An Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma

Dear #1,

Do you mind if I call you Number One? It has the ring of victory to it. Oh sure, it also has ablutionary connotations, but you won’t find anyone in my circle of friends saying things like, “I need to make a Zuma.” That’s DA talk, that is. I will have no truck with open toilet humour.

I wanted to congratulate you on your efforts to avoid any of the Gupta muck sticking to you. They don’t call you the Teflon President for nothing! Personally, I don’t buy the Teflon thing. Unless, of course, you really are made of Teflon, in which case I am with you all the way.

I have learnt many of my survival skills from watching animals. Well, watching Animal Planet, anyway. You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near those filthy beasts. When there is danger, for instance, the hyena will run away. When I see the police, I also run away. But if a burglar, perhaps a smallish woman, breaks into my home and is unarmed, I will confront her, much like the elephant confronts the honey badger when he tries to steal the elephant’s honey.

You seem to have mainly been watching programmes on ostriches. Good for you. They are magnificent birds, especially when marinated in monkey gland sauce. But they are also very good at ignoring a problem until it disappears.

When an ostrich senses danger and cannot run away, perhaps because its legs are being cooked at a nearby shisa nyama, it flops to the ground and remains still. This clearly worked for you. I hope there were no nasty spills as civil servants stampeded for the exits at 3.30pm every day. I expect staff were warned to step over you.

An ostrich is born to run. You were also born to run – for president. Did you know that ostriches eat whatever is available? Plants, lizards, rocks. It’s all food to them. It wouldn’t surprise me if your nephew Khulubuse had a bit of ostrich in him.

Getting back to the problem that doesn’t exist. What are you doing about that Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson? She distinctly said Number One was aware of the Gupterian takeover of Waterkloof Air Force Base. I hope you have offered her a suitable gift to keep her mouth shut. You know what women are like. You frequently have to buy their silence. I cannot begin to imagine how much you have to fork out to get some peace and quiet at Nkandla.

Don’t get her the same gift that was given to chief of state protocol, Bruce Koloane. She won’t feel special and will tell everyone that you were with Lee Harvey Oswald the day JFK was shot.

 

An Open Letter to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa

Dear Sir or Madam,

Forgive me for I know not whether you are a sir or a madam. For all I know, you are both. If you are indeed a hermaphrodite or even a transsexual who dreams of one day undergoing gender reassignment surgery, may I take this opportunity to wish you luck. Some of my best friends are trapped inside a woman’s body. In one case, quite literally.

While we are on the sticky subject of genitalia, I would like to congratulate you on your legal victory against those godless purveyors of filth, TopTV. Had you not stepped in and hauled those vile degenerates into court, this country would be on its knees right now. Performing acts of unspeakable depravity on a vulnerable neighbouring country, no doubt.

Three channels of porn? I mean, really. How very dare they!

This is an honest Christian country and even though the Ten Commandments avoid making specific reference to pornography, I think “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass” comes pretty damn close.

These would be 24-hour channels. More and more people would begin calling in sick. Industries would fail and the economy would collapse. Eskom’s blackouts would see gibbering porn addicts embarking on rolling masturbatory action. The lunatic asylums would be jammed with hairy-palmed madmen and the gutters would overflow with semen.

Many of us who own holiday homes on the moral high ground have learnt, through bitter experience, that sex is a deeply unnatural act.

Who among us can forget the terrible deeds the devil made us do when we were younger? All these years later, we remember the studded gloves, the smell of antiseptic, the sting of the lash, the bone-chilling silence that followed those horrifying words, “Is it in yet?”

We do not want our kids to have to walk through the same fires of damnation.

I am proud to say that my boy Clive still believes babies are made in Wonky Willie’s baby factory in Salt River. He stole my car the other night to go and look for it and came back at 3am. He seemed very agitated and wouldn’t stop talking. Eventually I had to dart him with my tranquilizer gun. Brenda thinks he might have wandered into a crack house.

That’s fine with me. Just as long as he never discovers he is the result of a process so shameful that his mother and I have not repeated it since he was conceived.

TopTV gives a hollow assurance that the filth will not be freely available to everyone, but there is not a child on this planet who couldn’t find his way to their offices, present a fake ID proving he was over 18, take out a subscription, shoplift a decoder, hook it up to the TV, break the encryption code, bypass the security system, tune the channels and change the locks on the house.

In no time at all our suburbs would be full of weeping parents banging on their front doors shouting, “Jimmy! We know what you’re doing in there! Let us in! You’re going to hell if you don’t close your eyes right now!”

My fear is that not even the very real possibility of Jesus withdrawing his unconditional love would be enough to stop little Jimmy from gorging himself sick on this carnal buffet.

It wouldn’t stop there, either. Studies have shown that pornography is a gateway drug to harder habits such as cannibalism, journalism and politics.

Well done on securing the support of Pastor Errol Naidoo and all the other right-thinking Christians who threatened to boycott TopTV and their advertisers if Satan’s broadcaster went ahead with its nefarious plan to destroy humankind as we know it.

Some say you cannot call yourselves “independent” while co-opting allies in your righteous crusade against evil, but these heretics will burn for their sins and I, for one, will be there with marshmallows when they do.

One last request. Please do something about those pagan Muppets who live in sin on Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie are clearly homosexual and have no business being on public television.

