Month: May 2014

Author flees – gets high

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My memoir hit the bookshops last week so I left the country before anyone could read it. My publisher accused me of aberrant behaviour. Apparently the normal thing would have been to stay around and help publicise it.

Right now I’m in a stone house at the foot of a koppie on the far edge of the Namib desert. There is no fence. The people who live here don’t even bother closing their front door at night, let alone lock it. The only chance of getting stabbed is if you startle an oryx or stand on a porcupine.

It was probably a mistake to flee to the very country in which my ex-wife lives. I saw her briefly and she badgered me into giving her a copy of my book so she could see what I had written about her. It felt as if I were handing over a warrant for my own execution. Early the next morning, I drove into the desert.

When the people I was staying with offered me a free flight in a hot air balloon, I immediately suspected the ex-wife had read the chapter on our marriage and had put out a hit. My suspicions were confirmed when I discovered there would be only two other people in the balloon with me. Both looked like potential assassins. Then again, in my eyes most people look like hired killers. It’s one of the reasons I don’t go out much.

Apparently the best time to go ballooning, or get murdered, is 4.30am. I hadn’t been up so early since the army. When you get out of bed at that time, the first thought that crosses your mind is, “I want to kill someone.” Good if you’re a soldier, not so good if you’re a writer. Although I suppose you could always kill off one of your characters. Too many early mornings and it’s going to be a very short book.

An hour before sunset found me bouncing through the desert on the back of a bakkie, an icy wind flagellating my face. Riding up front were a Dutchman and a Belgian, nationalities notorious for committing all manner of heinous deeds. Moments before my eyeballs froze over, an indistinct shape lit only by starlight loomed out of the gloom. Three shadowy figures worked silently on something alarmingly big. It turned out to be the instrument that would carry me to my death.

The Belgian and Dutchman – a real one, from Holland – began fiddling with equipment. I stood to one side, hands in pockets, watching warily. Suddenly there was a deafening roar and two jets of blue and orange flame shot into the night. I almost soiled my broeks. If this was the assassination attempt, they failed miserably.

“Nice try, guys,” I said. “Better luck next time.” They ignored me and continued assembling their infernal chariot of fire. With the balloon inflated, I was ordered into the basket. It was tiny. I have seen bigger baskets carried by fat people at picnics. I was about to jump out and run out away when I looked down. The car was the size of a matchbox.

“Two thousand metres and climbing,” said the Belgian. That’s the trouble with balloons. It’s deathly quiet and there’s very little sense of motion so you don’t know if you’re going up, down or sideways. Actually, it’s only quiet when the pilot isn’t spewing giant gobs of fire into the belly of the beast.

With us in the basket were three large gas cannisters. The kind you see on the back of trucks displaying the warning, “No naked flames”. Given what was happening in that balloon, those flames should have been arrested for public indecency.

“There’s a gas leak,” the Belgian shouted. My sphincter snapped shut. “What the hell was that,” said the Dutchman. “Sphincter,” I said, pointing at my bottom. “Gas leak’s not coming from me.” And wouldn’t be, for quite some time. Not without the help of a crowbar.

We stopped going up and started going down. “Maximum velocity,” said the Belgian. “What are you going to do?” I waited for him to say, “Jump.” Just before we hit the ground, the Dutchman let fly with a double-barrelled burst of fire and we hovered an inch above the sand. Before I could get out, we were off again. Were they planning on scaring me to death? It was working, but it would take a while. Eventually it dawned on me that this was a training flight. The Dutchman was being tested on emergency procedures. I felt better after that.

A day later I got coerced into helping film a music video for a German-Namibian kwaito artist called Ees. I held a reflector board and made suggestions that everyone ignored. It was viciously hot but they fed me free beer so I couldn’t complain.

Agoraphobia kicked in after a couple of days and I fled for Windhoek, the city in which I once spent ten years, spawning a daughter and almost losing my mind. It’s spread out since I was last there. The city has the luxury of being able to sprawl in any direction it chooses, like a drunk Russian oligarch.

