Dear Alabama Senate

Congratulations on passing what is being hailed as the most restrictive abortion bill in the United States! Me and my buddies are gonna slaughter a lamb right now to celebrate the sanctity and preservation of life.

I hear there are some who disagree with your new law. I must admit that when I first heard about it, I was also a bit critical. Is a 99-year prison sentence for doctors who perform abortions enough of a deterrent? I suppose you had to keep the liberals happy. I would have preferred to see 150-year sentences and then, if they survived that, give ‘em the chair. Hell, why waste electricity on these monsters. They deserve a taste of their own medicine. Do abortionists even use medicine? They have no ethics, these people. I heard stories of so-called doctors terminating pregnancies as late as the 64th week. This is not Haiti or Africa. Haiti might even be in Africa, which makes it worse.

Have you considered that abortion would not exist if it were not for women? Of course you have. Fifty percent of the population is walking around full of eggs begging to be fertilized, for heaven’s sake! We men do what the Bible says we must do and that’s why all twenty-five of your lawmakers who voted for your measure are decent good old god-fearing white boys with proper legacy names like Randy Price, Shay Shelnutt, Will Barfoot and Garlan Gudger. Hell, yeah. Shelnutt, Barfoot and Gudger. Now there’s a law firm I’d trust. Price would have to be a junior partner because his first name suggests men might somehow be responsible for pregnancies and that just wouldn’t do.

Without the brave twenty-five, the streets of Alabama would run red with the blood of the unborn. It would be like Gettysburg all over again, except back then families were more inclined to take in orphans and unwanted children after the war.

Just as we know that the Earth is six thousand years old, so do we know that men understand women better than they understand their own selves. We know what is best for them. Two drinks and a dollop of good old Alabaman sperm. Sure, there will be those (lesbians) who try to rebel but you must prevail. Smash the matriarchy.

The devil-worshipping bearers of free market vaginas might say that conception starts in a man’s testicles and therefore male masturbation is murder, but if they knew the first thing about our bodies they would know that we go mad or explode if we go three weeks without release. We might even be driven to kill.

Some people on drugs say that women who are blessed with a child through rape or incest should be allowed to abort that child. You need to round them up and have their tongues removed in public. We only need to look at our friends in Saudi Arabia. They know how to deal with these things. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying I approve of Muslims, but they do have a way of dealing with women and we too need not deviate from the path of the lord. To be clear, I am talking about Jesus and not Allah.

Five members of your senate voted against the bill, three of them men. I would urge you to subject the traitorous trio to a rigorous bout of gender testing. What kind of man would allow women to be in charge of their bodies when they can’t even be relied on to put gas in the car when it’s on empty? Oh, wait. The five are Democrats. That explains everything. How did they even get elected? Don’t let Alabama go soft, my friend. You have taken the lead in the war against abortion and you need to follow it up with something big. Have you considered bringing back slavery? Of course you have. Your hearts pump Confederate blood.

I don’t understand what the critics don’t understand. Men have orgasms, women have babies. It has been that way ever since Adam and Eve and the talking snake. America needs more children. Having said that, it would be helpful if there were some way of telling if the foetus was going to turn out Republican or Democrat. You could put in a clause. I’d support abortion for any unborn child that might vote Donkey. Wouldn’t you? Don’t answer that. It might jeopardise your chances of re-election.

But science is an inexact science. To appease the communists, you could have an amendment stipulating that if the woman doesn’t want the baby, the father is legally obliged to take responsibility for it. What? I apologise. I have been drinking and I’m not thinking clearly.

So now it’s in the hands of your governor – a woman. How did you allow that to happen? What if Kay Ivey refuses to sign the bill? I suppose you could always proclaim her a witch and have her drowned. No, wait. That’s Salem. Anyway, I’m sure you have your own traditional ways of dealing with stubborn women.

I forget to mention that you should forget about Roe versus Wade. Those are just two ways to cross a river. And condolences to any of your mothers who might be wishing today that abortions could be effective retroactively. Thoughts and prayers.

Like your giant virile willies, the South will rise again!

