Run, Caster, Run

Imagine a brain surgeon so good at what he does that people would rather die than take their brains elsewhere to be repaired. Imagine he was in such demand that all the other brain surgeons were forced to pack up their drills and hacksaws and welding torches and become estate agents and drug fiends.

It simply wouldn’t be fair on the competition, would it? The surgeon who was putting them out of business with his massively superior skills would have to be curtailed. He could, for instance, be instructed by the Health Professions Council to conduct surgery blindfolded. By handicapping him, the other surgeons would stand a chance of getting work and making a name for themselves too.

And this is why Caster Semenya needed to be hobbled. If things had been allowed to carry on, it wouldn’t be long before she was the only female athlete in the 800m and 1500m events. Why would anyone else keep pitching up if they knew for sure they were going to lose? Fortunately, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Semenya will have to chemically dose herself every day to reduce the testosterone in her body if she hopes to compete in these events.

Do you know who else should take medication to lower their testosterone levels? Men, that’s who. Particularly those on the IAAF committee who can’t live with themselves knowing that a black woman from South Africa could kick their arses with one hand tied behind her back.

In women, hyperandrogenism can cause you to develop acne, hirsutism and a tendency to keep winning the 800m.
In men, excessive testosterone can cause you to develop a tendency to punch people in the face, order missile strikes on Syria and attempt sex with anything that isn’t fixed to the ground.

Testosterone has a direct influence on libido. If I were married to someone who spent the day winning gold medals and still insisted on ravaging me mercilessly the moment they got home, I wouldn’t complain. Especially not if they made dinner afterwards.
I would, however, object if they lay on the couch drinking beer and watching sport all evening and then, when they sobered up at 3am, expected me to roll over and take it like a man. I should point out that in these fictional scenarios, I have no idea what gender I am.

Anyway, it’s not hyperandrogenism that provides an unfair advantage to athletes. It’s the training. If I spent all day in the gym, I could also run 1500m in under thirty minutes.

If it’s leveling the playing field the IAAF is after, then let’s ban training altogether and throw competitions open to anyone whose body mass index is higher than their IQ. It’s elitist to have only eight people in the 100m. I want to see eight thousand people turn up at the starting line. No dress code, either. Wear overalls or even nothing at all, if you like. And you can eat and drink while you run. Everyone who breaks the 10-minute barrier gets a medal.

If that’s too extreme, then at least give us non-practising athletes our own competitions. Disabled people have the Paralympics so why can’t we have the Drunkalympics? Athletes will be breathalysed at the start of each event to ensure they aren’t under the limit. For instance, if you’re participating in the 20m stagger, you’d need to have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.2%. Coaches will be allowed to provide their athletes with tequila shooters to ensure minimum requirements are met.
Given that most novices are unconscious by 0.15%, athletes will have to train hard if they hope to avoid the embarrassment of passing out before the starter’s gun is fired.
Athletes in the headline event – the 0.5% – are required to simply turn up and make their way onto the track without assistance. The first person to stay standing for one minute, draw a diagram of a cat and not choke on his or anyone else’s vomit will be declared the winner.

If it’s unfair advantages the IAAF is worried about, then they will have to restrict the high jump to athletes who stand no taller than 1.4m in their socks. Swimmers will have to have standard-sized hands and feet, and not giant slabs of meat and flippers like Michael Phelps has.

And if we are going to be interfering, why stop at medical conditions? Indeed, why stop at athletics? What about psychiatric conditions that drive people to accumulate more wealth than they can spend in several lifetimes? Johann Rupert is worth R80-billion and you can still find him selling cartons of Rembrandt behind the Spar on a Friday night.

How maths ruined my life

I was appalled to hear that President Ramaphosa had bestowed a national order on none other than William Smith, a man with a mastery of a subject that is beyond inhumane. It was like hearing that the Marquis de Sade had been awarded a medal for services to sadism, for what is the instruction of mathematics if not an exercise in the infliction of pain on others?

