Looking for a Sign in 2013? Have You Checked Uranus?

After a close encounter with a celestial body on New Year’s Eve, I had an epiphany so powerful that I had to go home and change my broeks. It was downhill from then on.

All indications are that 2013 is getting itself off to a very suspicious start. On Thursday next week, Scorpio enters Venus. They barely know one another. How I miss the golden era of the Big Bang. There was a sense of propriety among the astral bodies that is sorely lacking today.

It gets worse. Pluto will be doing unspeakable things to Uranus in February. If you are of a sensitive disposition, you may want to avoid looking at the night sky next month. And keep the children inside.

Having recently spent a night or two on my back at the bottom of the garden, I am something of an expert in the ancient art of astrology as interpreted through the abominable wretchedness of alcohol poisoning. Here, then, is your Horrorscope for the year ahead.

Aries – This is a fire sign, but you probably don’t need reminding because ever since you were little, people have been telling you not to play with matches. The good news is that this is your year to burn stuff. Don’t hold back. It can be anything from parking fines to office blocks. When the police try to arrest you, tell them you are astrologically impervious to their authority since you are governed by Mars alone. If they are fellow Aries, they will understand. If they aren’t, set them alight and run away.

Taurus – Your element is Earth. This year you are entitled to behave as if you own it. Get drunk and disorderly, drive slowly in the fast lane and park in handicapped bays. You are ruled by Venus and not, as you have always thought, your penis. Your symbol is the bull. Act accordingly. Attack people who wear red and, when angry, paw the ground and snort loudly. On the career front, you will lose your job but will find happiness in other things – heroin, mainly.

Gemini – Nobody likes a Gemini. Not even other Geminis. Your element is Air, which, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Your symbol is the twins. Nobody trusts twins. Your ruler is Mercury, a gay little fellow who flitted around the heavens gossiping about Aphrodite banging half the pantheon and how wasted Dionysus got at last Saturday’s bacchanalia. This is the year you shut up for a moment and give someone else a chance to talk. Divorce is on the cards. The bad news is that you will marry again before the year is out.

Cancer – You killed my mother four months ago, you cold-hearted bastard. Because you are governed by the Moon, you cannot help carrying on like a lunatic. This is the year your aberrant mood-swings drive the last of your old friends away. You will soon make plenty of new friends and share cold showers and long walks around the exercise yard. When you are released, you will emulate your astrological symbol and approach matters in a more circumspect way. Your manner of walking in a crablike fashion attracts the wrong kind of attention and you end up with the Crab People who have been living in the Earth’s crust for thousands of years waiting for an opportunity to take over the world.

Leo – Your ruling planet is the Sun. So, to your discredit, is your favourite newspaper. Much like your symbol, the lion, your pride often stops you from straying into unchartered territory. You are compatible with anyone, as long as they have their own transport, money and functioning genitals. Driven mad by your unrelenting good humour, a family member will try to kill you in March. Your massive ego suffers a blow but you quickly recover and go on to perform an improvised comedy/musical/dance act at the Baxter Theatre. Well, outside the Baxter Theatre. In fact, on a pavement outside a tik den in Woodstock. You will be a hit. Or be hit. Or take a hit. The oracle is murky.

Virgo – Forget Gemini. Virgos are the most disliked of the star signs. You are compassionate and caring, but not so compassionate that you’d have sex with a man who is down on his knees begging for it. I’m talking about a friend here. You will be more popular this year if you raise your skirt and lower your standards. If you’re a man, let your willy and not your brain do the thinking for a change. Many Virgos are found in the service industries. Remember that prostitution not only provides a valuable service, it’s also a fun way to earn a little extra money.

Libra – Affectionate and romantic, you depend too heavily on your partner and friends for support. The scales are your symbol, which suggests you also depend too heavily on drugs. Ambitious yet lethargic, you need to get some balance in your life. Less weed and more speed, perhaps. Make the year more interesting by saying yes when you mean no, and vice versa. Be careful of the number seven and avoid men who wear hats.

