Let’s All Drink To The Death Of A Clown

This is the first time in ten years that I haven’t had a weekly deadline for a newspaper column.

The first five were with the Cape Times, the second five with the Sunday Times. It’s very unsettling to suddenly have an extra six hours a week to fill. I suppose I could go drinking, but then it would just feel like deadline night without the writing. It would be too sad. They go together, writing and drinking. They are old friends from way back and it would be wrong to do one without the other. It would be like cheating on a lover.

The Cape Times was good to me. They gave me an extraordinary amount of leeway to write whatever I wanted. Week after week they allowed me to denigrate, defame, belittle, taunt and tease anyone I pleased, irrespective of race, colour, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, political affiliation or social standing.

On September 3rd, 2002, I wrote my debut column. In case you were a semi-literate wastrel languishing in grade ten when it appeared, here it is again:


Gorilla Tactics in Mating Season


“I am looking forward to spring more than most men. It is the time of year when somebody cleans the house. But more importantly, there is a very good chance that my wife will thaw.

Brenda’s libido has been trapped in pack ice ever since the first rains fell. My efforts to send out a metaphysical icebreaker have repeatedly failed and I still bear the scars from an incident involving a multi-pronged kitchen utensil.

A warning to other men. Do not, under any circumstances, approach your woman silently from behind while she is bent over a sink overflowing with dishes and try to pull her skirt down in one fluid movement expecting her to whip around and sink gratefully to her knees. Granted, not all women will instinctively lash out with a blunt instrument, but my Brenda is well trained in the untidy art of suburban warfare.

My latest attempt to imbue a little spring fever in her was met with howls of outrage and a running battle that swept through the house until the neighbours threatened to call in the army. Ted and Mary usually call the cops but they switched to the military after the local police station had its telephone stolen.

These days I wear padded clothing and a fencing mask when I try to instill some of the passion that once raged in Brenda’s ample bosom. She is a bit of a tease and likes to play hard to get by locking me out of the house.

Ted suggested I approach the Constitutional Court since Brenda is clearly violating my conjugal rights. A brilliant idea, I thought, until I remembered that judges these days are a bunch of limp-wristed nancy boys who are more concerned about appeasing disgruntled lesbian couples than they are about protecting the interests of red-blooded males who have wives that refuse to meet their connubial responsibilities.

Once Cape Town catches up with the rest of the country and realises that winter is over, I stand a far better chance of getting Brenda to see what she is missing. I won’t even have to use force. With warmer weather, she will stop wrapping herself up like a beef roti before going to bed. And once she realises that direct eye contact no longer signals an impending outbreak of hostilities, she will become more generous with her favours.

She might even start cooking dinner again. The laundry may take some time, but I have no doubt that once the birds are singing and the flowers are blossoming, she will make a start on the enormous pile of dirty clothes that threatens to topple over and suffocate me while I sleep.

It’s not that I refuse to do any domestic chores. It is simply that I do not know how. Women are genetically programmed to clean, cook, sew, crush a man’s confidence with a single word and so on.

A man, on the other hand, will see a vacuum cleaner and immediately start thinking that with bigger wheels on it and a small petrol-driven engine mounted on the back, it would be possible to ride it along the beach and discover new fishing spots while circumventing the ban on 4x4s. The dirty floor is quickly forgotten while he sets about designing this revolutionary vehicle. She gets home to find the vacuum cleaner has been disemboweled and her man has gone off to the pub because he knows there is safety in numbers.

As for me, I’m on my best behaviour. I simply cannot allow another rutting season to slip through my fingers.”


My inaugural column was not received as well as I hoped.

L Koekemoer was among those who wrote to the newspaper: “Ben Trovato is obviously an obnoxious, uninformed womaniser. I can understand why his wife has lost her libido. Living with such a man could be a complete turn-off. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole.”

H Nichols joined in: “Ben Trovato’s column is beyond offensive. I cannot believe the Cape Times would publish something which reinforces and perpetuates the degradation of women. Please don’t insult us with this kind of pathetic drivel again.”

P Eloff wrote: “Your editorial staff have sunk to new lows. I will not be renewing my subscription to the bigoted trash that you call a newspaper.”

Jaco MacGillicuddy wrote: “What kind of human being are you?”

G Marschner wrote: “You must have been beaten up terribly as a kid.”

