A performer takes part in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, to celebrate the start of China's lunar new year. According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

AGAIN it’s the season of the drunks at the end of the bar. At times of international tension, the drunks have all kinds of good advice for their governments: Bomb the bastards! Send in the marines! That kind of thing.

But then the drunks go home, have eight hours sleep, have a good breakfast then go off to the office with only the haziest memory of what they were advocating.

The problem is when it turns out that the thoughts of government coincide with those of the drunks at the end of the bar. When people like George W Bush and Tony Blair suddenly follow the drunks’ advice and they do bomb the bastards (“Shock and awe”) and they do send in the marines.

I’m indebted for this analytical tool to a man named Duncan who I met (in a bar) recently in Suffolk, England. The drunks at the end of the bar analogy speaks much truth.

And as tensions ratchet in the Gulf of Hormuz, have we ever been closer in recent times to real, large-scale military conflagration? The situation requires ice-cool clarity of thought in combination with real courage.

Yet there are so many drunks at the end of so many bars (and they are not by any means confined to Washington, London and Paris) that anything could happen.

Scary thought

TO OBSERVE from a distance the antics in America of the contenders for the Republican candidacy for president is not greatly reassuring. These seem very much second-raters, possessed of hayseed philosophies and unthinking, knee-jerk right-wingery. I don’t see a Reagan or a George Bush sr.

Yet one of these could soon have to make decisions about the Gulf of Hormuz and elsewhere that would test a polymath. (That’s if the poisoned chalice should prove fatal to Obama.)

The thought is scarier even than the drunks at the end of the bar.


PEOPLE are saying that were it not for the Duckworth-Lewis formula that gave us victory in the ODI that was rained off in Bloemfontein, we would have lost the one-day series against Sri Lanka.

They could well be right. But this is the first time ever that I recall Duckworth-Lewis working in SA’s favour. Remember that match in India when Duckworth-Lewis required us to score 22 runs off one ball?

I say Duckworth-Lewis owed us one.

Wing-walking JZ

ROBIN Taylor, of Gillitts, has some suggestions for future “shadowing” of Jacob Zuma’s international flights.

“In 1953 I was serving in 210 Squadron, RAF coastal command, at St Eval, Cornwall. We were twice selected to escort the Queen’s Flight aircraft on royal visits, to Malta and Gibraltar.

“Underneath the bomb bays of our maritime Lancasters were Saunders Roe airborne lifeboats, which could be dropped by four parachutes. The boats were equipped with a motor cycle engine which had a range of about 3 000km. They had supplies of food and water for 10 people for 14 days and were fitted with ‘mod cons’ and sails plus radios and so forth.

“Now, our old Lancs (and Shackletons of our sister 203 Squadron) could not keep up with a modern jetliner. However the RAF’s latest Nimrod has the speed and range to get to the US with a lifeboat in case JZ’s plane had to ditch.

“I am sure that Prime Minister Cameron, who regularly catches commercial flights, would lend one to JZ for back-up, as he doesn’t use it.

“It’s a better bet than for JZ and his portly companions to take up wing walking. That apart, what on earth would be the use of an airborne back-up? I reckon our revered president owes me a bottle of his best malt!”


EVERY Saturday the minister of the Kirk plays a round of golf with old Jock, the bell-ringer. Jock always wins.

“It’s nae use us going on, Jock,” the minister says in despair one day. “It seems I’ll never beat ye.”

“Ah, but you’ll likely score over me yet, for the day may come when ye’ll be standing at my grave to bury me.”

“Aye. And even that will be your hole.”

Last word

All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway. – Harry S Truman