The bandersnatches are on their way


We have finally overtaken Britain as the world’s foremost nation in whining and complaining.

Crime is too high. Standards are too low. Sex is too fast. Service is too slow. I hate my job. I don’t have a job. I have a headache. I have Ebola. Too many white people. Too many black people. Not enough rain. Too much rain. On and on and on we go.

Sure, every nation complains. But a lot of them don’t stop there. We complain, then sit back and wait for something to happen. And when it doesn’t, we complain some more. We shake our heads and mutter about emigrating. Then the weekend rolls around and we braai and get drunk and suddenly this is the best country in the world.

Here, complaining is about as effective as getting a duck to participate in the ice bucket challenge. They don’t notice, they don’t care. We need to change tactics. Death threats, issued by mail or telephonically, have been known to get results. If that fails, step it up a notch. If you’re a whitey, stop a darkie in the street and ask him to teach you how to make a petrol bomb. Then offer him a ride home. Or to the taxi rank, at least. It’s that kind of bonding that will be the salvation of this country.

Governments through the ages have forced us to use violence to bring about change. If only they listened to the common people, Russia would still be ruled by the Romanovs and one of Marie Antoinette’s loathsome progeny would be the president of France.

Governments aren’t overthrown because they refuse to meet demands for free weed and beer fountains on every corner. They get their metaphorical heads chopped off because they can’t, or won’t, meet demands for jobs and houses and affordable food and fuel.

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

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

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

The only reason the EFF has a presence in parliament is because the government allowed an underclass to develop. To be fair, though, the underclass was always there. The only difference is that they now have a voice. Turn your back on them at your peril. France still has plenty of second-hand guillotines they could easily offload on a country with a 0.6% growth rate.

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

Anyway. Where was I? Ah, yes. Complaining. You know what I hate? People who, when you ask how they’re doing, they say, “Alright, I s’pose. Doesn’t help to complain.” I want to shout, “Look over there!” And when they turn to look, I sink my teeth into the fleshy part of their neck and shake them like a terrier shakes a rat.

You gutless drone. Governments love people like you. The given-ups. The what’s-the-pointers. If you can’t even be bothered with the first level of resistance, you deserve to die on your knees.

My job is to fix or foul the fault lines that run through civil and uncivil society, but I’m not going to turn my words into action unless you shiftless swine are prepared to back me up. I don’t want to ride into battle against the political orcs and uruk-hais only to turn around and find you’ve all buggered off to the pub.

We have an odd way of protesting. Cape Town’s taxi drivers, furious at being constantly fined and harassed by the cops, go out and set a bunch of buses alight. That’s like Barack Obama saying, “It’s time to teach those Islamic State terrorists a lesson. Tomorrow we bomb Stockholm.”

The cost of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project inexplicably went from R6.4-billion in 2006 to R20.6-billion in 2012. I expect Cosatu will retaliate by calling for a boycott of King Pie.

Fourteen trustees on the board of the government’s medical aid scheme each earn more than half a million rand for meeting a few times a year. The Communist Party will demand that the SPCA be shut down.

The police are corrupt – stone the ambulances. Teachers are drunk – torch the clinics. The ANC doesn’t deliver – vote for the ANC. Welcome to Alice in Blunderland.

Overwhelmed with outrage, I went to my local pub to think about what exactly I should complain about this week. I have two local pubs. Skabengas in Cape Town and the Bush Tavern in Umdloti. Also Beach Bums, there by Westbrook. And the Blow Hole in Glencairn. And the … okay, so I have more than two local pubs. But right now I’m in Cape Town.

Sweeping changes have been made to one of my favourite bars without anyone ever having consulted me. I am outraged.

The yuppification of Skabengas will go down as an atrocity second only to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Real skabengas used to drink at Skabengas. Now it’s full of hipsters with ironically trimmed beards and young married couples sighing at each other over cocktails and canapés. Obviously it’s no longer called Skabengas. Its new name is Beach Road Bar. The owner doesn’t do drugs, that’s for sure. And if he does, it’s the kind of drugs that stifle the imagination or make you want to water your garden or go to sleep.

Skabengas had wooden tables, wooden benches and people you wooden want to take home to meet your mother. Rastas controlled the bar, a giant TV played terrible music and even worse sport and stray dogs had the run of the place. By midnight the floor was sticky with oestrogen and the air thick with testosterone. It got loud and the pony-faced neighbours complained regularly.

