I bought a container of cherries this week because it’s been a while since I had a cherry. In more ways than one.

Cherries are the heroin of the fruit world and they were down my gullet in ninety seconds flat. I needed more, rather badly, and considered going from door to door slaughtering anyone unable or unwilling to feed the monkey on my back.

Luckily for them I was distracted by the price sticker – R45.99 for 15 cherries. No, I didn’t know the price when I bought them. That’s not how I shop. If I like the look of something I put it in my trolley and when I get to the checkout I avoid looking at the cash register.

It’s only when I get home that I am exposed to the retailer’s profane lust for profits. There was another sticker. “Imported from UK.” I almost had a stroke. We grow cherries in South Africa. I know this because I once went to the Cherry Festival in Ficksburg and was nearly killed. Not by the cherries. It’s a long story involving military policemen, a box of matches and a sleeping bag soaked in aviation fuel. Tequila might have been involved.

There are 500 hectares of cherry trees in the eastern Free State, with 250 trees per hectare with an average yield per hectare of ten tons. That’s, like, a trillion cherries.

Don’t tell me we’re importing because it’s not our cherry season. We grow marijuana all year round and there’s no reason we can’t do the same with cherries.

I can’t afford to live like this. As a freelancer I never get an increase. This means that, at some point down the line, the cost of living will be tailgating my earnings and a trip to the shops will get me two potatoes and a mouse from the pet shop. If the price of mice goes up, I’ll just have to forego the protein. There’s no point in complaining. Might as well laugh. Drink and laugh.

I remember a time when shopping for groceries was fun. We’d roam the aisles surreptitiously scoffing biscuits and guzzling wine from screw-top bottles before posing as security guards and frisking the elderly. Sometimes we’d pretend to shag inside the show tent in the outdoor section. Well, she was pretending.

That was when we were a we. Now I is just an I. A lot of things aren’t as much fun when you find yourselves on unexpected early release after a long stretch in the Connubial Correctional Facility. Sex is one. Shopping is another. Unlike sex, though, women generally take the initiative when it comes to groceries. They have to or the contents of the trolley would resemble the handiwork of a juvenile delinquent with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Shopping is a drug and men are the pushers. Women are the users. Draw your own conclusions. I have pushed more trolleys than I care to mention. It’s only right that the man retains control. In the wrong hands, a trolley is a lethal weapon.

What often happens, though, is that the female will take command of the trolley in mid-shop. This is done in silence. It is conducted like a prisoner swap between two hostile countries. The male does not know why the trolley has been taken from him. He says nothing, but follows at a respectful distance. Now and again he removes an item from a shelf and discreetly puts it in the trolley. Less discreetly, she takes it out and returns it to the shelf. Later, the trolley is found abandoned, allowing the male to once again assume control. Assume being the operative word.

I have somehow become a subsistence shopper, buying just enough for one day. Perhaps this is what happens when one lives alone for too long. One begins to see no point in planning too far ahead because at any moment one could go mad or drive to the airport or simply walk into the ocean and never come out.

There are times I reach the till with two items in the trolley. This sends a message to other shoppers that here is a man with ascetic tastes. A strong, heterosexual man with no need of luxuries. A Spartan warrior, if you will. Or a loser with no lover and very little money. But that’s not it at all. Every time I go into a supermarket, I have every intention of stocking up. I am, however, almost immediately overwhelmed by the decisions I am expected to make. A great heaviness takes hold of my brain and I have to fight the urge to lie down.

My cupboards are full of rotting food and it’s maggots versus weevils in a ghastly battle for total domination of this repulsive kingdom. The inside of my fridge looks like a science experiment gone terribly wrong. It’s not my fault. Everything comes in bulk. Of course it’s going to go off.

Why are there are no little portions for single people? I want to buy two eggs and three rashers of bacon. I want one pork sausage, not twelve. I don’t want a whole loaf of bread – I want four slices. I also want a shot glass of applesauce for my sausage because I can no longer bear to throw out one more virtually full jar of applesauce that has mutated into an ecosystem of evil.

