A plague on the House of Sword

As the world now knows, journalist Jamal Kashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. He was there to obtain a marriage license. It reminded me of a letter I wrote to Saudi Arabia almost three years ago to the day in connection with another incident perpetrated by this charming nation.

 

Dear Saudi Arabia,

Congratulations on your decision to kill the Shiite boy who goes by the name Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Teenagers are dreadful at the best of times, what with their sighing and eye-rolling and endless demands for human rights and justice. If I had my way they would all be put to death.

I suppose I shouldn’t call him a boy. He is, after all, 20 years old. However, he was still a teenager when he committed the dastardly crimes for which he must die. Apparently he participated in the Arab Spring protests in 2012. Is that right? My kid once participated in a school play and by the end of it I wanted to slaughter the entire cast and most of the audience, so I know how you feel.

I gather you are breaking with tradition and not beheading the lad. Well done. Beheading is too good for some people. Crucifixion is the only language this generation understands. Well, that and textese and SMSish. Hang on. I’m getting conflicting information here. Some reports say you’re going to behead him and then crucify him. I don’t want to sound like a liberal, but isn’t that quite literally overkill? I apologise. You obviously know what you’re doing.

I’m a bit worried, though. Crucifixion can lead to new religions forming and nobody, least of all you, wants that happening. Yes, I’m talking about a certain Mr J Christ of Bethlehem. If the Romans had let him off with a light whipping and a warning, Christianity would probably not exist today. And even if it did, their symbol certainly wouldn’t be a cross. I’m just saying be careful, that’s all.

Your own media, which never gets anything wrong under pain of death – in my country that’s just an expression – said you wanted to string up the body after the beheading as a warning to others. I may be out of line here, but would the average Saudi be shocked at the sight of just one body? From what I’ve heard, one can barely move in Riyadh for the corpses of people executed for jaywalking or littering. That’s just the men. Apparently the countryside is littered with the bodies of female radicals who were caught driving, watching television or talking to men who weren’t their brothers.

Wouldn’t it be more effective to round up everyone who participated in the Arab Spring and crucify the lot of them? You could do a thousand a day for three months. If the United Nations starts gnashing its gums, tell them it’s none of their damn business what you do. Tell them it’s population control. If they threaten to pass a resolution, threaten to fire nuclear missiles into New York. You do have nukes, right? You’d better have, or even Israel could whip your ass.

I hear France has also asked you to call off the execution. France! That’s a laugh. After the terrible things they did in the Congo. No, wait. That was the Belgians. Same thing. If they want a united Europe, then all of Europe must take collective responsibility for all the horror.

At least you don’t have to worry about Britain putting the boot in. Their prime minister is too busy doing damage control after it emerged that he stuck his honourable member into a dead pig when he was younger. Also, they really want to land that £6m contract to provide prison expertise to your country. To be honest, I’m surprised you still bother with prisons. Decapitation is so much more cost-effective in the long run. I hope you’re not going soft on us.

By the way, congratulations on being chosen to head up the UN human rights council. This couldn’t have come at a better time for you. It doesn’t matter how much the limp-wristed dolphin-kissers wave their yoga mats and rattle their daisy chains, the fact remains that the US State Department has welcomed it, as do all right-wing, I beg your pardon, right-thinking members of the global community.

By the way, you might want to get the plasterers in. I hear there are some nasty cracks developing in the House of Saud. The last thing you want to do is let the light in.

Application for the position of IT Chief Officer: SA Revenue Service

Dear Sir/Madam,

I greet you as Sir/Madam because I do no know if you are a Sir or a Madam or even a Sir as well as a Madam, like Caitlyn Jenner. I am simply covering all bases, as you would expect from your future head of Information Technology.

To be honest, working for SARS was never really part of my life plan. Not that I have one. But if I did, I doubt it would involve working for the taxman. Not that I have anything in principle against taking from the poor and giving to the rich. It’s just that I am not very good at numbers.

I only decided to come and work for you after watching an interview with your current boss of IT, Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane. It was patently clear that MMM or, to simplify it, M³, is one of those rare people who pretend to know less than they actually do. Whether it’s a self-defence mechanism or a tactic to lull the enemy (journalists, commissions of inquiry etc) into a false sense of security, she has absolutely mastered it.

After watching M³ being interviewed on SABC, I am certain that I know more about IT than she does. For instance, I know how to copy and paste, use a cellphone and replace the paper in a Xerox machine. Can she do that? Exactly. What really attracted me to the position, though, was the news that M³ earned just under R3-million for a month short of a year’s work. I use the word ‘work’ loosely.

I am sure you are reluctant to get rid of one of SARS’ most promising employees. Quite frankly, I don’t know what she has been promising but I can promise you that my promises will be bigger and better. For instance, M³ attended four out of fourteen management meetings in the last few months. I promise to attend none.

Like her, I also know how to handle tough questions, whether they be from reporters or the head of a commission of inquiry. For example, when the Nugent Commission asked what she meant when referring to people who had been at SARS for years, she replied: “The Drakensberg Boys Choir was established in 1967. If you are a girl, the establishment doesn’t allow you to go there. It is 2018 but the Drakensberg remains a boys choir … and they sing quite well.”

This is a very good answer, but I could have done better. If I was in her position and someone asked me about, say, the state of IT infrastructure at SARS, I would have said, “In order to find out if a female giraffe is ready to mate, a male will use his head and rub her backside until she pees. He then drinks the urine to find out if she’s in heat.” Take that, Judge Nugent! Game over.

