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 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 arse.

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, all 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.

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Backwards to the future

Dear Comrade President Zuma,

Congratulations on your narrow escape at the reed dance in Nongoma the other day. I was alarmed to read that hundreds of bare-breasted virgins had become possessed by demons and rushed the stage where you and King Zwelithini were sitting. What a frightening thing to happen.

I have been to the reed dance and, quite frankly, the girls scared me even when they weren’t full of demons. One of them took a run at me, leaping into the air with a terrible shriek and gesticulating wildly with her ample buttocks. It wasn’t clear if this was a mating dance or a death threat and I felt uneasy after that.

Virgins are unpredictable at the best of times. Put three in a room and it’s mayhem. From what I’ve read, even the carpenter Joseph had a hard time controlling his wife, Mary. Then again, their kid was a bit of a handful. Getting forty thousand of them to strip virtually naked and dance for you is just asking for trouble.

I know it sounds unlikely, but perhaps Satan wasn’t responsible for this one. The king was late with his speech and the maidens had already gone back to the buses and tents to get out of the rain and cold. When he ordered the girls to return, is it not possible that they were half-mad with hypothermia and were simply looking for shelter? Alternatively, this might well have been the first wave of Zulu suffragettes whose minds have been poisoned by the inflammatory teachings of Oprah Winfrey.

Once feminism takes hold, you can kiss the reed dance goodbye. And it will be the last thing you kiss for a long, long time. Trust me. I know.

Prince Thulani Zulu of the royal household said the devil spirit is common among young girls. I suspect it’s also fairly common among older girls. Well, I’m thinking more of married women, here. One in particular, really. There would be much weeping and falling over and pretty much everything short of ectoplasm would come out of her potty mouth. So I know how you must have felt. We both had a close call.

People who were there said you were quickly escorted to safety, leaving the king to fend for himself. Fair enough. He carries what looks like a ceremonial battle-axe and dresses like a cross between a leopard and a lion. I certainly wouldn’t mess with him, and I’m no virgin.

Other people who were there denied that you were escorted to safety, saying you were simply popping off to the loo. Of course you were. Who wouldn’t want to go to the toilet after facing down a battalion of topless teenagers brimming with hormones and hobgoblins?

Sometimes I think demons are inside me, too, but then I drown them with beer and feel much better afterwards. At the next reed dance, you should give the girls beer. Maybe organise a few bands. Chuck a couple of cows on the fire. It could be wild.

In the meantime, please encourage the king to keep blaming evil spirits and demons for all the bad stuff that happens. It’s the only way we can weed out and burn the witches who send lightning to strike their neighbour’s hut by sneezing twice in a thunderstorm. You should also encourage more ANC MPs to publicly denounce evolution as a racist conspiracy.

This sort of thing helps us retain our less developed country status and keeps those foreign grants and low-interest loans rolling in. The country scores, the king gets another wife and you get to ogle thousands of breasts. Everyone’s a winner. Everyone except the witches. And science.

Reed Dance

 

Advance Australia Unfair

After flying halfway around the world I arrived in Joburg hung over, hysterical with sleep deprivation and barely able to walk upright on my mangled economy class legs. It was freezing cold and I was still dressed for Bali. Everyone else was dressed as if they were going to business meetings. Poor bastards.

Changing planes for Durban, we waited half an hour before the pilot decided to say something. “Guys,” he said, “you’re not going to believe this.” What? There’s no beer on the plane? Jacob Zuma has agreed to pay back the money? God is a woman?

“Our battery isn’t charging.” I summoned a stewardess and offered to round up a dozen guys to give it a push-start. She said it wouldn’t work. I looked around. She was right. There were only four or five darkies on the flight. They’d never be able to do it.

Someone must have come along with jumper cables because an hour later we were landing in Durban where I blended in with everyone else yawning and scratching and slouching about in baggies, T-shirts and slops.

I got home and did what most people do when they’ve been away for some time – read the papers. Catch up on the news. Sigh heavily. Start drinking. Plan to emigrate.

I hadn’t unpacked. I could call a taxi and be back at the airport in an hour. Get the last plane out. It doesn’t matter where. Just away. Away from the tyranny of democracy.

Whoops. That was the jetlag talking. I have since discovered half a bottle of Jose Cuervo beneath the sink and feel much better, thank you. I suspect comrade domestic worker has been using it as a household cleaner, which would explain why my place always smells faintly of tequila. I thought it was me.

Skipping past the stories about politics and crime – it’s increasingly difficult to separate the two – I finally found something to read without risking an aneurysm. The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit has released its latest list of the world’s most liveable cities.

My bags are still packed. There they are. Right next to the front door. My passport is in my pocket. I have a taxi on speed dial. It’s not too late. No, wait. That’s the tequila talking.