A third of all food produced in South Africa – worth R60-billion a year – goes to waste. Let’s not tell the thirteen million people who go to bed hungry every night. They wouldn’t be happy. Then again, they’re probably too weak to protest.

Anyway. Back in the supermarket, I find myself in a staring match with the Salad Bar. It doesn’t have what I want. Why use the word bar if your customers can’t order a Bloody Mary? It’s false advertising and the premises should be torched. I counted eighteen bowls of unlabeled noodle-based substances. They should give you a goddamn user’s manual.

Being Durban, people tend to congregate in the dead animal section after they’ve been sweating in the aisles. It’s not so bad now, in winter. But in summer management uses cattle prods to encourage people to disperse to the non-refrigerated areas.

Chilling with the dismembered livestock, I saw something called Box Flavoured Flatties. They looked like donor organs. I shan’t be buying one any time soon, even if they do taste like the yummiest of boxes.

I thought I’d seen every cut and form of frozen chicken, but I hadn’t yet seen Rainbow’s “Walky Talky Heads and Feet”. To describe it as a grotesque horror show in a bag wouldn’t come close to doing it justice.

I needed to be around some kind of product that hadn’t been forced to live a cruel life and die a violent death. Pasta, then. I don’t really understand pasta, but I’d like to. What I don’t need is 72 different shapes and strains to choose from. Some, like Penne Rigate, even have surnames. Capelli D’Angelo looks like Donald Trump’s hair and Conchigliette could easily be a rank in the Mafia.

If I stay too long in the supermarket, catatonia sets in and people have to push their way past me because I’m standing slack-jawed and drooling at, say, the olive section because I’m faced with black or green or Calamata, pitted, sliced, tinned or buffet, stuffed with garlic, anchovies or wildebeest spleens.

Why stuff them with anything at all? Is it not enough of an indictment on humanity that someone thought to stuff a duck into a turkey and then a chicken into the duck and call it turducken? How about a sautéed sparrow for starters? Would madam like a flambéed flamingo for dessert? Oh, go on. I’m sure you could squeeze another bird into your grotesquely distended belly.

Fraught with indecision, I made the rookie mistake of wandering into the cereal section. There are 947 different types, ranging from the kind that will turn your poo into ceramic bricks to the kind that will make you run in circles for an hour before vomiting up a technicolour rainbow.

Having pushed an empty trolley around for twenty minutes, I panicked and began grabbing stuff off the shelves. When I paid, the teller gave me a couple of Stikeez. Apparently these things are the equivalent of crack-cocaine for children. Not wanting to get addicted, I gave them to a passing mother. She gasped and her face lit up. I got the feeling that if she didn’t already have a child, she’d be happy for me to give her one right there and then. She passed my Stikeez to her brat in the trolley and I thought he was going to have an embolism.

The mother followed me into the parking lot thanking me over and over again and even touching me. I began to get an idea of how Jesus might have felt, although if he had been handing out Stikeez instead of loaves and fishes, he would have had a lot more than twelve disciples, let me tell you.

What I might do is collect these miniature voodoo trinkets and hang around outside shopping centres, offering them to hot unmarried mothers in return for … well, in return for their groceries. I never again want to set foot in one of these hideous monuments to greed and waste.

jesuspic

 

 

 

 

Not much wealth, but certainly common

Something I wrote a few months back.

 

Parties exploded across Durban when Edmonton withdrew its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, leaving this glittering jewel of the east coast the sole bidder.

It should be said, though, that Durban people have a reputation for partying first and asking questions later. Often there is no time to even ask questions because we have to move on to the next party or risk falling behind. Nobody wants to be the Arsenal of the party circuit.

But as I raced like a degenerate white Lewis Hamilton from braai to soiree to crack house partying my ass off, I began wondering if Edmonton’s wussing out was more of a curse than a blessing. Had these Canadians just handed us a poisoned chalice? Was I onto something? I had been smoking poison and drinking from chalices all night. Did any of this really matter? Why was I having these thoughts? Why was I having any thoughts at all?

I shook my head violently. It fell off and rolled under a table. A woman dressed like Peter Pan – it might have been Peter Pan dressed as a woman – retrieved it and screwed it back on.

