Members of the Rotary International Convention 2012 gather to form the worlds biggest smiley face in Bangkok yesterday. The number of participants is a reflection of the convention year and the year Rotary reached its $200 million (R1.57 billion) fund-raising challenge for polio eradication. Picture: Reuters

Durban hits the big time… the International Convention Centre has been chosen for the World Toilet Summit.

This was in the face of formidable opposition. Cape Town thought it had the thing wrapped up because Table Mountain seems the obvious choice for a toilet summit – the toilet set up beside the cable-car station, the Mother City spread out below.

But the ICC has clinched it. The decider was its commitment to toilet signage in all 11 official languages plus every language employed by the member states of the UN. That way you get the message across.

Let’s have no sniggers about the mayoral chain.

Theme song of the Summit – that old rugby club number: Dan, Dan the sanitary man.

Gardez l’eau!


SPEAKING of which, I wonder what happened to that old kleinhuisie at a beach cottage down the South Coast.

It had no door but that didn’t matter because it faced out to sea from a high promontory.

It was detached from the cottage and had a flag which you hoisted if in occupation.

It also looked out over the railway line and the steam locomotives would always whistle in cheerful greeting if anyone was in occupation.

Etiquette, that’s what we’re talking about.

I wonder if it will come up at the World Toilet Summit.

Talking bird

I HATE to debunk the standpoint of one of my distant predecessors as Idler, but if this news report is true then budgies certainly can talk.

The great Dennis Henshaw it was who provoked social unrest by insisting in this column that budgies can’t talk.

Budgie-fanciers took great umbrage and threatened to march on The Mercury offices with their budgies chirruping away on their shoulders.

But Dennis stood firm.

Now it seems a budgie named Piko-chan escaped from its owner in Japan but was able to give police its name and address.

The baby-blue bird had flown from its home in Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, into a nearby hotel where it perched on the shoulder of a guest.

It seems the owner, a 64-year-old woman, had lost a pet budgie before and was determined it wouldn’t happen again. She taught Piko-chan to say where he lived.

It worked. The police brought him home.

But I’m reluctant to debunk Dennis Henshaw. Obviously this was an Indian mynah that had been spray-painted baby blue.

One-horse race

NEWS from America. With the withdrawal of former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich from the contest for the Republican presidential candidacy, the only horse left in the race is the fabulously wealthy Mitt Romney.

Satirist Andy Borowitz reports that Romney has paid a surprise visit to his money in the Cayman Islands.

“Speaking in a bank vault surrounded by stacks of cash, Mr Romney praised his money for ‘the brave work you have done in the never-ending fight for freedom from Federal income tax’.

‘‘ ‘Thanks to your hard work, losers around the world are envious of me. For that I salute you.’ “

Stressing that his money’s mission in the Caymans was “far from over,” he refused to set any timetable for withdrawal.

Romney then boarded his private jet for a visit to Switzerland.

I don’t know what we’d do without Borowitz’s insightful commentary on events in the US.

Sad relics

MORE flotsam from last year’s tsunami in Japan. So far we’ve had a fishing trawler, a football and a volleyball washing up thousands of kilometres away in North America… and now a Harley-Davidson.

No, the Harley didn’t somehow float. It was in a container, along with golf clubs, tools and camping equipment. There was no Hell’s Angel attached.

The container was found on one of the Haida Gwaii islands off British Columbia, Canada, by a 4x4 beachcomber.

There’s something terribly poignant about this flotsam. What happened to the owners all those thousands of kilometres away?

All can play

MORE internet magic. A new site has appeared, called Google Nigeria. All you have to do is enter your bank account number.


Desk sergeant (on telephone): “You say your car’s been stolen?”

Caller: “Not the whole car. But they’ve taken the dashboard, steering wheel, brake pedal and accelerator. Oh, sorry… I got in the back seat by mistake. Hic!”

Last word

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. – Albert Einstein