In case you’re running low, there are hundreds of bottles of vodka lying on the pavement outside the former Amy Winehouse’s gaff in the London borough of Camden. I’m not saying it’s worth flying all the way to the divided kingdom just to nick a few, but I do find it interesting what people will leave in memory of someone whose carousing-to-working ratio was something like 1000 to 1. If, say, I had to shoot myself, would people leave toy guns outside my home? What about nooses, should I hang myself? Maybe I will commit suicide by land mine. Then my grieving fan, or, hopefully, fans, will plant mines around my house. The thought of estate agents blowing themselves up in an unseemly scramble to get their hands on a new listing makes me come over all warm inside.
Sales of Amy’s two albums have gone through the roof since she activated the opt-out clause in her final Faustian contract. Fast-selling tracks include Back To Black, Rehab and If You All Don’t Stop Telling Me What To Do, I’m Going To Kill Myself On July 23.
Brenda said it would be the same with my books. She reckoned sales would soar into double figures even before the crematorium could cash the cheque. I’m not so sure it’s going to happen. For a start, I am too old to die in a berserk orgy of drink and drugs. I have built up such a high threshold for abuse that you would need to run a mescal drip into my dorsal aorta and shoot a kilogram of uncut diacetylmorphine straight up my nose before my body would even consider capitulating. To kill my mind, you would have to slice off the top of my head and stick an electric eggbeater into my brain. Stir well and leave to set. Coat the rim in salt. Pour tequila, triple sec and lime juice into the cranium. Serve chilled.
I could have joined the 27 Club but I didn’t. Not because I wanted to live. As it happened, I didn’t. But it was a bad year for dying young. Back then, to be a celebrity you first had to attract the attention of the SABC. Then, once you had appeared on telly and threatened to sue them unless they paid you, you could finally invest in a classier genre of narcotics that would hopefully kill you before your star began to fade. By the time you could afford to choke on your own vomit, you’d be way past 27. There was no point in even trying, really.
There isn’t a club for people who die at my age. There’s just a lot of shaking of heads and friends saying things like, “So when’s the wake? Is there an open bar?”
A rooster woke me this morning. Not, unfortunately, by bringing in a tray of tea and toast and pecking me gently until I opened my beer-encrusted eyes. It woke me by doing its cockadoodle routine somewhere in the valley. This is not the kind of valley you might come across in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Basically, it’s two hills. With a valley in between. The only chickens I have seen around here are in the local Spar, and they don’t say much.
Brenda sat bolt upright in bed. “Did you hear that?” she whispered. “Yes,” I whispered back. “You know what this means, don’t you?” she whispered. “Why are we whispering?” I whispered. Her eyes were big and full of fear. “It means the darkies are coming!” she hissed.
I can’t believe I didn’t see it right away. If there’s a chicken in the area, you can bet there’s a darkie not far behind it. This valley is jammed with God-fearing white folk, almost none of whom are gun-toting fundamentalists on a divine mission to keep the neighbourhood from falling into the clutches of Islam. Keeping it from falling into the hands of the darkies, however, is another matter altogether.
Around these parts, nobody keeps a chicken for a pet. Chickens are for braaing, not for the reading of entrails or the making of friends. My parents bought one for me and my sister when we wuz kids. It would lie in wait for us to come home from school, then rocket out of the azaleas and try to gouge our eyes out with its razor-sharp spurs. I think it was a Filipino fighting cock. Some pet. I can’t remember what happened to it, but I like to think it ended up in the oven where it belonged.
The Fish Hoek rooster is causing ripples of consternation through the valley. This afternoon I overheard two old ladies wearing blue dresses, blue hair and blue teeth talking in an arts and crafts shop. I was looking for glue. To sniff. Okay? I don’t do arts and crafts. Not yet. But when I do, you can be sure that I will use the plasticine, pipe cleaners and magnetic beads to make the most powerful bomb the world has ever seen. Then we’ll see who is laughing.
Anyway. These geriatrics were speaking in voices that only the very old think are hushed.
“I saw it for the first time this morning,” the faded blue one shouted.
“You didn’t!” the bright blue one shouted back.
“Oh yes I did.”
“What was it like?”
“Not as big as I thought it would be.”
“Cocks are funny like that.”
I left before the conversation could take a nasty racial turn. Truth is, I am not convinced that the rooster signals the imminent collapse of civilisation as Fish Hoek knows it. Perhaps there is a single father living in the more adjusted, less stridently Christian sector of the valley who came home with a rooster because his son is allergic to cats and dogs. Perhaps the child suffers from some sort of severe immunodeficiency syndrome and lives in a plastic bubble, along with his pet rooster. Physical contact with any living thing other than Gallus gallus domesticus would be the end of him. Yes. That’s what it is.
I must tell Brenda before she puts the house on the market.