A snowman sits on a bench on Hampstead Heath in London. Britain has been in the grip of cold snowy weather since the weekend. Picture: AP

ANGLO-AMERICAN are closing down the mine shafts. Eskom are taking us back to the era

of candles and hurricane lanterns. Who knows what mischief Pravin Gordhan might have in store for us in the Budget next month?

But down at the Merseyside, in Umbilo, they’re Beginning To See The Light. Watching and listening to the five-man jazz ensemble in their first outing of 2013, led by trumpeter/trombonist Barry Varty, one appreciated the deeper role of music.

It rises above such difficulties. It took us through the Great Depression, a world war and subsequent ructions.

It will no doubt see us through what is going on now in so many confusing ways, whether on Wall Street or in Nkandla.

Chatanooga Choo-Choo, Blueberry Hill and all the other old numbers. The rain lashed at the windowpanes from time to time, but who really noticed? The punters were watching the aplomb with which Barry finishes a trumpet solo, puts the trumpet into his music case, takes out a bottle of beer, takes a swig, then takes up the trombone for the next solo.

Wonderful, rousing stuff! What stamina!

What a start to 2013!

The Rockies may crumble,

Gibraltar may tumble,

They’re only made of clay.

But our love is here to stay …

Likewise our jazz!

Eskimo Nell

SO ENTHUSED were the folk at the Merseyside that, when the jazz was over, one punter began reciting Eskimo Nell, the famous ballad concerning Dead Eye Dick and Mexican Pete on a jaunt to the Rio Grande. But it was a long time since his army days and his memory began to fade round about verse 38. Most instructive, nevertheless.


I RAN INTO a Kiwi friend the other day – in some trepidation because I thought he might have taken umbrage at the suggestion that they’re developing a new dance in New Zealand – known as the Humble Haka – to commemorate their rugby Test defeat by England and their cricket Test defeats by South Africa.

But he tells me it’s absolutely true. It’s based on the slow waltz, though much more sedate. Richie McCaw is the dance master.

Heh, heh!

Zululand pensees

SOME ruminations on the ageing process come from the Hluhluwe Club: I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it; my wild oats have turned into prunes and all-bran; I finally got my head together and now my body is falling apart; funny, I don’t remember being absent-minded; funny, I don’t remember being absent-minded; if all is not lost, where is it?

It’s easier to get older than it is to get wiser; some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant; I wish the buck stopped here – I sure could use a few.

It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere; the only time the world beats a path to your door is when you’re in the bathroom; if God wanted me to touch my toes, He’d have put them on my knees.

When I’m finally holding all the cards, why does everyone want to play chess? It’s not hard to meet expenses... they’re everywhere.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter. I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I’m hereafter.

Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

It’s odd, all this stuff. Last time I was at the Hluhluwe Club it was all strobe lights, disco and pumping music. Or was that the Kwambonambi Club? I forget now.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-40s: “If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal; a whale swims all day, eats only fish, drinks water and is fat; a rabbit runs and hops and lives only 15 years.

“A tortoise doesn’t run and does nothing yet it lives for 450 years. And you tell me to exercise? I don’t think so.”


A GOLFER slices into a deep, wooded ravine. Searching for his ball, he spots something shiny. It’s a seven-iron, still gripped by a skeleton.

He calls to his partner: “Hey, Joe – throw me my eight-iron. You can’t get out of here with a seven.”

Last word

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. – Thoreau Henry David