“Don’t Look Down!”
With the bag hooked over one hold on to the pipe. Mario loosened
shoulder, he started to lower himself his own grip for a split second so
down the pipe. But as the beam of they’d fall a short distance. Jolted, the
his lamp shone underneath the Mary man grabbed the pipe. With Mario
Ann, he saw something that made his cradling him, they inched lower.
blood run cold. Watching in horror, the men on the
crowded ledge above were sure the
Somehow, the Mary Ann’s verti- flimsy pipe would break.
cal guide rails had become twisted,
throwing it out of alignment. This had Finally, Mario and the miner
caused a corner of the lift to catch on reached the crossbeam at level 37.
a bracket clamped to a girder. The Now Mario had to figure out how to
weight of the lift and its men was now make the 1.5 metre leap to the station
resting on barely two centimetres of platform. The young miner in his arms
thin metal and a couple of screws. If was in no condition to jump for it.
I don’t get those men down, they’ll die,
Mario thought. Help me, God! Leaving the man standing on the
crossbeam, clinging to the pipe,
Climbing back to their level, Mario Mario stepped out into space once
told them, “This thing’s going to drop more. At their utmost stretch, his legs
at any second. Don’t touch it, just just straddled the gap. He twisted his
hold your breath and come down the powerful body around and gripped
pipe with me.” Nobody moved. the man’s jacket. “Let go of the pipe
exactly when I say!”
Mario picked out the smallest miner,
a man of about 60 kilograms. Holding The man nodded fearfully.
the pipe with one hand, he reached “Let go!” Mario bellowed. The man
out with the other, grasped the front obeyed, and Mario swung him across
of the man’s jacket and jerked him to- the gap, throwing him onto the plat-
wards him. The miner screamed and form and using the momentum to
tried to cling to the crossbeam. But fling himself after.
Mario was not a man to be disobeyed. Mario dusted off his bleeding
He punched the miner in the ribs. hands, and, hand over hand, pulled
himself back up the pipe.
As the miner slumped, Mario
seized the man’s jacket again and BAR ROOM TRICK
pulled him off the ledge. As if curling
a barbell, he held the miner in mid- Next to be brought down was Mario’s
air so their faces were level. stocky assistant, Jan Buys. “Don’t
look down!” Mario instructed. They
“You see?” he said curtly. “I can descended the pipe to the crossbeam.
hold you with one hand. Trust me.” But Jan’s legs were too short to span
the gap to the platform, and he was
The man threw his arms around
Mario’s neck but, terrified, would not
too heavy to lift. Now what? feet. With many hands reaching out
In his army years, Mario had of- from the platform, they had no trou-
ten performed an old bar-room trick ble crossing the gap.
he learned from a book by Houdini.
With shoulders on one chair and IMPOSSIBLE!
heels on another, he tensed his body Mario had escorted 13 men to safety
into a bridge and challenged anyone and climbed 16 times up and down
to stand on his belly. It always won a pipe that was slippery with blood
him a beer. Now he would do the from his hands. After two more
same – but with a difference. trips, his arms trembled uncontrol-
Standing on the lably, and his shred-
crossbeam, he let ded palms burned
himself fall forward, HIS ARMS as though he were
his hands grabbing TREMBLED AND holding hot coals.
the end of the plat- HIS SHREDDED But when he rested to
form. Bracing himself PALMS BURNED catch his breath, the
by holding a piece of AS THOUGH HE men in the tottering
ironwork, he rolled to WERE HOLDING cage above pleaded,
face upwards. With “Don’t stop!”
shoulders on the lip of HOT COALS
the platform, heels on God, give me the
strength to save
the beam and mus- these last few, Mario
cles locked, Mario be- prayed. Still gasp-
came a human girder. ing, he focused all
“Okay,” he told Jan, “come across his w ill. His arms were charged
on your hands and knees.” with strength as he climbed and
“I can’t, you’ll never hold me.” descended four more times, then
“Yes, I will. Believe in me.” went back for the last man – Rassie
Trembling, Jan crouched and Erasmus.
grabbed Mario around the knees. Scared stiff, the elderly Rassie
Slowly at first, then rushing, Jan grabbed the pipe and forced himself
scrambled across. to step on Mario’s shoulders. Bit by
Seeing the two men reach safety bit, they descended. Near the end,
made the others more confident. Mario’s grip slackened. For the first
Aaron Koetse came down the pipe time, he slipped. But his boots struck
sitting on Mario’s shoulders. Thabo the crossbeam, and they were saved.
Phatsoane, a tall, athletic 34 year Now, as Mario again stretched
old, took his own weight on trem- his body across the void, Rassie
bling arms while Mario guided his watched in horror. How could he
50 january 2022
“Don’t Look Down!”
risk Mario’s life, and his own, by punched through the alarm-box
loading his 90 kilograms upon his glass, he’d cracked a bone in his
friend’s exhausted body? Even with hand.
men reaching for him, it seemed
impossible. It was after midnight when Mario
climbed into bed beside Connie,
But then Rassie read the look of to- careful not to wake her. Next morn-
tal certainty in Mario’s eyes. He took ing, he cuddled his boys. Only when
three brisk steps along Mario’s taut Connie saw his raw, puffy hands did
body. A score of hands reached out Mario confess there’d been some
to seize him and he was over. trouble at the mine.
‘SOME TROUBLE’ Six months later, Mario Cockrell
was awarded the South African min-
There were cheers and tears as Mario ing industry’s highest decoration for
was helped up. Shaking, he poured a bravery. But no award speaks louder
cup of tea from his Thermos for Ras- than the story miners tell, of the
sie, who was slumped against a wall. tough, quiet man who saved 20 lives,
Then he phoned the surface: “We’re one by one, trip by trip, hand over
all safe.” It was 10pm. broken hand.
Minutes later, a group of mine THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RECORDED
managers and engineers arrived in AS AN RD TALKS FOR YOUR LISTENING
another cage. One grabbed Mario’s PLEASURE. TO LISTEN, GO TO WWW.RDASIA.
hand for a hearty shake. Mario COM/PODCASTS
winced in agony. W hen he had
RD AUGUST 1960
Found in a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant: “You will meet a
beautiful woman, you will give her money. She is our cashier.”
A pompous executive made a great show of lugging home a heavy
briefcase each night. One day some junior members of the company
slipped his telephone directory into his briefcase and
sealed the case with tape.
It was two weeks later when the executive let out an anguished cry:
“Somebody has swiped my telephone book!”
neil morgan in San Diego Tribune
JUNE 1933 PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Painting provided Winston Churchill
with mental stimulation and took him on a
visual voyage of discovery
BY Winston S. Churchill,
CONDENSED FROM AMID THESE STORMS
52 january 2022
o have reached the age of 40 without ever handling
a brush, to have regarded the painting of pictures
as a mystery, and then suddenly to find oneself
T plunged in the middle of a new interest with
paints and palettes and canvases, and not to be
discouraged by results, is an astonishing and enriching
experience. I hope it may be shared by others.
For to be really happy and to avoid a mark about as big as a small bean
worry and mental overstrain we upon the affronted snow-white
ought to have hobbies, and they must shield. At that moment a motor car
all be real. Best of all, and easiest to was heard on the drive and from it
take up, are sketching and painting. stepped none other than the gifted
They came to my rescue late in life, wife of Sir John Lavery, the distin-
at a most trying time. When I left the guished portrait painter.
Admiralty at the end of May 1915, I
still remained a member of the Cab- “Painting! But what are you hesi-
inet and of the War Council. In this tating about? Let me have a brush, a
position I knew everything and could big one.” Splash into the turpentine,
do nothing; I had vehement convic- wallop into the blue and white, fran-
tions and no power to give effect to tic flourish on my palette, and then
them; I had enforced leisure at a mo- several large, fierce strokes of blue on
ment when every fibre of my being the absolutely cowering canvas. The
was inflamed to action. spell was broken. My sickly inhibitions
rolled away. I seized the largest brush
And then it was, one Sunday in and fell upon my victim with Berserk
the country, that the children’s paint fury. I have never felt any awe of a
box came to my aid. My first experi- canvas since.
ments with their toy water colours led
me to secure, next morning, a com- This beginning with Audacity is a
plete outfit for painting in oils. The very great part of the art of painting.
next step was to begin. The palette We must not be too ambitious. We
gleamed with beads of colour; fair cannot aspire to masterpieces. We
and white rose the canvas; the empty may content ourselves with a joy ride
brush hung poised, heavy with des- in a paint box. And for this, Audacity
tiny, irresolute in the air. is the only ticket.
