Jabless in Central America

I would like to know where my bloody vaccine is. I check my email every day and still no invitation from the government. Am I not vulnerable enough? Does my demographic not exist in sufficiently large numbers for my life to be worth saving? I expect that might be it. Fair enough.

I am vulnerable, though, slumped under a palm tree on an isolated stretch of beach on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica 13,000km from my natural home, Durban. My adopted home, Cape Town, is slightly closer, but this doesn’t make me feel any less vulnerable. 

Anything could happen to me right now. My next beer could flow into my lungs causing me to drown. Someone might try to talk to me and discover that I am perilously close to being unable to communicate in any language whatsoever. A coconut could plummet into my lap, destroying any lingering hopes of contributing another drain on the planet’s resources. 

One child isn’t enough. We all need to have as many children as quickly as possible. Stop what you’re doing and mount your partner at once. Studies have shown that one in a hundred million babies will go on to do something that revolutionises the way we live our lives. Your child could be the next Tim Berners-Lee. Or even the next messiah. However, if your child does show signs of inventing a new religion capable of brainwashing millions, or developing a technology that obviates the need for human interaction, a mercy killing might be advisable.

At the risk of contradicting myself, being vulnerable should not be a criterion for getting hustled to the front of the queue for your slice of the vaccine pie. I’m not talking about being vulnerable in the sense of exposing yourself to the virus so that others might live. Medical staff is exempted from this poorly thought-out idea. In my defence, and there’s nobody else around to defend me apart from a massive iguana that might even be a small crocodile, it’s only poorly thought out because it’s a thousand degrees wherever you are in this country.

My eyes are bubbling in my skull like two poached eggs and my brain feels like a chunk of oxtail that’s been left in the slow cooker for six months. There’s a reason Costa Rica has produced only one Nobel Prize winner, and that was for peace. Will you all just please stop fighting? It’s too damn hot. Let’s abolish the army, declare the country a national park and print a billion beach towels with sloths on them.

When it comes to vaccines, vulnerability shouldn’t be defined according to age. The young, for instance, don’t deserve vaccines for the simple reason that they don’t pay tax. Then again, this is not entirely their fault. I blame our namby-pamby labour laws. I was ready to start work the moment I realised high school wasn’t for me. That was on the first day of Grade 8. However, the National Party had other plans for me. They insisted I finish school and get conscripted. Fight communism. They didn’t really have a plan beyond that. By the time the army spat me out, I wasn’t interested in getting a job. All I wanted to do was surf, smoke weed, drink beer and play drums in a punk band. This makes me sound more ambitious than I was.

Had there been a pandemic at the time, the government would have made sure I got the vaccine. Not because they knew Power Age couldn’t afford to lose their drummer, but because I was white. Still am. Mostly. PW Botha believed that all white people apart from Carl Niehaus were destined for great things. I disappointed him terribly. If you can hear me down there, PW, I apologise.

Children, especially those who belong to other people, shouldn’t be first in line for the vaccine. The way they behave in restaurants is enough to disbar them. The young put the most filthy things into their mouths, and this is even before they become sexually active, and yet they not only survive but thrive. Vulnerable my arse. They’ll be just fine.

In a similar vein, haha, the vaccine should not necessarily be handed out willy nilly to the elderly either. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re special. Some of the worst people in history were allowed to get old. PW was 90. Stalin was 74. Idi Amin made it all the way to 78.

I suppose Mussolini made up for it by dying at 61. None of this natural causes bollocks for him, though. Why don’t you just shoot me and hang me upside down and let people throw rocks at me? he shouted. Communists, being the literalists they are, happily obliged.

Politicians, needless to say, should be last in line for the vaccine.

Hold on. A feral Tico with a bag of coconuts slung over his shoulder and a razor-sharp machete in his gnarled paw has just sloped out of the jungle. I read reports about him. Gringos advise caution. They say he threatened them. Americans, to be fair, are easily threatened. Often with good cause. I gave him a beer and we bumped fists. That’s all you have to do. Treat the poor and the mad well and there’s a good chance they won’t try to cut your head off.

An open letter to Carl Knight – last of the great white hunters

Dear Carl Knight,

When I got wind of your courageous exploits, I felt I had to congratulate you. For a start, you are British. We adore the British – they are our second favourite colonialists. The first, obviously, are the Dutch. They gave us the Afrikaners who in turn gave us apartheid. What’s not to love about apartheid, right? Was that the reason your parents moved to South Africa in 1980?

Your efforts to encourage tourism to South Africa in these fraught times are laudable, indeed. It’s not easy these days to find a Brit who is interested in anything other than Brexit and that tawdry harlot, Meghan Markle. 

Even though you’re only 46 and hail from Epsom, Surrey, you have your very own company operating out of Johannesburg. It’s called Take Aim Safaris. At first I thought it might be another of those bunny-fondling outfits that think the best way to shoot animals is with a camera. Ha! Poor fools. Unlike you, sir, they have clearly never cradled a 300 Winchester Magnum in one arm and a high-class prostitute in the other.

And you named your eldest son Hunter! You wouldn’t expect a man who enjoys shooting animals in the face to have a sense of humour. Well done.

You spotted a gap in the market. As the plague is still very much with us, people are understandably reluctant to travel. That’s until you reminded them that with fewer hunters around, wild animals have been breeding like, well, wild animals. You can barely walk anywhere in South Africa right now without bumping into an elephant.

So you fired off a newsletter to 3,000 of your clients around the world encouraging them to come here and kill a bunch of stuff for sport. And what a sport it is! Okay, maybe not so much for the animals, but they don’t pay taxes and won’t be missed.

You wrote, “Big elephant and trophy buffalo + hippo, croc are plentiful. The areas are well rested, the animal movement is fantastic.” Let’s see how fantastically they move with a 5.56-caliber bullet lodged in their brain haha.

“I have quota available on the big cats: leopard and lion plus elephant bulls at unbeatable prices.” This is great news. I have never trusted an animal that can’t change its spots. Leopards are duplicitous, violent brutes and I am delighted to hear that they are now on special. Lions, too, will pretend to befriend you, then have your throat out just for the sport of it. They are cats, after all. Did you know this? Or do you simply judge everything with four legs according to the price tag on its hairy ass? Fair enough.

Some of your prices do seem a bit steep. $8 for a guinea fowl? Leave a trail of breadcrumbs into your oven and they’ll cook themselves. $150 for a mongoose? Can’t be much left, especially if you’re using hollow-point ammo. And $75 for a vervet monkey? Daylight robbery, that is. Porcupines are priced right at $300. Even though it’s more of an execution than a hunt, you could still get a quill in the eye if you were very drunk and had to fall on him.