Where there was once a parking lot, a Hilton Hotel now stands. It appears to have been designed by the same guy who did the Berlin Wall. It was built on unstable ground and is apparently slowly sinking. I suppose they’ll just keep adding floors. Eventually, guests on the fourth floor will have to take the elevator down to their room. I imagine the view wouldn’t be much to write home about.

Overlooking the city is a vulgar monolith decorated in a shocking shade of gold. It’s the independence memorial museum. It was completed three years ago and has yet to open. Korean efficiency and Namibian planning is not a good combination. The worker ants shipped in from Pyongyang must have put it up overnight because when someone from the council came around in the morning, they discovered there was no way to get an exhibit larger than an AK-47 into the building.

The statue of a Germany genocidal maniac on a horse is gone. In its place is a towering bronze of Swapo ringleader and Namibia’s first democratic president, Sam Nujoma. He stares out over the city, a copy of my book clutched in his right hand.

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I left before Windhoek could suck my soul dry. Hosea Kutako Airport falls somewhere between a hanger and an abattoir. People mill about like doomed livestock, fear and confusion etched on their faces as they realise there is only one departure lounge consisting of a duty free shop more expensive than Edgars and a couple of tourist shops selling wooden giraffes and stuffed animals that cost almost the same as the real ones.

There is one bar staffed by three slow, hostile women wearing hairnets. Namibia’s entire service industry is staffed by slow, hostile people. Not all of them wear hairnets.

Passengers are expected to remove their shoes and put them through the X-ray machine. Has nobody told them that Osama’s dead?

I almost missed my flight because the time on my laptop said it was 2.45. I thought I still had three hours to go. It turned out I was looking at the remaining battery life, not the clock.

The waitress brought a beer to my table, made deliberate eye-contact and said, “That’s your fourth.” I felt like I owed her some sort of explanation, or at the very least a reassurance that my pace generally slowed down after the first four. Or so.

Namibia has a population of two million people. Nine of them drink moderately. The rest hit it hard. I didn’t understand what her problem was. Maybe she didn’t have a problem. Maybe I did.

Anway. I discovered the worst place in the world – the smoking cubicle at Namibia’s airport. It’s a perspex box designed to accommodate no more than three people. I saw six men go in there. Only four came out.

 

* The Memoirs of Ben Trovato is published by Panmacmillan and is available online and at bookstores countrywide.

 

Ben Trovato – EXPOSED

 

 

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There is a good chance there are still people out there holding powerful grudges against me for something I wrote that mocked their language, religion, race, political beliefs, sexuality, body type or social status. I don’t par­ticularly want to be explaining the nuances of irony, parody and satire through a mouthful of blood and broken teeth, but it’s a risk I am prepared to take.

The publisher of my first book hired students to walk around Cape Town and Johannesburg wearing sandwich boards asking, ‘Who is Ben Trovato?’ It was a question that reverberated around the world. I am now drunk enough to answer it.

 

 

An excerpt from IncognitoThe Memoirs of Ben Trovato

 

It seemed like a good idea to get out of town for a few days. Dudley got his hands on a bag of magic mushrooms and we set sail for a game lodge owned by friends outside Otjiwarongo, a few hours north of Windhoek.

When we got there we drove into the bush to regain our equilibrium with a couple of shots of warm whisky. We came across a tiny grass hut a few metres off the dirt track. It was abandoned and looked like a good place to get out of the merciless sun and regroup.

Sitting in the dark, passing the bottle between us, I noticed a movement above my head. I looked up to see hundreds of white spiders abseil­ing from the roof. ‘Jesus!’ I shouted, spilling whisky down my shirt. Within seconds there were spiders in my hair. I scrambled to get out. Dudley pulled me back.

‘No! We have to stay! We have to let them walk on us!’ I pushed him away and crawled out, shrieking and slapping at my head. Dudley stayed inside for another minute or two then emerged with a face full of spiders. He seemed disappointed in me.

