Here’s To Alcohol: The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems

Instead of trying to find a cure for Aids, medical researchers should rather concentrate on finding a cure for hangovers.

Sure, most hangovers won’t kill you, but more of us suffer from them. And when the majority suffers, it’s bad for democracy. Something needs to be done before the situation spirals out of control. Anyway. There’s no point in talking about it. The government never listens until it’s too late.

It has come to my attention that the provinces are once again fannying about with the liquor laws. This is good news. If there is any law that needs a swift kick in the nuts, it’s this one.

For too long we have been denied our right to drink whenever and wherever we please. And I, for one, am looking forward to the day that I can buy a lolly and a half-jack of rum from a vendor on Camps Bay beach at 9am on a Sunday.

KwaZulu-Natal is leading in the pack with moves to allow bottle stores to open on the one day of the week that people need alcohol the most.

Chief executive of the KZN Liquor Authority, Stella “Artois” Khumalo, correctly pointed out that the fascist regime had prohibited sales because they regarded Sunday as the Sabbath. Back then, when Ozzy Osbourne heard what was going on in South Africa, he formed a band called Black Sabbath and toured the world calling for an end to unjust laws governing the sale of booze.

Gauteng is considering a total ban on alcohol sales on Sundays – eight years after it was unbanned. This is inexplicable. Sundays are depressing enough, but to have to live in Gauteng and then not be able to drink on the most deathly of days constitutes cruel and inhuman punishment.

This is a clear breach of Article 5 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. South Africa is also a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. We are in violation, people. My advice to Gautengers is that they approach Amnesty International.

Premier Nomvula Mokonyane also wants cars to be replaced by ox wagons and a moratorium on electricity to allow cooking fires to resume their rightful place in the home.

I suspect the situation in the Western Cape is even more dire.

When it comes to matters of health and safety, the people running that province make the Taliban seem like the Teletubbies. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that city councillor Oberstfuhrer JP von Schmidtundwesson was backing the introduction of sharia. There is nothing he would like more than taking the family to a public beheading in Greenmarket Square on a Saturday afternoon.

Alcohol is the great leveller.

Once we’re all in the gutter, this country will be the better for it. I want to be able to crawl to a park bench late on a Friday night, only to find that it is occupied by Patrice Motsepe. I will offer him some of my Tassies and, in return, he will allow me to wet my lips on the neck of his crystal decanter. We will end up fighting over some toothless old hag from the Oppenheimer family but will have a good laugh about it during our morning vomit.

We are a nation of drinkers and the last thing we need is the government making us feel bad about it. Our self-esteem is already lower than Julius Malema’s credit rating. We need to be picked up. Quite literally, more often than not.

Why do we have to be proudly South African only in areas like sport, commerce and industry? Why can’t we be proudly South African when it comes to being alcoholics?

We have everything it takes to make any kind of alcohol right here in this country. Why are we importing anything? Look at Amarula. It’s made from crushed elephants, sugar and cream. How easy is that? And it’s so tasty that I have never been able to stop at just one bottle.

We are blessed with an abundance of plants and animals that can be converted into alcohol. Springbok shooters, for instance, would be a lot more appealing if they were made from real springboks. It could be the sponsored drink of the national rugby team. Instead of having water at half-time, a dozen girls dressed as slutty cowgirls could gyrate into the change room and use water pistols to fire shots into the mouths of the players. Rugby fans are generally motherless by the second half, and it would make the game more interesting if the players were, too.

Another drink I have in mind is the Amabananadaquiri. It’s made from bananas, banded mongoose and unleaded petrol.

With an alcohol content of 94%, it will be legal to drink Amabananadaquiri and drive because if a motorist were involved in an accident, it could be used as an anaesthetic. This will help paramedics who have already drunk their morphine.

It could also be used in service delivery protests, helping to keep protestors hydrated while at the same time providing them with an affordable yet effective weapon.

Since KZN is showing itself to be the most enlightened province, I expect them to allow bartenders to give cocktail-suckers exactly what they want. If someone orders Sex on the Beach, a Screaming Orgasm, a Buttery Nipple, a Blow Job or an Irish Car Bomb, then that’s what they should get. Perhaps with a free drink thrown in.

But how about them Brits, eh? There are people on the other side of the pond who think there’s something wrong with shops selling booze that’s cheaper than bottled water and want the introduction of minimum pricing laws.

That’s police state stuff, that is.

Any country where it’s cheaper to get drunk than it is to eat, is my kind of country. Food is highly overrated. It certainly does nothing for me.

That chinless wonder of a prime minister, David Cameron, wants to stop cheap alcohol from being sold in supermarkets. But he also doesn’t want to commit to a minimum pricing policy. “Oh, what to do! What to do! Perhaps I shall ask Samantha for a spot of the old oral entertainment. I find it helps me think more clearly.”

The pointy-faced fun-haters say that a 45p (R6) minimum price on a can of beer could potentially save two thousand lives within ten years. Please. Two thousand people will have died in my neighbourhood by the time I finish this column. And none of them drink. I know because I have knocked on their doors on many a Sunday afternoon.

Sure, alcohol can trigger violence. But so can unemployment and corruption. Does this mean we should ban the government? Of course we should.

An Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma

Dear Msholozi,

I am a huge fan of yours and an even bigger supporter of the ANC, that glorious revolutionary movement to which I would dearly love to belong. Since you are the party’s number one member, I implore you to grant me entrance to this exclusive club.

I tried to apply online but was incapacitated with fear. Logging on to the ANC’s website is not a natural act for a white man. In the old days, my back door would have been kicked down and Kaptein Skok de Kock would be asking me questions while his sidekick checked my prostate with a cattle prod.

To be on the safe side, I created a false identity for myself – Abdul-Aziz Ben’t-Ariel Hlobongo. I was hoping that with a few quick clicks I could become an ANC member and start reaping the benefits first thing tomorrow morning. Easier said than done.

Are you aware that nowhere on the ANC’s website does it indicate how one can become a member? It does, however, provide the details of a Nedbank account into which I am invited to make a donation.

“Any information you provide will be treated confidentially,” it says. But I am not providing information. I am providing money.

I suppose in these treacherous times, information is as important as hard cash – both, for instance, can help keep one out of jail. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not talking about the missing arms deal tapes, here.