In a recent interview with African Hunting Gazette, you said you shot your first leopard at 16. Impressive! I hadn’t even had my first blowjob by that age and there you were on a wild killing spree. Have you had your first blowjob yet? No matter. It’s the killing that’s important.

I love that you hunted for a Christian drug rehab in the Northern Cape when you were younger. You gave them more meat than they knew what to do with. That’s a David Lynch movie, that is. Produced by Oliver Stone. Featuring a young Sylvester Stallone as you.

You’ve hunted all over – Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe … you even shot a bear in Russia. I suppose he didn’t understand when you shouted, “Hands up! Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” You also said Namibia is a great place to hunt. 

“Namibia reminds me of South Africa 30 years ago with its low human population and massive open spaces.” Yep, there was hardly anyone living in South Africa in 1991. An easy mistake to make, what with 40 million people being tucked away out of sight. As for the massive open spaces, well, you had the Group Areas Act to thank for that.

The magazine asked what’s your favourite animals to hunt and you said, “Dagga Boys!” What? That was the name of my gang when I was growing up. But you were talking about something else. “Such an exciting hunt … it’s kill or be killed when you’re hunting buffalo.” So you engage in hand-to-hoof combat with these brutes? Respect, bro.

Our president is also into buffalo in a big way. Mainly for breeding purposes, though. No, I don’t mean … never mind.

Your greatest trophy was the buffalo you hunted with your dad in Mozambique. “It was, and remains, the fulfillment of a father and son dream hunt in a perfect environment.”

My greatest trophy was for tennis in Standard 8. It was tiny but I was very proud. My father never taught me how to hunt. Instead, he taught me how to play pool. The thrill just wasn’t the same, although people did die in some of the pubs he took me to. 

You talk fondly of the “38-inch bull in Mozambique that put me firmly on a path I’m still on”. That’s, like, just over a metre? What kind of small-ass bull is that? You might as well have kicked him to death. Anyway, what do I know. I’m sure you believe your wife when she tells you that size isn’t everything.

So the hippo-humpers are saying that many of the animals on your list are endangered. This is nonsense. There are around 400 000 African elephants left in the wild. If you shot a hundred a day, they would last for ten years. That’s not exactly endangered in my book.

There are also 20 000 lions roaming about off their leashes. That’s more than enough lions for everyone. You can get through five a day at least, maybe more if they stop hiding up trees and in cardboard boxes. Sure, their numbers have plummeted by over 40% in the last three generations as a result of hunting, but our national IQ has dropped 40 points in three years as a result of bad education and too much CNN and you don’t see us shooting our stupid people, do you? Damn, this stuff is strong. 

Where was I? Oh, yes. You charge £10,000 to shoot an elephant? That, my friend, is a small fortune in my pathetic currency. And £14,500 to put a bullet into the back of a lion’s head? That’s way too much. Are you on drugs? Tell you what. I’ll give you R10 000 for two baby elephants, three monkeys and a crocodile. You do mix-and-match packages, right? And you do pay your taxes, right?

I see you have lived in Joburg for almost your entire life. It’s completely understandable, then, that you would want to kill everything in sight. And you’ve been organising assassinations ever since 2008? Nice work if you can get it.

I see those gerbil-suckers over at MailOnline have been questioning your ethics. How very dare they. You told them, “We eat what we hunt … we love and conserve animals.” I’ve often wondered what elephant tastes like. Tough, I imagine. Do you make carpaccio out of the leopards? That would be a winner among the Italians.

You also told the running dogs of the media that “I have broken no laws”. Good one, mate. You and me and Jacob Zuma know it’s impossible to break laws in this country. Well, you can break them alright, but there ain’t jackshit gonna happen to you.

That bastion of truth, The Mirror, asked how you felt about the dwindling number of wild animals in SA. You said they were lying, which they obviously were, and said, “In South Africa we have over 20,000,000 wild animals bred and conserved here. The birth rate per annum is around 3,000,000.” You might want to check your science, son. I think you’re talking about our people, here.

By the way, my friend Ted said you look like a bit of a cunt. You’ll be pleased to know that I had one of the servants horsewhip him soundly. Your name is Knight, for heaven’s sake. You’re a member of the realm. And I do mean member.

I liked the way you wrapped up your interview with that hunting magazine: “For my family and I, there is no life without God.” There’s a rich vein of irony in there somewhere. 

Did you know that if your Boris Johnson had kept his word and implemented the ban on trophy imports pledged in his election manifesto and repeated in the Commons last year, you’d be back in Surrey organising weasel hunts by now?

Our president also has trouble keeping his promises. Politicians, eh? Long may they lie.

  • If anyone would like to congratulate Carl on the great work he’s doing, you can reach him on 011-6083999 or 082-7491747. Living as he does in medieval times, he even has a fax number: 086-5378645. His email address is carl@takeaimsafaris.com.

https://www.bookyourhunt.com/en/outfitters/take-aim-safaris

Click to access African-Hunting-Gazette.pdf

Warning: Outbreak of mass stupidity – contagious

I recently broke one of my cardinal rules, which is unusual because I don’t believe in rules, let alone cardinals. It wasn’t the “don’t drink tequila and suggest marriage” rule. That one, I don’t break. Not any more. The rule I did break also invariably ends in tears. You know the one. It’s the “don’t read the comments section” rule.

There was a time I thought it was a good idea to get a feeling for the sides people were taking in the messy arena where personal freedom jousts with authoritarian control in the eternal battle for our hearts and minds. In my defence, though, lest you leap to conclusions and paint me as some sort of conflicted, shouty libertarian, I was a journalist and knowing what people were thinking was a fairly key part of the gig. 

Back then, nobody offered journalists brown envelopes stuffed with cash in return for inventing quotes from fictitious sources to serve a particular political purpose. Those halcyon days came much later.

We were old school. We used typewriters. If we needed a comment or opinion, we’d pick up the telephone and make calls to real people and write down what they said in real notebooks. We couldn’t even go outside and make a covert call because the phones were plugged into the wall and anyway we weren’t allowed to leave the building unless it was on assignment because the news editor knew we’d all head for the nearest bar if we had to be granted freedom of movement.