As the hate mail vomited in, I waited for the call from then editor Chris Whitfield. It came soon enough. Not to fire me, as I expected, but to laugh like an anarchist who has just won a year’s supply of Molotov cocktails.

Encouraged, I wrote my second column.


Happy Men, Happy Planet


“I am appalled. In fact, I am more outraged than Outraged of Oranjezicht. I was absolutely boggled to read the scathing responses to my very first column.

To be honest, I was expecting a flood of letters from sympathetic females offering me a little rumpy pumpy on the side. I did not anticipate a tongue-lashing from women who are clearly in desperate need of what I am not getting enough of.

I stand accused of encouraging men everywhere to insist that their wives and girlfriends do the cooking and cleaning and whatever else it takes to keep the smile on a man’s face. So what?

Unhappy, frustrated men go into politics and declare war on one another and hold boring international conferences. It is vitally important that men are kept happy. And let me say the fact that I am one is purely incidental. I have only the interests of the planet at heart. To the credit of delegates, and here I must single out Sam Nujoma, the only worthwhile resolution to come out of the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development was the one calling on women to be more aware of the need to keep their men happy.

If I were a woman I would want to make men happy. It is a fulfilling and potentially lucrative calling. Look at Suze Orman and the girls from Teazers.

But I was not born a woman. And when you are a real man like me, you don’t go out of your way to make other men happy. Unless you want them to buy the next round, of course. I want other people, who aren’t men, to make me happy. Men are happiest when they aren’t doing the dishes and getting French kissed at the same time.

When men are unhappy they want to go off and invade Angola. They start devising ways of killing people just by looking at them. Women take out their frustrations by cleaning things. It is a cathartic process for them. They enjoy picking up wet towels off the floor. Men don’t.

Forcing a man to clean the house is tantamount to taking a blunt panga and hacking off one of his testicles on the bread board right there in the kitchen in front of his friends. On the positive side, you can get him stitched up and by suppertime he is making moon-eyes and trying to slip his hand up your skirt.

Forcing him to dust and vacuum is guaranteed to fill him with hostility and self-loathing. Sure, the house will be clean, but forget about any action in the bedroom for a while.

Men have always believed that hand-to-hand combat is the best way of sorting out a domestic argument, but they have learned, through bitter experience, that the withholding of sex is a far more powerful weapon. Foolishly, some have even tried it themselves. Needless to say, they failed spectacularly because this is a form of resistance that violates every masculine instinct.

Even though the man is still seething at the indignity of having to hang up the washing, he is genetically predisposed to slipping into something more comfortable as soon as the last load is on the line. But since the target of his affection is also the target of his resentment, he gets confused and becomes gay. This is what has happened to most of Cape Town’s men.

I have overheard women complaining about the lack of straight men in this city. But it is they who have created this situation by forcing their men to cook casseroles, do the ironing and wear pastel cardigans and clean underwear on the assumption that if they comply they might be rewarded with a little non-violent physical contact.

In some parts of Cape Town it is even worse. In suburbs like Camps Bay, men are expected to know the difference between their Cabernet Sauvignons and their Augustus Pinochets. In the good old days we could just order a beer and a tumbler of whatever it was that made our woman drunk enough to stay the night. Sadly, this glorious age is coming to an end.

Men are constantly being told to become more sensitive, more in tune with their feminine side, but nobody has bothered telling them when to stop. And when your husband is eventually caught flouncing around the house in nothing but a lilac apron and bobby socks, it is people like me who are blamed.

I am outraged.”


I wasn’t the only one.

This time, the brothers were up in arms.

Modise wrote, “I’m a strong African man and DO NOT share your opinion, Sir. Women are not there to serve Men. The days of Men being out hunting and Women staying at home cooking are gone. We don’t hunt anymore. Women have also entered the labour market and it is both our responsibilities, as Men and Women, to make each other happy and share our responsibilities.”

Anton Jansen, clearly a sensitive man in his own right, said: “I can only say that I have not come across a bigger load of tripe in my life. The rubbish you spout about unhappy men wanting to go off and “invade Angola” is, in my opinion, indicative of the fact that you have never experienced the horrors of war. Please stop referring to yourself as a man. In my opinion you do not know the meaning of the word.”

