I’m back …

Here we go again. The Citizen newspaper has kindly and courageously offered me a home for my column. My first tabloid! This is tremendously exciting.

Cut & Run appears for the first time today but will in future be published on Wednesdays.

Part of the deal is exclusivity – meaning I can’t spread the column around. It’s not on the paper’s website and it won’t appear on my blog. So if you want to read it, and you’d be an idiot not to, you will have to either buy the paper or subscribe to the newspaper’s e-edition. You can even pay for just a single copy. On, for instance, Wednesdays.

Here’s the link http://thecitizen.pressreader.com


A guide to surviving New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve. My liver huddles up against my spleen and whimpers at the mere mention of it. Come out, you lily-livered coward. I need you now more than ever.

The Anno Domini system, which counts years from the death of Jesus, spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Big deal. A lot of things spread through Europe during the Middle Ages. The Black Death, for one, yet you hardly ever see anyone walking around with a long face moaning about the good old days when the plague was all the rage, so why should we continue using a calendar wielded by organised religion as a propaganda tool in the name of … ah, forget it. Let’s stick with the liver, shall we?

To be honest, and I think honesty is important at a time like this, I have felt uncomfortable about making a huge thing out of December 31 ever since discovering that the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Catholics have done some truly appalling things over the ages and for all I know the calendar is one of them.

               The Liver

There is one school of thought that says the liver is the human body’s largest and most complex organ. This is generally the opinion of everyone who hasn’t seen me naked. Yes, Mrs Worthington of Margate, I’m talking about you.

An unsightly and consequently rather shy organ, the liver is one of the few parts of the body that are prepared to suffer in relative silence. The poor could learn a thing or two from the liver.

It must be said, however, that the liver is not as perfect as it likes to think. For starters, it takes its job way too seriously. The heart, on the other hand, knows how to have a bit of fun. It speeds up, slows down, murmurs to itself, does an Irish jig, stops altogether and then, just when you think you’re dead, starts up again. It is an impish organ that understands the art of comedic timing.

Simply put, the liver does not know how to have a good time. I find this odd, considering the amount of drugs, alcohol and nicotine that pass through it on an average Friday night.

Perhaps it’s not so strange. If we want to be really unkind, the liver is little more than the body’s policeman. It’s a sullen cop manning a permanent roadblock. What’s this? Tetrahydrocannibanol, eh? You’re coming with me. I’m going to detoxify and neutralise all the goodness out of you. Bastard.

But there is more to surviving New Year’s Eve than merely letting your liver know that it’s not the boss of you.

When Pope Gregory established December 31st as the night upon which the faithful and the faithless join hands in drunken revelry, he probably never had roadblocks in mind.

               Roadblocks

When I am president, and I will be one day, I shall give every police officer the night off on New Year’s Eve. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to party with the rest of us? After all, cops are people, too. Well, most of them are. Sort of.

All I ask for is one night of the year in which we can go out without worrying about getting slammed up against a van full of snarling dogs, cavity searched and tossed into a stinking cell to be remorselessly ravaged by a diseased convict. Is it too much to ask that we be allowed one night free of fear?

We are all adults, apart from those who aren’t, and if we are prepared to take our chances with motherless drivers, desperate divorcees and psychos on tik, then that is our choice. If you prefer to spend your New Year’s Eve clutching a glass of warm Pepsi and getting all misty eyed over ridiculous songs like Auld Lang Syne, then stay at home. By going out and expecting Mr Plod to keep you safe, you are ruining it for the rest of us.

Since I am not yet president, we have to face the reality that state-appointed arbiters of appropriate behaviour will be out there looking to ruin our lives and reputations. As if we can’t do that all by ourselves.

Fact is, even if you haven’t touched a drop all night and then you kiss someone whose blood alcohol level is above 00000.01, this would put you over the limit and you will be dragged behind the police caravan, pistol-whipped and read the last rites in a language you don’t understand.

Roadblocks can be dealt with in several ways. One is to slip into the passenger seat and tell the officer that your driver ran away. The officer may wish to attach electrodes to your testicles to determine the veracity of your story, but, unless you enjoy that sort of thing, you should remind him that the constitution frowns on torture.

Do not attempt this if there are two of you in the car. Police are trained to spot suspicious behaviour and there is nothing more suspicious than an empty driver’s seat and someone sitting on your lap in the passenger seat.

Also what you can do is pretend to have a speech impediment. Most cops treat the disabled marginally better than they do the rest of us. But don’t lean out of the window and say: “Good afterble consternoon.” That is a speech impeded by vodka shooters as opposed to, say, blunt trauma to the head.

