War whores

So the South African National Defence Force plans to “invade” Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg on Tuesday night. On Monday night there’s a practice run.

As part of Armed Forces Day – a day proclaimed by that irredeemable naai of an ex-president, Jacob Zuma – tanks and other armoured vehicles will churn up the beach. Jet planes will scream low in the sky. Flares will be dropped over the sea. Heavy artillery, small calibre weapons and rockets will be fired at targets floating offshore.

We need to tell these military motherfuckers to go and play their bang-bang games somewhere else. Or, preferably, not at all. But certainly not on our beaches. Not in our sea. For surfers and others who love the ocean, these places are sacrosanct. These are places of peace, not war.

We need to pitch up on the night with anything that floats and paddle out into the mother of all impact zones. It’s unlikely they will shoot us and they can’t arrest us all. Well, I suppose they can. But there is safety in numbers. And I have a couple of vicious lawyers on speed-dial.

Don’t worry about sharks – they’ll be scared shitless, like all the pets, children and elderly people living in the area.

Anyone with me on this?

On brave Americans and goats of darkness

Dear Bryan,

I do apologise. The world is full of inconsequential Bryans and I am sure the last thing a man of your stature would want is to be confused with the multitude of Bryans who lack the courage to shoot a wild mountain goat. I mean no disrespect. There is only one Bryan Kinsel Harlan in this world. Or in Texas, at least. Dallas, certainly.

I saw your video on social media and was blown away. Not in the same way your goat was blown away, obviously. But watching you scrambling through the rocky terrain of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit region with only a dozen or so heavily armed guides as backup, I felt my loins stir on more than one occasion. And when you raised your rifle and shot that goat, well, it was all I could do not to have an incident in my pants. I can’t begin to imagine how aroused you must get watching an animal through your telescopic sights, knowing it only has seconds left to live.

High-fiving the guides after pulling the trigger was a nice gesture. Americans all too often forget to give credit to the locals who help them hunt goats or Islamic insurgents or whatever happens to be on the list of things to kill that day.

I believe you paid a record price of $110 000 dollars to shoot your goat. You must be a very wealthy man. In my country, that kind of money gets you two cabinet ministers and the CEO of one of our smaller parastatals.

Sadly, not everyone is impressed. There are some people who think what you did is barbaric and cruel. I am outraged at their outrage. I can’t believe that the animal huggers at PETA not only condemned the hunt but went so far as to describe goats as “gentle individuals, not trophies”.

I am sure you know what it’s like to have a goat come on you … I beg your pardon. Come at you. They won’t hesitate to batter you mercilessly until you are forced to run away with your pants around your ankles. Or so I have heard.

And who can forget that the devil himself is portrayed as a goat? You are obviously aware that GOAT is an acronym for Greatest of All Time. How dare they usurp the title reserved for Jesus. This godless arrogance will not stand. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hunt wasn’t part of your broader Christian mission to punish Satan. Good for you. I, for one, will sleep more soundly tonight knowing there is one less evil, cloven-hoofed beast out there.

I read that a gang of Pakistanis are also up in arms. Ha! If only. More arms would mean fewer depraved ungulates to lead our children astray. After seeing pictures of you and your dead goat, these cabbage-eating extremists called for a ban on hunting. Sure, this goat is their country’s national animal, but so what? Ours is the springbok and we can’t get their flesh down our throats, their heads on our walls or their skins on our floors quick enough.

Okay, so there are fewer than six thousand Astor markhors left in the world. But still. Goats. Right? To encourage more Americans to trophy hunt, your Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified them as threatened rather than endangered. Damn right, they’re threatened. By real men like you.

I thought it was very decent of you to give the local press an interview. After all, it’s a well-known fact that journalists are closely related to goats as a result of spending time in close proximity to one another on Noah’s ark and neither can be trusted.

A Pakistani newspaper quoted you as saying, “It was an easy and close shot and I am pleased to take this trophy.” This makes it sound like the goat was still woozy from the anaesthetic when you walked up and put a bullet into the back of his head.

You were obviously misquoted and I hope you are taking legal action. I have no doubt that your original quote was more along the lines of, “The battle between this vicious creature and me, a battle between good and evil, was long and brutal and I knew only one of us would get out of there alive.”

No, wait. What am I talking about? I saw the video. Your big boy goat was sitting next to a much younger goat. His wife? His lover? His child? Who knows. More importantly, who cares. Well, I suppose the other goat might still be wondering why her companion suddenly jumped up, thrashed about and then died in a pool of blood. Still, that’s not your problem. It’s not like she can sue you for loss of income.