“Thank you,” I said. I was going to make a cheap joke about giving me head but she said her darling Wendy was waiting for her and disappeared through an open window. Might have been Tinkerbell, but that wouldn’t explain the … forget it. For the record, I don’t have a problem with fairies or lesbians.

I might, however, have a problem with Canadians. The ones from Edmonton, in particular. So why did you withdraw your bid for the Games, eh? What was tha’ all aboot, eh? You wanted ’em bad enough when you tossed yer hat into the ring back in whenever it was, diddencha, eh?

Oh, I see. Financial reasons and a global fall in oil prices. Well, that makes it even cheaper to hold oil-based events like women’s wrestling and … that’s about it. As for financial reasons, are you saying you had the money but now you don’t? Where the hell did it go? Do you have a South African in charge of the treasury?

Durban also doesn’t have the money but, unlike you, we don’t put the selfish needs of our own people ahead of something as important as the Commonwealth Games.

Studies have shown that the underclass is less likely to rob and murder others if one of their countrymen wins a gold medal. Our people might have no work or food but they do have civic pride. And that’s what important here.

I think you’ve played us, Edmonton. I think you’re like the cash-strapped drunk who sits at the back of an auction raising his hand on every bet, forcing the serious bidders to pay more than they would otherwise have done. Sure, it’s fun. But you’re older than I am and you should know better.

Glasgow hosted the games last year and it cost them 575-million quid. Or, as our president would say, seventy-eleven trillion, nine hundred and thousand billion rand.

So what you’ve done is effectively bankrupted Durban. Where the hell are we going to get that kind of money from? We were bargaining heavily on you winning the bid. We can’t pull out now. That would leave nobody at all wanting to host the 2022 games. Queen Elizabeth would have a conniption, Charles would become king and we’d all have to burn our cars and travel everywhere by camel.

Be honest, Canada. You don’t really want to be in the Commonwealth, do you? Half your country speaks French and the other barely speak at all because if they open their mouths their tongues freeze solid and their teeth crack and fall out of their heads.

So it is left to us to hold high the flag of the Commonwealth. And let me tell you something, Edmonton. The opening ceremony of the first-ever African games, performed by torchlight, gas lamps and shards of burning pool cues, will be the best ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheater – The Fastest Mammal on Two Legs

Never mind Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Forget Alan Turing cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code. The hacking of dating site Ashley Madison has done the most damage. If you go outside and listen carefully, you can hear the distant sound of erections toppling over like shot giraffe.

Okay, so Ashley Madison isn’t strictly a dating site, although I do think that if two strangers get naked and filthy within five minutes of meeting, it’s still a form of dating. Extreme dating, perhaps.

The tag-line on their website, as everyone knows by now, is, “Life is short. Have an affair.” They may want to change it to, “Life is short. Have a divorce.” Lawyers are already referring to Christmas in September.

The site also says, “Ashley Madison is the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters.” Discreet is highlighted in red and italicised. Apparently that wasn’t clear enough for the hackers. As for the company’s claim of 39 470 000 anonymous members, well, they might want to make a couple of changes. For a start, replace “anonymous” with “anxious” or “mortified”.

When it emerged that the site’s security had been breached, every married woman in the world wanted to know if her beloved was on the database. Ninety percent of those signed up to the service are men. The phrase Members Only has never rung more true.

Although there probably are some wives on the site, women, married or not, generally don’t need to trawl the internet to get laid. They simply need go outside and smile at any passing man who takes their fancy. Perhaps do that thing they do with their eyebrows to help the slower ones get the message.

So who did the hacking? They call themselves the Impact Team and my gut tells me women are involved. There’s a vicious recklessness in this act of terror. But, speaking as a twice-married man, my gut has been wrong before. It could just as easily be a bunch of disgruntled husbands. Or religious zealots.

Noel Biderman, legendary lounge lizard and founder of the Toronto-based Ashley Madison, has without doubt made it easier for married people to cheat over the last 14 years. Would these people still have cheated had the site not existed? Probably.

Biderman might have broken hearts, but he broke no laws. Stone him. Don’t stone him. I don’t particularly care either way. He’s a money-grubbing douchebag.

