The art of applying for a job – #11

Here is #11 in my helpful series on what the ideal job application should look like.

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To the Drakensberg Boys Choir for the position of Music Teacher

Dear Madam,

Being as isolated as you are in the mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, you may not be aware that circumstances in South Africa have changed dramatically since your school was established in 1967.

For a start, BJ Vorster is no longer prime minister. This may come as a shock to you, but we now have a president by the name of Cyril Ramaphosa. Yes, that’s right, the natives won.

You may be experiencing feelings of alarm at this point. Do not panic. This is quite normal. The good news is that there will be no second Anglo-Boer War because most of the Boers are learning to speak English in the New World (New Jersey, New South Wales, New Zealand) and the Anglos are drunk.

As your latest recruit, I would be failing in my duty if I did not assist your boys to acclimatise to the new new South Africa, which is not to be confused with the old new South Africa. First to go will be the Broadway hits. Joining the likes of Handel and Mozart on the scrap heap of history will be anything remotely resembling gospel. No more will the hills come alive to the sound of Carl Orff’s Carmin Burana. Fuck Orff. And you can forget about anything sung in Afrikaans.

Instead, the boys will learn to sing the country’s unofficial anthem, Umshini Wam, and a host of revolutionary songs including “My father was a garden boy, that’s why I’m a communist” as popularised by the legendary tenor, Blade Nzimande.

With your permission, I would also like to introduce paramilitary training to the curriculum. No amount of singing is going to disarm a knife-wielding thug or get rid of a persistent Jehovah’s Witness. By the time I am done, the entire school will have learnt how to parachute into enemy territory and snap a man’s spine with a single blow.

Yours in the struggle to reach the high notes.

Ben ‘Soprano’ Trovato (Ret.)

The unbridled joys of Transport Month

Since 2005, South Africa annually observes October as Transport Month.

Let’s take a look at the themes.

2005: ‘Celebrating 20 years of delivering efficient, reliable and safe transport services’.

2006: ‘Transport – The Heartbeat of South Africa’s economy’.

2007: ‘Transport – The heartbeat of South Africa’s Economic Growth and Social Development.’

2008: ‘Transport infrastructure – Creating a lasting legacy 2010 and beyond.’

2009: ‘Safety in all modes of transport – air, rail, sea and road.’

2010: ‘Transport – the heartbeat of South Africa’s Economic Growth and Social Development.’

2011: ‘Year of Job Creation and Service Delivery in the Transport Sector – Moving South Africa to a Better Tomorrow.’

2012: ‘Working together to provide a safe and reliable transport system.’

2013: ‘Celebrating 20 years of delivering efficient, reliable and safe transport services.’

2014: ‘Together we move forward.’

2018: ‘Together we move South Africa forward.’

2019: ‘Together Let’s Keep the Service Delivery Momentum Going and Grow the Economy.’

2020: ‘Together shaping the future of transport.’

Forget the failure of imagination – at least the ANC has consistently maintained its sense of humour over the years. Of course, it’s only funny if you’re familiar with the state of public transport in South Africa today. Funny in a slash-your-wrists kind of way.

Here’s something I wrote 17 years ago today. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see how much – and how little – has changed.

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I was beginning to think there was nothing worth living for when it suddenly occurred to me that today marks the start of Transport Month. Oh, what joy! Hurrah! Hurrah! A chorus of angels sounded their trumpets and a squirrel darted through an open window and handed me a nut. With a new lease of life, I sang like no one was listening and danced like no one was watching. It’s easy when you live alone. Startled, the squirrel ran across the road and got hit by a Golden Arrow bus. It was somehow fitting, coming as it did at the start of Transport Month.

Each province is celebrating Transport Month in its own unique way. In the Northern Cape, long-distance drivers have elected to wear condoms while entertaining their teenage guests in the tastefully decorated cubicles conveniently located behind the front seats.

In Gauteng, the Bombela Concession Company is allowing non-gay married couples to have a maximum of three minutes of sexual activity on the Gautrain. However, the chewing of gum will remain a criminal offence.

In the Eastern Cape, traffic police are waiving their usual Friday afternoon cash donations and will be accepting gifts of small livestock instead. If all you have on you is a sheep or a cow, the officer will, in keeping with the spirit of Transport Month, issue you with a chicken in lieu of change.

In Limpopo, truck drivers are being encouraged to enter win-a-tender raffles at the province’s many stop/go roadworks. With waits of up to three hours, motorists are invited to participate in the festivities by putting money into a hessian sack. The more you give to the Julius Malema Defence Fund, the more chance there is of getting to Polokwane alive. Fun for the whole family.

In KwaZulu-Natal, prizes will be given to truck drivers who can keep up with King Goodwill Zwelithini as he races between five star hotels and his palaces. In a gesture of, er, goodwill, the king has agreed to forfeit his regular blue lights, sirens and escorts. Instead, he will travel by helicopter. The first driver who beats the king to his secret destination will be taken away and questioned.