If you have been paying attention, you would know that I am in Costa Rica either on holiday or on a reconnaissance mission with a view to emigration. The intention of the trip varies from day to day and the outcome is heavily dependent on access to cold beer, hot women, good surf and cheap property. The sun is setting over the sea as I write this. I can hear howler monkeys growling nearby. That might be my son-in-law. He seems to think I need to vary my route between the fridge and the couch. How rude. Then again, he is of Belgian stock.

“You’re not in the Congo now, my boy,” I said the other night. Something changed in his eyes and I decided to retire early. Not as early as King Leopold II, unfortunately. Or Mobutu Sese Seko, for that matter.

Where was I? Damn this humidity. Being so close to the equator, one’s cranium slowly turns into a wok in which one’s brain simmers and by the time evening comes around to cool things off, one’s synapses are half asleep in frog pyjamas and it takes a shot or two of Flor de Caña to make them realise they still have work to do.

Being in Central America, it’s not easy to keep track of what’s happening in South Africa. Not because the internet sucks, which it doesn’t, but because home seems so very far away and it becomes increasingly hard to care about anything beyond the here and now. In Costa Rica, the national slogan is “pura vida”. Pure life. Ours is “fuck this shit” or “one for the road” or “I saw nothing, I know nothing”.

Mugged and drugged by journalism from a young age, I still feel the need to know what’s happening. Everywhere. At all times. Well, maybe not so much now. I’m happy not to be in Australia, though, where South African expats track the news from home for reasons to do more with schadenfreude than nostalgia.

I want my country to succeed. Sure, it seems a bit late in the day for such wildly extravagant optimism and you probably think I’m on drugs to imagine it’s even possible. Yes, I am on drugs, but not the sort you have in mind. I’m high on life haha.

Look, if there’s a coup and Ramaphosa is fitted with an iron mask and banished to Robben Island and Ace Magashule takes over and Julius Malema becomes deputy president and Tony Yengeni is appointed minister of justice, I’m definitely coming back. There’s no way I’m missing that show.

And that’s why I have to keep my finger on the pulse. Get a feel for the zeitgeist. The plague has reminded us how quickly things can change. When this level of bad craziness shows signs of getting worse, you have two options. The Americans have a term for one of them. Shelter-in-place. This is “the act of seeking safety within the building one already occupies, rather than evacuating the area or seeking a community emergency shelter”.

Imagine our government setting up community emergency shelters. Put me on the list for the next pandemic. I have money. Bump me up, comrade. What do you mean squatters have moved in? I already paid my … ah, forget it.

So, anyway. I read about a group calling themselves We Are More. They believe Cyril Ramaphosa is a mind-controlling iguana, the ANC wants to turn our children into sex slaves and Woolworths is part of a global plot to (insert conspiracy theory here). They seem to be based in the Western Cape. Well, Muizenberg mostly. If they can get their hands on free transport, they might even travel as far as Fish Hoek.

And that’s when I started reading the comments section. Not just on this story, but others too. Read the comments on the Malema/Zuma tea party story. Or any story about SA’s Covid-19 disaster regulations. Airlines insisting that people wear masks? Good luck.

It’s as if South Africa has sprung a gas leak and everyone’s brains are slowly being starved of oxygen. Blue babies everywhere, as far as the eye can see.

There’s not enough Flor de Caña in the world for this.

 

 

The breast and worst of Valentine’s Day

A flashback…

………..

Most women, on Valentine’s Day, are quite happy to wake up and find a couple of hundred bucks on the bedside table. But not Brenda. Oh, no. She woke up and said she felt like decent breasts. “No problem,” I said, getting off the floor upon which I had inexplicably spent the night. “I’ll nip out and pick some up.”

By the time I left the pub, I had forgotten what she wanted so I sent her a Please Call Me. “Breasts,” she said. “Chicken or beef?” said I. She pointed out that cows did not have breasts. “On the udder hand, Darren,” I said.

Anyway. Turns out that I had cocked it up as usual. She wanted a completely new set of human breasts and not something smothered in honey and mustard sauce and nibbled on at lunch, although why we couldn’t combine the two was beyond me.

Most women, I imagine, choose the enhancement option in matters this close to the chest. Brenda wanted the opposite. Unheard of, where I come from. Come to think of it, where I come from most things are unheard of. Intellectual gigantism is one of the few conditions my so-called friends do not suffer from.

To men, the notion of a breast reduction makes about as much sense as gobbling handfuls of Chinese medicine guaranteed to make one’s willie smaller. Ever since we were born, we have been conditioned to believe that bigger is better – the exception being the willie department. Here, we are more than happy to cling to the unusually charitable Cosmo myth that size doesn’t count.

The first thing boy babies see when they open their eyes is a giant breast bearing down on them like some terrible Peruvian landslide. It has a tremendous impact on their outlook on life, especially if they are expected to swallow a nipple the size of a bricklayer’s thumb.

I tried telling Brenda that if she really wanted smaller breasts, there was a far less permanent way of getting them. She headed me off at the pass. “You will never have a threesome for as long as we are married.” I keep a very good divorce lawyer’s number on speed dial for moments like these, but he is due for release only in 2035. By then I expect I shall be more interested in philately than philandery.

And lo, it came to pass that I found myself helping Brenda into a backless gown in the gynae ward of a city hospital. Private, naturally. Go for a boob job at a state hospital and you risk walking out with a size 36C bum.

The week before, she had gone to see a couple of plastic sturgeons. Apparently it’s like getting your car panel-beaten. You need to get at least two quotes. She wasn’t that keen on the first doctor because he specialised in labiaplasty. Can’t blame her, really. Even I think there’s something a little odd about a man who sculpts designer vaginas for a living.

Nurses aren’t what they used to be. The guzzling of ethyl alcohol, the hideous screaming, the broken bottles, the stabbings. Perhaps they weren’t nurses at all. Come to think of it, they weren’t wearing uniforms. Neither did they have teeth. And they were on the pavement outside the hospital.

So I got Brenda into her ridiculous medical frock, all the while trying to talk her out of it. “Listen to me,” I said. “It’s not too late to run.” It’s not as if Brenda had enormous bazookas lashed to her front. Sure, they were more than a handful, but then so is she. Her breasts were fine. It’s her brain that could do with a nip and a tuck.

A nurse walked in and started filling in Brenda’s chart. Judging by her questions, I thought she might have been one of the ladies I saw in the street. “Where are the pain?” she asked. Brenda explained that she was about to have a breast reduction. “Dids you call a doctor?” I began giggling like a schoolgirl but saved my face by feigning stomach cramps. “Please may I have some pethidine?” I begged. Unfortunately, the nurse had absorbed just enough training to know not to hand out awesome drugs to people who were sitting in the visitor’s chair, even if they were clearly suffering from some sort of paroxysm.