An open letter to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi

Dear Mr President,

Well done on successfully hosting a regional conference with the theme Towards a Common Vision in Managing Southern Africa’s Elephants. Thanks to you, the visiting heads of state have returned home with a wonderful reminder of the occasion. I can’t think of a more perfect gift than stools made from elephant feet. Was it your idea? Brilliant. As everyone knows, the best way to manage elephants is to cut off their feet.

Your predecessor, Ian Khama, was a namby-pamby bunny-hugger who believed that elephants should be conserved rather than chopped up and used for furniture. Thank god you ousted him. With people like him in power, elephants would eventually get equal rights and soon enough start demanding a say in the running of the country.

You are not alone in your quest to ‘manage’ elephants. South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also calling for the lifting of a ban on the sale of ivory. And rightly so, too. An elephant with no feet does not need his tusks.

Your country has around 130 000 elephants. That’s, like, two people to an elephant, isn’t it? These dumb brutes contribute nothing to the economy. Each elephant could at least provide a family of four with somewhere to sit. In fact, with a bit of creativity, the entire animal could be modified for everyday use.

The trunk is a very flexible piece of equipment and a lot of fun can be had with it. I have also on occasion been lightly flagellated with an elephant tail and let me tell you, Mr President, it was quite an experience. You strike me as a man who might enjoy a bit of the old S&M. Get yourself a tail. You won’t regret it.

I can’t wait to see what gifts you come up with when Botswana hosts other gatherings in the future. A conference on human trafficking, for instance, could see delegates go home with one of your country’s unwanted children. It would ease the burden on orphanages and the kids themselves would make amusing conversation pieces in their new homes.

Drug conferences could see heads of state being given little baggies of homegrown weed and if you do host more wildlife conventions, you need not even give your guests bits of dead animal. How cool would it be if everyone got a live mongoose?

The fabulous thing about Botswana is that there is so much game. When you run out of elephants, there are many more animals to make stuff from. You could open a chain of IKEA-type stores where people can assemble their own furniture from different animals. Fitting bits of giraffe into blocks of hippo would be tremendous fun for the whole family.

The hippo, by the way, has massive untapped potential. Maybe even more than the elephant. I’ve given it some thought and will be sending you a sample of one of my stools. Feel free to use it however you wish.

Run, Caster, Run

Imagine a brain surgeon so good at what he does that people would rather die than take their brains elsewhere to be repaired. Imagine he was in such demand that all the other brain surgeons were forced to pack up their drills and hacksaws and welding torches and become estate agents and drug fiends.

It simply wouldn’t be fair on the competition, would it? The surgeon who was putting them out of business with his massively superior skills would have to be curtailed. He could, for instance, be instructed by the Health Professions Council to conduct surgery blindfolded. By handicapping him, the other surgeons would stand a chance of getting work and making a name for themselves too.

And this is why Caster Semenya needed to be hobbled. If things had been allowed to carry on, it wouldn’t be long before she was the only female athlete in the 800m and 1500m events. Why would anyone else keep pitching up if they knew for sure they were going to lose? Fortunately, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Semenya will have to chemically dose herself every day to reduce the testosterone in her body if she hopes to compete in these events.

Do you know who else should take medication to lower their testosterone levels? Men, that’s who. Particularly those on the IAAF committee who can’t live with themselves knowing that a black woman from South Africa could kick their arses with one hand tied behind her back.

In women, hyperandrogenism can cause you to develop acne, hirsutism and a tendency to keep winning the 800m.
In men, excessive testosterone can cause you to develop a tendency to punch people in the face, order missile strikes on Syria and attempt sex with anything that isn’t fixed to the ground.

Testosterone has a direct influence on libido. If I were married to someone who spent the day winning gold medals and still insisted on ravaging me mercilessly the moment they got home, I wouldn’t complain. Especially not if they made dinner afterwards.
I would, however, object if they lay on the couch drinking beer and watching sport all evening and then, when they sobered up at 3am, expected me to roll over and take it like a man. I should point out that in these fictional scenarios, I have no idea what gender I am.

Anyway, it’s not hyperandrogenism that provides an unfair advantage to athletes. It’s the training. If I spent all day in the gym, I could also run 1500m in under thirty minutes.

