Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ashley Sterne Superfluous Hints


Fresh from the digitized newspaper website of the National Library of Australia is a short Ashley Sterne article from the Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), republished 4 April 1925.


Superfluous Hints

By Ashley Sterne

Perhaps I am captious, but I feel that life is far too fleeting to enable one to listen in patience to the exponent of the obvious.  When a man stops me in the street to inform me with all the earnestness of an archbishop expounding the Thirty-Nine Articles that it is a fine day, I possess only one desire: to cleave him from the chin to the brisket and so dispose of the two portions that never the twain shall meet..

Thus, when "Famous Physician" warns us "never to enter the water on a full stomach," I feel as if I want to knock him over the head with his own panel.  It's the sort of thing one avoids doing by instinct.

True, I did once inadvertently enter the sea on a full stomach, but when that full stomach (which belonged to a well-known company promoter in the act of flotation) had finished lodging its eloquent protest, I registered a vow that I would never again quit a bathing machine without my pince nez.

Similarly, when he cautions me not bathe in the early morning before my circulation has got into its stride, I just want to tell him that it is only the mentally deficient who seek a watery nest at 5 a.m., and that it is a fallacy to assume that every man who appears at the breakfast-table with seaweed in his ears and a starfish clinging to his chin has already been down to the Great White Mother, closed with her, kissed her, and mixed with her.

Then we are strongly urged to refrain from bathing when we are over-fatigued – advice which appears to me to be about as needful as to warn a seasick voyager not of over-eat himself, and to go easy with the streaky bacon.

If, for example, we have become thoroughly fagged out by the strain of listening to the band of the St. Mudguards waging an unequal contest with an all-Wagner programme, or by the no less exhausting process of striving to avoid listening to it, who will hear the wild, clear call of the running tide and feel that he positively must go down to the seas again?

Rather I fancy will instinct guide us as to what a well-known writer (me, as a matter of fact) has described as one of those convenient institutions, which minister to those who go down to the sea in charabancs, and which do business in strong waters.

As a final word of warning, "Famous Physician" cautions against stopping too long in the water.  "When you begin to feel chill and numb," he says, "come out.  Don't stop to write your reminiscences or grow a beard; just come out."

Now what sensible person, I ask, when feeling chill and numb, wants to stop in?  It has been proved time and again that to try and attain a state of perspiration or put your temperature up a couple of therms, while immersed in the sea, is simply wasting time.

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