Very gingerly I mixed a little blue I write no word in disparagement
paint with a very small brush, and of water colours. But there is really
then with infinite precaution made nothing like oils. First of all, you can
correct mistakes more easily. One
54 january 2022
My Adventures With A Paint Brush
sweep of the palette-knife ‘lifts’ the noting the tint and character of a leaf,
blood and tears of a morning from the dreamy purple shades of moun-
the canvas; the canvas is all the bet- tains, the exquisite lacery of winter
ter for past impressions. Secondly, branches, the dim, pale silhouettes of
you can approach your problem from far horizons. And I had lived for over
any direction, beginning if you will 40 years without ever noticing any of
with a moderate central arrangement them except in a general way, as one
of middle tones, and then hurling in might look at a crowd and say, “What
the extremes when the psychological a lot of people!”
moment comes. Lastly, the pigments I think this heightened sense of
are so nice to handle. observation of Nature
You can build them on is one of the chief de-
layer after layer if you THIS lights that have come
like and can change HEIGHTENED to me through trying
your plan to meet the to paint. And if you do
exigencies of time and SENSE OF observe accurately and
weather. Matching OBSERVATION with refinement, and
them with what you OF NATURE IS if you do record what
see is fascinating. Try ONE OF THE you have seen with
it, if you have not done CHIEF DELIGHTS tolerable correspond-
so, before you die. ence, the result follows
As one slowly begins on the canvas with
to escape from the dif- startling obedience.
ficulties of choosing Then, the art galler-
the right colours and laying them on ies take on a new and – to me at least
in the right places and in the right – a severely practical interest. You see
way, wider considerations come into the difficulty that baffled you yester-
view. One is astonished to find out day; and you see how easily it has
how many things there are in the land- been overcome by a great painter. You
scape one never noticed before. And look at the masterpieces of art with an
this is a tremendous new pleasure that analysing and a comprehending eye.
invests every walk or drive with an
added object. So many colours on the CHANCE ONE DAY led me to a
hillside, each different in shadow and secluded nook near Marseilles where
in sunlight; such brilliant reflections I fell in with two disciples of Cézanne.
in the pool, each a key lower than They viewed Nature as a mass of
what they repeat; such lovely lights shimmering light in which forms and
gilding or silvering surface or outline. surfaces are comparatively unimpor-
I found myself instinctively as I walked tant, indeed hardly visible, but which
gleams and glows with beautiful har- paint box, one cannot be bored or left
monies and contrasts of colour. I had at a loose end. How much there is to
hitherto painted the sea flat, with long, admire and how little time there is to
smooth stokes of mixed pigment. Now see it in! For the first time one begins
I must try to represent it by innumer- to envy Methuselah.
able small separate patches of pure It is interesting to note the part
colour. Each of these little points of memory plays in painting. When
colour sets up a strong radiation of Whistler guided a school in Paris he
which the eye is conscious without de- made his pupils observe their model
tecting the cause. Look at the blue of on the ground floor, and then run up-
the sea. How can you stairs and paint their
depict it? Certainly not picture on the floor
by any single colour HOW CAN YOU above. As they be-
that was ever manu- DEPICT THE came more proficient
factured. The only way SEA? NOT BY he put their easels up
in which that lumi- ANY SINGLE a storey higher, till
nous intensity of blue COLOUR THAT at last the élite were
can be simulated is by WAS EVER scampering up six
this multitude of tiny MANUFACTURED flights into the attic.
points of varied colour
all in true relations to All the greatest
landscapes have been
the rest of the scheme. painted indoors, and
Difficult? Fascinating! often long after the
I was shown a pic- first impressions were
ture by Cézanne of a blank wall of a gathered. In a dim cellar the Dutch or
house, which he had made instinct Italian master recreated the gleaming
with the most delicate lights and col- ice of a Netherlands carnival or the
ours. Now I often amuse myself when lustrous sunshine of Venice. Here,
I am looking at a wall or a flat surface then, is required a formidable mem-
of any kind by trying to distinguish ory of the visual kind. So painting
all the different tints which can be may be a very useful exercise for the
discerned upon it, and considering development of a trained, accurate,
whether these arise from reflections retentive memory.
or from natural hue. You would be as- Again, there is really nothing like
tonished the first time you tried this painting as a spur to travel. Every day
to see how many and what beautiful is provided with its expedition and its
colours there are even in the most occupation – cheap, attainable, ab-
commonplace objects. sorbing, recuperative. The vain racket
Obviously, then, armed with a of the tourist gives place to the calm
56 january 2022
My Adventures With A Paint Brush
enjoyment of the philosopher. Every Buy a paint box and have a try. It
country you visit has a theme of its would be a sad pity to shuffle along
own and even if you cannot portray it through one’s playtime with golf and
as you see it, you know it, you feel it, bridge, when all the while, if you only
and you admire it forever. But after all, knew, there is waiting for you close at
if only the sun will shine, one does not hand the wonderful new world of
need to go beyond one’s own country. thought and craft, a sunlit garden
The amateur painter wanders and loi- gleaming with colour. Inexpensive
ters contentedly from place to place, independence, new mental food and
always on the lookout for some bright exercise, an added interest in every
butterfly of a picture which can be idle hour, an unceasing voyage of en-
caught and carried safely home. trancing discovery – these are high
prizes. I hope they may be yours.
PAINTING IS COMPLETE as a distrac-
tion. I know of nothing which, with- CONDENSED FROM AMID THESE STORMS:
out exhausting the body, more entirely THOUGHTS AND ADVENTURES. © WINSTON
absorbs the mind. Whatever the wor- CHURCHILL. C. SCRIBNER’S SONS, 1932
ries of the hour or the threats of the
future, once the picture has begun Update: Almost certainly Britain’s
to flow there is no room for them in most famous prime minister, Winston
the mental screen. They pass out into Churchill (1874–1965) was renowned
shadow and darkness. All one’s men- for his powerful speeches but is best
tal light becomes concentrated on the remembered for leading Great Britain
task. When I have stood up on parade, through World War II. Churchill
or even, I regret to say, in church, for continued his hobby into old age,
half an hour at a time, I have always painting over 500 pictures of subjects
felt that the erect position is not natu- such as his goldfish pond at Chartwell
ral to man and is only with fatigue and and the landscapes and buildings
difficulty maintained. But no one who of Marrakesh. He gave away many
is fond of painting finds the slightest of his works he modestly described
inconvenience in standing to paint for as “daubs”. In 2021, Tower of the
three or four hours at a stretch. Koutoubia Mosque sold at Christie’s
for US$11.5 million.
Pert And Pertinent
RD JANUARY 1953
Nothing’s more responsible for the good old days
than a bad memory. franklin p. jones in Your Life
THE BEST MEDICINE
OCTOBER 1975 ◆ A car manufacturing tycoon
◆ A pre-season bather who found received a phone call. “Was it your
company that announced recently in
the ocean intolerably chilly stopped the paper that you put together a car
in seven minutes?” the caller asked.
at a beachside cafe for hot coffee.
“Yes sir, it was,” the executive
“Cream? Sugar?” asked the waitress. answered proudly.
“It doesn’t matter,” shuddered “Well,” the caller said, “I’d like to
let you know that I’ve got that car.”
the bather. “I’m going to pour it on
my feet.” NICK MORGAN
◆ The salesman mentioned that
he had got three orders so far that
day: “Get out. Stay out. And don’t ◆ A millionaire, making a night
come back.” CHARLES CARDEN landing on his private air strip, said,
“I hope Junior hasn’t left his 707 on
◆ A reporter asked the centenarian the runway again.” L.J.H.
the inevitable question: “To what do
you attribute your long life?” MARCH 1982
“Not sure yet,” the old-timer
replied. “I’m still negotiating with ◆ A couple took their three-month-
a mattress company and two old son to the movies with them. On
breakfast-food firms.” M.M. the way in, the usherette said they’d
have to leave if the baby cried. “But
◆ Teenage girl to friend: “It was so we’ll refund your money,” she added.
strange the way we met – we were After watching the movie for half an
introduced.” MELISSE hour, the husband turned to his wife.
“Well, what do you think?” he asked.
◆ I ran into a former neighbour and “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen!”
asked how our old mutual landlord “Me too,” he agreed. “Wake little
was doing. “He’s letting me have my
flat done in any colour of my choice – Ritchie.” DICK NIEHOFF
but I have to pay for the crayons.”
◆ In Paris, a group of American
tourists entered a large cathedral.
58 january 2022
CARTOON: PATRICK MCDONNELL Seeing a wedding in progress, ◆ A woman wished to have her
one of the tourists whispered to
a Frenchman nearby, “Who’s the portrait painted, and her husband
groom?” The Frenchman shrugged engaged the best artist he could find.
and said, “Je ne sais pas.” During one of the sittings the wife
made a rather unusual request. She
As the group continued through asked the artist to paint in a diamond
the cathedral, they came upon necklace, earrings and tiara, even
a funeral service. The American though she wore no jewellery. The
whispered to another Frenchman, artist obliged but was puzzled.
“Why did we add the gems?” he
The man replied, “Je ne sais pas.” asked, as they surveyed the finished
“Wow,” the American said, “He product.
didn’t last long, did he?” LEO AIKMAN
Said the wife, “It’s in case I should
◆ Two women were chatting. “I was die before my husband. I just know
he’d remarry right away. Let his new
talking to Jean the other day about wife look for the jewels!”
holiday plans,” said the first. “She
tells me that you aren’t going to MAE MORRISON
London this summer after all.”