If it’s leveling the playing field the IAAF is after, then let’s ban training altogether and throw competitions open to anyone whose body mass index is higher than their IQ. It’s elitist to have only eight people in the 100m. I want to see eight thousand people turn up at the starting line. No dress code, either. Wear overalls or even nothing at all, if you like. And you can eat and drink while you run. Everyone who breaks the 10-minute barrier gets a medal.

If that’s too extreme, then at least give us non-practising athletes our own competitions. Disabled people have the Paralympics so why can’t we have the Drunkalympics? Athletes will be breathalysed at the start of each event to ensure they aren’t under the limit. For instance, if you’re participating in the 20m stagger, you’d need to have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.2%. Coaches will be allowed to provide their athletes with tequila shooters to ensure minimum requirements are met.
Given that most novices are unconscious by 0.15%, athletes will have to train hard if they hope to avoid the embarrassment of passing out before the starter’s gun is fired.
Athletes in the headline event – the 0.5% – are required to simply turn up and make their way onto the track without assistance. The first person to stay standing for one minute, draw a diagram of a cat and not choke on his or anyone else’s vomit will be declared the winner.

If it’s unfair advantages the IAAF is worried about, then they will have to restrict the high jump to athletes who stand no taller than 1.4m in their socks. Swimmers will have to have standard-sized hands and feet, and not giant slabs of meat and flippers like Michael Phelps has.

And if we are going to be interfering, why stop at medical conditions? Indeed, why stop at athletics? What about psychiatric conditions that drive people to accumulate more wealth than they can spend in several lifetimes? Johann Rupert is worth R80-billion and you can still find him selling cartons of Rembrandt behind the Spar on a Friday night.

How maths ruined my life

I was appalled to hear that President Ramaphosa had bestowed a national order on none other than William Smith, a man with a mastery of a subject that is beyond inhumane. It was like hearing that the Marquis de Sade had been awarded a medal for services to sadism, for what is the instruction of mathematics if not an exercise in the infliction of pain on others?

Smith deserves to be made an example of, and not in the way Ramaphosa had in mind when he placed the Order of the Baobab around the old man’s neck – a neck that belongs in a pair of stocks, no less. We who were traumatised by maths as children should be able to pelt him with wrong answers to simple equations until he begs for mercy.

Maths is cruel. There is no other way of looking at it. Oh, sure, if you understand how it works, perhaps it seems quite benign. Useful, even. But if it makes about as much sense as German spoken backwards, then it is utterly barbaric to force children to learn it. For many of us, maths is not a subject that can be learnt. I know people will think that I am drunk or mad, but I am only a little bit, and I know that maths cannot be learnt in the same way that, say, Spanish or the offside rule in soccer can be learnt.

There is a numbers gland in the brain that not everyone is born with. I don’t have one. And it’s not a gland that can develop later in life, either. You either have it or you don’t.

My father did not understand this, even though he is far from stupid. He is very bright, in fact. He worked as a structural engineer for many years. Yet he is unable to comprehend that there are some people who do not have the gland that makes it possible to grasp maths.

The fact that I was one of these people was a source of tremendous frustration and, I imagine, disappointment. I clearly remember my parents discussing my maths mark in high school.

“We’re going to have to send him for extra maths,” said my mother, who was also very smart, and yet not smart enough to understand that eighteen hours of extra maths a day, seven days a week, would do little more than nudge my average into double figures and possibly turn me into a teenage heroin addict.

“How do you get nine percent for maths?” my father would shout, nostrils flaring, eyes big and wild. I thought nine was rather good considering that I had no gland.

He would sit with me and help with my homework. By help I mean he would tug at his beard and tear at his hair and stand up and sit down and shout, “Why? Why can’t you see it? It’s perfectly simple!” It didn’t seem the right time to tell him about the gland. I didn’t want him thinking I was mentally deformed which, in later years, I realised that’s exactly what he thought.

William Smith represents my father. And many other fathers around the world who have shouted at their children until they wept. Yes, I shed a few tears. I can’t remember if it was because he was yelling at me or because I felt like a failure or because I couldn’t go out and smoke paw-paw stems with my friend down the road.

It wasn’t maths that scarred me. Maths doesn’t care if I understand it. It just sits there waiting to be used, like the condom in my wallet. Unlike my condom, maths doesn’t expire.

