The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Old Bob's Dogmas
I was first attracted to old Bob, not so much by his almost perfect resemblance to his Bairns-fathered double, as by an original remark of his. Passing his bivvy I heard: "This barnishin' of bits and stirrups is goin' dead against the lors of Nature. Here's old Nature givin' us plenty of camoofiage in the shape of rust, and they nark her by rubbin' it off".
My laugh made Bob cock a questioning eye on me through the dense cloud of asphysey-lachrimatory smoke issuing from the down-pointing bowl of his pipe; and evidently coming to the conclusion that I was passable, he has, since then, at odd times, allowed me, metaphorically and actually, to sit at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom which, from time to time, drop like dewy pearls from his walrus-mous-tached lips.
Bob is oracular, but not ambiguous. Bob is dogmatic, but his dogma is always noteworthy through its originality. Three of his dogmatic utterances, in fact, are so original that I think it would be a pity if the war should draw to a close without some record having been made of them.
So consider first, Bob on beer. "Wot I says is: Wot is it sen's the kids ter school without boots? Wot is it makes the missus turn nasty and belt yer over yer loaf uv bread with the poker? Is it the beer? No! Wot is it? Why, the price of it, of course!"
Although Bob has no time for "them gaspers", he has a kindly dogma about tobacco smoke, which I find as soothing and excusing as Kings-ley's classical glorification.
"Wot I say is: Smokin's as natchral fer a man as eatin' or breavin'. For why? Any of you coves as knows anythin' of history will reck' lect, that fer millions of years everybody lived in huts, without chimbleys; and, natchraly, when chimbleys come along, they look round fer a substitoot fer the smoke?"
Finally, I look upon it as a duty to put on record Bob's "Theory of Life", possibly just as reasonable as Darwin's, or anybody else's, certainly quite as original. Here it is.
"The Origin of Life", says Bob, "is very easy if yer looks at the facts. First, look at the sponge—not referrin' to any of you chaps, but the or'nary barf sponge. Well, the barf sponge, when it's at home, looks like a live jelly-fish without the jelly. But it aint alive at all; it's just a floatin' home fer millions of insec's wot built it up. Same way as coves wot think we're just 'it' are just the same as them sponges, sort of Gran' Hotels for the millions of little red corpsesles wot built us up. Them little coves are the 'its'! Us blokes are on'y big sponges!"
Life holds no terrors for Old Bob. Here's to him!