My brief career as an Agony Aunt

I had forgotten that I was an Agony Aunt called Sis Beatrice several years ago. Here are some of the letters I responded to.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

My neighbour has two tone-deaf children who are driving me mad. Every day around 3pm they start practicing – one is learning the trombone while the other assaults the violin – and I don’t know whether to sell my house or petrol-bomb his. What would you suggest?


Dear Desperate

Petrol bombing might be an option if petrol weren’t so expensive. But you really have nothing to complain about. Trombones and violins are a pleasure compared to the sound of goats being slaughtered, engines being revved, guns being fired, whores being banged and drunks being thrown through French doors. Yes, that’s right. Try living in the parliamentary village. Then you can complain.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Easter seems to have become just another commercialised rip-off. There has been an infestation of chocolate bunnies in every shop I go to. Millions of chocolate eggs have been laid by millions of chocolate chickens. I even saw a chocolate hippo the other day. Don’t you think Easter would be a lot more meaningful if all the shops stocked chocolate Jesuses?

Christian Fletcher

Dear Christian Fletcher

Are you completely mad? What do you think the Church’s reaction would be if everyone walked around sucking on chocolate crucifixes and licking the Messiah’s face? Say five Hail Mary’s and never write to me again.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

My girlfriend said I should cut down on beer because I am getting fat. I told her that it’s not the beer, but more likely an enlarged prostate, and suggested that she showed me a little more love because I might be dead soon. She didn’t say anything, but I get the feeling she thinks that a beer belly is worse than an enlarged prostate. Should I pretend to have cancer or stick with the prostate?


Dear Worried

It all depends on how gullible your girlfriend is. If you can get away with the prostate angle, I would say play it. Men need beer like fish need water. If she thinks your burgeoning gut is the result of a medical condition, you will get lots of sympathy sex. However, if you don’t die within a year or two, she might start to get suspicious and sooner or later will want to kill you herself. It’s your call.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

It has been a while since I read anything in the papers about Schabir Shaik. Is he still alive?


Dear Anxious

As far as I know, he remains confined to his death bed. The good news is that he is now strong enough to take fluids without an intravenous drip. Moët et Chandon, mainly. The family hopes to put him on solids soon and platters of duck liver pâté and salmon roses are being kept on ice. We continue to pray for him.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Why does De Beers control the diamond market so tightly? These are gemstones, for heaven’s sake, not crack cocaine. Why shouldn’t we all be allowed to find them, sell them or exchange them for whatever we want?


Dear Anti-Greed

When it comes to economic principles, De Beers and prostitution are closely related. Too many diamonds on the open market devalues their worth. Why go to a jeweller and pay top dollar for a diamond ring if you can get one for half the price on the street corner? That’s why so many women hate hookers. They devalue a woman’s power base.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Benni McCarthy played a brilliant game against West Ham last weekend. What do you think he meant when he said afterwards that he couldn’t come home to play against Norway in the Nelson Mandela Challenge because he was so badly injured he could barely walk?


Dear Confused

It’s Lancashire slang for: “I would rather go down the Duck and Puddle for a couple of pints than spend 14 hours in the air just to be humiliated by a pack of Scandinavian losers and then hijacked on my way home.”


Dear Sis Beatrice,

What did Jacob Zuma mean when he said that among the white population, only Afrikaners are true South Africans? I am English-speaking and nearly lost my life fighting against apartheid.

Roger Ponsonby-Smythe

Dear Roger

Your mistake was not to be a supporter of the National Party, a group of liberal intellectuals, poets and artists who spent years selflessly striving for the creation of a free, just and humane society. You should have seen the writing on the wall and pretended to be an Afrikaner, if only to have been part of this noble renaissance movement that saw the emergence of true heroes like PW Botha, Dr Wouter Basson and General Magnus Malan.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

One of my servants tells me that Nelson Mandela Day is coming up on Saturday and that South Africans are being called on to dedicate at least 67 minutes of their time to helping the less fortunate. My problem is that I don’t know any poor people. Besides, I have tennis in the morning and horse riding in the afternoon. I simply don’t have any spare time for the underprivileged. Can’t I just give them some money instead?

Charity Willoughby-Smythe

Dear Charity

You poor darling, I completely understand. Perhaps you could get someone to collect a batch of ragged urchins off the street and let them watch you play tennis for 67 minutes. Or better yet, use them as ball boys. That would do wonders to improve their quality of life.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Gauteng police have been distributing a booklet advising people how to avoid becoming victims of crime. I’m far from convinced that this latest attempt at eradicating crime will be effective. What do you think?