Smith deserves to be made an example of, and not in the way Ramaphosa had in mind when he placed the Order of the Baobab around the old man’s neck – a neck that belongs in a pair of stocks, no less. We who were traumatised by maths as children should be able to pelt him with wrong answers to simple equations until he begs for mercy.

Maths is cruel. There is no other way of looking at it. Oh, sure, if you understand how it works, perhaps it seems quite benign. Useful, even. But if it makes about as much sense as German spoken backwards, then it is utterly barbaric to force children to learn it. For many of us, maths is not a subject that can be learnt. I know people will think that I am drunk or mad, but I am only a little bit, and I know that maths cannot be learnt in the same way that, say, Spanish or the offside rule in soccer can be learnt.

There is a numbers gland in the brain that not everyone is born with. I don’t have one. And it’s not a gland that can develop later in life, either. You either have it or you don’t.

My father did not understand this, even though he is far from stupid. He is very bright, in fact. He worked as a structural engineer for many years. Yet he is unable to comprehend that there are some people who do not have the gland that makes it possible to grasp maths.

The fact that I was one of these people was a source of tremendous frustration and, I imagine, disappointment. I clearly remember my parents discussing my maths mark in high school.

“We’re going to have to send him for extra maths,” said my mother, who was also very smart, and yet not smart enough to understand that eighteen hours of extra maths a day, seven days a week, would do little more than nudge my average into double figures and possibly turn me into a teenage heroin addict.

“How do you get nine percent for maths?” my father would shout, nostrils flaring, eyes big and wild. I thought nine was rather good considering that I had no gland.

He would sit with me and help with my homework. By help I mean he would tug at his beard and tear at his hair and stand up and sit down and shout, “Why? Why can’t you see it? It’s perfectly simple!” It didn’t seem the right time to tell him about the gland. I didn’t want him thinking I was mentally deformed which, in later years, I realised that’s exactly what he thought.

William Smith represents my father. And many other fathers around the world who have shouted at their children until they wept. Yes, I shed a few tears. I can’t remember if it was because he was yelling at me or because I felt like a failure or because I couldn’t go out and smoke paw-paw stems with my friend down the road.

It wasn’t maths that scarred me. Maths doesn’t care if I understand it. It just sits there waiting to be used, like the condom in my wallet. Unlike my condom, maths doesn’t expire.

I was brutalised by people trying to force maths down my throat. People who should have known better. People like William Smith and my father and every maths teacher I ever had.

The sight of Smith receiving his award from the president unleashed a flood of memories and my post-traumatic stress disorder kicked in. Ted found me unresponsive on the floor, curled up like a wounded pangolin. He ran up a crude Tafel lager drip using kitchen utensils and an old syringe he found in the street. It wasn’t ideal but it did the trick.

Losers, weepers

Today, 367 years ago, Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Table Bay and shouted, “Finders, keepers!” And that’s why it became known as Founders Day.

Alhough the Khoikhoi and San were taking decisions by consensus long before the Dutch navigator sashayed onto our shores in 1652, it was really the Europeans who brought the concept of modern democracy to South Africa. They also brought syphilis, guns, racism and Christianity, but we shall stick with democracy for now.

The very first ballot took place aboard the Drommedaris when the passengers and crew voted, through a show of hands and a fair amount of crying and screaming, to go back to Holland. “This looks nothing like the brochures!” they wailed. “Where are the quaint fish markets? The cycling paths? Where are the coffee shops and the dimpled harlots?”

Van Riebeeck said it was his boat and he would land wherever he damn well pleased, an attitude that gained in popularity as the Dutch settlers slowly mutated into Afrikaners.

In the years leading up to 1910, the British, the Zulus and the Boers had a whale of a time slaughtering one another. It was all fun and games until someone lost an eye and the British said they didn’t want to play any more.

“Here’s what we are going to do, chaps. We are going to let you become a self-governing dominion of the British Empire.” The Boers scratched their heads. Isn’t that where the British played dominoes? The Zulus heard about the plan last Thursday.

So it came to pass that General Louis Botha was elected South Africa’s first prime minister. Even though he fought like a tiger during the Boer War, he retained a soft spot for a girl who later insisted on being called Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

As one of only three or four Boers who had ever been to London, Botha earned a reputation as something of a Brit-boetie, which was almost as bad as being seen kissing a darkie.

