A Caber of Tossers* - Bringing relief to Ladysmith?
Dear Oom Schalk,
I have a friend called James Vosloo-Murray, an Afrikaner with strong Scottish ancestry, who wears the Tartan from time to time, when whisky gains a foothold - and plays the bagpipes a lot better when his ration thereof is doubled!
He is a man who is functionally incoherent when sober and yet clearly understood by all when equally drunk - he is also revered far and wide as being a consummate Tosser of some repute and it is this spirit of reverence that guides the path of my letter today.
Tossing the Caber, with any competitive intent, besides being an exercise in futility, requires that one grasp the bottom of a shortened telegraph pole in cupped hands and lift it, perpendicularly, until the bottom thereof rests comfortably adjacent the male reproductive organs and the upper part balances against a collar bone of choice.
One then begins a running - tottering, stagger towards the launch line. At this line, the cupped hands heave upward, in concert with the upper body and the Caber is tossed upwardly forward on a vertical somersault axis.
The desired outcome being that the Caber completes a full somersault and lands perfectly straight ahead at 90 degrees to the launch line.
Wild applause follows for no apparent reason!
The danger inherent in this exercise is that the speed of the caber's forward fall nearly always exceeds that of its upward thrust - particularly when performed by an inexperienced Tosser!
This can result in the top end of the caber, jagging into the ground, directly in front of an incomplete tottering stagger, causing a collision with the tossers private parts!
To avoid this eventuality, the better exponents of the sport, wear a Jock Strap - a padded piece of underwear designed to protect private parts.
(Strong anecdotal evidence, however, reveals the Jock Strap as a totally useless intervention which would find more productive use as a boiling sock for steamed puddings and blood sausages... which indeed it does in the winter months!)
It is difficult to draw a comparison between the tottering stagger of a classic caber launch and loping athleticism as portrayed in that inspired film - Chariots of Fire.
Tossing a caber matches itself admirably to the wail of the pipes and the deep base of a long, strong, whisky fuelled, haggis powered fart!
It requires this wild cacophony of sound that swirls through both heather and glen to ignite the fervent passion required for success amongst its devotees. One simply cannot imagine the gentle strains of a quintet of violins being sufficient enough to drive rugged men in kilts to hurl tree trunks into the air in deadly earnest.
Having been invited by Vosloo-Murray to watch him in action at the recent Highland Games held in the Colony, I was suddenly struck by the fact that had the British brought caber's instead of rifles to fight the Anglo Boer War - we, the Boers, might have adopted a more sporting approach to the War and in record time!
The sight of a Caber of Tossers* throwing down the gauntlet to a Boer Kommando would have seen Ladysmith relieved by mutual agreement and both groups adjourning to contest a series of Caber Tossing Test Matches at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg.
There is little doubt that we would have roundly thrashed them and in doing so would have been able to send them, under guard, by forced march to Mafeking and Baden-Powell.
Baden-Powell, faced with the sight of Boers on horseback, twirling cabers above their heads, as they escorted 'Bullers Finest' in further retreat, this time toward a Mafeking under seige, would have surrendered AND chosen a life of permanent exile on St Helena!
Ja Nee Oom Schalk – names from history such as Pine Pienaar, ‘The One Man Forest Feller from Knysna’ and Diktak* Taljaard Snr, who used to use the 'disselboom' from an ox wagon as a javelin at local athletic meetings would have instilled great fear in Her Majesty's finest, had they brought cabers in the place of rifles!
(Can you imagine, Oom Schalk, Bakkies Botha* and Bismarck Du Plessis* with cabers at full pace... well fortified with Klipdrift! - 'The Charge of The Heavy Brigade' perhaps?)
Ja Nee Oom Schalk... particularly if fortified with Klipdrift!!
* Caber of Tossers - Authors name for a group of men who Toss the Caber - A Scottish pastime.
* The English translation of the word 'Diktak' is - Thick Branch
* Disselboom -
* Bakkies Botha and Bismarck Du Plessis - Springbok Rugby Players