I was brutalised by people trying to force maths down my throat. People who should have known better. People like William Smith and my father and every maths teacher I ever had.

The sight of Smith receiving his award from the president unleashed a flood of memories and my post-traumatic stress disorder kicked in. Ted found me unresponsive on the floor, curled up like a wounded pangolin. He ran up a crude Tafel lager drip using kitchen utensils and an old syringe he found in the street. It wasn’t ideal but it did the trick.

The Ben Trovato Files

Who among us doesn’t remember satirist Ben Trovato’s outrageously subversive trilogy of letters to and replies from the rich, famous and downright dangerous? Well, the madness continues as the letters are reincarnated for the first time on video.

Featuring scenes of the writer himself, the letters come to life in a creative mélange of stop-motion animation, live action and a liberal dose of artistic craziness.

The episodes will be short and punchy, each featuring a letter and its reply, with durations ranging from ninety seconds to three minutes. The team has produced a pilot episode titled ‘The Two Oceans Aquarium’ from a letter Trovato wrote to the big house of fish. He got a reply without even having to bribe them.

Working on this project is a close-knit production team including cinematographer Dave Aenmey and animation artist Lindsay van Blerk. Dave has worked on many commercials, music videos, documentaries and feature films during his 30-year career.

Lindsay has directed and animated numerous award-winning films including The Velveteen Rabbit and The Chimes. He worked as storyboard supervisor and director of animation on the feature film Zambezia and has also directed and animated TV commercials and television series.

The material is drawn from the many letters and replies that appeared in The Ben Trovato Files, Will The Real Ben Trovato Please Stand Up and Stirred Not Shaken.

Anyone interested in helping to finance the series in return for a production credit is invited to contact Ben at bentrovato@mweb.co.za or leave a message right here on his site. Enquiries from producers and production houses are also welcome.

The pilot episode can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmafQMWDkrA

The fast and the furious, the fucked and the feckless

So parliament has approved yet another malevolent piece of legislation. The Aarto Amendment Bill will now be sent to the president to be signed into law. Its full catchy title is the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it.

Eleven MPs voted against it. Well done, whoever you are. Twenty-two abstained. Spineless cockwombles. If you don’t have an opinion, get the fuck out of parliament and make way for people who do.

Amendments are meant to be good, right? We look to the glorious United States of America to set the standard here. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech and the press. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Eighth Amendment deals with excessive bail, fines and punishments that are forbidden. And so on. This gives the impression that amendments are good things. A tweaking of laws so the people might be better served.

Not here, buddy. When you hear the word ‘amendment’ in South Africa, you sell your house and get to the airport as quickly as possible. Leave your family. There’s no time.

And when the word ‘amendment’ appears in the same sentence as ‘road traffic offences’, you should know it’s not going to be a sensible amendment that encourages people to drive stoned because they are unable to go faster than 50km/h. Or an amendment that allows men to drink and drive if they are taller than 1.9m because we, I mean, they, can obviously hold their alcohol a lot better than a 1.5m teenage girl.

Instead of making good laws better, we’re making bad laws worse. This is in line with government thinking on pretty much everything, really. There is good news for some, though. Once the president has signed the bill, traffic police will be able to demand far bigger bribes since the stakes are so much higher. I’m happy for them. There’s no reason bribes shouldn’t keep pace with inflation.

In KwaZulu-Natal, traffic officers have already been trained “so that they can adapt to the new law”. Fair enough, although I would’ve thought it more important to train us, the general motoring public, who seem utterly unable to adapt to laws of any kind.

From what I can make out, the amendment is designed to reduce carnage on the roads in the most brutal way possible. On top of being fined, you will have points added to your licence. This sounds like a good thing. But if you go around boasting that you have 97 points on your licence, you’re doing it wrong. The higher your score, the more your chances of losing. It’s like golf, except you’re playing against Tiger Woods off his face on amphetamines.

Will the demerit system reduce the number of accidents on our roads? Of course not. I’m willing to wager that most crashes are caused by people not paying attention. The proliferation of cellphones, social media and infidelity has taken away our ability to concentrate for more than three minutes at a time. Accidents happen when our minds are elsewhere.