The Free State transport department will place koeksusters and nips of brandy along the N1. The first 500 truck drivers to make their way out of the province will be given assistance in emigrating. This is open to white truck drivers only. Black truck drivers can continue doing whatever they like.

And in the Western Cape, Her Royal Highness, Helen Zille, has decreed that the Sea Point promenade shall be opened to cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and other assorted riff-raff.

Previously, use of the promenade was restricted to wheelchairs, walkers, pram-pushers and drug-pushers who may well be on wheels judging by the speed at which they disappear on the rare occasion a policeman hoves into sight. Maybe that’s just how the Nigerians roll.

Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater (in terms of incongruity, a poor second to Durban’s parks, recreation and cemeteries), said the move is part of the city’s efforts to “build an inclusive city”. Luckily, this excludes those who might otherwise spoil the whole inclusivity vibe for the rest of us. In other words, those who cannot afford a square meal, let alone a skateboard. And even if they could, they are so full of TB and tik that they wouldn’t make it to the edge of the Cape Flats, let alone all the way to Sea Point.

You’re not a proper Capetonian unless you use a bicycle like you use your drugs – for recreational purposes only. A drug stops being recreational when the gentleman to your left stabs you in the face because you didn’t leave any for him. This hardly ever happens in Constantia.

Releasing a statement into the wild, Herron said: “We will be monitoring the situation very closely during the trial phase. However, I am confident that the experience will allow us to overcome some of our misperceptions and prejudices around users of alternative transport methods, also known as Active Mobility.” What? This is how lawyers talk. I am astounded by the … oh, he is a lawyer.

Herron assures us that this revolutionary step, taking the DA ever closer to governing the country, has the full backing of the Sea Point Residents’ Association. Without their approval, nothing but the sun goes down in Sea Point. The accountants, attorneys, stockbrokers, human traffickers, crack whores, pimps and paedophiles are hostage to the whims of the association. Mossad takes instructions from them. They have access to an arsenal of weapons ranging from fragmentation bagels to self-detonating seagulls. I’m serious. You trifle with the Sea Point Residents’ Association at your peril.

Herron points out that this is not an invitation to professional cyclists. That’s where he is wrong. If you’re training for the Tour de France on the Sea Point promenade, then you’re doing the wrong kind of drugs and deserve to be there. Anyway, I’d far rather they were on the prom than clogging up Chapman’s Peak or inciting the Camps Bay rent boys with their shrieking Spandex shorts and ululating calf muscles.

Herron also says skateboarding tricks will be frowned upon. So, kids, no turning pensioners into frogs. The same goes for rollerblades. They are to be used for “leisurely transportation purposes”. The DA simply cannot bring itself to use the f-word. Fun. And a good thing it is, too. Fun leads to early pregnancies, school dropouts, higher unemployment, service delivery protests, famine, madness and death. Somalia used to be a fun place. Look at it today.

Herron says: “We have consulted local representatives for the various types of non-motorised transport, who have offered to launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns to remind their members of the basic rules of etiquette expected from Active Mobility users on the promenade.”

Translation: “We made a skyf with a couple of okes with dreads and they said they’d hit the web and choon their chommies to chill on the strip.”

I do so enjoy it when white politicians talk of the basic rules of etiquette. It reminds me of Kenya before the Mau Mau came along and ruined everything. We all need distractions from the murder and mayhem of everyday life, and it matters not whether it comes from the Fish Hoek Bowls Club or a gentle non-threatening perambulation along the Sea Point prom of a Sunday afternoon.

Herron also said that flooding the area with cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers would “have a slowing down effect on the general speed of traffic”. Indeed it would. The city has already tried traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, bergies and speed bumps. So why not try Active Mobility practitioners? Nothing discourages speeding more than a stream of ambulances racing back and forth between Mouille Point and Bantry Bay.

The new signs going up on the promenade depict three figures engaged in Active Mobility. All of them, apart from cycling, are known as gateway pastimes that lead to far more dangerous activities like unprotected sex, intravenous drug use and voting.

I congratulate the DA on taking this courageous step. And, when Transport Month is over and the wreckage has been removed, I will applaud them for returning the promenade to its rightful owners – decent god-fearing folk who seem harmless enough but who, if provoked, will not hesitate to call in an Israeli airstrike at the push of a panic button.

Sanlam puts the fear of cancer into us all

Then, to the palpitating heart of the matter. How much cover do you need? All of it, please. The options range between R200 000 and R6 million. I don’t know what this will cover when it comes to cancer. The R200k? Probably three weeks’ parking at the oncologist’s offices. I’d like to think the R6 million includes a full Viking funeral with Roger Waters sitting on the beach playing Comfortably Numb while naked guests fire flaming arrows at my tequila-soaked body lashed to my surfboard and cast adrift on a wild gunmetal sea.