You’d think they would run out of outrage. Or at least cotton on to what I was doing. But no. Three months later, they were still at it. Jeanine McGill developed rabies over something I wrote a week before Christmas:

“Ben Trovato’s column is the most disgusting I have ever read. I recommend that you do not re-employ him when he returns from Durban. In my opinion, he is welcome to stay there. How can a columnist get away with so positively describing Ted’s abuse of his wife, Mary; his cruel and unusual plans for his faithful dog Gonzo and the senseless slaughter of birds? In there no-one in Cape Town who can write a positive and uplifting column, that this trashcan columnist receives 64cms in your paper to spew his hash-rotted drivel?”

Jeanine was wrong on one score. In 2002, it was almost impossible to get your hands on decent hash in Cape Town. My drivel was rotted by beer alone.

Fortunately, the Cape Times readership was, by and large, an intelligent one, and the bright, bold and beautiful began leaping to my defence.

Velile Phato called me a “really crazy whitey”. I took it as a compliment.

Michael Rolfe, who I suspect might have been on drugs, said: “Ben Trovato is not merely South Africa’s foremost journalist; he is also a seer, a visionary, and the still, small voice of reason in a world run mad.” I am not related to Michael Rolfe, nor have I ever met him.

D Chaplin helped enlighten the sourpoeses of Cape Town: “Warning! This column contains irony, satire and other forms of humour. Readers who are unable to distinguish these literary devices from bona fide opinion or fact are advised to avoid reading further, and are referred to the TV guide or the classifieds where there is a lower risk of misunderstanding.”

In those years, much like now, my identity was a closely guarded secret. Perhaps too closely, if JA Browne’s letter was anything to go by.

“Since so many people are asking who Ben Trovato is, may I be allowed to spill the beans on this imposter? Ben Trovato is a woman. It becomes clear after much reading of these columns that Brenda is a symbol of oppressed womanhood, especially those married to gin-sodden men. Only a woman writer could so cleverly get under the skin of this bully, and by doing so make this Trovato creature a thing of scorn and contempt to all women. It is all very cleverly contrived by the feminist lobby. How can we be so sure that Ben Trovato is a woman? There is a certain sensitivity about the pieces – notwithstanding the pretence of macho image – that betrays the truth: the deep-seated need to denigrate men.”

As I weren’t confused enough, I received this email from a Dr Enetia Robson in London: “One has a sense of people like yourself being challenged by chaotic and violent events and trying to find a new modus vivendi while still retaining a sense of rationality and a wicked sense of humour.”

Jou ma se modus vivendi.

So, anyway. Chris Whitfield, and the editor who came after him, Tyrone August, never flinched in the face of calls to fire me or have me publicly executed. Brave men of honour, they were. And not once did they change my copy or censor me.

I repaid their loyalty by abandoning ship when the Sunday Times offered me more money to write exclusively for them. That’s right. I behaved like a common whore, dumping one client who was giving me a perfectly acceptable blowjob for one who was offering a full house. In my defence, they also offered me a full page.

By way of introducing myself to a national audience, I wrote on June 8th, 2008: “When I told my wife, Brenda, that I was going to be writing a regular column for the Sunday Times, she unleashed a scream the likes of which hadn’t been heard since she saw me naked for the very first time. I thought some kind of wild animal or housebreaker had walked into the kitchen and I almost wet my broeks.

“The Sunday Times?” she shrieked. “Don’t you know what they do to columnists over there?”

I poured her a stiff drink, quickly drank it myself and reassured her that I am an Untouchable. Like Essop Pahad. Unlike Pahad, however, I expect to retain my position after the next election. Unless, of course, the editor is instructed by his handlers in the Illuminati to terminate my services.

I ask readers to bear with me during these difficult times.

This dreadful xenophobia rumpus has caused a tremendous upheaval in domestic arrangements at the ramshackle pigpen I laughingly call home, and it may take a week or two before I can get to grips with matters of concern.

Right now, the gentleman in charge of ensuring that my garden does not degenerate into a hideous eyesore infested with alien species and itinerant drunks has moved into the spare room at the bottom of the house. This wholly unsuitable turn of events occurred two weeks ago when he asked permission to work nights as well as days rather than return to the warm welcome that awaited him at the hands of his South African comrades.

Brenda made him a cup of cocoa and said he could stay as long as he wanted. This is a situation fraught with complexities, but there is little I can do about it. Certainly, I could emigrate and cut my own lawn. Or I could stay here and have my lawn, and possibly my throat, cut for me. It is a risk I am prepared to take.