Top of the list is Damascus, the capital of Syria. That can’t be right. Ah, wrong list. Damascus is the least liveable city. Africa puts in a good showing, though, with Lagos and Tripoli romping home in fourth and fifth place, sadly nudged out of the medals by Dhaka and Port Moresby. Oh, well. There’s always next year. Looking at the cities, it might be more accurate to describe this as a list of the least liveable cities for white people.

Top of the list of the most liveable countries is bloody Melbourne, mate. And if you think that’s outrageous, let me tell you that Australia takes another three spots in the top ten with Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, leaving Helsinki, Auckland, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Vienna squabbling over the scraps. It won’t have escaped your notice that this is also a list of the most liveable cities for white people. Who mostly speak English.

Cape Town, incidentally, our only reasonable facsimile of a well-behaved city, never even made it into the top 50 most liveable. Thanks, Cape Flats. Thanks a lot.

So. Europe and Canada are out of the question. Too many people, too cold, too alien. That leaves Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Sydney. Tough choice. I have family in Perth, so I can’t go there. Just kidding, uncle. Uncles. And cousins. That’s my father’s mob. My great-granny on my mother’s side was a true blue Aussie and is almost certainly the reason I am genetically predisposed to petty crime.

A lot of mainly white South Africans choose to emigrate to Australia because there is plenty of sunshine and alcohol. And also because … well, as Queensland author Stephen Hagan puts it, “Australians are the most racist people in the developed world for their treatment of the First Australians and I make this claim comfortable in the knowledge that I am sufficiently supported by incontestable statistical data.”

I imagine being among worse racists than oneself can only be good for one’s self esteem.

Australia is also an option if, like Adolf Hitler, you prefer dogs. The government announced last month that it would destroy two million feral cats by 2020 in an effort to protect indigenous wildlife. They will use poison traps and attack dogs to kill the kitties. You can’t get more humane than that, Bruce.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of South Africans emigrate to Australia every month. I doubt I will be among them any time soon. I’m not smart or mad enough to understand the visa process, which appears to have been formulated by a statistician incarcerated in an institute for the criminally insane.

If you go over on a 189 visa but don’t have your OTSR because your job is on the CSOL list and you’re still on a 186 but haven’t submitted your EOI for a 489 you’ll need a 457 sponsor and the DIPB will want the IELTS.

Australia is infested with migration specialists dedicated to helping South Africans reach the promised land. Well, they call themselves migration specialists. They’re really just human traffickers in polyester suits and pencil skirts.

I thought I’d get in touch with one of them for an assessment of whether or not I stood a hope in hell. I knew the answer before I even filled in her questionnaire. Age, skills, academic qualifications and financial means are apparently important to the Australians, and unless there’s a critical shortage of borderline indigent middle-aged columnists who make a living out of shaming and ridiculing the rich and powerful, then I’m probably staying right here.

My “migration agent” said she had taken the liberty of stalking me on the Internet. “It is quite evident you have a very successful career,” she wrote. It’s not quite how I would describe it, but it seemed a promising start. Then it went downhill, fast. My occupation – her word, not mine – is on some kind of red list and, because I’m not a teenage virgin, I would need to be sponsored by a state or an employer and work for them for four years at an annual salary of at least R1.2-million. If my current remuneration is anything to go by, I am not worthy of sweeping Sydney’s streets.

Perhaps sensing that my special skills would do little to enhance Australia’s reputation in the eyes of the world, she offered me another option. Something called the 457 visa stream allows an offshore company to become a sponsor, which can then sponsor the employee to work in Australia. In a suggestion that smelled strongly of loophole, she said, “If we can get your current business to qualify as a sponsor, we may be able to get you the 457 visa.” With a masterful use of understatement, she described this as “a long shot”. She clearly sensed that my current business operated largely on cold beer, loud music and long absences from the “office”.

If my personal human trafficker were to handle the visa application, she would require the modest sum of R30 000. The loophole option would cost me another R40 000. And the Department of Immigration would want R18 000 for both. So, that’s almost R100k in return for an email from the Australian government three weeks later saying, “We regret to inform you …”

I’m going to unpack, open the gin and have a little lie-down.

BenRoo1

 

Here’s to the Loerie Awards

I’d like to buy the world a gram and garnish it with thrills, Grow dagga trees and jail keys, and snow white Mandrax pills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was suffering from the onset of dry throat so I went to the kitchen to fetch a fresh six-pack. In the time that it took me to pick the lock on the fridge, I missed the next few minutes of movie and returned just in time to see a woman coughing as if her swine flu had developed tuberculosis. Should this happen to me, I was advised to speak to my pharmacist without delay. Then she keeled over onto the bed. Dead? I hoped so.