I used to get stopped a lot before I became a master of disguise and the cops would always ask me why my eyes were so red. “I have pterygiums, officer,” I would say, opening my eyes as big as they would go without me passing out. Cops don’t want to take your statement knowing they are going to have to ask you to spell whatever the hell it was that you said you had.

You may be asked to provide a urine sample. “But I just went,” is not a valid excuse. What you need to do is invest in a fake penis. Adult World is full of them. Or so I have heard. Drill a hole down the middle of it and fill it with your dog’s urine. The cop will be so impressed by the size of your willy that he will shake you by the hand and send you on your way.

               Medical Treatment

A basic knowledge of First Aid is essential for anyone who plans on celebrating New Year’s Eve properly. There will be injuries and you need to be prepared. Under no circumstances do you want to have anything to do with state hospitals this evening. The doctors have been working for nine straight days and the nurses earn R2.50 an hour. They will not share your sense of humour no matter how much you laugh and poke your finger into your gaping head wound.

Stitches are piece of cake if you have a fish hook and a piece of gut. If you don’t at least have that in the boot of your car, you’re not a real South African and you deserve to be deported.

Carry a roll of bubble wrap in your car. The moment your girlfriend gets the wobblies,  wrap it around her. She won’t hurt herself when she plummets off the north face of her bar stool and the rest of the bar will join you in a game of Popping The Drunk.

If someone loses an eye, ask the barman for a glass of ice and stick it in there. It will be good for 24 hours.

Avoid amputations because they can be messy if you don’t have access to serviettes. A lot of people complain of severed limbs but if you look closely you will often find their leg bent behind their head.

Open heart surgery is easily conducted with a bottle of whisky and a steak knife. If you don’t have a knife, rush to the nearest restaurant and order a steak.

Right, that’s it. In the immortal words of Pope Gregory, “Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.”

Mall makes Blood River look like a picnic

Today, 180 years ago, the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River.

And in 180 minutes from now, the Boers and the Zulus will join forces to defeat me at the Battle of Gateway Shopping Mall. The Zulus will stream in through strategic entrances to isolate me in a pincer movement that would have made King Shaka proud. The Boers will use their traditional tactics of walking eight-abreast, scoffing ice-creams and knocking me out of the way with their meaty hips and big asses. I don’t stand a chance.

William Butler Yeats wrote, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Here, they’re slouching out of Bethlehem (there by the Free State) and into Durban. Quite frankly these people scare me. If I had the space I would explain how one can tell the difference between trolls, homunculi and troglodytes.

I did a recce at Gateway earlier in the week to check out the exits and locate the shops that sell weapons. If it was going to turn ugly, I wasn’t going down without a fight. To hell with reconciliation. At this time of year it’s every man for himself.

The first thing I noticed was that Christmas decorations aren’t as Christian as they used to be. In the old days you could barely walk through a mall without smacking your head into a simpering polystyrene angel swinging from the rafters. These days it’s all disco balls and plastic dross swaddled in fairy lights. It’s not so much Santa’s grotto as it is Hugh Hefner’s, although in Game you do have a slightly smaller risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

Orphans are big this year. I saw several shops offering to donate a percentage of purchases over R100 to those lucky enough not to have parents. They never say how much goes to the orphans, though. It could be 0000.2% of each purchase. This means that by the end of the holidays, three children in a village north of the Tugela will each get a tin of soup. Next year, if they’re really lucky, they might get a tin opener.

The war for drugs escalates at this time of year. Too many family reunions, dinners and parties mean that young and old alike are desperate for fresh meds. If you’re new at this, I recommend something from the benzodiazepine family. Ativan or Librium will do nicely if all you need to do is get through Christmas lunch without slashing a sibling’s throat.

However, if you’re worried about getting drunk and exposing Uncle Pervy for the kiddie-fiddler that he is, you might need one of the neuroleptics. Thorazine works well, but get your timing right. You don’t want to be slack-jawed and drooling into the turkey with your paper hat over one eye while everyone else is pulling crackers.

I saw a sign saying, “Add more sparkle to your festive season – shop with American Express!” Yeah, sure. It’s all fun and sparkles now, but what happens next year? It’s bad enough what the local banks will to do to you, but you fuck with the Americans at your peril. I’ve heard that Guantanamo Bay isn’t a prison for political detainees at all. It’s for people – Muslims, mainly – who have maxed out their American Express cards and are late with their repayments.