The reluctant lodger is called Sudan Red. He says his name is John but, quite frankly, I find that ridiculous. He is a refugee from Darfur, for heaven’s sake, not an accountant from Sandton. He keeps trying to tell me about the horrors of the ganja weed but I have advised him not to believe the propaganda and that if he smokes less than half a kilogram a day, he will be fine.

When I pointed out to Brenda that he was eating us out of house and home, she said that he at least earned his keep, unlike some people who apparently sit around all day waiting for something to come along and amuse them. With the application of minimum force, I explained to Brenda that writing was a noble pursuit. She silenced me with an elbow to the epiglottis and threatened to zero the counter. Like most white women, Brenda sees sex as something to be earned. Apparently it all works on a rather complicated points system. Getting into Australia would be easier than getting into Brenda.

In the meantime, I appeal to my fellow South Africans to allow our foreign domestic workers safe passage. We need to learn how to live with each other. I don’t mean me, of course. My house is full. You will have to learn how to live with other people – people who have spare rooms that aren’t filled with broken furniture and empty beer bottles.”


That’s where it all started. Now, half a million words later, it is I who have been unceremoniously dumped on the boulevard of broken dreams.

We deserve it, though, us freelancers. We go about accepting jobs willy-nilly, unprotected by unions and indecently exposed to corporate fuckery, then we fritter our wages away on luxuries such as medical aids, retirement annuities, second-hand cars and exotic dishes like mutton bunny chows. And then BANG! In an instant, we can no longer pay for any of it. It’s our own damn fault.

I am not left without a choice. I can ferret about for work in the hope of staving off the repo men, or I can run a hosepipe from my exhaust through the back window of the Land Rover. No, that won’t work. It would take six months to gas myself – my car has more holes in it than Jacob Zuma’s alibi. Besides, as a result of latest developments, a hosepipe falls under non-essential goods in my revised budget and it would be silly to waste the last of the beer money on it.

So there it is. The end of this particular road.


101 thoughts on “Let’s All Drink To The Death Of A Clown

  1. Michael Rolfe says:

    Ben Trovato is not merely South Africa’s foremost journalist; he is also a seer, a visionary and the still, small voice of reason in a world run mad.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Ah, Michael. Fine words indeed. Emblazoned on the back of my first book, if I recall.

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  9. Frank says:


  10. Irene says:

    This seems to be the trend of the moment; a very good photojournalist I know was fired fairly recently for having the courage to tell the truth. Good luck to both you unemployed boyties, and please Ben, don’t disappear from here! I have you bookmarked and would be heartsore to not hear from you again, you brilliant nutter you!

  11. Frank says:

    You hads better not stop updating this blog Ben, even if it’s once in a while. I’d never understand our current affairs if it weren’t for you. I’d never have known what an RSS feed was if it wasn’t for your blog. Without you, I’d never be able to use words like “cathartic”, “denigrate” and “Lysergic acid diethylamide” in the correct context. You, dear sir, are a Titan in your profession. For what it’s worth, I salute you.

    1. A Titan? Isn’t that some kind of terrifying monster in Greek mythology? Thanks.

  12. Jennifer Cosslett says:

    Without Ben Trovato, Fred Khumalo and Judith Ancer, the Sunday Times isn’t worth squat! Our subscription is being cancelled as of now. It’s a complete waste of time and money. Thanks for the many laughs and great writing, Ben. We miss you (have for the last few weeks). You are a fabulous writer. Maybe you and Fred should band together and start another paper that we could enjoy.

    1. Right now, Fred and I couldn’t afford a round of drinks, let alone start a paper. Nice thought, though. I hope you expressed your sentiments to the newspaper. I don’t think the editor subscribes to my blog.

  13. Without Travato, the Sunday Times can revert to the purpose for which it is best suited: soaking up evidence of poor aim in a public convenience.

    1. Vanessa Anderson says:

      Brilliant comment! I use it to soak up the mess my Afrcan Grey parrot makes! Pretty much all it’s good for now 🙂

    2. You take no prisoners, Adrian. I like that in a man.

  14. Barton says:

    No word from the Sunday Times about your colum. Thought you were maybe in a different section with the changes of the newspaper. Now all is clear. You have a way with words I envy. You will be missed!!

