Pulp non-fiction – A murder story

In the perilous world of publishing, there is something called ‘sales or return’. It works like this. Bookshops will order so many copies of a new title. If those get sold, they might order more.

Unsold copies are eventually returned to the publisher who, in turn, gives the author the opportunity to buy the stock at a discount. The author declines the offer because he believes there is still life in his book and also because he is broke and he vows to never write again. The result is that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of copies get destroyed. Pulped is the term they use.

My new book, Durban Poison, was released in November. Normally, bookshops will return unsold stock over a period of months. However, a non-normal situation has arisen. My publisher, MFBooksJHB, is dissolving her imprint and ending her contract with Jacana Media on 31st January.

Today, Jacana issued a trade announcement directed at booksellers.

“In order to manage the inventory, we will need to have all the below-listed titles returned to (the distributors) Booksite by no later than 25 February 2020. No returns will be accepted thereafter.”

At the end of the list of forty books, the killer. “No orders for these titles will be processed after 31 January 2020.”

So. Quite a few anxious authors out there. Melinda has indicated that she will consider buying some – but not all – of the remaining stock of Durban Poison in the hope of selling it on.

After 25 February, hundreds of copies of Durban Poison will be loaded into a van and taken off to the knacker’s yard. This doesn’t have to happen. It’s in your hands.

Books that make people laugh shouldn’t have to die.

A letter to the ‘General’

Dear Harry Knoesen,

I know you can’t see me, but I have just saluted you in proper military fashion. Because I don’t have a beret, boshoed or staaldak, I have a tea cosy on my head. Not ideal, I know, but it’s better than disrespecting you by saluting with nothing on my nut. That kind of sloppiness would get you a month in DB back in the good old days.

I am saluting you because you are an officer. A general, in fact. Even though you gave yourself this rank in your own organisation, the National Christian Resistance Movement, you are still a general in my eyes. Just this morning I started the Anti-Dishwashing Movement and, after a brief promotion ceremony in the garden, I demanded that my wife calls me Brigadier Ben and obeys my every command. Then she went off and had her own ceremony and made herself a Major-general and now everything has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Condolences on being arrested by the Hawks at your Middelburg home. They are not really known for doing arrests so it’s just pure bad luck on your part. Did you know they had been investigating you for the last two years? Probably not, otherwise you might not have been sitting in the lounge wearing your wife-beater and sleeping shorts. Not the best image for the head of a private militia dedicated to violently ending the scourge of democracy and returning the apex race to its rightful place.

The cops say they found an “explosives factory” and lots of guns and ammunition at your house. When I was a teenager, I had a catapult that I wasn’t allowed to have so I kept it at a friend’s house and only fetched it when someone needed to be shot. Don’t you have any friends? What about your soldiers? Couldn’t one of them have looked after your arsenal?

The communist-controlled media tells me that your organisation is nicknamed the Crusaders. I like it. Catchy. Reminds me a bit of rugby, for some reason. There’s also that other group, Cash Crusaders, but as far as I know they don’t have an armed wing. Cowards.

When you came up with the name you were probably thinking more of that time when the Catholics declared a holy war on them uppity Muslims. Then again, there probably aren’t many Catholics among you. In the old days, if you fought in the crusades you were automatically forgiven for your sins. It was a penitential exercise, unlike what you’re going through, which is more of a penitentiary thing.

I imagine your crusaders have a fair amount of sins to be forgiven for. I’ve done some terrible things with a head full of brandy. Okay, I never got around to blowing up national key points or driving black people into the sea. Sorry about that. The sad truth is, I get quite friendly with the darkies when I am drunk. Do you think I might be possessed by demons? Maybe I’m just drinking the wrong kind of brandy. I shall switch to something cheaper and have an exorcism just to be safe.

I heard you made a video saying the South African government hates whites and that we have to strike first. I don’t know, boet. From what I can make out, the government hates everyone. When it comes to plundering, looting and ruining people’s lives, they don’t discriminate. As for us striking first, well, I can’t speak for you, but I seriously lack rhythm. White men can’t toyi-toyi. I suppose we could try the langarm, but I fear the enemy might not take us seriously.