So the demerit system is not going to make drivers any less attention deficit. All it will do is take a vicious financial toll on motorists who activate speed traps, don’t use seatbelts and park in loading zones, all of which I do regularly without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s how it works. Do something naughty and you will receive an infringement notice ordering you to pay a fine. Ignore it and a month later you’ll get a “courtesy letter” – for which you will be charged – reminding you to pay up. Ignore that and 32 days later you’ll get an enforcement order notifying you of the number of demerit points against you and again ordering you to pay the fine plus the cost of the enforcement order. Until you pay, you won’t be able to renew your car licence disc. Ignore the enforcement order and a warrant of execution will be issued and the sheriff will come to your house and take your stuff. This is a way of getting rid of the junk in your garage. He is also allowed to confiscate your licence, immobilise your car and report you to a credit bureau, after which you may wish to emigrate.

Let me tell you about the demerit system. You start off with zero points. Skip a stop sign, fail to renew your car licence or use your cellphone while driving and it’s a R500 fine plus one demerit point. Exceeding R100km/h in a 60km/h zone – which even old mad blind people do – will get you six demerit points and a fine. Drive with more than 0.05g of alcohol in your blood – which absolutely everyone does – will also see six points added to your licence. Plus a fine. You will then be stripped naked, given a light stoning by clerks from the finance department and, once the Alsatians have finished with you, banished from your village.

When you reach 12 points, the game is over and your driving licence is suspended for three months. One point is taken off if you behave yourself for three straight months. But get three suspensions and your licence is cancelled and destroyed. If you ever want to drive legally again, you will have to undergo a “rehabilitation” programme. That’s right. You’re going to rehab. And don’t expect any yummy methadone, either.

It doesn’t end there. Get out of rehab and it’s off to the tribunal. Do you know who else appears before tribunals? War criminals, that’s who. But you’re not a war criminal. War criminals aren’t expected to have their hearing repeatedly postponed because the photocopier is broken or their file is missing. War criminals aren’t expected to walk for three days to reach the tribunal because their licence has been suspended. In fact, you are going to be wishing you were a war criminal by the time this is over.

If the tribunal decides that you have learnt from your mistakes – contrition is best shown by wearing sackcloth and lashing yourself with a cat ‘o nine tails – you will be able to apply for a learner’s licence. If you pass, you may take a driver’s test. I’m not making this up. They really think this is going to work.

Pregnant women will be applying for their unborn babies to write the K53 test in the hope that they’ll get an appointment by the time they turn 18. If you do get 12 points and lose your licence, you will be in a retirement home by the time you reach the front of the backlog.

On brave Americans and goats of darkness

Dear Bryan,

I do apologise. The world is full of inconsequential Bryans and I am sure the last thing a man of your stature would want is to be confused with the multitude of Bryans who lack the courage to shoot a wild mountain goat. I mean no disrespect. There is only one Bryan Kinsel Harlan in this world. Or in Texas, at least. Dallas, certainly.

I saw your video on social media and was blown away. Not in the same way your goat was blown away, obviously. But watching you scrambling through the rocky terrain of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit region with only a dozen or so heavily armed guides as backup, I felt my loins stir on more than one occasion. And when you raised your rifle and shot that goat, well, it was all I could do not to have an incident in my pants. I can’t begin to imagine how aroused you must get watching an animal through your telescopic sights, knowing it only has seconds left to live.

High-fiving the guides after pulling the trigger was a nice gesture. Americans all too often forget to give credit to the locals who help them hunt goats or Islamic insurgents or whatever happens to be on the list of things to kill that day.

I believe you paid a record price of $110 000 dollars to shoot your goat. You must be a very wealthy man. In my country, that kind of money gets you two cabinet ministers and the CEO of one of our smaller parastatals.

Sadly, not everyone is impressed. There are some people who think what you did is barbaric and cruel. I am outraged at their outrage. I can’t believe that the animal huggers at PETA not only condemned the hunt but went so far as to describe goats as “gentle individuals, not trophies”.

I am sure you know what it’s like to have a goat come on you … I beg your pardon. Come at you. They won’t hesitate to batter you mercilessly until you are forced to run away with your pants around your ankles. Or so I have heard.