A 10-piece nativity set caught my eye. It was rather nicely done, if a bit outdated. If it were today, the three wise men would be unemployed academics with substance abuse problems, Joseph would be out working overtime to pay for the new baby and the shepherds would be on strike.

I saw television sets so big you would have to sell your house, buy a piece of land and build a new house around the telly. Where will it end, this race for the biggest television? Will new homes eventually offer plasma screens instead of walls? I hope so. I already spend hours staring at the wall. I may as well be watching something.

And lava lamps are making a big comeback after weed was essentially decriminalised. You have to be on drugs to fully appreciate a lava lamp. I’m surprised that each purchase doesn’t come with a bankie of Durban Poison.

In the toy section, there’s a doll that speaks six lines. Or does six lines. I can’t remember. Cocaine Barbie, perhaps.

For the boys, there are millions of heavily armed action figures that don’t look so macho as they do gay. This is a good thing. If you want your son to grow up believing he can kill with impunity, rather he does it wearing nothing but cropped hair, a moustache and a pair of tight red shorts. At least that way we’ll see him coming.

I found a paramedic’s kit but it lacked a plastic handgun for when the ambulance has to go into the townships on a Friday night.

Then I came across a whole series of things you can do in the tub. “Shaving in the tub” was one. This is a filthy habit and you should only get this for your child if you have someone other than yourself who cleans the bath. Everything on the box is in French, which makes sense when you consider what these people regard as acceptable behaviour. What next? Wine in the Jacuzzi? Frog’s legs in the bed? Pissing in the pool?

There’s also a talking octopus. I once met an octopus while snorkelling and in the brief moment our eyes met, we both knew there was nothing we had to say to each other. If octopi could talk, though, I expect they would say, “Please take that pointy stick out of my head and return me to the rock pool from whence I came.” Well, the educated ones would. The more common octopi would probably squirt ink everywhere and try to strangle you with a tentacle.

A shop assistant has just caught me looking up a doll’s skirt. Awkward. I simply wanted to ascertain whether it was anatomically correct. With the education system as it is, I wouldn’t want my nephew growing up thinking that all girls have a piece of hard plastic between their legs. Not that I have a nephew. Or can even remember what’s between … never mind.

With my blood-alcohol levels dangerously low, I repaired to the restaurant area where several companies appeared to be having their get-togethers. Christmas parties used to be held at night. There would be carousing and fornicating and the company would happily pay your bail the next day. Now, the grinches offer their employees a free lunch.

As if there’s such a thing.

 

Jingle Hells

School holidays should be abolished.

Our creaking infrastructure and shattered nerves can no longer withstand the blitzkrieg of semi-educated savages at the end of every year. There should be new rules starting from next year.

Any pupil who scores an aggregate of, say, less than 90% in their final exams will be deployed to help the M23 rebels take the Congo. There is nothing wrong with children being soldiers. They are already halfway there, what with being accustomed to wearing uniforms and fighting among themselves. Then again, the rebels might not be able to put up with the constant cries of, “Are we there yet?” Never mind the convoys having to pull over every five minutes because someone needs to wee. It would take forever to reach Kinshasa.

But not everyone can afford to send their brat away to help topple a government. Here are some cheaper ways of keeping the ingrates entertained, while at the same time scoring a bit of payback for the twelve months of hell they have just put you through.

Shopping malls. Generally not a place for any sane, self-respecting adult, but exceptions can be made at this time of year. Decorations are up, tills are jingling and shops are getting more and more crowded. Consider, for a moment, that your child will probably only get a job if he is good with his hands. I wouldn’t normally suggest you encourage him to consider pickpocketing as a career choice, but with a pair of nimble fingers he could certainly help bring in some extra beer money.

Boys make the best pickpockets. If you have a girl, there’s no need to despair. Well, that’s not strictly true. If you have a daughter who is older than 13, you will know despair. In truckloads. But if she is very young – six or seven is good – take her to a mall that has a fat, white man wearing a red suit and fake beard sitting in a tawdry tableau fallaciously billed as Santa’s grotto.

He will encourage your daughter to sit on his knee and tell him what she wants for Christmas. Before she does this, whisper that Santa will only bring her presents if she jumps off his lap and screams, “He touched me inappropriately!” Tell her those are the magic words that will make all her wishes come true. Santa settles out of court and you get a new car.

