabaul. It is one of those items which are never likely to enter the register of the English classics but, nevertheless, it deserves not to remain completely forgotten. So, with this in mind, I shall transcribe it here. Please note that it is not politically correct.

Ye Shall Occupy the Land

I wish to speak to-night, kind friends, on this world and the next,
And as it's going to be a sermon, I must first announce my text.
You will find it in the Bible, in those noble words and grand,
"And the Lord said unto Moses ye shall occupy the land."

Now the man who just supposes that these words were meant for Moses,
His great ignorance discloses, as I think you'll all agree.
For it means, although unwritten, that our foeman must be smitten.
We must occupy New Britain from the mountains to the sea.

Did we buy the place and book it? Did the Germans meekly hook it?
No, we bravely came and took it in obedience to command;
And now we're just complying with our text, at least we're trying,
We're engaged in occupying. "Ye shall occupy the land."

Now, who has not heard the story, how we cut our path to glory,
Over pastures green and gory, over sea and over land?
Was there ever sight more thrilling, were there every men more willing?
So you see we're just fulfilling the old Biblical command.

From the time we first did spot it, till we ultimately got it
You could make an I and dot it, and we took it on our ace.
If we love, or if we hate it, now we're here, don't underrate it,
Soon we'll have to populate it, if we want to hold the place.

My old head this puts some care on (How I wish 'twould put some hair on)
But as Moses said to Aaron, "Let each soldier play his part."
Is there here one doubting Thomas? Friends, just listen to the promise,
It will ne'er be taken from us if we only make a start.

Our O.C. has bravely led us, and our country's clothed and fed us,
Will our chaplain now please wed us, and we'll each select a wife,
Ev'n as Eve once lived with Adam in the days when fig leaves clad 'em
As his most devoted madam. Let us live the simple life.

For the sands of time are sinking, and it's time we started thinking.
Black and white will soon be linking. Oh! what will the harvest be?
Let our love begin to kindle, for our numbers must not dwindle,
Be the product brown or brindle, there must be posterity.

Now this pressing question clamorous opens up a subject glamorous,
What did Cain when he felt amorous, after taking Abel's life?
We don't read he into quod went, but unshorn, likewise unshod went,
Out into the land of Nod went, where he found a coloured wife.

Thus the tribes of Ham and Shem too, had their origin in them, too.
Can't we do the same, ahem, too? shall we merely occupy?
Waste no time in vain palavers, plant your coconuts and guavas,
Up, and don your lavalavas, marry quick and multiply.

Do not think this scheme foolhardy, we Australians are too tardy,
Let us all at least crack hardy, and some settlement devise;
Some are butchers, some are bakers, O.C. stiffs, and undertakers,
As for me, give me ten acres, and we'll all be Lu-luais.

Then these isles of the equator, blest by an all wise creator,
Will in future become greater than the wisest can foresee.
In a century all traces will be gone, of flat nosed faces,
And a race of real hard cases will decide their destiny.
    There, I warned you that it was not politically correct. However, you can't call it racist, because Private Andrews was specifically advocating miscegenation. The author then comments, not without some sadness, that this is the way of the world: that the males of the culturally advanced races push aside those of the less advanced. But, it is pleasing to note that it failed to turn out quite like that. A century has almost passed, and "flat nosed faces" still predominate in New Britain. But Private Andrews' advice was not completely neglected. Many Australians who set up plantations there did take native wives, thus contributing to both the gene pool and the economy.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Donkey Cart Built for Two

     One of life's little ironies is that some beautiful songs appear, make us happy for a while, and then vanish like an evanescent perfume, while songs of minimal merit hang on like a bad smell. A friend of mine once suggested that this is because they bear similar features to jingles.
     As an example, in 1892 Harry Dacre penned a song entitled, Daisy Bell, which contained three easily forgettable verses, each followed by a single, totally unforgettable chorus, which commenced:
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
and ended with a reference to
a bicycle built for two.
     People who do not know the second verse of the National Anthem - or even the first - can recite the chorus of Daisy Bell verbatim - and probably one of the many parodies.  But not one in a thousand knows the three verses, or the name of the author. Probably most people think of it as a folk song, in the same category as such anonymous evergreens as My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain When She Comes.
     Be that as it may, the Wikipedia entry for Daisy Bell contains the full three verses, if you really want to read them. But it has relegated to the discussion page what used to appear on the feature page: a link to a British ballad broadsheet in the Bodleian Library, containing the text of what might have been a predecessor. This was Sarah, Sarah, or A Donkey Cart Built for Two, written and composed by Harry Bedford, and sung by Kate Carney. Allegedly, the broadsheet dates from the period 1877 - 1884, but no date appears on its pages. Also, Kate Carney was born in 1869, and Harry Bedford in 1873. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that the song is a parody, rather than the origin, of the more famous one. If so, it was a very early one. A contemporary newspaper records that it was being performed in the Tivoli Theatre, Sydney on 4 August 1894. That was little more than two years after Daisy Bell opened in New York. Admittedly, we do not know what music Bedford composed for it, but the wording and rhythm of the chorus make it impossible to believe they were independent.
    In any case, in my continuing campaign to bring culture to the masses, I have decided to record the lyrics here:
I've got such a nice young man,
   In other words my bloke;
He's a chap as anyone could like,
   You know could stand a joke.
Each night he pops the question
   In a very funny way.
He'll sling his arms around my neck
    And these words to me he'll say: -

CHORUS
Sarah, Sarah, make up your mind now do.
   I shall go balmy if I don't get spliced to you.
Come don't be aggravating, there's a home for you awaiting,
   And you can ride, by my side in a donkey-cart built for two.

I like him and he likes me, too,
   That's very plain to see.
When he wants to go and see the play,
   He'll not go without me.
He comes around to my house,
   And up the stairs he'll shout,
Sarah shuv your clobber on;
   I'm going to take you out.
                                     CHORUS

When the derby day comes round,
    To Epsom then we ride,
Bill says I look a picture
    When I'm sitting by his side.
I say, "Now chuck your kidding"
    When he winks his other eye.
Saying, "Sarah make your mind up.
   Anyone would think you're shy.
                                   CHORUS

At last I have made up my mind,
   And, when I see Bill tonight,
I'll tell him to put the bands (sic) up;
   That will fill him with delight.
And when we are settled down,
   Let troubles come what may,
But still I never shall forget
   Those words he used to say:
                                  CHORUS