And who can forget that the devil himself is portrayed as a goat? You are obviously aware that GOAT is an acronym for Greatest of All Time. How dare they usurp the title reserved for Jesus. This godless arrogance will not stand. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hunt wasn’t part of your broader Christian mission to punish Satan. Good for you. I, for one, will sleep more soundly tonight knowing there is one less evil, cloven-hoofed beast out there.

I read that a gang of Pakistanis are also up in arms. Ha! If only. More arms would mean fewer depraved ungulates to lead our children astray. After seeing pictures of you and your dead goat, these cabbage-eating extremists called for a ban on hunting. Sure, this goat is their country’s national animal, but so what? Ours is the springbok and we can’t get their flesh down our throats, their heads on our walls or their skins on our floors quick enough.

Okay, so there are fewer than six thousand Astor markhors left in the world. But still. Goats. Right? To encourage more Americans to trophy hunt, your Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified them as threatened rather than endangered. Damn right, they’re threatened. By real men like you.

I thought it was very decent of you to give the local press an interview. After all, it’s a well-known fact that journalists are closely related to goats as a result of spending time in close proximity to one another on Noah’s ark and neither can be trusted.

A Pakistani newspaper quoted you as saying, “It was an easy and close shot and I am pleased to take this trophy.” This makes it sound like the goat was still woozy from the anaesthetic when you walked up and put a bullet into the back of his head.

You were obviously misquoted and I hope you are taking legal action. I have no doubt that your original quote was more along the lines of, “The battle between this vicious creature and me, a battle between good and evil, was long and brutal and I knew only one of us would get out of there alive.”

No, wait. What am I talking about? I saw the video. Your big boy goat was sitting next to a much younger goat. His wife? His lover? His child? Who knows. More importantly, who cares. Well, I suppose the other goat might still be wondering why her companion suddenly jumped up, thrashed about and then died in a pool of blood. Still, that’s not your problem. It’s not like she can sue you for loss of income.

At the end of your video, you encourage Americans to visit Pakistan. You say Mexico is more dangerous than Pakistan. Bloody Mexicans. Build that wall. I’m with you on this. Texans especially should check out northern Waziristan. The local Taliban guides will be happy to help out. Just watch out for the drones. You should be okay, though. They’re hunting Muslims, not red-blooded patriots like yourself.

MAGA! (May All Goats be Assassinated).

Care for a little whine with that?

South Africa has overtaken Britain as the world’s foremost nation in whining and complaining. Service is too slow. Crime is too high. Standards are too low. Too many taxis. Not enough sex. Too many white people. Too many black people. Not enough rain. Too much rain. On and on and on we go.

Sure, every nation complains. But many of them take it a step further. We complain, then sit back and wait for something to happen. And when it doesn’t, we complain some more. Then we shake our heads and talk of emigrating, but then we have a braai and get drunk and suddenly this is the best country in the world to live in.

Our newspapers devote acres of space every month to complaining. Pick up any daily or weekend paper and you are guaranteed to come across an editorial, column or letter written by a professional complainer.

How long will it take before the penny drops?  Hundreds of months? Thousands of years? The people you are complaining about could not give a rat’s arse. The only time anyone responds to a complaint is if when it’s directed at them by a person who has influence over their salary or their job security.

Everyone, with the exception of artists and the homeless (often one and the same), wants to make as much as money as possible by investing the least amount of time and exerting the tiniest amount of effort. I am one of those people. However, I work for myself and were I to shrug off complaints, I’d soon enough end up sleeping beneath a culvert with a toothless crone pawing at me for another suck on my tik pipe. Not that I get complaints. Or work.

There has to come a time when we complain and then, after a decent interval of nothing happening, we change tactics. We get rude. Death threats, whether issued by mail or telephonically, have been known to get results. If that fails, we step it up a notch and take to the streets. If you’re a whitey, ask a darkie to teach you how to make a petrol bomb. Give him some money to make one for himself. It’s that kind of bonding that will be the salvation of this country.

The British, who invented good manners, can change government policy by putting half a million people on the streets. We’ve got half a million people on the streets every day and the government barely notices.