In the video you call yourself an “English Afrikaans Boer”. Are you related to the Knoesens of the Derbyshire Dales, perchance? They come from a long line of potters, painters and medieval mass murderers. Lovely people. Mostly.

You also say, “Yes, I am talking war. If Malema can say what he wants because he is black, then as a white general of my own movement, I can also say what I want.” Damn right. That’s the beauty of our Constitution. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, equality for … hang on. Aren’t we meant to be against this whole treating everyone equally business? Are you saying you want the same rights that Julius Malema has? Isn’t that what the darkies used to say about us? I’m so confused.

You said on Facebook that when you take back the land, you will make sure all white South Africans get “a free piece of land large enough to build and live on”. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but could I please have a free car instead of a piece of land? I am useless at building things and growing stuff. I don’t know how to use a spirit level or a plough and if I want meat I would rather go to the Spar than shoot a lamb in the face. On the other hand, if you want to extend your war to the Indian Ocean islands – and I think you should – then I would like to put my name down for a piece of land in the Seychelles. Somewhere on La Digue might be nice.

I believe you were a member of the Middelburg council for the ACDP. That must have been frustrating for you. Did you leave because they were too liberal? Calling for the return of the death penalty is one thing, but why stop at hanging? For two hundred years, the feudal authorities in Japan boiled, burned, crucified and decapitated their criminals. We need to be more like the ancient Japanese. Unless you think Japanese are the same as darkies, in which case we need to be less like them.

So, listen. Tell me about this Riana Heymans woman who got arrested a few days after you. Is she one of your “special” Crusaders? You know what I mean. Praise be. She’s quite attractive in an unpleasant sort of way. Is she single? I once wrote some marital vows based on Blood River that would work well for her.

By the way, I read somewhere that you were in the army? Makes sense. I don’t think we met. I was a signalman. I told them I was colour-blind and they still put me in signals. No wonder we lost the war.

Good luck, ou pel. As they say, when days are dark and friends are few … sorry. I didn’t mean to say dark. Everything will be all white on the night. Vasbyt.

A survival guide to Black Friday

It’s that time of year when we all turn into gibbering idiots and experts take it upon themselves to advise us on the blindingly obvious. In the event of a thunderstorm, avoid standing in an open field waving a golf club at the sky while wearing a tinfoil hat.

The annual plummeting of the national IQ is exacerbated by Black Friday, a day upon which pornographic greed and an overwhelming fear of missing out come together and cause people to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need.

Here’s how one news story started the week. “With Black Friday and festive shopping mayhem fast approaching, experts have urged consumers to stay alert and safe.” It’s not every journalist who can combine a harmless American tradition with Jesus’s birthday and still manage to strike terror into our hearts.

It’s my opinion that mayhem is best experienced suddenly and without warning. You really don’t want to see it coming. You want to be yawning and scratching your crotch when it heads your way. Be unprepared. That’s my motto.

One of the experts trained in the art of staying alert and safe urged shoppers to be vigilant at malls and shopping centres. I remember a time when it was the streets that weren’t safe. A time when you would seek refuge in malls to avoid getting hit by crossfire, recruited into a biker gang or offered stolen goods you couldn’t afford.

Now, the streets are full of unemployed humanities graduates whose accusing stares fill us with guilt, damn their selfish hollow eyes, but they are mostly harmless. The real danger lurks where the ravening beasts of capitalism have made their loathsome lairs. If it’s sanctuary you’re after, you are safer in a crack house than a mall at this time of year.

The expert urges us to “be aware of the general spike in follow-home incidents”. If I ever start a rebel army – it’s on my bucket list – I shall demand to be called General Spike. Are you listening, Julius? The name is taken. You can have General Dealer, unless my rebel army rebels against me and I start a cannabis farm, in which case it’s mine.

One of the main reasons I go to a mall is in the hope that someone will follow me home. Don’t judge me. I live alone. I’m not the only one who does this. Look around the next time you’re at a mall. Almost everyone who is on their own is hoping for a follow-home incident. Not necessarily by four armed men in a BMW with tinted windows and no licence plates, admittedly. But nobody shops solo with the singular intention of buying things. It’s a deeply unnatural act. How would you even decide what to get without having a second person to consult? After one of my many break-ups, I made the rookie mistake of going to a flea market on my own. I was never the same after that.