At the end of your video, you encourage Americans to visit Pakistan. You say Mexico is more dangerous than Pakistan. Bloody Mexicans. Build that wall. I’m with you on this. Texans especially should check out northern Waziristan. The local Taliban guides will be happy to help out. Just watch out for the drones. You should be okay, though. They’re hunting Muslims, not red-blooded patriots like yourself.

MAGA! (May All Goats be Assassinated).

King of Spades Screws Queen of Diamonds

Our well-padded mining minister, Gwede Mantashe, opened the 25th Mining Indaba in Cape Town today. Sadly, I wasn’t there to applaud his hollow assurances that South Africa was safe for investors and that corruption was being addressed. I was, however, there in 2014 and this is what I wrote at the time. I don’t expect much, apart from a few faces, has changed.

……………………

With a little help from a former colleague living in early retirement in Port Nolloth, I managed to get myself on to the list of delegates attending the African Mining Conference at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town.

I wasn’t a delegate, per se. It wasn’t as if I was going to make any speeches. To be honest, I was there primarily for the free lunches. And maybe to pick up a small concession in Sierra Leone. There is something about blood diamonds that sets them apart from the common or garden stone.

Any fool can walk into a jeweller’s shop and pick out something cut and polished and glued into a ring. But it takes a special kind of man to go into the heart of darkness and bring back a bag of gems that could have prolonged a civil war by at least another few days.

My plan was to mingle unobtrusively with the other delegates and eavesdrop on private conversations so that I might gain a better insight into the situation under the ground, as it were. My plan went to hell the moment I walked through the doors. I had never seen so many men in one place sporting dark suits and greedy eyes. I had taken my suit to the dry cleaners, but that was in 1987 and it had probably been sold to defray expenses. In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to wear a traditional garment that looked like it had been put together by a blind tailor on a street corner in Banjul. I thought this would help me to blend in with the investors, so you can imagine my embarrassment when I saw that everyone else was wearing Pierre Cardin.

After a little trouble at the metal detector, I managed to find my way to the conference hall where mining ministers were lining up to sell their country’s mineral resources to the highest bidders.

Some of the smaller countries never really had much to put on the table. However, if nobody else was interested I was more than prepared to put in a cheeky offer to tap that shrunken vein of tanzanite. I kept putting my hand up until a delegate wearing the last of Ghana’s gold around his neck told me this wasn’t an auction and that if I was interested in investing I needed to be a little more discreet.

That’s when I saw Dali Tambo in one of his peculiar oversized Sgt Pepper outfits standing off to one side oozing schmooze all over a couple of delegates. I waited for him to whip out one of his quaint embroidered pillows but he seems to have stumbled into something far more lucrative than presenting talk shows.

While waiting for lunch, I got talking to one of the security guards who was keen to get involved in my project. Not wanting to hurt the poor fellow’s feelings, I explained that the word “mine” is an abbreviation of “mine, not yours”, a phrase that helped to popularise early capitalism. This also effectively ended the conversation, allowing me to be first in line at the buffet. And a fine feast it was, too.

While wolfing my third plate of fish and pasta and curry, I sidled up to a white man with silver hair. He smelled of money. It turned out that his company was about to begin strip mining along a pristine piece of coastline on one of the Indian Ocean islands. I think he took my silence to mean disapproval, but my mouth was so full of free food that I could barely breathe, let alone conduct a decent conversation. He quickly went on to explain that local conservation groups were fully behind his project because they saw the potential benefits to the community. At that moment my mouth became empty and I used it to laugh harshly. “So you paid them off? Good job,” I said, shovelling half a chicken into my gaping maw.

It was probably for the best that I never got the chance to discuss matters further, because the next time I saw him he was on his knees giving the mining minister of an obscure central African dictatorship a big fat injection of foreign direct investment.

I spent the rest of the day conducting business from the lavatory. It was only the next day I read in the paper that I was among a group of people who had eaten the toxic trout. Some of the more delicate delegates were apparently treated at the scene. At the time I thought my body was simply reacting to years of abuse. It does that sometimes. But it seemed more likely that it was reacting to the sight of Africa once again being gang-banged by a bunch of rapacious thugs in three-piece suits.

The lighter side of domestic violence

Unlike witch-burning, wife-beating has never really declined in popularity among the ill-bred lower classes. Men who work with their hands (if they work at all) have for centuries used assault and battery as a means of ensuring that their dinner was on time and their women remained loving and faithful.

The landed gentry, on the other hand, have traditionally controlled their wives by hitting them where it really hurts – their line of credit. Withdrawing Gold Card privileges is frequently more effective than bludgeoning. For a start, it saves on medical expenses and hardly ever leaves unsightly stains on the carpet.