Scorpio – Your element is water and your symbol is the scorpion. This is stupid. Scorpions hate water unless it has a dash of whiskey in it. For the sake of compromise, let us make your symbol a Jamesons on the rocks. Ruled by Mars, a rubbish planet overrun by toy cars from America, the ever-contrarian Scorpio knows all the answers and has a prodigious passion for power. All Israelis are Scorpios. You are entering an exciting new phase of love, prosperity and the total annihilation of Palestine.

Sagittarius – As the Archer, you owe it to yourself to invest in a real bow this year. Your metaphorical arrows have failed you dismally in the past, either falling short or hitting the wrong target altogether. It’s time for the real thing. And think big. Instead of stealing the office stationery, rob a bank. No, not with a bow and arrow, you idiot. Use a gun like everyone else. You will once again be unlucky in love this year. With the centaur as your astrological symbol, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. On the other hand, I know a number of women who think nothing of sharing their bed with a creature who is half-human, half-beast. I’m talking about a friend here.

Capricorn – Goat-people often need to be push-started. You know that the first step on any journey is the hardest, especially when you’re very stoned, and sometimes it takes a little light whipping to get you moving. Once you’re climbing the mountain of success, you don’t know when to stop and often have to be brought down with a dart gun for your own good. You will have a decision to make this year. Good luck with that.

Aquarius – The Water Bearer is not much in demand anywhere outside the Sahara, and even then your average Tuareg would rather you were bearing a six-pack of Brutal Fruit. One of them clean-living veggie Berbers would probably be happy enough with water, though. Considered to be “special” people, there are more Aquarians in mental asylums than any other sign. For those who weigh less than 53kgs, it is going to be a good year for love. Or anorexia. Watch out for a tall man with red eyes and no teeth.

Pisces – The Zodiac’s most sensitive sign, which makes no sense because fish are easily the most insensitive animals on the planet. Pisceans are relatively easy to hook and they make good eating, but they can become confused and belligerent when out of their element for too long. Their natural environment is happy hour at a wet bar. July will see dreams turn into reality. In August, reality will become dreams. Come September, there will be doctors, lithium and straps on your bed.

It’s Blood River All Over Again

Today, 174 years ago, the Voortrekkers defeated a Zulu army at the Battle of Blood River. And today, the Boers and the Zulus will join forces to defeat me at the Battle of Gateway Shopping Centre.

The Zulus will stream in through strategic entrances to isolate me in a pincer movement that would have made King Shaka proud. And the Boers will use their traditional tactics of walking eight abreast, scoffing ice-creams and knocking us out of the way with their meaty hips and big asses. I don’t stand a chance.

William Butler Yeats wrote, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Here, they’re slouching out of Bethlehem (there by the Free State) and into Durban.

Quite frankly, these people scare me. If I had the space, I would explain how one can tell the difference between trolls, homunculi and troglodytes.

I did a recce at Gateway earlier in the week to check out the exits and locate the shops that sell weapons. If it was going to turn ugly, I wasn’t going down without a fight. To hell with reconciliation. At this time of year, it’s every man for himself.

The first thing I noticed was that Christmas decorations aren’t as Christian as they used to be. In the old days you could barely walk through a mall without smacking your head into a simpering polystyrene angel swinging from the rafters. These days it’s all disco balls and plastic dross swaddled in fairy lights.

It’s not so much Santa’s grotto as it is Hugh Hefner’s grotto, although in Game you do have a slightly smaller risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

You’d think at this time of year the very least God could do is send down a few real angels to pretty up the city. Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong and everyone has gone straight to hell. Or perhaps this is hell. Perhaps heaven is another planet with mountains of marijuana and rivers of beer and beautiful women who don’t mind if you never call them but who will still whip up a hearty breakfast if you happen to drop by early on a Sunday morning, horny and bleeding.

Orphans are big this year. I saw several shops offering to donate a percentage of purchases over R100 to those who are lucky enough not to have parents. They never say how much goes to the orphans, though. It could be 0000.2% of each purchase. This means that by the end of the holidays, three orphans in a village north of the Tugela will each get a tin of soup. Next year, if they are really lucky, they will get a tin opener.