Politicians throughout the ages have forced people to use violence to bring about change. If only they’d just do what we ask them to do, we could avoid all this bloodshed. Governments aren’t overthrown because they refuse to meet demands for free weed and beer fountains on every corner. They get their metaphorical heads chopped off because people want jobs and houses and affordable food and fuel and the people who are in a position to provide these things either can’t or won’t do it.

Fuck the Jabberwock, my son, for ‘tis nothing compared to the underclass. The jaws that bite, the claws that catch. Beware the Juju bird!

You’d be an idiot not to have a vorpal blade in these tense times. I have not yet had cause to use mine, so I know not whether it goes snicker-snack. I hope it does. You can’t return a vorpal blade. Not in these parts, anyway.

We don’t hear much about the underclass in this country. And for good reason. What? You mean there’s another class below the working class? Good god. Where are our passports? Chanteclaire, get the children into the Range Rover. Hurry! Bring the Faberge eggs! Leave the horses!

The underclass is allowed to vote, even though they pose the greatest threat to us all. This is why they say democracy eats its children. I don’t know who said that. Perhaps I dreamt it.

The existence of the underclass is the only reason the EFF has a presence in parliament. Even though their support base is more lumpen than it is proletariat, turn your back on them at your peril. France has plenty of second-hand guillotines they’d be happy to offload on a country with a 0.6% growth rate.

Unlike Britain, we don’t really have a class system. I’ve worked it out, though, and if we went down that road, we’d have eighteen distinctive classes ranging from lower underclass, through middle nouveau riche and all the way up to upper old money, also known as the Oppenheimer class.

Anyway. Where was I? Ah, yes. Complaining. You know what I hate? People who, when you ask how they’re doing, they say, “Alright, I s’pose. Doesn’t help to complain, does it?” I want to shout, “Look over there!” And when they turn to look, I sink my teeth into the fleshy part of their neck and shake them. You gutless drone. Governments love people like you. The given-up. The what’s-the-point brigade.

My job is to find fault with society but I’m not going to back it up with action unless you yellow-bellied bastards are prepared to back me up. I don’t want to be riding into battle against the riot squad and turn around to find you’ve all buggered off to the pub.

This week’s complaint, which requires no drastic action on my part, concerns one of my favourite pubs. I am outraged, not least because my opinion was never solicited before the sweeping changes were implemented. The yuppification of this former house of ill repute will go down as an atrocity second only to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

It was one of those bars with wooden tables, wooden benches and people you wooden want to take home to meet your mother. Rastas ran the bar, a giant TV played terrible music or sport and stray dogs came and went as they pleased. Neighbours complained regularly. It was great. Now it’s all chrome and glass and ergonomically designed plastic chairs.

Instead of lurking with intent against the far wall, the old bar now cocks its naugahyde hips and poses cheekily as a central feature of the room. The stairs leading down to the bathrooms, which take on Everest-like proportions the later it gets, and which have seen far more casualties than the mountain ever will, now have some kind of effeminate mosaic thing going on. It is now frequented by hipsters in ironically trimmed beards and, god forbid, families.

My waitress was a young white girl, all teeth and no brains. Her manner was awkward and her forced laugh set my eyeballs on edge. She said it was her first time. As a waitress or among people? I couldn’t be sure.

She waited until my mouth was full, then ambushed me and began enquiring about my pizza. It turned into an interrogation. My phone started ringing and still she wouldn’t stop. “It’s very colourful, isn’t it?” she said. Could she not see my mouth was stuffed with pizza? Could she not hear my phone ringing and that I was waiting for her to shut up so that I could answer it? Apparently not. Apparently my pizza was so vivid and exciting that we needed to discuss it as a matter of some urgency.

When I asked for the bill, she said, “Not a problem.” Are there restaurants where asking for the bill is a problem? “I’m sorry, sir. You haven’t eaten enough to warrant dirtying the cutlery and a napkin. You will have to order another course before we can allow you to pay and leave.”

She brought the bill and stood there while I fished out a couple of hundreds. Then she asked a question I’d never before been asked in a restaurant.

