THE LOWDOWN: Let not your heart be . . .
Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession. And spying the second oldest. As mentioned in the book of Joshua: “Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly to reconnoitre the country. And they came to Jericho and went to the house of a prostitute named Rahab . . .”
Probably the best place to get a warm reception. “Two gentlemen to see you, Mme. Rahab. Say they’ve just come from Shittim.”
“Very well, Herbert. Get them to wash their hands. I’ll be down shortly.”
But why is prostitution considered the oldest profession? It goes back to caveman days. A prehistoric damsel Sue would be sitting around feeling bored while hubby Ralph was out hunting mammoths. Paddy the Necklace Maker would happen by and tell her how good she’s looking. And, noticing the size of his club, she would invite him in with the words “Caveat emptor!” The cave is empty.
Alas, good things never last. Soon Ralph noticed that she had an inordinate amount of necklaces, rugs, purses and shiny ornaments. The truth came out and he hit on a plan:
Sue would invite a fellow in with her “Caveat emptor – the cave is empty” spiel. But just as he was getting down to brass tacks, Ralph would send him flying and take his gifts.
Thus caveat emptor came to mean just the opposite: the cave isn’t empty at all and the buyer had better beware.
Would that I had heeded that advice! Mind you, I tried. Saw a tractor for sale. The vendor, a citizen of credit and renown, assured me that apart from a faulty fuel injector pump, it was in fine fettle and had been overhauled by a reputable mechanic. I took along an acclaimed mechanic who advised me to go for it. Any shortcomings could easily be remedied.
On March 19 I bought it. I believe they call that the beginning of sorrows.
The injector pump was duly serviced and reinstalled. Oils and filters changed throughout.
But the engine was still not right. We have to service the injectors, said the mechanic. That didn’t help either so we had to lift the head, change valves, valve springs, head bolts.
Ready to roll, so I thought. But no, the steering was all wonky. Only by turning a complete revolution in any given direction could one induce it to proceed thitherwards.
And soon oil and diesel were seen spouting from the dipstick hole. The engine would have to be dismantled. New rings, new bearings, you name it, change oil and filters for the third time. Drove about a hundred yards and the sump was again awash with diesel. We need a new lift pump, declared the mechanic, and more new oil and filters. Went up the field once and the oil sump is again flooded with diesel.
Which is where we are today, almost exactly six months later. I haven’t got 15 minutes work out of the tractor. And I’ve spent . . . well, I’m afraid to add it up lest the wife find out she could have bought two of those Swiss handbags Oprah allegedly couldn’t afford.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” the mechanic keeps telling me. On the positive side, I believe the money I’ve put into circulation has kept all those temporary public workers employed. Mr Pooler from SDRR may soon be playing golf at Apes Hill in polka dot pants. And Mr Greaves at RIMCO ordering a new BMW out of his commission. Assuming he gets commission.
Meanwhile, the women in my life aren’t letting me forget. Last weekend they were discussing a SATURDAY SUN article which began, “An overheated crotch is hell”.
Said the sister-in-law: “I change my panties twice a day!” “Once,” said a daughter. “Off and on,” said the wife. Even the hard-of-hearing mother-in-law chimed in: “The boys passing the road always want to strip mine down. I tell yuh, they would have to pay for them first!” “Mummy,” corrected her daughter, “we’re talking about panties, not palm trees!”
Whereupon I ventured that women spend too much on useless clothes. Bad mistake. They rounded on me like pit bulls: “Oh? What’s more useless than that red bottomless pit you’ve been pouring thousands into for the last six months?” And they all laughed.
Not nice laughs either.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.