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

By now I had forgotten what movie I was watching. Oh, look! A Formula 1 racing car has just pulled into a petrol station, filled up and roared away. This is clearly the car to drive if you want to avoid having to wait for a surly attendant to finish his mutton curry pie and get off his fat arse to ensure that you miss your appointment by washing your windows and dropping your change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stayin’ Alive – South Africa’s new disco anthem

The Americans sent men to the moon in 1969 but we can’t work out how to put our traffic lights on a separate circuit.

And now, on top of the electricity shedding, there’s water shedding.

Stop complaining. This isn’t Syria. If you don’t like it, emigrate. You needn’t go far. I’ve just got back from the Mozambican fishing village of Tofo. They never have power cuts. And when you turn the tap on, water comes out. Okay, you probably shouldn’t drink it, but their beer is so cheap and yummy that you don’t have to.

If you don’t want to emigrate because of work commitments and … oh, please, who are you are kidding. If you don’t want to emigrate because no other country will have you, then you are going to have to learn to survive.

Funnily enough, not that it’s remotely funny, those who will find it easiest to survive is the generation or two that know their way around candles, paraffin stoves and river water. It’s as if the National Party helped prepare them for today.

In times of crisis, people pull together. It doesn’t happen here, but I’m sure it does in other parts of the world. Here we turn feral, snarling and lashing out at anyone who doesn’t talk or look like us. Or drives a Volvo. This is as it should be.

Motivated purely by altruism and definitely not a desire to profit from misfortune, some companies are taking to the Internet with tips on what to do when the lights go out and the taps run dry.

Many of these helpful hints seem to be aimed at people who were raised by wolves and who are only now learning to live among humans. One website provides examples of “non-electrical illuminating devices”. What luck. I would never have come up with torches and candles on my own.

It also suggests that you invite friends over and build “a nice old-fashioned bonfire” after which you can “play charades or cards or even share ghost stories”. Yes, playing charades during load shedding is a brilliant idea. “I’ve got it! You’re … hello? Are you still there?” As for terrifying stories, just read the front page of any one of our daily newspapers.

“You could even pass the time by having long conversations with your friends or engaging in political debates.” Talking in the dark? What a revolutionary concept. I wouldn’t, however, recommend initiating a political debate in a room where you can’t see anyone’s hands. Not in South Africa.

“You could even use the fire to cook.” Really? I always thought fires were only good for warming one’s goolies and spitting into.

“You could even host a ‘dance in the dark disco’ if you have the right equipment, such as cell phones, iPods, mp3 players, laptops, and especially battery-powered speakers.” First, you can’t have a disco without a glitter ball and someone selling ecstasy. Second, load shedding is a reminder of the future that waits like a ravening beast from hell. Nobody but crazy people, morphine addicts and small children should, when the power fails, be in the mood for flailing about the lounge while Stayin’ Alive claws its way out of a Nokia 1200.

And this gem: “Remember – our ancestors survived without electricity for thousands of years, so why can’t we do the same?” Our ancestors also wore no clothes, never worked a day in their lives and had rough sex with random Neanderthals out in the open, so why can’t we do the same? Actually, there have been times I’ve done that.

Then there is Solidariteit. These shrieking liberals have come up with what they call a Noordplan: 2 Weke Sonder Eskom. Their emergency plan is not yet available in English. It’s almost as if they only want Afrikaans-speaking people to survive two weeks without Eskom.

Their tagline reads, “Doen jou eie ding.” The hippies have been saying this for years. Do your own thing, man. Far out. It’s good to see the reactionary right finally catching on.

Their plan appears to be based on Armageddon as imagined in the Pythonesque Book of Revelation. Stockpiling of the kind that hasn’t been seen since Nelson Mandela was released comes highly recommended. You will also need to test a few alternative routes between work and home. I don’t know why. Perhaps they have inside information that Satan intends sending his devil mole-souls to burrow beneath our major freeways and collapse them at rush hour.

And, naturally, this: “Keep a weapon on you. It can be anything from a gun to pepper spray.” I don’t know about you, but I want a gun that first shoots pepper spray and then, while the suspect is screaming and scrabbling at his eyes, shoots a bullet into a part of his brain that turns him from a psychopath into a poet. That would be awesome. Unless the bullet clipped the wrong synapse and turned him from a poet into a psychopath. What the hell. Violence isn’t an exact science.

Solidariteit also suggests we get a two-way radio to stay in touch with our neighbourhood watch. Imagine if one day someone invents a communications device that makes walkie-talkies obsolete. Yes, I know this kind of heretical talk can get an oke burnt at the stake. But still. One can wonder.

“Find out if any amateur radio operators live in your area.” An amateur radio operator, as far as I know, is someone who struggles to tell the difference between Ukhozi FM and Radio Sonder Grense. I can’t see how this will help when the four horsemen pull up at the last KFC for the last Streetwise 5.

“Connect with a local community structure.” They suggest Afriforum. There’s no mention of the ANC Youth League.

“Make sure everyone in the family has enough to drink.” This is the best part of their plan by far. A family that drinks together stays together.