Then the anaesthetist burst in, full of piss and propofol. He offered me a cursory handshake and proceeded to focus all his attention on Brenda. How very dare you, I thought. Why don’t you ask how I’m feeling? Maybe take my blood pressure? For all you know, I’m about to have a stroke. Brenda said later that he seemed nice. Yeah, right. To the bedside manner born.

I swallowed Brenda’s pre-med when she wasn’t looking and slipped out before Dr McDreamy swaggered in, flashing his scalpel and telling my wife to get her babylons out.

Dear Jacob Zuma

I never thought I would write you another letter, and yet here we are again.

It is truly sad to see an innocent old man being so unjustly hounded by judges, magistrates, prosecutors, non-governmental organisations, foreign agencies, commissions of inquiry, debt collectors, opposition parties, former friends and comrades, police with grudges, at least one ex-wife and 92% of the population. Are these people not listening when you say you have done nothing wrong? Are they all on drugs? My theory is that they have you mixed up with another Jacob Zuma. An evil twin you don’t know about. Use it, don’t use it.

Even the Constitutional Court has turned against you. How dare they rule that you have to appear before the Zondo Commission if you don’t feel like it? We live in a free country. This means you are free to do whatever you like, take whatever you want and behave however you please. That’s the very definition of a free society and I am shocked our judges aren’t aware of this.

Even worse, they said you don’t have the right to remain silent. That’s outrageous! A man’s right not to answer awkward questions is a basic human right afforded to all men at birth. I have often refused to answer questions in my life and lost nothing more than a couple of wives, a house or two, dogs, cats, visitation rights, career opportunities and so on. Well worth it.

I blame the Romans. And the Dutch. Brutal nations who liked nothing more than getting high and putting people to death. As president, you had the opportunity to introduce a legal system influenced by Zulu law. In the spirit of King Shaka, you could have had attorneys, journalists and anyone who disagreed with you tossed off a cliff. Zuma’s Rock. It has a ring to it. Then again, Shaka’s Rock these days is better known for good snorkelling and even better weed. You might not want that kind of legacy.

Speaking of which, it could be time for a change in strategy. Even the Germans eventually gave up on Stalingrad. Your tactic of attacking while simultaneously retreating left your enemies scratching their heads. You kept taking people to court to stop them from taking you to court. Aware of the ease with which South Africans are bamboozled, your cunning plan worked rather well. Until now.

Apart from the backsliding fifth columnists on the Constitutional Court, serious spanners have been thrown into your works by one Sydney Mufamadi. As you know, Mufamadi was a Cabinet minister under Mandela and Mbeki but hit the eject button before you could take power. Those were the bad old days when communists had principles.

When Mufamadi’s report into the State Security Agency named your consigliere David Mahlobo as the equivalent of a personal banker to what I can only admirably describe as the impressively extended Zuma crime family, I was stunned. Then I remembered Mahlobo was linked to rhino horn traffickers operating out of a Chinese brothel in Nelspruit three years ago and became considerably less stunned. Nevertheless, good man, that Mahlobo. Trustworthy to the end. Dumb as a bag of hamsters, but trustworthy. You eventually made him energy minister so he could sign a nuclear deal with Russia but he couldn’t find a pen in time and everything fell apart.

It’s clear now that when he was your safety and security minister, Mahlobo wasn’t shovelling money into the SSA projects fast enough. When you have unlimited access to vaults stacked with banknotes, you don’t go home early. Or at all. Ever. You shovel. Around the clock.

I’m curious to know where you keep all the cash, Jake. Sure, you’ve spent a bit on lawyers and the odd flight to Russia to have your blood pressure checked, but there must be piles upon piles of crisp pink notes stashed somewhere. Under the fire pool? No, too obvious. Safe in an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands? Nah. Not if your financial advisors are on a par with your legal advisers.

Anyway, you would never be comfortable having that much distance between yourself and your hard-earned spoils. People think it was easy doing what you did for nine years, but it wasn’t. It must have been damn hard work. And I’m not even talking about the other business of running a country on the side, which you understandably never got around to. Nobody’s criticising you for that.

Mufamadi told Judge Zondo, who the Constitutional Court weirdly reprimanded for being unnecessarily soft on you (something that might change in the near future), that the SSA gave Iqbal Surve’s African News Agency R20-million to pay reporters to write good news about you and your government and bad news about the enemy. Surprisingly, a few of them are still at it. I didn’t even know you could get brown envelopes that big.

I see your favourite offspring were quick to jump for you when the apex legal weasels said that avoiding Zondo wasn’t among the multitude of options you imagined were available to you in your fight to have your day in court by avoiding it with every means at your disposal.

Duduzane tweeted that his daddy would “never surrender to bullyism”. I enjoy that he makes up words. I do it myself all the time. Sure, I don’t own a Porsche and I’m not likely to face corruption charges any time soon, but apart from that, me and your boy, we’re not that different.

Then Edward said something like, “Go ahead, arrest my father.” Sons, eh. You never really know what they mean. Until you do. And by then it’s too late. Eddie seems to serve no discernible purpose apart from being trotted out as the only Zuma who isn’t being actively pursued by the law. Fair play to him. Every South African family needs an Eddie. A decoy. An escape goat.

Under the circumstances, you did good, Jake. Nobody can take everything. You’re only human and you only had nine years.

In 2014, when every ANC member of parliament sent you back to the presidency for a second term, you were in control of a country worth $350-billion. I don’t even know what that is in our money. Nedbank estimated that your second term cost the economy R470-billion, which isn’t very much if you convert it into euros and take a sleeping pill.

My point is that the SSA never stole nearly enough. R9-billion’s worth of assets went missing? Amateurs. Don’t ever work with anyone who talks in single figures. I thought Schabir Shaik would have taught you that.

Loved your statement on Monday, by the way. Who wrote it? A gypsy juggler flipping between first and third person with a head full of the stuff Lewis Carroll ingested shortly before writing Alice in Wonderland while clutching a law degree from Trump University? 

If your statement were a fishing net it would’ve been so full of red herrings that you’d need a bulldozer to move it. If it was a taxi packed with bravado it would have been impounded for overloading. And that smell of desperation? You want to watch that, my friend. Starting to whiff real bad. Other than that, good statement.

You established the Zondo Commission, Jake. Now you’re claiming it was specifically established to investigate you? I don’t mean to pry, but do you take a lot of Zolpidem? I had a wife who loved the stuff and she hallucinated magnificently. Ended badly.