In 1947, King George VI popped in at the Royal Cape for a round of golf and a stern word with the Bantu. The following year, the National Party was voted into power and it was a long, long time before anyone from Buckingham Palace came near us again.

“Who are those dreadful people?” the king asked over a cup of Earl Grey beneath the royal gazebo at Balmoral. “They are called Afrikaners, daddy,” said Liz. “Rather like the Dutch, but a little more, shall we say, déclassé?”

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. On 15 September, 1910, people of a Caucasian persuasion came out in their thousands to vote in the first general election. The darkies thought the whiteys were leaving and spontaneous, yet hopelessly premature, celebrations broke out in the native yards.

Three main parties and a smattering of independents vied for 121 seats in the country’s first parliament. Nearly 105 years later, the number of parties fighting to get their snouts into the national trough has quadrupled. Parliament is also much bigger, but then so are its members.

Back then, elections were held every two, three or five years, depending on public transport and the calving season.

In 1915, the National Party made its first appearance on the ballot, as did the Socialist Party, which scared everyone by scooping 140 votes.

The Nats took ’24, ’29 and ’33 while 1938 was a huge year for the Socialist Party. Back on the ballot after a well-earned 13-year break, they took their first seat and predicted that by the end of the year everyone would be driving Ladas and calling each other comrade.

South Africa’s place in the world was well and truly secured in 1948, when National Party leader DF Malan (who later retired and became an airport) released a visionary manifesto supporting the prohibition of mixed marriages, the banning of black trade unions and job reservation for whites.

Thick, hairy clumps of farmers, their barefoot wives, wagon-mechanic sons and child-bearing daughters voted overwhelmingly for Malan – and the National Party remained resolutely in power until 1994. Good one, guys. Mooi skoot.

1960 was a particularly memorable year. A regular carnival. The mielies were fat, the lambs were healthy, the ANC was banned, there was a massacre in Sharpeville, a state of emergency was declared, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was shot and wounded and 850 000 white people voted in favour of cutting ties with Britain and then spent the next 35 years playing ‘international’ rugby fixtures against neighbouring towns, travelling ‘abroad’ to Margate and reading the Bible, the only book approved by the censorship board.

Soon after the Republic of Skunks and Polecats was formed, an aberration called the Progressive Party appeared on the ballot sheet. The party was so popular that by 1974 they had wracked up an impressive six seats in parliament. The NP, with 122 seats, shook with fear. Okay, so it might have been laughter.

Beginning to suspect that not everyone in the country was deliriously happy with existing political arrangements, the government held a whites-only referendum in 1983 to gauge support for the creation of a tricameral parliament that would allow coloureds and Indians to have a say in their own affairs, on condition that they tucked their shirts in and smoked their zol in the parking lot.

Meddling foreigners pointed out that the government had forgotten to include 23 million black people in the referendum. “What?” shouted PW Botha. “You lie, you bliksems. There’s nobody here by that name.”

By 1989 you couldn’t walk down the street without a bomb going off. It all became a bit much for Botha, sensitive man that he was. He had a stroke – a stroke of good luck for most – and was strong-armed out of the presidency.

The last all-white election took place in 1989. Feeling the winds of change hot against their necks, voters threw their weight behind the Democratic Party and … oops, wrong fairy tale. Here’s what really happened. A solid 80% of just over two million ballots were cast for the National Party, the Conservative Party and the Herstigte Nasionale Party combined. That’s how thrilled white people were at the prospect of a new society based on justice and equality for all. The Democratic Party limped in with 33 seats.

The country’s last white president pocketed a Nobel Peace Prize by unbanning the ANC and releasing Nelson Mandela. Then he threatened to sue the Truth and Reconciliation Commission if it implicated him in apartheid crimes and repaid one of the NP’s main financial backers by sleeping with his wife. Good man, that de Klerk.