You also need to shut down the internet. Did you know that if you type “sex” into Google, you get 3.8-billion results? Many of these sites are unrelated to the human reproductive system and some of the longer lesbian videos can take more than an hour to download. This is outrageous. We need high-speed broadband so we can see what we are fighting against.

I have to go now. There is a fantastic movie starting on SABC3. It’s full of violence, bad language, misogyny and racial prejudice. Just what us decent God-fearing folk need on a Sunday evening.

An Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma

Dear Msholozi,

I am a huge fan of yours and an even bigger supporter of the ANC, that glorious revolutionary movement to which I would dearly love to belong. Since you are the party’s number one member, I implore you to grant me entrance to this exclusive club.

I tried to apply online but was incapacitated with fear. Logging on to the ANC’s website is not a natural act for a white man. In the old days, my back door would have been kicked down and Kaptein Skok de Kock would be asking me questions while his sidekick checked my prostate with a cattle prod.

To be on the safe side, I created a false identity for myself – Abdul-Aziz Ben’t-Ariel Hlobongo. I was hoping that with a few quick clicks I could become an ANC member and start reaping the benefits first thing tomorrow morning. Easier said than done.

Are you aware that nowhere on the ANC’s website does it indicate how one can become a member? It does, however, provide the details of a Nedbank account into which I am invited to make a donation.

“Any information you provide will be treated confidentially,” it says. But I am not providing information. I am providing money.

I suppose in these treacherous times, information is as important as hard cash – both, for instance, can help keep one out of jail. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not talking about the missing arms deal tapes, here.

I found a link to ANC merchandise but was disappointed to find just two items for sale. The vibrant leather jackets are a bit out of my price range, but if I ever have a spare R1 620 and feel the urge to spend the evening in a gay biker’s bar, I’ll definitely come to the ANC first.

The other item is a poster of Nelson Mandela. I hope I am not speaking out of turn here, but don’t you think a poster that says: “Mandela for President – The People’s Choice” is a tad dated? Why not a poster of Thabo, saying: “Mbeki for President – The Poephol’s Choice”? Or one of you: “Zuma is President – No Choice”.

The only party that understands business might want to consider offering more than just a jacket and a poster on its website. What about handcrafted ebony and ivory backscratchers? Or jars of money-scented lotion to grease even the toughest of palms? How about a genuine doctor’s certificate that cadres can use should they need to get out of jail in a hurry? Give it some thought. The possibilities are endless.

Hang on. I do apologise. I’ve just come across a link explaining how one can go about becoming a member. It seems awfully complicated.

I was under the impression that all one had to do was have a passable singing voice, a reasonable sense of rhythm as it pertains to the national dance – the toyi-toyi – and a basic understanding of why socialism is not a viable alternative for South Africa.

I am concerned that you list only five rights but eleven duties of members. But perhaps this is how it should be. Duty comes first. Some of the rights remind me of the words of the prophet Joe Strummer: “You have the right to free speech – as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.” You should put it out as a public service announcement. With guitar.

The duties are a bit off-putting, to be blunt. Are you even aware of the duties? They are outrageous. Here are just four of them. Behave honestly. Observe discipline. Combat harmful propaganda. Carry out decisions of higher bodies. It reminds me of my time in the army.

Being a member of the ANC should be an opportunity to make a lot of money and have a bit of a laugh at the same time. I really can’t see the point otherwise. And, comrade president, nor can you.

At the ANC’s 101st birthday party in Durban the other evening – an event I was unable to attend due to previous commitments – you said a wise businessman would support the ANC because it meant he would be investing in his business. “Everything you touch will multiply,” you said, giggling endearingly.

The only thing I ever touched that multiplied was a calculator.

I want a piece of this action, compadre. I understand that, if I wish to benefit, I will need to join the ANC. However, the annual membership fee of R12 is out of my reach at the moment. Hard times have fallen upon me and I need every cent for beer and newspapers, neither of which I am prepared to live without.

If you can waive the membership fee, then I am prepared to meet you half way and form a business. I don’t know what it will be because I am a failure at almost everything. But you shall be my King Herod who bestows the Midas touch upon his loyal subjects. Or something. Hebrew parables are hard to fathom at the best of times.

To be honest (duty #7), it isn’t the membership fee alone I am struggling with. To become a member, I have to visit your offices. Having grown up in Durban, I thought it would be easy to find my way there.

Your offices are in Stalwart Simelane Street, according to your website. I don’t know where this is. I have tried asking but everyone I spoke to thought I was a plain-clothes cop. They either ignored me or spat on the ground. Perhaps they were IFP supporters.

This is how people get killed in this town. Merely asking for directions brands you politically and the next thing you know, you’re having your arms chopped off at the intersection of Problem Mkhize Boulevard and Swapo Avenue. Not that they intersect. I might be white, but I’m not stupid. I’m simply trying to make a point. I forget what it was.

Anyway. Don’t worry about the DA. Lindiwe Mazibuko might have said your remarks were deeply irresponsible, but she also used phrases like “leveraging of state resources”. This is a direct translation from the original Swedish and provides conclusive proof that she was raised by Scandinavian wolves who fled to the Canadian Rockies to escape the insufferable Nordic elitism that tore so many wolf packs apart in the late 1970s.

This means she isn’t even human, let alone African. Get your men to bring her in at once. Make sure they have a muzzle. She might be rabid.