I liked the bit at the end of your statement where you said, “I do not fear being arrested, I do not fear being convicted, nor do I fear being incarcerated.” Right up there with Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream”.

Is there nothing you’re afraid of? What about spiders? Or getting stuck in a lift? How about answering questions about state capture while stuck in a lift and covered with spiders? I bet you’re scared of that.

If you were still in charge, I’d form a company, put it in my gardener’s name and get a tender for vaccines. Get a shebeen licence to store the filth in my bar fridge. Saturday special. Two zamaleks and a shot. Best price. Pull a string, comrade. I’ll cut you in for 10%.

Final suggestion: the next time you have Julius Malema over, slip a little sodium thiopental into his tea. I know Nkandla is a truth-free zone, but it would be interesting to see what comes out.

Let the vax speak for themselves

The global scramble for Covid vaccines is becoming a little undignified. Show some class, people. Let’s try to keep this fight clean.

Right now, vaccines are all anyone seems to care about. Well, that and whether the festering human groundhog in the White House will try to blow something up before being dragged kicking and screaming from the Oval Office.

There are at least 40 governments that have started vaccinating their citizens. South Africa is not among them, for reasons which make perfect sense and no sense at all. This is how it should be. One of the good things about being South African is that we are so accustomed to being lied to and screwed over that we can no longer tell what is in our best interests. I don’t know why this is a good thing. It’s just a feeling I have. I’m sure it will pass.

Costa Rica, to which I might have inadvertently emigrated, gave the first shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine three weeks ago to a 91-year-old nursing home resident. Afterwards she said she was very grateful to God, which is a bit of a kick in the teeth for those who worked around the clock to develop the vaccine in the first place.

If I developed a vaccine, I’d want full credit and wouldn’t share it with a supernatural being who almost certainly doesn’t exist, but if he/she does, I have questions for him/her and I shan’t settle for any of this “works in mysterious ways” malarkey.

Come to think of it, I have developed a vaccine. It’s taken orally around 5pm every day and I need around two litres to start feeling better. Unfortunately, this particular vaccine is currently banned in South Africa. I am fortunate to be able to continue medicating in Costa Rica, a second world country blessed with no aspirations to join the increasingly unpleasant first world.

Even a developing country like Belgium has given someone their first dose. It went to a 96-year-old man at a nursing home in a town where Pfizer’s production facility is located. “I feel 30 years younger,” he said afterwards. What? That’s not how it’s supposed to work. I imagine they gave him a shot of something made of Viagra, vodka and Ecstasy. Now there’s a vaccine we could all get our teeth into.

A week ago I had the misfortune of booking myself into a casita in Playa Hermosa that had a TV with 45 channels of mad people shouting hysterically in Spanish. The only English language channel was CNN, a drug which I had been trying to wean myself off. Suffering from the side effects of a particularly extravagant dose of my special vaccine, I turned to it. The big story at the time was Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state threatening him with dire consequences if he didn’t come up with a way to reverse Joe Biden’s victory, which seems a bit out of keeping in a state that has “Wisdom, Justice and Moderation” as its motto – three things utterly lacking in Trump’s toxic universe.

Even though the beast has less than two weeks left in office, CNN’s anchors smelled blood in the water and they were thrashing about in a full-blown feeding frenzy, all teeth and vengeance. Hell, why not. This is a man who deserves to be stabbed with many metaphorical daggers before it’s all over. On his last day, he must be stripped naked and whipped all the way into St John’s Church in Lafayette Square and be forced to beg for absolution. He won’t get it, but it would be lovely to see him beg.

You see? This is what CNN does to a person. One minute you’re having a rational conversation about vaccines, and the next you’ve got a flaming torch in one hand and a pitchfork in the other and you’re demanding violent retribution against a 74-year-old man who has clearly lost his mind. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

If you watch enough news, you come to realise just how little everyone knows about viruses and vaccines. Watch their eyes, these fakers and fabulists, blusterers and buskers. When I was a kid, I naturally assumed grown-ups had a firm grip on things. Now that I am one, I can see how mistaken I was.

From what I can gather, as I sit here in this rustic bar on a palm-fringed beach, the government has dropped the ball early in the second half of the game. Countries like Belarus and Romania, where people wear animal skins and speak languages that nobody, not even themselves, can understand, are in possession of vaccines.

The European Commission was quick off the mark when it came to negotiating for vaccines for EU citizens. The African Union, on the other hand, is still negotiating with Thabo Mbeki to return a djembe drum he “borrowed” while on a state visit to Ghana.

Thing is, we can’t have nice things. Give us the vaccine and we’ll dilute it with Oros and sell it to our neighbours for double the price. Our skills in the banditry business mutate faster than Covid ever could and the only reason there’s a delay is because the government is haggling for a bonsella. Or asleep at the wheel.

British scientists say they are concerned the vaccine might not work on the new strain in South Africa. Oh, so now you care about us? You’re 200 years late, mate. Besides, we’re used to things not working. We expect stuff to break or to be taken away from us. Over-promising and under-delivering is part of the fabric of who we are. We don’t want to live in a world where everything makes sense and the trains run on time. If we did, we’d move to Switzerland. Not that they’d have us.

And just because some vaccines need to be stored at -70°C doesn’t mean we can’t have them. We can strap them to Helen Zille, the coldest object in the country. Although we’d probably have to join the DA to get a shot. Might not be worth it.

Meanwhile, I think we need to start encouraging rather than criticising the anti-vaxxers. Let them have their stand. By all means, bro, don’t take a vaccine. It means more for the rest of us and, at the same time, all the mucky bits in the gene pool will eventually get flushed out.

 

Golfing with twats

News that Gary Player has accepted the Medal of Freedom from his scumbag mate Donald Trump reminded me of a column I wrote 15 years ago.

…………………

Writing a book about golf has brought with it many benefits, one of which is that I have been declared persona non grata at Fancourt. Another is that I was given VIP status at the Nelson Mandela Invitational at Arabella last weekend.

Assuming I was being invited to play, I rushed off to Cash Converters and invested in a putter, two sand wedges and a driver that looked like it could send a ball to the moon. I also bought one black glove from a Sea Point hustler who tried to sell me two for double the price.

Before I even had a chance to get my car out of the disabled parking bay, I was given the opportunity of practising my swing on a previously disadvantaged gentleman who seemed to think that a yellow bib gave him the right to look at me in an accusing fashion. Back home, I wiped the blood off my putter and rifled through the press kit that had been sent to me. I was appalled to discover that the tournament was presented by Coca Cola and hosted by Gary Player.