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There. Have a taste of my column in The Citizen on Wednesday, 30 September.

Subscribe monthly or even pay for just a single edition. That’s R8.40. You can’t even get a beer for that.

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The art of applying for a job – #10

Here is #10 in my helpful series on what the ideal job application should look like.

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To St John’s College for the position of Director of Rugby

Dear Arch-Vicar,

Congratulations on having the courage and wisdom to create a position like this. People think there is something wrong with me when I tell them that the reason education is in crisis is because schools are not focusing enough on rugby. Sure, a lot of them have a team or two that plays on the odd weekend, but that is nowhere near what it should be.

Without a director of rugby, a school is little more than a place in which young people congregate to have their heads filled with rubbish like science and history. Would you believe that they are even being taught mind-rotting filth like evolution theory? No wonder our lunatic asylums and prisons are overflowing.

I am very pleased to see that a Christian school has taken the lead in showing the government where its priorities should lie insofar as teaching the next generation something of real value is concerned.

As Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, nor those who play not rugby shall inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Far too many schools in this country treat rugby as if it were just another girly sport like cricket or hockey. Tennis, needless to say, is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord and yet it is still played openly, often in front of children and the elderly. May their rotten souls burn in the eternal hellfire of damnation.

Watching the Springboks or even the Blue Bulls, the casual observer can quickly tell which player is the product of a worthy God-fearing school such as yours and which is the product of an evil system propped up by the Antichrist.

When I have the job at St John’s, I will make it a rule that any player who scores a try, drop goal or conversion and then turns to wave at his mother or wiggle his hips for the cameras will be forcibly removed from the field and locked in the Sin Bin, a one-metre-square steel box I have built, where he will remain until he is able to recite the Ten Commandments in their original Aramaic.

Players like Bryan Habana set an outstanding example by giving credit to God whenever they scored, made a pass, kicked the ball into touch or even tied up their shoelaces correctly. There is nothing that gladdens my heart more than seeing a player fall to one knee and point to the sky. He is letting us know that God is guiding him – that he is, in short, nothing but a tool.

Having said that, I do find the tactic of bowing heads and kneeling in silence to be marginally less intimidating than that disturbing pagan dance the New Zealanders do. With your permission, I will get the lads to perform something out of the Crusades. I expect the swords will be provided by St John’s. This should work particularly well when we play against the Muslim, Jewish and old Prussian schools.

I will also be changing the outfits. Although you are Anglican – what the infidels call Catholic Lite – and would probably rather stick to tradition, my research has shown that the best way to get people to watch the game is to put the boys in tight shorts and shirts. As you can see by the enclosed photograph, I have been experimenting with a prototype uniform. It proved tremendously popular and I was lucky to escape with my honour intact once the final whistle blew.

Rest assured that under my firm hand the team will return to the ancient practice of allowing forward passes, using a sheep’s bladder for a ball and stoning the unmarried mothers whose first-born play in the losing team. There will also be none of this drinking the blood and eating the body of Christ at half-time. Quite frankly, I think it is an appalling practice and sets a terrible example for the boys. Instead, we will share vials of amyl nitrate, a biblical balm which, as Moses discovered, goes a long way towards boosting team morale. Unfortunately this energising ambrosia has over time been misappropriated by sexual deviants for purposes which rarely have anything to do with rugby, but that is not our concern.

I will be taking leave before I start work, and shall sort out the paperwork when I arrive.

Yours in Christ and Rugby,

Rev. Ben ‘Hooker’ Trovato

Horny? Dial 1-800-RHINO

I got an email today from my old friend John Hume. We’ve never met, but I like to think of him as a friend. I don’t know if he feels the same. Probably not, since the email came from one Elizabeth van Niekerk, B.Com.(Econ & Law), LLB (Potchefstroom NWU), Legal & Compliance Officer, Buffalo Dream Ranch, Platinum Rhino CBO.

She did, however, specify that she was sending the mail on behalf of her client. Never underestimate the power of plausible deniability.

John has been in the news latelyish. Here’s a story from three months ago:

‘I want my horns back’ says SA rhino baron after trade deal goes pear-shaped

 

I received today’s email “because you expressed interest in the online rhino horn auction previously held by us in 2017”. I did? I really have to be more careful about the things I express an interest in.

Basically, he’s trying to sell off his rhino horns. Again.

“Our once-off, offer of a limited addition (sick) of selected horns (approximately 250 kg) with issued DNA certificates and in accordance with all existing permits and trade regulations is open at an extra special low price for each of the three classes: Class A – 10,000 USD per kg (17 horns at 24.584kg); Class B – 7,500 USD per kg (138 horns at 212.659kg); Class C – 3,000 USD per kg (42 horns at 17.236kg), listed on this link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3st28eyujv7p3ty/AAC0vAJtNDdykrhC6EMkabM-a?dl=0

The link lists A, B and C graded horns. I clicked on it but didn’t hang around. It’s like Tinder for rhinos and it made me feel queasy.