Others are saying you can’t tell the difference between party and state. This is ridiculous. Sure, both words have five letters in them, which can be confusing, but most people can tell they are not the same. And you, sir, are not most people.

I think you should impose sharia law at once. Remember, you can do whatever you like in your last term as president. I look forward to seeing Helen Zille dancing in a burqa and Pieter Mulder begging for minority rights with no hands.

Good news! I have formed a business. Between writing to you and visiting the fridge, I have inadvertently fashioned a crude office for myself. From tomorrow, I will be buying and selling things. It could be shares on the stock exchange or it could be snoek. I haven’t decided.

Durban is hell at the moment, so I will be needing a fan. Please let me know the amount of “information” I should deposit into the ANC’s account in order to get a good deal from your people in the fan industry. I mean our people.

And if you want anything at all – uncut diamonds, second-hand crocodiles or unit trusts that fell off the back of a lorry – I am your man. Put the word out.

This is fun. It’s like being a Freemason without having to learn funny handshakes, attend secret meetings or exclude women.

No, wait. What am I talking about? It’s just like being a Freemason.

Looking for a Sign in 2013? Have You Checked Uranus?

After a close encounter with a celestial body on New Year’s Eve, I had an epiphany so powerful that I had to go home and change my broeks. It was downhill from then on.

All indications are that 2013 is getting itself off to a very suspicious start. On Thursday next week, Scorpio enters Venus. They barely know one another. How I miss the golden era of the Big Bang. There was a sense of propriety among the astral bodies that is sorely lacking today.

It gets worse. Pluto will be doing unspeakable things to Uranus in February. If you are of a sensitive disposition, you may want to avoid looking at the night sky next month. And keep the children inside.

Having recently spent a night or two on my back at the bottom of the garden, I am something of an expert in the ancient art of astrology as interpreted through the abominable wretchedness of alcohol poisoning. Here, then, is your Horrorscope for the year ahead.

Aries – This is a fire sign, but you probably don’t need reminding because ever since you were little, people have been telling you not to play with matches. The good news is that this is your year to burn stuff. Don’t hold back. It can be anything from parking fines to office blocks. When the police try to arrest you, tell them you are astrologically impervious to their authority since you are governed by Mars alone. If they are fellow Aries, they will understand. If they aren’t, set them alight and run away.

Taurus – Your element is Earth. This year you are entitled to behave as if you own it. Get drunk and disorderly, drive slowly in the fast lane and park in handicapped bays. You are ruled by Venus and not, as you have always thought, your penis. Your symbol is the bull. Act accordingly. Attack people who wear red and, when angry, paw the ground and snort loudly. On the career front, you will lose your job but will find happiness in other things – heroin, mainly.

Gemini – Nobody likes a Gemini. Not even other Geminis. Your element is Air, which, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Your symbol is the twins. Nobody trusts twins. Your ruler is Mercury, a gay little fellow who flitted around the heavens gossiping about Aphrodite banging half the pantheon and how wasted Dionysus got at last Saturday’s bacchanalia. This is the year you shut up for a moment and give someone else a chance to talk. Divorce is on the cards. The bad news is that you will marry again before the year is out.

Cancer – You killed my mother four months ago, you cold-hearted bastard. Because you are governed by the Moon, you cannot help carrying on like a lunatic. This is the year your aberrant mood-swings drive the last of your old friends away. You will soon make plenty of new friends and share cold showers and long walks around the exercise yard. When you are released, you will emulate your astrological symbol and approach matters in a more circumspect way. Your manner of walking in a crablike fashion attracts the wrong kind of attention and you end up with the Crab People who have been living in the Earth’s crust for thousands of years waiting for an opportunity to take over the world.

Leo – Your ruling planet is the Sun. So, to your discredit, is your favourite newspaper. Much like your symbol, the lion, your pride often stops you from straying into unchartered territory. You are compatible with anyone, as long as they have their own transport, money and functioning genitals. Driven mad by your unrelenting good humour, a family member will try to kill you in March. Your massive ego suffers a blow but you quickly recover and go on to perform an improvised comedy/musical/dance act at the Baxter Theatre. Well, outside the Baxter Theatre. In fact, on a pavement outside a tik den in Woodstock. You will be a hit. Or be hit. Or take a hit. The oracle is murky.

Virgo – Forget Gemini. Virgos are the most disliked of the star signs. You are compassionate and caring, but not so compassionate that you’d have sex with a man who is down on his knees begging for it. I’m talking about a friend here. You will be more popular this year if you raise your skirt and lower your standards. If you’re a man, let your willy and not your brain do the thinking for a change. Many Virgos are found in the service industries. Remember that prostitution not only provides a valuable service, it’s also a fun way to earn a little extra money.

Libra – Affectionate and romantic, you depend too heavily on your partner and friends for support. The scales are your symbol, which suggests you also depend too heavily on drugs. Ambitious yet lethargic, you need to get some balance in your life. Less weed and more speed, perhaps. Make the year more interesting by saying yes when you mean no, and vice versa. Be careful of the number seven and avoid men who wear hats.

Scorpio – Your element is water and your symbol is the scorpion. This is stupid. Scorpions hate water unless it has a dash of whiskey in it. For the sake of compromise, let us make your symbol a Jamesons on the rocks. Ruled by Mars, a rubbish planet overrun by toy cars from America, the ever-contrarian Scorpio knows all the answers and has a prodigious passion for power. All Israelis are Scorpios. You are entering an exciting new phase of love, prosperity and the total annihilation of Palestine.