I do think, though, that by acting as judge, jury and executioner, the crusading hackers are pretty much cut from the same cloth as the Islamic State. Meting out “moral” justice without allowing for mitigation? Shades of Sharia.

This week a community newspaper in Nelspruit posted two links, presumably as some kind of twisted public service, allowing people to check whether their spouse was on Ashley Madison. All you had to do was type an email address into a box. On a site called Trustify, you’d either be cleared or get a message saying, “You have been compromised.” Later, checking to see if any of my married friends had been compromised, I discovered the service had been “temporarily removed”. I tried the second link. This site warned, “Do not use the Trustify search site. They are recording email address searches and spamming/extorting people.”

Indeed, the potential for extortion has never been better and the hum of computers firing up from Lagos to Ljubljana is almost drowning out the sound of weeping women and laughing lawyers.

Before Trustify went down, so to speak, I typed in my email address and was duly notified that I had been compromised. I was asked if I’d like their help in protecting my information. I got the impression a fee might be involved. The other site also said my email had been found. They offered advice and said don’t trust Trustify.

Both sites were right. My email address was indeed registered with Ashley Madison. Oh, please. Don’t look at me like that. It was research. Seriously. I joined half a dozen dating sites earlier this year because I thought it might make good material for a column – a column, I might add, that appeared on May 3 in this very newspaper and in which I openly admitted to having signed up to Ashley Madison.

It went no further than that, but even if I had shagged someone else’s wife it wouldn’t have counted as adultery because I’m separated. Okay, fine. It’s a 50 shades of grey area.

Given the choice, though, I’d rather not get jiggy with married women. Not for any ethical or moral reasons, but because South African men are quick to resort to violence and I really can’t run that fast any more.

Things are getting nasty, with at least two reported cases of people killing themselves because of the leak. And two Canadian law firms have filed a $578m class-action lawsuit against Ashley Madison for failing to secure their site. In turn, Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media is offering a R5m reward for information about the hackers. There’s panic in the air and nobody’s getting laid. This is not good.

Fortunately, I have a solution. Well, technically it’s not mine. It belongs to a company called Sprout Pharmaceuticals and it’s a little pink pill designed to boost the female libido. The pill, taken daily, is called Addyi. It’s generic name is flibanserin. How ridiculous. If I had to invent a drug that restored sexual desire in women, I’d call it Yeehaa!

Addyi comes with side effects of fatigue or fainting if combined with alcohol or certain other drugs. Every woman I have ever known has, on at least one occasion, passed out or pleaded fatigue when I have sounded the Last Post and set about the ceremonial lowering of the broeks. In their defence, though, or perhaps in mine, drugs and alcohol were almost always involved.

My point – let’s call it a theory – is that married men might not be so quick to sign up to sites like Ashley Madison if their wives were able to boost their dopamine levels and show a spontaneous interest in bumping uglies.

On the other hand, there might be nothing wrong with your wife’s sex drive. She wants it, alright, just not with you. So while Addyi might very well awaken a ravening beast in your woman, there’s no guarantee you’ll be the beneficiary.

Meanwhile, estate agents everywhere have begun adding dog boxes to their listings.

Dogbox

Advance Australia Unfair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BenRoo1

 

Here’s to the Loerie Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Going loco

I don’t believe the government has spent R600-million on thirteen new locomotives that are too high. If anything, the journalist who wrote this story was too high. Before placing the order, somebody must have said to somebody else, “Get somebody to send somebody out there with a tape measure and a step ladder. Let’s see if the Afro 4000 fits.”

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) says the accusations of incompetence are racist. I’m not convinced. If anything, they are trainist. It’s the Afrikaans press that broke this so-called story, which means the journalists concerned are quite likely white, male and of a certain age. The last train they probably caught was in 1976 from Valhalla to 7 South African Infantry Battalion in Phalaborwa. No wonder they hate anyone who has anything to do with trains. I certainly do and I was rendered to the marginally more civilised 2 Signals Regiment.

So the counter-revolutionary, anti-majoritarian, proto-fascist media suggests that because nobody was sent around with a tape measure and stepladder, passengers risked electrocution every time one of the new Afros brushed against a high voltage overhead line. Where I come from, this would be a bonus. Rail travel is crushingly dull at the best of times and I couldn’t think of a better way to liven up the journey.