    1. I am in a different section – that section of the population that is unemployed.

  15. HopScotch says:

    Hellsbells! I would suggest that you get a column in the only good publication that’s left is South Africa, but you’re already in it! Go for a good long surf & shake it off.

    The only thing You’re going to get by quitting and curling up in a Fetal position is relentless grief and embarrassment. And the one thing you won’t have is Fun…

    Stay Stoked!

  16. Mfowethu, ngithola ukudumala nokuphoxeka. Njengeningi esiliphawulile — angiphinde ngilithenge iphepha ndaba langesonto. Ngizobabeka labo R16.00 baze banele, besengizithengela izincwadi zakho. Ngiyezwa kuthiwa usuzilobe zaba yishumi.

    Ngibona ukuthi livalwe lephepha. Kulonyaka uwodwa, ababhali abathathu balishiyile. Kuqale uFred, kwalandela uJudith, manje sekunguwe…

    Bengithi ngithathe lethuba ngikufisele inhlanhla. Kuzokusiza ukuthi ucele uBrenda afunde ukuvubela umqombothi, ngoba ibeer isizobiza manje ngoba ungasasebenzi, okwesiikhashana…

    Lapho oya khona sokulandela futhi sikukhusele.

    Inkosi ize ibe nawe.

    Siyabonga ngomusebenzi wakho oncomekayo.

    1. Siyabonga mfowethu. Your kind words mean a lot to me. Unless, of course, you’re sending me a death threat.

  17. maboy says:

    The tears that are shed can fill the lake Victoria, will miss you

  18. Donal Davern says:

    I really enjoyed your column Ben – SA needs the level of writing and satire you provided. Rob and plunder till you are offered a position.

  19. Gray says:

    You sir, are a warrior poet. So I have no doubt that you will be befowling the pages of some other rag with your heresy soon enough. Just as long as its not Die Son, your new rag can look forward to my continued patronage of your column.

  20. russ says:

    Die sunday times se ma se modus vivendi!!! Unbelievable tradgedy… Publish another collection to sustain us through these tough times.

  21. Sent to the Sunday Times:

    I cannot believe that you fired Ben Trovato. He is possibly one of the best satire writers in the country and his article on our President was tongue in cheek and well written.
    It looks like the Sunday Times is becoming a foolhardy mouth picece for scared editors who fear truth and want to report on only ludicrous suggestion.

    If you want your paper to be respected, perhaps offer Ben back his job.
    I will cancel my subscription at the next renewal, as will many others.
    However, should you show open mindedness, I will give consideration to the adult manner and good spirit.

    Hope you decide on the spirit rather than letter of the attitude.

  22. LONKIE Mackenzie says:

    Ag, nee, man, Bennie! Te moer met die ST – nou hoef ek nie meer die ding te koop nie. Alles van die beste, swaer. En groete vir Brenda.

  23. Neil Mc George says:

    Keep us posted, we’ll follow you anywhere. The books will be collectors items, I think mine were stolen, and the “Ben Trovato for President” T-shirts should be at a market near you soon.

  24. Paula Norman says:

    Hi Ben Are you moving to a different publication? Or are you going to blog?


    Paula 083 470 4844

  25. Sandra Thomas says:

    Very sad news indeed. I’ve been a fan for decades. I wish you well and look forward to more of your fabulous ramblings.

  26. Mtunzini says:

    I stopped buying the Sunday Times when David Bullard was fired.

    I read your column on line – I don’t know how it comes to me, but I look forward to every article.

    I can’t believe that the Sunday Times is lowering their standards once again. Why would anyone buy such a rubbish newspaper?

    Keep in touch with your internet readers. I suggest you start a subscription service.

  27. Craig says:

    What!!! No more truth in the Sunday Times. Now we only have the satire conjured up by sports, social and investigative writers to read. Now I can sleep later on Sundays as I don’t have to hurry to get one of the few Sunday Times delivered to our countryside town. Please keep on writing on this blog. You keep us laughing whilst the country goes down the unmaintained sewerage system.

  28. Chris says:

    Indeed a great shame. A friend gave me a copy of one of your earlier books as a 21st birthday present (sadly more than ten years ago…) and I’ve been a convert ever since. Like so many others, I would religiously turn straight to your column every Sunday morning. Too often it was the only one worth reading. We have to laugh at ourselves, especially in this day and age…not to mention this country! Onwards and upwards….

  29. Devastated that Ben is gone!!!!!

  30. Shawn Driman says:

    This is my bleat to the blat!! I just sent this to the Sunday Times.