Is it true that your organisation’s IT infrastructure has been neglected for four-and-a-half years? That’s nothing. My ex-wife ignored my unwieldy priapism for a full seven years. I am very familiar with neglect and with that salary I am prepared to ignore pretty much everything.

M³ also told the commission that the revenue service would need R2-billion “to keep the lights on” in her division. This is a dangerously conservative estimate. When I get the job, I will need at least R3-billion for experts to come up with a comprehensive schematic diagram identifying the location of what I imagine are countless light switches. Then another R1-billion for light bulbs and R4-billion for sundries.

M³ said her division had identified depreciated assets that were “running through God’s grace”. Once I am in charge, I will fix everything right away so that God can get back to doing the stuff he really enjoys, like helping Israel bomb Gaza and spreading cancer among children.

During my term of employment, I will obviously require protection from yourself. This means you may not ever fire me. Or even talk to me.

Yours in IT,

Comrade Benjamin “Komputah” Trovato

 

Scam the Scammers

From: Hyundai Cars Company <info@hyundai.net>

To: bentrovato@mweb.com

Subject: You have won the Hyundai Company Award Funds

This is to inform you that you have been awarded 850,000.00 Pounds from Hyundai Cars Company. This Promotion Award is to raise the profile of Hyundai Cars across the world. (contact project manager) Name: Mr Jfferson Andrews. Phone # : +44703193 5671.

Send your name, country, city, age, occupation, pssition, home phone, moblie, email address to Mr. Jfferson Andrews for the processing of your award funds.

Congratulations!

 

From: Ben Trovato

Dear Jfferson,

What an interesting name. Is it Welsh? Never mind. I cannot believe that I have won so much money! How did you know that I drive a Hyundai? Is my name on a global register of Hyundai owners? My Elantra and I have been together for 10 years and we are still deeply in love. I have converted the spacious boot into a mobile office and entertainment centre which makes me the envy of all my friends except for those who laugh at me for driving a Hyundai. They say the only thing Koreans know how to make is stir-fried sausage dog but they are jealous.

I hope I do not have to go to Korea to get my money. Flying terrifies me. So do the Koreans. I would prefer it if you put the cash directly into my account.

Once again, thank you for this fantastic award. I promise that I will drive my Hyundai until I die, which could be quite soon unless I get the brakes fixed. Please hurry with the money.

PS. What is a moblie?

 

From: Hyundai Cars Company

Dear Award Winner

We have received your informations and you have been cleard for payment. We have sent your informations to our affliate bank for the transfer of your funds which is £850.000.00 GBP.

You are now required to contact our bank whom are responsible for the transfer of your promo funds to your bank account. The Hyundai Cars Company do believe that your funds will be put into good use for community development. This award is also sponsor by the Bill Gate Foundation.

Processing Director Hyundai Company Promotion.

Mr. Jefferson Andrews

 

From: Ben Trovato

Mr Andrews,

I am thrilled to hear from you again because I was beginning to think this was some kind of cruel trick. Are you sure this award is genuine? I do not wish to look foolish. Especially not in the eyes of Bill Gate.

You say I must use my money for community development? This worries me. It would take more than 850 000 pounds to develop my community and quite frankly I need the money more than my white trash neighbours. What do you mean by this?

 

From: Hyundai Cars Company

Dear Award Winner

What we mean in the word for community development it means that you should help the homeless and the less privilege in your locality as well as yourself. You have won the funds and it is yours to do what ever you like with the money but also please help the needy with the funds.

Mr. Jefferson Andrews

 

From: Ben Trovato

Listen here, Andrews.

I do not wish to help the homeless and the needy. They are terrible people. It is I, not them, who suffers the indignity of driving a 1998 Hyundai. Would it be acceptable if I used some of my money to pay a homeless man to kill my wife? I promise I will buy a new Hyundai with whatever is left over.

 

From: Hyundai Cars Company

We have accepted you use the award funds for your personal issues. You can now go ahead and contact the bank.

Congratulations once again!

Mr. Jefferson Andrews

 

From: Ben Trovato

Andrews,

I had an epiphany in my bed last night. When I told my wife, she said there was no way in hell she was going to clean it up. I told her that god came to me in a dream (he was Nigerian, oddly enough) and he told me to get rid of the Hyundai. He said it was the Devil’s car, so this morning I am going to set it alight and push it over a cliff. Does this mean I no longer qualify for the award?

PS.  I also told her that the Hyundai Corporation had given me permission to have her murdered. Please send me 800 000 dollars so I can pay the homeless assassin.

Mea culpa, you a golfer

So, anyway. In February 2010, three months after I wrote my letter to Tiger Woods, he issued a televised statement apologising for his behaviour. I’m not saying this was in response to my letter, but I’m not saying it wasn’t, either.

Here’s the column I wrote at the time.

 

THE image of golf has suffered terribly as a result of Tiger Woods’ breach of marital etiquette. Yes, I can see how that might happen. I was thinking of taking it up but then Tiger ruined it for me by making a billion dollars a year and sleeping with dozens of beautiful women. I, for one, will have no truck with such filth. Instead, I shall take up a sport in which I stand to make no money at all and get to sweat so heavily that I attract stray dog rather than hot girls.

You have to hand it to the Americans. You can get caught pimping underage immigrants to support your heroin habit, but if you squeeze a drop of glycerine into each eye and go on television and apologise and say that you’re taking gender sensitivity classes and checking yourself into rehab, the nation will applaud you.

This applies to celebrities more than it does garbage collectors and other members of the proletariat whose mea culpa is generally described as a confession rather than a courageous admission of their human frailty.