If there is something wrong with you and you don’t want to make money but still want a bit of a laugh, take the kids into a department store and remove a bunch of electronic tags from some of the clothing. Each person gets a tag and you all leave the shop at the same time. The alarm is the signal to start running. Security guards will chase you through the mall. The first person to the car wins. Even if you get caught, you can’t be prosecuted because you haven’t actually stolen anything. It’s good exercise and fun for the whole family.

Theme parks. In Cape Town, you have Ratanga Junction. Some of the rides, like the Cobra, get the adrenalin pumping. However, I have always found that at this time of year, the real thrill lies in gambling on whether you will make it to the front of the line before the seizures and hallucinations kick in. Heatstroke gives you all the symptoms of a heroin overdose and, best of all, it’s free.

Gold Reef City is Joburg’s idea of a theme park. I have never been there, but I imagine it’s full of undercover cops, coke dealers, human traffickers and obese families sucking on ice-creams and racially abusing the dude in charge of the Jozi Express. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a member of the tactical reaction unit shooting the Wimpy staff for getting his order wrong. For a bit of light relief, pop in to the Apartheid Museum.

Durban has uShaka Marine World where dolphins leap high into the air in the hope that their buddies in the ocean will see them and mount a rescue operation. There is also a paddling pool area where you can take your child to have its hearing impaired by hip-hop music. And, if you are white, you will feel right at home among all the other whiteys on uShaka beach. Too much of irony, my bru.

Children also like to be taken to casinos. They might say they don’t but they are lying through their filthy teeth. I have seen many happy little faces pressed up against the barrier as they watch their mommies and daddies getting drunk and gambling away the last of the food money.

Zoos are also popular among the kids. When my loinfruit was small I took him to a petting zoo which turned out to be a brothel. Still, he learnt a lot that day. And that’s what is important. It doesn’t matter whether it’s watching a chimpanzee playing on a tyre swing or daddy haggling with a black-hearted harridan whose name clearly isn’t Jasmine. It’s all educational.

Children also like to make things. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or complicated. Petrol bombs, for instance, can be made by kids who can’t even spell mathematics. And they don’t have to be used on Christmas Day, either. Keep them for a rainy day.

Of course, the best thing you could do these holidays is go to Thailand. Put the telly on, shout to the kids that you’re popping out to the shop and drive straight to the airport. When you get to Bangkok, call home and tell the family that they can do whatever the hell they like.

It will be the best Christmas ever.

 

Relax, officer

’Tis almost the season to be jolly. Jolly careful. There are people out there determined to get us locked up over the festive season. Family, for a start. There’s always one asshole relative who insists on pushing our buttons until we lunge across the dinner table and club him to death with a chicken drumstick.

Should you be driven to this point, it’s likely that you will be filled with spirits stronger than the Christmas one. Even an attempted homicide generally requires a liberal application of the old social lubricant. If it weren’t for alcohol, we would all meekly go along with tradition and kiss rather than stab our racist cousins under the mistletoe.

In South Africa, as in most parts of the Christian world, we drink to celebrate Christmas. It’s what Jesus would have wanted. He did, after all, turn water into wine when the liquor ran out at a wedding in Galilee. This was his first public miracle and, quite frankly, I don’t know why he even bothered with the other six. You turn water into wine, you’ll have to get a restraining order to stop me from following you. I suppose it was also a nice gesture to heal the paralytic at Bethesda. Did he do the wine trick there, too? Quite possibly. I get very paralytic on wine but then have to heal myself. Jesus is never there when I need him.

Today there is always plenty of wine at weddings and everyone gets thoroughly trashed to commemorate his miracle on that hot summer’s day in the unoccupied territories. The heathens don’t care much for miracles and only join in because the liquor is free. In the end it all works out and everyone goes home happy.

Oh, wait. Not in Cape Town, they don’t. This is a city that goes the extra mile to ensure we spend a night or three on a horsehair mattress in a filthy cell rather than our own bedroom.

There is no mention in the Bible of a single wedding guest getting bust at a roadblock in Galilee, even though the cops must have got wind that someone was turning water into wine. If the DA had been in charge of the city, Jesus himself might have spent the night behind bars.

I have never been done for DUI. Have I driven over the legal limit? Of course I have. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. Virtually every car you see parked outside a bar, restaurant or club will later that evening be driven by someone over the limit. Sure, there might be one or two designated drivers among the crowd, but these are like unicorns.

It is the job of the barman to keep serving you alcohol even as it leaks from every orifice in your body, which makes no sense when you consider that it takes just two beers to put you over the limit. I need two beers just to get out of bed in the afternoon. Not really. My point is that the city of Cape Town’s obsession with roadblocks is ruining our social lives. Everyone is too terrified to go out at night for fear of ending up with a criminal record or having their bottom interfered with by a fighting general in the 28s.