The expert says criminals are in the malls watching what you buy. The trick is to have a decoy trolley filled with nappies and bottles of Purity. Not even burglars want to break into a house infested with the freshly born. Your real trolley, full of expensive gear, will have to be pushed by a decoy person. Maybe a friend or relative you don’t particularly like. Get them to take it to their house. You can pick it up the following day, if they’re still alive.

The expert advises that if you think you’re being followed, “drive immediately to a police station”. This is where it gets tricky. What if you are drunk or high? I can’t imagine shopping any other way. The last thing you want is to reel into the charge office babbling about imaginary bandits on your tail. “They were right there, ossifer. I swear.” Brazen it out. Demand a police escort. Then, when you get home, threaten to report them for abusing state resources unless they give you money.

The expert also suggests that when you get home, you should “wait in the road for the gate to open before driving in”. Are there people out there who drive in without waiting for the gate to open? Their gate budget must be ridiculous. We don’t all have gates, though, and I’m certainly not going to wait in the road until the gate people can come around and put one in.

Another piece of advice is to “carry as little as possible in your handbag or pockets”. Has this expert even met a woman? Can you imagine the carnage if husbands had to insist on wives emptying their pockets and handbags before going shopping?

Besides, do we still have pickpockets and bag-snatchers? Bit Dickensian. I suppose you could put scorpions in your pockets and a small improvised explosive device in your bag capable of being detonated remotely. Also useful if your bloke goes into your bag without permission. Then again, if he loses his hands, your workload in the bedroom doubles. Might not be worth it.

Another expert, valued for his razor-sharp acumen, warned against over-spending. Thanks, mate. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be in a homeless shelter. I have no self-control whatsoever. I can’t tell the difference between income and expenditure any more than I can boil an egg without adult supervision.

He also suggested we save money by eating at home instead of in restaurants. I don’t know, bro. Pravin Gordhan is poisoning a lot of people these days and you never know when he might get the address wrong.

The expert said that instead of maxing out your credit card, “rather save up over time for that big-ticket, luxury item”. I’m not so sure. We don’t have a whole lot of time. The country is flying on one engine. If that flames out, there will only be little-ticket items available. Like bread. And maybe a chop if you’re lucky. I say go big now.

The expert also suggests that you put your wallet in the front pocket of your trousers. I’ve tried that but I find it attracts a fair amount of unwanted attention. I have to stop myself from shouting, “My eyes are up here!” Girl, you’re already holding hands with a dude. Behave yourself.

We should also leave “unnecessary bank cards and large amounts of cash” at home. Who are these people with unnecessary bank cards and large amounts of cash? Drug dealers? I suggest you follow them home and steal their drugs. Give you a taste of their own medicine.

Apparently people who get year-end bonuses are most at risk of being robbed. It’s a good thing I’m a freelancer, then. I haven’t had a bonus in fifteen years. No wonder I’m still alive. What extraordinary luck.

Buy buy baby

Hark, the Christmas tills do ring. The season of giving, taking, looting, stabbing and shooting is almost upon us. The Little Drummer Boy has already driven me from at least two malls.

All you can do is laugh. You have to, otherwise you’ll cry. This is where my new book is useful.

As you know, if you’ve been paying attention, Durban Poison is available in proper bookshops like Exclusive Books and Wordsworth. Other shops might have it, too. If they don’t, burn them to the ground.

If you want your copy scribbled in, you’ll have to buy it right here on this site. Just click on the Contraband link. You wouldn’t be the first. In fact, I’m on my way to the Post Office right now to despatch the first bunch of orders. I have even provided photographic evidence in case you think I’m lying.

Stock is limited, as is my enthusiasm for continuing to pay for packaging, postage and driving to the Post Office.

Contraband

‘Durban Poison: A Collection of Vitriol and Wit’ by Ben Trovato is the funniest book I’ve read all year

The dark side of change

It’s unlikely I was the only one suffering from a minor medical emergency last Sunday. Having tried all the regular remedies – aspirin, fried food, suicide – I dragged my shattered carcass off to the shop and bought a few cans of Coke.