◆ A tourist asked a farmer if it were
“No,” the other woman replied.
“That was last year. This year we aren’t possible to catch the three o’clock
going to Rome.” CHARLES WADSWORTH train by taking a short-cut through
“Sure,” said the farmer. “And if the
bull sees you, you might even catch
the two o’clock express.” ASHILD BARTH
◆ A woman, lunching with her
friends, listened to descriptions of
elaborate alarm systems, links with
police stations, guard dogs and
whatnot that her friends had turned
to as protection against burglars.
Asked what steps she had taken, she
pointed out that she has five small
children. “If a burglar came into
my bedroom,” she said wearily, “I’d
probably get up, take him by the
hand and lead him to the toilet.”
FUNNY FUNNY WORLD
Surgery PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
HOW THEY SAVED
The world was shocked when the statue Pietà
by Michelangelo was mutilated by a man
wielding a hammer. But ten months
of ingenious and delicate work
made it whole again
BY Janet Graham
60 january 2022
t was the morning of May 21, 1972, in St Peter’s
Basilica in Rome. As always, worshippers and tourists
crowded before the ﬁrst chapel on the right and gazed
I at Michelangelo’s Pietà. For nearly 500 years this
marble statue of Mary holding the dead Christ has been
an object of intense devotion, and also prized as an artistic
masterpiece. Generations have marvelled at its exquisite
translucent ﬁnish, the delicate moulding of Christ’s body, the
tender resignation of the Madonna’s upturned left palm, the
beauty of her sorrowing youthful face.
Suddenly there was uproar as a man – from Christians, Jews and Muslims,
carrying a small hammer leaped over communists and atheists. Art experts
the altar rail and inflicted 15 shattering wrote from the four corners of the
blows on the statue before a fireman world, but so did schoolchildren and
was able to overpower him. Police marble craftsmen, often expressing
later identified the mentally disturbed a deeply personal sense of sorrow.
man as Laszlo Toth, a 34-year-old Aus- Rome was more like a city which
tralian geologist, a woman-hater who had suffered some immense natural
was convinced that God had ordered disaster. “Perfect restoration will be
him to “kill” the Madonna. impossible,” mourned the newspaper
In the Pietà chapel, the spectacle
was horrifying: her left arm was sev- But the Vatican’s Museums Di-
ered at the elbow and wrist, and the rector, Brazilian-born Dr Deoclecio
fingers of the hand shattered; the tip Redig de Campos, knew better. Care-
of her nose had been smashed off; fully, he assembled a team of seven
her veil and left cheek were scarred scientists and restorers under the su-
in several places; one eyelid was hid- pervision of soft-spoken, bespecta-
eously damaged. Some 50 large mar- cled Dr Vittorio Federici, director of
ble fragments lay on the floor, plus the museums’ scientific research lab-
150 smaller ones and a multitude of oratory. For ten months nearly all of
powder granules. Federici’s conscious thoughts would
be absorbed by the task of repairing
A WAVE OF DISBELIEF swept the this unique work.
world. Sympathy, advice, even
money, poured into the Vatican Immediately after Toth’s arrest,
the Sampietrini, the caretakers of
62 january 2022
Surgery In Marble
St Peter’s, gathered up the precious value. Later, a Roman hospital worker
marble chips from every cranny of brought in another piece. Still there
the Pietà chapel. Fortunately, a plas- remained missing fragments: two
ter cast of the statue had been made gaps in the left nostril, several in the
in 1934 for display in the Sacristy. drapery over the arm, and a piece of
Now, while the actual statue re- the left eyelid.
mained in the chapel surrounded by To replace them, Federici and bio-
a wooden partition, the plaster cast chemist Dr Nazzareno Gabrielli set
could be studied close-up for the de- out to find a material which would
tails broken off and missing from the reproduce exactly the colour, trans-
original. parency and hard-
From May to Octo- ness of the original
ber 1972, the restorers THE FIRST marble, and which in
worked in the labora- DAYS WERE setting would assume
tory of the Vatican the exact shape of an
Museums behind St SPENT intricate mould. Even-
Peter’s. The first days SORTING AND tually they decided on
were spent sorting LABELLING a mixture of polyester
and labelling the 200- resin blended with
odd fragments which 200-ODD finely powdered Carr-
had been found. (One FRAGMENTS ara marble taken from
narrow section of the ancient fragments in
veil, less than 20 cen- the Vatican’s work-
timetres long, was shops. It answered the
in 13 pieces.) This painstaking work basic requirements and possessed
was entrusted to Ulderico Grispigni, an additional advantage which Dr
a skilled marble cutter and specialist Redig de Campos considered essen-
in plaster casts, and Francesco Dati, tial: when photographed under a spe-
an expert restorer of ancient bronzes cial ultraviolet light, the composite
and pottery. showed up fluorescent white while
the original material appeared blue.
ONE DAY, after all the existing pieces Thus the integrity of the masterpiece
had been identified, an envelope would be preserved by enabling fu-
arrived from America containing ture art scholars to identify the re-
a one-centimetre-square marble stored sections.
chip. A tourist had picked it up im- Re-creat ing t he missing frag-
mediately after the attack and now, ments was the job of deft-fingered
reading accounts of the restoration Giuseppe Morresi, who constructs
work, had realised the souvenir’s true model shops as a hobby. Using soft
pink dental clay, he made one im- marble. When he removed the tape,
pression of the plaster cast of the a little of the mark lifted away, too,
Pietà and another of the correspond- and repeated applications cleaned
ing section of the damaged statue. the stain completely. Simple as it
Then he fitted these two moulds seemed, it was a major breakthrough,
together, and with a hypodermic and the group was overjoyed.
syringe injected between them the For more than four months, the
semi-liquid mixture of marble pow- team had worked long hours in the
der – separately colour-matched for laboratory. As Gabrielli put it later,
each fragment – and polyester. A “We felt just as though we were at
perfect replacement the bedside of a hu-
piece resulted. To man being who was
glue the fragments “WE FELT JUST very ill, and whom we
back in place, Gabri- AS THOUGH WE loved dearly.”
elli concocted a syn- WERE AT THE
thetic resin as hard as Experiments and
marble yet easily dis- BEDSIDE OF analyses complete,
soluble in acetone, so A HUMAN it was time to start
that mistakes could BEING WHO work on the actual
be corrected. WAS VERY ILL” statue. On October 7
the restoration team
set up shop in the Pi-
ONE PROBLEM re- età chapel. On trestle
mained tragically tables they arranged
unsolved. The trans- pincers, spatulas and
lucent sheen of the marble, one dentist’s drills, moulds, mortars and
of the outstanding features of the microscopes, until the place took on
Pietà, bore ugly blue-black stains the appearance of a surgical clinic.
caused by the greasy coating of The first task was to remove the
Toth’s newly purchased hammer. stains. Dati confidently applied tape
With a weapon identical to the one to one of the marks on the Madon-
Toth had used, Grispigni and Dati na’s face – but to his consternation
reproduced the marks on samples of the blotch remained as black as be-
marble, then tried to clean them. But fore. After anguished discussion, the
marble is very porous and efforts to men surmised that the statue might
remove the stains with solvents only be slightly damp. For a nerve-rack-
spread them. ing 15 minutes they heated the mar-
One day, in a flash of inspiration, ble with an infra-red lamp; then Dati
Francesco Dati applied a piece of Cel- tried the tape again. This time, half
lophane tape to a sample of stained the stain came off at the first pull.
64 january 2022
Surgery In Marble
LIKE ALL MAJOR STEPS in the res- Day by day the Madonna regained
toration, this tense incident was re- her sweetness of expression.
corded for the Vatican archives by
Antonio Solazzi, a government ar- Now only the broken-off forearm
chaeological photographer. With the remained to be dealt with. The plan
precision of a navigator, he had set up was to attach this five-kilo piece to
scaffolding at 16 fixed points in the the statue’s upper arm with an an-
chapel so that the Madonna could be gled steel rod, inserted through the
photographed from every angle, be- entire length of the limb and glued
fore, during and after each phase of in place. But to get the resin adhesive
the operation. Enlargements of some to flow upward inside the marble to
of his photographs proved invaluable the shoulder required ingenuity. The
to the team, showing up details too technique evolved: first, drill a hole
fine for the naked eye. lengthwise in both the upper arm and
the lower arm. Next, put in the rod,
Stains removed, the team started grooved to carry a two-millimetre
repairs on some of the less noticea- plastic tube, and glue the arm pieces
ble points of damage, like the dra- together at the elbow. Finally, at the
pery on the sleeve and veil, gaining waist, attach the thin plastic tubing
needed experience before working to a vacuum pump and switch it on.
on the face. It was not until Novem- From the uppermost tip of the tubing,
ber 13 that they felt confident enough then, the vacuum would suck the ad-
to restore the eyelid, which was of hesive up all round the rod, bonding
utmost importance in preserving marble and steel firmly together.
the Madonna’s tender expression. As
they watched tensely, Morresi glued To test the new process, Federici
his laboratory-made fragment into and his colleagues first experimented
place and arranged wooden supports on a transparent plexiglass model of
to hold it while it dried. All seemed the arm. Delightedly, they watched
well until Solazzi’s magnified photo- as the viscous yellow liquid flowed
graph of the repair revealed a minute up round the threaded rod, to fill the
shadow not present in the original. air space. It took three minutes. The
The pressure of the supports had flat- system seemed to work.
tened the mould fractionally.