Needless to say, 1994 was the mother of all elections. For the first time, darkies were allowed to vote. The ANC swept into power and, oddly enough, failed to nationalise the mines, torch the churches and eat our children.

And so here we are today. The state has been hollowed out by hundreds if not thousands of human termites, leaving behind an economy that belongs in calipers. Our parliament of whores is a national embarrassment. We have a president who is surrounded by more double-crossing back-stabbers than Julius Caesar ever was. And there are white supremacists out there who still believe they are god’s chosen people.

I’m so excited that, come the 8th of May, I shall vote for everyone on the ballot.

Earth Hour is over

Thank fuck for that.

With the exception of Happy Hour, I am not overly interested in anything that lasts for only sixty minutes. The other thing is this. I have never felt particularly close to the human race and for me to join them en masse in a staged event of this magnitude would have felt like a deeply unnatural act.

The Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman, however, insisted that we put the lights off at 8.30pm. There is nothing worse than being lectured on global warming by someone who doesn’t know the facts, so I agreed if only to shut her up. Also, it meant the next generation wouldn’t be able to accuse me of not having done anything to save the planet. Not that the planet cares much for us, what with its capricious earthquakes, impulsive landslides and fickle volcanic eruptions.

“I’m keeping the television on,” I said. I was deep into the movie when the doorbell rang. It has to be said that when a doorbell rings in a darkened house in the middle of a horror film, no good can come of it. Wives will scream and husbands will curse. Cats will get tripped over and dogs will bark like creatures possessed.

The Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman found the front door and shouted hysterically into the night, “Who’s there?”

A shrill voice pierced the air. “Hi! Just wanted to let you know you have a light on upstairs and there’s still half an hour to go. It would be FABULOUS if we could all just pull together, you know?”

The Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman apologised and went upstairs to switch off the bathroom light. I was so incandescent with rage that my face went thermal and lit up the lounge in an eerie red glow.

How dare this … this fucking interloper interrupt my movie to tell me to put all my lights off! I turned on the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman, demanding to know why she was dancing to this incomprehensibly rude intruder’s tune. “Did she say she was with the Earth Police?” I shouted.

My nerves shattered, movie ruined and evening in tatters, I went around the house switching the lights back on, ranting and raving like a Palestinian suicide bomber who made it all the way to Tel Aviv only to find that he had left the detonator on the kitchen counter at his uncle’s house back in Gaza.

Who, in their right mind, would go around in the middle of the night ringing other peoples’ doorbells to tell them they have a light on and that, in the interests of stopping the polar ice caps from melting, they should turn it off? Those are the actions of a certifiably crazy person – a person who you should be legally entitled to shoot.

It is sanctimonious, overweening, self-appointed and almost certainly hypocritical eco-cops like this who make otherwise rational people like me want to wake up in the morning and spray cans of deodorant at the ozone layer. They make me want to start up my car and let it idle in the driveway for an hour or two every day and they make me want to leave my carbon footprint all over their officious little ferret faces.

Unless you are wearing a uniform, carrying a gun and have a warrant for my arrest, don’t think you can ever ring my doorbell and tell me what to do. The next time it happens, I swear, the planet gets it. And you will be responsible.

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Why is it that the Irish have all the fun? To be sure, there was that nasty business with the potatoes in 1845, but if it weren’t for the Great Hunger, Boston and New York wouldn’t be the same today.

Apart from the potato famine, the Irish have always had nothing but a rollicking good time. Well, apart from the potato famine and 200 years of sectarian violence.

St Patrick’s Day is full of fun traditions. The colour green plays a big part. After a day of eating green food and drinking green beer, many people go to bed with their faces suffused in many interesting shades of green. This happened to me after one particularly robust St Paddy’s Day with friends in Durban. My girlfriend at the time said it wouldn’t have happened if I had listened to her and had my stomach pumped. But where’s the fun in that?

On St Patrick’s Day, the Irish bring out the shamrock – the three-leafed clover that is said to attract good luck. On our public holidays, South Africans bring out the five-leafed cannabis that usually attracts the police and not such good luck.

The Irish kiss the Blarney Stone; South Africans get stoned, talk blarney and kiss anything that isn’t nailed to the floor.