It only works for Americans, though. When British actor Hugh Grant’s willy accidentally fell into a prostitute’s mouth while the two of them were discussing the Middle East crisis in a side street off Sunset Boulevard on June 27, 1995, he never tried to “rehab” his way out of it. His laddish grin on the LAPD’s mugshot said it all. What happened in the car that night – that wasthe treatment. Let us be clear on that. Suffering from a prolonged dearth of fellatio, Mr Grant had his ailment treated by the nearest qualified person, who in this case happened to be nurse Divine Brown.

Tiger Woods, on the other hand, speaks for thirteen minutes and convinces the world that he is a very sick man deserving of our sympathy.

Halfway into his statement something strange happened. I began feeling as if I had done something wrong. As he spoke, the burden of guilt lifted from his shoulders and settled on mine. He was pulling some kind of weird voodoo stunt and getting away with it.

Tiger blamed the media for daring to suggest that his perfect Swedish wife, Elin, had clubbed him like a baby seal on that terrible Thanksgiving evening. “It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that.” I hung my head in shame. “Elin never hit me that night or any other night.” Brenda snorted. “Some Viking she is.”

There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage,” Tiger insisted. Well, maybe there should have been. You’d be surprised at how sexual tension can be relieved by smacking one another around for an hour or so. It certainly works for Brenda and me.

I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.” And the problem is what exactly? This is precisely why fame and fortune are a tad more in demand than, say, obscurity and penury.

What is the point of being rich and powerful if you’re going to be like the rest of us and go home to a cold, hostile wife who puts your dinner plate on the floor and expects you to get down on all fours and eat it like a dog?

We are only the way we are because we’re too goddamn lazy to work relentlessly at something until we are so ridiculously good at it that people line up to throw money at us to watch us do it or even just write or talk about it.

Tiger apologised to parents who had once used him as a role model for their kids. What rubbish. Show me one teenage boy who spent weeks sobbing in his room after hearing that his golfing idol’s idea of relaxation was to check into a R40 000-a-night hotel, drop a little A-grade ecstasy and lick Beluga caviar off the quivering thighs of naked porn stars while cocktail waitresses vibrating with lust queued in the corridor.

My loinfruit, Clive, showed no interest in golf until Tiger got bust. Now all he wants to do is get his hands on a bag of clubs, a bankie of Ambien and one of those Thai girls who work in the house across the road. That’s my boy.

Instead of being lauded for making golf the aspirational sport that it should be, Tiger was forced to grovel. Shocking, really, and a scathing indictment on what kind of world we are bringing our children into.

It’s hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing. I have a long way to go.”

And right there, the attitude of millions of people watching Tiger beat himself up went from self-righteous disapproval to a weird mix of empathy and pride. You fucked up, Tiger, but you’re dealing with your problem and we’re proud of you for that.

It’s black magic, I tell you. Not only does he manage to convince us that he has a problem, but he has somehow convinced us that his problem is different to the problem experienced by all men – that of wanting to sleep with lots of different women but not being able to because we are too ugly, too poor, too stupid or too fearful that some supernatural being might be judging us.

Tiger has already been through 45 days of hell. Therapy for sex addiction is no walk in the park. It involves role playing where women brutally rebuff your advances, group sessions where everyone points and laughs at your privates and being strapped down and forced to watch videos of women giving birth. Or so I have been told.

Stupidly, he said, “I have a long way to go.” In other words, “I still want to tear my clothes off and jump on anything that isn’t nailed to the floor.”

You used to have a great grip, Tiger. Don’t lose it now. Why didn’t you just say that the six weeks of therapy worked? Tell us you’re cured, for god’s sake. Nobody would even know the difference.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what you say. From now on you’re doomed to live the life of a Buddhist monk. I’d suggest you work on your chanting because your days of shrieking and whooping are well and truly over.

Talk about blowing it on all fronts.

Golfing For Rats

Tiger Woods says he’s “blessed” to be back after winning his first PGA Tour event in over five years, following a long and painful return to form from a back injury.” – news report.

But it was this quote – “All of a sudden it started hitting me I was going to win the tournament” – that reminded me of a letter I wrote to the maestro almost nine years ago. I reproduce it here in the interests of, well, nothing, really.

Dear Tiger,

It is absolutely outrageous that the filthy, lying dogs of the media are saying you came home smelling of some Yiddish tart called Rachel and that your wife scratched your face to bits then chased you out of the house, and when you tried to escape in your Cadillac you ploughed into a tree because you were whacked on painkillers and your eyes were full of blood and Elin caught up to you and smashed the window with a nine iron and dragged you out of the car and continued to maul you right there on the lawn in front of the neighbours.

This kind of wild speculation makes me sick. Your version of events, even though you haven’t given it yet, is far more plausible. Let me guess. You woke up in the middle of the night desperate for one of them damn fine Dunkin’ Donuts and you got up quietly so as not to wake your beautiful wife whom you love more than life itself and just as you were pulling away a dog, no, a pack of dogs, ran in front of you causing you to swerve and hit a fire hydrant and then a tree. Alerted by the noise, your beloved awoke and upon seeing you trapped semi-conscious inside the vehicle after your terrible accident she grabbed the nearest implement which in your house would obviously be a golf club and came to your rescue.

My wife says I am a gullible fool and that you were clearly up to your elbows in un-American activities. I find it easier on the kidneys if I agree with her, so I am changing my story.

You idiot! What on earth were you thinking? Whatever possessed you to marry a white woman? Did your mother not warn you about this? I know white women. Trust me when I say they are almost always more trouble than they are worth. Out here in the bush, many of our politicians have dozens of wives each and you never hear about marital problems. Why? Because they marry black women.