So keen is John to get rid of his horns that he is foregoing his usual 30% deposit. “All you have to do is pick your horns off the link and send us your FICA documents … the same as you would need to buy a cell phone …” Rhino horn, cellphone, whatever.

The email jolted something in my banged-up memory. I wrote to John in … well, 2017. There’s probably a connection there somewhere. Here it is again. Bit of date, but then again, isn’t everything?

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Dear John,

Congratulations on being the world’s largest rhino breeder. How big are you? Are you the size of a rhino? It doesn’t matter. For all I know, rhino breeders are tiny and you are simply the largest of these small people.

Most people keep dogs and cats, but not you, John. You’re a rhino person. It makes sense. Rhinos don’t sit on your keyboard while you’re trying to work. They don’t hog the couch or take up half the bed. You don’t wake up in the morning to a blast of rhino breath and have to get up and take him for a walk.

Of course, nobody collects rhinos purely for their ornamental value. So it must have been terribly frustrating for you when trade in rhino horn was banned in South Africa in 2009. It would have driven me insane, seeing my rhinos standing about all day doing absolutely nothing to earn their keep.

What good are their horns if they’re not even being used to stab German tourists? At the best of times, rhinos don’t even know what to do with their horns. They just stand there staring at them all day. That’s why so many rhinos are crosseyed. A lot of them are also just plain cross. I suppose it’s because they’re not living at your place, the Playboy mansion of the rhino world, even if it is in Klerksdorp.

Rhinos can’t tell that the place is a dump. Even if they did, I doubt they’d care. They’re just happy not to get shot in the face by a gentleman from Mozambique.

So it must’ve been a tremendous relief when the court forced the environmental affairs department to give you a permit to hold your three-day online auction this week. It’s a good thing we have an independent judiciary that knows the true value of one of our big five.

I tried to register for the auction but the R100 000 deposit was a bit steep. Pity. I was so looking forward to bagging a couple of the 264 horns for my own personal use. To be honest, I would have preferred a whole rhino so that I could cut his horn off at my leisure. If you buy a gram of coke, the dealer doesn’t expect you to schnarf it the moment money changes hands. You can take it home and shove it up your nose when the mood takes you. It should be the same with rhinos. Not that I’d schnarf rhino horn. I’m not from Hanoi, you know.

I understand you have 1 500 rhinos in your garden. I bet you’ve never been burgled. It just occurred to me that rhinos could solve both our poverty and crime problems. Not literally. They’re not awfully bright. Although stick a couple of them in cheap suits and put them around the table at a cabinet meeting and I bet nobody would even notice their lack of input.

What I’m suggesting is that everyone gets a rhino farm. Or at least their own state-subsidised rhino. They make wonderful pets and even better guard dogs. Guard rhinos. I know I wouldn’t rob a house if there was a rhino curled up at the front door. And if you fall on hard times, you can chop his horn off and sell it. That’s R2-million right there. Keep the family in KFC for years.

Your job sounds like a lot of fun. Every couple of years, you grab your tranquiliser gun and run about shooting your fleet of ungulates in the bum. I’m sure they get a big kick out of the chase, too. It’s something to break the tedium. They fall over, have a little nap and wake up a kilogram or two lighter. We could all be so lucky.

And when the horns grow back, you do it all over again. No wonder you have six tons of the stuff lying about the place. Must drive your wife crazy. There’s not much you can do with them either. Doorstoppers. Wind chimes. Something to hang your coat on. That’s about it. Then again, your stash is worth at least R500-million. That’s the kind of language any wife would understand.

The ban on international trade is still in place and your permit stipulates that any horns sold have to stay in South Africa. Of course they will. Our environmental affairs minister says systems are in place to prevent horns from reaching the black market. In fact, so secure are our borders that the only way to smuggle a horn out would be to take it to the Saxonwold shebeen, have it cling-wrapped in R200 notes and couriered to the Waterkloof air force base.

I noticed that your auction website was translated into Mandarin and Vietnamese. This is nothing more than a happy coincidence, I’m sure. You are a man who embraces many cultures and not, as the vegetarians would have it, a man sending out a dog-whistle to the epicentre of the illicit trade in rhino horn.

An average of three rhinos are poached in this country every day. But, as you so rightly point out, flooding the ‘domestic’ market with hundreds of your horns will reduce demand and poachers will be out of a job in no time at all. It’s the same with marijuana. Legalise it and nobody would want it any more. Dagga farmers would have to start growing mielies and stoners would take up golf.