As I made my way through the mall, hugging the walls and keeping to the shadows, retracing my steps to confuse the sniffer dogs and darting from doorway to doorway to prevent the snipers from drawing a bead on me, I saw a brawl break out in Dis-Chem. My money was on a geriatric with purple hair and no teeth. I got the idea this wasn’t her first Zimmer frame fight.

The war for drugs escalates at this time of year. Too many family reunions, dinners and parties mean that old and young alike are desperate for their meds. If you’re new at this, I recommend something from the benzodiazepine family.

Ativan and Librium will do nicely if all you need to do is get through Christmas lunch without cutting a sibling’s throat. However, if you’re worried about getting drunk and exposing Uncle Pervy for the paedophile that he is, you might need one of the neuroleptics.

Thorazine works well, but get your timing right. You don’t want to be slack-jawed and drooling into the turkey with your paper hat over one eye while everyone else is pulling crackers.

I saw a sign saying, “Add more sparkle to your festive season – shop with American Express!” Yeah, sure. It’s all fun and sparkles now, but what happens next year? It’s bad enough what the local banks will to do to you, but you fuck with the Americans at your peril. I’ve heard Guantanamo Bay isn’t a prison for political detainees at all. It’s for people – Muslims, mainly – who have maxed out their American Express cards and are late with the repayments.

I saw another sign. “Gateway recycles 248 378 litres of fuel – enough to send a single car 87 times around the circumference of the Earth.” Hang on. Wouldn’t the carbon footprint of this car be worse for the environment than if the fuel hadn’t been recycled? More importantly – can this car turn into a boat? No wonder our children suck at geography.

A 10-piece nativity set caught my eye. It was rather nicely done, if a bit outdated. If it were today, the three wise men would be unemployed academics with substance abuse problems, Joseph would be out working overtime to pay for the new baby and the shepherds would be on strike.

I also came across a very nice shredder for only R199. Guess what’s going to be the most popular gift in the Union Buildings this year.

And a box saying, “Magic fish – real living fish! Watch them hatch and grow before your very eyes!” We are expected to believe a lot of made-up stuff at this time of year, but I draw the line at magic fish. Or do I? Ah, what the hell. I’ll take one. They may even turn out to be talking fish, in which case I can stop this nonsense and buy an island in the Caribbean.

I saw television sets so big you would have to sell your house, buy a piece of land and build a new house around the telly. Where will it end, this race for the biggest television? Will new homes eventually offer plasma screens instead of walls? I hope so. I already spend hours staring at the wall. I may as well be watching something.

And lava lamps are still being sold even though weed remains illegal. It makes no sense. You genuinely have to be on drugs to fully appreciate a lava lamp. I’m surprised that each purchase doesn’t come with a bankie of Durban Poison and to hell with the consequences.

I spent some time in the toy section because it reminds me of my childhood, none of which I can recall, although I must have had one.

There’s a doll that speaks six lines. Or does six lines. I can’t remember. Cocaine Barbie, perhaps.

For the boys, there are millions of heavily armed action figures that don’t look as macho as they do gay. This is a good thing. If you want your son to grow up believing he can kill with impunity, rather he does it wearing nothing but short hair, a moustache and a pair of tight red shorts. At least that way we’ll see him coming.

I found a paramedic’s kit but it lacked a plastic handgun for when the ambulance has to go into the Cape Flats on a Friday night.

Then I came across a whole series of things you can do in the tub. “Shaving in the tub” was one. This is a filthy habit, whether you’re a girl or a boy, and you should only get this for your child if you have someone other than yourself who cleans the bath. Everything on the box is in French, which makes sense when you consider what these people regard as acceptable behaviour.

What next? Wine in the Jacuzzi? Frog’s legs in the bed? Pissing in the pool?

There’s also a talking octopus. I once met an octopus while snorkelling and I can honestly say that in the brief moment our eyes met, we both knew there was nothing we had to say to each other. If octopi could talk, I expect they would say, “Please take that pointy stick out of my head and return me to the rock pool from whence I came.” Well, the educated ones would. The more common ones would probably squirt ink everywhere and try to strangle you with a tentacle.

