Scorpions, locusts and a plague on both houses (of parliament)

On one of several undignified visits to the bathroom early on New Year’s Day, I saw what looked like a wrapping from a chocolate bar lying on the floor. Because none of my resolutions for 2022 involve trying to be less of a filthy animal, I went to kick it under the bed. The wrapping reared up and lunged for my foot, which was not altogether unexpected given the events of the previous evening. But this was no low-grade hallucination. It turned out to be a deadly Central American scorpion. Incensed at being disturbed, he went on a single-minded mission to hunt me down and murder me with his sharp end.

Being South African, I shouted and swore at him repeatedly. Being only familiar with threats issued in Spanish, he continued trying to stab me. The commotion woke my daughter and her husband who were asleep two floors down in their villa bought with what I suspect is drug money. My son-in-law not only has no fear of things that creepeth and crawleth, but he actively goes in search of the little savages so that he may photograph them, macro-like. He puts his lens right up against their evil snouts and takes their picture. For some reason, they are almost always accommodating. Were I to attempt it, they would undoubtedly try to kill me.

Yes, I know South Africa is presently afflicted with locust plagues, unidentified arsonists and the Zuma crime cartel, but scorpions are infinitely worse. The son-in-law rushed upstairs and screamed as he walked into my room. I had clearly underestimated the severity of the situation and joined in the screaming. It turned out that he was reacting to the sight of the unclothed me. Apparently this was not something he had ever expected to see in his lifetime. He said he’d sooner deal with a thousand predatory arachnids than go through that again. This makes no sense when you consider that my willy played a starring role in the making of his wife. That sounds wrong on so many levels and I shan’t mention it again.

Speaking of which, I find the razing of parliament quite exciting. Admittedly, there are many terrible things that capture one’s fascination when viewed from 12 000km away. I would be considerably less excited if, say, I lived near a national key point knowing that intellectually challenged agents provocateur like Duduvanka, untouchable in every sense, were out there exhorting dad’s ragtag rebel army to destroy the little that still works.

Patricia de Lille was first out of the gates to congratulate the firefighters. “I cannot thank their hard work enough! Thank you to these brave individuals ,” she gushed in broken English, as the blaze inexplicably went from under control to out of control in the space of a few hours.

Look, we all love a man in uniform. But these aren’t accountants who were suddenly called away from their families to help out. The clue is in the name of their occupation. They literally have one job. It’s kind of expected. On a slow day, they don’t fight anything at all. You really don’t need to fawn. Unless, of course, we have grown so accustomed to civil servants not doing their jobs properly that when it does happen, it’s a cause for minor celebration.

“More than 80 of them!” she shrieked. Where did they all come from, these men and women who fight fires? Are they on the payroll? What do you mean we forgot to feed and water them? Can we keep that out of the media?

Patty, who is the minister of public works, which is a silly title because most of the public doesn’t work, was at the side of our gelded mule of a president when he visited the bonfire of the vanities and said Cape Town and the Western Cape were at least one city and province in the country that worked. So many poorly drafted pieces of legislation languishing in limbo went up in smoke that comrade president must have been a bit high. How else could you explain such wanton praise for the opposition? Is he a plant? If so, what kind? My money is on a cactus. Both of them focus more on surviving than on rapid growth.

I’m not a massive fan of old buildings and I don’t really understand history, which is why I am doomed to repeat it, just like I repeated Grade 9 after failing history. But it would be nice to find out who is behind the many acts of sabotage and subversion committed after Don Jacob and his capos and consigliere were booted from office.

Anyway. I’m in a rustic beach bar on the sultry, palm-fringed edge of the Pacific Ocean and the doe-eyed waitress has just brought me another cold Imperial. I’m trying to care about things. I really am. But it’s not easy.

 

A very peri new year to you all

2022 is going to be an interesting ride in much the same way that travelling bareback on a donkey with saddlebags full of marijuana from Lesotho to Durban would be an interesting ride.

I don’t understand people who say things like, “Well, it couldn’t be any worse than 2021.” Of course it could. In fact, I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t. Do you have any idea how much effort it would take for us to claw our way back up the ratings ladder? We don’t have that kind of discipline, let alone work ethic. We’re not Singapore, you know. Here, indolence and ineptitude is handsomely rewarded and we have come to expect no less. Maintaining high standards is beyond our pay grade.

South Africa is far closer to social and economic collapse than it is to recovery and I don’t see any point in dragging it out. If we’re going down, let it be in a spectacular implosion of shame and failure rather than shuffling towards the abyss, yawning and scratching our asses. So, this year please make an effort to go that extra mile. Steal more, kill more, destroy more.