I read that a group called the National Frog Agency hacked your website, claiming that “your lack of common compassion for animals is outrageous”. Ignore them. What is more outrageous is that they can’t tell the difference between a frog and a rhino. This is what happens when you spend your afternoons licking hallucinogenic toads.

You were reported as saying that the proceeds of the auction – which could easily be R200-million – would be spent on protecting your herd. It’s an odd way to describe your family, but then I haven’t met them. Try to keep a bit of money aside for yourself. Buy something nice. Not another rhino. Something you don’t have to keep darting and sawing its nose off.

Listen, John. I have an idea for a movie. It’s called Saving Private Rhino. State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, would be perfect for the villain. I think we can get him. Throw in a free Thai massage and he’s ours. I would want to avoid getting into the whole black rhino, white rhino thing. This isn’t a movie about race. It’s about exploitation and getting as rich as possible off the backs of these dumb brutes. I’m talking about the actors, not the rhinos.

Let’s do lunch.

The A-team doesn’t need reserves

“An unlawful 2015 attempt by former Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson, corrupt officials and board members of the Strategic Fuel Fund to sell off the country’s strategic oil reserves, which was halted in 2016, will now cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of rands as oil traders sue the state for costs and compensation”Daily Maverick (16/9/20)

So the cows are finally coming home to roost. Around R400-million worth of cows. It seems that’s what the government is prepared to pay oil companies who got screwed over in a crooked clusterfuck of a deal spearheaded by Joemat-Pettersson.

I don’t have the strength to write a fresh piece on this abysmal affair. Here’s what I wrote almost four years ago to the day.

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Next to beer, I think petrol is my most favourite liquid. You can huff it to get high, use it to make Molotov cocktails and put it in your car to drive to the bottle store. Trained professionals are able to do all three simultaneously.

With such practical applications, you’d think the government would make sure we had plenty of it stashed away. And you’d be right. We did. Until December 2015, when something weird happened. Someone in the government got a phone call.

“Comrade, we want to buy petrol.”
“Sure thing, mysterious caller. How much do you want?”
“All of it.”
“Really? But we might need … ah, what the hell. It’s all yours.”
And just like that, our entire strategic fuel reserve was sold.

The main suspects are the appalling Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson, known for licking teacups in parliament, and her shadowy henchmen at the Strategic Fuel Fund.

Thinking ahead has never been this government’s strong suit, but we did at least keep ten million barrels of crude in the tool shed for a rainy day. The shed is now empty. And it looks like rain.

The call continued.

“So how much money do you want?”
“I don’t know. What’s oil going for these days?”
“Market price right now? Around $38 a barrel.”
“You can have it for $28. Voetstoots. You can leave the $10 a barrel discount under the … let me call you back from a payphone.”

If that $10 a barrel shortfall was – in the parlance of those who patrol these murky waters – “left on the table”, it would amount to $100-million dollars, or, in numbers that make even less sense, R1.5-billion. Or, in language we can all understand, enough money to fill every swimming pool in the country with Stolichnaya vodka.

It’s a story that’s been knocking around for a few months, but I’ve been busy being outraged about other stuff. Also, news of the R5-billion “sale” slipped out only in May, five months after the fact. Just another government deal as transparent as a Vibracrete wall. Not even the Treasury knew about this one. Well, not that they’re admitting, anyway.

The ANC is always pleased to see South Africa’s name topping a global list, whether it be the highest murder rate, biggest consumer of alcohol or first country ever to sell its entire oil reserves for reasons that make absolutely no sense. We should all be very proud to be world leaders in yet another field.

First, we need to understand why it’s important for countries to keep fuel reserves in the first place. Given my readership, it’s probably easier to explain in terms of alcohol.

You go to the bottle store on Friday to buy beer for the weekend. With someone else’s money, obviously. Two cases should be enough for your personal use. But you’d be a fool not to take into account unforeseen circumstances, so you buy another five cases. On Saturday night you get an unexpected visitor. This makes you happy because you’re bored with drinking alone. When you’re at your happiest, around 3am, your visitor says he has to go, but he’d like to buy the five cases under your bed. You hug him and cry a bit and call him a brother from another mother and sell him your entire strategic reserve for less than you paid. Then your original stock runs out on Sunday afternoon and, in a blind panic, you call him and offer to buy back at least one of the five cases, but he has already sold everything on for twice the price.

Don’t feel inadequate if you battle to grasp the complexities of this tainted transaction. This is what my source’s source said of the deal, “The oil reserves were sold for a purpose we don’t understand, at a price we don’t understand, and at a price that no professional oil market participant would understand.”

Apart from selling our oil at a rock-bottom price, the government never even put out a public tender for the sale. Chevron operates a refinery in Cape Town and has a pipeline to Saldanha Bay, where the reserve is kept. Chevron and other major oil companies operating here would happily have taken it off our hands for a lot more than $28 a barrel. Instead, every last barrel went to Glencore, Vitol, Nigeria’s Taleveras Group and others. Vitol has business ties with the ANC. Obviously.