I found a link to ANC merchandise but was disappointed to find just two items for sale. The vibrant leather jackets are a bit out of my price range, but if I ever have a spare R1 620 and feel the urge to spend the evening in a gay biker’s bar, I’ll definitely come to the ANC first.

The other item is a poster of Nelson Mandela. I hope I am not speaking out of turn here, but don’t you think a poster that says: “Mandela for President – The People’s Choice” is a tad dated? Why not a poster of Thabo, saying: “Mbeki for President – The Poephol’s Choice”? Or one of you: “Zuma is President – No Choice”.

The only party that understands business might want to consider offering more than just a jacket and a poster on its website. What about handcrafted ebony and ivory backscratchers? Or jars of money-scented lotion to grease even the toughest of palms? How about a genuine doctor’s certificate that cadres can use should they need to get out of jail in a hurry? Give it some thought. The possibilities are endless.

Hang on. I do apologise. I’ve just come across a link explaining how one can go about becoming a member. It seems awfully complicated.

I was under the impression that all one had to do was have a passable singing voice, a reasonable sense of rhythm as it pertains to the national dance – the toyi-toyi – and a basic understanding of why socialism is not a viable alternative for South Africa.

I am concerned that you list only five rights but eleven duties of members. But perhaps this is how it should be. Duty comes first. Some of the rights remind me of the words of the prophet Joe Strummer: “You have the right to free speech – as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.” You should put it out as a public service announcement. With guitar.

The duties are a bit off-putting, to be blunt. Are you even aware of the duties? They are outrageous. Here are just four of them. Behave honestly. Observe discipline. Combat harmful propaganda. Carry out decisions of higher bodies. It reminds me of my time in the army.

Being a member of the ANC should be an opportunity to make a lot of money and have a bit of a laugh at the same time. I really can’t see the point otherwise. And, comrade president, nor can you.

At the ANC’s 101st birthday party in Durban the other evening – an event I was unable to attend due to previous commitments – you said a wise businessman would support the ANC because it meant he would be investing in his business. “Everything you touch will multiply,” you said, giggling endearingly.

The only thing I ever touched that multiplied was a calculator.

I want a piece of this action, compadre. I understand that, if I wish to benefit, I will need to join the ANC. However, the annual membership fee of R12 is out of my reach at the moment. Hard times have fallen upon me and I need every cent for beer and newspapers, neither of which I am prepared to live without.

If you can waive the membership fee, then I am prepared to meet you half way and form a business. I don’t know what it will be because I am a failure at almost everything. But you shall be my King Herod who bestows the Midas touch upon his loyal subjects. Or something. Hebrew parables are hard to fathom at the best of times.

To be honest (duty #7), it isn’t the membership fee alone I am struggling with. To become a member, I have to visit your offices. Having grown up in Durban, I thought it would be easy to find my way there.

Your offices are in Stalwart Simelane Street, according to your website. I don’t know where this is. I have tried asking but everyone I spoke to thought I was a plain-clothes cop. They either ignored me or spat on the ground. Perhaps they were IFP supporters.

This is how people get killed in this town. Merely asking for directions brands you politically and the next thing you know, you’re having your arms chopped off at the intersection of Problem Mkhize Boulevard and Swapo Avenue. Not that they intersect. I might be white, but I’m not stupid. I’m simply trying to make a point. I forget what it was.

Anyway. Don’t worry about the DA. Lindiwe Mazibuko might have said your remarks were deeply irresponsible, but she also used phrases like “leveraging of state resources”. This is a direct translation from the original Swedish and provides conclusive proof that she was raised by Scandinavian wolves who fled to the Canadian Rockies to escape the insufferable Nordic elitism that tore so many wolf packs apart in the late 1970s.

This means she isn’t even human, let alone African. Get your men to bring her in at once. Make sure they have a muzzle. She might be rabid.

Others are saying you can’t tell the difference between party and state. This is ridiculous. Sure, both words have five letters in them, which can be confusing, but most people can tell they are not the same. And you, sir, are not most people.

I think you should impose sharia law at once. Remember, you can do whatever you like in your last term as president. I look forward to seeing Helen Zille dancing in a burqa and Pieter Mulder begging for minority rights with no hands.

Good news! I have formed a business. Between writing to you and visiting the fridge, I have inadvertently fashioned a crude office for myself. From tomorrow, I will be buying and selling things. It could be shares on the stock exchange or it could be snoek. I haven’t decided.

Durban is hell at the moment, so I will be needing a fan. Please let me know the amount of “information” I should deposit into the ANC’s account in order to get a good deal from your people in the fan industry. I mean our people.

And if you want anything at all – uncut diamonds, second-hand crocodiles or unit trusts that fell off the back of a lorry – I am your man. Put the word out.

This is fun. It’s like being a Freemason without having to learn funny handshakes, attend secret meetings or exclude women.

No, wait. What am I talking about? It’s just like being a Freemason.

An Open Letter to Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education

Dear Comrade Angie,

Well done on getting the league to nominate Jacob Zuma for a second term as coxswain of the national gravy boat. Without him leading from the stern for another five years, the good ship RSA would run aground in no time at all.

To be honest, and I think honesty is important at times like these, you scare me a little. I don’t know if it is because you are black, a woman or a teacher. During what I laughingly call my life, I have been frightened by all three demographics at one stage or another. Truth is, you are the first black female teacher I have encountered. Not that we have ever had an encounter, of course. We need to clarify this because people like you and I have enemies who would relish the opportunity to destroy our reputations by leaking a doctored sex tape implicating us in a four-in-a-bed romp with Eugene Terreblanche’s widow and Steve Hofmeyr. I can’t afford that kind of scandal.

I cannot get over the nerve of these bloody counter-revolutionary agents in the capitalist running dog media suggesting that you only endorsed Zuma because any other president would fire you for doing such an appalling job as education minister. I think you have acquitted yourself remarkably well. Just the other day I met a child who could almost count to a hundred. Well, he got to 34. And he was 19, but small for his age.

I enjoyed the way you apologised for the late delivery of schoolbooks in Limpopo while denying liability at the same time. It is a wise fish who knows its way around a hook. I say this with the utmost respect. Or, as the matrics would have it, respek.

I must also congratulate you on never having once nominated a woman for the position of president of South Africa. Who among us will ever forget your words: “We are not a feminist organisation. We are a women’s organisation.”

