Last chance to amend the amendment

Are you earning a bit of cash renting out a room or property on Airbnb?

If so, today – June 11 – is your last chance to have a say on the Tourism Amendment Act before it becomes law.

The amendment restricts the number of nights you may host guests and puts a limit on how much you may earn. All in the name of protecting the formal accommodation industry.

So if you are involved in the unpatriotic business of luring people away from struggling hotels and into your home, and you feel that heavy-handed state regulation of Airbnb is fair, you should email Mmaditonki Setwaba at atmsetwaba@tourism.gov.za and let the government know what you think.

It’s also the subject of my column in The Citizen tomorrow.

Tap-dancing gorillas and tenants from hell

Did you know that gorillas make up “food songs” while they eat? A German scientist discovered this “fun new fact” while working with the primates in the Congo. I don’t think it’s a fun fact at all. I can’t think of anything more terrifying than coming across a silverback gyrating its hips and singing Purple Rain with a mouth full of bamboo shoots.

Oh, look. Here’s another fun fact. Come November, Donald Trump could well be the 45th president of the United States of America.

While we’re on the subject of fun facts, did you know that 42% of Americans continue to believe that God created humans less than 10 000 years ago? Understand this and you’ll find it easier to understand why that orange maniac is the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

I read somewhere that the world has experienced five mass extinctions over the last half a billion years and is on the brink of the sixth. Quite frankly, it can’t happen soon enough for me.

I don’t know what the hell this year thinks it’s doing. I went to Cape Town for Christmas and stumbled out three months later. I made an overnight stop in Jeffreys Bay and went to St Francis for lunch. Lunch lasted a month. Then, on my way back to Durban a few days ago, my biological GPS had a nervous breakdown and instead of driving past Rhodes University I found myself outside the University of Fort Hare in that glittering jewel of a town called Alice. Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?

I’m exhausted. If that’s what holidays do to you, then I need a proper job – one that restricts me to 21 days leave a year. It’s for my own good. Even heroin addicts live longer than freelance journalists. They at least have to move around to find money and drugs. We just need a laptop, a comfy chair and a running tab.

Some idiot once said that with great freedom comes great responsibility. This is absolute rubbish. With great freedom comes great freedom. That’s all there is to it.

Freedom is great. I would venture to say that freedom is greater than God because freedom doesn’t threaten to consign your soul to the eternal hellfires of damnation if you covet your neighbour’s ass. But it can be tiring.

So anyway, after eight hours of dodging Transkei road-kill and bent cops, I get home to find my refuge trashed. Not by burglars, but by the people who stayed here last. The thing with Airbnb is that you’re allowing complete strangers to abuse your house in return for nothing more than money. It’s a form of prostitution, really. It’s also a devilishly easy way to make money. This is something that speaks to me. Whoring my home comes naturally to me. I am a property pimp. There are worse things to be. At least I’m not a member of parliament.

Usually there is a domestic worker who gets dropped off by helicopter after a guest leaves, but this time she had been called away on urgent business in the Bahamas and failed to turn up. This meant I had to deal with the situation with no backup whatsoever.

I pulled in to the driveway saturated in road rage, the Land Rover bucking and snorting, and bellied up to the front door with my key in one hand and a Balinese fighting sword in the other. That’s my weapon of choice when I traverse the Transkei. Chopping off an arm here and there sends a clear signal to the local banditry. I learnt this from my Saudi Arabian friends.

The guests, luckily for them, had departed. Less luckily for me, they had left a mound of soiled cutlery and crockery in the sink, three pots of semi-cooked gunk on the stove and bits of half-eaten food in the fridge. I also found a packet of King Size Rizlas and an empty eyedropper of something called Ruthless. I don’t know what it is. The print on the bottle is too small to read. And my bedroom looks like Charlie Sheen was here. This guest from hell was an Afrikaner currently living overseas. He brought his girlfriend, his baby and his mother. It sounds like a sitcom written by the Marquis de Sade.

I suspect this is why Berlin has introduced a law banning homeowners from renting out their properties on Airbnb, although a more plausible reason might be that the city wants to keep random acts of cannibalism under control. Germans like nothing more than getting together on a Saturday night and eating bits of one another over a bottle or two of chianti. The new legislation is called Zweckentfremdungsverbot. Such a mellifluous language.