I don’t usually drink this filth for political reasons, which, at this point in time, are a little hazy. I think it had to do with the bottlers in Columbia hiring paramilitary thugs to murder employees caught drinking Pepsi. Or something. I don’t know why I cared. I might have been going through my social justice warrior phase before discovering it doesn’t pay very well.

On Sunday I couldn’t have cared less if Coca-Cola turned out to be the official sponsor of the Trump family. I needed to dilute the massive amount of post-World Cup beer that had caused my blood to stream about as well as Telkom Wi-Fi on a rainy night in Diepsloot. Coke can adulterate, corrode or kickstart just about anything and it was my last shot.

I ripped the can open and guzzled it right there in the shop. There was a moment when everything went quiet. Like that scene when a bomb goes off in Saving Private Ryan. Instead of being stricken with temporary deafness, like Tom Hanks, I clutched my throat and, eyes swiveling wildly in my head, retched clumsily into a conveniently placed ornamental palm. Like Gary Busey in, well, real life.

I thought I’d been poisoned. It tasted as if the paramilitaries had spiked it. Once my internal organs calmed down, I inspected the can. “Plus Coffee” it said. And, in the event that one’s hangover was affecting one’s vision, in bigger letters, “Real Coffee From Brazil”. To make absolutely sure the customer knew what was happening, there was even a picture of coffee beans on the side. I didn’t notice any of this when I bought it because nobody in their right mind pauses to check if their Coke has been contaminated with anything other than the usual cola-related toxins.

What kind of crazy person would come up with such a terrible idea? This is not the work of a normal crazy person, that’s for sure. This is off the charts. Have people built up such a tolerance that they now need a caffeine boost with their sugar?

We have all, at one time or another, been exposed to children speeding on sugar in a confined space. I have been on long-haul flights with children who were given Coke to drink. They react as if they are being electrocuted. Now imagine them having the new Coffee-Coke twenty minutes into a thirteen-hour flight. They would kick the back of your seat so violently that you’d end up with a splintered coccyx and, a month after disembarking, a kidney transplant. The runty savages would be fighting among themselves to get into the cockpit and everyone in economy class would spend the night praying for engine failure.

My point is that people should just leave good enough alone. Remember that old slogan, Coke adds life? Okay, it doesn’t if you work for a bottling plant in Bogota. But for those of us far downstream of the production line, Coke has done its job adequately.

What would happen if someone had to drink a Klippies and Coffee-Coke? I shudder to think. Actually, I’ve been shuddering for three days. I wish it would stop.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t want things tampered with. Take Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of the EFF, for instance. An educated and sensitive man, he was deeply conflicted when the Springboks won the World Cup. There are black and white players in the team, which meant he could only voice his support whenever a darkie had the ball. The moment it was passed to one of the neo-colonial, counter-revolutionary puppets of the West, he had to shout “Phansi amaBhunu!” or look away and pretend he hadn’t seen. It couldn’t have been easy for him. The final whistle must have been particularly awkward. Not everyone can make it clear that you’re cheering the black players only. You’d need a PhD in political science to pull that off.

Simultaneously angry, happy and sad, Ndlozi turned to Twitter and offered his congratulations to Siya Kolisi. The white players, he suggested, should get their congratulations from Prince Harry. The prince, who has made it abundantly clear that he has had quite enough of white people in general and his family in particular, was off drinking beer in the Boks’ changing room. Harry would have noted that Faf de Klerk, while possessing the instincts and agility of a Miniature Schnauzer, is developing a bit of a boep. Being a gentleman, he refrained from pointing and laughing.

Our benign president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is also encouraging change. He said we should do like Siya says and work together. That’s fine for Siya to say. His house is a hotbed of racial unity. Personally, I’ve only ever known blondes to be nothing but trouble. Brunettes, too. And redheads.

Comrade Ndlozi’s political doppelgänger down at the shallow end of the gene pool, Oberstfuhrer Steve Hofmeyr, offered to translate Cyril’s message. “Let the Siya injection make you numb so you don’t fight back when we grab your land from under your arse because you’re white.” Translated from the original Afrikaans, obviously.