2022 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger and since we will all one day be Chinese, we need to start taking this stuff seriously. The tiger is a symbol of strength and many Chinese kids wear hats or shoes sporting a tiger image for good luck. In the next room, the parents will be toasting their good fortune with glasses of wine made from crushed tiger bones and many interesting herbs and spices. Some of them also believe it’s good for erectile dysfunction. More erections means more sex, and if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more Chinese and fewer tigers.

2021 was the Year of the Ox, an animal whose dimwitted, bullheaded characteristics were  generously manifested in the anti-vaxxer herd of cloven-brained humanoid bovines.

In India, the four auspicious gemstones of 2022 are rubies, emeralds and yellow and white sapphires. In South Africa, the stone most likely to bring you good luck is half a brick. If you are found with precious gems in your possession, police will consider it more suspicious than auspicious and trace your half-brick to a broken window. Ha ha, no they won’t. Enjoy your jewels.

The highly respected Pantone Institute, which does sterling work in a field that is of absolutely no use to humanity, has announced that Very Peri will be its colour of 2022. Given the past couple of years, I regard this is a positive development. The colour for 2021 was Ultimate Gray, which angered the chroma gods so much that they wasted no time in killing Charlie Watts, Bunny Wailer and, as a last-minute afterthought, Desmond Tutu. Thanks, Pantone.

You’re probably suffering from festive season brain damage by now, so I should point out that Very Peri is not a proper colour in the way that green and blue are proper colours. It’s a made-up thing and I don’t know how these people think they can get away with it. If I went around pointing at stuff and saying, “What a lovely shade of Riotous Cabbage” or “Gluttonous Labrador is my favourite tincture”, I’d be locked up for my own good.

Perhaps afraid they were pushing us too far, Pantone issued an unhinged word salad of a statement, saying things like, “Very Peri is a symbol of the global zeitgeist of the moment and the transition we are going through” and “the complexity of this new red violet infused blue hue highlights the expansive possibilities that lay before us”. As far as gibberish goes, this is right up there with Fikile Mbalula’s best off-the-cuff remarks.

Then there’s the United Nations, which declared 2022 the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. As a backup, in case all the fish were, by the middle of the year, being born with three heads or having their eyeballs shattered by seismic blasting, the UN also declared 2022 as the International Year of Glass. That’s the spirit, chaps. The world needs fearless risk-takers like you at this perilous moment in the planet’s history. What can we expect in 2023? The Year of Handspun Carpets?

Anyway. A last bit of advice. If you do get stopped at a roadblock on New Year’s Eve, you may get dragged into a police caravan and ordered to provide a urine sample. What you need to do is invest in a fake penis and keep it in your broeks. Adult World is full of them. Or so I have heard. Drill a hole down the middle of it and fill it with your dog’s urine. The officer will be so impressed by the size of your willy that he will shake you by the hand and send you on your way.

Good luck.

How to survive New Year’s Eve

I have felt uncomfortable about making a big thing out of December 31 ever since discovering that our calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Catholics have done some truly appalling things over the ages and for all I know the calendar is one of them.

The Anno Domini system, which counts years from the death of Jesus, spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Big deal. A lot of things spread through Europe during the Middle Ages. The Black Death, for one, yet you hardly ever see anyone walking around with a long face moaning about the good old days when the plague was all the rage, so why should we continue using a calendar wielded by organised religion as a propaganda tool in the name of … ah, forget it. Let’s move on to more important matters.

The Liver

An unsightly and consequently rather shy organ, the liver is one of the few parts of the body that is prepared to suffer in relative silence. The poor could learn a thing or two from the liver. It must be said, however, that the liver is not as perfect as it likes to think. For starters, it takes its job way too seriously. The heart, on the other hand, knows how to have a bit of fun. It speeds up, slows down, murmurs to itself, does an Irish jig, stops altogether and then, just when you think you’re dead, starts up again. It is an impish organ that understands the art of comedic timing.

Simply put, the liver does not know how to have a good time. I find this odd, considering the amount of drugs and alcohol that pass through it on an average Friday night.

Perhaps it’s not so strange. If we want to be really unkind, the liver is little more than the body’s policeman. It’s a sullen cop manning a permanent roadblock. Tetrahydrocannibanol, eh? You’re coming with me. I’m going to detoxify and neutralise all the goodness out of you. Bastard organ.

But there is more to surviving New Year’s Eve than merely letting your liver know that it’s not the boss of you.

When Pope Gregory established December 31 as the night upon which the faithful and the faithless join hands in drunken revelry, he probably never had roadblocks in mind.

Roadblocks

When I am president, and I will be one day, I shall give every police officer the night off on New Year’s Eve. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to party with the rest of us? After all, cops are people, too. Well, some of them are. Sort of.

