Columns, Cut&Run, Incognito – The Memoirs of Ben Trovato

Buy the ticket, take the ride

Dear SANParks,

I hear you are looking for people to help you kill some animals. Well, look no further. I am your man. This filthy pandemic, and our government’s unhinged response to it, has made me very angry. I have been wanting to murder something since March. Thing is, you kill a person these days and you can go to jail for up to, I don’t know, what’s the going rate … two weeks? A month?


Right. There’s obviously more to this than meets the eye. This is the start of the column that appears in today’s edition of The Citizen.

The editor, who graciously offered to host my column 18 months ago, has asked me to refrain from posting my weekly literary expectorations here and on social media.

He would prefer it that my unruly legion of readers either bought or subscribed to the newspaper if they wished to read my column. This is understandable.

Prostitutes are faced with a similar situation when it comes to men who, swan-like, pledge their loyalty to only one person forever more. It’s bad for business. If you can get the same service for free at home, why would you pay to get it from us?

Since I am now aware that the editor knows I have been posting my column here a day or two after he has had his way with it, let me just say that I am in no way equating him with a prostitute. I felt in need of a metaphor and it was the only one that came along.

We live in a world of unfairness and it would seem, well, unfair, to add to it. Not without being rewarded, anyway. I post my Citizen column online in the hope that as many people as possible will read it and then shower me with adoration. Or hate mail. I don’t really mind either way. Like any decent drug dealer, I know distribution is the key that unlocks the golden pig. I have yet to find the pig.

By whorishly putting my words about for any grizzled punter to come along and read for free, I am taking money out of the mouths of everyone who works at The Citizen.

Okay, that might be overstating things. But it seems fairly obvious that the paper wouldn’t be able to afford columnists (or anything at all) if nobody bought it. By offering my column for free, once it’s been published, I am effectively sabotaging myself. It’s almost Shakespearean.

So. There it is. If you love me as much as you say you do, and I’ve been married twice so there’s no reason to think you’re lying, you will either buy the paper or subscribe. If you’re really strapped, you can even just buy the Wednesday edition, when my column comes out. It’s, like, R7 or something. If you can’t afford that, you have no business being online.

And for those of you who think Eschel Rhoodie is still in charge of The Citizen, you can fuck right off.

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14 thoughts on “Buy the ticket, take the ride

  1. John Holloway says:

    Looks like your readership will drop Ben, given most of your readers’ comments. Bad news for a good read.

    It’s been bad business for the press for a while of course, and I understand The Citizen’s position. Though I am also part of the problem. An internet staffrider. I left SA in ’82 and read hardly any SA papers until the sort-of paired coming – of the internet and SA democracy. Since then I have read SA journalism on a daily basis and, more recently, what you write – the latter first discovered, I think, in book form in my sister’s lavatory library (not free-standing), on visits to the mother city.

    SA news consumption became an obsession, both highly-addictive and free on the internet, as I roller-coasted from the Mandela miracle to the Zuma dizaster and on to the present day. A day on which the (international) press are facing the final charge-or-go-under situation and are asking readers, quite rightly, to pay.

    From a marketing point of view it’s a bit late. We’ve got used to free words. And a free habit is hard to shift (look at surfing). So, maybe a new channel? Is it time to monetise your product in another way? To get at some of the advertising income which is keeping the likes of The Citizen afloat? Live Trovato readings on YouTube? Interviews? The mind boggles at what this will be the visual equivalent of . . . but there I already smell the heady pong of ratings. The video version of sex with a clown must surely out-pull kittens and make-up lessons?

    An always-on webcam in your garden could fill in the gaps. I am sure things will come to pass before its unblinking eye that will surprise, educate, entertain and need commentary for overseas viewers.

    PS Incidentally, the idea that the ungodly will pounce on readers’ privacy and data blows up a tiny statistical risk to a ridiculous reason for avoiding Citizen (or any) subscription. If you have something to lose (crooks immediately lose interest in my account after hacking it, as it’s so empty) open a second account for subscriptions and keep just a few bucks in it.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Thanks John. Food for thought. It’s about the only food left in the house.

  2. This is a real bummer, Ben. Your column is a weekly treat here in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, asking a group of Saffa old-age pensioner/refugees to willingly share credit card or banking details with your local scoundrels is asking too much. And suggesting a subscription to the Citizen? Shudder.
    A PayPal stipend to you personally might be considered but this would depend on whether your brilliant musings originate in JW Blue Label or regular plonk?

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Thanks to the ban on alcohol, my musings now originate elsewhere. Incidentally, what have you got against the Citizen? When last did you read one?

  3. mo haarhoff says:

    Sad that I brought my appreciation all the way to the UK, for this. Sorry, but I avoid all traditional news media, even (especially) the BBC.

  4. Nkululeko Mvulana says:

    What is the Citizen?

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      It’s a daily newspaper based in Joburg, Nk

      1. Nkululeko Mvulana says:

        That’s unfortunate.

  5. Grenville says:

    Love you Ben Trovato, but no chance for a Subscription for Eschel Rhoodie considering I’ve even given up on my Business Day Subscription at least 5 years ago, and now your editor is going to trick me into giving me contact details so he can sell them to make up for my not subscribing hmmm I think I’ll fall for that

  6. Alan Paterson says:

    Hi Ben,

    This is a disaster as you are our best social commentator ever. But I will support you all the way to the grave. So from next week I will be dragging my ravaged body to PnP every Wednesday as soon as I have had my first daily smoke. This, fortunately, happens very quickly as five of us in the old age home have to share two drags each, prices being what they are these days. Then having used up my panic-bought loo paper stockpile, the rest of the rag will be put to good use after taking the scissors to your column (? double entrendre). Hope you can replace it with an “old best of ben” weekly e-mailing from your website so that comments can still flow from us erudite followers. It could be similar to the “from the Sunday Times 50 years ago”. Only problem I now have is that during our seemingly eternal lockdown I regularly forget which day of the week it is! Will have to set a recurring weekly alarm on the mobile.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Hi Alan. Yes, best you drag that ravaged body over to the shop every Wednesday. I also don’t know what day of the week it is, so do set that alarm. Thanks for supporting the paper who supports me. I’ll still post the odd bit of rubbish, even if it is the old stuff.

  7. Nadine Connaway says:

    I am very willing to pay for a subscription but am too wary of giving my bank pin number. If there is another way to subscribe without giving that information please let me know

  8. Timothy Leary says:

    So sorry, as an old age pensioner, I can’t afford to subscribe, so its ciao for now my friend, I really enjoyed reading your columns. Another light goes out, glad that I am now old and had the chance to live most of my days in what was normal, but that we took for granted, otherwise would have enjoyed it more. As an old acid head from Durban late sixties/seventies, time to stay tuned in, turned on and drop out.

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