‘Come,’ he said, ‘let’s take off all our clothes and run naked through the bush.’ The idea of impaling my genitals on four-inch thorns was marginally less appealing than the spiders and I had to turn him down again. He started get­ting angry.

‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ he shouted. He erupted in some kind of weird whisky-and-shroom fuelled rage and we set off for the lodge at high speed.

I let a couple of weeks go by before calling Jaxin.

‘What the hell were you thinking?’ I said.

She giggled. ‘He sensed something had happened. He kept asking and asking and eventually I told him just to shut him up.’ Surprisingly, he hadn’t thrown her out. I certainly would have.

‘Come and fetch me,’ she said.

The plan was loose. She would pick me up from the airport and we’d go to her house – well, her husband’s house – and collect as much of her stuff as we could. We would then elope to Namibia. It seemed like the right thing to do.

The house was down a dirt road in a subtropical jungle a few kilometres south of Richards Bay. She had been living there for almost as long as I had been married to Gwen and had cultivated a beautiful wild garden. Husband Chris was out of town on business. It was hot so we stripped down and jumped into the pool. I heard a door open and looked up to see a strapping young fel­low walking across the lawn towards us.

‘Oh fuck,’ whispered Jaxin. ‘It’s the son. Be cool.’

‘Howzit,’ he said, eyeing me suspiciously. I moved slowly towards the deep end.

Jaxin gave a bright smile. ‘Hey there. This is a friend of mine. We’re just having a swim.’

He nodded thoughtfully, then turned and walked back into the house. I heard his car start up and drive off.

‘Right,’ I said, launching myself from the pool, ‘let’s move.’ The son was built like a rugby player.

Jaxin scrambled to get her stuff together while I sat in the car with the engine running. Minutes went by. The driveway was wide enough for only one car so if he came back, I’d be trapped.

‘Hurry the fuck up!’ I shouted, hooting impatiently. Jaxin burst from the house with an armload of clothes.

‘Just got a call from the office,’ she said. ‘The son’s worked out who you are. He’s coming back.’

‘Get in!’ I shouted. Instead, she ran back into the house to get more stuff. The office was only a few hundred metres away. He would be coming in an armour-plated bakkie, probably with a machine gun welded to the roof. He’d have some of the staff with him. They would be carrying pick handles and ma­chetes in case the gun jammed.

I thought of leaping out of the car and running blindly into the bush, leaving Jaxin to her fate, but just then she jumped into the passenger seat and shouted, ‘Floor it! Hurry!’

As I wheelspun onto the dirt road leading to the free­way, I caught a glimpse of a car broadsliding into the driveway. Five seconds later and I wouldn’t be here to recount this extraordinary tale of courage and chivalry.

There are few things more romantic than stealing another man’s wife and eloping to a foreign country. Everyone should do it at least once in their lives. If I am married though, don’t try it with my wife. Try it with someone else’s wife. Unless, of course, I have had enough of her. In which case feel free.

Crossing the Orange River border in Jaxin’s car, I felt happy for the first time ever about coming back to Namibia. The ties that had bound me there so tightly for a decade had been loosened. Gwen was back in the house, and I was still spending time with Liberty on weekends. Everyone seemed fine. Even me.

Jaxin had been 22 when I brought her to Namibia for the first time – when I joined the SWABC – and she had caused an uproar with her smouldering good looks and raw animal sexuality. Now, that ripeness of youth had been replaced by something else, something even more desirable. It was ten years later and she had become a woman.

Before I had left for Durban, I warned Stacey and the singer and whoever was still lurking around hoping for a shot at my nether regions that I was going to fetch my old-time girlfriend, to save her from a loveless marriage. It sounded nobler when I put it that way.

I knew I couldn’t trust my friends around her. They didn’t disappoint. Almost to a man, they went out of their way to steal her from me. I had to constantly be on my guard. Jaxin loved backgammon, and friends who couldn’t tell a backgammon board from an ironing board were suddenly masters at the game. ‘Play with me,’ they would say, wiping the drool from their chins.