Bravo, madam! Bravo! I applaud not only your courage in drawing a clear distinction between conventional red-blooded womenhood and the mental illness known as feminism, but also your implicit recognition that South Africa is nowhere near being ready to have someone who is not a man running this country.

Women tend to hire other women and it wouldn’t be long before the Union Buildings were overrun by civil servants in skirts and ugly shoes. You have obviously given some thought to the hazards of menstrual synchrony. I know I have. The country would be thoroughly ungovernable for three to five days a month. If they got their timing right, Swaziland would be able to colonise us.

If I were a woman, I wouldn’t want a president who has only ever dabbled in a single wife. I would want one who dives into women head-first. Wallows in them. Marries them. Impregnates them. Puts them on a roster so they all get their turn to appreciate the executive member. That’s what I call democracy, even though it may sound like a dicktatorship.

As a woman who clearly knows her place in the pecking order, you were obviously instructed by someone wearing trousers to nominate Squirrel Ramaphosa for the position of deputy-president. Whatever happened to that Motlanthe fellow? He got 13 votes to Squirrel’s 62. I expect you will be hunting down the dissidents in the days to come. You cannot have independent thinkers in your ranks. That’s where the rot sets in. Next thing you know, your members will be demanding the right to stand at the braai instead of in the kitchen.

And that, comrade, is a slippery slope.

Aluta continua. Up to a point.

The Whine Route

I stand in solidarity with the striking grape-pickers of the Western Cape because I, too, was once a picker of grapes. Not here, of course. Our wine farms would never hire white pickers, especially not from Cape Town, because we would make snotty remarks about the quality of the wine instead of shutting up and drinking it in lieu of wages.

My career as a grape-picker began and ended on the Greek island of Crete. Please do not confuse me with one of those mewling brats spawned by the idle rich who spend a year sashaying around Europe acquiring “life experience” by doing the kind of jobs usually reserved for the darkies back home.

For a start, I never had a gap year. Well, there was a gap, but it was a lot longer than a year. And I was travelling because, even though I single-handedly lost us the war in Namibia, the army still thought it a good idea that I go on camps. Ah, camping. What fun, you might think. You would be wrong.

My money ran out in Spain but the idea of being destitute in the land of Alexander the Great was a lot more appealing than being pretty much anything in the land of PW Botha the Not-So-Great.

A friend living in Barcelona said there was money to be made in watermelon-picking, but later I realised he must have been on drugs because all the Greeks I subsequently spoke to not only knew nothing about watermelons but frequently became enraged and chased me down the street.

Picking grapes is vicious work, especially when it is done day after day after night after night of drinking retsina in the company of an emotionally unstable Hell’s Angel from northern California and then having to spend almost every morning explaining why it would be a bad move, in terms of career advancement, to run down the slope and open the farmer’s throat with his hook knife.

But that was then and this is now.

When I heard the workers in the winelands were asking for R150 a day, my first thought was that they were insisting on reducing their wages as an example to our politicians of how to make do with less so those with nothing can have something. That’s what happens when you read Das Kapital with a mug of hot absinthe just before bed.

Truth is, they earn R70 a day. If I worked on a wine farm and that was my salary, I would insist on a return to the dop system. Keep your stinking seventy bucks and give me three bottles of semi-sweet white night-terrors instead. I would rather spend my evenings singing and fighting, thank you.

The leader of my research team has just told me that the strikers have agreed to go back to work. That’s a bit selfish of them. They could at least have waited until my deadline had passed. Oh, well. I’m not starting over again.

They are in a rotten business, anyway. Most of these farms are producing table grapes – grapes that you eat, not drink. What a terrible waste of a grape.

When DA leader Helen Zille heard the farmworkers were unhappy, she quickly grasped the implications. Capetonians would be forced to lower their standards and drink beer, making them no better than anyone else in the country. Something had to be done.

She sent an SMS to ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman saying: “We are heading towards anarchy.” Right away, I scrapped all plans to emigrate. At last, a promise of real change.

A promise of a society based on non-hierarchical, voluntary associations. In other words, no more governmental authority. No more state. I wanted to know what Helen had in mind. Anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndicalism? I hoped it wasn’t anarcho-pacifism. Too spineless for my liking. Probably libertarian anarchism. But then we’d be right back where we started, lurching about knee-deep in the filth and fury of the free market, except this time there would be too much freedom and not enough market.

It didn’t take long to work out that Helen was undergoing her monthly Jekyll and Hyde metamorphosis, except her Mr Hyde is almost always more Mr Machiavelli.

It is essential,” said Hekyll Zilliavelli to her opponent, “that we remove politics from this matter and stabilise the situation.” Then, the coup de grace, “This is the call you must make.”

Marius Fransman, surprised to find the ball in his court after having been knocked out of the finals in 2009, responded by … I’m sorry. This information is not currently available. Reboot your politician and check for answers later.

Helen was also “extremely worried that lives are in danger and that people will retaliate”. I love it when politicians speak like this because it causes absolutely all of us to panic.

The mark of a true patriot is s/he who sows alarm in everyone, not just a single race, tribe or food group. Who is retaliating? Who are they retaliating against? Us? Them? Who are they? Who are we? Whose lives are in danger? Ours? Theirs? Should we worry? Should they? It keeps you on your toes.

Zille must have thought Fransman was playing doubles with Jacob Zuma because she batted it to him, too. Good luck with that. The day Zuma intervenes to keep everything running smoothly in the Western Cape is the day Israel exports Uzis to the Gaza Strip.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that wine is undrinkable.

Ever since I discovered the benefits of alcohol, at the age of five, I have had a hard time keeping wine down. Even the so-called good stuff tastes like badger urine to me.

The only people who can stomach wine of any vintage are teenage girls, unemployed journalists, middle-aged homosexuals and housewives who use it to wash the Valium down.

Apart from anything else, one of the natural flavourants in wine comes from chameleons. I am the first to agree that any animal capable of looking forward and backwards at the same time, let alone changing colour at will, deserves to be harvested, liquidised and drunk slowly with a little lightly salted mozzarella and biscuits on the side. But however much they deserve to die, chameleons have never really made wine any more palatable. More earthy, perhaps, but not palatable.