The oil formerly known as ours will stay here until the new owners find someone prepared to pay a sensible price for it. It’ll probably be us, buying our own oil back at the current $47 dollars a barrel. Buy high, sell low. First rule of Zumanomics. This would explain why the Reserve Bank has forecast zero percent growth for this year.

The scramble to sell off our reserves at a “weekend special” price suggests someone in the government needed cash quickly. Any idea who it might be? Answers on a postcard to the Office of the President.

Fill up your tanks, people. And keep your passports close. Not that you’ll be able to travel very far, what with the rand being stabbed in the back once again.

The art of applying for a job – #9

Here is #9 in my helpful series on what the ideal job application should look like.

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To SA National Parks for the post of Principal Planner

Dear Sir,

It is about time you advertised for someone to come up with a plan for Table Mountain National Park. The place is really going to seed. It is covered from head to toe in unsightly fynbos. Deadly snakes and unattractive animals like tortoises and dassies carry on as if it’s their home. Nobody I have spoken to has ever been there. Let me tell you that this pitiful excuse for a park would be a lot more popular if it didn’t have that dirty great mountain blocking everyone’s view.

Once I have the job, the first thing I will do is appoint a task team to look at relocating Table Mountain to the Cape Flats. The area could do with a bit of topographical excitement. I am closely connected with people in the brewing industry and I am confident that we will be able to secure a sponsorship whereby we get unemployed people from Athlone, Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and so on to move the mountain rock by rock and pay them in heavily discounted beer past its expiry date.

With that horrible pile of stones out of the way, I will have enough space to begin planning the Apartheid Theme Park I have always dreamed of creating. I envisage attractions like the Amazing Water Torture Ride where visitors are strapped into roller coasters with their hands lashed behind their backs and wet pillowcases placed over their heads.

We will also have the Accidental Fall of Death Ride in which tourists are blindfolded and left to wander about on a 100m high platform scattered with bars of soap.

Liar, Liar Balls on Fire won’t be a ride, but rather a quiz show in which white male contestants are hooked up to polygraph machines with electrodes taped to their genitals. They are then interrogated about their part in propping up the former racist regime. Fun, fun, fun for the whole family.

I will also convert Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens into a parking lot for staff and faculty of the nearby university. As you are doubtlessly aware, the only people who bother visiting this absurd jungle are little old ladies and Nigerian muggers. And they can find somewhere else to practice their flower-sniffing, purse-snatching ways. You want a park? Alright, then. Park right here, madam, for just R200 a day. We will be rich in no time at all.

You will be pleased to know that my vision extends all the way down the peninsula to Cape Point. If you ever go to this desolate region, you will find nothing there but tour buses full of relentless Germans and snap-happy Japanese. Let me remind you that views do not make money. Casinos make money. Open-cast kaolin mines make money. Strip malls make money. Either give me the job and let me do what I do best or, for the love of god, rename this place Cape Pointless.

I expect to hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Ben Trovato (PhD Peri-Peri-Rural Planning)

The pros and cons of advertising and maak-a-ting

A lot of anger over that hair advert has been directed at Clicks. But they didn’t make the ad. Let’s not forget where it all originated. Here’s something I wrote a while ago about the industry that caused the trouble.

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Word on the street is that the advertising industry subsists on a diet of pure cocaine. I don’t believe it for a minute. Their coke, like everybody’s, is cut with headache powder and phenacetin, a yummy substance virtually guaranteed to give your children an early inheritance.

Personally I don’t give a hamster’s rectum if creative directors stuff crushed seal testicles up their nostrils. I do, however, have a problem when the substances they ingest result in the rest of us having to bear the consequences.

If the pony-tailed product pimps with pinprick pupils are dipping into the pharmaceutical goodie bag to help them come up with ever more ludicrous ideas, then the least they can do is provide us with drugs to help us cope. Every time we renew our TV licences (which should be never), we must be offered a year’s supply of the neuroleptic of our choice. I’ll take the Thorazine, thank you. It helps with mania and depression, illnesses common among those who are too lazy or stupid to hit the mute button when the commercials come on.

Advertising is not a science. It is witchcraft. Creative directors and copywriters are sorcerers by trade. They are spellbinders and dreamweavers. They are voodoo merchants trained to control minds. Bloodletting rituals have been replaced by coke-chopping rituals and instead of using bile of bat and eye of newt, they use aerial shots and digital effects.

These necromancers gifted in the dark art of enticing and entrancing do not go short in life. For their power to turn people into sheep, the warlocks and witches are richly rewarded by the kings and queens of commerce. They drive, use, wear, drink and eat everything that made it into this year’s Top Brands list. First they create, then become their creations. They are like glittering mortal gods.