“Be frugal with your money and draw extra cash if you still can.” Where the hell are we now? Greece? There are also other things besides money that you can use to acquire stuff. They suggest using cigarettes to trade. How very poor white. When trading with the natives, I suppose one can use shiny beads and packets of salt.

To relax, you can “go through old photo albums”. Perhaps this is how some cultures relax, but I can’t do it without crying like a baby. Or you can “repack boxes of old stuff”. That’s got to be a barrel of laughs. I shall try it when I tire of putting scorpions down my trousers.

Okay, that’s enough about the lunatic fringe. I have some tips of my own.

Most importantly, be prepared. “Be Prepared” is also the motto of the Boy Scout movement. I don’t know what the motto of the Girl Guides is. Probably “Be Careful”. It was in 1907 that Robert Baden-Powell came up with the idea of dressing young boys in tight khaki shirts and shorts and taking them off to remote areas to “camp”. No wonder he said they should be prepared.

Let’s not get distracted. In the context of Eskom and other shadowy organisations that control our resources, we need to be prepared to go without. It’s only going to get worse now that god won’t make it rain and the regulatory body has refused Eskom’s request for a 25% increase in tariffs. They’re going to be sulky and vindictive and will lash out willfully when it comes to pulling the switches. I don’t know what god’s plan is. There’s a very good chance he doesn’t have one.

Some say you should keep a torch handy. That’s rubbish. These are the kind of people who are afraid to drink and drive and look before they cross the road. Torches are gay. Live dangerously. Buy a box of matches and a dozen military flares. You’ll need a flare gun or a good throwing arm. A flare will light up your entire street, making you popular among those of your neighbours whose homes survive the fire.

Some people think candles are romantic, but they’re not. Candles are only romantic if they fall over while you’re passed out and they set your house alight, allowing you to collect a huge insurance payout and move to the Bahamas where you fall in love with a dusky heiress to an oil fortune.

I’m with Solidariteit on the need to stockpile, but don’t stop with koeksusters and cans of meatballs in spaghetti. Stockpile diesel, wood, Cornish pasties, beer, Nik-Naks, ice creams, dope cookies, coffee, cheese, cigarettes and adult nappies. Open a pop-up shop and sell everything for ten times the price you paid. Use the money to set yourself up in a country with a future. Botswana, maybe.

Water shedding really hit home when I got an email from the body corporate this week. It’s the words everyone who lives in a complex dreads hearing. “Please accept that you will not have a blue pool until the water crisis is over.” What? This is an outrage. White people need regular access to clean, swimmable water or they will shrivel up and die.

The second hammer blow came when I went for breakfast in Ballito and asked for a glass of water to pacify my hangover. The waiter shook his head sadly. “No water. Too dirty.” I tried explaining that no water was too dirty for my condition but his face grew even sadder.

So what you need to do, then, is keep water purification tablets handy. When your water gets cut, crush the tablets, mix them with a little tobacco and smoke them. It can’t hurt to try. Maybe it can.

Also, get your hands on as much psychotropic medication as possible. The solution to the energy and water crisis lies in selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. We’re all going to have to remain calm. Very calm.

When it comes to comestibles, milk will keep longer if it stays in the fridge. Who cares? Unless you’re a baby cow, get rid of it. Leave it out for the burglars. They love milk. Especially the cat burglars. Gin kept in the fridge tastes so much better and will keep way longer than milk.

cat burglar

Fresh food will rot so you need to grow your own. If you plant potatoes, sugar cane, agave cacti, poppies and coca, you will never run out of vodka, rum, tequila, heroin or cocaine. I’m not advocating you take drugs. I’m just trying to help us all get through this bad patch. If it even is a patch.

Water restrictions mean you will not be able to wash your car, clothes or body. Be prepared to be filthy. Since I am currently unattached, I don’t have a problem with filthy. This might be the reason I am unattached.

If you absolutely have to wash, buy one of those outdoor showers from a camping shop. Hang it from a tree in your garden. If your neighbour complains, hang him from a tree in his garden. Everyone will think it’s suicide. The way things are headed, there’s bound to be a lot of that going around.

Washing dishes will no longer be an option. I went for lunch at my father’s house in Durban North last weekend and discovered that mongooses are meticulous plate-cleaners. When they’re done, all you need do is pack the crockery away and go for a rabies shot.

mongoose

And there won’t be water to flush your toilet, either. Your options are limited. You could take 500g of Imodium every hour, dig a pit latrine or buy a dog suit and take a dump out on the pavement. I’m going with the dog suit. It’s going to have to be a big one. I’m thinking Irish Wolfhound. And if the brak from across the street tries to mount me, well, it’s been a while. Right now I’ll take what I can get.

