What follows is an excerpt from my latest book, Incognito – The Memoirs of Ben Trovato.
One evening after the 7pm bulletin, after being reprimanded by the head of news for something I had no control over, I went downstairs for a beer at Bardeli’s and wrote out my resignation.
I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. How smart was it to give up what was effectively a job for life, with damn good hours thanks to my shift system, and join an unknown outfit that was putting me on contract for a year? It didn’t seem very smart. By the seventh beer, it seemed like the smartest thing I would ever do in my life.
I ordered another two beers, stuck them down my pants, walked back into e.tv, past the security guards, up the stairs and into the newsroom.
I sat down, opened one of the beers and lit a cigarette. Both were firable offences. I laughed like William Wallace must have laughed when he scored for Scotland in extra time. I typed up my resignation and addressed it to All Staff.
“As the Lizard King once said, this is the end. Beautiful friend, the end.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, I have been to the mountaintop and I have fallen off the other side. And in the words of the white prophet Jerry Garcia, what a long, strange trip it’s been.
I would like to say that I gave e.tv the best years of my life, but I can’t because these still lie ahead. Of that I am sure. I am nowhere near my prime, a fact borne out by the healthy head of dusky blond hair that I so proudly sport. The eyesight is shot to hell, but that’s understandable given the fact that I have subbed, written and re-written around 50 000 scripts since I joined the station a hundred years ago.
One of my most precious memories is helping to keep Bardelis afloat when they went through a rough patch in the summer of ’98. As a token of their gratitude, the management once gave Mdu and me a full bottle of tequila. But only after we bust them for diluting their drinks.
I might not be human shield material, but I am proud to say that I have survived several regime changes at the station. From Jonathan Proctor’s extravagant excesses to Marcel Golding’s ponytail – which, incidentally, I pledged to sever on the day I resigned. But the commander-in-chief is a hard man to reach. Since I have run out of time, I place a bounty of R1 000 on the ponytail. Bring it to me and the money is yours. Just the ponytail. Not the entire head.
I have to leave now because if I don’t I will die of economy class syndrome. And as a serious journalist, I cannot risk the indignity of being carried from the newsroom in the final stages of deep vein thrombosis.
They should never have given us chairs with wheels. I was getting no exercise at all. For years I have wheeled myself to the printer and back. There have been exciting moments, like the time my armrest fell off, but it was never enough to give me those bulging pecs and ripped abs that I thought came with the job. Instead, I became known as Sir Super Sub. Mr Please-Can-I-Have-Another-Thirty-Seconds. Well, no more.
There is a vacancy in The Pit, and god help the poor bastard who has to fill my shoes.
I like to think that … ah, screw it. Let’s just leave it at that. The best I can do is urge everyone to keep raging against the dying of the light.
Viva the Unabomber.
The Rewrite Man has left the building …”