A shop assistant has just caught me looking up a doll’s skirt. Awkward. I simply wanted to ascertain whether it was anatomically correct. With the education system as it is, I wouldn’t want my nephew growing up thinking all girls have a piece of hard plastic between their legs. Not that I have a nephew.

My Little Iron apparently makes realistic sounds. Like “I’m sick of slaving away for these ungrateful white bastards” and “Why doesn’t your useless father ever do this?” and “Open the safe or I’ll iron your face.”

I felt my masculinity listing badly and headed to a shop selling goodies capable of blinding, crippling or even killing your enemy, many of whom were jostling me and pushing their trolleys into my ankles.

They had a matt black rifle mounted on a stand at the entrance. Gamo Big Cats, it was called. I rather fancy myself as a big game hunter so I bought it. Knowing my luck, I’ll discover that it’s barely powerful enough to take out the feral tabbies of Umdloti just as the last white lion of the Kalahari lunges for my throat.

With my blood-alcohol levels dangerously low, I repaired to the restaurant area where several companies appeared to be having their get-togethers. Christmas parties used to be held at night. There would be carousing and fornicating and the company would happily pay your bail the next day. Now the grinches offer their employees a free lunch.

As if there’s such a thing.

The Vervet Underground

I have seen more monkeys in the last three weeks than I have people. You’re probably thinking how lucky I am to be holidaying in some or other pristine wilderness far from the madding crowd. Well, I’m not. Holidaying, I mean. Whether or not I am lucky is a matter of perspective.

The truth is that I am only twenty minutes north of Umhlanga. I was forced to relocate for reasons which concern no-one but me and my lawyer, who is currently operating from the long grass under the nom de guerre of Grimly Feendish.

I haven’t been out much since I moved into a complex. Too many neighbours. I can feel their eyes on my front door. “What’s he building in there?” they whisper to each other. “He has no friends but he gets a lot of mail.”

Complexes have always filled me with dread. The word alone is fraught with hidden horrors.

Psychological complexes were believed by Carl Jung to influence the individual’s attitude and behaviour. It’s the same with housing complexes. There’s always someone on his balcony late on a Friday night with one hand down his trousers and the other clutching a bottle of beer, shouting: “Die young and I shall accept your death – but not if you have lived without glory, without being useful to your country, without leaving a trace of your existence – for that is not to have lived at all!” Then they throw up, go inside and shoot their children. Napoleon would never have done that.

Before people caught on to the fact that it was easier and more lucrative to steal than to get a job, gated communities were rare. One of the earliest examples of a complex was when the boer trekkers made a laager of their wagons and lived within the perimeter. I’m sure they also had signs at the entrance: No whip-cracking after 10pm. No fornicating on Sundays. No blacks.

Jung believed it was perfectly normal to have complexes because everyone has emotional experiences that affect the psyche. Then again, Jung thought it was perfectly normal to come to work and find Freud with his face buried in a bowl of cocaine babbling about every child’s desire to shag his mother and kill his father.

What was I talking about? Anima, animus, animal. That’s it. Monkeys.

I have about a dozen who visit me every day. I tolerate them because they don’t talk about rugby and almost always clean up after themselves. They aren’t your gangster monkeys from up north. These are complex monkeys.

There is one adult male, four adolescents and four girls all with babies clinging to them. I’m not judging, here. What they get up to in the trees is their business. For all I know, they have arrangements similar to those of our president. It is not for me to criticise their culture, even if it does involve mounting any random female who happens to be in oestrous and on all-fours. We would be doing the same today if the missionaries hadn’t beaten the fear of god into us.

A lot of Durban people don’t like monkeys. They also don’t like each other, but have so far stopped short of issuing calls for their neighbours to be starved, shot and driven out. That is yet to come, I expect.

On a visit to Mtunzini I was feeding some of my people out of the window of my car when I was approached by a woman built like a sack of hammers. She had a face like a diseased rice pudding.

Don’t feed them!” she snapped. “We have to live with them.” Them? Do you realise, madam, that “they” are standing right here listening to every word you say? There is nothing worse than an insensitive, self-righteous specieist.