Sagittarius – As the Archer, you owe it to yourself to invest in a real bow this year. Your metaphorical arrows have failed you dismally in the past, either falling short or hitting the wrong target altogether. It’s time for the real thing. And think big. Instead of stealing the office stationery, rob a bank. No, not with a bow and arrow, you idiot. Use a gun like everyone else. You will once again be unlucky in love this year. With the centaur as your astrological symbol, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. On the other hand, I know a number of women who think nothing of sharing their bed with a creature who is half-human, half-beast. I’m talking about a friend here.

Capricorn – Goat-people often need to be push-started. You know that the first step on any journey is the hardest, especially when you’re very stoned, and sometimes it takes a little light whipping to get you moving. Once you’re climbing the mountain of success, you don’t know when to stop and often have to be brought down with a dart gun for your own good. You will have a decision to make this year. Good luck with that.

Aquarius – The Water Bearer is not much in demand anywhere outside the Sahara, and even then your average Tuareg would rather you were bearing a six-pack of Brutal Fruit. One of them clean-living veggie Berbers would probably be happy enough with water, though. Considered to be “special” people, there are more Aquarians in mental asylums than any other sign. For those who weigh less than 53kgs, it is going to be a good year for love. Or anorexia. Watch out for a tall man with red eyes and no teeth.

Pisces – The Zodiac’s most sensitive sign, which makes no sense because fish are easily the most insensitive animals on the planet. Pisceans are relatively easy to hook and they make good eating, but they can become confused and belligerent when out of their element for too long. Their natural environment is happy hour at a wet bar. July will see dreams turn into reality. In August, reality will become dreams. Come September, there will be doctors, lithium and straps on your bed.

Up Yours, 2012

It has been such a fabulous year.

My mother died, Brenda ran off and shagged a welder in Hermanus and the appalling Jacob Zuma is with us for the next seven years. I can hardly wait to see what 2013 brings.

Perhaps I will be hit by a meteorite. Or, if I’m really lucky, a series of unfortunate events will wipe out my life savings and I will become a crack addict living off wharf rats and prostitutes. I don’t even want to get into the worst case scenarios.

Here are a few more predictions for the new year.

China takes an interest in South African real estate. After a traditional money-exchanging ceremony at Nkandla, a delegation from Beijing puts in a cheeky offer for Limpopo. President Zuma accepts on condition they take the Eastern Cape as well.

Squirrel Ramaphosa becomes deputy president and begins running South Africa like a business. Longer working hours, strictly monitored sick leave and a reduction in perks sparks a wave of resignations. GDP quadruples in six months.

SABC 3 launches a hard-hitting investigative programme aimed at exposing the government’s achievements.

The new Miss South Africa is Chinese.

Tourists begin avoiding Durban after the council takes over uShaka Marine World and celebrates the occasion by throwing a Ventersdorp family into the shark tank.

The Afrikaner resistance movement suffers a major setback when their new leader, Tos van der Tossboks, inadvertently submits the plans for their next coup attempt to the Johannesburg city council.

The DA government in the Western Cape introduces speed limits for wheelchairs and roadblocks in supermarket aisles to clamp down on drunk trolley-pushers.

SAA introduces cheap fares to London by offering limited seats in the wheel wells of their Boeings. They hope to capture the refugee market.

Flushed with success after its battle to prevent school inspectors from raising standards, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union wins its members the right to work in a child-free environment three days a week.

After having urged Africans to stop trying to be white by straightening their hair or keeping dogs as pets, President Zuma called on them to reject other crazy foreign notions such as overseas holidays, king-size beds, microwave ovens, air travel, telephones and computers.

Kgalema Motlanthe resigns as the poster boy for Gamblers Anonymous.

PigSpotter is nominated for a human rights award.

Eskom hikes electricity tariffs by fourteen million percent. We grumble for a bit, then cough up.

The labour ministry declares Sunday illegal and introduces a six-day working week. We hold a candle-lit vigil on Saturday and report for work the next day.

The president fires Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and replaces her with Chester Missing. We take to the streets but call off the protest after realising we’re missing the rugby.

North Korea donates a missile defence system to help protect Zuma’s Nkandla residence against a possible nuclear attack by war-mongering countries such as Malawi. Zuma shows his appreciation by replacing his Mshini wam’ act with a Gangnam Style dance. An outraged South Korea severs ties with South Africa.

Julius Malema is jailed on money laundering charges. He is released on medical grounds after developing a conscience.

The government builds a nuclear power plant in Thyspunt. People from the region are easily identified by their ability to glow in the dark. Three-headed kittens are sold on the roadside.

Bafana Bafana win the Africa Cup of Nations after immigration officials at OR Tambo International refuse the other teams entry because of insufficient blank pages in their passports.

The Hawks announce that swimmer Chad le Clos is suspected of being the mastermind of a drug and gun smuggling cartel with links to the Mafia, the Colombian underworld and the Chinese Triads. The investigation is shelved after investigators fail to find any evidence. They later concede to having been the victims of misinformation. They remain convinced, however, that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is involved in human trafficking.

On the international front …

Israel apologises for being such a bully and gives Palestine their ball back.