“How much change would you like?” Well, honey-bunny, I’d quite like all of my change, if you don’t mind, and then I shall decide whether or not to leave you a tip. Too polite to actually say that, I found myself being pressured into making lightning fast calculations using nothing more than my head. She didn’t try to help, either. I sat there going, “Ummm. Ummm.” She must have thought I was trying to come up with some sort of figure. I wasn’t. I was just going ummm because I didn’t know what else to do. Customers shouldn’t be put in this position. Working out twelve percent of R97.45 and then relating that to the change from a R200 note is the sort of thing you go to Harvard to learn.

King of Spades Screws Queen of Diamonds

Our well-padded mining minister, Gwede Mantashe, opened the 25th Mining Indaba in Cape Town today. Sadly, I wasn’t there to applaud his hollow assurances that South Africa was safe for investors and that corruption was being addressed. I was, however, there in 2014 and this is what I wrote at the time. I don’t expect much, apart from a few faces, has changed.

……………………

With a little help from a former colleague living in early retirement in Port Nolloth, I managed to get myself on to the list of delegates attending the African Mining Conference at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town.

I wasn’t a delegate, per se. It wasn’t as if I was going to make any speeches. To be honest, I was there primarily for the free lunches. And maybe to pick up a small concession in Sierra Leone. There is something about blood diamonds that sets them apart from the common or garden stone.

Any fool can walk into a jeweller’s shop and pick out something cut and polished and glued into a ring. But it takes a special kind of man to go into the heart of darkness and bring back a bag of gems that could have prolonged a civil war by at least another few days.

My plan was to mingle unobtrusively with the other delegates and eavesdrop on private conversations so that I might gain a better insight into the situation under the ground, as it were. My plan went to hell the moment I walked through the doors. I had never seen so many men in one place sporting dark suits and greedy eyes. I had taken my suit to the dry cleaners, but that was in 1987 and it had probably been sold to defray expenses. In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to wear a traditional garment that looked like it had been put together by a blind tailor on a street corner in Banjul. I thought this would help me to blend in with the investors, so you can imagine my embarrassment when I saw that everyone else was wearing Pierre Cardin.

After a little trouble at the metal detector, I managed to find my way to the conference hall where mining ministers were lining up to sell their country’s mineral resources to the highest bidders.

Some of the smaller countries never really had much to put on the table. However, if nobody else was interested I was more than prepared to put in a cheeky offer to tap that shrunken vein of tanzanite. I kept putting my hand up until a delegate wearing the last of Ghana’s gold around his neck told me this wasn’t an auction and that if I was interested in investing I needed to be a little more discreet.

That’s when I saw Dali Tambo in one of his peculiar oversized Sgt Pepper outfits standing off to one side oozing schmooze all over a couple of delegates. I waited for him to whip out one of his quaint embroidered pillows but he seems to have stumbled into something far more lucrative than presenting talk shows.

While waiting for lunch, I got talking to one of the security guards who was keen to get involved in my project. Not wanting to hurt the poor fellow’s feelings, I explained that the word “mine” is an abbreviation of “mine, not yours”, a phrase that helped to popularise early capitalism. This also effectively ended the conversation, allowing me to be first in line at the buffet. And a fine feast it was, too.

While wolfing my third plate of fish and pasta and curry, I sidled up to a white man with silver hair. He smelled of money. It turned out that his company was about to begin strip mining along a pristine piece of coastline on one of the Indian Ocean islands. I think he took my silence to mean disapproval, but my mouth was so full of free food that I could barely breathe, let alone conduct a decent conversation. He quickly went on to explain that local conservation groups were fully behind his project because they saw the potential benefits to the community. At that moment my mouth became empty and I used it to laugh harshly. “So you paid them off? Good job,” I said, shovelling half a chicken into my gaping maw.

It was probably for the best that I never got the chance to discuss matters further, because the next time I saw him he was on his knees giving the mining minister of an obscure central African dictatorship a big fat injection of foreign direct investment.

I spent the rest of the day conducting business from the lavatory. It was only the next day I read in the paper that I was among a group of people who had eaten the toxic trout. Some of the more delicate delegates were apparently treated at the scene. At the time I thought my body was simply reacting to years of abuse. It does that sometimes. But it seemed more likely that it was reacting to the sight of Africa once again being gang-banged by a bunch of rapacious thugs in three-piece suits.