Look, I’m also a sucker for Swedish babes. Who isn’t? But as you have discovered, it’s not all hot monkey sex in the sauna and rolling about naked in the snow beating one another with birch branches. These people are Vikings, for heaven’s sake. They are natural born rapists and pillagers. Cross them and they will be at your throat in an instant.

If, on the other hand, this is a publicity stunt, then I have to say you have outdone yourself. Many of us have long suspected that you were some kind of robot or alien from another galaxy. Nobody could be that perfect. My racist friend Ted always said your only discernible flaw was that you were black, but after you made your first billion nobody even noticed that any more.

Perhaps you decided to do something outrageous to make yourself seem human. Unlike Britney Spears, you could hardly dismount from your golf cart at the US Masters and give the paparazzi a clear shot at your gentleman’s region. So you did the next best thing – staged an affair with a sultry temptress from New York City. Classy. I like it. Did it slip your mind to tell Elin that the entire business was a PR hoax?

Whatever you do, don’t speak to the cops. Look what they did to OJ. Next thing, you know, you’re up on charges of murdering half the neighbourhood. You can come and stay with us for a while. I instructed Brenda to get the spare room ready but she threatened to disembowel me with a screwdriver. That’s white women for you.

Anyway, good luck with whatever the hell it is you’re up to.

Yours at the 19th hole,

Ben Trovato

Happy Heritage Day

I am fascinated by the cultural differences that exist in this great country of ours. When I’m not busy being fascinated, it’s all I can do not to pack a bag, grab my passport and head for the nearest airport.

Black people have a rich culture that includes ancestor worship, traditional healing, lobola, ritual slaughter (cows, sheep, taxi drivers etc) and settling tribal disputes with machete fights at dawn.

White people have a culture that is rooted in sport, beer, fear, litigation and emigration.

Although I am always careful not to stereotype anyone, I think it is important to point out that industrial action is also an integral part of black culture.

When white people sing and dance, you can be fairly sure they’re in high spirits and celebrating something or other – more often than not, their good fortune at having been born into the Caucasian race.

When black people sing and dance, there is no such certainty. What looks like a rollicking street party frequently turns out to be angry mobs of striking workers.

When whiteys feel oppressed, they suffer in silence. Well, those who aren’t rich enough to move to Perth or stupid enough to join Afriforum suffer in silence. Sometimes, one will come home from work, quietly murder his family and then blow his brains out. Generally, though, they don’t do much more than mope around the braai exchanging racial slurs through mouthfuls of brandy and boerewors.

Darkies, on the other hand, are always ready with a song and dance at the first sign of exploitation. This is where the confusion sets in. To the untrained eye, it appears that the brethren are indulging in a bit of the old merriment, what with the ululating and leaping about. I have seen tourists join in under the impression that they have stumbled across some sort of primitive ethnic festival. Whipping out their cameras, they flail their little white arms and legs, roll their eyes and shout happy gibberish in the hope that it passes for Swahili.

Here are some other things that make South Africa special.

We have a fascinating array of indigenous fauna, all of which go well with one or other of our many endemic sauces.

Our flora, too, is not to be sneezed at. Unless, of course, you suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, in which case you have no business living here.

Our national flower, the king protea, was recently replaced by the cannabis sativa.

Our national bird is the blue crane, a graceful creature that specialises in pinning people to the ground and pecking their eyes out. Canada’s national bird is the Common Loon. It reminds me of Steve Hofmeyr.

The motto on our coat of arms isǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke Nobody outside of the /Xam tribe knows what it means. Most South Africans think it’s a hyperlink.

When it comes to the national animal, we have the springbok. France has some sort of chicken. Our rugby team is also called the Springboks. The French once accused us of playing like animals. This made us feel tremendously proud.

Our national fish is the galjoen. Like most hard-drinking South Africans, the galjoen is regarded as a creature that will fight to the death. Cooked over an open fire, however, galjoen tastes a lot better than the national drunk. Decolonised galjoen prefer to call themselves black bream.

Whale meat again …

“More than 120 pregnant whales were slaughtered in the latest Japanese whale hunt in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, reigniting calls for Australia to step up efforts to stop the annual killing spree. A further 114 immature whales were killed as part of Japan’s so-called “scientific” whaling program. Japan’s summer hunt stretches into Australian whale sanctuaries.” – News reports.
Here’s a column I wrote eight years ago.
JAPAN, Norway and Iceland have killed more than 30 000 great whales since 1986. And if you think that’s good news, wait until you hear this.
A new deal being negotiated behind closed doors could see a lot more whale meat on our plates come dinner time. To be honest, I haven’t sunk my teeth into a decent southern right steak since I was a child. As a special treat my mother would buy us whale meat. I remember it clearly. It came in a yellow box with a caricature of a blue whale on the front. The whale was spouting and grinning. It might even have been winking. It was the happiest whale I had ever seen. It was the only whale I had ever seen.
At some point I discovered that this tasty cetacean snack was meant as pet food. Thanks, mom.
I had no idea where the whale in my sarmies came from. I tried asking my mother the other day but she recently adopted a position of denying everything and it was hard enough getting her to acknowledge that she had a son at all. I never thought to enquire about the origins of my lunch at the time. I was just happy to have something to eat, even if it was cat food.
Then, one day, whale was no longer served in my house. I can’t remember what replaced it. Tortoise, probably. It was the end of an era. I lost 180kgs and girls stopped asking to see my blowhole.
The whaling station on the Bluff shut down in 1975 – 70 years after Jacob Egeland, the Norwegian consul in Durban, and his sidekick Johan Bryde, formed the South African Whaling Company. If you think the beachfront smells bad today, you don’t want to know what it was like when the Scandinavians were up to their elbows in sperm whale.
In their first year they harpooned 106 of the brutes. Always eager to please, a pod of whales got together off Umhlanga and voted to name themselves after Bryde, who they had grown particularly fond of as a result of his remarkably good aim. A clean head shot, every time. Whales appreciate this sort of attention to detail.
Meanwhile, a group of jersey-wearing jellyfish on the International Whaling Commission is at this very moment conniving with powerful interests who are just as comfortable with flensing knives as they are with numbered bank accounts.
For the first time since 1986, commercial whaling is poised to make a comeback and every budding Cap’n Ahab out there is dusting off his old harpoon and getting ready to sail for the Southern Ocean.
The carnage should be spectacular.
Speaking of large mammals, did you know that 50% of South African girls aged 15 to 19 are overweight and 30% obese? Boys waddle in at 29 and nine percent respectively.
Parents need to get their kids onto some kind of programme. I can recommend a good weight-loss tape. It’s called duct tape. You stick it over their big fat mouths.
28 March 2010
 