Prince Harry (codename Big H) destroys the Taliban with a single bullet accidentally fired while frolicking with three Cambodian prostitutes in a gold-plated Jacuzzi fitted inside his Apache helicopter.

Russian president Vladimir Putin steps down and becomes Pussy Riot’s new manager.

The National Rifle Association demands that every American has the right to drive tanks to work, make bullets for food and use Agent Orange as a weedkiller.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to a three-toed sloth. The British people are beside themselves with joy and celebrations go on for weeks. The first pictures of the royal sloth are sold for millions.

With international cycling finally free of doping, a Nigerian wins the Tour de France in a record time of three months, two weeks and nine days.

In the wake of their ban on miniskirts because they encourage rape, Swaziland bans books because they encourage thinking, cars because they encourage travelling and voting because it encourages democracy.

It’s Blood River All Over Again

Today, 174 years ago, the Voortrekkers defeated a Zulu army at the Battle of Blood River. And today, the Boers and the Zulus will join forces to defeat me at the Battle of Gateway Shopping Centre.

The Zulus will stream in through strategic entrances to isolate me in a pincer movement that would have made King Shaka proud. And the Boers will use their traditional tactics of walking eight abreast, scoffing ice-creams and knocking us 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 grotto, although in Game you do have a slightly smaller risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

You’d think at this time of year the very least God could do is send down a few real angels to pretty up the city. Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong and everyone has gone straight to hell. Or perhaps this is hell. Perhaps heaven is another planet with mountains of marijuana and rivers of beer and beautiful women who don’t mind if you never call them but who will still whip up a hearty breakfast if you happen to drop by early on a Sunday morning, horny and bleeding.

Orphans are big this year. I saw several shops offering to donate a percentage of purchases over R100 to those who are 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 orphans in a village north of the Tugela will each get a tin of soup. Next year, if they are really lucky, they will get a tin opener.

As I made my way through the mall, hugging the walls and keeping to the shadows, retracing my steps to confuse the sniffer dogs and darting from doorway to doorway to prevent the snipers from drawing a bead on me, I saw a brawl break out in Dis-Chem. My money was on a geriatric with purple hair and no teeth. I got the idea this wasn’t her first Zimmer frame fight.

The war for drugs escalates at this time of year. Too many family reunions, dinners and parties mean that old and young alike are desperate for their meds. If you’re new at this, I recommend something from the benzodiazepine family.

Ativan and Librium will do nicely if all you need to do is get through Christmas lunch without cutting a sibling’s throat. However, if you’re worried about getting drunk and exposing Uncle Pervy for the paedophile 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 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 the repayments.

I saw another sign. “Gateway recycles 248 378 litres of fuel – enough to send a single car 87 times around the circumference of the Earth.” Hang on. Wouldn’t the carbon footprint of this car be worse for the environment than if the fuel hadn’t been recycled? More importantly – can this car turn into a boat? No wonder our children suck at geography.

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 also came across a very nice shredder for only R199. Guess what’s going to be the most popular gift in the Union Buildings this year.

And a box saying, “Magic fish – real living fish! Watch them hatch and grow before your very eyes!” We are expected to believe a lot of made-up stuff at this time of year, but I draw the line at magic fish. Or do I? Ah, what the hell. I’ll take one. They may even turn out to be talking fish, in which case I can stop this nonsense and buy an island in the Caribbean.

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 still being sold even though weed remains illegal. It makes no sense. You genuinely 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 and to hell with the consequences.

I spent some time in the toy section because it reminds me of my childhood, none of which I can recall, although I must have had one.

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 as 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 short 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 Cape Flats 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, whether you’re a girl or a boy, 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 I can honestly say that in the brief moment our eyes met, we both knew there was nothing we had to say to each other. If octopi could talk, 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 ones 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 all girls have a piece of hard plastic between their legs. Not that I have a nephew.

My Little Iron apparently makes realistic sounds. Like “I’m sick of slaving away for these ungrateful white bastards” and “Why doesn’t your useless father ever do this?” and “Open the safe or I’ll iron your face.”

I felt my masculinity listing badly and headed to a shop selling goodies capable of blinding, crippling or even killing your enemy, many of whom were jostling me and pushing their trolleys into my ankles.

They had a matt black rifle mounted on a stand at the entrance. Gamo Big Cats, it was called. I rather fancy myself as a big game hunter so I bought it. Knowing my luck, I’ll discover that it’s barely powerful enough to take out the feral tabbies of Umdloti just as the last white lion of the Kalahari lunges for my throat.

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.

Kissing Cousins And Strip Mines

I was going to write about politics this week but the moment I typed the word “Mangaung”, I projectile vomited. I tried again and again and each time I lost more and more of my lunch.

The sound I made was not the traditional “raaaaalph” but the more gut-wrenching “zuuuuuma.”

By the time I had progressed to the dreaded dry heaves, the far wall looked like a Jackson Pollock painting, had he chosen to work in beer instead of acrylics.

The doctor said I was suffering from politicalitis caused by an overexposure to lies and corruption. He suggested I avoid newspapers for a month and prescribed six tequilas three times a day.

And so I find myself back in Mtunzini, this time with my rabidly atheistic loinfruit, Clive, and his perpetually underdressed cousin Roxanne who has gone from being a slutty adolescent to a wanton herpetologist.
When I learnt of her new-found passion, I pointed out that Clive would be an ideal subject because the horny little toad was in all likelihood riddled with herpes. She enlightened me as to what it was that herpetologists did and I said in that case Clive would be an ideal subject because of his scaly skin, hooded eyes and forked tongue. He denied having a forked tongue.

