Works in the Herald 1934

More than ever am I convinced that international sport has played, and will increasingly play, a great part in the sweetening of international relations.

Of this I have had recently a humble illustration in the beginning of which my small house-dog, Feathers, and my stout neighbor in Suburbia, Fishbolt, were prominent.

A reformed burglar told me once that what all burglars fear and hate above all else is a small, fussy, vociferous dog. Hence Feathers, whom I keep, first, because of the affection I bear him, and again, because he is an effective and unfailing burglar alarm.

Any reasonable man will, I am sure, agree that I am justified in this purely defensive measure. Therefore, I was both surprised and pained to overhear, through the back fence on morning, my neighbor, Fishbolt, refer bitterly to what he called my offensive acts, and yet more bitterly to what he described as a "yapping, yelping, yellow mongrel that destroyed the peace of the suburb."

I saw to it, diplomatically, that Fishbolt and I held "conversations" after that -- first at his house and later at mine. Both proved abortive, despite our earnest search for "avenues."

A week later Fishbolt brought home a large white cockatoo. I have no objection to large white cockatoos in their proper place, decorating the scenery in their native scrubs. But an energetic bird of this species, chained to a stand in a suburban back-yard -- a bird that fatuously invites the world to "scratch cocky" and then goes off into a pandemonium of raucous shrieks that tear tranquility to tatters from dawn to dark -- does not. I maintain, in any sense, amount to a defensive measure.

We held various "conferences" -- Fishbolt and I and our several wives; but we rose each time without agreement.

Even my purchase of a pair of seagulls -- birds which, with cut wings, roam my garden and mourn the whole night through in wailful strain for their natural habitat, failed to bring Fishbolt to reason. He responded with a couple of baritone roosters. A rather weak gesture, I always thought.

And now the pacifying and humanising influence of sport entered into the picture.

Fishbolt, seeking tranquility, joined my golf club, and I, as the club's worst player, was paired off to go round with the new member. The game began grimly one afternoon at 3 p.m., darkness overtook us at the thirteenth hole, so we retired to the nineteenth in mutual sympathy.

And here it was that peace-making sport came into its own. Cordiality oozed from us both. Reason reigned. Points were readily conceded and gratefully accepted. In fact we got as far as the preparation of a "protocol," almost to the point of signature.

Then we went home to find that my neighbor on the other side, one Pinfinger, stung to retaliation, had acquired a peacock. And anyone who has heard a lonely and impassioned peacock pouring forth his threnody of thwarted love into the ear of the listening night knows what that means. We also found that our neighbor opposite, one Gatherbean, had installed an unmistakably aggressive radio set with offensive intent.

Our beautiful "protocol" is now but waste paper. A "conference" must be called. A "non-aggression agreement," following "conversation" and "discussions," is the urgent need of the moment. A "Four Power Pact" must be established. Armageddon is at hand in our suburb.

Meantime Fishbolt and I are feverishly searching for a "formula."

Can anybody lend us a gunboat in which to hold a meeting?

Herald, 21 June 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003