All I ask for is one night of the year in which we can go out without worrying about getting slammed up against a van full of snarling dogs, cavity searched and tossed into a stinking cell to have our bottoms ravaged by a diseased convict. Is it too much to ask that we be allowed one night free of fear?

We are all adults, apart from those who aren’t, and if we are prepared to take our chances with motherless drivers, desperate divorcees and sundry psychos, then that is our choice. If you prefer to spend your New Year’s Eve clutching a glass of warm rosé and getting all misty eyed over maudlin rubbish like Auld Lang Syne, then stay home. By going out and expecting Mr Plod to keep you safe, you are ruining it for the rest of us.

Since I am not yet president, we have to face the reality that state-appointed arbiters of appropriate behaviour will be out there looking to ruin our lives and reputations. As if we can’t do that all by ourselves.

Roadblocks can be dealt with in several ways. One is to slip into the passenger seat and tell the officer that your driver ran away. The officer may wish to attach electrodes to your testicles to determine the veracity of your story, but, unless you enjoy that sort of thing, you should remind him that the constitution frowns on torture.

Do not attempt this if there are two of you in the car. Police are trained to spot suspicious behaviour and there is nothing more suspicious than an empty driver’s seat and someone sitting on your lap in the passenger seat.

What you can also do is pretend to have a speech impediment. Most cops treat the disabled marginally better than they do the rest of us. But don’t lean out of the window and say, “Good afterble consternoon.” That is a speech impeded by vodka shooters as opposed to, say, blunt trauma to the head.

I used to get stopped a lot before I became a master of disguise and the cops would always ask me why my eyes were so red. “I have pterygiums, officer,” I would say, opening my eyes as big as they would go without me passing out. Cops don’t want to take your statement knowing they are going to have to ask you to spell whatever the hell it was that you said you had.

Medical Treatment

A basic knowledge of First Aid is essential for anyone who plans on celebrating New Year’s Eve properly. There will be injuries and you need to be prepared. Under no circumstances do you want to encounter a state hospital this evening. The doctors will have been working for nine straight days and the nurses earn R2.50 an hour. They will not share your sense of humour no matter how much you laugh and poke your finger into your gaping head wound.

Stitches are a piece of cake if you have a fishhook, a length of gut and a half-jack of brandy. If you don’t have at least that in the boot of your car, you’re not a real South African and deserve to be deported.

If you lose an eye, ask the barman for a glass of ice and pop it in there. It will be good for 24 hours so you need not stop partying.

Avoid amputations because they can be messy if you don’t have access to serviettes. A lot of people complain of severed limbs but if you look closely you will often find their leg bent behind their head.

Open heart surgery is easily conducted with a bottle of whisky and a steak knife. If you don’t have a knife, go to the nearest restaurant and order a steak.

A lot of people will be falling down tonight. The first thing you need to do when coming across someone on the ground is to ascertain whether they are drunk or dying. If the person is not breathing, it is your moral duty to attempt to revive them. It is not your moral duty to take their cellphone and quickly walk away.

There are a number of medically acceptable methods you can use to verify whether someone is still alive. First, check if there is a pulse. This can be done by lightly resting two fingers on his wrist or neck. If the person is a woman, you may check for a pulse by removing her bra and cupping one of her breasts in your hand. If she is not dead, she will let you know right away.

If there is no sign of a heartbeat, remove your jacket and roll up your sleeves. If you are on your way to work and you have a packed lunch, grab a quick bite to eat. It will give you the energy you need to bring this person back to life.

When you have finished eating, poke a stick down their throat to check that their air passage is not blocked. If there are no sticks lying about, go back to your car and fetch the dipstick from your engine. The oil will help it slide down the trachea.

Next, block their nose, cover their mouth with yours and blow as hard as you can. Try not to get aroused. You want to feel their lungs inflating like footballs. While you are blowing, hammer on their chest with your fist. After two minutes of punching and blowing, stop for a break. There is no point in giving yourself a heart attack. During your break, slap them around the head and shout, “Live, damn you! Live!” This won’t do much for the victim but it does make it more entertaining for the crowd.

If you are successful, you will notice the person beginning to breathe on their own. Ask someone to call the media. There is no point in saving someone’s life if only a few people know about it. If the person tries to get up before a journalist arrives, make sure they bump their head against the pavement and knock themselves out.

If your efforts are unsuccessful and the person dies, get someone to take a photograph of you with your foot on their chest. Later, you can tell your friends that you killed a mugger with your bare hands. Alive or dead, either way you look like a hero.

Right, that’s it. In the words of the great philosopher Homer Simpson: “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”