An open letter to ANC Secretary General Comrade Gwede Mantashe

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Dear Comrade Gwede,

Well done on giving our courts a swift kick in the nuts. That’ll teach them to have what you call a negative attitude towards the government. It’s almost as if they believe the myth that they are an independent branch. They need to focus more on ‘branch’ and less on ‘independent’. And what do we do when the branch of a tree turns rotten? Yes, we send our least favourite child up the tree with a chainsaw to cut it off. Or, even better, burn the tree down and plant a new one. A tree approved by the ministry of forestry.

As you so rightly pointed out, “There is a drive in sections of the judiciary to create chaos for governance.” At first I was skeptical. After all, judges are overweight, unfit and shortsighted. Quite unsuited to leading baying mobs to the barricades. However, this is probably nothing more than a cunning disguise. Beneath those black robes they are all Batman. The moment they receive the Bat-Signal – transmitted from DA headquarters – they will implement their dastardly plan and, amid the chaos, overthrow the ANC regime.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is also aware of what’s really going down. When he spoke to police investigators a few weeks ago, he said, “some elements of the judiciary meet with characters to produce certain judgments.” He’s absolutely right. That’s what a Full Bench does. Well, they call it a Full Bench in public but it’s really called the Star Chamber and they have funny handshakes and virgin sacrifices when they meet in underground caves at midnight on every full moon.

The problem seems, as you say, to be limited to the North Gauteng and Western Cape high courts. But for how long? Attack is the best form of defence, comrade. I’m sure you learnt that when you read Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book as a child. Launch a pre-emptive strike. Do it now, before this incendiary talk of “judicial independence” infects other courts in the country.

Obviouslythe Western Cape High Court would turn maverick. It’s embedded in a province controlled by rebel forces. But North Gauteng? That’s ANC country, that is. Even more inexplicable is that two of the three judges who ordered the arrest of the much-loved humanitarian pacifist Omar al-Bashir are not members of the Caucasian race. Why are these brothers not on your payroll?

There is an outside chance, I suppose, that the robed renegades are simply doing what they are paid to do. But even that would be an aberration in the brave new world you are trying to build. Let us, for a moment, hypothesise that these judges are not, as unlikely as it sounds, attempting to bring the government to its knees and are merely applying the law. If that is the case, then it is the law that is at fault.

Guy Fawke’s Day is just over four months away. This gives you enough time to collect the statute books and burn them in a magnificent bonfire on the lawns of the Union Buildings. Invite the peasants. Let them toast marshmallows or Mozambicans. It will be a fresh start and people will laugh and clap and dance.

If that sounds too much like hard work, all you need do is rig the next election so your party wins a four-thirds majority and then change the constitution to exempt all card-carrying members of the ANC from all laws. Or scrap the constitution altogether. I mean, really, what are laws when you think about it? They are just things invented by Romans and Dutchmen to discourage civilisation from descending into savagery. Personally, I am all for a bit of savagery. There are too many people standing politely in queues, driving at the speed limit and apologising for pushing their trolley into your ankles. When I go to the bank, I want to be able to use a machete to get to the front of the queue. Hell, why even bother with queues? If you can afford plastic explosives, blow up the bank and go straight to the vaults. Why even bother with money? Just take what you want. Impunity rocks, man! If Dostoyevsky lived in your beautiful dystopian new, new South Africa, he would rewrite Crime and Punishment and take out all the punishment and just call it Crime and it would be even better than the original.

Like millions of other South Africans who aren’t members of the counterrevolutionary opposition, I embrace your vision. Like you, I, too, watched the brilliant socio-political documentary, Mad Max: Fury Road. Did we see Imperator Furiosa laying charges of assault against Immortan Joe? Or Joe’s hot wives taking him to the maintenance court? Of course not. They had complete freedom to do as they wished. It was almost as if they were members of the ANC’s national executive committee.

By the time you have silenced the courts, those who have fuel, water and guns will be the law. I have petrol at the moment, but I swapped my gun for a bag of weed. Yes, I know. I should have just shot the dealer and taken the weed. And I don’t have much water. The municipality has put me on some kind of trickle system and I am forced to bath in vodka and drink gin to stay alive. No, I’m not complaining. Really. I’m not. I swear. Please don’t send the black helicopters.

Let’s keep things tribal. Your leader and mine, Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, by the Grace of God President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Unifier of the Nation, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the Apartheid Regime and Owner of Property in Nkandla … where was I?

Oh, that’s right. As you know, he has ordered the provinces to divert R100m away from the grasping hands of the ungrateful proletariat and give it to junior traditional leaders. If you move quickly, there should still be enough left over to build a dozen or so rudimentary kraals where pro-law agitators can be fined. Or executed. Depending on the weather.

You do know, don’t you, that it is not just the courts that are jeopardising our chances of achieving full dictatorship. There are also people walking openly in the streets, as we speak, who have negative attitudes towards the government. They need to be rounded up and sent to re-education camps like the ones they had in Vietnam and still have in China and North Korea – countries you surely admire for their robust approach towards anyone foolish enough to disrespect those accorded the divine right to rule.

