Old folk at lunch

Sunday, July 8, 2018

More secret men's business


Once again four of us gathered on my verandah at 6pm.  Graham was up from Victoria -- with my brother, my son and myself making up the numbers.  And we didn't mention Mr Trump once! But there were some mentions of generic politics -- i.e. not naming any particular politicians but generalizing about Left and Right.

They all got the usual dish that I cook for such occasions: Savoury mince beef with noodles and veges all cooked up together  in  my big electric frypan. Thanks to a certain flavour sachet that I use, it all turns out reliably tasty.  We also had a good dessert sent along by my brother's wife.  It was liquid chocolate with marshmallows etc to dip in it.  Unusual but good.

As usual, my brother brought along some militaria from his collection for us look at and talk about. One thing was a WWII German "coal scuttle" steel helmet.  It was probably the best of the WWII helmets from most perspectives but it was HEAVY. I guess it was just coincidence but when I put it on my head the old 1950's wooden chair I was sitting on collapsed under me.

Anne used to complain about that chair being wonky so she was clearly right.  It was made at a time when the fashion in chairs was moving to tubular steel frames so was not as strongly made as the older wooden chairs -- of which I have some excellent examples.  So I will replace it rather than trying to fix it.  Anyway, the collapse amused everybody. Lucky there were no Leftists present so I didn't have any sympathy to ward off

My contribution to the "show and tell" was a couple of old daggers, one of which was just a modern Bowie knife, totally unused since I brought it 40 years ago from "Cathay Disposals" in Sydney -- so still shiny.  The second dagger looked more impressive but was very rusty -- so Graham kindly offered to work on polishing it up and sharpening it up -- though it was already fairly sharp on both its upper and lower blades despite the rust.

A couple of the other things my brother brought along were also from WWII, a pocket knife and a belt-buckle that both bore the motto Meine Ehre Heisst Treue, so they were artifacts of the Schutz Staffeln.  The literal meaning of the motto is "My honour is called trueness", which is pretty obscure in English.  I have had various stabs at translating it into idiomatic English but it is not easy.  The big difficulty is Treue.  I have previously struggled with its translation in connection with my interest in operetta. It is cognate with the English "True" and does have some similarity of meaning but the meaning is wider in German.  It means roughly faithfulness, trustworthiness, loyalty. In the popular culture of the German-speaking lands before WWII, blue eyes were seen as a sign of Treue --  You could rely on a person with blue eyes.  Blue eyes were described that way in both Im weissen Roessl and Die Lustige Witwe, Viennese operettas.

So after all that what is my favoured translation of the motto?  The ADL translates it as ""My Honor Is Loyalty', which is pretty good but I prefer "It's my honour to be known as loyal" or, less literally but more idiomatically, "I am proud to be loyal".  The loyalty was of course both military and political, loyalty to the corps and to the national leader (Fuehrer)

I am aware that some people are critical of an interest in militaria, but seeing I am a former Sergeant in the Australian army, I might perhaps be forgiven that interest.

Another interest that has only minority support these days is hunting. The days when Bach could write Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd ("Hunting is the thing I like best") are no more.  The opening words of the first soprano aria  of the cantata really rub it in: Jagen ist die Lust der Götter ("Hunting is the pleasure of the gods"). So I can only hope that my brother might be forgiven for being a hunter.  He is the chairman (No. NOT a chair or a chairperson) of a gun club. So an interest in hunting flows easily from that.

He told us about a recent foray to shoot kangaroos. Kangaroos breed prolifically in their native land and are even seen sometimes in the suburbs (I have seen them), as well as in the vast "Outback". They are therefore a troublesome competitor for feed with cattle and sheep -- two of Australia's major industries.  So the Australian government issues permits each year for the culling of around half a million kangaroos nationwide. So hunting kangaroos is a work of national benefit. We all regretted the fact that bureaucracy makes it nigh impossible to save the excellent meat from slaughtered kangaroos for human consumption. It is a wicked waste.

We covered a lot of other topics too. We spoke of Freemasonry, Byzantium and "Greek fire", trial by combat etc.  But the highlight of the evening -- something that will be remembered when all else is forgotten -- was my chair collapsing under me!

We finished up at about 9pm


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