I’d pay extra just to know that at any moment 50 million volts could come coursing through my carriage or that, as we head for a bridge, the entire roof could be sliced open. That’s what I call living. As a gesture of goodwill, Prasa could offer each passenger a free pair of rubber soled shoes and a crash helmet.

Journalists need to remember that running a railway is not an exact science. It’s a process of trial and error. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you got your engineering degree from the Kolkatta Institute of Alternative Medicine. Being president is similarly a process of trial and error, although some presidents will never go on trial no matter how many errors they make.

The point is, it doesn’t really matter if the new locomotives are the wrong height. It’s not a train smash. Well, I suppose it might be. But these are minor details. Like, if our new Russian nuclear power stations are too small to accommodate the Chinese plutonium rods, we’ll just put in a sunroof and they can stick out the top. It’s not only the boers who can make a plan.

Apparently Prasa did conduct some tests and found that power lines were high enough not to drag along the roof of the train killing everyone who wasn’t wearing their rubber shoes. However, the neoliberal drug-pushing media diverted from their regime change agenda long enough to point out that “there are many places in the country where, because of poor maintenance, overhead wires are much lower than they should be”. Much, I expect, like morale and IQs.

One thing worries me, inasmuch as anything can worry me. Prasa chief executive Mosenngwa Mofi admitted, “Indeed, there have been professional and robust and technical exchanges between Prasa and Transnet in relation to the testing of the Afro 4000 in the 3 kilovolt lines.” I don’t know what this means. Put more than one number in a sentence and I’m finished. But I do know that when it comes to negotiations between anyone involved in public transport, “robust exchanges” generally involve panga fights before breakfast.

Stayin’ Alive – South Africa’s new disco anthem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cat burglar

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

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

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

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

mongoose

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

Trust me, I’m a financial advisor

breadear

I have always paid scant attention to that section of any newspaper devoted to matters concerning money. Then, last week, instead of rolling a broadsheet-sized joint from the front page of Personal Finance that would take at least three people to hold and a flamethrower to light, I began reading a feature headlined, “How your retirement plans might fail you.” I took this as a sign that I was growing up and it disturbed me a great deal, but not as much as it did to discover there was a very good chance I’d be destitute and half-eaten by monkeys before I could retire.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’d be thoroughly eaten, digested and shat out long before anyone even noticed I was missing. The alpha monkey of the Westbrook troop – the one with the giant blue balls – would move in and my neighbours would whisper among themselves about how shrunken and hairy I had become. My death would only become apparent when Blue Balls, having found my wallet and car keys, went off to buy bananas from the Seagull Roost café and crashed into the complex’s electric gate because monkey’s don’t understand that they have to press the red button to get back in. Once they work that out, we’re finished as a species.

That’s enough about monkeys.

On the financial front, there is some good news. For me, at least. The rest of you are screwed. Amid the increasingly hysterical requests from the traffic police that I hand myself over, I received a reminder that money was imminent. This wasn’t a reminder from Lagos Larry, either. Apparently I took out a number of policies some years ago. It almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if San Reddy hadn’t brought it up. San and I worked together at e.tv when the channel started. Between the two of us, he was the more sensible one when it came to money. When it came to anything, really.

Having a drink in Bardelis after work one night, San suggested I get in touch with his then financial advisor. I suggested he desist from such depressing talk and buy another round. Being the gentleman that he is, he politely refrained from sketching a picture of me in 20 years’ time living in a cardboard box on the N2, drinking recycled Chardonnay and eating my girlfriend’s toes.

I have never responded well to advice from people who have my best interests at heart, but this time I followed up on it. I worked like a dog in harness at e.tv in those early years and the recurring chest pains went a long way towards encouraging me to make that call.

She suggested we meet at a coffee shop in a mall. This wasn’t a good start. My idea of a financial advisor was someone who’d insist on meeting in an underground parking garage at 2am. I believed then, as I do now, that the deliberate accumulation of wealth is a dark and treacherous affair and negotiations are best conducted out of the public eye. Or, at the very least, in a broken bar where the taxis don’t run and the tequila is cheap.