I almost gave up smoking, thanks to Jaxin. We went into the desert for a weekend with a case of beer, two bottles of tequila and a bag of weed. There is little point going to the desert otherwise. There’s fuck all there. You’d be an idiot to go unprepared. People without drugs and alcohol have been known to die in the desert. Of boredom, mainly.

We drove through endless vistas of despair and desolation until we reached the campsite at Sossusvlei deep in the Namib – the world’s oldest de­sert. By the time we had the tent up, I felt like the world’s oldest man. A brace of cold beers revived me sufficiently to join Jaxin on a stroll.

Only it wasn’t a stroll at all. It was a hike. A route march. We eventually stumbled across Sesriem Canyon and made our way to the bottom. It’s a long, jagged gash torn into the surface of the planet. Dry most of the year, we were lucky to find water in it. We splashed and plodded along until it grew deeper.

‘Let’s take our clothes off and keep going,’ I suggested. Jaxin seemed scep­tical but went along with it. We swam into the canyon, the steep walls closing in on us. It was surreal and spooky. Then the canyon opened up and I spotted a cave within reach. We stopped for a bit to catch our breath and mate with one another. Swallows and doves swooped and soared all around us, their calls echoing through the canyon. It was breathtaking. Less breathtaking was finding our way out as darkness fell.

We finally got back to the campsite in desperate need of dry clothing and wet tequila. I lit a fire and we tossed something on it. Jaxin was a vegetarian so the meat was mine. She got all the nutrients she required from Olmeca Gold and marijuana. We may or may not have been alone in the campsite. I don’t remember seeing anyone else, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.

At some point in the evening we had an argument, as couples do when they overmedicate in the middle of nowhere. I stormed off wearing nothing but a kikoi and a large glass of tequila and orange juice. I walked angrily into the darkness until my anger wore off, at which point I lay down on the sand, looked up at a billion stars and had my mind lightly blown.

A scorpion crawled onto my face. I took it as a sign that I should leave. I couldn’t tell if I had been gone for 20 minutes or six hours. I could see no lights. Eventually I saw our campfire in the distance – well, ‘distance’ in the sense that it was a hundred metres away. Jaxin had already gone to bed. I poured myself a fresh tequila and lit a Chesterfield.

‘I could have died out there,’ I muttered.

‘I was watching you the whole time,’ came a voice from inside the tent.

A little while later, or maybe a lot later, I opened the zip of the tent with a view to making amends. What I saw made me recoil. Jaxin’s face had morphed into some kind of demon. It was horrible. A malevolent death’s head grinned at me, teeth bared, eyes flaming. I fell back with a scream, dropping my glass.

‘What the fuck?’ I shrieked. I moved over to the car but the doors were locked. And the succubus had the keys. I saw a movement in the tent and picked up a rock. The zip opened and out stepped Jaxin.

‘What are you doing?’ she asked. I clutched my heart and reeled against the car.

‘Where is it? What was that? Who are you?’

‘Jesus,’ she said. ‘No more tequila for you.’

In the morning, my heart was still racing. I couldn’t explain to her what I had seen a few hours earlier without sounding like a complete psycho, so I blamed the cigarettes. I said they were placing too much strain on my heart and that I was going to stop smoking. Jaxin didn’t smoke cigarettes so she was unable to grasp the full import of what I was saying. We packed up and drove out of the campsite. I took my last two boxes of smokes and tossed them out the window.

‘Litterpig,’ she said. What else could I do? If I kept them in the car I would smoke them. And there were no convenient bins in the desert. I wanted to live, and if that meant killing the planet, it was a small price to pay. Besides, it would only take a few thousand years for them to biodegrade.

By the time we got back to Windhoek, the monkey on my back had invited a few friends over. You couldn’t see my back for monkeys. I rolled a joint.

‘You can’t just replace cigarettes with dope,’ said Jaxin.

‘Give me a break. It’s my first of the day.’

‘No, it’s your ninth.’

‘Who’s counting?’

‘I am.’

It wasn’t long before I was back on the cigs.