So why do you speak with one, then?” I said. He had no answer to that, largely because by the time I came up with this punchy rejoinder he had already left the house.

Typical spineless reptilian-amphibian conflict avoidance behaviour,” I said to the cat. The cat nodded without opening its eyes.

I had a feeling Clive and Roxanne were rutting like wildebeest whenever my back was turned, but intervening would simply enable the brat to give me his stock response: “But dad, there is no God!”

I can’t work out if he is a genuine atheist or merely using it to get away with heinous acts of depravity. Anyway, there seems little point in stopping first cousins from getting jiggy on the grounds of morality when our leaders are sloshing around knee-deep in whores and blood money.

I decided to take them to Mtunzini in the hope that the sounds of the forest would drown out the stampeding of their pheroponies. I remain the sole responsible adult after Brenda went off three months ago to find herself (she should try looking up her ass).

Mtunzini is a quirky little town full of reclusive hippies, itinerant zebras, unmarried mothers and snaggle-toothed hillbillies. It lurks damply just south of Richards Bay and it’s about to get a whole lot quirkier thanks to a mining company called Exxaro KZN Sands/Tronox.

The forests and wetlands of neighbouring Fairbreeze contain noo-noos who care very little for the economy of this great country. They also contain titanium. Frogs are less important than titanium so the trees must be cut down and the dunes torn up. Anyone who has ever tried to build a jet fighter out of frogs will know this is the way it should be.

Approaching Mtunzini, Roxanne sighed deeply and remarked on the primordial power of the dune forests. Apparently this is how herpetologists talk. I told her to take a good look because the next time she comes this way, she’ll be looking at giant toxic slimes dams and a landscape bleaker than the dark side of the moon.

Tears welled up in her big blue eyes. Clive consoled her by putting his hand up her skirt. That’s my boy.

Being a sensitive man, I didn’t mention that the opening of a new mine meant the Chinese wouldn’t be far behind with takeaways along the N2 selling fish-eagle-cakes, sweet-and-sour blue duiker and bushpig-on-a-stick.

The Umlalazi Resort isn’t really a resort. A proper resort has strip bingo and pool tables and a man who sells drugs to the needy. Umlalazi has a riverboat moored in the parking lot that looks like it detonated a floating mine. That’s about it as far as entertainment goes. There are also millions of fiddler crabs, which aren’t as much fun as they sound, and the allegedly endangered Pickersgill’s reed frog, which is no fun at all.

I suppose one could have a swim in the river, assuming one doesn’t mind being bitten in half by a hippo and then having a crocodile use one’s spine as a toothpick. Failing that, there’s always a romantic evening around the fire inhaling mosquito repellent and biting pepper ticks off each other’s faces.

Or you could try identifying the birds, one of which makes the delightful sound of an infant being dangled in boiling water.

Leaking hormones, Clive and Roxanne wandered off to photograph “the wildlife”, leaving me alone on the veranda of the log cabin.

I stared into the forest wondering what was the point of trees. All they seem to do is stand there swaying in the wind and randomly waving their limbs. A bit like car guards, really. I should probably tip them when I leave.

A tiny antelope stepped daintily out of the forest and into a clearing. It twitched its nose and wagged its silly little tail and looked at me with big doe eyes. It is moments such as these that inspire poets to dash off a few stanzas before dipping into the morphine. All it did was make me feel hungry so I got into the car and dashed off to the Spar for a chicken pie.

Later, I combined the two events and wrote an Ode to the Antelope Pie. After using pope, dope, lie and cry, I ran out of rhyming couplets and went to bed.

The next morning I went looking for palmnut vultures, billed as one of the rarest birds in South Africa. The problem with rare things is that you never actually see them.

After staring up at a bunch of huge raffia palms for at least five minutes, I saw nothing other than tiny pinpricks of light followed by darkness and a sudden falling to the ground.

How do I know the palmnut vulture even exists? I can also go around telling people about the incredibly rare tree-climbing spider-dog that spins webs and barks only when there is nobody around to hear it.

When we left I cast an eye over the inventory to make sure the kids hadn’t stolen anything. One of the items was “whiskey”. I peeled Clive off his cousin and threatened to put his fingers in the toaster unless he confessed. He said God didn’t exist and demanded to be set free. When that didn’t work, he claimed not to have seen any whiskey in the cabin and said he thought it was meant to be “whisk”. I found it highly unlikely that an organisation as efficient as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would make such a horrific error.

I released him and he scuttled off in tears. Later I saw Roxanne helping to stifle his sobs by putting her tongue in his mouth. What a selfless girl she’s turned out to be.

I haven’t told Clive, but I subsequently found these items on the inventory. Egg bitter. Braai tooke. Five peace calving set.

And we wonder why they can’t keep their rhinos alive.

The Whine Route

I stand in solidarity with the striking grape-pickers of the Western Cape because I, too, was once a picker of grapes. Not here, of course. Our wine farms would never hire white pickers, especially not from Cape Town, because we would make snotty remarks about the quality of the wine instead of shutting up and drinking it in lieu of wages.

My career as a grape-picker began and ended on the Greek island of Crete. Please do not confuse me with one of those mewling brats spawned by the idle rich who spend a year sashaying around Europe acquiring “life experience” by doing the kind of jobs usually reserved for the darkies back home.