    “You guys have GOT to be off your heads!!!!! The only reason half your readers buy your newspaper is to get their weekly fix of Ben Trovato!!!!
    I for one will certainly not miss your publication, and will gladly follow Ben wherever he goes. His one collumn elucidates and entertains one more than the rest of the entire newspaper. You don’t realise just what you have lost…..who on Earth made that crazy decision?!!!”

    1. That should do it. Thanks Shawn.

  31. Wendy says:

    your words will be missed – next book then!!

    1. Thanks Wends. Sad thing is, columns are far more lucrative than books in this country. I’m relying on my memoirs being an international bestseller. Problem is, I can’t remember anything beyond last weekend.

  32. Karen says:

    Why is it that every time I finally find where you have gone to, it ends? I feel like Im now your unlucky charm… Hoping you will keep posting here online at least so I can still have my giggle. And when (not if) you find alternative employment, you will let us know? (Ok maybe not me because of my aparent record)

    1. So you’re the one who has been jinxing me!

  33. Vanessa Anderson says:

    The only thing I read in the bulky but boring Sunday Times was your column, which freqently reduced me to fits of laughter & tears of amusement. I cannot understand the reasoning behind dropping it, unless of course higher powers objected to being written about (or to) in such an amusing yet brutally honest & revealing way.
    I hope you are snapped up by a brighter and more deserving publication soon. Please let us know where we can follow you so that we don’t miss out when (note I say “when”) you are published again.
    The old adage, when one door closes, another one opens, probably applies, although I know it is difficult to see the opportunities at times like this.
    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). You have great talent and amazing wit Ben, go get ’em!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Vanessa. If another door doesn’t open soon, I’m going to have to find one and break it down.

      1. Gray says:

        I have no doubt that this is precisely what you will do. Writing what you have has taken some courage, I’m sure it won’t desert you now. I’m in the pub drinking a pint, hoping you won’t need it.

        1. Please don’t drink all the beer.

  34. Sam Selmer-Olsen says:

    Hi Ben,

    I have wondered where your column disappeared to in my Sunday Times. The whole paper seems to have gotten thinner and poorer for it.

    Why would a person buy the Sunday Times if there is no Ben Trovato ‘Whipping Boy’ Column?


    1. South Africans are also getting thinner and poorer. Well, those of us who operate outside the government, anyway.

  35. Leanne says:

    Leanne Raymond
    🙁 We miss you already!! We’ve actually stopped buying the Sunday Times after years of reading it religiously – it is boring lately – and have moved onto the City Press, maybe they’ll have you?

    1. Thanks Leanne. Maybe they will have me. Worth a shot.

  36. Albert Jack says:

    You must all email the Sunday Times and tell them what you think, like I just did (below)

    You idiots.

    You have dropped the Ben Trovato column? Are you mad? That’s the only reason I ever bought your newspaper; the rest of it is shit. You should bring him back immediately and, until you do, don’t expect me to spend a single of my hard earned Rand on the SA Government properganda crap filling the rest of your pages, that went straight into my dustbin every Sunday afternoon. I wonder if you will even notice that I use the past tense. I doubt it.

    You lot are worse than CNN

    Albert Jack

    Their contact details are –

  37. Shawn Driman says:

    I posted a rather trivial, trite comment earlier. Apologies. This situation is neither trivial nor trite. The termination of a column of this importance is a sad indictment on the requirements of its management and readership. It is probably the single most valuable item from front to back page, and is the only reason I would read the paper anyway. South African society truly needs your wit and insight, and your irreverent poking at our impressive list of foibles.

    1. Thanks Shawn.No apologies needed. If I can’t laugh at the situation, I may as well go into politics.

  38. Albert Jack says:

    You are the only reason I ever bought that shit newspaper and, today, I see that I have been following you from Day One because I remember the scene with the threat of suffocation from the dirty laundry.

    You are a fine writer my friend and, as one myself, I know about these things. Too good to be down for long. Perhaps this is exactly what you needed and you can now put your obvious talent to better use than sharing space with wankers who can barely string a sentence together.

    Get yourself an agent buddy. And keep in touch.