In Dublin, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is part of a five-day festival attended by half a million people. We don’t have parades, we have protest marches. And although the attendance is nowhere near Irish levels, ours can go on for a lot longer than five days (depending on whether the festivities spill over into arbitration).

On St Patrick’s Day – or any other day – Ireland’s bars are full of happy people. The Irish are possibly the most self-deprecating nation on earth and they have no qualms about telling jokes about themselves. Like this one.

“O’Connell was staggering home with a pint of booze in his back pocket when he slipped and fell heavily. Struggling to his feet, he felt something wet running down his leg.
“Please,” he implored, “let it be blood!”

When South Africans have a few drinks and tell jokes, they usually end up having to explain themselves to the Human Rights Commission.

Ireland has Leprechauns. They are small, not particularly friendly and spend their time making shoes. We have Tokoloshes. They are extremely aggressive, have holes in their heads and resemble a cross between a zombie and a gremlin.

Ireland has St Patrick. We had Nelson Mandela. Both were arrested and incarcerated. Legend has it that St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Mandela drove all the racists out of South Africa. Well, maybe not all.

It was on St. Patrick’s Day that Ireland’s cricket team eliminated Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup. South Africa, on the other hand, lost to Bangladesh and then went on to score a magnificent 27 for five against Australia.

Want to be lucky today?

If you’re Irish:

  1. Find a four-leaf clover. 2. Wear green. 3. Catch a Leprechaun.

If you’re South African:

  1. Find a job. 2. Wear a bulletproof vest. 3. Catch a roadworthy taxi.

Oz doesn’t need more wizards

A lot of mainly white South Africans choose to emigrate to Australia because there is plenty of sunshine and pubs. And also because … well, as Australian filmmaker and author Stephen Hagan puts it, “Australians are the most racist people in the developed world for their treatment of the First Australians and I make this claim comfortable in the knowledge that I am sufficiently supported by incontestable statistical data.”

I imagine being among worse racists than oneself can only be good for one’s self esteem.

Australia is also an option if you’re a dog person. The government announced a while ago that it would destroy two million feral cats by 2020 in an effort to protect indigenous wildlife. They will use poison traps and attack dogs to kill the cats. You can’t get more humane than that, Bruce.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of South Africans emigrate to Australia every month. I doubt I will be among them any time soon. I’m not smart or mad enough to understand the visa process, which appears to have been formulated by a statistician incarcerated in an institution for the criminally insane.

If you go over on a 189 visa but don’t have your OTSR because your job is on the CSOL list and you’re still on a 186 but haven’t submitted your EOI for a 489 you’ll need a 457 sponsor and the DIPB will still want the IELTS.

Australia is infested with migration specialists dedicated to helping South Africans reach the promised land. Well, they call themselves migration specialists. They’re really just human traffickers in cheap suits and pencil skirts.

I thought I’d get in touch with one of them for an assessment of whether or not I stood a hope in hell. I knew the answer before I even filled in her questionnaire. Age, skills, academic qualifications and financial means are apparently important to the Australians, and unless there’s a critical shortage of virtually indigent middle-aged columnists who make a living out of shaming and ridiculing the rich and powerful, I’m staying right here.

My “migration agent” said she had taken the liberty of stalking me on the Internet. “It is quite evident you have a very successful career,” she wrote. It’s not how I would describe it, but it seemed a promising start. It went downhill quickly. My occupation – her word, not mine – is on some kind of red list and, because I’m not a teenage virgin, I would need to be sponsored by a state or an employer and work for them for four years at an annual salary of at least R1.2-million. If my current remuneration is anything to go by, I am not worth a fraction of that.

Perhaps sensing that my special skills would do little to enhance Australia’s reputation in the eyes of the world, she offered me another option. Something called the 457 visa stream allows an offshore company to become a sponsor which can then sponsor the employee to work in Australia. In a suggestion that smelled strongly of loophole, she said, “If we can get your current business to qualify as a sponsor, we may be able to get you the 457 visa.” With a masterful use of understatement, she described this as “a long shot”. She clearly had a sense that my current business operated mainly on beer, loud music and long absences from the “office”.

