Gimme an issue …

It’s not easy, this column-writing lark.
Well, the actual writing is relatively easy. I’ve been doing it long enough not to have to pace up and down, kick the furniture and scream into the night every few minutes. I do that once just before I start and, if I’m still standing, again at the end.
The hard part is deciding what to write about. That’s a four-beer process right there. There’s no shortage of material, thanks to Twitter’s 24-hour willingness to spread its electronic butt cheeks and allow anyone off the street a glimpse into the alimentary canal of the world. It’s a modern day version of the freak show at Dickensian circuses, except it’s free. But it isn’t really. We don’t know it yet, but there’s a heavy price to be paid for having instant access to every happiness and horror this planet has to offer.
Anyway. Back to me. The difficulty lies in settling on a single issue – preferably one that won’t already have been thoroughly eviscerated by Sunday. The internet has created analysts and comedians out of everyone. It’s crowded out there. When something big happens, it’s a matter of minutes if not seconds before the ravening, babbling hordes descend, ripping and tearing, attacking and defending. I can either join the pack and try to say something that might not have already been said in a million different ways, or I can … well, there usually is no ‘or’.
Adding to the torment, I have had to borrow a laptop from a friend because the charger for my Macbook Pro stopped working a few minutes ago. I bought the charger from a Middle Eastern gentleman who runs a kiosk on the main road. I have replaced it five times in three months. I’m starting to think it might not be a genuine Apple product.
My friend’s laptop is not a Mac. It’s the other thing. It runs on Windows 7 and is loaded with Word 97. The cursor is jumpier than a kangaroo on crack and the track pad is like my ex-wife – it reacts badly to being touched. I never thought I’d hate Bill Gates for anything other than his wealth.
There is plenty to write about. For instance, Kanye West reckons the slaves who were brought to America have only themselves to blame for putting up with it for so long. If they’d read the small print in their contracts they would have seen the opt-out clause. They only have themselves to blame. So that story has been blown apart. I don’t have the stomach for it, anyway, because I’d have to mention Kanye’s wife which I have sworn never to do.
The Boy Scouts of America is changing its name after deciding to allow girls to join. This marks the beginning of the end of the world as we know it but I can’t get into it right now.
Closer to home, an idiot ex-pat from Britain got himself lightly mauled by what he thought was his pet lion. Having been hand-raised from birth, Shamba probably considered Mike Hodge a member of the pride – albeit a pretty pathetic one – and decided for whatever reason to teach him a lesson lion-style.
Hodge’s family described it as a double-tragedy. Indeed. Shamba was hand-reared and Shamba was shot. Those are the only two tragedies I can see.
The only humour in this story came from Field Marshall Floyd Shivambu who said in a tweet, “The whole thing of Caucasians callously killing our animals is out of order and unacceptable. The Brit acted stupidly & now our Lion, which responded acceptably and responsibly, is murdered! The animals, like all land, belongs to indigenous people of Africa and must be defended.” 
Someone I can usually trust suggested I write about an issue close to my heart. My thoughts turned to the great philanthropist, Lou Reed, who famously remarked on his 1978 Live: Take No Prisoners album, “Give me an issue, I’ll give you a tissue and you can wipe my ass with it.”
I imagine Lou was suffering from issue fatigue. That, and possibly too much heroin. There was a lot of it about in the late ’70s. A deeply sensitive man in his youth, Lou was clearly overwhelmed by the many issues of the day – the Vietnam war, Nixon, women’s rights, affirmative action, gay pride, mood rings, lava lamps, Sea Monkeys, pet rocks and that fucking Rubik’s cube.
When it comes to things close to my heart, clogged arteries are second only to the issues that jostle one another for attention, each crying out louder than the other, “Me! Me! Choose meeee!” until I can stand it no longer and bang my head against the floor until the voices die down.
Smoking. Now there’s an issue you can get your yellow teeth into. At some point you might even need a tissue to wipe the blood-flecked foam from your lips.
There’s a new law in the pipeline. If it gets passed, you won’t even be able to light up outside if other people are around. Cigarette vending machines will be banned and all those vaping hipsters will be treated like the vermin they are.
The government expects “push-back” from the tobacco industry. If you’re not a smoker, my advice is that you push them right back.
My mother died of lung cancer six years ago. She also had emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. A small price to pay for many happy years of smoking.
I stopped smoking a few years ago but the damage has been done. I can no longer run the 100m in under ten minutes. Thanks to the makers of Lexington, Chesterfield and Camel, I now have to drive if I want to travel that distance in a hurry.
There are few things in this world madder than repeatedly paying for something that delivers 321 dangerous chemicals directly into your lungs and blood stream without causing you to at least hallucinate or even stay awake for three days talking, laughing and having sex.
I don’t think smoking should be banned because I want to live in a world that affords people the greatest degree of freedom possible. But, as Charles Manson once said, with great freedom comes great responsibility.
When six people sit down at the table next to me and all light up at once, it’s like the death-eaters in Harry Potter have arrived. They are oblivious to my obvious signs of discomfort. One of these days I shall reach down their throats and rip out their diseased lungs, wring them into a bucket and use the tar to fill the potholes in my road.