Gently, Grispigni fixed the rod into
Morresi promptly made a substi- the upper and lower arms. The two
tute and this time held it in place parts, ends coated with glue, were
with tape. The second attempt was fitted together and immobilised
marvellously successful; so was the with props. The vacuum pump was
replacement of the two tiny frag- switched on. Adhesive was sucked to
ments missing from the left nostril. the top of the cavity; an hour later it
Next day glue was flowed into a painstaking devotion and the skilled
cavity drilled in the hand – its shat- techniques of modern science, can
tered fingers already repaired in the restore lost beauty to the world.
laboratory – and then the hand was
slipped on to the steel rod protrud- Update: Laszlo Toth was never
ing from the wrist. More supports charged with a criminal offence.
held this final piece in place. At last, In January 1973, a Rome court
on the third day, with great cau- ordered him to be confined to a
tion, all props were removed. Would psychiatric hospital for at least two
everything hold? It did. An audible years. In February 1975, he was
sigh of relief went round the chapel; released and sent back to Australia,
the surgery had been successful. where he was not detained by the
authorities. There is no certainty
Finally, the marble was washed about his subsequent days, with
with distilled water, restoring its some reports saying he lived a
gleaming translucency. Save for one hermit-like existence in a remote
hammer-scar at the back of the veil, part of New South Wales.
purposely left as evidence of the at- Toth died in 2012.
tack, the Pietà was again perfect.
Today an estimated ten million
On March 25, 1973, the Pietà was people a year visit St Peter’s
once more revealed to visitors. It is a Basilica. The Pietà is the only
tragic irony that we now have to piece Michaelangelo ever signed.
view the serene face of the Madonna During its restoration after the
through a bullet-proof glass screen, attack, workers discovered a secret
for the age we live in is one of vio- signature. Hidden in the folds of
lence. Yet it is also an age where a Mary’s left palm was a subtle ‘M’.
few peaceful men, working with
How’s That Again?
RD DECEMBER 1987
Sign in a supermarket: ‘Aunt & Roach Killer. $I.29.’
contributed by kathy guthmuller
Announcement in a community bulletin: ‘Peacemaking meeting
scheduled for today cancelled due to a conflict.’
south salem bulletin
Letter to the editor: “I would like to thank the ambulance team for
their support and care during my recent demise.” post falls tribune
66 january 2022
QUIPS AND ONE-LINERS
◆ Child’s definition: an adult is Don’t question
one who has stopped growing
judgement – look
except in the middle. whom she married.
◆ It’s not how old you are but how DENVER POST
you are old. MARIE DRESSLER JUNE 1964
◆ Some men grow under ◆ Fashion’s new wider and
responsibility, others only swell. deeper neckline has been tagged
‘The Open Dior’.
◆ Our barber looked at a
QUOTED BY ELIZABETH CLARKSON ZWART
young man’s sleek hair and IN DES MOINES TRIBUNE
asked if he wanted it cut, or just ◆ The difference between an itch
the oil changed. and an allergy is about $25.
◆ Our doctor calls them his ROGER ALLEN IN GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
‘Impatients.’ WALTER WINCHELL ◆ It may be possible to bypass all of
◆ Why is it that they always speak America when the federal highway
system is completed.
of a doctor ‘practising’?
HERBERT SPENCER IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
◆ If you think politics is easy, try ◆ June is a girl’s idea of the perfect
standing on a fence while keeping end to a marry chase.
one ear to the ground. JUDGE DAN BENNETT
◆ An old saying: fish and visitors ◆ Remember way back when a
spoil after the third day. capsule travelled inside a man?
Nothing makes a toy CHANGING TIMES,
more educational for a THE KIPLINGER MAGAZINE
child than having his
father trip over it.
FR ANKLIN P. JONES IN THE
SATURDAY EVENING POST
68 january 2022
ILLUSTRATION: ALAMY AUGUST 1996
When a pup call Pongo bounced
into the playwright’s life, she
couldn’t know this would be the
starting point for a Disney classic
BY Valerie Grove
uthor Dodie Smith sat down nervously in the
London cinema. It was Christmas 1960, and
this was a special preview of Walt Disney’s
A animated film, 101 Dalmatians. What would
Disney’s artists have made of her distinctively
English story, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, written
for English children, about dogs in England? From her time
screenwriting in Hollywood, she knew how stories were
adjusted in translation to the big screen.
Dodie’s ner vousness increased make fur coats. The puppies’ escape
when she saw that instead of her and their suspense-filled trip back
young couple, Mr and Mrs Dearly, home to Regent’s Park provided a
setting up home with their dogs happy, heart-warming ending. Would
Pongo and Missis Pongo, Disney had it be a success? Dodie’s career badly
created a pipe-smoking, song-writ- needed a boost, but the story meant
ing bachelor looking for a wife. But much more to her than that.
at least he lived in Regent’s Park,
the very specific setting for the book DALMATIANS had been a part of
and Dodie’s favourite place in Lon- Dodie Smith’s life ever since May
don. And his dog was called Pongo 3, 1934, her 38th birthday. She was
– the name of her own beloved first breakfasting in bed in her Dorset
Dalmatian. Square flat, elegantly furnished in
As the film progressed, she began style, when her fiancé Alec Beesley
to relax. The beautifully drawn pup- and her best friend, actress Phyllis
pies were as adorable and unruly as Morris, conspiratorially entered her
they were in life. The characters of room. On the bed they put a hatbox.
the network of Home Counties dogs It wriggled, the lid fell open, and out
linked by their “Twilight Barking” fell a Dalmatian puppy.
telegraph were just as she had de-
vised them. The Suffolk countryside, Dodie’s reaction was less than ec-
where Pongo and his mate Perdita static. True, she had loved dogs since
search for their lost pups, was drawn her childhood, when she had been
with admirable accuracy. obsessively fond of animals. Now,
after an unsuccessful struggle to
Dominating the scenes was the be an actress and a job at a London
terrifying villainess Cruella da Vil, furnishing shop (where she had met
determined to kidnap the puppies to
70 january 2022
Dodie’s Darling Dalmations
Alec), she was at the peak of her fame first. When she and Alec, now her
as a playwright, four years after her assistant and business manager,
first big success, Autumn Crocus. A bought an open-topped Rolls-Royce,
strong-featured brunette, just 1.52 it had a glass partition so that Pongo
metres tall, she always dressed up for could sit in warmth inside.
her first nights, sometimes in a white As Britain mobilised for war in early
satin gown with a black velvet bolero 1939, Dodie’s best-known play, Dear
and white camellias, when she would Octopus, was filling the Queen’s The-
joke that all she needed to complete atre every night. But the author turned
the picture was a Dalmatian. her back on success – she was then
But she wanted to earning £12,000 a year
choose one for her- – to sail for America,
self, preferably a tiny PONGO, WITH and exile. Alec was a
puppy that had not HIS DALMATIAN conscientious objec-
yet got its spots, not ‘SMILE’, SEEMED tor and out of loyalty
this lolloping creature TO KNOW THAT to him she agreed to
with enormous paws. NOW HE WOULD leave the country, al-
Besides, she was re- though she always re-
hearsing her third BE LOVED gretted it. Of course,
play, Touch Wood, FOR LIFE they took Pongo with
and couldn’t cope them. As they drove
with house-training round California,
a puppy. She sent Pongo and the Rolls al-
Pongo, as she named ways gathered crowds.
him, back to his kennels until after But Pongo did not survive long in
her play opened to rapturous reviews. America. Dodie sat by him during
The next day, she was photographed his last days, prostate with grief. Af-
with Pongo in her flat. Newspaper ter his death, at the age of only seven,
reviews said the play was the work she soon decided that, to avoid being
of “one of our most successful play- obsessed by one dog, they should get
wrights”, but Dodie herself captioned another – or, better still, two. They
the pictures “Portrait of a Happy chose a young liver-spotted male,
Woman”. Even Pongo, with his Dal- always known as Bizz, and a black-
matian ‘smile’, seemed to know that and-white female they named Folly.
now he would be loved for life. In mid-1943 Dodie and Alec, who
had married but never had children,
SOON PONGO WAS MUCH MOR E decided to mate Buzz and Folly. Told
than a photogenic asset. She became to expect a litter of up to ten, they
devoted to him, putting his comfort watched with concern as Folly gave
birth ... ten, 11, 12. The 13th puppy Essex, vowing to never again leave
was born seemingly lifeless. Alex them for more than a few hours.