Television advertising has encroached so deep into programming that you’re unsure whether the blonde repeatedly washing her hair is a new character in the movie. It has also become more obscure, more deranged, more … of the same. Bigger, better, faster, more. But nothing new.

I tried watching a movie the other night. I have no idea what this was about because for every six minutes of movie, there were four minutes of people shouting at me to buy a new car, change my deodorant, drink something else or switch to “the bank that moves you”. Yes, indeed. You will find yourself moving about a week after you miss a bond repayment.

Hang on. What this? By purchasing a Natura laxative I could win a free trip to the Maldives? Woohoo! Even if I miss my flight because of a prolonged bowel evacuation in the airport toilet, the experience will have been worth it.

A woman with glycerine eyes showed me how easy it is to get chocolate, grass, egg yolk, engine oil and blood stains out of my sheets. What the hell is going on in that house? Where I live, semen and wine stains are about as wild as it gets.

My palpitations had barely subsided when a silver car came rocketing out of a riverbed, up a mountain, down a cliff, through the sea and along a beach. I was told that dozens of motoring journalists had voted it Car of the Year. I wasn’t told that motoring journalists would sell their sisters on eBay for a prawn cocktail and two shots of whisky.

Just when I thought the movie was about to come back on, the screen was filled with half-naked women carrying on as if the world were suddenly free of men. Were they celebrating the end of genital mutilation in Somalia? The end of death by stoning for committing infidelity in Saudi Arabia? The end of gender-based salary discrepancies everywhere? No. They were celebrating the end of dry skin.

I was suffering from the onset of dry throat so I went to the kitchen to fetch a fresh six-pack. I returned just in time to see a woman coughing as if her swine flu had developed tuberculosis. Should this happen to me, I was advised to speak to my pharmacist without delay. Then she keeled over onto the bed. Dead? I hoped so.

A man appeared, stroking his unshaven chin. Not unshaven like a homeless man, but unshaven like a man who has been too busy negotiating a good price for Necker Island to bother about shaving. Our hero reached for the hydrogel nanoparticles that would leave him soft and smooth and ready to single-handedly overthrow Egypt’s military junta.

By now I had forgotten what movie I was watching. Oh, look! A Formula One racing car has just pulled into a petrol station, filled up and roared away. This is clearly the car to drive if you want to avoid having to wait for a surly attendant to finish his mutton curry pie and get off his fat arse to ensure that you miss your appointment by washing your windows and dropping your change.

Then the movie came back on. A giant anaconda was eating an entire village. Once it had finished it waddled back to the murky waters of the Amazon and a man in a white coat looked me in the eye and recommended that I change my toothpaste. He was deeply concerned about my dental health and urged me to visit my dentist regularly. He said it would put the smile back on my face. But it won’t. My face will be numb for days. It is my dentist’s face that will be smiling. Open your mouth in a dentist’s chair and the first charge incurred will be for infection control. When your dentist goes to Bangkok on holiday, he will convert this money into baht and buy a bag of condoms. So you end up paying for his infection control as well as your own.

Back to the movie. Damn. Missed it while looking for an opener. But what’s this? A family is camping out in the bush. They are sitting around a fire. Maybe this is the movie. That won’t keep the anaconda away. Maybe they had guns. But they didn’t. They had Snuggets. Blankets with arms sewn into them. Of course. Why didn’t I think of it?

For all these years, whenever I felt chilly I put on my jacket. Sure, my jacket had arms. But it wasn’t fleecy and purple, nor did it reach all the way down to my feet. In the pre-Snugget era, I would sometimes wrap a blanket around myself when the weather turned really cold. But then I found I was unable to use my arms. The only way I could eat was to shove my face into my plate and grab whatever I could with my teeth. Eating soup was hell. I could never hug anyone or point at anything. I couldn’t even read because my hands were trapped inside that damn blanket – the blanket with no arms.

I no longer cared what happened to the anaconda. I am addicted to infomercials. The longer I watch, the more it feels like I am hallucinating. After the first minute my head starts spinning. The colours become sharper and my heart begins pounding. It’s like being on acid without the blind terror or uncontrollable laughter.

It’s not just television, either. Much like men, newspapers are getting thicker by the day and my heart leaps when I see a fat, new one sprawled in the shop. I mean a newspaper, not a man. Next to women and beer, I love newspapers the most. If I see a woman drinking beer and reading a newspaper, I am finished.

But when I take it home and open it up, it is – like so many of the women I have brought home – filled with nothing but lies and empty promises. Sandwiched between the feature on lesbian Panda bears and the latest corruption scandal is page after page of stuff that I have to possess if I do not wish to become a lonely outcast whom children pelt with stones on the rare occasion that I stray from my wretched hovel in search of a half-jack of gin and a couple of loose Lexington’s.