If my personal human trafficker were to handle the visa application, she would require the modest sum of R30 000. The loophole option would cost me another R40 000. And the department of immigration would want R18 000 for both. Then, three weeks later, I’d almost certainly get an email that starts off, “We regret to inform you …”

I’m going to open the gin and have a little lie-down.

The Ben Trovato Files

Who among us doesn’t remember satirist Ben Trovato’s outrageously subversive trilogy of letters to and replies from the rich, famous and downright dangerous? Well, the madness continues as the letters are reincarnated for the first time on video.

Featuring scenes of the writer himself, the letters come to life in a creative mélange of stop-motion animation, live action and a liberal dose of artistic craziness.

The episodes will be short and punchy, each featuring a letter and its reply, with durations ranging from ninety seconds to three minutes. The team has produced a pilot episode titled ‘The Two Oceans Aquarium’ from a letter Trovato wrote to the big house of fish. He got a reply without even having to bribe them.

Working on this project is a close-knit production team including cinematographer Dave Aenmey and animation artist Lindsay van Blerk. Dave has worked on many commercials, music videos, documentaries and feature films during his 30-year career.

Lindsay has directed and animated numerous award-winning films including The Velveteen Rabbit and The Chimes. He worked as storyboard supervisor and director of animation on the feature film Zambezia and has also directed and animated TV commercials and television series.

The material is drawn from the many letters and replies that appeared in The Ben Trovato Files, Will The Real Ben Trovato Please Stand Up and Stirred Not Shaken.

Anyone interested in helping to finance the series in return for a production credit is invited to contact Ben at bentrovato@mweb.co.za or leave a message right here on his site. Enquiries from producers and production houses are also welcome.

The pilot episode can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmafQMWDkrA

The fast and the furious, the fucked and the feckless

So parliament has approved yet another malevolent piece of legislation. The Aarto Amendment Bill will now be sent to the president to be signed into law. Its full catchy title is the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it.

Eleven MPs voted against it. Well done, whoever you are. Twenty-two abstained. Spineless cockwombles. If you don’t have an opinion, get the fuck out of parliament and make way for people who do.

Amendments are meant to be good, right? We look to the glorious United States of America to set the standard here. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech and the press. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Eighth Amendment deals with excessive bail, fines and punishments that are forbidden. And so on. This gives the impression that amendments are good things. A tweaking of laws so the people might be better served.

Not here, buddy. When you hear the word ‘amendment’ in South Africa, you sell your house and get to the airport as quickly as possible. Leave your family. There’s no time.

And when the word ‘amendment’ appears in the same sentence as ‘road traffic offences’, you should know it’s not going to be a sensible amendment that encourages people to drive stoned because they are unable to go faster than 50km/h. Or an amendment that allows men to drink and drive if they are taller than 1.9m because we, I mean, they, can obviously hold their alcohol a lot better than a 1.5m teenage girl.

Instead of making good laws better, we’re making bad laws worse. This is in line with government thinking on pretty much everything, really. There is good news for some, though. Once the president has signed the bill, traffic police will be able to demand far bigger bribes since the stakes are so much higher. I’m happy for them. There’s no reason bribes shouldn’t keep pace with inflation.

In KwaZulu-Natal, traffic officers have already been trained “so that they can adapt to the new law”. Fair enough, although I would’ve thought it more important to train us, the general motoring public, who seem utterly unable to adapt to laws of any kind.

From what I can make out, the amendment is designed to reduce carnage on the roads in the most brutal way possible. On top of being fined, you will have points added to your licence. This sounds like a good thing. But if you go around boasting that you have 97 points on your licence, you’re doing it wrong. The higher your score, the more your chances of losing. It’s like golf, except you’re playing against Tiger Woods off his face on amphetamines.

Will the demerit system reduce the number of accidents on our roads? Of course not. I’m willing to wager that most crashes are caused by people not paying attention. The proliferation of cellphones, social media and infidelity has taken away our ability to concentrate for more than three minutes at a time. Accidents happen when our minds are elsewhere.