However, well-spoken educated men are increasingly incorporating a little violence into their disciplinary code of conduct. Some analysts believe this trend of mixing and matching was a direct response to Oprah’s doomed campaign to get Hillary Clinton into the White House and thus pave the way for women to take over the world.

It is important for entry level wife-beaters to remember that spousal abuse is no longer the brutal sport it was when our parents were young. The application of minimal force through the use of smart slaps has become the feng shui of home-based violence. The Japanese even have a name for it – they call it karate, the way of the open fist, although they practice something else when it comes to killing whales.

Punches are passé and, to be honest, a bit rude. Traditional weapons like baseball bats and 9mm pistols are also on their way out as more men discover that it is better to lie back and accept the gratitude of a repentant woman than it is to spend your evening buried in paperwork at the casualty ward or take time off work to appear on homicide charges in front of a judge who is drunk on power but more likely vodka.

The open-handed slap is the workhorse of domestic violence and remains a firm favourite among men of all ages, from rural villages to the Tuscan townhouses of Houghton.

Sensitive men with a degree of self-control – architects, for instance – take pride in utilising the full range of slaps as they apply to different situations. Unlike, for example, a semi-literate welder who comes home early and finds his wife watching Jerry Springer instead of doing the laundry. Rather than using a low-level bitch-slap with marginal wrist action, he opts for the big-swing straight-arm whack-slap with full follow-through. This is the mother of all slaps and should be reserved for special occasions such as infidelity.

Should your wife be one of those skittish types who tend to bolt like a startled horse at the first sign of trouble, it is considered good etiquette to give her a head start. One minute is usually sufficient for the small to medium-sized woman. However, if she is one of those gargantuan behemoths whose idea of exercise is to open and close the fridge door 80 times a day, you might want to give her a bit longer. Like 20 years.

Husband-beating, on the other hand, is still in its infancy. This is largely because most men lack the capacity to appreciate the lighter side of physical abuse when they are on the receiving end. Unlike wife-beating, etiquette plays a secondary role in husband-beating. Because women are physically weaker, the use of blunt objects is acceptable.

However, if you are stronger than your husband, it would be only fair to rely on your innate weapons, i.e. your vicious tongue and supersonic voice, both of which can be equally damaging. You may also want to take a closer look at your sexuality. Marrying a man whom you can overpower with one arm behind your back sends disturbing signals on a number of levels. For a start, it suggests that you care not a fig for the traditional masculine/feminine divide. Fair enough. But be warned. Too much bullying raises a man’s oestrogen levels. It’s bad enough that he can’t find your clitoris. Do you really want him to start misplacing the car keys as well?

If you are a normal woman, it is likely that you will have small hands and feet. These are useless when it comes to husband beating. As a relative of the cat family, you would do better to use your teeth and nails.

When you use your teeth on your husband, his nerve endings will send out a message. Not, as you might expect, to his brain. The message first goes to his penis. His penis will then analyse the message. Depending on how much he has had to drink, your husband will respond in one of two ways. Either his penis will interpret the biting as foreplay and he will become aroused, or it will forward a new message to his brain indicating that the biting is an act of war and that his penis wants no part of this terrible business.

Since you are meant to be punishing him, it is unlikely that you would want his penis to misread the situation. Bite hard, but not so hard that you end up with a mouthful of flesh. That would be poor etiquette. Choose your spot carefully and avoid quick, random bites. You are not a piranha fish. Steer clear of erogenous zones. When it comes to men, this leaves you with two options – the top of his head (hard to grip unless you are a snaggle-toothed freak) or the numb fleshy bit on his elbow. Anywhere else and you risk turning him on.

If you would rather use your nails than your teeth, you need to once again ensure that both his brain and his penis fully understand that you are attacking and not sexually molesting him. Do not, under any circumstances, dig your nails into his back. This will only encourage him.

Good luck. Let the games begin.

An interview with the author


How did you get into writing?

When I was around five years old, I was sent to this building that had lots of rooms. A strange woman gave me and some other children coloured pencils and made us copy the alphabet. It just kind of snowballed from there. The army went some way towards helping me choose a career in writing. As a signalman, I had to learn how to type. When I came out of the army, the only thing I could do was type. That’s not strictly true. I also learned how to drink and how to shoot a gun, neither of which helped me much when it came time to choose a career. Being able to type like a demon meant that journalism was an obvious choice. I knew writing was for me because it’s one of the few professions you can do while lying in bed drinking beer.

How many words do you write in a day?