As a seasoned journalist, I knew that al-Qaeda couldn’t be far behind. I have no doubt that Osama bin Laden drinks Coke when nobody is watching, but it’s an altogether more serious matter when a fatwah is declared on our small but perfectly formed golfing icon.

In the event that the organisers had failed to invite the mandatory quota of disabled Muslim lesbians, I stopped off at the gun shop and bought myself a Proudly South African bullet-proof vest. All I needed was a caddy.

While I was considering the most ethical way of forcing a young black man to carry my bag for as little money as possible, Ted arrived at the house with a sack full of beer. I guzzled a six-pack and explained that I could take him, Brenda or the Illicit Consort with me to Arabella. The brat, Clive, was due for his bi-weekly electroconvulsive therapy session, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Ted smacked me on the side of the head and began explaining the finer points of golf tournaments. I smacked him back and told him that as a man who has just written a book on golf, I did not need advice from the likes of him. He got up and began questioning my credentials, so I smacked him even harder and this time he just lay there and drank his beer from a supine position.

His point, once he could articulate it through his smashed mouth, was that the Nelson Mandela Invitational is based on the fourball system. I grabbed him by the throat and demanded to know how each golfer could play four balls and still be done by Christmas. Kneeing me in the crotch, Ted pointed out that a fourball meant we could all play. Me, him, Brenda and the Illicit Consort.

The trouble started from the moment I hit the orange traffic cones outside Arabella. Brenda shouted at me to go back and pick them up. Ted said there’s no going back, ever. The Consort urged me to go faster. Suddenly I was surrounded by men in moustaches and day-glo orange vests performing hand signals that made no sense. After a mutual exchange of racial epithets and at least one reference to Gary Player’s mother, we were directed to the VIP parking area.

While Ted was trying to commandeer a golf cart, the Illicit Consort began demanding to know how an icon like Nelson Mandela could give his name to a golf tournament. She was shouting something about the Mother Teresa Classic and the Pope Benedict World Series when a man with a serious face came up and asked her to be quiet. I jabbed him in the ribs with my sand wedge.

“We are golfers,” I said. “Now get out of our way.”

The competition had started without us so we jumped straight in at the seventh hole, throwing our balls as close to the green as we could get them. We were still putting when a ball came out of nowhere and hit Brenda in the head. I was dragging her out of the way so that I could play my shot when a fast-moving knot of men arrived.

They demanded to know what we thought we were doing. “It’s hard to say,” said Ted, addressing himself to the leader of the pack. “Why are you dressed all in black?”

The little man with the face of a turtle looked at us in disbelief. “You fools. Don’t you know that I am the Black Knight?”

The Consort began laughing so robustly that she tripped over her putter and crashed to the green. A dissolute version of Peter Pan appeared out of nowhere and helped her up. “Who are you?” she asked, clutching on to his hand a little too tightly.

“I am Ronan Keating,” he said, smiling just enough for the sunlight to bounce off his teeth. Sensing that he was being upstaged, the Black Knight elbowed the Irish upstart aside, drew himself up to his full height, looked me squarely in the kneecaps, and said: “I am a living legend and I am the saviour of needy children.”

Seeing that we were inexplicably unmoved by this information, he added: “I also have Nelson Mandela’s cellphone number.” Just then, a large black man walked onto the green. “Bring my bag,” barked the little golfer.

“Sorry boss,” said Vincent Tshabalala, “those days are over.”

Getting high in Central America

A clammy equatorial fug hit me as I sloped out of Juan Santamaria International Airport with the ink of a three-month visa still wet in my passport. Fug this, I thought. Worse than Durban in February. But there was no turning back. Loinfruit and Bloke had booked me a hotel room and promised to fetch me in the morning.

I was savagely jet-lagged and in no mood for plans to go awry, as they usually do when my family is involved. I came close to causing an undiplomatic incident when I discovered the minibar in my room was empty, but then let is slide when my brain reminded me it was still operating on SA time and that it’s probably not the best idea to start drinking at 4am. Stupid brain. It knows nothing about such matters.

The hotel was near the airport and the roar of outgoing flights had me thrashing about in sweat-soaked sheets shouting, “No, no! Not seat 38C!”

Loinfruit and Bloke arrived late. “Pura vida,” she said, pushing a cold Imperial beer into my sweaty paw. “Let’s roll, daddy-o.” The sides of her head were shaved and she had new tattoos. They were driving a modified Suzuki Samurai with tinted windows and raised shocks. It was like being on a jetski in choppy seas. I was told to stop squealing like a castrated goat every time we went around a bend. In Costa Rica, there are no roads without bends. This is serious hill country.

Bloke seemed at ease driving on the wrong side of the road and was amused by my repeated flinching. He told me to relax and claimed that countries with suicidal drivers have the fewest accidents. When pressed for his sources, he changed the subject and opened a beer. It sprayed his sunglasses and there was a long moment when nobody was driving the car.

“Jesus, take the wheel!” I shouted, assuming the brace position, which isn’t easy in the back of a Suzuki.

We wound our way down to the coast while I shouted and gestured at other drivers who were clearly out to kill us. Loinfruit and Bloke seemed oblivious. They live in Namibia, came here for a short holiday and got trapped by the lockdown. That was nine months ago.

They’ve since bought a house and show no signs of ever wanting to return home. Flexible generation, the Millennials.

I spotted a turnoff to a beach town called Jaco and suggested we check it out. Bloke said it was full of seedy bars, hookers and hustlers. Sounds fantastic, I said, bouncing up and down like a hyperactive child. Loinfruit gave me the lazy eye and Bloke kept on driving.

Their house is in the mountains. It’s probably about 3km from the coast as the pigeon flies. I mean a local pigeon, not one of our idiots that would get lost or forget where it was going or get distracted by a girl pigeon who might be up for a bit of a shag.

In a car, it takes thirty minutes to climb 900m. There are so many switchbacks that I lost track of which direction we were travelling in. Hemmed in by the jungle, we went through several climate zones and I soon began to feel like Edmund Hillary trying to summit Everest in a Suzuki.

“Hypoxia is setting in,” I whined. Loinfruit and Bloke glanced at one another. She turned around and frowned. “Do you think you might have the Rona?” I know these people. If they thought there was any risk of them catching something nasty, they wouldn’t hesitate to leave me on the side of the road.

