By the time you read this, I will be on holiday in Durban. Yes, I know. It makes no sense at all. It’s a bit like Captain Scott making that fatal mistake of bringing out the hash pipe just a bit too soon.
However, there is little chance of me losing all sense of time and direction in a city that swelters in a thick fog of mosquitoes and marijuana. A city where the council yawns and scratches its collective crotch every time someone suggests developing a decent waterfront. This is a place that is seriously considering erecting, at the entrance to the harbour, a giant statue of a psychopathic tribalist who spent his quieter days tossing dissidents off the edge of a cliff. Still, it’s my holiday and I’ll spend it where I want.
Brenda and I are fortunate enough to own one of those homes that estate agents describe as a “lock up and go”. We shut the windows, pull the door shut and go. Just like that. We lock up and go. It’s the most incredible thing.
Like most Capetonians, I hate the thought of leaving my house empty. Especially at this time of year, when the city is flooded with rich, white trash from Europe and America. It is their kind that has driven property prices over the edge of reason, so I feel very little guilt when it comes to charging them R10 000 a night.
They come to the house reeking of cheap sunblock and stale gin and then dare to throw up their hands in horror when I mention the rate. Ha, I say to them. Try to find a lock up and go in Berlin for that price.
The moment they start wheedling and haggling, I get the dog to escort them off the property. Bared fangs and glistening drool seem to be the only language these swine understand.
Come to think of it, Brenda uses the same tactics to keep me at bay when it comes time for bed. I suspect it’s the Prussian in her.
Ted has suggested that I offer the place to the South African Wingshooters Association. It seems like a splendid idea. He joined recently and has already killed a number of fine looking birds, including some kind of raptor that is unidentifiable because it has no head.
I have informed SAWA that their men can have free reign with the birdlife on my property. An added bonus is that my ranch attracts much of the area’s wildlife. Indigenous fur-covered mammals are frequently seen traversing the property. I think it has something to do with the high-pitched yowling and yelping that comes from Ted’s house on Sunday mornings.
I have told him to keep Mary quiet, but apparently she’s just one of those women. A screamer, you know. Every suburb has one. It’s a little sad that Ted has never managed to learn the difference between squeals of pleasure and screams of horror.
I have also told SAWA that if they want to bag a few Egyptian Geese, there is a local golf club offering a free goose with every hole. My lodge offers something a little more ethnic. It is peak guinea fowl season and I have entire families that come down from Lion’s Head where they run shifts outside my bedroom window to make sure I don’t sleep beyond sunrise. I want them gunned down.
I am also offering a variety of seagulls sporting interesting plumage. They make attractive paperweights and, once stuffed and mounted, make ideal gifts for the business executive who has everything.
The gun dog will remain on the premises to be used by visiting hunters. Gonzo is one of those retrievers that brings everything to you. Once you have sifted through the sticks, tennis balls, newborn babies and so on, you will eventually come to your bird.
The hound is getting old and I have been thinking about selling him off to a mine-clearing operation in Mozambique or Angola.
Unfortunately, Gonzo wouldn’t be much use when it comes to physically sniffing out the anti-personnel devices. Clive recently poured the dog a bowl of water that burned the poor animal’s snout clean off his face. The brat swore he never knew it was pool acid. So, being half-blind and unable to pick up a scent, Gonzo’s role would be to physically detonate the devices by aimlessly wandering about the minefield.
With the help of a sturdy needle and a length of gut, I expect that he could take five or six direct hits before being put out to pasture.
Right now, though, I am expecting a flood of enquiries from hunters wishing to test their skills in the remote reaches of upper Sea Point.
To be honest, my interest in birds is relatively new. Two weeks ago I was standing on my balcony practicing my backhand swing when a gull flew straight into my racquet. Its head became wedged between the strings and I had to take the whole messy affair off to a sports shop to have the thing restrung.
The owner of the shop got the gull out but made me take it away, saying he had no use for the corpse. That’s when I hit on the idea of taking it to a black market taxidermist who stuffs and mounts anything for the right price.
I plan on moving on to more exotic breeds like quails and barbets, hummingbirds and lilac-breasted rollers. Soon, I hope to have birds of every feather dotted about my home. It will be like living in an aviary without having to wear goggles and put newspaper down.
I do own one living bird. He is a budgie that flew in off the street. I named him Onan because he spills his seed on the ground.
17 December 2002
Ben Trovato’s column is the most disgusting I have ever read. I recommend that you do not re-employ him when he returns from Durban. In my opinion, he is welcome to stay there. How can a columnist get away with so positively describing Ted’s abuse of his wife, Mary; his cruel and unusual plans for his faithful dog Gonzo and the senseless slaughter of birds? In there no-one in Cape Town who can write a positive and uplifting column, that this trashcan columnist receives 64cms in your paper to spew his hash-rotted drivel?