wrapped it in a towel and gently Their joy at being back in England
rubbed it until it gave a little gasp and was clouded by Dodie’s lack of suc-
moved its tiny limbs. “I felt like God,” cess – critical and financial. In the
Alec always said, when telling the era of the kitchen-sink drama, with
story. This puppy became the Cadpig John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger
of Dodie’s book. about to flourish, her drawing-room
The final tally was 15 puppies. comedies were cruelly out of fash-
Homes were found for 14 of them, but ion: I Capture the Castle ran for only
they kept their favour- six weeks. She’d writ-
ite, Dandy. Their three ten three plays that
dogs became their THE FILM BROKE hadn’t found favour
Dalmatian family, BOX-OFFICE with a producer. So it
sleeping on pillows RECORDS AND was in a spirit of re-
beside their beds. The BECAME ONE bellion that at Christ-
Dalmatians also be- OF DISNEY’S mas 1954 – having just
came an obstacle to GREATEST bought an Enid Blyton
returning to England. EPICS book for a neighbour’s
How could they sub- child – she began to
ject their beloved an- wonder if she might
imals to quarantine? herself write for chil-
But finally they did dren. And what better
return. The war was subjects than her dar-
over, and Dodie had never stopped ling Dalmatians? She remembered
missing England. The dramatisa- the seed of a story about a wicked
tion of her novel I Capture the Cas- woman who steals Dalmatian pup-
tle was soon to be put on in London, pies for her fur farm, sown 20 years
and the Beesley entourage arrived at earlier when a friend remarked on
Southampton in October 1953. Usu- first seeing Pongo: “He’d make a nice
ally heavily involved in casting and fur coat.” That December night, she
direction, Dodie was more concerned sat up until 3am by candlelight, and
with visiting the dogs in quarantine, let the plot of The Hundred and One
paying for extra meat and heated Dalmatians unfold.
kennels. In seven weeks she had completed
At last, in April 1954, Dogs’ Free- the first draft of her tale of Pongo,
dom Day dawned. They took the dogs a canine Sherlock Holmes, and his
back to their whitewashed, thatched quest for the puppies stolen by the
cottage in the village of Finchingfield, evil Cruella and incarcerated in a
72 january 2022
Dodie’s Darling Dalmations
forbidding mansion call Hell Hall. The only thing Dodie lacked now
She never thought she could write “a was her own Dalmatian. Dandy had
little book about dogs”, but in the end died in 1955 and been buried beside
it wasn’t difficult; those dogs and the his parents in the garden. Each dog’s
countryside through which they trav- death caused Dodie agonies. Dalma-
elled were all so dear to her. tians were, after all, the nearest thing
to motherhood she ever experienced.
HER PUBLISHER, HEINEMANN, en- After six years, unable to bear the
gaged twin artists Anne and Janet pangs every time they passed the
Grahame-Johnstone to illustrate the corner where the dog-baskets had
book. They drove to Essex to observe been, she and Alec acquired another
Dodie’s three Dalmatians, capturing Dalmatian. They called him Disney,
the breed’s athleticism and graceful, after Walt, whose film had restored
horse-like gait in brilliant drawings. Dodie’s reputation and ensured an
Ever a perfectionist, Dodie insisted income for the rest of her life.
that the cottages, farms and villages in
the background also had to look right. Though Dodie felt a little wistful, in
later years, that the film had eclipsed
The book, which appeared at Christ- her earlier fame as a playwright and
mas 1956, was an instant success. novelist, she consoled herself that she
Then came a dramatic development: did not really mind being immortal-
the Walt Disney organisation offered ised by her favourite breed of dog.
$42,000 for the film rights. The film As she said, no human being apart
cost $5.8 million to make – 300 artists from her husband had ever meant
toiled for three years on the meticu- as much to her as her dogs. “As one
lous drawings. During this time Walt grows older, one tires of many things
Disney himself visited Dodie. He de- and people. But one will never be too
scribed how his people had feared old for dogs.”
that the scene in which the starving
puppies are suckled by some kindly In the last years of her life, there
cows might cause offence, but he had were two more Dalmatians. The last
insisted on keeping it. one, Charley, was an unusually vi-
cious, teeth-bearing character who
The film broke box-office records stole food, bit people and could knock
and became one of Disney’s great- Dodie over with ease. But towards
est animated epics, filling cinemas the end, when the widowed Dodie,
whenever it was revived. Pongo lives frail and bedridden, was alone in her
on in millions of toys marketed by cottage, he would guard her bedside.
Disney, and Dodie’s book has be- When she was taken into a nursing
come a classic loved by every new home a few months before her death
generation of children. age 94 in 1990, Charley – having
bitten the postman in a final gesture an eight-week-old puppy we called
– died of a broken heart and was bur- Beesley, after Dodie’s married name.
ied with the other Dalmatians.
Beezle, as he is now known, looks
DODIE WOULD HAVE BEEN both de- uncannily like Pongo. He is full of
lighted and amused that the Disney Dalmatian spirit at its best – “a dog
organisation is now filming a ‘live’ ver- prepared to love every human being
sion of 101 Dalmatians at Shepperton on sight”, as Dodie said. To me, he is
Studios, using more than 200 real Dal- Dodie’s eighth Dalmatian.
matian puppies and with Glenn Close
as Cruella. Update: In 2021, Walt Disney
Pictures released a crime comedy,
She might have been amused, too, Cruella, starring Emma Stone and
to know that in writing her biogra- based on the character of Cruella de
phy I was also afflicted with Dalma- Vil. It was a box-office success, and a
tian mania. On the dark November sequel is planned.
night when I finished the book, I
decided that our family lacked that THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RECORDED
essential black-and-white spot- AS AN RD TALKS PODCAST FOR YOUR
ted dog. The next day, I drove to LISTENING PLEASURE. TO LISTEN, GO TO
the nearest breeder and acquired WWW.RDASIA.COM/PODCASTS
R D J U N E 1957, RD DECEMBER 1987 AND RD APRIL 1960
Author-psychologist wants secretary, university graduate who has
majored in any subject but psychology. The New York Times
Free Persian-style home accessories in black fur or smart grey
stripes. Perfect hearth decorations! Male and female models come
equipped with automatic purr and built-in washing attachment.
Golf clubs – must sell or get divorce. Toronto Telegram
In a death notice: The deceased had requested that there be no
flowers (due to her allergies). Elmira StarGazette
The University Symphony Orchestra will have its first rehearsal
Wednesday in Crouse Auditorium. Louis Krasner, conductor, will
be available for consolation from 6.30 on. The Syracuse University Orange
74 january 2022
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MARCH 1946 ILLUSTRATION: GETTY IMAGES
K r a k atoa
When the Indonesian volcanic island
of Krakatoa erupted in 1883, its shock
waves were felt right around the world
BY Ernst Behrendt
76 january 2022
he world is awed by the might of the blasts that
devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but there
was an explosion once that was incomparably
T greater. Those atomic bombs flattened two cities,
yet people a few dozen miles away were oblivious
of the fact. When the East Indies island of Krakatoa blew
up, on 27 August 1883, the whole world knew about it. The
noise was heard 3000 miles [nearly 5000 kilometres] away.
The great waves the explosion Krakatoa was a volcanic island of
caused in the sea reached the shores about 18-square miles in the Sunda
of four continents and were recorded Strait, in the Dutch East Indies [now
8000 miles away. An air wave gen- called Indonesia], between Java and
erated by the blast travelled clear Sumatra.
round the world, not once but several
times. And where had been a moun- Early in the spring of 1883, there
tain half a mile high was now a hole a were warning signs. Smoke and
thousand feet deep and miles across. steam poured from recent fissures
in the rock. A river of lava cut a wide
Red-hot debris covered an area swath through the tangled jungle.
larger than France, to a depth of But the Dutch in Java and Sumatra
sometimes 100 feet on land. For were not alarmed. Old Krakatoa had
nearly a year afterwards the dust of puffed and rumbled before. Even
the explosion, blown upwards for when the Dutch Captain Ferzenaar
30 miles, filled the high atmosphere arrived in Batavia in August with a
over almost the whole globe. Even report that two new volcanoes had
though there were no large towns appeared on Krakatoa, the Dutch
within 100 miles of the volcano, were not impressed. There were
36,000 persons lost their lives. scores of volcanoes in Indonesia;
besides, Krakatoa was almost a hun-
The biggest blast in history was dred miles away.
caused by nothing more mysterious
than the old-fashioned force which “The ground was so hot it burned
rattles the lid on a tea-kettle. But right through the soles of my boots,”
the fire under the kettle was a mile- Captain Ferzenaar said. Well, if it
long pocket of seething lava and it was that warm on Krakatoa the few
changed a cubic mile of ocean into people who lived there would have to
super-heated steam. The lid blew off take to their boats and wait until the
and the kettle exploded as well. island cooled off.