I returned to not only terrible scenes in my home, but also in parliament. A debate on the Presidency budget vote? That’s not what I saw. I saw a bunch of pot-bellied revolutionaries getting their arses handed to them by a plainclothes posse from the parking lot. Surely the whole point of wearing red is that you don’t care about getting blood on your clothes? I want to see some real fighters in the EFF. I want to see Mikey Schultz and Radovan Krecjir sitting behind Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu. Then we’ll see who gets thrown out of parliament.

Finally, let us not even speak of Matthew Theunissen, Cape Town’s latest contender for a Darwin award. After posting an ill-conceived anti-government diatribe on Facebook that would have made a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan blush, he said he “didn’t intend to say those words”. Fair enough. I didn’t intend to drink a dozen beers while writing this column either, but it happened nevertheless. Evil forces are clearly at work. Matthew has a Masters from Stellenbosch University, that shining beacon of progressive thought. I wasn’t aware that Maties offered post-graduate degrees in white supremacy. Maybe he thought you needed a Masters to be a fully-fledged member of the master race.

Matthew insisted that he wasn’t a racist; that he had “friends of colour”. By colour, I imagine he means the different shades of red his white friends turned when they realised what an utter fuckwit he is.

Bring on the sixth extinction.

 

 

 

Rent boy goes west

Mosquitoes have begun sending out the recces early this year. They’re coming in at high altitude late at night – not in packs, but in pairs. They split up once they’ve gained entrance to the bedroom. One makes for the head, the other the feet.

Being a reconnaissance mission, they are meant to check out conditions ahead of the summer advance, then leave quietly. But there are always one or two who can’t help themselves. Like some of our recces in 1976 who just had to push on to Luanda, these little suckers are hanging for a hit of blood so bad that they throw caution to the winds and embark upon a frolic of their own. Let it be said that they don’t always make it back to base.

Soon the mosquito queen – there hasn’t been a king since the Great Slapping of 1984 – will summons her wing commanders. The chief spokesmozzie will read out the reports from the scouts who have travelled from Port Edward to Kosi Bay, from Durban to wherever Kwazulu-Natal ends and Mordor begins.

The queen will put it to the vote. Is it properly summer? Are the targets slow enough? Drunk enough? Mosquitoes are easily excited – especially when their blood-blood levels are low – and the vote, conducted by a show of proboscises, will be unanimous. We attack at 3am.

I need to get out before the onslaught begins. Cape Town has three mosquitoes and a summer that doesn’t leave you perpetually drenched in sweat. I spent seventeen years there and only returned to the east coast after Brenda showed signs of being a lot colder and madder than all the winters put together.

My plan, if you can even call it that, is to spend summers in Cape Town and winters in Durban. However, due to the sudden but not altogether unforeseen change in my marital status, I no longer have a home there. This would mean having to rent. Given my budget and the feeding frenzy of greed around Cape Town’s property market, I’d be lucky to get an asbestos box downwind of Koeberg.

I am going to have to rent out my Durban spot and use that money to get something a bit closer to the action. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my place isn’t fit for human habitation, but it will certainly take more than a rug to pull the living room together.

I have four dining room chairs that were ripped to shreds by the cats formerly known as ours but which were really hers. I assume it was the cats. It could just as easily have been the ex sharpening her teeth late at night when the full moon was out. When I took them in to be reupholstered, the dude asked me what colour material I’d like. I told him it didn’t matter because I lived alone. He seemed to understand.

I don’t have a colour scheme. Or a scheme of any kind, really. I bought a microwave oven that’s too small to accommodate a dinner plate. All my meals are on side plates. The bathroom hasn’t had a light for months because I can’t get the cover off. None of the windows have curtains. I hung two metal elephant heads on the wall, knowing their protruding trunks would almost certainly put someone’s eye out. The beds are pushed up against the wall like prostitutes and their bases are naked. The local monkeys seem to think the place is theirs.