Thanks to the police, it’s just not safe to be on the roads at night.

99.9% of people who regularly drive after a few social drinks manage to do so without veering into oncoming traffic or slamming into a lamppost. They might be breaking the law, but they get home quite safely without endangering their or anyone else’s life. And they have been doing it for years.

In Britain and America, police generally need a reasonable suspicion to suspect a driver is intoxicated before requesting a breath test. In many countries you’re given three tests, including standing on one leg and walking heel to toe in a straight line. If you fail all three, you get breathalysed. Fair enough. We don’t get that option here. I might be marginally over the limit, but if I can close my eyes and touch my nose or the cop’s nose or any other body part of his choosing, followed by an arabesque and two grand jetés on the white line, I should be allowed to proceed unhindered.

In the US, thirteen states currently disallow sobriety checkpoints while others require police to provide advance warning of any checkpoints that are planned. That’s right. They have to take out notices in local newspapers notifying people where and when the roadblocks will happen.

Look, I’m not endorsing drunk driving, but I am asking the law to be a little more flexible when it comes to ever-so-slightly-tipsy driving. Nail the heavily wasted, by all means, but stop ruining the lives of the lightly euphoric.

If things carry on as they are, we might as well move to Saudi Arabia.

Or, worse, Australia.

 

Shedding loads and spreading lies

Eskom has been fucking with us for years and there’s no end in sight. Here’s a letter I wrote to the boss of the power utility in 2011. This was before the Guptas even got their claws into it.

 

Dear Sir,

This is the fourth time I am writing this letter to you. The first three times you turned the power off before I could press save. I was angry before. I am now incensed.

I live in Cape Town, supposedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but what the hell good does that do when I can’t see anything for most of the time? Oh, sure, the sun still works, but how much longer can it be before you find a way to switch that off too?

The first time Eskom plunged the province into darkness, you kept very quiet and hoped nobody had noticed. Truth is, we weren’t too bothered. Unless you were on a life support machine. But it was a novelty. The power cut forced married couples to go to bed early where, without the option of reading or television, they were left with no alternative but to have sex. Apparently this helps to keep couples together. Or at least from killing each other.

Then you turned the power off several more times over the next few weeks. Suddenly it wasn’t such fun. Weeping women, saturated with sex, begged their husbands to sell up and emigrate to a country with electricity.

People began going hungry, fridges defrosted, beers got warm. The only thing moving in the streets were four men on horseback riding from town to town shouting in what sounded like Aramaic.

You, in the meantime, denied that anything was wrong. “Relax,” you said. “Everything’s under control.” The rolling blackouts got worse. Suburb after suburb, town after town, became engulfed in darkness.

Your men in suits went into a huddle. “The masses are revolting. What are we going to call this thing?” A middle-ranking executive blew his chances of ever getting promoted by replying: “An unmitigated fucking disaster?” But the truth is not something to be bandied about at times like these, is it?

“Let’s call it load shedding,” you said brightly. “That makes it sound like we are getting rid of something that we have too much of. People will want to thank us.”

Apparently not, though. Instead, people wanted to hunt you down and ram a syringe full of sodium pentathol, or any kind of truth serum, into your fat lying capitalist arse.

Once the ANC had pointed out that your incompetence was going to lose them control of Cape Town, which it subsequently did, you said sorry in a very small voice and pretended to cry.

The then public enterprises minister, Alec Erwin, felt so bad for you that he made up a story about a bunch of imaginary warlocks throwing a bolt into one of the Koeberg nuclear power station’s generators, damaging a rotor and causing a serious power shortfall in the Western Cape.

Since Koeberg is your baby, and a potentially lethal one at that, the last thing you wanted was the government suggesting that just anyone could walk up to the facility and gain entrance by scaling a wall. Oops, sorry, Greenpeace already did that several years ago.

So you dismissed Erwin’s claim. Erwin, under the mistaken impression that you were right behind him, quickly denied ever mentioning the word “sabotage” or even knowing where Koeberg was. “Look,” said Erwin, “I don’t even use electricity. I’m a gas man, myself.”

So not only were we surviving on tins of baked beans heated over cheap candles, but we now also knew that our shivering bodies could be incinerated in a boiling tsunami of radioactive particles at any moment.