78 january 2022
When Krakatoa Blew Up
Captain Ferzenaar was the last for- flew open as if pushed by invisible
eigner to set foot on Krakatoa before hands. Everybody rushed into the
the eruption. By this time navigation streets. Another deafening explosion,
through Sunda Strait was becoming and then everything was quiet as if
difficult. Several skippers turned the volcano had ceased to exist.”
back when they saw the narrows cov- The volcano had ceased to exist.
ered with a foot-thick layer of cinders. Seething with the expansion of its
But the captain of one freighter bat- gases, the white-hot lava found tem-
tened down the hatches and calmly porary outlets in the two craters seen
sailed through the hissing sea. His by Ferzenaar, which normally acted
cargo – kerosene! as safety valves. But
No one after him at- the pressure became
tempted the passage. THE CAPTAIN OF too great. Unimagi-
By now K ra katoa’s ONE FREIGHTER nable energies were
rumblings had grown straining against hun-
into a continuous, an- SAILED dreds of feet of solid
gry roar heard along THROUGH THE rock overhead. The
the entire east coast HISSING SEA. rock heaved, buckled;
of Java. In Buiten- HIS CARGO – on the evening of 26
zorg, 61 miles from August it cracked wide
Krakatoa, people KEROSENE! open like the wall of a
were seeking shel- defective cauldron.
ter from what they With all the fury of a
thought was a gather- primordial cataclysm,
ing thunderstorm. a stream of lava burst forth in a deaf-
ening roar. Seconds later the ocean
“I N T H E A F T ER NOON of 26 Au- rushed into the opening. On contact
gust,” R.D.M. Verbeck wrote in his with the hot lava the water changed
description of the catastrophe, “the into superheated steam. Colossal
low rumbling was interrupted by blocks of granite and obsidian rock-
sharp, reverberating detonations. eted upwards amid a cloud of dust
They grew louder and more frequent. and smoke. Again the ocean rushed
People were terrified. Night came, in, battling the pent-up lava, chang-
but no one thought of sleeping. To- ing into expanding, exploding super-
wards morning the incessant noise heated steam, breaking down barrier
was drowning out every other sound. after barrier of rock.
Suddenly, shortly before seven, there No one knows how many times
was a tremendous explosion. Build- the white-hot magma pushed back
ings shook, walls cracked and doors the ocean and how often the ocean
returned to the assault. In the end the WITH THE NOISE, concentric waves
water won. Early in the morning of 27 of air started on their way around the
August the ocean reached the volcanic globe. A day and a half after the explo-
centre of the island. Even the fury of sion, the first of them hit London from
the previous explosions was but a faint the west. Then a second wave rushed
prelude to the final cataclysm as the over the city from the east. Four times
heart was ripped out of Krakatoa and the east-bound wave swept over Lon-
14 cubic miles [60 cubic kilometres] don – and over Berlin, St Petersburg
of rock streaked upwards into the sky. and Valencia as well – and three times
The sun was blotted out behind a it swept back. The stratospheric see-
curtain of ebony torn saw continued for
by jagged lightning. more than ten days
Miles away, Krakatoa’s A WALL before the blast had
pyrotechnics awed the OF WATER, spent its force.
sailors of the British
ship, Charles Bal, who 50 FEET Far more violent
saw the island shoot HIGH, WAS was the effect of the
up over the horizon, ADVANCING AT eruption on the sea.
“shaped like a pine INCREDIBLE In Anjer, on the west
tree brilliantly illu- coast of Java, a retired
minated by electric SPEED sea captain suddenly
noticed a new island
flashes”. The sea was which had bobbed
covered with innu- up in the strait. The
merable fish, floating next moment he was
belly-up on the churning water. running for his life. The island was
Long afterwards came the noise a wall of water, 50 feet high, advanc-
– the loudest ever heard by human ing across the narrows at incredible
ears. “The concussions were deaf- speed, battering down the wharves,
ening,” wrote a Lloyd’s agent in Bat- engulfing Anjer, racing uphill, smash-
avia, a hundred miles away. They ing everything in its path. The wave
hammered every ear-drum in Java flung a log at him, and he went down.
and Sumatra and put fear into the When he regained consciousness he
hearts of Borneo’s head-hunters. was sitting on the top of a tree half a
People in Victoria Plains, Australia, mile inland, stripped of every shred
1700 miles to the eastward, were of clothing but otherwise unharmed.
startled by what seemed to be artil- He was one of the few who saw the
lery fire. The sound waves travelled wave and lived to describe its fury. An-
2968 miles westward to Rodriguez jer had vanished. The wave, rising to
Island near Madagascar. a height of a hundred feet, wiped out
80 january 2022
When Krakatoa Blew Up
scores of villages and killed thousands faded, and Krakatoa’s magnificent
of people. On the coast of Sumatra, shroud disappeared. The final chap-
the wave tore the warship Beroun ter in its history seemed to be over.
from her moorings and drove her, an- Krakatoa was utterly dead. Nothing
chor dragging, two miles inland, leav- was left of it but a few square miles
ing her stranded in the jungle, 30 feet of rock buried under a mountain of
above sea level. ashes. All plants and insects and
birds and mammals had been dis-
The wave raced across the entire solved in a fiery cloud.
width of the Indian Ocean. When it
reached Cape Town, 5100 miles away, THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED – the
it was still over a foot high. It rounded miracle of the rebirth of life. Four
the Cape of Good Hope, returned months after the eruption, a botanist
northward into the Atlantic, along found an almost microscopic spider,
the coast of Africa, and at last spent gallantly spinning its web where
itself in the English Channel. nothing was to be caught. It had ap-
parently drifted in on the wind.
Whole districts of Indonesia were
buried under ashes; the jungles were And then after a few years came the
choked, the rice paddies changed grasses and shrubs, the worms, ants,
into deserts. The sky was so filled snakes and birds. They arrived by
with ash that for a time lamps were air – seeds dropped by birds on their
needed all day in Batavia. flight over the barren land; small cat-
erpillars carried by the wind; beetles
But what covered the land and the and butterflies winging their way
sea was only a small part of the vol- over from Java and Sumatra. They
cano. Most of Krakatoa’s solid rock arrived by water – eggs of worms and
had been pulverised and blasted to reptiles flung ashore with flotsam;
a height of 150,000 feet. Clouds of snails and scorpions riding waves
volcanic dust hung suspended in the on decayed tree trunks; pythons and
stratosphere for months. Air currents crocodiles swimming across the nar-
carried them across oceans and con- rows. Parasites clung to their bodies.
tinents. All over the world, the rays of
the sun were filtered through a veil Plants and animals came over by
spun in the depths of Sunda Strait. In accident, but there was nothing acci-
Paris, New York, Cairo and London, dental about the sequence in which
the setting sun appeared blue, leaden, they established themselves. It was a
green and copper-coloured, and at rigid chronological pattern telescop-
night the Earth was steeped in the ing millennia into months. Some
light of a green moon and green stars. forms of life had to be there first so
that others could live.
The phenomenon lasted into the
spring of 1884; then the colours
For a while some forms prospered broke the surface and showed its top,
through the absence of enemies and a flat, ugly island a few hundred feet
competitors. Around 1910, Krakatoa across, which the waves washed away
was overrun by swarms of ants; ten a few days later.
years later, when there were plenty of
birds and reptiles, the ants had all but A year passed. Then suddenly a gey-
disappeared. ser began to spout steam and ashes.
Sulphurous fumes drifted over the
By 1919 the first small clusters of ocean. Again the sea was covered with
trees had taken root, and by 1924 they dead fish floating belly-up.
had grown into a continuous forest. A
few years later, climbing plants were The new geyser is still there. It is a
already choking the trees to death portion of the ancient crater rim with
and transforming the new forest into mud deposited on top and a flue in its
a tropical jungle with orchids, butter- centre – a safety value for the stupen-
flies, snakes, numerous birds and bats. dous pressure generated by the lava
pocket underneath. The locals call the
Krakatoa became a naturalist’s par- new volcano ‘Anak Krakatoa’, the
adise, and the Dutch made it a nature ‘Child of Krakatoa’. No name could be
reserve and allowed no one but sci- more ominous.
entists to set foot on the island. They
worked out a complete inventory of FROM NATURE MAGAZINE. ©1946, AMERICAN
life on Krakatoa. They counted the NATURE ASSOCIATION
steadily growing number of new ar-
rivals and observed how they lived Update: Anak Krakatau’s most recent
with each other and fought each other. eruptions were on April 10, 2020.
They even discovered several sub-spe- The first eruption, which lasted one
cies – birds and butterflies with pecu- minute and 12 seconds, started at
liar characteristics not to be found 9.58pm and spewed out a 200-metre-
anywhere else. Krakatoa was not only high column of ash and smoke. A
drawing on the forms of life around it; second eruption, lasting 38 minutes
it was creating a life of its own. and 4 seconds, came 37 minutes
later, spewing out a 500-metre-high
Then, one day, the scientists dis- column of ash. But don’t be alarmed –
covered another sort of life stirring volcanologist Jess Phoenix said at the
on Krakatoa. The old volcano was time that the 2020 eruptions were a
not dead. Deep down under its rocky perfectly normal occurrence.
foundation a pocket of lava was seek-
ing an outlet for its energies. The bot- THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RECORDED
tom of the inland sea was heaving and
buckling again. A submarine cone was AS AN RD TALKS FOR YOUR LISTENING
building up; on 26 January 1928, it
PLEASURE. TO LISTEN, GO TO WWW.RDASIA.