The wine industry is so far up its own provincial decanter that it thinks it is superior to everyone else dealing in food and beverages and marginally related substances sold through a hole in a brick wall.

What we need to do is destroy the myth that wine farmers are somehow providing a more useful service to humanity than farmers or Mrs Bismillah and her fabulous mutton rotis.

Wine farmers generally have more money than roti farmers, and this is why we tend to stand slack-jawed in awe of these shameless grape-mongers.

Because they live in magnificent mansions on sprawling estates with wanton wives in jodhpurs and children with blue eyes and blonde hair, you instinctively believe they are a higher life form. You need to sober up.

They make their money by producing more than 800 million litres of wine each year. And every single drop passes through somebody’s liver. Okay, not every drop. A fair amount ends up down the side of your car.

They manufacture a product that disappears within hours of buying it. And once you have finished with it, the only evidence you ever had it is a brain too big for its cranium and a monkey armpit mouth. And possibly two broken legs and a criminal record.

Why do you think wine farmers and their conniving connoisseur acolytes always pick up a glass by its stem? They would have us believe that it’s done to avoid warming the wine, but those of us who have been around these swine know that it’s to prevent the police from lifting a clean set of prints.

JuJu O’Lantern Will Scare The Bejeezus Out Of Anyone

It is Halloween this Wednesday and I, for one, cannot wait to put on my succubus suit and go creeping around the neighbourhood late at night banging on doors, shouting: “Trick or treat!”

The real sport starts when the homeowner presses his panic button. You then have seven minutes to break into the house, tie the occupants up, find a treat and get out before an armed response unit can shoot you in the head. The kids love it.

For a lot of South Africans, every night is Halloween. The only difference is that these perennial pranksters can’t be bothered to dress up. To be fair, though, some do make the effort and put on a balaclava. Traditionally, a treat is a handful of sweets or, if you hit a vegan house, an eggplant without the egg.

Our year-round rogues rarely settle for less than cellphones, money and guns. Or, at the very least, an HD-ready plasma TV. Anyway. Who are we to judge? A treat is mos a treat.

I would advise against opting for the trick unless you want to watch someone juggling with your testicles or super-glueing your wife to the wall.

I have celebrated Halloween ever since I was dishonourably discharged from the army of Christ in the early ’80s. Standards were higher back then. These days they take anyone.

I would like to call myself a pagan, but I can’t. Worshipping nature is all very well if it knows its place. By this, I mean its place is not down my broeks stinging my bollocks to death. Nor does it have any business trying to crush me, drown me or bury me alive. It would be a far better idea if nature were to worship us. That way, the ants would stay out of the butter and sharks would be a little nicer to us. Is that too much to ask?

Besides, I have grown weary of flappy-lipped adherents of monotheistic religions using “pagan” in a pejorative sense while relying on me not to over-do the sacrificial lamb at our Saturday night synod. Adding insult to injury, they are the ones who invariably bogart the bong. Bloody heathens.

I generally refrain from defending my position for fear of inviting the fate met by Hypatia of Alexandria, a pagan philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who was killed by a Christian mob in 415 CE.

Unfortunately for the employed, Halloween is not a public holiday in South Africa. If only the Soweto Uprising had taken place on 31 October instead of 16 June. Youth Day would be so much more entertaining if it were combined with Halloween. The horror is already there.

All we would need are police uniforms, nitrous oxide grenades, a few dozen crates of cherry-flavoured vodka and some live music. And maybe some live ammunition. And a smattering of German Shepherds all sniffed out and hoping to reach retirement age without any major drama.

At this time of year, carving vegetables into grotesque shapes is popular in some cultures. In my house, it’s called dinner. In Ireland and Scotland, they use scooped-out turnips. It’s that lack of imagination that allowed the English to oppress them for so long. In America, they use pumpkins. In Israel, they use Palestinians.

I don’t know what we can use here. If I tell people that instead of eating their madumbi this week, they should carve them so they look like little tokoloshes, they will think I work for the DA. And if I tell them to put a small candle inside the hollowed-out madumbi, they will think I work for the municipality. Either way, I’m screwed.

If only we could make some kind of genetically modified clone of Julius Malema’s head and carve that instead of wasting perfectly good vegetables. It’s the ideal shape and consistency. And scary as all hell.

Halloween’s imagery is derived from horror movies and stories like Frankenstein and Dracula. Here, it can be derived from films and books like There’s A Zulu On My Stoep and Bitch, please! I’m Khanyi Mbau.

Halloween costumes are traditionally based on skeletons, monsters, witches and ghosts. This year I want to wear a Jacob Zuma costume. He might not be supernatural, but he’s well on his way to becoming a superhero. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Teflon Man!

Manga-manga-manga-ung! Manga-ung! Manga-ung! Manga-manga-manga-ung!

There are many overseas traditions that can be adapted to local conditions. Take apple bobbing, for instance. Instead of using your teeth to grab an apple from a bucket of water, you must use your political connections to win a tender wrapped in fly-paper and coated in honey. This creates a hilarious yet potentially sticky situation, especially if the Hawks find out about it.

The telling of horror stories is also a popular feature of Halloween. Gather the children around and, in the unlikely event that Eskom hasn’t already done it for you, switch off the lights. Tell them about The Picture of Dorian Gray or The Man Whose Mouth Tasted of Wormwood or The Second Term of Jacob Zuma.

The important thing, comrades, is not to let your Halloween be co-opted by the Christians. We are more Nosferatu than we are Cosatu. No praying. No fasting. No skiving off to church.

Deconstruct all that Celtic reconstructionist propaganda and unleash your demons.

Crime Me A River

I went to a braai on Friday night. It was either that or give heroin a try. The house was full of normal people with normal faces and normal jobs. I should have gone with the heroin.

Braais aren’t what they used to be. It could be a generational thing or it could be location-sensitive. It could also be organised religion up to its old killjoy ways. Put any six people around a braai these days and at least one of them will be offended if you happen to shout, “Jesus!” for any reason other than being spontaneously suffused with the glory of God. Even if your flaming sambuca has set your hair alight. It’s epiphany or nothing.

Braais used to be things you went to so you could relax. I have been to braais so relaxed that it would be way past midnight before anyone remembered to light the fire. Or buy the meat.