Then, once businesses hit the magical mark of R500-million in losses, you began publishing a load shedding schedule in the local newspapers. But even then, you never lost your keen sense of humour. I bet you found it hard to stifle a giggle when you tricked people into thinking that they would be without power from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Wednesday, only for the lights to go out from 7pm to midnight on Thursday. You did this, with a twinkle in your eye, in towns around the Western Cape. And sometimes even in the Northern Cape, although it’s not quite as much of a laugh for you because the folk in Kimberley don’t even notice these things.

Sometimes, in the middle of a spot of load shedding, you would switch the power back on and then, a few seconds later, turn it off. What’s the point of earning R13-million a year if you can’t have a bit of fun? If you have the ability to make millions of people go “yay!” and, moments later, “fuuuck!” in perfect synchronisation, then you should go right ahead and do it. I know I would.

In the unlikely event that you decide to do the decent thing and resign, I would like to be the first to propose that Homer Simpson takes your place. He has worked at the Springfield Nuclear Power Station and will cause far less mayhem than you already have.

Apart from the loose bolt, short circuits caused by mist and soot, an unusually high tide at Llandudno beach and the gay pride parade, the power crisis is the result of you believing in 1998 (accurately, as it turned out), that South Africa was doomed to become just another corrupt debt-ridden crime-ravaged basket case and consequently there was no point in maintaining your power stations or even building new ones because they would just be taken over by squatters or stripped down and sold on the black market.

In the intervening years the population has grown and a lot more boys have reached drinking age. More shebeens means more fridges to keep more beers cold. Now there is simply not enough electricity to keep all those new fridges running. This is how countries descend into civil war.

Now you are asking us to help you by bathing in cold water, cooking over primus stoves, washing our clothes in the river and eating by candlelight. It’s fine for the majority, but we white folk are simply not accustomed to this lifestyle.

Vote Homer Simpson.

Yours truly,

Ben Trovato

 

Get insurance against the insurers

Dear Comrade Johann Le Roux, CEO of Momentum Life.

Congratulations on steadfastly refusing to fork out R2.4-million to the widow of that 42-year-old Durban man who died while trying to protect his wife in a hijacking. Why was she even trying to claim in the first place? If you were in the business of giving money willy-nilly to families of policy-holders who get themselves killed, you would call yourselves Momentum Death.

But be that as it may. Dying is bad for business, especially when you’re in the life insurance industry. You pay a high price every time a customer dies. It seems terribly unfair. People these days make no effort at all to stay alive.

It seems, though, that some also think it’s terribly unfair that you are refusing to pay out on the grounds that Nathan Ganas had not disclosed his raised blood sugar levels when he took out the policy four years ago. For all we know, people with too much sugar in their blood attract violent criminals wherever they go. Let’s not forget that bees are also attracted to sweet stuff like pollen and cocaine, and you know how dangerous they are. It could easily be the same with hijackers. Studies have yet to be done into the link between homicide and diabetes.

Living in Shallcross, Ganas should have appreciated there was a better than average chance of getting murdered and should therefore have informed Momentum about his medical condition. If he was aware of it. But even if he wasn’t, that’s no excuse for non-disclosure.

Denise Ganas says she didn’t know about her husband’s condition. I believe her. My ex-wife would often say things like, “There’s something wrong with you.” Or, if she was in one of her better moods, she might ask, “What the hell’s the matter with you?” I would look at my feet and make whimpering sounds until she went away. My point is that we don’t always know what is wrong with ourselves, our loved ones or even the mentally unwell people we keep voting for.

Everyone tries their luck when it comes to insurance claims and you need to remain vigilant. For instance, you don’t want to be paying millions to the widow of a man who, say, dies in a plane crash if the post mortem reveals he had a high blood alcohol content when the pilot mistook a mountain for a cloud. It is vital that you include “Drunk” as a pre-existing condition to avoid payouts in cases like these.

Times are tough. Momentum only earned R2.8-billion in the last year. You need to save every cent you can. And yet you have buckled under pressure and agreed to refund the premiums paid by the Ganas family. This is ridiculously generous and sets a dangerous precedent. Policyholders will be flinging themselves off buildings on the assumption that the family will get the premiums back. Actually, I suppose the grieving relatives would initially expect the policies to be paid out in full, but once you have pointed out that their beloved’s application forms are riddled with omissions, spelling errors, coffee stains and so on, they will be happy just to get their parking validated.

Make sure they provide an affidavit indicating that parking has indeed taken place.

