The Vervet Underground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiter: “Another monkey, sir?”

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

Waiter: “How about a mongoose, then?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Tom Cruise (A Flashback)

I’m going to eat the cord and the placenta right there.”

Who said this? Was it Jeffrey Dahmer? Hannibal Lecter? No, it was you, Tom. In an interview a few months before the birth of your first biological child with the equally childlike Katie Holmes.

Later, you told everyone you had been joking. Maybe you were, Tom, but we just can’t tell the difference any more.

You were born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

The other kids at school mocked your name. And when they found out you were dyslexic, they made fun of you. The fact that you were shorter than anyone else also got a big laugh.

Years later, in a bid to be taken seriously, you joined a church which believes that 75 million years ago an alien tyrant called Xenu ruled the Galactic Confederacy, an etheral alliance made up of 26 stars and 76 planets, including Earth. Except it wasn’t called Earth. Back then, our planet was known as Teegeeack.

As a means of population control, Xenu enlisted the help of psychiatrists to call in billions of people for income tax inspections. Instead, they were given injections of alcohol and glycol to paralyse them.

Then Xenu used interstellar space planes to bring these paralysed people to Earth. They were stacked around volcanoes and blown up with hydrogen bombs. After that, their souls inhabited the bodies of the people who survived and this is the reason there is so much trouble in the world today.

That sure stopped people from laughing at you, Tom.

Then, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, you eloquently defended your beliefs by saying: “Some people, well, if they don’t like Scientology, well, then, fuck you. Really. Fuck you. Period.”

You tell ‘em, Tom.

You absolutely don’t get to be an Operating Thetan on Level 7 of the Bridge to Total Freedom without being able to say whatever you want, whenever and wherever you want to say it.

People are talking, Tom. They are saying you have gone nuts. Not only because you are about to get hitched for the third time, but because you jump up and down on couches while being interviewed about Katie, your latest cradle-snatching coup.

But you’re not mad, are you, Tom? According to you, there’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance.

Even if your mind had snapped its moorings, you wouldn’t be caught dead visiting a shrink. In fact, you believe that psychiatry should be outlawed.

Dianetics is the answer, right, Tom?

Bring in the auditor and plug in that Electropsychometer. Erase those evil engrams and implants placed eternally in our minds by those dastardly Helatrobans and other alien nations of their ilk.

L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of your church. Like you, he also had three wives. Unlike you, he was a science fiction writer.

Xena? The Galactic Confederacy? Thetans? Anything ring a bell there, Tom? I could be wrong, but it all sounds a bit like science fiction to me.

By all accounts, your great leader’s overactive imagination might also have been somewhat chemically enhanced. When he died in 1986, enormous quantities of the hallucinogenic drug Vistaril were found in his system.

What drugs were you on, Tom, when you behaved like a hyperactive teenager on the Oprah Winfrey Show? Clearly not Ritalin, a med that you consider equal to heroin in the harm that it does to the youth of today.

Speaking of harming the youth, what on Teegeeack were you thinking when you pounced on the unsuspecting one-time child star of Dawson’s Creek? At 25, your wife was the oldest virgin in Hollywood.

You were 21 years old when you starred in Risky Business. Katie was five. It would be another 12 years before she was legally old enough to see you dance around in your underwear before banging Rebecca De Mornay seven ways to Sunday.

Shame on you, Humbert.

What are the odds of your relationship lasting? Well, Ladbrokes offered 5/1 that it wouldn’t see the end of 2006. I’m offering 20/1 that you will move on to convert another victim once Katie has parted with enough money to allow her to reach Operating Thetan Level III.

In October last year, your spin-doctor announced to those who care about these things that Katie was pregnant. She said the entire family was overjoyed.

No, they weren’t. Katie’s father, a staunch Catholic, thinks you’re some kind of demon instead of the highly evolved Thetan that you are. For a start, you impregnated his precious little girl without even having the decency to marry her first.

Then you filled her head with wild notions that we are all part of an elaborate space opera involving extraterrestrial civilisations. And you demanded sole custody of your child.

At first, everyone thought the pregnancy was a publicity stunt. After all, there must be a reason you had to adopt a couple of kids during the 10 years you spent trying to turn Nicole Kidman into a Scientologist.

Mission impossible, indeed.

Some said you had a zero sperm count. Others suggested that you preferred to have sex with men. You were understandably outraged. You are, after all, a Real Man. One only has to watch your movies to see this.

You gave us further proof of your heterosexuality by sticking your tongue down Katie’s throat whenever a photographer hove into view. Katie always played her part, consistently declaring with heartfelt sincerity: “I am, like, so in love it’s just not funny. It’s like, wow.”

Then your daughter was born. You named her Suri after the Andean Alpaca, a member of the camelid family known for its soft, wooly locks and easy breeding.

Katie offered you the placenta but you said you had already eaten.

The alien spawn had barely drawn its first breath before you were packing your bags. Taking yourself squarely out of the running for the cover of Ideal Fathers magazine, you jetted off to Rome, Paris, London and Mexico to promote your latest film.

To be fair, you did tell everyone who would listen that you called her a thousand times every day. It’s quite possible that you did. After all, your leader believed he was 74 trillion years old. Numbers mean nothing to you.

Unless, of course, they relate to the box office.

(Written in May 2006)