Many of our braais simply turned into fires, some of which burned out of control for days. Our braais were an opportunity for friends to let their hair down. Or dye it purple. Or shave it into a mohawk.

The women weren’t in the kitchen making salads. They were staggering about the garden shrieking like lunatics and chucking tequila down their throats. The children, bless their little hearts, were kept busy rolling joints for the grown-ups. It all worked very well. Until someone with a heart murmur would arrive with a bottle of amyl nitrate.

This braai I went to was attended (in the old days it would have been invaded) by your common-or-garden SABS-approved types. Creative accountants, financial advisors who lie for a living, paunchy tax evaders laughing the loudest, property developers with blood on their teeth, doctors milking the medical aid system and sweaty divorce lawyers fresh from bayoneting the wounded.

Once the chops are down, the talk turns to crime. Or rugby. Same thing, really. As far as I’m concerned, rugby is a crime. “Ja ay, speaking of the Stormers getting robbed, I know this oke down the road that got hit by a bunch of them who cleaned his house out and then sommer ironed his face.” Disgruntled domestic workers, probably.

The stories get wilder. It turns into a game of oneupmanship. I take the gap. “That’s nothing,” I shout. “A dingo ate my baby!” It was the wrong moment to lose my balance and almost knock the braai over, but I think my point was made.

I bet when cops braai, they talk about the books they’ve read and argue about what Descartes really meant when he said, “Cogito, ergo sum.”

The fire appeared to be dying to I began throwing bits of scrunched-up newspaper onto the coals. Those who take their braais seriously put this kind of behaviour on a par with paedophilia. Rather than getting a braai fork through the throat, I wandered off and read the newspaper instead.

It was a community paper, a mine of useless information swaddled in lashings of sunshine journalism. Under the headline, “Safety in North Durban”, residents shared their views on the darkie problem. They don’t call it that, of course. They call it the crime problem. It’s a delightful euphemism that helps keep accusations of racism at bay.

Here’s a good one: “I feel unsafe knowing KwaMashu, the crime capital of South Africa, is on our doorstep.” I imagine her, sitting at her William IV mahogany writing table in her horrible house dress and sensible shoes, dashing off one outraged letter after another in the hope that someone will take notice and move KwaMashu a little further to the north.

Madam, I do not know what your name is, but I shall call you Maude. It rhymes with bored. Which, I assume, is what you have been ever since your husband left you for someone who didn’t hear intruders in the house seventeen times a night.

If you are looking for someone to blame, Maude, which I expect you are, then may I suggest you follow the lead of our president and blame apartheid? Prior to 1958, a not-inconsiderable number of Africans lived in Cato Manor, a safe distance from suburbia.

When the arch-liberal Hendrik Verwoerd came to power, he heard about the plight of these people and created an entirely new town for them. He called it KwaMashu – Place of Indescribable Beauty.

In a speech he made at home on a Saturday afternoon before going across the road to watch an international rugby match between Transvaal and the Orange Free State, he said all Africans deserved their place in the sun. Now, thanks to fifty years of deforestation, they have it.

Hold on. Where is this information coming from? Wikipedia has a completely different version. They claim the township’s name means Place of Marshall, in honour of Sir Marshall Campbell. An English settler, he was partly responsible for covering most of Durban’s hills with sugar cane.

We also have him to thank for introducing rickshaws to Durban. Without having a black man to pull me around, I would never have gone anywhere as a child.

Sorry, Maude. Got a bit carried away there. That was a rickshaw joke, in case you didn’t get it. So. What are we going to do about your problem, then? Either we move KwaMashu or we move your doorstep. I imagine you aren’t keen to move, and rightly so. I have no doubt you were living in your house long before the Nguni-speaking upstarts swarmed into the area two thousand years ago.

I am offering to spend the next couple of days driving through KwaMashu with a loud-hailer fitted to my roof informing half a million people that Maude of Durban North has requested they disperse in an orderly fashion to a place that is nowhere near her home.

These people will listen to me, Maude. I am known in these parts as the Zulu whisperer. Zulus are shouters. When you whisper they become confused and follow you, if only to find out what the hell it is you’re saying.

If all goes well, Maude, you will be able to safely leave your house by the end of the year. Just imagine – Christmas lunch next to the pool instead of in the fortified panic room!

Someone else wrote, “I can’t even pop to the shop to buy bread without worrying if we are going to be caught in a robbery. What is happening? It’s like the devil has discovered Durban all of a sudden.” Don’t be ridiculous. The devil discovered Durban a long time ago. Why do you think it’s so damnably hot? And have you seen the city centre lately? If that isn’t hell, I don’t know what is.

Someone else wrote: “They aren’t scared of dogs either!” What? This is terrifying news. “They” have always suffered from cynophobia. Dogs were our last line of defence. Now what do we do? I’ve got it. I bet they are still scared of water. Dig moats, people! Dig for your lives!

Here’s another: “I really wish shoot-to-kill can be reinstated in SA. That way criminals are being eliminated, not just being thrown in jail for a day or two.” Someone needs to tell this concerned citizen that the government’s shoot-to-kill policy was never repealed. Also, that it was never policy in the first place, but more the demented yearnings of a frustrated estate agent with a penchant for Panama hats and powerful weapons.

And a last one that says it all: “We need to all join together to help get rid of crime in Durban. Release those locked-up policemen!”

An Open Letter to Julius Malema – Washer-in-Chief of Filthy Lucre

Dear Julius,

What’s happening, old boy? Seems as if you have landed yourself in another frightful mess. The hounds of hell are hot on your heels and you don’t appear to be in any shape to outrun them.

These charges, to even the most indolent of observers, are a travesty. Do you know what is a travesty? Of course you don’t. And why should you? There is no word in Pedi for travesty. Let me give you an example of a travesty – President Zuma getting invited to be part of a United Nations initiative on education.

Still, I suppose it’s marginally less ironic than him being part of an initiative on the importance of vasectomies in developing countries.

Speaking of which, if I were you I would keep your legendary Limpopo lizard well-sheathed for now. There is talk of them putting you away for a thousand years and it wouldn’t be right to have a herd of pregnant groupies skulking about the prison gates in the hope of getting a fistful of taxi fare flung through the bars of the top window in the A block.