Steve bravely left his land unguarded and went to a friend’s house to watch the final. He couldn’t watch at home because he destroyed his DStv decoder a few months ago. I can’t remember why. Perhaps because it was black.

So that’s the thing. We don’t want change in this country. Not really. If we did, we’d do like the Ecuadorians and Chileans and take to the streets in our millions and refuse to leave until someone did something to fix the economy. If Eskom started working and Jacob Zuma stopped appealing, we’d have nothing to complain about. We would be lost without our healthy sense of fear and loathing of those who look, think and talk differently to us.

#ImStaying because I can’t wait to see what Cyril doesn’t do next. I also want to feel what it’s like to live in a country that’s been accorded junk status by all three major ratings agencies. Not every nation can achieve it, you know. You have to really not work at it. So far it’s only two out of three. Hopes are pinned on Moody’s delivering the coup de grâce in three months’ time.

For now, though, let us link arms with the likes of Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Irvin Jim and Helen Zille and go laughingly backwards into the future.

 

 

  • Don’t forget to visit the Contraband page and order your signed copy of my latest book, Durban Poison.

Get your Durban Poison here!

I promised that my new book would be available on my website and, lo, it has come to pass. Praise be.

I’m happy to devalue your copy by scribbling something in it. If you want it inscribed to someone other than yourself, supply the name in the box marked Order Notes.

There is limited stock available. Seriously. I am not just saying that to sell more books. I’m not like the others. Also, given the reputation of the Post Office, early orders are advisable unless you want to get it in time for Christmas 2020.

PDFs of my other titles are also available. Just click on Contraband.

Contraband

 

 

 

 

Boks, beer and a brand new book

Right. It’s the day after the big win and I know how you are feeling. But you’re in luck. I happen to have the perfect cure for a crushing hangover. It’s my new book, Durban Poison, and it will help tremendously in the recovery process. Laugh or die. The choice is yours.

Published by former smasher of drugs and crasher of Ferraris, Melinda Ferguson, the book has been selected by Exclusive Books for inclusion on The List. It’s also available in other bookshops and online. And as an ebook.

In the next few days you will be able to order a copy right here on this site. If you like, I’ll devalue yours by scribbling something in it. I might even get around to posting it. Coming on top of the Bok win, this really is the cherry on the koek.

What a time to be alive.

 

Durban Poison PR

https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/i-aim-for-100-words-per-beer-ben-trovato-talks-new-book-36052829

 

 

 

A requiem for Gavin Watson

The news that one of South Africa’s best loved white-collar criminals has died in a car crash reminded me of a letter I wrote to him and his brothers earlier this year.

……………

Dear Gavin, Ronnie, Valence and Cheeky,

This is mainly a letter to Gavin, but I didn’t want any of you feeling left out.

Is it true that your father was a lay preacher? Given the size of the Watson family, he almost certainly got laid more than most men of the cloth. Maybe it’s a Port Elizabeth thing. Anyway, the world needs fathers who understand the importance of instilling solid Christian values in their children.

I believe congratulations and condolences are in order. Congratulations on proving that whities can be just as innovative as darkies when it comes to tapping into arteries of untold wealth using nothing more than a wink, a nod and a bag full of cash. Some of us were beginning to wonder whether white people could even get it together to plunder on a governmental scale. We were brilliant at doing apartheid, but then democracy happened and we all became a bit pathetic. Thanks to Bosasa and the ANC’s flooding of the civil service with an army of conscience-free cadres, our race can once again take it’s rightful place in the pantheon of villains.

Condolences, however, on getting caught. What the hell were you thinking when you hired an Italian? Couldn’t you find anyone more trustworthy? Was Glenn Agliotti busy? On the other hand, Italians do make the best mafioso. Also pasta. But when they squeal, and so many of them do, the reverberations are felt far and wide.

