My mother always said I was hopeless with money. The criticism started when I got my first weekly allowance – all of fifty cents – and lost it minutes later on my way to the shop. It stopped when she died last year at 75.
She was right. At a guess, I would say at least fourteen million rand has fallen through holes in my pockets over the decades. I still pull my car keys out and have strangers come up to me after collecting the banknotes that have gone fluttering away in the breeze. I’ll buy a few odds and ends at a hardware shop and the teller will tell me it comes to a hundred and twelve rand. I’ll think to myself, “That sounds a bit steep. Oh, well. What can you do?” And hand over five hundred and twelve rand. When the teller points out my mistake, there’s nothing I can say that will redeem me in her eyes. That I misheard her is irrelevant. The point is that I was prepared to pay five hundred and twelve rand for three light bulbs, two paintbrushes and a bag of nails.
Also, being colour blind, the notes look the same. I often pay for nine rand parking with a two hundred rand note. While the change avalanches into the tray, I throw my arms into the air, turn to the queue and shout, “Jackpot!” Nobody but me ever finds it funny.
In my defence, let me just say that I am not the only one in this town who is hopeless with money. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the Durban municipality. Compared to me, the council has a hole the size of Kimberley’s in its pocket. Don’t get me started on the Manase report. It’s a seven thousand-page litany of greed and profligacy underpinned by rampant incompetence and corruption. That’s what Afriforum says, anyway. I don’t have the time to go through the report, but if other white people are angry, then, by god, I am going to be angry, too.
Let me give you just one example of how hopeless this council is with money. Bicycles for councillors. Sounds like the title of a Leon Schuster movie. The councillors already have enough bicycles they don’t use. Maybe when it comes to not doing something, they prefer not to do it on a grander scale. Not using ninety-two bicycles is so much less satisfying than not using three hundred. It has something to do with political economies of scale but we’re too dof to grasp the mechanics of it. That’s why they are the shepherds and we are the sheeple.
Instead of buying more bicycles, the city should rather take that money and make a bonfire with it on North Beach. Invite everyone. Give out free mutton bunnies and tequila shots. Have a couple of local bands jamming. Pull Steve Fataar in. He posted something on Facebook the other day that I reckon comes close to being an all-time classic Durbanism. The veteran muso described a recent gig as, “Too much of lakka.” I lol’d and rofl’d.
While I was thinking about bicycles, my train of thought switched tracks and I began thinking about emigrating. Like most members of the last white tribe of Africa, I keep a bag permanently packed with a clean jean pant, two woolly jumpers, a box of condoms, a half-jack of Klipdrift, a jar of Marmite and my passport.
When Mandela dies, the darkies will try to lure us to Cape Town by leaving gin and tonics and tempura prawns along the N2. The last boat will leave from Simon’s Town and I plan to be on it, even if it means dressing as a woman. Actually, with my romantic life in such utter turmoil, I might as well become a transvestite. It can’t be any less fraught. And there are certain advantages. Should I be dragged off to a flea market, I’d actually have things to browse through instead of shuffling around like a catatonic zombie with beer dribbling from its nose.
I got a bit of a skrik, though, when I read about that South African chef who is being booted out of New Zealand for being too fat. Abert Buitenhuis – I’m surprised he’s not facing deportation because of his name – weighs 130kg. Immigration authorities are reluctant to renew his visa because they fear he will become too much of a drain on the country’s health services. This, from a government that allows orcs and uruk-hais to roam the streets of Wellington with impunity.
I know someone who was once turned away from a brothel on the grounds of being too ugly, which isn’t really the same thing, but it’s in the ballpark of rejection on the grounds of physical flaws. I didn’t want that happening to me. It’s enough that the checkout girl at the Ballito Spar thinks I’m 108 years old.
I have developed a bit of a tum – and I say tum because it sounds better than calling it a burgeoning beer gut – which wouldn’t affect my chances of emigration. There is a list of other things that would rule me out long before my physique came into it.
However, the human body is a treacherous thing and cannot be relied upon to behave properly. One day you have the hips of a rattlesnake and the next, Greenpeace activists are painting anti-whaling slogans on your forehead.
Even though I surf, it seems not to be doing much for my waistline. My pterodactyls are firm to the touch and I have a well-developed set of triceratopses. I can also go from 12km/h to zero in less than nine seconds, thanks to my abs.
I tried to think of exercises other than sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, hunches, lunges, flick-flacks, flapjacks and pelvic thrusts that would give me a rippling six-pack. I found something where you can sit on the couch in front of the television and every few minutes you tense your stomach muscles. I think it was for people recovering from open-heart surgery. I tried it but it just made me want to wee.
I came across an exercise called the Bicycle but I couldn’t do it because you needed a mat. Then a brilliant idea occurred to me. Why not just ride a real bicycle? Has anyone thought of this? There could be money in it.
I haven’t owned a bicycle since I was eleven. Bicycles are for children. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so I went to the beachfront to hire one. It was either that or steal one. However, a bicycle didn’t seem worth the risk of having my bottom interfered with in Westville prison.
Next week I’ll tell you the riveting story of my bike ride along OR Tambo Parade, formerly named after that colonial bastard, Marine.