“I’m fine,” I said. “You can’t even catch the attention of a cabin attendant on Lufthansa, let alone a disease.”

At the top of a misty hill, we took a sharp left and went bouncing down a dirt track in such appalling condition that we were all drenched in beer by the time we finally reached their house. We were deep in Tico turf. The locals are called Ticos. We’re called gringos. I’m sure there are less polite names for us. Well, for the Americans anyway.

The house looked like something Pablo Escobar might have used as one of his holiday homes while on annual leave from the Medellin Cartel. Mind you, the man who built the villa was a general in the Ukrainian army. He probably made Pablo look like a Boy Scout.

I didn’t want to ask where they got the money to buy a place like this. It’s unlikely I would get the truth. If they do turn out to be running guns or drugs, well, there are worse people to have in your family. In a best case scenario, I would have had a second kid who became a lawyer.

Christmas was fun. Bloke found a plastic Christmas tree left behind by the general. It’s probably still broadcasting to the Ministry of Defence in Kiev. Good luck deciphering those conversations, comrade. I barely understood them myself, largely because everyone was drunk by 10am. Which, I imagine, is standard operating procedure for the Ukrainian military.

Bloke gave me a razor-sharp machete as a gift, which was fantastic because I’ve always had a thing for blades. I showed them a couple of moves I’d learnt with a panga in Durban’s cane fields when I was younger. Loinfruit threatened to take it away from me after Bloke narrowly missed losing an ear.

“We thought you might be old enough to have one of these, but apparently we were mistaken,” she said, sucking on her 10th beer of the morning while swaying gently in the tropical breeze.

They warned me about the dangers of the jungle but I couldn’t wait to get out there. Fer-de-lance? Please. You speak with forked tongue, señor viper, and you shall feel the sharp edge of my weapon. Bloke told me about the Brazilian Wandering Spider whose bite can cause an erection lasting for up to four hours. Bring it on. The worst thing that could happen is that I’d have to join Tinder.

Apparently it also causes cramps, hypothermia, vertigo, blurred vision, intense sweating and convulsions, all of which are normal side effects of sex anyway, if you’re doing it properly.

I watched Cyril’s family monologue last week and it’s clear I got out just in time. Here, I can go to the beach and buy beer in the local supermarket whenever I want. The sea is 28ºC and there are no power cuts. The towns and villages are clean and the government takes good care of its citizens. There is no army and protected national parks everywhere. There are sloths and toucans and nobody wants to break into your house and iron your face just for the hell of it.

If anyone can think of any good reasons why I should come back, do let me know.

 

Welcome to Pandemic Air

I am sitting under a tree in the northern hemisphere in the middle of winter with barely any clothes on. Before you start feeling sorry for me, I should add that hypothermia is not about to set in any time soon. In fact, if I weren’t guzzling cold beers, it might very well be dehydration that finishes me off.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and realised I was in the wrong place altogether. Where I should be, I said, pushing the neighbour’s cat off my face, is in Costa Rica. The cat sat up, half closed its eyes and nodded as if to say, “Obviously, you idiot.”

A few days later I was shambling around a deserted Cape Town International Airport, hungover, dragging a suitcase held together with packing tape, facing not one but two 12-hour flights, and trying to find a way to blame the cat.

Was this a good time to be flying to the other side of the planet? At a time when a layer of pestilence has formed between the troposphere and the stratosphere? Inside a metal tube with the virally tainted for company? Of course. There is no better time to travel.

A friend had offered me one of those weird semi-prosthetic neck cushions for people with heads that flop around like beached sardines every time they close their eyes. I was having none of it. It’s not the risk of floppy head that keeps me from sleeping on a plane. It’s the trying to fit a 1.9m body into an economy class seat. Bits of me have to take it in turns to sleep. A foot here, an arm there. Never the brain, though. The brain thinks only murderous thoughts all the way through.

I glanced around at the masked vectors of infection and tried to pinpoint who would be the one to kill me. They all looked like attempted murderers escaping the country ahead of consequences. Not that we have those in South Africa.

Some were dressed for summer. Had these people never flown before? You dress for the climate at your destination, surely. What kind of monster gets on a long-haul flight to Frankfurt wearing shorts? Didn’t they know it was winter in Europe?

The plane stood on the apron for ages because there was something wrong with the machine that charts the route. You’d think the pilot would know the way by now. How hard can it be? Swallows do it every bloody year and they don’t need a machine.

The flight was half full but I preferred to think of it as half empty. A flight attendant with a disturbing resemblance to Charlotte Rampling in Night Porter said if I was quick enough I could snag myself an entire middle row after takeoff. I was nowhere nearly quick enough, even though I wanted this more than I’d ever wanted money or women. Germans are supernaturally good at grabbing things for themselves e.g. pool loungers, tables near the buffet, Poland etc.

By the time I got my seatbelt off, the only empty seats left were a window and aisle, both of which are useless for sleeping because the middle armrests are welded into place to prevent South Africans from stealing them.

We landed at dawn in a heavy fog. As we touched down, Charlotte clapped once, shouted “We made it!”, looked across the aisle at her buddy in the other jump seat and gave a double thumbs up. Bit worrying.

Security at Frankfurt airport was tighter than Jupiter and Saturn were the other night. I am partial to a girl in uniform, but not when she’s my height bulked up with kevlar body armour and an automatic weapon slung across her substantial chest.

It’s roughly at this point, after my stuff gets sent down a conveyor belt and into a darkened tunnel, that I expect to be arrested. It happens every time I fly. I almost assume the position to save them the trouble. Actually, there was a position to be assumed, beneath a moulded plastic arch. Some kind of X-ray device that sees through clothing. Feet in the footprints place, ja. Hände hoch!

A woman with the eyes of a jumping spider kept me in position for longer than necessary. Getting a good look at my willy, no doubt. I wiggled my hips suggestively but she seemed unappreciative and ordered me to move on to the next step, which involved a young deviant with obsidian eyes giving me a full-body frisk. It didn’t feel as unpleasant as it should have.

Everything was foreplay up to that point. The real heavy duty stuff, or in my case, duty free stuff, came at the end of the process. You’ve passed the body test, but you don’t know what they might have found in your belongings. I was almost home free when a gloved hand shot out. He picked up my Tanqueray and Havana Club and told me to come with him. He unlocked what looked like a broom closet. I baulked. No way was there room for both of us in there. What did he have in mind? A bit of my brandy and a little heavy petting? Instead, he put the gin into a scanner. I asked what he was looking for. Explosives, he said. I laughed and said I’d had some pretty explosive evenings on that filth but I sensed he wasn’t interested in hearing more.