And here’s a letter I wrote to the Japanese ambassador seventeen years ago.
Dear Ambassador,
I see that one of your government officials has described Minke whales as the “cockroaches of the sea”. I could not agree more. Dirty great things cluttering up the ocean. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. Unlike land-based cockroaches, they at least don’t fly at your head when you least expect it. Getting struck in the face by an airborne Minke could ruin a good day’s fishing.
The Minke are vermin. Scum of the seas. They are forever lying there half-submerged waiting for unsuspecting yachts to come along. Many a sailor has cursed the smirking Minke while watching his boat sink. They are also far too big. Any fish that weights fifteen tons is a freak of nature. They upset the feng shui of the ocean and deserve to die.
I cannot understand why the members of the International Whaling Commission refuse to lift the ban on commercial hunting. We don’t even need them. They scoff all the shrimp and wallow about idly belching from their blowholes. And the whales are no better.
It was pure genius on the part of your government to tell the world that you are only catching Minke whales for “scientific research”. There is, after all, so much to learn from a dead whale. Made any exciting new discoveries lately.
By research, you presumably mean men in white coats inspect the meat as it is chopped into 1kg blocks and sold to fish and chip shops around Japan. Given the fact that 2500 tons of blubber are consumed in your country every year, I find it remarkable that there are so few fat Japanese. Do you feed it all to your sumo wrestlers?
As you know, whale season here in the Western Cape is around the corner. In fact, a few Southern Rights have already been spotted in False Bay. An old hand-held harpoon has been in my family for generations and I’ve been thinking of giving it a whirl. If I manage to bag a medium-sized aquatic cockroach, I can have it transported to the embassy in no time at all. What do you say to a thousand rand a ton? Translate that into yen and you’ve got a damn fine deal.
In the meantime, here’s R10 in “development aid”. Use it wisely.
Let’s stamp out the whales!
Yours truly,
Ben Trovato
 
A few days later, the First Secretary of the Embassy replied.
He basically said they’d love to chat about the subject but that “it would be somewhat difficult to do so if one’s opinion is based on inaccurate information”. I assumed he was talking about me. This was followed by a pack of lies about their “scientific research”.
And my R10 was returned. “We are, unfortunately, not in a a position to accept the attached donation as the Government of Japan does not allow any of its bodies to accept any form of donation as worthy as it may be.”
whaleben

How to Stay Alive

With all this talk of farm murders and other crimes of a less savage nature, I thought it a good time to share a chapter from my book Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival.
 