It all depends on whether or not I have a deadline. I am not one of those writers whose heads will explode if they don’t do ten thousand words by lunch. I write for money. I am a complete whore and I can’t believe I’m doing this interview for free.

Describe a day in your life?

They’re all the same, really. Wednesdays, for instance, are no different to Sundays. That’s one of the curses/blessings of being self-employed. That’s a euphemism writers use. It sounds better than ‘jobless’. I wake up early, around 10am, and look out the window to see which way the clouds are blowing. This tells me if the wind is offshore at Muizenberg or on the other side of the peninsula at Kommetjie. I will then put on my wetsuit, strap my surfboard to the roof of my car, and head out in search of waves. Surfing helps keep me sane. It also helps me to avoid doing any work. I’ll surf for a couple of hours, then go for a pub lunch. That takes me up to sunset, at which point I go somewhere else for sundowners. I prefer to start writing just as the sun has sunk below the horizon. There is something in that soft light that I find very inspiring. There is also something in beer that I find very inspiring.

Advice for people who want to become writers?

They don’t need advice. Everyone is already a writer. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites. Everyone old enough to figure out a computer keyboard is a writer. Some are good. Most are appalling. If you want to become a serious writer and make serious money, you will need to emigrate. Or, at the very least, find a publisher overseas. There are only seven people left in this country who read, and four of them would rather buy a case of beer than a book.

How is writing a column different from writing a book?

A column takes four hours to write. A book can take anything up to four days. That seems to be the case with some of the drek I’ve seen on bookshelves lately. Also, writing a column is a lot more fun. You can play loud music, carry on a conversation and drink heavily. Columns are written by the attention deficit for the attention deficit. Books are utter bastards to write. You need to concentrate for long periods of time and work in complete silence and isolation. If you are an alcoholic misanthrope who knows how to spell, the odds are you’d make a great writer.

What do you think of social media?

Antisocial media suits me because I prefer communicating with people from a distance. It’s also a voracious consumer of one’s time and has the capacity to turn bright, ambitious people into dribbling vegetables in an alarmingly short period of time. One does on occasion stumble across nuggets of moderate genius, but trawling Twitter and Facebook is by and large an overwhelmingly depressing experience because one is constantly reminded that the world is populated almost entirely by ill-informed halfwits not bright enough to realise how dumb they are.

What do you think of all these literary festivals?

I think they should be banned. If you want to know what’s in a writer’s head, buy his or her books. That’s where you will find the valuable stuff. People too often mistake writers for performers, for celebrities. We’re just conduits. Words pass from our brains, through our fingers and into our computers. If they’re good enough, they get published.

It is all very well writing a book but how do you market it, how do you get those sales rolling in?

“Rolling in” might be pushing it. Unless you write a book about rugby or a kid at a snooty private school in the KZN Midlands, it’s going to be more a case of royalties trickling in. Publishers are meant to do the marketing, but all too often their budgets are limited to three bottles of wine and a plate of snacks at the launch. Authors are increasingly expected to help with the marketing. That’s why I’m doing this interview. Hopefully tens of thousands of people will read this and rush out to buy my new book. It’s not easy marketing a book in a country where most people are only interested in things they can drink, drive, eat or wear. We need to find a way to turn books into status symbols. Or authors into celebrities. I know I said earlier that authors shouldn’t be regarded as celebrities, but I’ve changed my mind.

How can people buy your latest book?

The best way is with money. Cash or credit cards, I don’t mind. They can find it in bookstores. If they’re not sure what a bookstore looks like, it’s the shop with nobody but the staff inside. They can also order it online, either in book form or as an ebook. It’s probably safer than going out.

Dear Barman

“Two Windhoeks and a Jack on the rocks, please.”

“Sorry?”

“Two Windhoeks and a Jack.”

“Sorry?”

“TWO WINDHOEKS …”

And so it begins. I have just walked into your bar and already my idea of a fun evening is clashing heavily with your staggering inability to make the connection between the volume of the music and the fact that nobody can hear anything anybody else is saying.

All around us, people are communicating in sign language. Girls are screaming into each other’s ears. Boys have given up and are staring at the floor, slack-jawed and drooling. But none of this is important. The main thing is that you are having fun. And are you having fun? By golly, you certainly are.

Stripped to the waist, you are gyrating your hips and flipping vodka bottles through the air and catching them behind your back. How frightfully clever of you. I’m sure your parents are very proud. But while you are balancing ice blocks on your nose like a goddamn performing seal, I’m on the other end of the bar dehydrating faster than a dog in the desert. Flairing, my arse. The only things flaring are my nostrils as I hyperventilate and struggle to contain myself from leaping over the bar and smashing your gormless face repeatedly into the counter.