Angelo Agrizzi looks like a man made entirely out of Play-Doh who was once pushed off a table by a cat and landed face-first on the floor. He claims to have suffered a crisis of conscience and that’s why he decided to rat you out at the Zondo Commission. We now know that’s not true and he in fact suffered a crisis of being fired for stealing company money. He could hardly go to the CCMA so he reckoned the best way to get rehired would be to threaten you, Gavin. He didn’t just want his job back, though. He wanted the entire company for himself. He said unless you complied, he would tell everything and destroy you. And, in the process, himself. Like a bee. Or a horny male praying mantis. I’ve been married twice and I never came close to being as hated as much as Angelo hated you.

Did you think he was bluffing? Did you think that because you played rugby with black people in the 1970s you were untouchable? Struggle credentials can only be stretched so far before they snap. No, of course that wasn’t it. You thought you were untouchable because your pockets were bulging with politicians and prosecutors. My first wife once described me as untouchable but I couldn’t fathom out how to monetise it.

When you consider the full frontal horror show unfolding at the State Capture inquiry, I bet you wish you had never given Mr Potato Head the boot in the first place. Seems a bit odd that you fired him in 2016 for stealing. After all, corruption formed the very foundation of your business. I’m not judging you. I did a bit of shoplifting myself when I was younger. Perhaps, as a born-again Christian, you interpret the eighth commandment to mean that you shouldn’t steal from your employer. Everyone else is fair game.

You must surely be regretting not having taken the duplicitous deep throat’s “offer” (the things that throat must have seen). As far as offers go, it was a pretty good one. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill blackmail job. He was offering you ten million rand a month to never come in to the office again. You turned it down. There’s your insanity plea right there.

Mr Fatty Goombah told the commission that Nomvula Mokonyane, one of our favourite Teflon-coated ministers, was among the multitudes who lined up for their monthly benediction of the unholy sacrament. I understand that her blessing came in the form of R50 000. And she never even had to pick up the rand because it was delivered by you, Gavin. I like that. The personal touch is so often lacking in today’s corporate culture.

You also generously gave her a complimentary Christmas hamper every year that included four cases of whisky, eight lambs, forty cases of beer and 200kg of beef. She probably ordered extra if she had guests over.

When the Italian Rapscallion complained that Bosasa wasn’t getting much value for money from Mokonyane, you pointed out that she had a lot of clout and the company would find itself in trouble if it stopped the payments. That’s why I love this country. Bribe, by all means, but there will be hell to pay if you stop. Malice in Wonderland.

I laughed out loud when il ratto, a man weirdly unfamiliar with the noble concept of Omertà, told the commission that the bribe to correctional services went up from half a mil to R750k when Tom Moyane was appointed commissioner. Fair enough. Quality costs extra. Someone by the name of Sesinyi Seopela apparently distributed the cash among the more ethically challenged members of his and other departments.

Bosasa captured the prisons, man. That’s so cool. Big up to you. If there was a glossy magazine for criminals, you’d be a regular in the style section.

So, Gav. I understand you’re still open for business as African Global Group. Bosasa’s evil twin, basically. And you’re still leading the staff in daily prayers? That’s impressive. Even more so since your only defence, apart from insanity, is that the devil made you do it.

One thing I’m a bit curious about, boet. Did you or your corpulent whistle-blowing weasel ever encounter anyone in the public sector who refused one of your, er, incentives? Must’ve happened. There’s always one who wants to spoil the party for the rest of us. I think you should name and shame him. Or her. We don’t need their kind in this country. They can take their non-profit integrity and tedious moral rectitude and stick it up their permanently struggling fundamentals.

Funny thing is, the testimony of this double-crossing blabbermouth ratfink snitch bastard would be enough to bring down most democratic governments, let alone the god-fearing Watson dynasty. Luckily for you, Gav, our handful of incorruptible prosecutors will spend forever sloshing about waist-deep in denials and deviations and anything that does make it to court will be bogged down for all eternity in the mires and marshlands of the law.

Imagine if, at the end of it all, you and this backstabbing bean-spilling tattletale narc were allocated the same cell. Nah. Wouldn’t happen. There’s still too much Bosasa baksheesh floating about the system for that to happen.

Anyway, comrade. I’m missing happy hour. You might be a terrible Christian but you’re not a bad person. Maybe you are. I really don’t know. I’ve been married twice. I’m not the best judge of character. For that, you’d need a real judge. With any luck you’ll get one who’s on the payroll.