For a start, I never had a gap year. Well, there was a gap, but it was a lot longer than a year. And I was travelling because, even though I single-handedly lost us the war in Namibia, the army still thought it a good idea that I go on camps. Ah, camping. What fun, you might think. You would be wrong.

My money ran out in Spain but the idea of being destitute in the land of Alexander the Great was a lot more appealing than being pretty much anything in the land of PW Botha the Not-So-Great.

A friend living in Barcelona said there was money to be made in watermelon-picking, but later I realised he must have been on drugs because all the Greeks I subsequently spoke to not only knew nothing about watermelons but frequently became enraged and chased me down the street.

Picking grapes is vicious work, especially when it is done day after day after night after night of drinking retsina in the company of an emotionally unstable Hell’s Angel from northern California and then having to spend almost every morning explaining why it would be a bad move, in terms of career advancement, to run down the slope and open the farmer’s throat with his hook knife.

But that was then and this is now.

When I heard the workers in the winelands were asking for R150 a day, my first thought was that they were insisting on reducing their wages as an example to our politicians of how to make do with less so those with nothing can have something. That’s what happens when you read Das Kapital with a mug of hot absinthe just before bed.

Truth is, they earn R70 a day. If I worked on a wine farm and that was my salary, I would insist on a return to the dop system. Keep your stinking seventy bucks and give me three bottles of semi-sweet white night-terrors instead. I would rather spend my evenings singing and fighting, thank you.

The leader of my research team has just told me that the strikers have agreed to go back to work. That’s a bit selfish of them. They could at least have waited until my deadline had passed. Oh, well. I’m not starting over again.

They are in a rotten business, anyway. Most of these farms are producing table grapes – grapes that you eat, not drink. What a terrible waste of a grape.

When DA leader Helen Zille heard the farmworkers were unhappy, she quickly grasped the implications. Capetonians would be forced to lower their standards and drink beer, making them no better than anyone else in the country. Something had to be done.

She sent an SMS to ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman saying: “We are heading towards anarchy.” Right away, I scrapped all plans to emigrate. At last, a promise of real change.

A promise of a society based on non-hierarchical, voluntary associations. In other words, no more governmental authority. No more state. I wanted to know what Helen had in mind. Anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndicalism? I hoped it wasn’t anarcho-pacifism. Too spineless for my liking. Probably libertarian anarchism. But then we’d be right back where we started, lurching about knee-deep in the filth and fury of the free market, except this time there would be too much freedom and not enough market.

It didn’t take long to work out that Helen was undergoing her monthly Jekyll and Hyde metamorphosis, except her Mr Hyde is almost always more Mr Machiavelli.

It is essential,” said Hekyll Zilliavelli to her opponent, “that we remove politics from this matter and stabilise the situation.” Then, the coup de grace, “This is the call you must make.”

Marius Fransman, surprised to find the ball in his court after having been knocked out of the finals in 2009, responded by … I’m sorry. This information is not currently available. Reboot your politician and check for answers later.

Helen was also “extremely worried that lives are in danger and that people will retaliate”. I love it when politicians speak like this because it causes absolutely all of us to panic.

The mark of a true patriot is s/he who sows alarm in everyone, not just a single race, tribe or food group. Who is retaliating? Who are they retaliating against? Us? Them? Who are they? Who are we? Whose lives are in danger? Ours? Theirs? Should we worry? Should they? It keeps you on your toes.

Zille must have thought Fransman was playing doubles with Jacob Zuma because she batted it to him, too. Good luck with that. The day Zuma intervenes to keep everything running smoothly in the Western Cape is the day Israel exports Uzis to the Gaza Strip.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that wine is undrinkable.

Ever since I discovered the benefits of alcohol, at the age of five, I have had a hard time keeping wine down. Even the so-called good stuff tastes like badger urine to me.

The only people who can stomach wine of any vintage are teenage girls, unemployed journalists, middle-aged homosexuals and housewives who use it to wash the Valium down.

Apart from anything else, one of the natural flavourants in wine comes from chameleons. I am the first to agree that any animal capable of looking forward and backwards at the same time, let alone changing colour at will, deserves to be harvested, liquidised and drunk slowly with a little lightly salted mozzarella and biscuits on the side. But however much they deserve to die, chameleons have never really made wine any more palatable. More earthy, perhaps, but not palatable.

The wine industry is so far up its own provincial decanter that it thinks it is superior to everyone else dealing in food and beverages and marginally related substances sold through a hole in a brick wall.

What we need to do is destroy the myth that wine farmers are somehow providing a more useful service to humanity than farmers or Mrs Bismillah and her fabulous mutton rotis.

Wine farmers generally have more money than roti farmers, and this is why we tend to stand slack-jawed in awe of these shameless grape-mongers.

Because they live in magnificent mansions on sprawling estates with wanton wives in jodhpurs and children with blue eyes and blonde hair, you instinctively believe they are a higher life form. You need to sober up.

They make their money by producing more than 800 million litres of wine each year. And every single drop passes through somebody’s liver. Okay, not every drop. A fair amount ends up down the side of your car.

They manufacture a product that disappears within hours of buying it. And once you have finished with it, the only evidence you ever had it is a brain too big for its cranium and a monkey armpit mouth. And possibly two broken legs and a criminal record.