So the demerit system is not going to make drivers any less attention deficit. All it will do is take a vicious financial toll on motorists who activate speed traps, don’t use seatbelts and park in loading zones, all of which I do regularly without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s how it works. Do something naughty and you will receive an infringement notice ordering you to pay a fine. Ignore it and a month later you’ll get a “courtesy letter” – for which you will be charged – reminding you to pay up. Ignore that and 32 days later you’ll get an enforcement order notifying you of the number of demerit points against you and again ordering you to pay the fine plus the cost of the enforcement order. Until you pay, you won’t be able to renew your car licence disc. Ignore the enforcement order and a warrant of execution will be issued and the sheriff will come to your house and take your stuff. This is a way of getting rid of the junk in your garage. He is also allowed to confiscate your licence, immobilise your car and report you to a credit bureau, after which you may wish to emigrate.

Let me tell you about the demerit system. You start off with zero points. Skip a stop sign, fail to renew your car licence or use your cellphone while driving and it’s a R500 fine plus one demerit point. Exceeding R100km/h in a 60km/h zone – which even old mad blind people do – will get you six demerit points and a fine. Drive with more than 0.05g of alcohol in your blood – which absolutely everyone does – will also see six points added to your licence. Plus a fine. You will then be stripped naked, given a light stoning by clerks from the finance department and, once the Alsatians have finished with you, banished from your village.

When you reach 12 points, the game is over and your driving licence is suspended for three months. One point is taken off if you behave yourself for three straight months. But get three suspensions and your licence is cancelled and destroyed. If you ever want to drive legally again, you will have to undergo a “rehabilitation” programme. That’s right. You’re going to rehab. And don’t expect any yummy methadone, either.

It doesn’t end there. Get out of rehab and it’s off to the tribunal. Do you know who else appears before tribunals? War criminals, that’s who. But you’re not a war criminal. War criminals aren’t expected to have their hearing repeatedly postponed because the photocopier is broken or their file is missing. War criminals aren’t expected to walk for three days to reach the tribunal because their licence has been suspended. In fact, you are going to be wishing you were a war criminal by the time this is over.

If the tribunal decides that you have learnt from your mistakes – contrition is best shown by wearing sackcloth and lashing yourself with a cat ‘o nine tails – you will be able to apply for a learner’s licence. If you pass, you may take a driver’s test. I’m not making this up. They really think this is going to work.

Pregnant women will be applying for their unborn babies to write the K53 test in the hope that they’ll get an appointment by the time they turn 18. If you do get 12 points and lose your licence, you will be in a retirement home by the time you reach the front of the backlog.

Hooked & Cooked

There has been a flurry of excitement in shark circles along the east coast.

“Have you heard the news?” said Mr Zambezi.

“Of course not,” said Mr Tiger. “We don’t have ears.”

“Well, we have inner ears which are basically a membraneous labyrinth …”

“Shut up smarty-pants. We all know you went to dolphin school. Just tell me the news.”

“Well,” said Mr Zambezi. “You know those nets that killed Mrs Hammerhead’s entire family last month? They are being removed.”

Mr Tiger was so excited that he accidentally sank his teeth into Mr Zambezi’s tail.

“Oi! Watch that mouth, you bitey dork.”

Mr Tiger made an apologetic face, then brightened up. “So we are finally safe from those death traps? We should celebrate. Let’s go eat pufferfish and get high!”

“Not so fast,” said Mr Zambezi. “The nets are being replaced with drumlines.”

“I like a bit of drumming,” said Mr Tiger. “If we started a band, I’d definitely be the drummer.”

And so Mr Zambezi had the unenviable task of explaining to his slower-witted friend that drumlines were in fact large baited hooks that dangled from floats anchored to the seabed. In fact, the only real beneficiaries of the new system would be vegetarians and things with small mouths. Like sea cucumbers and sardines.

“We can say goodbye to Johnny Mako, then,” said Mr Tiger, thoroughly depressed.

“Yeah,” said Mr Zambezi. “Those speed freaks will eat anything.”