Dear Skeptic

Well, it largely depends on the thickness of the booklet. If it’s more than 100 pages, you should carry it around in your breast pocket. That way, there is at least the chance of it stopping a knife or deflecting a bullet.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

The world was expecting our election to be marred by fraud and violence and we have gone and let them down terribly. As far as I know, the worst thing that happened was an official got arrested for allegedly stuffing a ballot box with a paltry 62 IFP votes. That’s pathetic in anyone’s book. Do you agree?

Play Ball

Dear Play Ball

Yes, it’s unforgivable. Much more of this and we’re going to give the continent a good name. You know what happens then, don’t you? Goodbye donor aid. I expect we will be thrown out of the African Union before long.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

On Thursday evening, the communists were prancing about outside Luthuli House drinking copious amounts of champagne. I telephoned the police to report their unruly behaviour but was told there was nothing they could do. Does this mean I am also legally entitled to drink in public?

Cecilia Snodgrass (Mrs)

Dear Cecilia

Of course not. Who do you think you are? Blade Nzimande? These people have earned the right to enjoy the spoils of the revolution. Molotov cocktails all round!


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I am thrilled that the ANC did so well in the elections and that Jacob Zuma is going to be our next president! There is something about having the Zulus in charge that makes me think everything is going to be okay. Exciting times lie ahead and I bet that in less than two years, a South African passport will be even more valuable than a British one.



Dear Pendukeni

And you’re fortunate enough to be living right in the heart of it all, a mere 9 000kms outside Johannesburg. Is the future so bright that you had to move to London to escape the glare?


Dear Sis Beatrice,

A friend told me that the navy is based in Simon’s Town and not Durban because eventually all the English-speaking white people will be living in Cape Town and it will be easier to evacuate them to England when the Zulus take revenge for the Battle of Ulundi. Is this true?


Dear Pedro

Did your friend study history at the University of Orania?


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Every time I complain to my mother about my husband’s behaviour, she tells me it was my decision to marry a pig and that I must live with the consequences. Is she right or should I try to speak to someone more sympathetic?


Dear Desperate

Yes, speak to a doctor. Your pig of a husband might have given you swine flu.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

About 100 people have died of this so-called swine flu that is supposed to be sweeping the world, and governments everywhere are in a blind panic. Flights are being cancelled, people are being given surgical masks and everyone is too afraid to shake hands or kiss each other. In America alone, 365 people drown in their bathtubs every year. Globally, this figure could run into the thousands. Why aren’t governments doing something about bathtubs? They sound a lot more dangerous than a bug you might catch if a pig sneezes in your face.

Get Real

Dear Get Real

When you hear that a pandemic of bathtubs has broken out, get back to me and we’ll talk again.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I bought a second-hand Land Rover the other day and I have noticed something peculiar. Every time I pass another Land Rover, the driver waves at me. Have I unwittingly joined some sort of cult?


Dear Worried

Well, it’s more of a club whose members recognise in each other the tremendous sacrifices you make to drive a car that leaks when it rains, corrodes easily, heats up like a sauna, has more breakdowns than a Sandton housewife and comes with a driving position that paralyses the entire right side of your body. You’re like old war buddies who fought in the same unit.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I have always had a thing for Indian saris but have never got up the courage to wear one in public because I am white and in this country, you can get stoned for crossing ethnic barriers. Our department stores have such boring clothes. I would love to be able to walk into SK Naidoo’s Bridal and Sari Boutique and splash out on one of those gorgeous shimmering numbers – maybe a turquoise one to bring out my eyes. Do you think I should do it or should I stick with what’s expected of me?


Dear Roger

Well, if I were you, and I might have been had it not been for the grace of God, I would get the sari and to hell with what people might think. However, if you want to wear it to the rugby, make sure you put on a pair of good running shoes.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I looked in the mirror the other day and was horrified to discover that I have developed a pair of moobs – man boobs. I did some research on the Internet and found that they are caused by beer. I really don’t want to stop drinking beer, but nor do I want to walk around with moobs. Please help!

Mooby Dick

Dear Mooby

I’m guessing that your moobs aren’t very big. Giving up beer would be almost impossible for someone whose appetite for the stuff has caused his body to undergo biological changes, so my advice would be to step up your intake and hope that your moobs grow into a decent pair of real boobs that you can be proud of. A case a day should get you a 32C by Christmas.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I get so depressed when I hear about all the poverty and hunger in the world. Is there nothing that can be done to put an end to this terrible situation?


Dear Saddened

This is something I have given a lot of thought to, and the only lasting solution I can come up with is if we somehow get all the hungry people to eat all the poor people.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

Whenever my boyfriend takes me out on a special date, like to a restaurant, he buys me an expensive outfit and I always look gorgeous. But the next day he says that he didn’t like what I was wearing and returns it to the shop for a refund. This has happened a few times and it is starting to look a bit funny. Am I being too suspicious?