Oh, look darling, we simply have to acquire a case of 25-year-old Chivas Regal. It’s going for only R5 499 a bottle! This is a family newspaper, for god’s sake, and I don’t mean the Oppenheimer family. Does Patrice Motsepe circle the specials in the Ultra Liquors insert while checking his gold shares? Perhaps, but I doubt it. Ordinary people like you and me, well, you mainly, need to know where to find semi-sweet white wine in plastic bottles.

Normal people want supplements advertising guns with their serial numbers filed off. They want to know where they can get hijacked cars, stolen cellphones and speed that isn’t cut with strychnine. They are looking for pirated appliances and clothes that are cheaper to throw away than take to the laundromat.

Most of the supplements I come across are filled with glittering baubles and glamorous gizmos that I will never be able to afford. A Toys R Us supplement is enough to plunge me into a black depression. Growing up in a cardboard box on the N2, the only toys I had were the marrowbones I scavenged from packs of stray dogs once they were done sucking on them. And now I am too old for toys.

What the producers of merchandise and their marketing hit men are doing is akin to bombing Sudanese refugee camps with Woolworth’s food supplements. The longer I gaze upon these glossy pages offering a lifestyle I will never have, the more I realise what a waste it has all been. If only I had worked harder at school. If only I hadn’t overslept that day of the interview. If only I had enough rope to hang myself with.

Hold on. What’s this? Rope World has a special on nooses! What extraordinary luck.

The art of applying for a job – #8

Here is #8 in my helpful series on what the ideal job application should look like.

………………………..

To the National Gambling Board for the position of Chief Executive Officer

Dear Sir,

I take it you are a sir and not a madam because it has been my experience that, apart from the moment when they stand at the altar and say, “I do”, women are not gamblers by nature. Although their sixth sense clearly doesn’t cover the selection of a fit and proper husband, there is no reason to think it wouldn’t work when it comes time to decide whether to hit or stick, see or raise, or just plain have another tug on the old fruit machine.

I assume the position of CEO does not require much of an education. I do have one, though, but it is currently not in use. What I do have is an overwhelming love of gambling. I bet that you will not find anyone else whose passion for this sport of kings surpasses mine. I bet you R500. By reading this, you have automatically accepted the terms and conditions of the bet. Best you get your wallet out.

As the country’s gambler-in-chief, I will obviously be introducing a number of changes. My first act will be to install slot machines in every bar, restaurant, cinema, theatre, museum, supermarket and rehabilitation centre in the country. I don’t know who had this job before me, but he clearly dropped the ball on this one. Nobody should go out at night and not be within two minutes of a slot machine. It is simply unforgivable that this situation has been allowed to develop.

My second act will be install roulette wheels in schools. This wonderful educational tool will teach children about centrifugal force, the law of averages and the difference between red and black.

It must be remembered that the children of today are a new breed. When we were at school we were never given pocket money. Our parents were in the church or the army or police force and never earned very much although you would think that anyone who worked that hard to keep the blacks out of government would have been paid handsomely.

When our mothers packed us off to school, we were given a punch in the face and a piece of bark to chew on. Today’s kids are spoilt rotten. Not only are they given food, but the little darlings get money for the tuck shop, too.

That’s another thing. In our day we couldn’t get tik and ecstasy from the tuck shop. We could only buy rubbish like cream donuts and fizzy stuff full of sugar and caffeine that would drive us demented and force our teachers to beat us mercilessly until we were hollow-eyed shells barely capable of absorbing even the most basic facts surrounding the Great Trek.

But I digress. My point is that these children have access to disposable income which should be put to better use. Just because they are shorter than most adults doesn’t mean that their rights should be trampled upon. Smack them about, by all means, but don’t deny them the right to gamble.

A child who doubles or even trebles his money between classes is a happy, motivated child. I am nothing if not a responsible gambler, so it must be said that a child who loses all his money will suffer self-esteem problems and may try to commit suicide.

Seriously, though, who wouldn’t want their son or daughter to learn from a young age that one doesn’t necessarily have to work hard to become rich? I made this discovery late in life – I think I was 12 – and that was only by a fortunate coincidence involving my uncle, two Indian fellows and a Chinaman with a rabbit down his trousers.

As CEO I will also strive towards ensuring that every suburb has at least two casinos. With religion dying out, it should be a simple matter of buying up the churches and converting them into bright, shiny pleasure palaces.

I want to put the sex back into bingo. I want poker machines in public toilets and blackjack in the hospitals. I want horse racing in the mornings, dog fights in the afternoons and naked mud wrestling at night. I want heads or tails to decide political matters and I want playing the Lotto to be made compulsory.

I am able to start immediately. But what if I am just saying that? Maybe I can only start in a month’s time. Want to put something on it?

Yours truly,

Ben “The One-Armed Bandit” Trovato