 

We live in testing times

My wallet containing a credit card, driver’s licence, R12.50 and a small but well-behaved family of weevils has mysteriously vanished into a black hole. I made the money back by dressing up in a monkey suit and dancing outside the Spar on Friday morning. Afterwards I went to the traffic department.

The parking lot was jammed with crudely fashioned bivouacs and cooking fires. Scrawny goats roamed freely and chickens pecked at the tarmac. I half expected to see Angelina Jolie appear through the smoke, designer kaffiyeh wrapped around her swan-like neck, flawless belly swollen with a fresh batch of perfectly formed foetuses.

I hired a Congolese corsair to guarantee me safe passage to the entrance where a brute with knife scars and no neck was lashing out at the frenzied hordes trying to get in. It was like the fall of Saigon. With seconds to spare before the 3pm curfew, I slipped past Cerberus and was in.

If outside looked like a refugee camp, inside looked like Catholic limbo. Ben in the bardo. Sad hollow-eyed people drifted from counter to counter, lips moving in silent prayer. I joined the other lost souls in the queue of the damned that led to Persephone’s cubicle. The earth revolved, reptiles evolved, another ice age came and went. Moments before I died of natural causes, a bullet-proof window was all that stood between me and her.

She opened her mouth and showed me her terrible teeth. Blinking her goatish eyes, she spat a pomegranate seed onto the floor.

“Next,” she bleated. It is easier to pass through the eye of a camel than it is to follow the goddess of the underworld’s instructions.

“Collect form RT6 from counter 8 and form WM3 from counter 4 then go to room 101 in the east wing for fingerprints and room 309 in the west wing for the eye test then go to the cashier at counter 2 on the 3rd floor and afterwards take your receipt to counter 3 on the 2nd floor.”

As I proceeded from pillar to purgatory, I encountered knots of strange misshapen creatures. Being closing time on a Friday, many of them were moving too quickly for their fat little legs. A grizzled hireling took my fingers and pressed them into an ink pad. Said he had been doing it for 25 years. He told me to relax my thumbs. My thumbs are the most relaxed part of my body. I said I didn’t know what else I could do to get them to calm down. This made both him and my thumbs even more tense.

I could barely hear what he was saying above the extraordinary gibbering noises that civil servants make when the weekend is upon them.

“Eye test,” he shouted. “But I lost my driver’s licence, not my eyesight,” I shouted. My vision is more white rhino than tawny eagle and I felt like an athlete being asked to take a urine test after drinking a bottle of dehydrochlormethyl-testosterone.

By a stroke of luck, the regular tester of eyes must have gone home early because a woman dressed as a cleaner took me into a room and asked how many fingers she was holding up.

“Three,” I said.

“Close enough,” she said. “Please leave now so we can all go home and start drinking.”

 

No safe harbour for Gigaba

Dear Comrade Malusi Gigaba, Honourable Upstanding Member, Minister of Affairs, Fighter of Tourism, Epitome of Sartorial Elegance.

Congratulations on your spectacular cinematic debut, even though it was very short. Needless to say, that’s the only thing about your appearance that was short. A week ago, critics were calling for your head and saying you should be bloody well hung. Then your video came out. That shut them up.

I had no intention of viewing your scandalous ménage à un, but a so-called friend mailed it, unbidden, to me. I am pleased to say that I never watched it. Not because I have Tanzanian tendencies when it comes to homoerotic flights of fancy, but because I find the male member an unsightly brute at the best of times. In my opinion, the best of times are when he is sound asleep, curled up like an infant pangolin. Besides which, should I ever desire to see a willy, I only need remove my trousers and look in a mirror. Or, if there is no mirror and the urge takes me, the glass frontage of, say, Mr Price at my local mall. For instance.

Unfortunately, my eyes did fall upon the frozen first image of the video. And even though I refrained from pressing play, it was enough. Having been led to believe that alcohol damages one’s short-term memory, I have been drinking heavily ever since. Not least to forget my inadequacies. My Sir Lancelot is a pale imitation. More pale than imitation, I am sorry to say. Do you have a name for that combat-ready heat-seeking missile? If not, might I suggest Mubi Dick?

Anyway. That is quite enough of that.

Of more pressing concern is your imminent political demise. By demise, I obviously mean promotion. It is a venerable ANC tradition to reward its most shameless and irredeemably exposed cadres with new career opportunities, usually in the diplomatic corps.

You appear to have upset some powerful people, my friend. I am obviously not referring to me or the other 57 million South Africans. We have no power. Well, we do, but we don’t really know what to do with it because we are saturated with either ignorance, apathy or alcohol. Oftentimes, all three. The unholy trinity.