82 january 2022
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
HUMOUR ON THE JOB
AUGUST 1992 ◆ Members of our strategic-
◆ Arriving at my first job as an planning department pride
themselves on their ability to be
office temp, I sat down at the prepared. One morning the vice
computer terminal and turned it president called a colleague and me
on. Fortunately it was menu-driven, to his office and began describing an
making it easy for me to use the important project.
software. The menu gave me three
choices: Opening my portfolio, I was
embarrassed to discover just one
1. Go to Microsoft Word piece of blank paper. As the executive
2. Go to DOS continued, I scribbled the facts on
3. Go to the Bahamas both sides of the paper and then on
Admitting the creative humour the cardboard of my note pad. My
of the programmer. I smiled and, colleague passed me a couple of
curious, chose the third option, the sheets of paper, yet she did hardly
Bahamas. The computer screen any writing. Later, when I asked her
responded: “Don’t you wish!” why her notations had been so brief,
she replied, “My pen ran out of ink.”
JEANNINE M. FERTIG
◆ As a real-estate agent, I often advise
◆ At a landscaping business, six
my clients how to make their houses
more marketable. Two weeks after workers were standing around
suggesting that one client do some chatting and laughing. A ute was
repairs, I received a call from him. reversing towards them in order
to load some plants, when the
“I fixed the leaking roof, replaced company’s owner’s car approached.
the gutters and painted inside and The employees immediately sprang
out,” he told me. into action. With serious expressions
and purposeful gestures, all six of
“Good,” I replied. “Are you ready to them directed the one little vehicle
sell your house?” back the last three metres. ALAM KHAN
“No, I’m sorry,” he apologised.
“Now I have no reason to move.”
84 january 2022
All In A Day’s Work
◆ When my firm purchased new ◆ My first day on the job at a major
telephones, a summer intern was tea company, the fellow who was
instructed to key in the numbers for conducting my orientation asked me
the automatic-dialling feature on if I had any questions. “This seems
each employee’s phone. like a great place to work,” I said, “but
there are always drawbacks. What
I had him enter two numbers for are they here?”
my home, one that could be dialled
through the company-owned phone “No coffee breaks,” he replied.
line and the other for direct dial, in
case the firm’s line was busy. FRANK J. DAVIS SR
Shortly after the intern finished, ◆ I managed an ice-cream stand that
I had a visitor from corporate
headquarters. When he needed a employed mostly teenagers. They
phone, I offered him mine. were like a second family to me, so it
was difficult to dismiss one spoiled
“Your personal life is none of my youngster who didn’t carry her share
business,” the visitor commented of work and was always telling others
after making his call. “But you what to do. Her sister applied for the
should be more discreet.” He vacancy. On the application form,
pointed to the labels on the she answered the question “Why do
automatic-dialling buttons. They you want to work here?” by writing:
read: ‘HOME-1’ and ‘HOME-2’. “My sister told me she was fired
because she was bossy. I figured that
CURTIS FAHSHOLZ since you and I think so much alike,
I’d fit right in!”
DEBORAH K. SAXION
CARTOON: PHILIP SCHEUER ◆ As the deadline for a major project
drew near at our publishing firm,
both our fax machines were put to
the test. Secretaries were sending
and receiving messages and making
last-minute corrections. One young
assistant, holding a handful of new
instructions to be distributed to
various departments, asked the
office manager, “Whatever did we do
before fax machines?” A man of few
words, the manager replied, “We did
things on time.” C. RICHARD COTTON
86 january 2022
ILLUSTRATION: GETTY IMAGES COMPOSITE A
The most precious gift to give
or receive is love
BY Fulton Oursler
ete Richards was the loneliest man in town on
the day Jean Grace opened his door. You may
have seen something in the newspapers about the
P incident at the time it happened, although neither
his name nor hers was published, nor was the full
story told as I tell it here.
Pete’s shop had come down to him blue beads in the window?” Pete
from his grandfather. The little front parted the draperies and lifted out
window was strewn with a disarray a necklace. The turquoise stones
of old-fashioned things: bracelets and gleamed brightly against the pallor of
lockets worn a century ago, gold rings his palm as he spread the ornament
and silver boxes, images of jade and before her.
ivory, porcelain figurines.
“They’re just perfect,” said the
On this winter’s afternoon a child child, entirely to herself. “Will you
was standing there, her forehead wrap them up pretty for me, please?”
against the glass, earnest and enor-
mous eyes studying each discarded Pete studied her with a stony air.
treasure, as if she were looking for “Are you buying these for someone?”
something quite special. Finally she
straightened up with a satisfied air “They’re for my big sister. She takes
and entered the store. care of me. You see, this will be the
first Christmas since mother died.
The shadowy interior of Pete Rich- I’ve been looking for the most won-
ards’ establishment was even more derful present for my sister.”
cluttered than his show window.
Shelves were stacked with jewel “How much money do you have?”
caskets, duelling pistols, clocks and asked Pete warily.
lamps, and the floor was heaped with
andirons and mandolins and things She had been busily untying the
hard to find a name for. knots in a handkerchief and now she
poured out a handful of pennies on
Behind the counter stood Pete him- the counter.
self, a man not more than 30, but with
hair already turning grey. There was “I emptied my bank,” she ex-
a bleak air about him as he looked at plained simply.
the small customer who flattened her
ungloved hands on the counter. Pete Richards looked at her
thoughtfully. Then he carefully drew
“Mister,” she began, “would you back the necklace. The price tag was
please let me look at that string of visible to him but not her. How could
he tell her? The trusting look of her
blue eyes smote him like the pain of
an old wound.
88 january 2022
A String Of Blue Beads
“Just a minute,” he said, and turned He was politely attentive to cus-
towards the back of the store. Over tomers, but after business hours his
his shoulder he called, “What’s your world seemed irrevocably empty. He
name?” He was ver y busy about was trying to forget in a self-pitying
something. haze that deepened day by day.
“Jean Grace.” The blue eyes of Jean Grace jolted
When Pete turned to where Jean him into acute remembrance of what
Grace waited, a package lay in his he had lost. The pain of it made him
hand, wrapped in scarlet paper and recoil from the exuberance of holiday
tied with a bow of green ribbon. shoppers.
“There you are,” he During the next ten
said shortly. “Don’t days trade was brisk;
lose it on the way THE TURQUOISE chattering women
home.” STONES swarmed in, fingering
GLEAMED trinkets, trying to bar-
She smiled happily BRIGHTLY gain. When the last
at him over her shoul- AGAINST customer had gone,
der as she ran out of late on Christmas Eve,
the door. Through the THE PALLOR he sighed with relief.
window he watched OF HIS PALM It was over for another
her go, while des- year. But for Pete Rich-
olation flooded his
thoughts. ards the night was not
Something about quite over.
Jean Grace and her The door opened
string of beads had stirred him to and a young woman hurried in. With
depths of a grief that would not stay an inexplicable start, he realised that
buried. The child’s hair was wheat she looked familiar, yet he could not
yellow, her eyes sea blue, and once remember when or where he had
upon a time, not long before, Pete seen her before. Her hair was golden
had been in love with a girl with hair yellow and her large eyes were blue.
of that same yellow and eyes just as Without speaking, she drew from her
blue. And the turquoise necklace was purse a package loosely unwrapped
to have been hers. in its red paper, a bow of green ribbon
But there had come a rainy night with it. Presently the string of blue
– a truck skidding on a slippery road beads lay gleaming again before him.
– and the life was crushed out of his “Did this come from your shop?”
dream. she asked.
Since then Pete Richards had lived Pete raised his eyes to hers and an-
too much with his grief in solitude. swered softly, “Yes, it did.”
“Are the stones real?” the counter, the question in the eyes
“Yes. But not the finest quality.” of the girl and the strange feeling of
“Can you remember who it was you renewal struggling unreasonably in
sold it to?” the heart of the man, all had come to
“She was a small girl. Her name be because of the love of a child.
was Jean. She bought them for her
older sister’s Christmas present.” “But why did you do it?”
“How much are they worth?” He held out the gift in his hand.
“The price,” he told her solemnly, “It’s already Christmas morning,”
“is always a confidential matter be- he said. “And it’s my misfortune that
tween the seller and the customer.” I have no one to give anything to.
“But Jean has never had more than Will you let me see you home and
a few pennies of spending money. wish you a Merry Christmas at your
How could she pay for them?” door?”
Pete was folding the gay paper back And so, to the sound of many
into its creases, rewrapping the little bells and in the midst of happy peo-
package just as neatly as before. ple, Pete Richards and a girl whose
“She paid the biggest price anyone name he had yet to learn walked out
can ever pay,” he said. “She gave all into the beginning of the great day
she had.” that brings hope into the world for
There was a silence then that filled us all.
the little curio shop.
