Savage talk and TED

Yay! Today is Savage Chickens day!

In tribute to this excellent cartoonist who manages to fit drawings and words onto a yellow Post-it®, I slavishly follow Doug Savage’s copyright rules which state that as one of the other 7 billion-odd people in the world, I am permitted to copy one of his images every thirty days.

How wonderful it is that Doug Savage has devoted some mention my favourite online viewing website, TED.

This brings to mind one of the strangest things a school teacher ever said. In my second year of school (in Johannesburg, in the province formerly known as Transvaal, Republic of South Africa), the teacher produced three boxes of coloured pencils. Each box contained a different coloured pencil. The entire spectrum was by no means covered. The first box contained 50 blue pencils; the second, 50 orange pencils; and the third, 50 green pencils. The teacher went round the class, as if offering sweets from jars, and instructed us each to take one pencil of each colour. Discipline was such in 1971 that this was an orderly process, conducted in silence, except for the 25-odd voiced expressions of gratitude.

Stamped in gold lettering at the top of the pencil were the initials T.E.D. We were told that we were very lucky that “Uncle TED” had provided us with such lovely pencils. Then we were given a long and boring explanation about the impossibility of even thinking of stealing these glorious pencils because “Uncle TED” had written his name on all of them, the bastard. Even though we were permitted to keep these three pencils until the end of the term, we were forbidden to chew or suck the end of the pencil, and spoil the lovely gold lettering. It did not taste very nice, anyway. I am sure the teacher wished she did not have bright kids in her class, because she was forced to admit that TED was nobody’s uncle, really, but that T.E.D. stood for the Transvaal Education Department.

To this day, I am flummoxed at the choice of colours. There are two possible explanations: one, that we were expected to wear out the orange and blue ones in a fit of patriotic drawing of the South Africa flag at the time; or two, that Uncle TED was not quite as generous as all that, and some other class had been landed with red, yellow and brown pencils, for example (but starved of the opportunity to draw using blue, orange or green).

By the following year (we were only 7 or 8, for goodness’ sake!), when we received a detailed history of the South African flag, and the heraldic significance of various coats of arms, I had already ditched the flag-drawing theory.

Even now, as I settled down to enjoy a TED talk every once in a while, I have this persistent image of those ghastly coloured pencils which defied sharpening with anything except my mother’s bone-handled butter knife, a pretty good replica of which can be found here, except our butter knife was well-used and quite sharp in the middle of the blade. It wasn’t real bone; they just called it that because it looked like bone would if buried in soil for a while.

So much for TED pencils. I much prefer my choice this month of one possible outcome at a TED talk.

Remember that Doug Savage does not permit translation of his cartoons. They are brilliant enough in English, I suppose.
Remember that Doug Savage does not permit translation of his cartoons. They are brilliant enough in English, I suppose.


Other borrowings I have made from the wealth of fun at Savage Chickens can be found on blogs entitled, “Scrabs” and “Simon,Garfunkel and Yoda” and “Living in the now“.

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