Two Bits: Of Spring, and nibbing the rot

Have I mentioned before that Facebook irritates me? I don’t post a lot, but last week I thought ‘Mmm, Spring is coming up, why don’t I ask my Facebook friends for what they recognise as signs of Spring?’

There was one reply: ‘I think the wind stops blowing. Oh no, that’s April. My bad.’

Really? Is that the best my friends can do? Perhaps I should do a Taylor Swift and get off Facebook entirely!

On the other hand, a photo of the lovely rainbow that appeared over the Dolphin Coast after the rains last Friday afternoon on The Courier Facebook page gathered 400 likes and more than 100 photos of the same rainbow but from many angles, all in a matter of hours.

My favourite was this one below sent in by Karen van Staden Setter, swallowing the rainbow.

Which just goes to show, it’s not what you say on Facebook, it’s making a nice, simple picture. A nice bright photo works every time.

My thoughts of Spring were brought about by being quite sick for the past two weeks. Like I’m told, half the town. My wife says I’m exaggerating but I’m sticking to my story that I was very, very sick.

A mouthful of rainbow!

Apart from the sweating and coughing, my proof is that I couldn’t stomach a Magnum, nor could I concentrate on the Friends reruns on TV.

Spring means migrant birds returning, like the Yellow-billed Kites and Pygmy Kingfishers, but also the Greater Striped Swallow, Red-chested Cuckoo, Wahlberg’s Eagles and the Terns that fly in from as far away as the North Atlantic.

Another sign of Spring is the large numbers of humpbacked whales that splash and leap past our doorstep this time of the year, on their way to Antarctic waters. We had a video of a whale swimming with her new-born calf off Zinkwazi, though it was a little hard to see. Calling all microlight pilots out there – please try to get us a clearer video. We’d love to share it.

* * *

Spring is also traditionally strike season, though that seems a little subdued this year. The comrades are too busy concentrating on sabre-rattling in the build-up to the national congress in December, perhaps.

Every now and then a gem crosses my desk that’s too good not to share. This contribution comes courtesy of the KwaDukuza ANC Youth League, from a rant about municipal officials meddling in politics, and I quote: “We are calling upon the African National Congress to nib this rot from its butt!”

Do they read what they write? I can only presume they meant to call on the ANC to nip the rot in the bud. Classic!

* * *

On a completely different tack, reader Ray Millican passed along a photo of a 1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that was originally bought for about R1,2 million in today’s money and was recently sold for R63 million, making it the most expensive Rolls-Royce ever sold at auction.

Throughout the last century Rolls Royce was the last word in cars, standing head and shoulders above every other car maker. Their jet engines still power half the world’s airliners. Tastes have changed and the cars are considered a little stuffy, at least by everyone who can’t afford one (which is 99.99% of everyone, since they can cost upwards of R10 million new).

A Rolls Royce classic.

I thought you would enjoy this poem by English writer John Updike, entitled ‘Duet, With Muffled Brake Drums’, published in the New Yorker magazine in 1954 to mark the 50th anniversary of when Rolls met Royce.

Where grey walks slope through shadows shaped like lace

Down to dimpleproof ponds, a precious place

Where birds of porcelain sing as with one voice

Two gold and velvet notes – there Rolls met Royce.

“Hallo,” said Rolls. His umber silhouette

Seemed mounted on a blotter brushed when wet

To indicate a park. Beyond, a brown

Line hinted at the profile of a The Town.

And Royce, his teeth and creases straight, his eye

A perfect match for that well-lacquered sky

(Has zenith since, or iris, been so pure?),

Said, “Pleased to meet you, I am sure.”

A graceful pause, then Rolls, the taller, spake:

“Ah – is there anything you’d care to make?

A day of it? A fourth at bridge? Some tea?”

Royce murmured, “If your afternoon is free,

I’d rather, much, make engineering history.”

Bruce Stephenson

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