Why do you think wine farmers and their conniving connoisseur acolytes always pick up a glass by its stem? They would have us believe that it’s done to avoid warming the wine, but those of us who have been around these swine know that it’s to prevent the police from lifting a clean set of prints.

Misanthropy Is The Life For Me

Wednesday started well enough with a near-drowning experience at North Beach and a few mugs of electric tea with the legendary lawyer Psycho Syd Taverner, followed by an unexpected nap and a frighteningly real nightmare that I was on deadline.

I was about to start writing when the power in the area went off. This is just one of the many delightful quirks of life in South Africa. Who wants to live in a country where everything works?

It’s far more exciting to drive around late at night in the middle of an electrical storm looking for a pub with free wi-fi while running the risk of getting hijacked, stuffed into the boot and skinned like a dumb animal on the banks of the Umgeni River.

I find a place on the edge of a boomslang-infested chunk of North Coast jungle and the werewolf at the door reluctantly allows me inside to filch some of their power. Armed with a Macbook, I’m clearly out looking for trouble.

The manager relaxes when I start chain-ordering double brandies and Coke. It’s like a secret signal among the brotherhood. If you drink Klippies, you’re okay.

It’s the same kind of thing that makes the owners of old Land Rovers wave to each other. It’s also one of the reasons I want to sell mine. All this waving at strange men defeats the point of driving a Defender in the first place – to assert your masculinity.

I adopt a defensive position against the far wall and size up the clientele. All I see is the very worst of humanity – estate agents doing deals at the bar. Crying babies. Lonely gin junkies eyeing me with intent. Happily married couples. Afrikaners. Cockneys who fled to the shires because London was getting too African and Asian and then, inexplicably, fled to Durban where they spend their time drinking imported ale and complaining about the blacks and the Indians.

The man at the table in front of me orders chicken livers. What kind of maniac eats an organ designed to filter toxins from the blood? Sis, man.

The woman asks the waiter if they serve vegetables. I want to shout, “Madam, they serve anyone.”

Estate agents have a pitch in their voice that is aimed squarely at your central nervous system. After hearing it for one minute, your senses start going numb. Two minutes, and you begin losing your ability to tell right from wrong. Three minutes, and you have to get away or your brain will turn to jelly and ooze from your ears. But you can’t escape because she has locked you inside. Your only way out is to buy the place.

One of those babies born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck is two tables away and is only now discovering it can make sounds. The parents think it’s cute. Every time their abominable loinfruit shrieks, they look around, smiling, as if to say, “We made this. Aren’t we clever?” No. You’re not clever. What you are is criminally inconsiderate, and I’m being generous here.

Babies should be reared on battery farms and only allowed out once they have learnt to harness the destructive power of their vocal chords.

Oh, look. It dropped its dummy. The mother picks it up. But she’s staring slack-jawed at rugby on the TV and sticks the dummy into its ear, then its eye. Eventually she plugs its noise-hole. It makes a sound like a wild pig being suffocated by a boa constrictor.

She removes the dummy and starts kissing it on its nasty little mouth. Their lips are lashed together for so long that I begin to wonder if she’s blowing it up. The creature changes colour. By now it’s twice the size it was when it came in. I cover my laptop in case it explodes.

Off to my left, the estate agent is making sure the entire suburb gets to hear about the quote he got on roof tiles that blew off in the storm. His appalling wife is dressed like a lumberjack. She has a voice like an angle grinder cutting into a sheep’s skull.

To my right is a young couple – not quite black diamonds, but certainly getting there. Black cubic zirconia, perhaps. They are drinking coffee and flicking through their iPhones. They haven’t said a word to each other since they arrived. The tension is killing me.

I want to lean over and introduce a topic of conversation. “So how about them strikes, eh? Bloody darkies. Ruining this country for everyone.” That should get things going.

Even when plates heaped with what look like a zebra’s rib cage arrive, they pick desultorily at them in silence. No mess, no fuss. Put a plate of ribs in front of a hungry white man and when he leaves he will have to be taken into the parking lot, stripped naked and hosed down. Maybe that’s just me.

There’s a man sitting at the bar wearing a baseball cap and a pair of cargo shorts big enough to fit a baby elephant. His blubber flows over the sides of the chair like something out of a Salvador Dali painting.

Lava man is having some kind of bar snack and yawning as he eats. I’m surprised he’s not a tourist attraction in these parts. See the amazing human hippo! Wait for him to yawn and try to throw a chicken wing into his mouth! Prizes to be won! Could be Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s biggest cash cow yet.

Then there are the gay dudes behind me. One is white and Afrikaans and the other brown and Afrikaans. They fill me with hope for this country. At the same time, they fill me with revulsion. Such are the quandaries faced by the English-speaking liberal.

The bruin-ou’s accent is easy on the ear. Got a bit of Cape lyricism to it. But the wit-ou? Sweet Jesus. He looks like one of those teenage farm boys with the strength and intellect of an ox. His consonants are so guttural that I begin to think he is choking on his pork medallions.

I know that if I pick him up from behind and give him the Heimlich manoeuvre, and I’m wrong, he will consider it to be foreplay and I won’t be able to go to the toilet again. Better that he chokes.

The waiter tells me it’s happy hour. At midnight? Where the hell am I? Paradise? Make it a double, comrade. And don’t spare the horses.