The battered old bar that lurked with intent against the far wall has been replaced by a younger model posing cheekily in the centre of the room. The stairs leading down to the toilets, which would turn into the north face of the Eiger as the night wore on, have been tamed and decorated with sparkly mosaic tiles.

There are sculpted plastic chairs and couches with scatter cushions, the bisexuals of the furniture world. The décor is all pastels and pale wood and whites. A lot of whites. Particularly among the clientele.

Funky electro punky reggae trip hoppy poppy jazzy blues is piped through speakers discreetly mounted in the corners. Après-yuppification, it was women of a certain age being discreetly mounted in the corners.

Having said that, the view over Noordhoek beach and off towards Kommetjie is as magnificent as ever. I’m only surprised the interior decorator never insisted on bringing in flocks of pink flamingos fitted with diamanté collars and leg warmers studded with Swarovski rhinestones.

The other good thing is that you can still bring your dog. Also, an elderly gentleman just walked in with a bright green parrot on his shoulder. He ordered a Windhoek draught. The man, not the parrot. I don’t know what the parrot ordered. It seemed wrong to eavesdrop on a conversation between a man and his parrot. I’ve never seen a man so in love with a bird. I only hope it doesn’t die before he does. It’s a non-racist parrot, too, being quite happy to perch on the arm of a black customer for the classic selfie with parrot. This country should be run by parrots, especially if they only ever say, “Hello. How are you?” Parrots don’t make promises they can’t keep. I had a parrot once. I called him Onan because he kept spilling his seed. Sorry.

My waitress was a young white girl. Her manner was awkward and her forced laugh set my eyeballs on edge. She said it was her first time. As a waitress or among people? I couldn’t be sure.

She waited until my mouth was full, then rushed up and began enquiring about my pizza. It turned into an interrogation. My phone started ringing and still she wouldn’t stop.

It’s very colourful, isn’t it?” she said. Could she not see my gob was stuffed with pizza? Could she not hear my phone ringing and that I was waiting for her to shut up so that I could answer it? Apparently not. Apparently my pizza was so bright and colourful that we needed to discuss it as a matter of some urgency.

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

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

How much change would you like?”

Well, honey-bunny, I’d quite like all of my change, if you don’t mind, and then I shall turn my mind to matters relating to the tip.

Too polite to actually say that, I found myself being pressured into making lightning fast calculations using nothing more than my brain. Having caught sight of numbers, my cerebral cortex shut down almost immediately. I would have sat there slack-jawed and drooling if it weren’t for an obscure neural reflex that had me going, “Ummm. Ummm.”

Customers shouldn’t be put in this position. Working out twelve percent of R97.45 and then somehow relating that to the change from a R200 note is the sort of thing you learn at Harvard.

3 thoughts on “The bandersnatches are on their way

  1. Sharon McKenzie says:

    Is Cape Town becoming too tough a crowd for you to handle , Ben? Or is this your off-day. It happens when you go turnkey 🙂

  2. jo129maxwell says:

    Ben is spot on. White South Africans whine a lot but are just damn lazy.. Why, when the petrol price goes up again and again, don’t we rush off and torch all the petrol stations in our area. When the price of electricity rises again and again, why not cut all the cables to our suburb. When Telkom says it needs more money why don’t we take our landlines (those who still have them) and throw them on the N1 or even the N2. Won’t do as much damage as a rock, but we will have made a point. Lets trash our city centre when Sin Tax is increased by another 10% which doesn’t help the sinners.
    I myself have a list of possible actions when I am affected by new regulations – one is writing to the press and another is switching off and waiting for someone else not to do anything. I can’t pack for Perth as I believe they want you to have around Ozzie $2 million in your bank which won’t even buy you a modest apartment, but you will be able to hug a koala or take a ride into the outback or the sunset. Really time us white people rise to the challenge and riot, thieve, plunder with Cosatu and the EFF to show we care about our country.

    1. Mo Haarhoff says:

      I think the other 95% quite enjoy being shown how to protest with style; look at e-tolls. It may be a long, slow process, but at least they’re not being thrown into jail overnight or dragged off behind cop cars to certain death.a
      You are such a sellout, Sir, all you did was end up complaining!

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