As for the International Criminal Court, well, you probably can’t shut them down. But you are quite right when you say they are dangerous. They have the power to put people in jail, for god’s sake. You don’t get more dangerous than that. And, yes, we should withdraw from it. While we’re at it, let us withdraw from any organisation that thinks it can tell us what to do. It’s time to take a stand. New visa regulations are stopping anyone from coming in and the falling rand is stopping anyone from leaving. This is good. We’re on the right track. Show the world, comrade, that the ANC can fuck up this country far more than the National Party ever could. That will teach them. Or us. Whatever.

 

 

A letter to Big Jake

Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, by the Grace of God President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Unifier of the Nation, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the Apartheid Regime and Owner of Property in Nkandla, I hereby greet you.

First, allow me to congratulate you on your magnificent performance in parliament the other day. You must have studied drama at some point in your life because your range is astounding. It’s not everyone who can so realistically portray a serious statesman one minute and a giggling halfwit the next. You’re clearly a master of the Chekhov technique, making good use of imagination and gestures to get your point across.

I am aware that you never read the reviews, but you might want to know that you do have your detractors. Actually, forget I mentioned it. These people wouldn’t know the difference between Shakespeare and Shakes Mashaba. You are, after all, not performing in the house of the Capulets. This is the house of the ANC. As the star and director, you need to have a word with those playing opposite you. I don’t think Mmusi Maimane even went to acting school. It doesn’t look like he is pretending at all. Perhaps you should have a word with him. Explain that the point of parliament is to simply put on a good show for the millions of extras at home watching on the telly. Well, those who can afford tellies. And who haven’t emigrated.

It’s a damn good thing the extras aren’t given a speaking role in this movie of yours. The chaos would be unimaginable if they were required to do anything more complicated than vote every five years. And they can’t even get that right.

You have obviously watched Mad Max: Fury Road. Where else would you be getting your ideas on how to run a country? I think it works. Tyrannical cult leader Immortan Jacob and Furioso Baleka take on Mad Zille in a desert wasteland where civilisation has collapsed and petrol, electricity and water are scarce. We don’t even have to wait for the future – it’s already happening. The money we save on props can be spent on bolsering security at your home. How about a nice surround sound theatre system? Or a gold-plated Jacuzzi for each of the wives? What about a subterranean bondage club for the livestock? I bet the cows are into leather and whips and stuff.

By the way, well done on ridding the National Prosecuting Authority of that troublesome Mxolisi Nxasana. I’m sure you derived little pleasure from punishing him with a R17-million payout. But it’s his own fault. He asked for it. That reminds me of something Karl Marx once said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well, I have others.”

How about these Catholics? What a nerve, describing the expenditure on your modest home as “morally indefensible”. The Inquisition was morally indefensible. The Crusades were morally indefensible. Priestly paedophilia is morally indefensible. They should smite the log in their own eye before getting stoned in glass houses. Why not buy them out, like you did the Nxasana quisling? Okay, the Church is worth around R200-billion so they might not need your money – our money. Perhaps you could offer the Pope timeshare at Nkandla. The Vatican’s security features aren’t up to scratch, or so I’ve heard, and I’m sure the old chap would fancy a dip in the fire pool before blessing the natives.

All this talk of money is making me aroused. Excuse me while I take a quick shower. Phew. That’s better. Anyway, back to money. I heard you’ve paid out more than R150-million this year alone to people you appointed in recent years who disappointed you with their insufferable honesty and irresponsible attitude towards the truth. So here’s what I’m thinking. You put me in a top position and, in a year or so, I’ll start suggesting that you should be investigated and we’ll split the golden handshake. What do you think? It works for me.

 

Rotten to the core

Swirling Eddie came to see me last night. I’ve known him since I was a child but I rarely encourage his visits because his moral compass is horribly out of whack and I don’t need any help when it comes to bad influences.

I told him that I was planning to run the Comrades Marathon at the end of the month. He laughed so hard that he sprayed tequila all over the cat. We weren’t even drinking tequila. He must have some sort of pouch in his cheeks where he stores the filth. Madder than a chipmunk and a lot less intelligible.

The cat, instead of being grateful for the Mexican shower, responded by running up my chest and attaching itself to my face. It hung there like a furry breadfruit, claws embedded in my forehead. After unhooking the beast and wiping the blood from my eyes, I demanded to know what I had said to provoke such violent hilarity.

Rinsing his face with beer, he gestured at my midriff. “They won’t allow you to run. You have an unfair weight advantage.” He went on to explain, and even draw diagrams, of what would happen when the starter’s gun went off. Apparently my stomach would cause me to overbalance and I would then have to run at a sustained speed of 45km/h just to stay on my feet. I would win the marathon in thirty minutes and be disqualified for cheating.