* Incognito – The Memoirs of Ben Trovato is published by Pan Macmillan and is available in bookstores from 19th May.

Big elections need big rulers – get the measure of it today

What I enjoy most about elections is waking up early, packing a cooler box of beer and a moonbag of amphetamines, and setting off to cast my ballot at as many polling stations as possible before being arrested.

I have a dozen or so fake IDs and six or seven disguises, one of which is a dolphin suit. It’s getting a bit frayed around the tail, but not enough to arouse suspicions at a voting station in one of the poorer areas. Maybe I’ll use that one in a fishing village. They’re accustomed to seeing all types demanding a say in this democracy lark.

I also have a T-Rex suit but in 2009 an electoral officer with the face of a Shetland pony told me that lizards weren’t allowed to participate in the process. If my arms hadn’t been so short, I would have shown her a process or two of my own.

I also like to dress as a madman, which really only entails putting on whatever I find strewn next to the bed, and implore people not to vote. Sometimes I fall to my knees, arms outstretched.

“Don’t do it!” I beg. “Go home! Save yourselves! It’s not too late!” If anyone makes eye contact, I waddle over on my knees, much like Oscar must have done stumping up and down furiously formulating his defence, and cling to their legs.

“It’s not worth it!” I cry. “No good can come of it! Think of the children!” Before being dragged away by agents of the state, I have on a number of occasions succeeded in persuading people to leave the line. Sometimes they run.

I don’t vote because queues make me psychotic and voting booths make me claustrophobic. And also because I believe governments have a malevolent influence on society and I refuse to be party to this filthy business.

Speaking of party, I have yet to see a complete list of who has made it on to the ballot. Not even a single volunteer has rung my doorbell to solicit my vote. In the last few days, I received three unsolicited smses. One was from Helen Zille trying to sell me Utopia, another was from St Elmo’s trying to sell me two large pizzas for the price of what I would imagine two large pizzas should cost, and the third was from a gentleman informing me that I had won the Lagos lottery. I’m more inclined to trust the Nigerian.

Voting in a de facto one-party democracy is about as effective as snorting rhino horn to upsize your willy, but if you insist on wasting a perfectly good public holiday by standing in line with a bunch of other sheeple, and you still haven’t made up your mind who to give your X to, let me give you a hand.

Actually, if you don’t know by now who it is you’re going to vote for, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You wouldn’t wander in to the tote on a whim and put a grand on number nine in the seventh race just because you like the sound of his name, would you? That’s just mad, that is. You need to study their track record. Check their pedigree. See if they have a handicap. Find out who’s holding the reins. It’s the same with racehorses.

Here, then, is a very brief guide to what you can expect to find on the ballot paper on Wednesday. I found the names on the IEC’s website. If you don’t see anything you fancy, take the Kasril option and vote for everyone. Or draw something. Preferably obscene. The ballot counters will appreciate it.

African Christian Democratic Party. Three members in parliament. Vote for them if you feel comfortable with a party that has the blood of Jesus Christ represented in its logo. Also if you want to see abortionists, gays and purveyors of pornography consigned to the flames of eternal damnation. No dancing, please.

African Independent Congress. Big in Matatiele. Part of their mission statement reads, “To enforce a fund-raising culture of society members for the supply of needed resources relevantly, including subsidisation of community service schemes by AIC membership politically deployed in representative capacity to paid government posts/ranks.” Rank outsider.

African National Congress. This election’s dark horse. In with a chance. Vote for them if you don’t pay tax, are a deployed cadre or rely on securing tenders for a living.

African People’s Convention. One seat in parliament. Slogan: The Alternative Voice. Good for Pan Africanists. Bad for white people.

AgangSA. A new party led by an old face. A merger with the official opposition was abandoned after their first kiss. A vote for Agang is a vote for Nathan Kirsh.

Al Jama-Ah. Vote for them if you want to see women banned from driving and shoplifters relieved of their hands. Not all their ideas are this good.