You must have been awfully disappointed when the court released you on R10-thousand rand bail. Back in the day, a man was judged by the size of his penis. Now, his worth is measured according to the size of his bail. Larceny, my fat little friend, has never been more grand. Go big or go home.

We, and I speak for the few South Africans who have not yet been jailed, are growing bored with petty crime and paltry punishments. If our politicians are incapable of thinking ambitiously, then we should at least be able to rely on our miscreants and rogues to impress us.

Your business partner, referred to in professional circles as your co-accused, was given R40-thousand rand bail. In one foul swoop, Selbie Manthatha became Al Capone and you were relegated to goon status. Julius “Lamb Chop” Malema.

A terrible miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated. I am appalled that your lawyer did not insist on bail being set at a higher amount. Fire him at once.

Hang on. If I am not mistaken, your lawyer is in fact a she. One Nicqui Galaktiou, if I recall. No wonder your bail was so low. Women are bargainers by nature. They are hagglers and whores and will stop at nothing to reduce a man’s worth to the lowest possible price. We are like shoes in their eyes.

I am talking metaphorically, Julius. Please do not go around saying I told you that women like shoes in their eyes.

By the way, who advised you to hire a Greek lawyer – Jacob Zuma? Have you seen what these people did to their economy? Souvlaki, they know. Money, not so much. On the other foot, she’s pretty damn hot for a lawyer. She could handle my defence any day.

It’s a pity, though, that you didn’t come to me first. I would have had you off the hook by now. My training as a journalist enables me to think like a civil servant, drink like a thief and lie like a lawyer.

There’s nobody at the courtroom door checking degrees. I could walk right into the Polokwane Regional Court wearing my black coat and sunglasses and represent you without a murmur from the bench. In Polokwane, you’d be lucky to get a murmur from the bench under any circumstances.

From what I’ve heard, half the provincial judiciary has a holiday home in Premier Cassel Mathale’s back pocket. This is just a rumour, mind you. Don’t go around repeating it or we’ll both end up downstairs being buggered by a fighting general in the 28s.

Well done on arriving at court in the same big black BMW that the prosecution says was bought with dirty money. Well, dirty before you had it cleaned, anyway. It shows you have panache and style. It also shows you have three functioning brain cells. If you had arrived on a donkey cart, the court would have taken this as a gesture of solidarity with the poor and released you immediately.

You must be very disappointed in the Hawks. After threatening you with grown-up charges like fraud and corruption, all they could hit you with was money laundering. Is that even a crime in this country? I do it myself now and again.

After a long, hard night in the company of Mr Jack Daniels and Mrs Palmer’s five daughters, I ram my sticky jeans into the laundromat’s washing machine and regularly lose a couple of hundred bucks before the spin cycle is over.

I lose money and you make money. I work for the Sunday Times and you’re on television. You’re black and I’m white. I don’t know why God is punishing me, but there it is and there’s nothing I can do about it.

And why are you way down in the cheap seats in the dock? Accused number 10. R10-thousand bail. IQ of 10. There’s some bad juju going on here. Somebody in the prosecution is a tokoloshe. Get your men to find him and burn him. Inside the court, preferably. Lessons need to be learnt.

Listen to me now. Here’s how you get out of this.

While the sultry Ms Galaktiou is giving her closing statements and the magistrate is incapacitated with lust, get your people in the Limpopo roads and transport department to grant a tender to On-Point Engineers to build a highway through the courtroom. Then get your grandmother to send a runner with a cleft stick, or, if you prefer, a cleft palate, to Gwama Properties to put Polokwane up for sale. The Ratanang Family Trust then puts in a cheeky offer and in under twenty minutes, the city is yours. Segwalo Consulting Engineers supervises the demolition of Polokwane, allowing everyone except the prosecution and the media to escape. Selby Construction rebuilds the city, surrounds it with moats and minefields and unilaterally declares independence. The People’s Republic of Malemania creates a powerful army over a long weekend. Led by your five-year-old son, the army succeeds in smashing down the barriers. It doesn’t matter which ones. There are so many in that province.

By the time your army has negotiated Limpopop’s four million stop/go roadworks, Helen Zille will be president and she will be waiting to embrace you because embracing darkies is what she does best. I expect you will be needing a hug after all this is over. My advice is that you take it.

I enjoyed your speech outside the court on Wednesday, even if it did lack the usual rabid extemporisation we have come to know and love. I especially enjoyed your, “I have nothing to hide. I have never been part of any criminal activity. What you see is what you get.” It was positively Shakespearian, if not Selebian.

Speaking of which, it’s never too early to start dropping a few hints about the state of your kidneys. No, wait. Jackie Selebi claimed that one. Hypertension, maybe? Nope, that’s what Schabir Shaik used. How about early Alzheimer’s? That way you can pretend to remember nothing, behave like a child, get a medical parole and a cabinet position when Zuma gets mangaunged in December.

My advice is to continue referring to yourself in the third person. At worst you can plead insanity. At best it will confuse the prosecutors when they try to indict you on fresh charges. As they will, if you don’t shut the fuck up.

Spanking The Olympic Monkey

The South African nation is today filled with pride and joy,” decreed presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj on Tuesday.

This was astounding news. The nation is usually filled with anger, resentment, remorse, guilt and wine.

What momentous event could have turned us, overnight, from a country of indolent, pilfering misanthropists into a country of back-slapping happy campers bubbling over with good cheer and self-love?

Had President Zuma done the right thing and fired his cabinet on the grounds of gross incompetence?

Had Winnie attended a session of parliament?

Had Bafana Bafana won a game?

No, nothing so implausible.

Instead, the nation was officially beside itself because a kid from Durban won a swimming race in London. I suppose when you’re coming off such a low base, it doesn’t take much to reach patriotic orgasm.

Anyway, I don’t believe Chad le Clos is the fastest in the world in the 200m butterfly. There are tribesmen deep in the Amazon who can do it in under twenty seconds. However, their times do drop off when the piranha fish head upriver to spawn.

So much for Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, I pulled a muscle in my back while lying on the couch watching the Olympics. It happened while lunging for a fresh six-pack that Brenda had cruelly moved just beyond my reach. This shows the importance of stretching exercises for spectators.

I could have been a contender.

