South Africa could do with a Human Improvement Act

I thought senile dementia had come early to Brenda when, out of the blue, she suggested we go and look for Wales. It’s best to humour the prematurely mad, so I told her it’s in the same place it always is – clinging grimly to the side of England like a giant misshapen tumour. “Not Wales, you idiot,” she said. “Whales.”

And so it was that I found myself dozing off at the wheel as we drove through the bucolic (fancy word for boring) countryside that separates Cape Town from Hermanus, the number one winter holiday destination for the more affluent members of the Balaenidae family.

The sky was full of clouds. The road was full of cars. The fields were full of farm animals. And I, according to Brenda, was full of sh*t.

It’s true,” I insisted. “There really is something called the farm animal genetic resources unit.” One of its functions is to promote the activities of the Animal Improvement Act of 1998.

Four years after the terrorists occupied the Union Buildings, a mid-level civil servant trained in Libya and educated in Bulgaria must have been driving through the countryside having the same thoughts I was having on my way to Whale City. A lot of sheep with white tendencies. Goats eating oats. And domesticated ungulates as far as the eye could see. Nothing, apart from voting, is more senseless than chewing the cud. Unlike politicians, however, cud serves a useful purpose.

Apart from writing about the digestive process of rumination, there is nothing more wrist-slashingly tedious than our farm animals. They don’t even deserve to be called livestock. They should be called deadlydullstock. If I knew my bits were going to end up shrink-wrapped and on a supermarket shelf, I would approach every day as if it were my last. I’d misbehave. Start a union. Have a bit of fun. The possibilities are endless. And don’t tell me they don’t know what’s coming their way. What do they think when their friends and relatives are there one day and gone the next? That they went away on holiday? It’s highly unlikely they would have left without telling anyone.

Someone had to come up with the Animal Improvement Act. It was inevitable. Sadly, it hasn’t been used to its full effect. I can’t imagine what the farm animal genetic resources unit has been doing all this time. By now, the fields should be full of interesting mutants. There should be cows crossed with sheep and goats crossed with pigs. And donkeys crossed with chickens. Chonkeys.

While we wait for the government to get its act together, parliament should consider passing a Human Improvement Act. Julius Malema might be smarter than a hamster, but there is still room for growth. With a little psychometric manipulation and a spot of genetic engineering (tender automatically awarded to On-Point Engineers), we may yet see the emergence of more savant and less idiot in this promising young man.

So how about them riots in Britain, eh? This is the first time I have regretted not having emigrated to London when I had the chance. There is nothing I like more than a well-orchestrated uprising by people who can afford Blackberries and matching sunglasses.

A lot of governments are reluctant to allow discontent to spill into the streets. They put an end to it, smartish like. But if it does accidentally end up on the state-controlled telly, you might hear that plans are in place to impose a state of emergency. Or that police have been given permission to shoot to kill.

The government of David Cameron, however, is something completely different. I realised this when, watching Sky News, this strap appear at the bottom of the screen: “PM – plans in place for water cannon to be available within 24 hours’ notice.”

Four days into the riots, and their cardboard cutout of a prime minister was promising that should a mob of marauding yobs appear in your street, simply call 999 and it will be a matter of a day or so before someone armed with a hose pipe arrives to wet them into submission.

The British, as a nation, are truly appalling. But their children. Dear God, their children. I spent a year living with a couple of mates in a squat in Rotherhithe, in the east end of London, and we were regularly attacked by kids as young as eight. They would flick lighted cigarettes into our faces and run away. They would ambush us on the council estate, using catapults to fire ball bearings at our heads. And if you complained to the parents, you risked being beaten to death with the thick end of a pool cue.

Such a civilised country.

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