I was saddened to read this week that we are one of the ten unhappiest countries in the world. What the hell is wrong with us?
Looking around, reading the papers and listening to people talk, I would have expected us to easily qualify as the unhappiest country of all. But no. That honour goes to Botswana. See what happens when you’re saddled with a government that eradicates corruption and fosters economic growth?
A thousand people from each of 151 countries were polled by the Happy Planet Index, a non-governmental organisation who take it upon themselves to pass judgement on the rest of us. Fair enough. Someone has to do it and it may as well be them.
Home-owners who are inexplicably reluctant to shoot people conducting surveys were asked to fill in questionnaires about their personal happiness. At the end of it all, we limped in at number 142.
Listen to me. If we hope to win competitions like this in the future, I suggest you ditch whatever vestiges of blind optimism, false hope and misplaced confidence might linger in what little remains of your mind.
There is no point admitting in a survey that you are as miserable as a one-legged chicken during the week but tend to perk up a bit on Saturdays when Lucky drops by with a bottle of brandy and the crack pipe. All this does is ruin our chances of making it to rock bottom.
Nobody cares if you’re the ninth unhappiest nation on earth. They want to know who is the unhappiest because schadenfreude makes the world go round and they want to know who is the happiest so they can spend their holidays there and ruin it for the locals. Brace yourself, Costa Rica.
So the next time a doe-eyed researcher from the Happy Planet Index visits your home, make sure you are wearing a hessian sack and have ash in your hair.
Lock them in and draw the curtains. Bring out a bottle of gin and make them drink with you while you rage against the sheer unmitigated hopelessness of it all. Weep and smash stuff. Have a few grime-encrusted children in tattered clothing shuffle into the room. It would be helpful if they also wept. Use a lit cigarette to get them started, if you must.
Speaking of children, the school holidays have begun and I am outraged. It is not public holidays that need to be scrapped – it is school holidays.
They are an anachronism – a throw-back to an era when teachers needed time to go and fight the communists in southern Angola and children needed time to recover from the horror of learning about the Boer War.
My history teacher was a cross between Machiavelli and the Marquis de Sade. He stepped on a landmine somewhere north of Oshikango and when the third term started he rolled into class and carried on as if nothing had happened.
Here’s what should have gone down. At 10am on Wednesday the army should have been deployed. Every school should have been sealed off with electrified blade wire. By now, there should be snipers in the trees and alsatians on the ground.
Nobody should get to leave until everyone, teachers included, can read to themselves without moving their lips and tell the difference between there’s and theirs, who’s and whose, to and too and it’s and its.
This country is not only being destroyed by its leadership. It’s also being destroyed by people who write memos that say: “Staff who’s cars is parked at the rear must move too the front theirs no exceptions and its got to be done today.”
Call me a grammar Nazi if you must, but I believe if you cannot spell Kalashnikov you shouldn’t be allowed to handle one. If you can’t tell the difference between your scrotum and a dangling participle, you shouldn’t be teaching English. And if you think you have the right to strike, you shouldn’t be teaching at all.
Sadly, the government has once again seen fit to send these shiftless ingrates home for the holidays. But it’s not them I’m worried about. It’s the children. Actually, I couldn’t care less about them either.
However, parents often turn to me for advice in times of great stress. As a father, I feel duty bound to help wherever I can. The question I am most asked when school holidays come smashing into our lives is: “What can we do with our children?”
The most obvious answer is: Put them to work.
For the last few months they have done nothing but drink and fornicate and – no, hang on, that’s the teachers.
Many of my friends regret living in a country where, during school holidays, they are not given a choice between putting their children to work and putting them to death. Quite a few have emigrated to libertarian societies such as Australia where this sort of thing is permitted.
School is what makes a child tolerable. If education had to be abolished – and it’s heading that way here – nobody would dare breed.
The idea of having anything between the ages of five and 17 in the house all day long, other than a dog, does not bear thinking about. Even if you can’t see them, you can feel them. They are like saturnine poltergeists full of shit and hormones.
When I was smaller than I am now, my mother would bring out a book called Things To Make And Do. First, though, she would bring out the wooden spoon and beat me senseless. She called this credit in the punishment bank for all the bad things I might get up to during the holidays.
Kids today wouldn’t be interested in a book like that. Unless, of course, it showed you how to make Molotov cocktails and throw them without setting fire to yourself.
If you’re okay with this, you might want to wait until the fuel price comes down. There’s an awful lot of spillage when children learn to make their first petrol bombs.