Buy buy baby

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

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

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

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

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

Contraband

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

Get your Durban Poison here!

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

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

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

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

Contraband

 

 

 

 

Boks, beer and a brand new book

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

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

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

What a time to be alive.

 

Durban Poison PR

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

 

 

 

An open letter to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi

Dear Mr President,

Well done on successfully hosting a regional conference with the theme Towards a Common Vision in Managing Southern Africa’s Elephants. Thanks to you, the visiting heads of state have returned home with a wonderful reminder of the occasion. I can’t think of a more perfect gift than stools made from elephant feet. Was it your idea? Brilliant. As everyone knows, the best way to manage elephants is to cut off their feet.

Your predecessor, Ian Khama, was a namby-pamby bunny-hugger who believed that elephants should be conserved rather than chopped up and used for furniture. Thank god you ousted him. With people like him in power, elephants would eventually get equal rights and soon enough start demanding a say in the running of the country.

You are not alone in your quest to ‘manage’ elephants. South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also calling for the lifting of a ban on the sale of ivory. And rightly so, too. An elephant with no feet does not need his tusks.

Your country has around 130 000 elephants. That’s, like, two people to an elephant, isn’t it? These dumb brutes contribute nothing to the economy. Each elephant could at least provide a family of four with somewhere to sit. In fact, with a bit of creativity, the entire animal could be modified for everyday use.

The trunk is a very flexible piece of equipment and a lot of fun can be had with it. I have also on occasion been lightly flagellated with an elephant tail and let me tell you, Mr President, it was quite an experience. You strike me as a man who might enjoy a bit of the old S&M. Get yourself a tail. You won’t regret it.

I can’t wait to see what gifts you come up with when Botswana hosts other gatherings in the future. A conference on human trafficking, for instance, could see delegates go home with one of your country’s unwanted children. It would ease the burden on orphanages and the kids themselves would make amusing conversation pieces in their new homes.

Drug conferences could see heads of state being given little baggies of homegrown weed and if you do host more wildlife conventions, you need not even give your guests bits of dead animal. How cool would it be if everyone got a live mongoose?

The fabulous thing about Botswana is that there is so much game. When you run out of elephants, there are many more animals to make stuff from. You could open a chain of IKEA-type stores where people can assemble their own furniture from different animals. Fitting bits of giraffe into blocks of hippo would be tremendous fun for the whole family.

The hippo, by the way, has massive untapped potential. Maybe even more than the elephant. I’ve given it some thought and will be sending you a sample of one of my stools. Feel free to use it however you wish.

Run, Caster, Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How maths ruined my life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earth Hour is over

Thank fuck for that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy St Patrick’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to be lucky today?

If you’re Irish:

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

If you’re South African:

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

Oz doesn’t need more wizards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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