I actually applied for a job at the KZN Sharks Board when I left school. The position was meshing officer. I had no idea what it meant but I liked the idea of getting on one of those yellow boats and jumping off at backline for an early surf while the Zulu dudes fiddled about with the nets. They never even replied to my application even though I assured them that I was familiar with the ocean and agreed with their corporate philosophy that shark lives don’t matter.

Living in Kommetjie, I surf all the time at unprotected beaches. Everyone does. Nobody in the water even thinks about sharks. We think about other things. Like how we are going to catch every wave in every set so that nobody else can get anything. Maybe that’s just a Long Beach thing.

Drumlines are dumblines. What if a shark reaches the floating buffet only to find his buddy already chomping on his last meal? What if all the drumlines are occupied with sharks getting some steel in their diet? The thing is, they don’t really want to eat us. They look at us and think we’re spastic octopuses lacking in the tentacle department. Also, word has got out that we’re full of bones and taste more like pigs than fish.

Announcing that all nets from Westbrook to Umgababa would be replaced, the Sharks Board appealed to the public not to tamper with the new drumlines. Damn. There I was looking forward to swimming out and having a bit of fun with those murderous hooks embedded in chunks of bleeding flesh.

Budgets for eejits

Here are some of the things that should have been in today’s budget speech by finance minister Tito Mboweni.

R5-billion corruption slush fund which civil servants can access without dipping into money allocated to really important things.

R10-billion for education. To be spent on fire retardant classrooms, mathematically retarded pupils, pocket money for pregnant schoolgirls, admission of guilt fines for principals and Ritalin for attention-deficit teachers.

R40-billion for healthcare. To be spent on buying Scandinavian doctors and implementing a cash-for-euthanasia programme.

R7-million for the provision of basic services including shebeens in white suburbs, home delivery of SABS-approved recreational drugs as well as clowns, whores and rent boys for the sick and lonely.

R20-billion for social grants, including extension of child support to parents of white children up to their 40th birthday or until such time as they manage to get a job or emigrate.

R15-billion for water provision. Reticulation systems to be adapted for the supply of locally produced wine to households in which water is not a viable alternative.

R12-million for industrial development. To be spent on converting medium enterprises into small enterprises into micro enterprises into a man with a woollen cap standing on the side of the road asking for a job that isn’t a drain on state resources.

R50 for agriculture and land reform. To be spent on two bags of fertiliser shared among the agro-fascists who refuse to give up their land to people who would sooner beat their plowshares into swords and their pruning-hooks into spears than do an honest day’s work.

R300-million for information technology. To be spent on educating home affairs and traffic department officials that when their computer screens go blank, it doesn’t necessarily mean the system has crashed. It means they need to move the mouse. Or tap the space bar. Not yawn and go on lunch.

R1-trillion for safety and security. To purchase one-way economy class tickets to Perth for everyone who insists on standing around the braai boring everyone to tears about how their friend knows someone whose friend’s cousin’s uncle was hijacked in the middle of the day.

R1 000 for programmes under the expanded public works umbrella. To be spent on a new umbrella. A much bigger one. In ANC colours. With a frilly fringe benefit around the edges.

R7-billion in tax subsidies over the next three years for labour-intensive home industries that include men whose wives have left them and who are now expected to get off the couch and fetch their own beer from the kitchen.

A simplified tax regime for small businesses. If you don’t pay on time, men with spiders tattooed on their necks will break down your door and crush your kneecaps. Is that simplified enough, you freeloading sack of lies?

A bicycle tax of R25 000 for cyclists over the age of seven.

Increase corporate fraud income tax rates by 5% per widow and 3% per orphan. Tax exemption for companies wanting to strip-mine Port St Johns. Tax the proceeds of charity golf days at 30% for real golfers and 70% for opportunistic booze-hounds who use the occasion to skive off work, rack up a score of 200 and then try to ram their tongue down the barmaid’s mouth while slipping the Cancer Association’s collection box down the front of their trousers.

Personal income tax to be abolished for everyone by the name of Trovato.