There are only two types of barmen. Which one are you? The alcoholic or the recovering alcoholic? Judging by the trouble you have remembering orders and working out the change in your head, I would say you were born with a touch of the old foetal alcohol syndrome. Thanks, mom.

I don’t care if you drink behind the bar. In fact, I am all for it. The more you drink, the more chance there is that I can stiff you on the bill. But what I do object to is your crass attempt at guilting me into giving you a tip. If I pay for a couple of drinks and I’m due R20 change, just give me a fucking R20 note. Don’t break it down into a whole bunch of loose change in the hope that I will leave some of it in that cracked white saucer you prod across the bar in my direction, you panhandling prick.

It’s not enough that you put a 300% mark-up on bottle store prices, but you still want me to cross your sweaty palm with silver because you went to all the trouble of walking three steps to the fridge? You can suck my cocktail shaker.

I don’t mind giving a tip to the waitress, because this rewards her for making the effort to come all the way over to my table. A tip also entitles me to sexually harass her in a light-hearted manner, which is something that I would not wish to do to you.

Hey! Look at that! For once you actually came to my end of the bar and took my order. But you know what? That tequila you just poured me? How come it slipped down my throat so easily? Where was the gag reflex? The watering eyes? You low-life son of a bitch. You cut the tequila with tap water, didn’t you? Unless, of course, my body has developed a tolerance for the stuff. In which case, I apologise.

To be fair, you do provide a valuable public service. And on behalf of millions of South Africans with a drinking problem, I would like to thank you for the good work that you do.

Why, then, must you spoil your chances of winning some sort of humanitarian award by adopting an attitude that suggests it is us who should feel deeply honoured to be served by you? Perhaps you aren’t the compassionate altruist I always thought you were. Perhaps you really are nothing more than a glorified sweatshop monkey trained to pull levers and press buttons and top up the peanut bowl.

This may come as a shock, but you are not some sort of deity that deserves to be worshipped. You are a barman. You are there to serve me, to bring me whatever I want. You are not there to look at me with hostile, hooded eyes because I have ordered something that involves more than two ingredients and maybe a small purple umbrella.

Most of the time, however, you do not look at me at all. You look at everything else except me. Even though I have fought my way through a crowd of angry dipsomaniacs standing seven-deep and am now pressed right up against the bar waving a fistful of banknotes at you, there seems to be something wrong with your peripheral vision. You wipe the counter, get more ice, wash a glass or two, check yourself in the mirror, take the orders of everyone around me. I begin to feel like a character in The Others. I start to think that maybe I died in the toilets and came back to get a drink but now nobody can see me because I am a ghost.

I pinch a girl’s bottom and she slaps me. So I am still alive. And now I’ve got your attention. But only because you think there’s trouble and you have been dying to use one of those fancy muy thai moves on a drunk customer. Well, buddy, you’re out of luck. I’m not drunk. And that’s because I have been standing here for the last hour shouting your name. Maybe I should start shouting: “Hey Batman” instead of “hey barman”.

Would you like that? You are, after all, a superhero without whom the evening would die an unnatural death as people stood about speaking among themselves in hushed tones, too self-conscious to dance, too shy to flirt, too sober to even go for a quickie in the loo.

As the designated pusher of the world’s most popular legal drug, you have the power to make people lower their expectations and shed their inhibitions. Without you, nobody would have any fun at all. Ugly people would never get laid. Tow truck drivers would be out of work. Casualty wards would stand empty. The divorce rate would plummet. The poor would have money for food.

No wonder you suffer from an overblown sense of importance.

I’m back …

Here we go again. The Citizen newspaper has kindly and courageously offered me a home for my column. My first tabloid! This is tremendously exciting.

Cut & Run appears for the first time today but will in future be published on Wednesdays.

Part of the deal is exclusivity – meaning I can’t spread the column around. It’s not on the paper’s website and it won’t appear on my blog. So if you want to read it, and you’d be an idiot not to, you will have to either buy the paper or subscribe to the newspaper’s e-edition. You can even pay for just a single copy. On, for instance, Wednesdays.

Here’s the link http://thecitizen.pressreader.com


How to survive

‘Tis that time of year when the have-nots begin stepping up their unannounced visits to the haves and they don’t always knock at the front door. Sometimes they come in through the windows.

If you need advice on how to repel intruders or not die while celebrating the end of 2018, you need to read my book, Art of Survival.

It’s available on my website as a download for the ridiculous price of R50. This makes it an ideal gift for people you don’t want to spend a lot of money on. There are eight of my books available, all as PDF downloads. Which means you can simply email the gift to whoever you wish. After reading it yourself, of course. No need to wrap. No need to even see the person. Perfect.