Azanian People’s Organisation. Supported by black intellectuals and academics. One seat in parliament. No inference intended.

Bushbuckridge Residents Association. Might appeal to voters who live in gated communities and enjoy attending body corporate meetings where there are actual bodies lying around. Bring your own sjambok.

Congress of the People. Leadership of the party depends on whichever high court judge is sitting. President-for-now, Mosiuoa Lekota, has offered to eat his hat if the party gets fewer than 1.3 million votes. Party insiders are attempting to source edible hats.

Democratic Alliance. Stands a good chance of winning the elections. In 2034. A natural home for relatively normal white people and well-spoken darkies who either jumped ship or were never invited aboard the government gravy boat in the first place.

Economic Freedom Fighters. A vote for the EFF puts you in line for a trip down the rabbit hole into a magical country where everyone gets a farm, mine and bank for free. Well, everyone except white people. They get to emigrate.

First Nation Liberation Alliance. Don’t pretend to be khoi. If you can’t find a rock painting with one of your ancestor’s names on it, go somewhere else.

Front Nasionaal/National Front. Established primarily to get Clive Derby-Lewis out of jail and into a slightly bigger and better-run facility called a volkstaat. Vote for them if you know the lyrics to Steve Hofmeyr’s music and believe that the earth is 6 000 years old.

Independent Civic Organisation of SA. The less said the better.

Inkatha Freedom Party. Full marks for never giving up. Led by the same man since 1856, the IFP appeals to Zulus who are more familiar with pangas than they are with tender documents. With 18 seats in parliament, their most popular member is Mario Ambrosini. He recently tabled a bill that, if passed, would make it compulsory for citizens over the age of 18 to smoke marijuana at least once a month.

Keep it Simple, Stupid. They have participated in three general elections, never getting more than 7 000 votes. They just won’t shut up. Needless to say, KISS is headed by a white woman.

Kingdom Governance Movement. Formed last year by an ex-ANC minister in the Eastern Cape … I’m sorry. I just can’t go on.

Minority Front. The party represents all minorities in South Africa, but more specifically the Indian community, especially those from KwaZulu-Natal (Durban in particular) but mostly people who live at 347 Florence Nightingale Drive, Chatsworth (the Rajbansi home).

National Freedom Party. The party is led by a Zulu woman, which means someone else’s mother has had to take her place tilling the soil. Bit selfish. Presumably well connected since she is still alive.

Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Another one-seat wonder. Support faded once people began suspecting that Azania and Narnia were the same country.

Pan Africanist Movement. Never heard of them. That’s a good enough reason as any to vote for them.

Patriotic Alliance. Run by a former bank robber. Popular in the coloured community, especially among those who work in the informal sector selling drugs, guns and women.

Ubuntu Party. Out to destroy the evil banking sector. Headed, unbelievably, by a white man. Their manifesto makes sense. Vote for them. Or not. I don’t care.

United Christian Democratic Party. Founded by Lucas Mangope in 1997 … right, that’s enough.

United Congress. Formed by some dude who jumped off the Cope boat. No rational reason to vote for them unless you’re related or owe him money.

United Democratic Movement. Principled but dull.Should be able to run the country given the right drugs.

Manchester United. Lying seventh in the Premier League. More chance of winning the election than this year’s title.

Vryheidsfront Plus. Hahahahaha! What? No, I’m not laughing at you. I swear. Please put me down. You’re hurting me. I’m sorry, okay? I thought you were someone else.

Workers and Socialist Party. No explanation needed. And I’m not just saying that because it’s late and I’m giddy with excitement. Okay, giddy with beer.

 

Anarchy in the RSA

With polls due to open on Wednesday, election fever is reaching a crescendo. Bare-assed lying, bribery, coercion and threats of violence are witnessed every day. And that’s just in my house.

The situation has become so volatile that I was forced to call a meeting to devise some sort of code of conduct that would allow us to survive the next few days without tearing each other apart.