In some far-away steeple, a bell be- THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RECORDED
gan to ring. The sound of the distant AS AN RD TALKS PODCAST FOR YOUR
chiming, the little package lying on LISTENING PLEASURE. TO LISTEN, GO TO
RD APRIL 1988 AND RD DECEMBER 1970
Son looking at kite with father: “What do you mean run with it?
Doesn’t it have any batteries?” stewart, king features
Little girl to parents bringing home new baby: “Sure I wanted a
brother – but I didn’t want him necessarily to live here.” hoest, in parade
Teenager to mother: “Gee whiz, Mum, ‘wanting to make the
world a better place to live in’ and ‘cleaning up one’s room’
are two different things.” leo garel, king features
90 january 2022
Towards a More
TWISTS AND TURNS OF PHRASE
SEPTEMBER 1953 By soft-drink
◆ The cicadas buzzing the doorbell
of autumn. thirst served.”
◆ Wheat fields with crew cuts. ◆ In maternity shop window:
◆ Summer rusting into autumn.
◆ The sunset gift-wrapped the day. “You should have danced all night.”
When she says she has a ◆ The contents of a woman’s purse
boyish figure, that’s straight from
the shoulder. prove that she can take it with her.
◆ She is blessed with a sympathetic ◆ In a hardware store: “We sell
disposition, but she wastes it on window glass (and footballs).”
◆ Our toaster is the kind that has given us a
new ailment –
doesn’t ring a bell when the toast is
done – it sends up smoke signals. cauliflower
◆ A man will always pay a fancy
figure for checking his hat.
◆ Golf is a game where the ball
lies poorly and the player well.
◆ Peering above, probing
beneath, curling her lashes,
brushing her teeth, daubing her
face with every new mixture, the
teenage daughter’s a bathroom
MAY 1949 IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES
The story of a young engineer determined
to develop tubeless tyres, making punctures
and deflating less likely
BY Myron Stearns
CONDENSED FROM POPUL AR SCIENCE MONTHLY
92 january 2022
ecently a motorist stopped at a service
station to have his car greased. While it was
R in the hydraulic hoist, a mechanic called his
attention to a nail in one of the tyres.
“Want it changed?” he asked. pierced it, making a half-inch metal
“Let’s have your pliers a moment,” vent. But in general, the risk of sud-
the motorist countered. den blow-outs is eliminated.
He pulled out a long nail. The me-
chanic waited for the air to hiss out. Efforts to make tyres blow-out-
It didn’t. This was the new tubeless proof have been going on for years.
motor-car tyre, puncture-sealing and Since the 1930s the Goodyear Tyre
highly resistant to blow-outs. & Rubber Company has had on sale
The makers expect that the new a premium-priced double-lining in-
casting will eventually change all ner tube called ‘Lifeguard’. At the
tyre manufacture. New York World’s Fair ten years ago,
For the benefit of a newsreel pho- the B.F Goodrich Company, makers
tographer, one of the new tyres was of the new tubeless tyres, exhibited
run over a board with six big nails tubes made with a sealing layer of
sticking out of it 50 times. That would soft, partially vulcanised rubber that
have meant a multitude of punctures immediately closes any small open-
for any ordinary tyre, yet the new tyre ing. Bulletproof petrol tanks that car-
lost no air. ried warplanes through enemy gun-
In a car equipped with tubeless fire used the same principle. But the
tyres a policeman was on a chase, greater cost of the safety tubes (about
throttle to the f loor, when a loud four times that of ordinary types) has
clack-clack clack began against the held them back. With tubeless cas-
footpath. Instead of slowing up or ings a good share of the price barrier
stopping he kept on and got his man. has been overcome.
Then he investigated. A heavy bolt
had driven into the front tyre. He THE INVENTIVENESS and energy of
simply pulled it out and drove back Frank Herzegh, a young engineer for
to headquarters. Goodrich, brought about the new tyre.
The tubeless casings can be The idea grew directly from meeting
wrecked, but it’s difficult to do. Half combat-tyre requirements during the
a broken beer bottle, cutting a two- war. Even before the war the United
inch hole, might ruin them. One States Government had asked tyre
went flat when a piece of brass tubing manufacturers to develop a battle
tyre that could be run flat for at least
94 january 2022
At Last, Tyres Without Tubes
75 miles, after being riddled with bul- of it would hold air as well as a solid
lets or shell fragments. Both Germany inch of ordinary rubber.
and France had one filled with sponge To ensure an airtight fit, the casing
rubber. Improving on it, the British re- itself is made with rubber ridges along
inforced the sidewalls of a tough, air- the outside of the bead where it grips
filled tyre with extra rubber that would the rim. An extra layer of gum rub-
last for 50 miles running flat. ber makes the tyre puncture-sealing.
Eventually, with better rubber com- An ordinary valve, such as is used in
pounds for sidewall reinforcement, US regular inner tubes, is held in place in
experimenters got tyres that could run the customary hole in the rim by nuts
flat for 150 miles. Gen- screwed tight against
eral Patton’s success two rubber washers.
in his smashing drive “WHY NOT The new tyres are in-
through France into HAVE THE TYRE flated to the same pres-
Germany was due in sure as standard ones.
part to the new com- FIT TIGHTLY
bat casings. ENOUGH HERZEGH HIMSELF
The tough rubber THE RIM?” has used no inner
lining used in these tubes on his car since
combat tyres gave Her- 1942. However, un-
zegh his idea. “Since til last February, the
the lining extends all tubeless tyres were
around the inside of sold only in test
the casing,” he argued, “and keeps air areas. Production has been limited
out of the fabric, why not have the tyre because both factory handling and
fit tightly enough against the rim to servicing of the new casings must
hold in air and use no tube at all?” be thoroughly learned. Filling-sta-
In the face of the consensus of tion attendants have to know, for ex-
leading tyre experts that he was ample, that if a rim is bent or badly
wasting his time, Herzegh persisted pitted with rust the air will leak out.
in his experiments. Hundreds of Goodrich’s plans call for turning
different rubber compounds were out the tyres in sufficient quantity for
worked with to get a thin lining (in distribution soon. And already at
place of the thick combat-tyre lin- least three other companies are de-
ings) which would stick properly on veloping their own tubeless tyres.
the inside of the casing under all
conditions of flexing and heat. Butyl Editor’s Note: In 2020, the global
rubber eventually proved to be the automotive tyre market was valued
answer. A tenth-of-an-inch thickness at over US$187billion.
96 january 2022
ILLUSTRATION: GETTY IMAGES CRAWLING
Hard physical work taught me an
unforgettable lesson: you reap what you sow
BY Yu Yuh-Chao
have ploughed, planted, cut harvests, pickled tea
leaves and chopped wood in the isolated but beautiful
countryside of Kuanhsi in Taiwan. But of all the
I chores that are a farmer’s lot here, crawling in a
paddy field to rid it of weeds is, in my experience, the
task that trains one best to develop a Spartan spirit.
Nowadays, of course, the farmer legs. It felt as if little bugs were crawl-
need only use chemicals to kill weeds. ing all over me. If a drop of sweat ran
It was not so when I was a boy some into the eyes, it would trigger tears.
three decades ago. From the age of To prevent the sweat from running
eight or so, I had to contribute my into my eyes, I kept my face as low as
share of labour along with my father possible.
and two elder brothers, Yuh-hsien and
Yuh-tang. Our family was too poor to I told myself, Be patient! What good
afford paid labourers. Kneeling in a does it do to begrudge my lot? If my
paddy field with a hat, a shirt and a parents and brothers could go on tak-
pair of shorts my only protection, I was ing it, so I could I. A kind of pride took
up to my thighs in mud. It splashed all place of the hurt in me. So thinking,
over me, wet, sticky and dirty. When I slowly pulled myself together and I
mud splashed into my eyes and on to crawled on.
my lip, I’d stand up, find the kettle of
fresh water and try to wash it away; When I pulled out rotten plants,
but it was always a long struggle be- they had a raw stench. The mud was
fore I could get it completely out of my so slimy that it made my flesh creep.
eyes and off my lips. Standing up, ploughing or planting,
you didn’t feel it so much, but it hit
The first weeding of the year oc- you hard when you were working with
curred just before spring, and the your face close to the water.
second in midsummer. Then the blis-
tering sun beat upon my arched back, My skin often developed rashes and
making me feel like hot bread stuck my knees bled. The bamboo stakes
to the side of a pan. The evaporating and the bugs, worms and snakes in
water from the paddy field steamed the water cut and stung. Moreover,
up my nostrils and face. Between ten the small leeches sucked blood and
in the morning and four or five in the caused infection.
afternoon, when the air hardly stirred,
perspiration ran in rivulets, making On the way home every day, I’d soak
streaks on my mud-covered arms and myself in the creek and then take a hot
bath at home. I could not sit down and
eat dinner until I was sure that every
bit of dirt had been removed from my
98 january 2022