I leapt from the couch to demonstrate why it was a mistake to disrespect athletes of my caliber. I had a bit of trouble with the leap, to be honest. It was more one of those prolonged rocking actions the infirm do when they struggle to extricate themselves from a chair.

Maybe he was right. Maybe I wasn’t ready for the Comrades. I fell back onto the couch. My belly unfurled like a landslide, crushing entire villages of bacteria nestling in my pubes. I could almost hear the screams. It was horrible. I had to chain-drink a six-pack of Windhoeks just to steady my nerves.

My so-called friend said I was in good shape for my … He hesitated. “Age?” I asked, removing my trusty rusty Okapi from my underpants. The struggle to open the knife left me drained. “Species,” said Swirling Eddie. “You’re pretty fit for your species.” He often doesn’t make sense. I suspect there’s a hole in his tequila pouch.

“But your core is rotten,” he said, quickly moving to the higher ground, which, in my house, is the fridge. I resented being likened to an apple but I had to admit that my central areas were indeed sweet, round and firm. A woman once called me sweet. Since she failed to specify, I freely apply the endearment to different parts of my body as and when needed.

Once again Eddie brought out his sketchpad, or, as normal people might call it, his serviette from Spur. He drew the human body and circled the area that is allegedly known as ‘the core’. It was like a scene from the storyboard for Alien.

It’s true. I do look as if I have eaten a juvenile bushpig for lunch. The only reason I don’t become a transvestite is out of fear that women will smile sympathetically at me in Woolworths and touch my arm and say things like, “You’re carrying high. That means it’s a girl. Do you want a girl? Or do you want a boy? Do you have any other children? Are you married? Who’s the father? What are you hoping for?” Well, darling, right now I’m hoping for the frozen yoghurt fridge to topple over and crush you. That’s not the only reason I don’t become a transvestite.

Later, when Swirling Eddie went outside to lie down in the flower bed, I turned to the oracle that never lies. Almost immediately, Wikipedia began shouting about the transversus abdominis and the quadratus lumborum. I grabbed a chopstick left over from half-price sushi day and invoked the Cruciatus curse. I won’t repeat it here because all you Muggles reading it will die on the spot and the tabloids will call me a Death Eater, which I’m so not.

I also learnt that “breathing is important in providing the necessary core stability for moving and lifting”. I try to avoid moving and lifting anything, really. Does this mean I can cut back on the breathing? No? Oh, I see. The diaphragm is in cahoots with those pretentious body parts that understand Latin. The diaphragm claims to have been born in Greece but I suspect his parents were from ancient Rome. It doesn’t matter whether they’re gangsters or organs, Latinos stick together. That’s how they roll.

Insufficient core stability can result in lethargy but since my core is poked I’m too lazy to do anything about it. It’s a conundrum wrapped in a … ah, forget it. I can’t even be bothered to finish my sentences, that’s how broken my core is.

Apparently Pilates will sort me out. Yeah, right. Pirates, maybe. But not Pilates, which, as far as I can make out, is a gay version of karate. If I’m going to be doing martial arts, I want it to be swift and deadly. I only have three seconds to kill my opponent before my core fails, and I’m not going to waste time lying on my back making little circles with my legs.

I don’t have the energy or discipline to fix what the Americans might conceivably, at a push, call my ‘dad bod’. My first marriage lasted ten years and my second, nine, and I need to be shouted or there’s no chance of getting anything done. Gym seemed to be the answer. It certainly made more sense than getting married for a third time just to fix my core. It was probably marriage that destroyed my core in the first place.

Not being a joiner, I was hoping to score a free session from the Virgin Active gym at Moses Mabhida Stadium. I went to a gym once, years ago, for research purposes. It didn’t end well. On Wednesday morning I sat under a tree and watched the door for a bit, then approached it in a crablike fashion when the coast was clear. I had just come from a three-hour surf at North Beach and, as I shuffled through the revolving doors, I caught sight of myself in the glass. I looked like a nagapie on day release from a methadone clinic. The security guard said something as the door spun me inside. I turned slowly, ready for a fight.

“What was that?” I said.

“Please go,” he said.

“You want me to leave?” I said, assuming a passive aggressive position.

After a tense standoff, I understood that he meant I should go to reception. This wasn’t the kind of reception I was expecting. I bellied up to what appeared to be the front desk of a five star hotel. The receptionist was dressed like an air stewardess and was clearly in no mood to be trifled with. I discarded my prepared speech and pretended to be interested in joining the gym.

“We don’t have a rate card, sir,” she said. “Would you like to speak to one of our sales assistants?” Absolutely not. I scrabbled for firmer terrain.

“I’m in a bit of a hurry. What do you charge for an hour?” She flinched. I could see what she was thinking. “What is this red-eyed marsupial doing in our club? Is he dangerous? Does he have a weapon?” She glanced at security.