    Albert Jack

    1. You’re a good man, Albert, and I don’t care what they say about you in Hanoi.

  39. Andy Capostagno says:

    “Writing is easy – all you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead starts to bleed.” – Raymond Chandler. As one who has shared your pain as deadlines approach I shall be thinking of you and your bank balance. If you were a polygamist you could marry a second time, but the old Scottish saying applies: Don’t marry for money, you can borrow it cheaper. Our dear president will find that out to his cost one day.

    1. Yes, Andy. That’s what I need right now – a second wife.

  40. Seriously, I’ve laughed out loud. And that’s just at the comments after your first column! The actual column caused some bladder distress and a deep reverence for your wife.The Sunday Times is foolish indeed, with newspapers being more of an experience than a necessity in this blogged, shared, social media networking that’s unfolding, foolish indeed. A Sunday Newspaper experience is diminished by the loss of your column to create laughter amongst the rest of the political woes, and pictures of various Kardashian cellulite or excess. No swift skirt pulling there either methinks.
    I’m not concerned. You’re too good at what you. All I want to know is where to find you, follow you, reblog etc. Hoping a newspaper that you’d like to write for comes along soon. Otherwise, there’s Paypal donations, selling your body, and jokes at the traffic intersections to be looked at…

    1. I think I shall go with the “selling your body” option. Who wants to start the bidding?

  41. Sandra says:

    I wish I had not renewed my subscription before this news came out. But this will be the last. Can’t you go back to Cape Times.

    1. Not sure if they’ll have me back. Will give it a shot, though.

  42. Damn, so sorry to hear this Ben, I can’t believe the Sunday Times will happily print huge photo’s of Kim kardashian’s bloated feet in the front section but will cut a column that’s not only hugely entertaining but offers South Africans relevant satire and a rare chance to actually laugh at ourselves. You’ll be missed.

    1. Thanks Fiona. Perhaps I will be reincarnated as a reality show starlet’s body parts and return to the paper one day.

      1. hahahahaha, I can’t stand bloody reality TV, although, that being said, I think a “Ben Trovato Show” would be quite brilliant. Instead of a weekly column the camera follows you around and you turn it into a weekly show, same satirical/ comic content. Now THAT, I’d watch.

        1. Someone once approached me with an idea to do a reality-based sitcom type show called The Trovatos based on the goings-on in the Trovato home – wilder than the Osbournes, better-looking than the Kardashians, smarter than The Mandelas. I never heard from him again. I think he might have been on drugs.

  43. Pam says:

    You are a brilliant writer (and thinker) Ben, and you will find a better landing. It is said that our subconscious brings upon us a certain circumstance, and though it may seem negative or scary, it is precisely what your soul needs. So I wish for you that you find what it is that you really require out of life at this time, and always. Perhaps your faith is being tested. Perhaps you are required to seek a new path. Perhaps you are required to write a book. Perhaps there is a better offer just around the corner for you, doing what you were doing. Stay heartened. Look after yourself. And thank you, Ben, for the delight you’ve brought me and so many others. Wishing you the best, Pam

    1. Thanks Pam. I like your weird optimism.

      1. Pam says:

        Haha, thanks Ben … weird it may seem, but you’ll land on your feet, you know you will, I know you will, everyone knows you will xx

  44. Jane says:

    ST has just lost one more subscription. Don’t give them the pleasure of death by leaky hosepipe – new day is coming – lots of other electronic and printed media out there – who surely get you!! Anything we can do to get the brown nosers at the paper to wake up? Surely they are messing with your constitutional rights in some way? I’m mad as a snake – and not the trouser one either.

    1. Constitutional rights? I’m a freelancer. I barely have the right to life. I doubt there’s much that can be done. Unless you think torching their building is an option.

  45. Shawn Driman says:

    …just like that?!!! Please!!!! You can’t leave me like this!!!!…..

  46. Laurien Sutton says:

    No, no, no, no, nooooooooo!!!!!!!! I`m bringing the hosepipe and joining you in the Landy! Without Ben, life is not worth living. Laurien Sutton 25 Westbourne Road Central – Port Elizabeth t/041-3735355 f/041-3735516

    1. A suicide pact? Alright then. See you in the Landy.

  47. molef1 says:

    Wow this feels sad. Tell you what,wherever you go I will also go. I will ditch the Sun Day times if I have to. I always start my newspaper at the review section,with the Ben Trovarto column. Reading the Sunday Times is not worth my while anymore.