Look at le Clos. His father said he had been swimming since he was in nappies. My father also threw me into the pool when I was in nappies. Then he went to the kaya to check on his latest batch of home-brew and forgot all about me. By the time my mother came home from the casino, nine hours later, I was doing the 100m crawl in just under 45 minutes. She made my father fill in the pool and I was never allowed near water again.

Watching the Olympics, I was constantly amazed at what the human body is capable of. At one point, even with a sprained rhomboideus, I managed to go from a prostrate position to a conventional sitting position while simultaneously opening a beer, changing channels and wedging my big toe into Julius Seizure’s bottom to avoid further contamination of the atmosphere.

I think these games are overrated. There are several events in which I could easily win a medal. Skeet shooting is one. Most white South Africans of a certain age are excellent skeet shooters, although in those days we didn’t call them skeets – we called them terrorists.

I remember being on the border and shooting someone in the back from a distance of two kilometres. It turned out to be our radio operator, but still. When it comes to marksmanship, it’s important to give credit where it is due.

Common sense says it is easier to win a medal in a team sport, like hockey or genocide, because you can rely on your mates to do all the hard work. Take curling, for example. Right away, I would commandeer the comb and let my more talented colleagues wield the tongs and hairspray.

There was a time I felt myself drawn to archery, but then I watched Robin Hood – Men In Tights and realised this so-called sport had the potential to turn ordinary decent folk into dangerous homosexuals.

It’s a pity Olympic organisers don’t offer an alternative for athletes from the developing world, using human targets and pangas instead of bows and arrows. We’d get gold in that, for sure.

As for beach volleyball. Really? The way these women carry on after winning a point, why not just make lesbianism an Olympic sport?

Men play it, too. They use words like “spike” and “jungle ball” and “underhand serve” which is quite obviously code for activities of a deviant nature. And why not? After all, the Greeks started this business.

I think I would be good at judo. Most married men who haven’t yet been emasculated are experts in the art of pushing and slapping. My friend Ted says it was originally an elitist money-making sport started by Zionists who called it Jew Dough. I called him a filthy anti-Semite and beat him soundly with a leg of pork, which we later cooked and ate with relish and gusto.

As for that ridiculous business with the swords. A South African’s idea of fencing is to make a tidy profit from selling stolen goods. It makes far more sense than attempting to prod a stranger with a pointy stick. If you’re going to have a sword fight, then, for god’s sake, do it to the death.

I could also win a medal in dressage. It’s not even as if you have to be fit. All you have to do is sit on your horse while it goes through its dance routine, and maybe have a word with it if it gets over-excited and tries something from Michael Jackson’s repertoire. It’s best not to let your horse watch programmes like Strictly Come Dancing.

Cycling and rowing should only be Olympic sports once all modes of transport are included. Let’s see events where people have to catch buses and run for taxis.

Badminton is trapped in a mire of match-fixing, drugs and human trafficking and is clearly the sport of the devil. And it’s no good watching gymnastics to cleanse your soul, either. I tried, but halfway through the women’s floor exercise I came over all Humbert Humbert-like and had to switch to the women’s boxing. Rather a misogynist than a paedophile, I always say.

Should the ANC ever decide to stage its own games, here are a few categories they might want to consider: Running for office, rigging the ballot, deploying the cadre, looting the treasury, fleecing the taxpayer, riding the gravy train, playing the race card, watching the clock, hunting for witches, jumping the queue, pulling the wool, loading the dice, shooting the breeze, stalling for time, spinning the truth, spanking the monkey, palming the tender, fiddling the expenses, diving for cover, dropping the ball and passing the buck.

Happiness Is A Warm Molotov Cocktail

I was saddened to read this week that we are one of the ten unhappiest countries in the world. What the hell is wrong with us?

Looking around, reading the papers and listening to people talk, I would have expected us to easily qualify as the unhappiest country of all. But no. That honour goes to Botswana. See what happens when you’re saddled with a government that eradicates corruption and fosters economic growth?

A thousand people from each of 151 countries were polled by the Happy Planet Index, a non-governmental organisation who take it upon themselves to pass judgement on the rest of us. Fair enough. Someone has to do it and it may as well be them.

Home-owners who are inexplicably reluctant to shoot people conducting surveys were asked to fill in questionnaires about their personal happiness. At the end of it all, we limped in at number 142.

Listen to me. If we hope to win competitions like this in the future, I suggest you ditch whatever vestiges of blind optimism, false hope and misplaced confidence might linger in what little remains of your mind.

There is no point admitting in a survey that you are as miserable as a one-legged chicken during the week but tend to perk up a bit on Saturdays when Lucky drops by with a bottle of brandy and the crack pipe. All this does is ruin our chances of making it to rock bottom.

Nobody cares if you’re the ninth unhappiest nation on earth. They want to know who is the unhappiest because schadenfreude makes the world go round and they want to know who is the happiest so they can spend their holidays there and ruin it for the locals. Brace yourself, Costa Rica.

So the next time a doe-eyed researcher from the Happy Planet Index visits your home, make sure you are wearing a hessian sack and have ash in your hair.

Lock them in and draw the curtains. Bring out a bottle of gin and make them drink with you while you rage against the sheer unmitigated hopelessness of it all. Weep and smash stuff. Have a few grime-encrusted children in tattered clothing shuffle into the room. It would be helpful if they also wept. Use a lit cigarette to get them started, if you must.

Speaking of children, the school holidays have begun and I am outraged. It is not public holidays that need to be scrapped – it is school holidays.

They are an anachronism – a throw-back to an era when teachers needed time to go and fight the communists in southern Angola and children needed time to recover from the horror of learning about the Boer War.

My history teacher was a cross between Machiavelli and the Marquis de Sade. He stepped on a landmine somewhere north of Oshikango and when the third term started he rolled into class and carried on as if nothing had happened.

Here’s what should have gone down. At 10am on Wednesday the army should have been deployed. Every school should have been sealed off with electrified blade wire. By now, there should be snipers in the trees and alsatians on the ground.

Nobody should get to leave until everyone, teachers included, can read to themselves without moving their lips and tell the difference between there’s and theirs, who’s and whose, to and too and it’s and its.

This country is not only being destroyed by its leadership. It’s also being destroyed by people who write memos that say: “Staff who’s cars is parked at the rear must move too the front theirs no exceptions and its got to be done today.”