BUYING property is a big decision. Bigger even than choosing a wife. These days it is far easier to divorce a dud wife than it is to sell a dud house.
You home is your castle. You worked hard for it and you have the right to defend it with your life. Or, preferably, someone else’s life.
When it comes to choosing where to buy, a lot of people make straight for the gated villages and security estates. I am not a big fan of these for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that you can’t escape easily if the sheriff comes looking for you.
Whether you opt to live in the leaf-riddled suburbs, within the walls of a fortified compound or free-range on a farm, you need to pay close attention to the points of entry. Some people prefer to stay in apartments high up in the sky where the yellow-eyed varmints can’t get to them. The estate agents call this a lock-up-and-go. All my life, wherever I have lived, I have simply locked up and gone. And yet I have been burgled more times than I care to mention. So much for that idea.
The suburbs are the natural habitat of the common housebreaker. Although they are solitary animals, it is not uncommon to find two or three of them hunting together. These shy creatures are easily startled and are difficult to spot during the day. Nocturnal by nature, they have a keen eye for detail, especially when it comes to alarm systems and dogs.
Police have warned that “scouts” leave coded messages on the pavement indicating which houses are safe to be robbed. Green crème soda cans let the boys know it’s open house. Red Coke cans signify that a little force might be required. Police urge residents to report strange objects that appear on the pavements outside their homes. Among the unusual objects that regularly appear on my pavement are drunk homeless people. I am still trying to work out what this signifies. I also on occasion leave half-empty beer bottles outside my house. I hope this strange new code gives the varmints sleepless nights.
The only way to ensure that you are never broken into is to make your house impregnable. Doors and windows are the weakest security points. These must be bricked up. Make sure you do this from the inside. If you have a chimney, seal it off. Burglars can also gain entry through your roof so you will need to replace your ceiling with a concrete slab. Your house should now be completely safe. Nobody will be able to get in to rob you. Nobody will be able to get out, either, so make sure you have enough food to last for the rest of your life. If you are married to someone who insists on getting out now and again, then you should probably consider other options.
Here are a few ways you can minimise the chances of getting burgled.
Moats
Apart from being one of the sillier words in the English language, a moat can be highly effective in keeping the varmints at bay. To minimise your water bill, it is best to run hoses from taps around the neighbourhood. If you live near a stream or river, go out late at night with a spade and divert it so that it fills your moat.
Once your moat is full, you may want to make a feature of it by adding water lilies, fountains and a couple of crocodiles to take care of those housebreakers who, as adults, have learned to swim.
Crocodiles are easily obtained in South Africa. Lake St Lucia is well stocked with these brutes. In Zululand, nature conservation officials move slower than the crocs so you need not worry about getting caught. You should worry more about getting eaten. With that in mind, try to avoid taking fully-grown crocs. As tempting as may be to have instant security, you will have trouble fitting more than one adult in the boot of your car. You could tie another to your roof racks if you don’t mind attracting attention.
If you are pressed for time, it makes more sense to load up on eggs. You can visit one of our crocodile farms and stuff the eggs down your pants when nobody is looking or you can get them on eBay for a few dollars apiece.
The eggs of saltwater crocodiles take about 80 days to hatch, but I would suggest you stay away from these unless you are prepared to go to the trouble of converting your moat. Some people say chlorine is best, others swear by salt. I don’t want to get involved. This argument has claimed lives.
You are most likely to end up with Nile crocodiles. Crocodylus niloticus can grow to over five metres long and weigh up to a ton so it is best to get them while they are young. Unless you want the SPCA on your case, you will have to feed your crocodiles on a regular basis. Although they will get to eat the occasional drunk who falls into your moat, this should be seen more as a dietary supplement than anything else.
One of the major benefits of using crocodiles instead of other aquatic species such as geese or hippos is that crocodiles can live for up to 80 years in captivity. Not having to replace your watchcrocs will save you a lot of money in the long run. Don’t forget to get the drawbridge people in before you fill your moat.
Landmines
Some people have a thing about landmines. Princess Diana was one. She decorated two entire rooms at Balmoral with disarmed mines. The green room was reserved for anti-tank mines, the red room for anti-personnel mines. They were all there, from the Soviet POMZ-2 to the American M-18 Claymore. A particular favourite of Diana’s was the Valmara 69. Produced in Singapore, this little baby can shoot more than a thousand metal fragments over a 25-metre radius. Sometimes, when William and Harry were little, she would bring out the OZM-3 jumping mine as a special treat and let them play with it. The princes had hours of fun trying to catch it as it bounced through the castle.
None of this, however, is of any concern to you. All you have to do is remember where you laid your mines. I have heard of people who went to the trouble of sowing a minefield around their house only to step outside to fetch the newspaper and get blown up. It is essential that you create a map showing precisely where the mines are.
Most housebreakers prefer to take the path less trodden, so you might want to scatter some of those mines in the more inaccessible areas of your garden. Try not to bury any in the flowerbeds. Reliable gardeners are hard to find these days.
If you are a real patriot you will want to get your hands on something homegrown. During the 1980s Armscor turned out some damn fine blast and fragmentation mines. Unfortunately these have not been stocked at local hardware stores since Nelson Mandela was released. You could try getting your mines from the Russian mafia in Cape Town, but be advised that it is very difficult to get through to them. On all levels.
Here’s an idea. Why not make it a fun outing? Take the family to Angola for the weekend. Even though the country is a little run-down, landmines can still be found in most of the rural areas. It might take a while, but with a little poking around, you, mom or one of the kids are almost guaranteed to pick up a few good-quality mines for use around the home.
Walls and fences
The Germans and Israelis have done more to popularise defensive walls than any other nation in recent times. The trend was started by Roman emperor Hadrian in 122 AD when he built a stone wall right across Great Britain. It was the only way he could keep the lunatic Scots at bay. The feat impressed the electorate back in Rome and simultaneously served as a warning that Romans would not hesitate to build stone walls should anyone dare try to stop them from taking over the world.
Today, Hadrian’s Wall is the most popular attraction in northern England and tourists are often seen walking the length of it. Considering what else is on offer in northern England, this is extreme adventure at its best.
If we had to be honest we would admit that the Chinese started this nonsense with walls around 220 BC, but they claim credit for way too much already and I doubt that I shall mention them again.
Not everybody believes in the power of walls. The anti-wallers believe that by erecting a wall you are converting your home into a prison. What’s wrong with that? When last did you hear of a prison being broken into? How often does the head warden get back to his office to find his door kicked in and his TV missing? It just doesn’t happen. Prisons are the safest places on earth because they have walls around them.
Barbed wire vs blade wire
Anyone who grew up in South Africa will have a soft spot for barbed wire. Anyone who is white, of course. Barbed wire was invented to keep the darkies in their place and out of yours. Barbed wire sent out an unambiguous signal. Barbed wire was on the side of right. Barbed wire was strong. Trustworthy. It had principles.
Barbed wire topped the fences around our military bases. It lined the streets whenever the natives got restless. It lay there in tight reassuring coils in hardware stores throughout this once great country. If it weren’t for barbed wire, parliament would have fallen to the communists long before 1994. And if barbed wire is good enough for Guantanamo Bay, it’s good enough for your home.
The only negative thing I can say about barbed wire is that it is very working class. If you have received a good education and are well spoken (i.e. English-speaking), the chances are that you will prefer to secure your house with something that has a little more breeding. I am talking about razor wire, also known as blade wire. The Germans came up with it in World War One. And even though they eventually lost the war, they did succeed in killing several million enemy soldiers before admitting defeat. This was not bad going for a country that had little more than the crumbling Ottoman Empire and a couple of stoned Hungarians on their side.