Dear Mandy

You’ve got a real keeper there, honey. He is what is known in the business as a recessionista. He wants you to look good and at the same time has found a way to achieve this at no expense to himself. My advice is to hang on to him. At least until the financial crisis is over. But if he starts planting cockroaches in your dinner to scam a free meal, you might want to weigh up your options.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

You know how some people get their kicks by hunting lions or sky-diving? Well, I get mine by going to auctions and bidding for stuff even though I don’t have any money. I get a huge thrill from driving up prices and then getting out before the auctioneer can drop his hammer on me. My wife says there is something wrong with me, which is nonsense of course. Do you know of anyone else who plays this game? I’d love to get in touch with them and maybe operate as a team.

Going, Going, Gone

Dear Going

Yes, there are others like you. I believe they meet twice a week at the Sterkfontein asylum for the criminally insane.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

What is it with these people from Cape Town? A bunch of whales offers themselves up and what do they do? They try to get them back into the sea! What are they smoking down there?

Joe Berg

Dear Joe

You’re right. If those false killer whales had beached themselves on, say, Jeppe Street, we would have been down there in a flash with our pangas, six-packs and Webers. Imagine the street party we could have with 200 tons of free protein and a police force that knocks off at 5pm! Those Capetonians must be smoking something that doesn’t give them the munchies. Maybe it’s fynbos.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I understand the ANC Youth League wants to hang President Zuma’s portrait and the South African flag at all preschools and primary schools in the country. This is a noble idea, but one that does not go far enough. It must be remembered that a child only enters preschool from about the age of three onwards. This means they will have had absolutely no exposure to our national symbols during the first few years of their life. We need to focus on that critical period if we hope to create a nation of super-patriots – people who will salute the flag whenever they see it, sing the anthem and nothing else, learn only about the springbok and the blue crane, buy no other flower than the protea and, when eating at a seafood restaurant, order nothing but the galjoen. This is the only way to pay true homage to all of our national symbols and it is never too early to start conscientising our children. Don’t you agree?

Prometheus the Patriot

Dear Prometheus

Absolutely. This is the best idea the Youth League has come up with. In fact, I would like to see all babies removed from their mothers at birth, tattooed with the motto !ke e: /xarra //ke and taken to isolation chambers to be shown old news footage of the Soweto riots while Nkosi Sikele’ iAfrika plays on a constant loop. They must be dressed in camouflage print baby-gro outfits and, two weeks after birth, inducted into the ANC Infant’s League. This is the only way to secure our country’s future.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I work for a boss who hits on all the girls in the office. All except one. Me. I don’t think he even realises the hurt he is causing by not flirting with me. When all the girls get together in the smoking-room to complain about what they call his “sexual harassment”, I feel so excluded that I just want to curl up and die. Can you tell me if I am doing something wrong? I also want to know if there is some kind of organisation I can report him to if this unacceptable behaviour continues.


Dear Wallflower

All you want is to be treated equally, right? The Gender Commission should be able to help. They have done some fantastic work in the past, although nothing springs immediately to mind, and with a bit of luck they will take your case. In the meantime, vamp it up a notch. Go to work in your negligee and make calf eyes at your boss whenever he walks past. During meetings undress him with your eyes. If that doesn’t work, undress him with your hands. Grab his bum and stick your tongue in his ear. That should get his attention.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

I am terrified at the prospect of Jacob Zuma becoming president and I have started stockpiling groceries, although I still have some tins of bully beef and candles left over from when I stockpiled in 1994. And again in 1999. And 2004. Apart from food, is there anything specific that I might need this time around?

Scared Stiff

Dear Scared

Yes. You need to have your head examined. After the shrink is done with you, make sure you keep taking your medication. Also, start using an industrial-strength deodorant to mask the fear. People must be able to smell you from a mile off.


Dear Sis Beatrice,

A lot of people in Cape Town, including me and my family, have been hard hit after heavy rains lashed the city recently. After the latest storm, I went outside to find that muddy water had seeped into the outdoor Jacuzzi. I screamed for Philemon but then remembered it was his day off. And I had guests arriving for lunch! What a terrible situation for anyone to be in. Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed when my visitors saw the state of the hot tub. Do you think I should sue the municipality for the damage caused to my reputation? If so, how much should I ask for?

Suffering in Camps Bay

Dear Suffering

The nation’s sympathies are with you. I hope by now the council’s emergency Jacuzzi unit has sorted out the crisis and that your traumatised family is once again soaking gently in the hot tub. It is not easy to put a figure to this sort of thing, but if I were you I would sue for around R25-million. Perhaps you should also report Mayor Helen Zille to the International Criminal Court. It starts with blocked drains and muddy Jacuzzis and before you know it, you’re handing out guns to child soldiers. These things must be nipped in the bud.



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