Contraband

Here is an excerpt from Art of Survival explaining how to get the best out of your dog.

………………………….

LET us be clear on one thing. Dogs are animals. They are not meant to be kept as pets. We have all been to the beach or to a park and seen someone throw a ball for a dog. Perhaps you have even done it yourself. You people make me so angry. Why in God’s name are you encouraging your dog to chase balls when it is blindingly obvious to all who care about these things that he should be chasing criminals? Every time your dog runs after a ball, somewhere out there is a criminal not being chased.

And you, you with that fur-covered beach ball. Oh, it’s a Labrador, is it? Shame, give him another piece of cake. Watch him go into cardiac arrest through the sheer effort of wagging his anaconda-like tail. You, madam, are doing your dog and this country a great disservice. Your Labrador should be a lean, mean killing machine. He should be at home patrolling your perimeter fence, fangs a-slaver and barking mightily at anything that moves.

Big dogs are the infantry in our fight against crime. Their position is at the front. If you only have one dog, get another to watch the back. They are the first line of defence against those who wish to take our stuff and our lives.

Little dogs are signallers in this war. They form part of an early warning system and should be scattered about the property. Their job is to alert the big dogs that something might need checking out.

It is also useful to keep a supply of miniature breeds inside your house. If a burglar does gain entrance, one of the more effective methods of slowing him down is to throw them at him. Do not waste your dogs. Use them wisely. If you have done your job properly, your handheld dogs will have been trained to bite on impact. There are very few burglars who feel comfortable robbing you with half a dozen lapdogs hanging from their face. On the down side, small dogs frequently come with a manufacturer’s defect. Once they start yapping, they frequently forget how to stop. A kick in the ribs usually turns them off.

Breeds

Alsatians make the best guard dogs. Originally bred as all-purpose working dogs, they have a proud history of keeping darkies out of white areas. They also spent a lot of time on God’s side of the Berlin Wall helping to fight communism.

They are handsome hounds, even if a bit right wing, and you will have to watch out for those neighbourhood bitches slipping in for a quickie while your dog is meant to be working.

If you are in the market for an Alsatian, pop in to your local police station and see if there are any on special. Try to get a dog from the drug squad. That way, the days of misplacing your stash will be over.

Alsatians have their own governing body called the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde. Being German, the dogs understand what this means but they are often reluctant to talk about it. Perhaps it is like belonging to the Freemasons.

Some famous Alsatians are: Hitler’s dog, Blondi; Rex the Wonder Dog; Rin Tin Tin and Orca of the SAPS KZN Midlands K9 Unit.

Bull terriers would make ideal guard dogs if you could only get them to open their jaws and let go. Nobody wants to pay top dollar for a pedigree dog and then have to cut off its head so the burglar can be thrown into a police car/mortuary van/hole in your back yard.

Whippets are faster than cheetahs in built-up areas. Obviously, out on the plains the cheetah will whip the whippet’s ass any day. When it comes to protecting your house, the whippet isn’t much good. Nobody is likely to be deterred by the sight of its tiny little head, huge chest and ridiculously long legs. That its tail is permanently wedged between its legs is also less than intimidating.

A whippet will only care about whether the strange man climbing over your wall has any food in his pockets. Look at him in a friendly fashion and he will grin gratefully, roll over onto his back and open his legs. If I ever get a chance to dabble in genetics, I am going to cross a whippet with a woman.

Your whippet comes into his own when the burglar tries to flee. To see some real sport, tie something soft and furry (a pair of bunny slippers would work) to the burglar’s ankles and give him a 30 second head start.

Dachshunds are a bit of a gamble insofar as security is concerned. If the burglar does not incapacitate himself with laughter, you might want to have a back-up plan.

Zulu hunting dogs only work if the intruder is a Zulu.

Get dolled up this Xmas

I suggested to my ex-wife once that instead of giving each other gifts at Christmas, we should rather exchange bodily fluids.

She seemed to think something more substantial was in order so I gave her a rough, uncut emerald I found in the driveway. She said it was a piece of broken beer bottle and threw it away. How very ungrateful. It was the last time I gave her jewels. That was also the Christmas I gave my loinfruit a beautiful picture of the Maldives which I tore from a magazine in the toilet. He was so overcome with gratitude that he wept for days.

Then there was the Christmas I gave her a very valuable petrified dinosaur tooth. A few days later she was digging a trench at the bottom of the garden – it might have been a shallow grave – when she came across a whole bunch of them. I told her it must be where old Tyrannosaurus Rexes went to die fifty billion years ago. She said it looked very much like a pile of builder’s rubble. I said many archeologists had made the same mistake.