She was impeccably dressed. Her make-up was perfect. Her shoes matched the colour of her nails. I knew right away that I was either going to spend my retirement in the Bahamas or in a homeless shelter. It was a gamble, possibly the biggest of my life. I asked if everything went pear-shaped, could she at least guarantee me a spot in a homeless shelter in the Bahamas. She laughed and picked up the menu.

“What would you like,” she said. I thought a bit, then said I’d like to retire at 45 with enough money to never again have to sit in rush hour traffic, take guff from mental midgets or have to settle for 21 days leave a year. A small island in the Caribbean might also be nice.

“I meant,” she said, “what would you like to eat?”

Suspecting that this could turn into more of a mugging than a blessing, I opted for a liquid lunch. She wanted a guarantee of my money, not my temperance. One finds drinking often helps to blunt oneself to the trauma of dealing with numbers. However, it also makes one inclined to sign whatever it takes to hasten the end of the horror.

Life insurance, disability, dread disease, retirement, death, funeral. Would you like a will with that, sir? May I validate your parking? Teddy bear for the blind? Hell, yeah. I’ll take it all. Bring me another beer. Where do I sign?

Every month for years after that meeting I would look at my bank statement and say, “What the hell is that?” I didn’t really want to know. Making enquiries would only have confused me more. I assumed somebody out there knew what was going on and that would have to do.

And then, the other day, it happened. All policies fell due. Out of the red and into the black. Ka-ching. Just like that. I rushed to the nearest bottle store and bought it. Then I went for lunch with my father and told him the happy news. He nodded slowly and stroked his long white beard. “That’s very nice,” he said. “I just hope you came out with more than if you had put all that money into the stock market instead.”

I told him I was going for a wee and would be right back, then jumped the fence and ran for my car. I don’t want to know these things. I can’t imagine anything worse than sitting down with a calculator and finding out that I would’ve made far more money buying shares in Shoprite. Or even keeping the money in my current account. I don’t care. What’s done is done. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

But here’s where it gets weird. Apparently I can’t get my hands on all the money I’ve paid over the years. Apparently I can’t be trusted to sit on my big fat nest egg for fear that I will lose control, smash it open and suck up its gooey goodness and then, when it’s empty, sit back and become a burden on the state.

This isn’t right. It’s about as wrong as Bruce Jenner deciding he’s a woman because he bought the boobies and wig but still wants to hang onto his willy. Genitalia determines gender. Lop off yer goolies, Bruce, and you’ll always be Caitlyn to me.

So this is the deal. I am allowed to take one-third of the value of the policies in Spar plastic bags full of untraceable banknotes. The remaining two-thirds must be invested in something called a living annuity. From this, I have to withdraw no less than 2.5% and no more than 17.5% a year.

My adviser advised me to err on the side of caution. “The safe drawdown rate for a balanced portfolio is four percent.” I don’t know if I have a balanced portfolio. Not because she hasn’t given me the information. She has. But you can only say, “Sorry, would you mind explaining that again?” so many times before you have to nod and smile and walk away.

Never mind the portfolio, I don’t even know for sure that my financial adviser is balanced.

“You don’t want to start digging into your capital too soon,” she said over the phone. It’s a lesson that comes way too late in life. When I was a kid, my pocket money would disappear within the five minutes it took me to run to the corner shop. I didn’t always spend it. Most of the time it would fall out of my pocket and be lost forever. My sister would save hers. She’s probably a multi-millionaire today.

So it’s a gamble and, like all gambles of any consequence, you absolutely must calculate the odds. But this one is trickier than most.

Brain: “Take the 2.5%. You are going to live a long time. Make it last.”

Gut: “Don’t fuck around. You could be dead by Friday. Take the 17.5%.”

Ideally, I suppose, Big Brother’s piggy bank would make its final payout and I would spend it on something that would make me very happy and then kill me. It will be a woman, I expect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An open letter to ANC Secretary General Comrade Gwede Mantashe

images

Dear Comrade Gwede,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A letter to Big Jake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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