Release the tapeworm, not the tape

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.

No, I haven’t had a stroke, although if I were to have one my first choice would be for it to happen right now on a Sunday night. Apart from waking up dead, I can’t think of a better way to start the week than in a private hospital in a private ward with around the clock access to Netflix, pethidine and a night nurse who understands that the bed bath is an art and not a duty.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes is a Latin phrase written by Virgil while bumming around Italy committing unspeakable acts upon doe-eyed slave boys and writing poetry before Jesus was born.

It means “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. Why would he say that? He should have kept his little rosebud mouth shut. The little ponce had no idea how many housewarming parties he ruined over the next two thousand years.

“Go see who’s at the door, babe.”

“Ah, fuck. It’s that dreadful Agamemnon.”

“Don’t let him in!”

“But he seems to have brought a gift.”

“What is it?”

“Some kind of wooden horse.”

“I already have a ceramic horse. Pretend we’re not home.”

“Okay, he’s gone.”

“Thank god.”

“He left his gift.”

“The horse? Quickly, bring it in.”

And with that I come to Adam Catzavelos. More of a Greek bearing gifs. Yes, I am aware that this segue belongs in calipers but statistics show that people are far more likely to kill themselves or a loved one on any given Sunday and I need to prepare for all eventualities.

In a thirty second selfie video shot on a beach in Greece, Adam Catzavelos changed his life forever and reduced the national tolerance level for white people by 39.4%. In fact, he did it in only five seconds. That has to be some kind of record. Many of us would leap at the chance to say half a dozen words and magically lose our horrible families and boring jobs. It wasn’t even half a dozen words. It was one word.

It wasn’t Avada Kedavra, the killing curse.

It wasn’t Crucio, the torturing curse.

Not was it Imperio, the controlling curse.

This was K***ir, the Motherfucker of Curses – so named because once the word passes your lips, it is your life and not the life of the target of the curse that is destroyed. It’s a very weird curse, made weirder by the fact that black people can utter it with no negative consequences whatsoever apart from perhaps being invited to make up a four-ball with the managing director the weekend after next.

Here’s the thing, though. And it’s something that nobody seems to have considered. What if – and this is a very real possibility – it wan’t Adam Catzavelos who uttered that ugly racial slur? What if his brain had been taken over by, say, a tapeworm? It wouldn’t be the first time this sort of thing had happened.

On 6 September 1966, Dimitri Tsafendas stabbed and killed Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd during a session in parliament. During his trial – which in a normal country might have been a ticker-tape parade – his lawyer said that Tsafendas had been acting on the instructions of a giant tapeworm which dwelt within his client.

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The court, headed by a judge who failed to recognise the rights of tapeworms, sentenced South Africa’s first Greek hero to be detained “at the pleasure of the State President”. This happened to be a man named Charles Roberts Swart. Without a hint of irony, his nickname was “Blackie”. Judging by his photograph, he looks like a man who would derive tremendous pleasure from the detention of evil-doers, especially if they had impaled his prime minister on the advice of a tapeworm.

There are good people and bad people. There is good bacteria and bad bacteria. And there is no scientific reason to think that tapeworms are any different. I’m not for one minute suggesting that all Greeks are dictated to by tapeworms. That would be Greekist.

But given the history of Greeks and tapeworms – and who among us will ever forget the sight of Maria Callas eating bowls of tapeworms to control her weight – it is quite clear that there are at least two types of tapeworms that are attracted to Greeks. Or at least two types of Greeks who are attracted to tapeworms.

There are plenty of statues of horses in this country. What the fuck did a horse ever do to change anything in South Africa? I think it’s appalling that there isn’t a single sculpture of Tsafendas’s tapeworm in any park or garden in this country.

Problem is, it might look just like Catzavelos’s tapeworm.

 

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