Ten hours later I boarded the plane to Costa Rica. It was packed with Germans fleeing their country’s hard lockdown.

I had a window seat and a vial of Xanax and intended to make full use of both. The plan changed almost immediately when a hefty fräulein hove into view and began making moves to wedge herself into the aisle seat. The fear of being trapped between her and the aircraft was overpowering. I suggested we swap seats. Little Lotta grunted in what I took to be agreement. The way she carried on after that, it was as if we had exchanged bodily fluids, not seats. Everything I had potentially touched, she wiped down with sanitiser. She also flinched every time we inadvertently made contact. It was horrible.

I couldn’t even risk taking the Xanax because I would have slumped unconscious into the aisle and it would have taken four strong men to haul me back into my seat and strap me in place. I would wake at 3am two hundred miles above Haiti and find myself in restraints. It would get ugly. Someone from the cockpit would be summonsed to stab me in the neck with a tranquilliser dart and police would be waiting when we landed.

Despite asking the man-child in front if he wouldn’t mind not reclining his seat on account of me not having anywhere to put my legs, he did it anyway. My headphones weren’t working properly so I couldn’t even watch a movie. And I certainly couldn’t risk falling asleep on Little Lotta’s shoulder.

Costa Rica seemed a long way off. It’s unlikely I will be returning home any time soon.

Home for the holidays

Since we’re all relying heavily on memories and reminisces to stop us from reaching for the razor blades, here’s a flashback to a Christmas past.

………..

Home for the holidays. It sounds like such a benign, cheerful concept. Yet it is only once you are there that the occasion mutates into a short-term psychological evaluation in an institute for the criminally insane.

In my case, the institute is located in a Durban suburb. In defiance of convention, it is the criminally insane who presume to evaluate me, the son and heir to the family fortune which, I discovered, fits snugly into the back of my car.

The last few days have taken a terrible toll on me. I arrived in Durban with a song in my heart and a spring in my step. I left on crutches, wild-eyed and half-mad from lack of sleep.

If you want to see where I grew up, log onto Google Earth and hover above Durban North at a height of around 2000m. See the beautiful homes with sparkling pools and carefully manicured gardens? Keep looking. There it is, over on the left. But that’s just a patch of bush, you cry. And well may you cry. I did, too. For most of my childhood, friends were banned from coming over to play. Their parents wouldn’t allow it after little Sydney Taverner disappeared in the garden. He was found three months later living off dove eggs and rainwater. He never recovered and today he rides with a biker gang and goes by the name of Psycho Syd.

My parents have been in the same house for 47 years. I find this almost as disturbing as having to use a machete and a GPS to get from the gate to the front door.

I don’t come from a big family. One sister. I probably had other siblings once, but I expect they crawled into the garden as babies and were never seen again. It wouldn’t surprise me if I were genetically related to half the stuff that’s growing there. Not girly things like ferns, obviously, but certainly some of the taller, good-looking trees.

My father converted my bedroom into a study the moment I moved out, even though I warned him I would be back. I remember him saying there would always be a bed here for me. Then he dragged my bed into the garden and set fire to it.

This festive season I slept on a mattress in a section of the house where intruders regularly start their day by picking through the remnants of my inheritance.

If you get your throat slit, try not to bleed on the carpet,” said my mother, her eyes twinkling with the Christmas spirit. By 3am I was praying for a quick death. Successive raids by mosquitoes the size of humming birds made sleep impossible. It was worse than Pearl Harbour. And when the mosquitoes lumbered off to digest my blood and regroup for the next wave of attacks, swarms of over-excited fruit bats began shrieking and yelping outside the window. If they can’t see properly, they shouldn’t be flying in the first place. They should rather walk or hop, like the giant toads that were now contributing to this hellish chorus.

Then, around 4am, everything went quiet. Hysterical with fatigue, I cried myself to sleep. Almost. From the kitchen came a terrible gnawing and crunching. It didn’t sound like the dog eating something. It sounded like something eating the dog.

Armed with a Madagascan conch shell, I edged down the passage with murder in my heart – a heart that almost stopped when I bumped into my father who was also edging down the passage in what little remained of his underpants.

There’s something evil in the kitchen,” I hissed. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s just the rat.” He took my arm and led me back to my mattress. The gnawing subsided. Dawn began to break. I started dozing off. This was the moment the hadeda was waiting for. A hadeda is the antichrist of the avian world. He stands waist-high in his socks and has the voice of a Catholic nun possessed by the devil. He also has a lethal weapon for a beak, long enough to plunge into your eyeball and suck out your brains. They rarely do this, however, but only because they can’t shut the fuck up and everyone hears them coming from a mile off.

Over breakfast the next morning, I inquired about the rat. It turns out that a few months ago my father began leaving tasty little snacks out for him at night. Then he met a lady and started breeding. The rat, not my father. It wasn’t long before Dad was spending his evenings making rat starters, rat mains and rat puddings. Mom put her foot down – not on the rat, because in my family nothing ever gets killed – and now they are using some kind of high frequency electronic device that is meant to encourage rodents to pack up and move next door. Their rat loves the sound and he hosts rave parties that go on late into the night.

When I was reprimanded for not sharing my fruit salad with the monkeys at breakfast the next day, I knew it was time to fly back to Cape Town.

I always try to choose a woman to do my checking in at the airport because I stand a better chance of winning her heart with my insouciant charm and boyish good looks. Being a 1.93m tall claustrophobic misanthrope, it is vital that I get a seat capable of accommodating my legs. Sadly, women are not what they used to be. To put it bluntly, charm and looks count for nothing. If you have a willy, you’re a bastard and should be tossed into the hold along with your suitcase.

Perhaps I should be seeking out the gay check-in attendants. However, I am unfamiliar with the secret codes and signals that homosexuals use when they want to be seated at one of the emergency exits.

When it was my turn to check in, I smiled, wiggled my hips, batted my eyelids and used every bit of body language in my repertoire. The check-in person asked if I was suffering from cerebral palsy. Stupidly, I said I wasn’t. “In that case, sir, we only have middle seats left.”

A kid with the face of a juvenile bull terrier had the best seat in the plane. He lay back and stretched out his pudgy legs, chewed gum and nodded along to his iPod. I offered him R100 to swap seats and he looked at me as if I were some kind of low-rent hustler who had no right to even be on the plane. I should have gone to the galley and slipped four grams of ketamine into his orange juice, then taken his seat when the seizures began.