It took a while to get everyone together. Kwaai Lappies suspected me of trying to trap her into washing the windows and refused to come out of the laundry. Sudan Red, the less-than-constant gardener, has hardly left the downstairs room after escaping from the friendly locals whose idea of a warm welcome for foreigners was to set them alight.

Brenda and our appalling loinfruit, Clive, were afraid that I would lock them inside and prevent them from voting, their paranoia being based on the spurious grounds that I believe there should be a box marked Me on the ballot paper which, if more than 50% of voters tick, would require the immediate scrapping of the government and a return to dignified self-rule as it was practiced by our ancestors 200 000 years ago.

“What kind of monster do you take me for?” I said, ushering everybody into the lounge before cutting the phone cord and locking the doors.

I thought it would be fitting to start the meeting with a quote from that lovable old rogue, Benjamin R Tucker: “The essence of government is control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.”

The group pondered these words of wisdom for a moment or two, then huddled together in urgent discussion. At last, I thought. An intelligent debate. What a breakthrough. But it was not to be. They were simply working out an exit strategy.

Clive made a run for the window while Kwaai Lappies and Sudan Red split up. Brenda moved quickly to intercept me and I went down like a two-bit rent boy.

“Listen to me, you blind sheeple!” I shouted, “Voting is nothing more than giving someone written consent to interfere in your life as they see fit.” If Brenda hadn’t used her elbow to stifle my right to freedom of speech, I would have gone on to point out that withholding this consent entitles you to do as you please. This might not sit well with some of our judges, particularly those who vote, but I think it is certainly worth a shot.

Steady pressure to my trachea forced me to capitulate and, through a series of rapid eye movements I picked up from a movie called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, give the assurance that I would abandon this philosophy.

Kwaai Lappies was down on one knee comforting a borderline hysterical Sudan Red, who had misinterpreted the entire situation and thought I was trying to get him extradited to The Hague to join his president on war crimes charges.

“Relax,” I croaked, rubbing my crushed windpipe, “you’re no Omar al-Bashir.” Sudan Red seemed reassured by this and gave me a weak smile. “However,” I added, “if they ever set up an international gardening court for crimes against lawns and flower beds, you’ll crack the most wanted list, for sure.”

He looked confused, which I suppose was only to be expected. Militant irony faded in popularity in Sudan not long after British governor General Charles Gordon lost his head while defending Khartoum against the Mahdi in 1885. Nobody has really laughed much in those parts since then.

I poured everyone a stiff drink and emphasised the need for a set of rules that would govern our behaviour during the strange and terrible period leading up to May 7.

“First item on the agenda,” I said, “is the question of no-go areas. All against?” Everyone raised their hands except me. “All in favour?” I put my hand up, insisting that my study, which is really just a fancy word for ‘biohazard’, was out of bounds to all except me. Nobody tried to argue. As a concession, I was prepared to accept that the scullery, laundry and kitchen, fridge excluded, would be no-go areas for me alone.

Brenda said everyone should be free to express their political beliefs without fear of being laughed at and sprayed with beer. I pointed out that this practice had in fact encouraged healthy debate during the previous election. Brenda disagreed, saying it had only encouraged police to visit our home to investigate reports of a domestic disturbance. That was the handiwork of our neighbour, Grim Rita, who, as an ex-Rhodesian, is a domestic disturbance all on her own.

Clive wanted the right to challenge each other’s opinions without fear of physical violence. This made no sense because the word ‘challenge’ clearly implies the right to punch, kick and bite one’s opponent, whether it be on the sports field or in the political arena. The dirtiest fighter’s opinions carry the day. It has been that way ever since Darwin created Man and the Flying Spaghetti Monster created Woman.

We also agreed to accept the outcome of the election. Mentally, I added the rider, “unless you don’t, in which case you are entitled to wage a campaign of urban terror until the government agrees to your demands”.

After wrapping up the meeting with another round of drinks, Kwaai Lappies fell over the cat, laughed like a tokoloshe and said that from now on, toilet paper would be referred to as the voters’ roll. Polygamy is going to be huge this year. I might just take her as my second wife.