It was at 11am of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that a ceasefire came into effect. At 10.58am, a German sniper shot Canadian George Price through the head. Being the last soldier to die in the Great War showed the world once and for all what Canadians really are – a bunch of no-hope losers with an appalling sense of time and place.
This has nothing to do with razor wire.
Eina ivy
The most aesthetically pleasing device to come out of the home security industry. Its spikes will tear your burglar to shreds, but at least he can admire its shroud of lifelike plastic green leaves while slowly bleeding to death in the hydrangeas.
Alarms
Home alarm systems remain one of the most popular deterrents to people who lie around all day drinking wine from plastic bottles and smoking crystal meth and then when everything runs out they think they can come over to your house and take your stuff and sell it for a fraction of its worth so that they can stay drunk and wired for another three days. If it were that easy, we would all be doing it.
Alarms work by frightening off burglars who suffer from hyperacusis, an abnormal sensitivity to loud noises. These burglars, who make up 0.1% of the housebreaking fraternity, now wear earplugs to work.
Alarms are also designed to alert the neighbours that there is trouble next door. However, neighbours in South Africa have long since learnt not to get involved in anything that happens beyond their garden gate. The house next door could be dismantled piece-by-piece and carried away by a chorus line of transvestites in fishnet stockings and latex rubber leotards singing “Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go” and still the neighbours would say, “Didn’t hear a thing. We had the rugby on, you know.”
These days most alarms are linked to armed response companies. Keep in mind that most housebreaking syndicates are also linked to armed response companies.
If you are at home and your alarm is activated, all it really does is induce cardiac arrest in the elderly and infirm, give you a splitting migraine and encourage your cats and dogs to find a new home in the next town.
If you insist on an alarm that makes a conventional wailing sound, I suggest you invest in the type that Israel uses to warn people in Haifa that Hezbollah is about to ruin their day. If your alarm can be heard by every police station in the city, the odds are dramatically increased that someone might come around and investigate. If it’s not lunchtime, that is.
Try to get your hands on a Chrysler Air Raid Siren. It is the size of a car and weighs three tons but if you can hoist it up on to your roof, it would be a desperate burglar who would keep robbing you with 138dB howling into his head.
You may want to impress or even terrify your neighbours by acquiring a siren that has the ability to broadcast voice messages. These electronic sirens are similar to conventional sirens except for the fact that they rely on a series of electrodynamic, horn-loaded loudspeaker drivers to produce sound. I presume you record your message in much the same way that you would on your telephone answering machine. Here are a few suggestions in case you can’t come up with any of your own:
“The house is surrounded. Get down on the floor. If you move, you will be shot.” (Edit in background sound of helicopters and dogs barking).
“This is God speaking. Stop that at once.” (Insert background sound of thunder and a chorus of celestial voices raised in anger).
“Freeze! I’m Ma Baker! Put your hands in the air and gimme all your money!” (Boney M instrumentals in the background).
CCTV
Closed-circuit television has revolutionised home security. Cameras mounted in strategic places are able to monitor a housebreaker as he climbs over your garden wall, enters through a downstairs window, walks down the passage, grabs a beer from the kitchen, heads up the stairs and sidles into your bedroom where he ties you up and steals all your valuables, leaving you with a unique video of an unidentified man in a balaclava roaming around your house and robbing you blind, which you can then show to all your friends and use as justification for emigrating to Perth. You may find it more rewarding to use your CCTV system to make cheap porn.
Armed response
Armed response units are to police what paramedics are to doctors. They walk, talk and smell just like real cops but are quicker on the draw because they don’t have to fill in as much paperwork after gunning down a varmint. On the down side, they are paid almost as badly as cops. And, like cops, they also have habits to feed, gambling debts to pay and kids to put through reformatory. This is worth bearing in mind when you invite them into your home to inspect the entry and exit points and provide them with your secret code and a detailed schedule of your movements.
Dogs
Let us be clear on one thing. Dogs are animals. They are not meant to be kept as pets. We have all been to the beach or to a park and seen someone throw a ball for a dog. Perhaps you have even done it yourself. You people make me so angry. Why in god’s name are you encouraging your dog to chase balls when it is blindingly obvious to all who care about these things that he should be chasing criminals? Every time your dog runs after a ball, somewhere out there is a criminal not being chased.
And you, you with that fur-covered beach ball. Oh, it’s a Labrador, is it? Shame, give him another piece of cake. Watch him go into cardiac arrest through the sheer effort of wagging his anaconda-like tail. You, madam, are doing your dog and this country a great disservice. Your Labrador should be a lean, mean killing machine. He should be at home patrolling your perimeter fence, fangs a-slaver and barking mightily at anything that moves.
Big dogs are the infantry in our fight against crime. Their position is at the front. If you only have one dog, get another to watch the back. They are the first line of defence against those who wish to take our stuff and our lives.
Little dogs are signallers in this war. They form part of an early warning system and should be scattered about the property. Their job is to alert the big dogs that something might need checking out.
It is also useful to keep a supply of miniature breeds inside your house. If a burglar does gain entrance, one of the more effective methods of slowing him down is to throw them at him. Do not waste your dogs. Use them wisely. If you have done your job properly, your handheld dogs will have been trained to bite on impact. There are very few burglars who feel comfortable robbing you with two or three lapdogs hanging from their face. On the down side, small dogs frequently come with a manufacturer’s defect. Once they start yapping they frequently forget how to stop. A finger up the bum usually turns them off.
Breeds
Alsatians make the best guard dogs. Originally bred as all-purpose working dogs, they have a proud history of keeping darkies out of white areas. They also spent a lot of time on Jesus’s side of the Berlin Wall helping to fight communism.
They are handsome hounds, even if a bit right wing, and you will have to watch out for those neighbourhood bitches slipping in for a quickie while your dog is meant to be working.
If you are in the market for an Alsatian, pop in to your local police station and see if there are any on special. Try to get a dog from the drug squad. That way the days of misplacing your stash will be over.
Alsatians have their own governing body called the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde. Being German, the dogs understand what this means but they are often reluctant to talk about it. Perhaps it is like belonging to the Freemasons.
Some famous Alsatians are Hitler’s dog, Blondi; Rex the Wonder Dog; Rin Tin Tin and Orca of the SAPS KZN Midlands K9 Unit.
Bull terriers would make ideal guard dogs if you could only get them to open their jaws and let go. Nobody wants to pay top dollar for a pedigree dog and then have to cut its head off so the burglar can be thrown into a police car/mortuary van/hole in your back yard.
Whippets are faster than cheetahs in built-up areas. Obviously, out on the plains the cheetah will whip the whippet’s ass any day. When it comes to protecting your house, the whippet isn’t much good. Nobody is likely to be deterred by the sight of its tiny head, huge chest and ridiculously long legs. That its tail is permanently wedged between its legs is also less than intimidating.
A whippet will only care about whether the strange man climbing over your wall has any food in his pockets. Look at him in a friendly fashion and he will grin gratefully, roll over onto his back and open his legs. If I ever get the chance to dabble in genetics, I am going to cross breed a whippet with a woman.
Your whippet comes into his own when the burglar tries to flee. To see some real sport, tie something soft and furry (a pair of bunny slippers would work) to the burglar’s ankles and give him a 30-second head start.
Dachshunds are a bit of a gamble insofar as security is concerned. If the burglar does not incapacitate himself with laughter, you might want to have a back-up plan.
Zulu hunting dogs only work if the intruder is Zulu.
crocmoat