I want to advertise it on the accommodation site Airbnb since this would give me the flexibility to return should something unexpected happen, as I fully expect it to. It also means having to make an effort to get it looking more like a B&B and less like the result of senile squalor syndrome. The thing is, I can’t do it on my own. I need a woman. Studies have shown that women are genetically predisposed towards interior decorating. They understand what goes where and why. They understand colours. They understand concepts like flow, light and space. I don’t even understand how my stupid miniature microwave works.

I am, however, currently between women. And should I solicit advice from those with whom I have had dealings and dalliances, I’d be lucky to get more than a two-word response. One of them obviously being ‘off’.

So I did the unthinkable. I had a sex change. No, I didn’t. That wouldn’t help at all. I’d still have my useless man brain. On the other hand, it would allow me to become a lesbian and have sex with women. Hang on. I haven’t thought this through properly.

Anyway. I did the next most awkward thing. I went to the CNA and looked for a home décor magazine. Inexplicably, many of them insist on featuring gardens. I live in a complex. The garden is not my responsibility and plays no part in my life. I have a vague sense it’s out there somewhere, but beyond that I don’t really care what it does.

I wanted ideas on fairly basic stuff. Like how to make a bed look as if Charlie Sheen hadn’t just spent a week in it. And how to use scatter cushions without making Liberace seem butch. Also, where to put two enormous couches and a wooden table that were removed from the huge marital home in a fit of pique but which aren’t altogether suited to the new, reduced circumstances.

There were at least thirty magazines dealing with homes. In the end I settled for a pack of three. One of them was called Beautiful Kitchens. Every one of its 146 pages has to do with kitchens – a room most women hate being alone in and which most men know only as the place where the fridge lives.

I got home and saw they were all British magazines. That’s no good at all. Ooh, what a lovely lamp. And it’s … let me get my calculator … only R48 000 excluding shipping! What a steal. I’ll take a dozen.

After flipping through these magazines, I realised two things. One, that I’m not gay. And two, interior decorating has more to do with the actual structure than it does the decorations. For a start, it helps to have a fireplace, high ceilings, a staircase, wooden floors and bay windows overlooking two horses in a field.

People who peruse these periodicals are presumably looking for ideas. Well, I had one. It involves flying to London, catching a train to Wiltshire, going around to Andrew and Amanda Bannister’s converted 19th-century Baptist chapel, ringing the bell and, in the unlikely event that they open the door instead of unleashing the hounds, saying, “Love what you’ve done with the place. May I have it?”

I found this decorating tip. “Paint all the walls white, then wait a while before choosing a colour. That way you get used to the effect of the changing light.” You would have to be mental to follow this advice, and not only because it’s utter gibberish. I repainted my bedroom a couple of years ago. There was so much screaming and swearing that the body corporate sent someone around to have a word.

I can only assume advice like this is given by people who can afford to pay others to do the painting.

I don’t want to read about “intimate seating areas where you can curl up with a good book”. If I’m going to get intimate, it’s damn sure not going to be with a book. And at my age I want to be able to stretch out on my back at the first signs of intimacy.

“Jane and Roger have a Buddha from Nepal that creates a beautiful focal point.” I have an aggressive gecko from Westbrook. It creates a terrifying focal point for herpetophobics.

Decorating tip: “If you’re unsure about choosing colours for a room, just pick out an accent from a cushion and build the scheme around it.” Bru, I don’t know what you’re smoking, but if your cushions are talking to you in any kind of accent, regardless of what scheme you’ve got going, you need help.

“An off-white wall makes the perfect backdrop for a set of antlers.” Indeed. There is nothing quite like the skull of a dead stag above your bed to get you in the mood for love. Especially if you’re wearing pyjamas made from the foreskins of baby otters.

These magazines are full of attractive white people with perfect teeth and matching dogs and children called Jay, Poppy or Milo. They are constantly stumbling upon run-down farmhouses or barns and turning them into paragons of gorgeousness awash in Louis XIV couches. Here, we have run-down farmworkers sleeping on couches from Louis Fortuin Furnishers there by the bottle store.

Meanwhile, let me know if you want to spend summer in an eclectically furnished simplex on the north coast. Bring your own side plates. And mind the elephants.

Hovel

Ben Trovato takes a break from protesting to redecorate his home.