  48. Ian Smith says:

    Dear Ben,a new beginning,something you should have done yesterday,already.Or should I say a new boss-yourself.What a fantastic opportunity!
    Best wishes

  49. Roland Ackerman says:

    Heinz is spot-on with his comments! And I think that you are the local AA Gill, at least.

    1. High praise, indeed. Thanks. AA Gill has the good fortune to be working in a country where more than five people read.

  50. Heinz Althaus says:

    Very sad but no surprise. A superbly clever and most enjoyable column but of course unacceptable to the ruling mediocracy.
    Hope a more deserving publication will allow me the great pleasure of following your incisive wit soon again.

    1. I’m waiting for the offers to come pouring in. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  51. Kevin C says:

    Your column in the Sunday Times made the subscription fee worth it. I read the column religiously for many years on Sunday mornings with a hot cup of coffee. I continued to read your columns online when I emigrated and it has reduced many a foreigner into fits of laughter. Good luck in your future endeavours and hopefully one of those endeavours will be online and available to be read by us on a weekly basis. All the best from an avid fan

    1. Thanks. Even if I can’t find anyone to give me money, I’ll probably still write the odd piece.

  52. dudley viall says:

    And thanks for so much.

  53. dudley viall says:

    Cheers! I raise my glass to South Africa’s best columnist. It only gets better from here.

    1. Thanks Dudley. If it doesn’t get better, can I move in with you?

  54. Fats Williams says:

    So, I’m sure Brenda can relate to this…there are those times when you need to be creative around ways to get the goat next to you into a deep slumber,as quickly as possible in order to creep under the duvet, meticulously like a cat preying on a bird. So you show some promising signs, like getting to bed first, reading them some stories from the paper, tender bulletins, business section, and so on.. and Yessssss snoring to the beat of that jingle-bells number that blares annoyingly for a full month annually…Tried it with a Whipping Boy piece..He Who Laughs Lastest, as the saying goes in my part of town! You still made it worthwhile buying the Sunday paper after Bullard’s demise. So what am I paging to eagerly now when I collect the paper from my driveway in the wee hours of the morning! Gosh! So you’re also being nationalised? Surely an electronic publication Fired Arses can bring in some pennies, you have some scorned journo’s that you can rally to entertain many of us weekly, please give us something positive to look forward to, in the same way we look forward to no break in electricity.

    1. Have you ever tried to rally unemployed journos? It’s worse than herding cats.

  55. Say it isn’t so!

    1. Hey Thea! Long time. Afraid it is so.

      1. Long time indeed. What makes this even worse is that I don’t do newspapers – besides your column they are only good for birdcages or recycling – so I can’t even cancel my subscription because I never had one in the first place! But I’m confident you’ll be snapped up soon, because really good satire is hard to come by and I’m sure somewhere there’s someone with a couple of brain cells who will notice the gap. May it be soon!

  56. sluiper says:

    Dear Ben

    Words cannot convey to you the unhappiness caused in our household by the news of your untimely demise at the Sunday Times.

    Once a week (on Sunday morning, to be precise) my wife and I would bury the hatchet for a few minutes. I would fetch the paper and she would make us a cup of coffee and get us some Ouma rusks.

    We’d sit in bed and I would wade through the gumpf that makes up the bulk of the Sunday Times until I found your column. I’d read it aloud, sometimes struggling to get the words out through laughter and sometimes, as with the column about your mother’s passing, struggle to get the words out through the tears.

    We’ll miss you terribly, Ben. Those mornings were some of the happiest of my life and last Sunday when you didn’t arrive in our house as usual, it felt as if a small part of us was missing.

    I just thought you should know.

    A fan

    1. You expressed my same feelings for this enjoyment on a Sunday morning apart from being in bed with your wife that is!

    2. It’s people like you I was writing for. Thank you.

  57. chris mortimer says:

    The end of an era Ben. Your columns have given me and my family such great pleasure, laughs and much food for thought. I wish you the very best of luck for the future. Editors should be queueing for your services, or at least your written words! You are the best of the best. Go well!

    1. No signs of a queue forming just yet. Thanks for the best wishes. I’m going to need them.

      1. Morna Cornell says:

        Ah Ben: what a sad day. no point buying the Sun Times again then. thanks for years of high class entertainment. hope you get lucky with Brenda at least.

        1. Lucky with Brenda? No chance of that, I’m afraid.

  58. Elmare Jansen van Vuuren says:


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