Women’s Month – Next year will be better

I was trying to figure out why the people who bring out this particular magazine had specifically chosen the August edition to pay tribute to women. Then I remembered. Both the publisher and the editor are men. And this is winter. What better way to get a little credit in the love bank than by devoting an entire issue to women?

“Look, honey,” said the editor. “I have given your kind their very own edition. Now take your top off, drizzle honey over your magnificent breasts and come here.”

I was sharing my insight with the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman when she turned on me without warning and wooden spooned me in the solar plexus. Using language unbefitting a toilet-trained person, she pointed out that since August was Women’s Month, it was far more likely that the magazine’s management was simply in step with the rest of the non-Neanderthal world.

I sloped off into the garden, knuckles dragging on the floor, to lick my wounds and plot my revenge. It wasn’t long before I became distracted by a six-pack of beer hidden behind the bougainvillea for use in times of emergency. I abandoned my nefarious scheming on the grounds that drinking would accomplish better results and also because women generally suffer enough, what with period pains, childbirth, skewed logic, the inability to tolerate criticism and so on.

Instead I came up with my own programme of events to celebrate Women’s Month in 2017. There will be none of the cultural performances, poetry readings and workshops that make this such a dreary month.

Here are some of the activities that will take place next year.

Week 1

  • Catholic women will dress up as priests and take charge of church services around the world without risk of assassination by the Vatican’s holy hitmen. Priests will be expected to dress as nuns and sit quietly at the back with their legs crossed.
  • Married women get the week off to relax in bed without once being coerced into having sex.
  • All cooking, cleaning and child-related chores are delegated to the husband/boyfriend (or the proxy of his choice) for the duration of the week.

Week 2

  • Women are given the freedom of the cities enabling them to visit bars and clubs on their own, in pairs or in packs and hit on men as and when they see fit without fear of picking up a nasty label. When they return home in the early hours of the morning, they are entitled to slap, punch or kick their men no more than three times with the understanding that there will be no hard feelings the next day.
  • Women get to sexually harass their male bosses without fear of retribution. If the idea of fondling the CEO’s bum simply doesn’t bear thinking about, employers can instead be spoken to in sarcastic, disdainful, patronising and/or imperious tones.
  • A cosmetics, body maintenance and diet-free week. Women may look as dirty, plain and unattractive as they wish without being publicly denigrated or denied entry to their homes or places of work.

Week 3

  • The Women’s Grand Prix takes place at Kyalami. Classes will be according to colour and not engine size. In other words, red cars versus red cars, silver cars versus silver cars and so on. Categories will include Most Vulgar Hand Signal, Least Concern for Other Drivers and Fastest Lap Combined With Best Application of Makeup.
  • Women get to play with the army and navy’s new toys. They may also stage their own war games in False Bay with the understanding that the firing of live shells at Fish Hoek is encouraged.
  • Each married woman receives a Get Out Of Trouble card to be used if and when she gets caught having an affair.

Week 4

  • An expropriation from the defence budget frees up enough money to give every South African woman a hair appointment courtesy of the state.
  • MaKhumalo takes the reigns from hubby Jacob for a day. She gets to chair a Cabinet meeting attended only by the ministers’ wives. None of the female ministers will be allowed to attend since they already know what power tastes like. During the meeting, the ‘ministers’ will be empowered to make any decisions that take their fancy. Should they, for example, adopt a motion to redecorate parliament or invade Zimbabwe, operational costs will be borne by the taxpayer.
  • Free yoga sessions or military training from the Chinese.