I remember the last time we went to a mall to do our Christmas shopping. At first glance it appeared as if the complex has been designed by Dante Alighieri himself. Cerberus tied up outside. The sign at the entrance, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Inside, nine levels of hell, jam-packed with opportunists, adulterers, gluttons and greedheads, hypocrites, thieves and sodomites, the sullen, the slothful and the suicidal. It sounds a lot more fun than it was.

Let’s split up,” she said.

I’m sorry you feel that way,” I replied. “I’ll have my stuff out by the weekend.”

She gave me the lazy eye. “I meant split up and shop separately.” Then she was gone, swept away in a raging torrent of hoarders and wasters, deceivers, flatterers and sowers of discord.

I had some sort of asthma attack in a shop that reeked overpoweringly of the stuff women put in their underwear drawer to repel their husbands. It seemed to be some sort of biological agent. Nerve gas, probably.

I sought refuge in a shop called Dad’s Toys. It was either that or CUM Books, a shady outfit that looked like it might sell Christian porn to happily married couples. The shop wasn’t, as one might think, filled with model aircraft and puzzles to stave off Alzheimer’s.

I walked out with a crossbow, a knuckleduster, two throwing knives, a pair of nunchucks, a bulletproof vest and a riot shield. Ready for the white genocide.

There seemed to be some kind of drama unfolding in Game. They had run out of trolleys and frantic appeals were being made over the public address system for shoppers to remain calm. People were rampaging up and down the aisles grabbing armloads of stuff as if preparing for Armageddon rather than Christ’s birthday.

Ripping through the mayhem like a circular saw through the occipital bone came the most dreadful sound of all. If Christmas is such a happy time for children, why the fuck were they all crying? Why were they lying on the floor thrashing about like epileptics?

The subsonic scream of a thousand ill-tempered babies rose to a deafening crescendo. Right in front of me a toddler plummeted from his mother’s arms as she reached for her fourth box of Christmas crackers. A wild-eyed woman with a face covered in nervous tics ran into me and began making high-pitched gibbering sounds that were straight out of the shower scene in Psycho.

Right there and then I decided to buy toys for everyone. It seemed easier. The first toy shop I walked into, I was bitterly disappointed to see how few guns were being sold. When this generation grows up, how are they going to know what to do to protect themselves?

Wake up, there’s someone in the house!”

Relax, honey. I have my Delta Squad Megazord Power Ranger right here.”

Instead of guns, China is flooding the world with remote controlled Apache helicopter gunships, M1 tanks and amphibious assault vehicles that come with flashing lights and fabulous sound effects including machine gun fire, explosions and wounded civilians screaming in Arabic.

I stopped off at the girl’s toys aisle because some wives never had mothers who taught them to clean and cook and I believe it’s never too late for them to learn the basics. It was a relief to see that the men over at Hello Kitty were still doing their bit to ensure a steady supply of girls who will grow up unafraid of vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters, kettles and similar domestic accoutrements so vital to a happy marriage.

I thought my ex-wife would appreciate the “My Little Home” range. It had everything from a plastic washing machine to a trolley fitted with a mop, broom and bucket. Next year, I’d like see a “My Little Broken Home” range where nothing works except a miniature crystal meth lab. Accessories would include paramedics and a social worker.

I didn’t get her the electronic kitchen set after discovering that it makes realistic sounds. The last thing I need is a toy that shrieks: “You’re not having another beer, are you?” and “You can also cook sometimes!’

Dolls were big. Bigger than ever. Much like real women. And they seemed to be getting smarter. Again, like the real thing. I prodded one in the belly and it said, “Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat.”

It is no longer politically correct to have dolls that say “Mama” and “Dada” because of the increasing number of Dadas who say they’re just nipping out to the shop and are never seen again.

I took a shine to Mia Bambina. She promised a lot. “I sneeze. I babble. My heart beat. I drink. I cry. I snore.” I related immediately.

Barbie was back, but, sadly, still no Junkie Barbie with her own cookin’ up kit or Greedy Barbie with advocate’s robes or Corrupt Barbie with her own seat in parliament. I came across a raunchy rock ‘n roll Barbie and took her out of her box for a quick inspection. A sales lady caught me looking up Barbie’s skirt and threatened to call security. I explained that I was in Thailand not long ago and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Anyway, for the price of a Barbie I could pay a woman in the parking lot to hoik up her dress and allow me a squizz at her frilly bits. Not that I would. I’m just saying.

