I find it difficult to focus on any one particular subject this week. For that, I blame the early onset of a mid-life crisis, Vladimir Putin, Israel, Facebook, Twitter and Windhoek lager.
My weekly deadline ritual generally involves surfing in the morning, then buying the daily papers and retiring to a beachside bar to peruse the news. During this time, I hopefully come across something that inspires a thousand words. Increasingly, however, I come across things that inspire the formation of a private militia at best and emigration at worst. By the time I reach the sports pages, I am scarlet with rage and drenched in beer. My blood pressure is out of control and waiters are refusing to serve me. Those who know me keep the paramedics on speed dial.
Let me start with the police. They have searched me, chased me, fired teargas at me, hit me with batons and tossed me into their filthy cells. Not all on the same night, obviously. This is over a period of years.
When my house is broken into, my first thought isn’t to call the cops. It’s to call Paul Kersey, a man who makes his living hunting down and terminating all the scum on our streets. People have told me that he doesn’t actually exist. That he’s just a vigilante character Charles Bronson played in the Death Wish movies. I don’t believe it. He’s out there somewhere. I don’t have his number. It’s unlisted. And for good reason, too.
So. The latest from the crime-fighting front is that persons unknown broke into the Interpol offices in Pretoria and made off with a bunch of files and computers containing highly sensitive information about ongoing investigation into international and local crime syndicates. The burglars were in possession of access cards and key codes to the offices of three colonels and two captains. They had to leave early on Saturday, probably because of dinner plans, but they were back on Sunday to finish collecting the laptops, cameras and portable hard drives. They clearly knew that these high-ranking officers were unlikely to pop in for a spot of after-hours case solving. Pity Jackie Selebi isn’t still head of Interpol. He would definitely have been at work over the weekend, if only to sort Glenn Agliotti’s honorariums into bundles of fifties and hundreds.
For a bit of light relief, there’s a story about Michael, a nine-year-old boy from Gauteng who has been drinking beer most days for the last two years. When he runs out of beer, he smokes weed. I bet his parents are journalists. Stop making him watch CNN and he’ll be fine.
The papers this week are awash in studies and surveys. Journalists love this kind of thing. It means they can fill their quota of stories without leaving the office. Well, apart from sloping off to the cafeteria for a pie every hour or so.
Did you know that only 21.8% of households are “anchored well” financially? As for the rest of us, our anchors are dragging. As if we hadn’t noticed. Here’s a quote to chew on: “Real household disposable income growth is around 0%, indicating that prices of everyday goods and services are rising faster than incomes.” I don’t have a very good grasp of numbers, but I do understand 0%. Actually, I don’t. It’s a metaphysical conundrum and I want no part of it.
The same man who is confusing and scaring us with these figures – a company CEO – said that used cars were becoming more popular as people struggled to afford new ones. You know what’s even more popular than used cars? Stolen cars. These are particular popular among households that struggle to afford food.
Moving on. Residents of Cape Town’s trendy Green Point suburb are complaining. They say there’s a siren on a shipping buoy that keeps them awake at night and too many helicopters flying overhead disturbing them during the day.
“It’s worse than fucking Gaza out there,” said nobody in particular to someone who wasn’t listening. Poor bastards. I don’t know how they cope. First they get a filthy great World Cup stadium blocking their sea views, and now this? Residents have written to Cape Town’s harbour master about the noise but their complaints have “fallen on deaf ears”. He’s the harbour master, you idiots. He can probably see the buoy from his office. Of course he’s going to be deaf.
Meanwhile, researchers have found that a little light running for five to ten minutes a few times a week could add three years to your life. No thanks. When I’m a gibbering 95-year-old wreck, I don’t want to think to myself, “Thanks to that filthy jogging, I’ve got another three years of this hell.” Sometimes I walk quickly from the bedroom to the kitchen and back. That’s going to have to do.
On a happier note, a new study has found that South Africans can’t get anti-depressants down their throats fast enough. Medical aids are forking out huge amounts of money to cheer people up. Good. I’ve paid a fortune to my medical aid over the years and I’ve only claimed once, for a small operation on my Surfer’s Ear. They owe me big time and I really hope that I don’t live a long and healthy life and die in my sleep. I want my money back, even if it means suffering a series of crippling illnesses.
The report said that medical aid budgets were “under strain” as a result of claims for drugs for “rare diseases”. Sure, they might be talking about smallpox and the Black Death, but I suspect what they really mean are the 200 or so different types of cancer. Medical aids prefer to regard cancer as a “rare disease” because it gives them the chance to weasel their way out of paying for treatment.
The report – produced by a company that manages claims for 50 medical aid companies – encouraged the use of cheaper, generic medicines. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Got leukemia? Here, suck on this piece of tree bark and have a nice cup of tea. Don’t call us in the morning.
Lower down in the same story, a spokesman for the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (I get sad and anxious just knowing there’s a special group for these people) said that one in three South Africans has a mental illness. Our government comprises 35 ministers and 37 deputy ministers. Work it out for yourself.
And in other news, thirty students have been selected to study pharmacy in India. The KwaZulu-Natal health department is largely footing the R20m bill. It seems only fair, then, that the province’s MEC for health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, would insist that the twelve female students be given a contraceptive implant before they leave.
The department, you see, doesn’t want to spend all this money on these girls only for them to be impregnated the moment they land in New Delhi. You know what medical students are like. Can’t keep their broeks on for longer than an hour at a time. Luckily, the 25 male students are free to add to India’s sparse population however they see fit.
On the photographic front, I was impressed with the picture of FW de Klerk sitting back and smiling while a black man washed his feet. Well done, FW. It’s not easy for a whitey to pull that kind of thing off these days – especially not one who once led a government second only to the Third Reich in its commitment to humanitarianism. Okay, so you had just stuck your feet into a tray of clay at the Cradle of Humankind heritage site. But still. You might want to wash your own feet next time. It would make you look a little more evolved.
I also liked the photo of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, at the Commonwealth Games playing what was described as “a traditional South African game”. She was pictured jumping over three cans of what looked like pilchards or maybe dog food. Apparently it’s called “Drie Blikkies”. I have never heard of it, let alone played it. Perhaps I went to the wrong school. I have, however, used the phrase “drie blikkies” on occasion, usually at the bottle store during the week before payday. The game involves knocking the tins down with a ball before restacking them and then hopping over them three times. Almost as much fun as apartheid.