Have you ever considered, madam,” I said, “that they are the ones who have to live with you?” At that, I slipped into first gear and drove away. In my mirror she seemed hopping mad. I might have driven over her foot.

A few days ago a workshop was held in the glittering metropolis of Tongaat to come up with solutions to the “monkey problem”. Down the road in Umdloti, monkeys gathered to discuss the “human problem”. Their workshop lasted about thirty seconds before breaking for snacks. Well, breaking in for snacks. They resolved to ignore problem humans in the hope that they would eventually go away. To have learnt that kind of strategy they must have an insider on the city council.

Rampal Moonsamy said he had simply “had enough of monkeys”, as if they were an exotic dessert upon which he had gorged himself.

Waiter: “Another monkey, sir?”

Rampal: “I’d love to but I have had enough. I really have.”

Waiter: “How about a mongoose, then?”

Rampal: “Oh alright. But just a small one.”

An Umkomaas resident, presumably unable to travel to Tongaat after being taken hostage by a band of renegade vervets fighting for control of the south coast, sent a letter.

He/she said: “We are sick and tired of the city. We must kill the monkeys. I will continue shooting them.”

This was clearly written by a vervet who had come across the hostage’s bottle of Klipdrift. You can never trust a drunk monkey to type a coherent death threat, particularly when complicated territorial disputes are involved.

Dhun Pillay disagreed about killing them but said they must be “moved back to their own environment”. I can only imagine Dhun was thinking of sea monkeys. Either that or Dhun watched Planet of the Apes and thought it was a documentary. I hate to be the one to break it to you, Dhun, but those trees in your garden? That is their environment.

Rajamah Moodley, 77, said she was taking her washing down when one bit her on the leg. She said she was hospitalised and given five pints of blood. With all due respect, Mrs Moodley, are you absolutely certain it wasn’t a tiger that bit you? There are a lot of them about these days and they are easily mistaken for monkeys.

Fighting a rearguard action, renowned monkey-hugger Steve Smit denied that monkeys stole food.

They see food lying around and assume people are done with eating.” This is true. One of my regular visitors watches me while I eat breakfast and when he sees me flagging, he comes over and says: “Sorry to be a nuisance, old chap, but are you done with that?” If I am in a playful mood I might tease him and offer him the last of the brinjal and fried banana, then pull the plate away when he reaches for it. He loves that game. He loves it so much that he tries to rip my throat out. Cheeky bugger.

Charlotte Chengadu blamed King Shaka International Airport. “When the airport was built, the authorities spent a lot of money to eradicate swallows. What prevents them from finding monkeys alternative accommodation?”

Well, for a start, monkeys can’t fly. But wait – they can! SAA could offer a one-way weekend special for monkeys. To Cape Town, preferably. It could even be a red-eye flight. They don’t care. They already have red eyes. The monkeys get to pay in peanuts which the airline could then use to hire more desk staff. Everyone wins. Except Cape Town. But they have done enough winning lately so fuck them.

Charlotte went on, as I’m sure she does, “We now have monkeys jumping on our roofs. The other day a monkey damaged our plasma TV set.” Well, of course it did. Monkeys don’t watch television. That’s why they are so smart. He was trying to help you, Charlotte.

It was also suggested that fruit trees be planted in a nearby forest to lure the monkeys away from residential areas. But the fruit would also attract indigent people and then it’s another workshop to discuss whether we should capture them or kill them. Perhaps the monkeys could eat the fruit and the homeless could eat the monkeys. All we have to do then is introduce predators into the area to eat the homeless. And then bring in the army to kill the predators.

Finally, Nic Liebenberg suggested that women dress up as men because monkeys were more afraid of men. I don’t agree. You know what monkeys are really afraid of? Harlots. Filles de joie. Sluts. Especially those who don’t mind a bit of the old BDSM.

So, ladies, if you really want to scare the monkeys off, put on a pair of edible panties and slide into a little something made of latex and leather. And wear stiletto heels. Monkeys hate stilettos. Unless your husband hasn’t been completely honest with you, I’m sure he would rather come home to this than you dressed up as a man.

If you’re still worried about the monkeys after that, find a different house. Or a different husband.