I stared grimly at a Ken doll and cursed his stupid plastic hair and clean-shaven chest and mocked his “small parts” that apparently constitute a “choking hazard”. The warning is for the benefit of that synthetic slut, Barbie, I presume. I cannot imagine who else would be inclined to put Ken’s small parts in their mouth.

I was going to get my nephew an M-16 with pull-back breach action and realistic auto sound but I ended up buying him a kitchen play set and plastic vacuum cleaner instead. He needs to be equipped with survival skills because by the time he is of marriageable age, all the women will be riding Harleys and staging cock fights in the Kirstenbosch amphitheater.

I overheard an assistant say to a man with a troubled face, “I’m sorry, but Spiderman has sold out.” That was very disturbing news. Had our hero been bought off by the Green Goblin? Had Peter Parker finally discovered that it would be far more lucrative to become an estate agent and then use his superpowers to spin a web of lies and deceit instead?

I was distracted by row upon row of babies stacked up like prematurely born infants in cheap plastic incubators. There was Butterfly Doll with eight functions – five more than a real baby – and Kissing Baby, a favourite among visiting Belgian paedophiles.

Sippin’ Sue is a cute little thing “who lets you know when she wants more”. Yeah, she’s cute now. Wait until she grows up and starts demanding vodka and holidays on the French Riviera.

Then I spotted New Born Baby. “Look after me,” the synthetic sprog demanded. “I can drink and use my potty.” So can I, but you don’t see me lolling about in a cardboard box expecting people to pay R300 to see me do a wee, do you? Not that I wouldn’t.

There was also some kind of contraption that could accommodate seven babies. Of course. Why have one when you can have seven? It’s a valuable lesson for any girl to learn in a country starved of people.

Steffi seemed to have higher standards than Barbie but apparently liked nothing more than a nice bath (bath supplied). I stood there for a while, imagining Steffi in her little pink tub. It’s not what it sounds like. She’s six inches tall, for heaven’s sake. What kind of monster do you take me for?

There was another doll that promised “27 lovable phrases. Press my tummy!” Nothing happened. I felt cheated. It didn’t say a word, not even when I put it on the ground and repeatedly stood on its tummy. Things have come to a pretty pass when shop assistants order paying customers to step away from the baby or face expulsion from the store.

I think that’s what he said. I couldn’t be sure because the public address system was cranked up to supersonic levels. In Durban, you might expect to hear in-store announcements in an Indian or English accent. In Pretoria, it might be Afrikaans or Darkie. But in Cape Town, there’s only one accent. Look, some of my best friends are coloured, but when it’s deep Cape Flats pumped through a treble-heavy PA system, it’s like having a rusty blade hacking through your brain.

It’s hard to believe that toy shops are still selling microscopes and chemistry sets. This country needs more pole dancers, not scientists, goddammit. In the old days, this type of toy was sold because the state wanted to encourage an early interest in the noble arts of biological and chemical warfare. I bet Papa Basson bought little Wouter a lovely set for his fifth birthday.

The shelves were full of lies. Call it aspirational if you will, but I call it setting your kid up for a lifetime of feelings of inadequacy and failure. Here’s what I found in the toy car section: an Audi S7, a Range Rover Vogue and a Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet. I want to open a toy shop that stocks faded red Hyundais up on play-play bricks with small plastic hobos passed out in the back and dented Vauxhall station wagons with missing hubcaps and doors rusted off their hinges.

The same goes for My Happy Family, a lurid atrocity of a doll house. It comes with a double-storey home, a vintage convertible and better furniture than mine. There’s mom, dad and a little girl, all glowing with health and happiness. In my toy shop, I would sell My Horrid Family featuring a crack house covered in gang graffiti, a tattooed dad wearing a wine-stained vest and mom sporting a black eye. The kid, being an only child, would be weeping into a bowl of gruel. There would be no furniture, what with it having been repossessed and all.

I even found a battery-operated ATM machine. All it needed was a battery-operated skabenga in a balaclava blowing it up with some plastic plastic explosives. The sound effects would be awesome. First the blast, then the police sirens, then the bad guy in court being acquitted on a technicality, then the sound of him laughing all the way to the next bank.

Although I still hadn’t bought anyone anything, I knew it was time to flee when the PA exploded into life and the announcer screeched, “Mr Hartzenberg please eat your wife in front of the store!”

On my way out, I passed a fat bearded man in a tight red suit trimmed with white fur. He was sitting in a chair waving at small children. That didn’t seem right so I went over and asked if he was an employee of the Catholic Church. He said he was a Father, but not that kind of Father, so I offered him a hit on my hip flask and all was well with the world.