Call me a grammar Nazi if you must, but I believe if you cannot spell Kalashnikov you shouldn’t be allowed to handle one. If you can’t tell the difference between your scrotum and a dangling participle, you shouldn’t be teaching English. And if you think you have the right to strike, you shouldn’t be teaching at all.

Sadly, the government has once again seen fit to send these shiftless ingrates home for the holidays. But it’s not them I’m worried about. It’s the children. Actually, I couldn’t care less about them either.

However, parents often turn to me for advice in times of great stress. As a father, I feel duty bound to help wherever I can. The question I am most asked when school holidays come smashing into our lives is: “What can we do with our children?”

The most obvious answer is: Put them to work.

For the last few months they have done nothing but drink and fornicate and – no, hang on, that’s the teachers.

Many of my friends regret living in a country where, during school holidays, they are not given a choice between putting their children to work and putting them to death. Quite a few have emigrated to libertarian societies such as Australia where this sort of thing is permitted.

School is what makes a child tolerable. If education had to be abolished – and it’s heading that way here – nobody would dare breed.

The idea of having anything between the ages of five and 17 in the house all day long, other than a dog, does not bear thinking about. Even if you can’t see them, you can feel them. They are like saturnine poltergeists full of shit and hormones.

When I was smaller than I am now, my mother would bring out a book called Things To Make And Do. First, though, she would bring out the wooden spoon and beat me senseless. She called this credit in the punishment bank for all the bad things I might get up to during the holidays.

Kids today wouldn’t be interested in a book like that. Unless, of course, it showed you how to make Molotov cocktails and throw them without setting fire to yourself.

If you’re okay with this, you might want to wait until the fuel price comes down. There’s an awful lot of spillage when children learn to make their first petrol bombs.

Trovato In National Honours Outrage

This is the fourth consecutive year in which I have neither killed nor raped anyone. I have refrained from hijacking cars and taking hostages. I have paid my taxes and some of my traffic fines. I continue to withdraw money from ATMs instead of blowing them up and I hardly ever shoplift.

And yet I have been overlooked for national honours once again.

I don’t know how much longer I can maintain this aberrant lifestyle without some kind of acknowledgement from the government.

Any idiot can see I am more deserving than many of the recipients on this year’s list. I should at the very least have been given the Order of Mendi for Bravery.

Even though I failed to rescue anyone from drowning, which appears to be the criteria for this award, it wasn’t through a lack of trying.

I spent almost every day on the beach looking for people to save. Apart from two attention-seeking tail-gunners in Speedos pretending to drown, everyone swam about with no trouble at all. Damn their selfish eyes.

I even offered a farm boy R27 to allow me to carry him from the surf and give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There may have been a misunderstanding because he resisted fiercely when I moved in to deliver the kiss of life. An angry mob chased me off the beach as if I were little more than a common pervert.

I should also have been in line for the Order of Ikhamanga. The government’s information website says: “The Ikhamanga (Strelitzia) plant symbolises the unique beauty of achievements by men and women who carry colourful South African aloft in the fields of creativity, arts, culture, music, journalism and sport.”

I would carry anyone aloft, regardless of their colour, if it meant getting the recognition I deserve. Well, maybe not anyone. It would be a struggle to lift, say, Khulubuse Zuma without the help of a block-and-tackle.

But struggle is what these honours are all about. Johnny Clegg struggles to lift his foot above his head these days and Cheeky Watson struggles to keep his son, Luke, from vomiting on the Springbok jersey. That’s why they were both on the list.

Being dead doesn’t seem to hurt your chances of receiving the Order of the Baobab. Ten of the 16 recipients are no longer on this mortal plane, including Sebebubijwasekgogobontharile Moroka, who almost certainly introduced himself as James when dealing with white people.

I want my award now, dammit, not after I’ve been put in a box. On the other hand, at least my death would mean something to my family.

While we patriots pay perfunctory obeisance to our most recently anointed heroes and heroines, perhaps we could also look at replacing some of our national symbols.

The springbok, for instance, is no longer suitable as our national animal. For a start, it is the dumbest animal in the bushveld. They practically beg to be shot between the eyes, cut into strips and eaten as biltong or even worn by the president at his next nuptials.

Now that we are 18, we should have an animal more closely representing our ethos as a nation. The hyena would be a good choice. They organise themselves into territorial clans of related individuals and so do we – except we call them government departments. The centre of clan activity is the den (Union Buildings).

Like many of our business leaders, spotted hyenas are opportunistic scavengers. No meat too rotten, no tender too tainted. We also both enjoy a bit of a laugh now and then, usually at someone else’s expense.

They have large ears and thick, short necks, as do many of our farmers. And, much like us, the female outweighs and dominates the male. Needless to say, the male plays no part in raising its offspring. You don’t get more South African than that.

Moving on to our national bird.

The blue crane simply has to go. What manner of bird stands a metre in its socks? That’s just silly. It has longer legs than some of my ex-girlfriends. Unlike my exes, it doesn’t have much to say. We need to dump this manically depressed introvert before it bores itself into extinction and embarrasses the lot of us.

I nominate the African crake. They make an unlovely rasping sound, have bloodshot eyes and their plumage is the colour of a soiled nappy. However, once the farms have collapsed, the president will be able to say: “Let them eat crake.”

Alternatively, it could be the white-bellied bustard. This is not to be confused with the yellow-bellied white bastard, among whom I count myself.

We need to replace the galjoen as our national fish because he is Afrikaans and, quite frankly, we have bent over backwards to accommodate this dysfunctional demographic.

What’s more, it is illegal to buy or sell galjoen. We might as well have heroin as our national fish.

I say out with the cheerless galjoen and in with the electric eel. It could represent our foreign policy – hard to pin down and delivers a nasty shock when you finally grasp it.

The national tree is the yellowwood. This is 2012 – who cares if its wood is yellow, blue or brown? This is a racist tree and should be chopped down on sight.

As for the protea, the less said the better. This ugly brute gives flowers a bad name. It should be struck from our list of national symbols without delay and replaced by the magnificent Cannabis sativa.

This botanical wonder sports an attractive five-bladed leaf and can grow to heights exceeding 10 000 metres. It has small, sticky buds that attract birds, bees, hippies and policemen.

Lastly, the national anthem should be converted into one minute of silence and the national flag should be white because, at some point, we are going to have to surrender.