No, I am talking about shadowy organisations like the Oppenheimer Cartel. These upper class thugs trade openly in diamonds while the rest of us go to jail if we so much as attempt to trade the last of our uncut emeralds for beer.

When you were in charge of public enterprises, you handed Eskom, Transnet and Denel to the Gupta Cartel. These Indians, they are not even dangerous men. My advice is that you do not mess with Don Nicky ‘Fireblade’ Oppenheimer. If he wants his own airport, give it to him. Give him whatever he wants. He is white and rich. History has shown that this an unbeatable combination.

Why on earth has Public Protector Busisiwe ‘Zuma Is Innocent’ Mkhwebane turned against you in the aviation matter? This is a woman who was trained to defend her comrades at all costs, and yet she has chosen to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. Quite frankly, I don’t know if you are the fox or the hound. It’s a British expression. Nobody ever knows what they mean. It’s why we murdered them at Isandlwana.

Apparently a parliamentary portfolio committee has come up with a draft report saying you should be criminally investigated on suspicion of having been captured by the Guptas. This is outrageous. If the Guptas had indeed captured you, surely you would right now be tied up in a fur-lined dungeon in downtown Dubai while Atul the Dominator disciplined you with an ivory-handled camelhair whip. Instead, here you are, wandering about of your own free willy in the finest of suits, conducting government business, shaking hands, kissing babies, issuing denials and, in your evenings, remaking classics like Onan the Barbarian.

Somebody has poisoned our water supply with cynicism because nobody believes a word you say, but I drink beer, not water, so I believe you when you say there is an orchestrated campaign to ruin your career and prevent you from becoming president. To be hounded and condemned by much of the executive, a fair portion of the legislature, every level of the judiciary and virtually every man, woman and child in the country is the very definition of an orchestrated campaign.

I don’t know how they think they can get away with it.

Your response to this campaign of evil was sublime. “I am going to consult my lawyers in terms of how I am going to respond to this.” Even the most hardened of conspirators will tremble at the thought of your imminent consultations.

It is truly tragic when you consider that none of this would be happening if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma hadn’t been pipped at the post by Squirrel Ramaphosa. The man is a menace. Where does he think he is? Sweden? This is Africa, for heaven’s sake. A continent where every silver lining has a cloud, every dog its day and every cart its rotten apples. In flagrant contravention of tradition, Squirrel is giving every indication of being one of those aberrant leaders who think that upsetting apple carts is a good idea.

Is it true that you are refusing to resign? Of course it is. I would expect nothing less. To the barricades! No Retreat, No Surrender is not just a movie. It is the story of your life. You are the black Jean-Claude Van Damme of our time. All you need is better lighting. And maybe a plausible script.

You said you are “surrounded by militant comrades” who will defend you. I do hope you are referring to more than just the avocado-shaped Andile Mngxitama and his drunk, shouty friends.

If not, you might want to consider a Plan B. You are, after all, the Minister of Home Affairs. You get to decide who is a South African and who isn’t. Who may stay and who should leave. Do you see what I am saying? All you need do is declare your enemies persona non grata. Get a courier to take a letter over to the Union Buildings first thing in the morning, letting the president know that his citizenship has been revoked. Include an air ticket to Cairo. Economy class, obviously. The man should suffer at least once in his life.

Should you consider my advice sound and good, I hereby register myself as an enemy forthwith and request immediate deportation to a country with warm weather, cheap beer, good surf and plenty of sloths.

Every night is fright night

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

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

For a lot of South Africans, every night is Halloween. The only difference is that these perennial pranksters can’t be bothered to dress up. To be fair, though, some do make the effort and put on a balaclava. Traditionally, a treat is a handful of sweets or, if you hit a vegan house, an eggplant without the egg. Our year-round rogues rarely settle for less than cellphones, money and guns. Or, at the very least, an HD-ready TV. Anyway. Who are we to judge? A treat is mos a treat.

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately for the employed, Halloween is not a public holiday in South Africa. If only the Soweto Uprising had taken place on 31 October instead of 16 June. Youth Day would be so much more entertaining if it were combined with Halloween. The horror is already there. All we would need are police uniforms, nitrous oxide grenades, a few dozen crates of cherry-flavoured vodka and some live music. Also some live ammunition. And a smattering of German Shepherds all sniffed out and hoping to reach retirement age without any major drama.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deconstruct all that Celtic reconstructionist propaganda and unleash your demons.