“Listen. I just want to look,” I said. “Maybe have a go on some of the machines.” As if this were an amusement arcade for sickos who like to watch.

Perhaps I should have introduced myself, but she didn’t seem like someone who read the Sunday papers. Gyms are packed with people whose idea of a challenging read is The Real Meal Revolution, or, if they’re really bright, The Secret.

I backed away and the security guard opened the door. He seemed relieved. Out on the pavement where I belonged, I pressed my face up against the heavily smoked window. Though the glass, darkly, I could make out pulsating machines and restless, sweaty bodies. I felt my core harden just enough for me to get back to my car and drive to the nearest bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unprotected and exposed

The lights were turned down low. I was nervous. This was my first time. He smiled when I walked in. Gently took my hand in his. I recoiled as he began stroking my arms. “Just relax,” he murmured, running his fingers over my face.

“Take your shirt off,” he said. He turned me around and stroked my back. It felt good. Then he asked me to move to the bed. “Take off your pants,” he said. I hesitated. I had never been touched by another man in this way. Hesitantly, I unbuttoned my camo shorts and let them fall to the floor. He sank to his knees and ran his hands over my thighs, making soft appreciative sounds. Then he asked me to lie down. I knew this was going to cost me. Dearly.

Dermatologists don’t come cheap.

I grew up surfing in Durban at a time when cigarettes were good for you and brandy improved your looks. I remember my mother shouting, “Put some bloody suntan lotion on!” before I went surfing. In those days, boys weren’t interested in applying oil or cream to anything that didn’t involve their genitals. I doubt much has changed.

I had years, if not decades, of unprotected exposure to the sun. You’d think my face would look like a cross between a raisin and a piece of biltong by now, but you’d be wrong. Mmmm. Biltong. Thanks to good genes and beer, my face is silky smooth and completely hairless. No, wait. That’s my bum.

If I were to be honest, and, to be honest, I rarely am, the main reason I was there was because I had begun growing a second willy and wanted some advice. Should I keep it? My gut told me there were untold benefits to having a back-up, but my gut has been wrong in the past. I needed a professional opinion.

The doctor’s fondlings trailed off as he failed to discover any melanomas or carcinomas, malignant, benign, squamous or otherwise. I could see in his eyes that he was wondering whether I simply enjoyed being felt up by older men. I had to bring out the second willy before things turned weird.

Not wanting to drop my shorts again, I instead pulled the pant leg up. And there it was. My second willy. I apologised and turned my head away so the doctor wouldn’t see the shame in my eyes.

“Ah,” he said. “A polyp.” Oh god. It has a name. Polyp shall be thy name. Polyp, meet Doctor … I couldn’t remember his name. Apparently it wasn’t a second willy at all. I was crushed and elated at the same time. I looked like I was having a stroke.

“A lot of women have them.” Confused, I thought he had asked if I have a lot of women. “Not as many as I’d like,” I said. He looked at me for a couple of seconds, then moved away to load up a syringe. This wasn’t what I had in mind.

“If you’re going to be operating, shouldn’t I have a general anaesthetic?” He smiled. There are only three times a doctor smiles. When he’s about to tell you that you have two months to live; when he gets the keys to his new Mercedes; and when his work permit arrives from the Australian embassy.

He plunged the syringe into my thigh. I screamed but quickly stopped when I realised that I had barely felt it at all. Then he picked up a pair of scissors and that was that. No more second willy. But that wasn’t the end of it. He grabbed what looked like a can of spraypaint and began inspecting my body like a delinquent tagger would inspect a naked wall. He was looking for dark patches. I had a few. Not enough to get a tender, but enough to mar my otherwise perfect skin.

I thought he was about to touch me up with Neutrogena Blemish Concealer, so you can imagine my surprise when the can turned out to contain higly pressurised liquid nitrogen colder than a polar bear’s ass.

The doc walked around me spraying this, that and the other thing. Every burst felt like a thousand poison darts. The British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes lost some of his fingers after being caught out in -20C. Please. That’s like a week on the Costa do Sol compared to what I went through. Try -200C, Sir Ranulph. Then you can complain.

I didn’t want to ask if this was a life-saving procedure or a purely cosmetic endeavour. Twenty minutes and R1 200 later, I repaired to the nearest saloon for a cheaper anaesthetic.

What were once slightly discoloured spots barely visible to the naked eye slowly began turning into angry red lesions. By my third beer, the lesions had become blisters. Big, puffy ones. It looked as if some hideous tropical disease was erupting from my body right there in the bar.

I ordered another beer. An attractive woman sitting nearby on her own smiled at me. I gave a shy wave with my festering hand. She looked away, then got up and went to the bathroom. To throw up, I expect.

It’s going to be a long, lonely winter.

 

Suntanning

WARNING: Tanning without protection could change your looks forever