7 thoughts on “Gimme an issue …

  1. kirsten morreira says:

    discomfit? tsk
    On Mon, 7 May 2018 at 18:27, BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison wrote:
    > Ben Trovato – Durban Poison posted: “It’s not easy, this column-writing > lark. Well, the actual writing is relatively easy. I’ve been doing it long > enough not to have to pace up and down, kick the furniture and scream into > the night every few minutes. I do that once just before I start and, ” >

    1. Shut up. Who do you think you are? A doctor of linguistics? Oh, right.

  2. From now on, the sight of a Rubik’s cube will bring a bright smile to my face!

  3. temple25 says:

    love this one, you write so well it sounds like off the cuff. It seems with a bit of don julio it wont ever be that tough.
    That spark of humanity want more and more, so never say enough is enough.

    1. Ah, Don Julio. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.

  4. ZesttyMe says:

    Dude, I am totally inlove with you and your ability to articulate facts the way you do. You call a spade a spade.
    I think your blog may have just given me some reason to carry on living so I thank you, it came just in time. Was sitting here in my lounge thinking about why I should bother living anymore, looking for a blog site I created in WordPress in late 2016 – (which I cannot find), to pour out my heart and maybe even, write my good-bye to the world note, on. I may still do so, sadly!
    Anyway, since this is all real talk, somone should tell that stupid fucking troglodyte Floyd Shivambu that Lions don’t have racist preferences – the Brit could have easily been black too and would Shivambu have made reference to his race then? What the hell has skin colour got to do with anything for F(*^*O* sakes? I do share Renaldo Gouws’ views on this matter, though, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzGa1qHgPZE
    I see your Mum shared the same fate as mine…. When I was studying in New Zealand for 3 months last year, I learned that NZ is aiming to become a completely smoke-free Country by 2020. You cannot purchase ANY tobacco products from any stores in NZ like one can in S.A. as their laws do not allow for such products to be displayed in any way. Smokers have to ask if the store supplies cigarettes and the cost of these products are very high. Restaurants in NZ do not have smoking sections like many in S.A. it’s unheard of and hardly anyone smokes there. Offices also do not accommodate demarcated smoking areas, smokers have to leave their buildings entirely and take their smoke breaks on the street or in alleyways.
    Strangely, when I visited Malta in 2014, one of the things that stood out for me was that smoking is so common there and many people were smoking publically everywhere – generally quite unpleasant but interesting at the same time how different Countries (some even EU first world), can have less healthy and health conscious cultures.
    Anyway, I’m glad you quit and thank-you for the post – enjoyed it very much as always. You can count your lucky stars we are not face-2-face right now as I may just have done something crazy and kissed you!
    Take care handsome

  5. Andy Pandy says:

    Ben you are particularly cynical this week. Keep it up (and the cynicism).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *