Month: October 2015

Trick or tweet

It’s Halloween tonight and I, for one, cannot wait to put on my succubus suit and go creeping around the neighbourhood late at night banging on doors, shouting: “Trick or treat!” The real sport starts when the homeowner presses his panic button. You then have seven minutes to break into the house, tie the occupants up, find a treat and get out before an armed response unit can shoot you in the head. The kids love it.

Not all of us celebrate Halloween on the 31st of October. For a lot of South Africans, every night is Halloween. The only difference is that these perennial pranksters can’t be bothered to dress up. To be fair, though, some do make the effort and put on a balaclava. Traditionally, a treat is a handful of sweets or, if you hit a vegan house, an eggplant without the egg. Our year-round rogues rarely settle for less than cellphones, money and guns. Or, at the very least, an HD-ready plasma TV. Anyway. Who are we to judge? A treat is mos a treat. I would advise against opting for the trick unless you want to watch someone juggling with your testicles or super-glueing your wife to the wall.

I have celebrated Halloween ever since I was dishonourably discharged from the Army of Christ in the early ’80s. Standards were higher back then. These days they take anyone. I would like to call myself a pagan, but I can’t. Worshipping nature is all very well if it knows its place. By this, I mean its place is not down my broeks stinging my bollocks to death. Nor does it have any business trying to crush me, drown me or bury me alive. It would be a far better idea if nature were to worship us. That way the ants would stay out of the butter and sharks would be a little nicer to us. Is that too much to ask?

Besides, I have grown weary of flappy-lipped adherents of monotheistic religions using “pagan” in a pejorative sense while relying on me not to over-do the sacrificial lamb at our Saturday night synod. Adding insult to injury, they are the ones who invariably bogart the bong. Bloody heathens. I generally refrain from defending my position for fear of inviting the fate met by Hypatia of Alexandria, a pagan philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who was killed by a Christian mob in 415CE.

Unfortunately for the employed, Halloween is not a public holiday in South Africa. If only the Soweto Uprising had taken place on 31 October instead of 16 June. Youth Day would be so much more entertaining if it were combined with Halloween. The horror is already there. All we would need are police uniforms, nitrous oxide grenades, a few dozen crates of cherry-flavoured vodka and some live music. And maybe some live ammunition. And a smattering of drug squad dogs all sniffed out and hoping to reach retirement age without any major drama.

At this time of year carving vegetables into grotesque shapes is popular in some cultures. In my house it’s called dinner. In Ireland and Scotland they use scooped-out turnips. It’s that lack of imagination that allowed the English to oppress them for so long. In America they use pumpkins. In Israel they use Palestinians.

I don’t know what we can use here. If I tell people that instead of eating their madumbi this week, they should carve them so they look like little tokoloshes, they will think I work for the DA. And if I tell them to put a small candle inside the hollowed-out madumbi, they will think I work for Eskom. Either way I’m screwed.

If only we could make some kind of genetically modified clone of Julius Malema’s head and carve that, instead of wasting perfectly good vegetables. It’s the ideal shape and consistency. And scary as hell.

Halloween’s imagery is derived from horror movies and literature like Frankenstein and Dracula. Here, it can be derived from films and books like Bitch, please! I’m Khanyi Mbau and There’s A Zulu On My Stoep.

Halloween costumes are traditionally based on skeletons, monsters, witches and ghosts. This year I want to wear a Jacob Zuma costume. He might not be supernatural, but he’s well on his way to becoming a superhero. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Teflon Man!

There are many overseas traditions that can be adapted to local conditions. Take apple bobbing, for instance. Instead of using your teeth to grab an apple from a bucket of water, you must use your political connections to win a tender wrapped in fly-paper and coated in honey. This creates a hilarious yet potentially sticky situation, especially if the Hawks find out about it.

The telling of horror stories is also a popular feature of Halloween. Gather the children around and, in the unlikely event the municipality hasn’t already done it for you, switch off the lights. Tell them about The Picture of Dorian Gray or The Man Whose Mouth Tasted of Wormwood or The Third Term of Jacob Zuma.

The important thing, comrades, is not to let your Halloween be co-opted by the Christians. We are more Nosferatu than we are Cosatu. No praying. No fasting. No skiving off to church. Deconstruct all that Celtic reconstructionist propaganda and unleash your inner demons.

Dr. Werner Brack undm Angela Sperreuter, Laborarbeiten, Biomomnitoring am UFZ Quelle: André Künzelmann/ UFZ

To Cde Blade Nzimande – Minister of Higher Education 

Here’s a letter I wrote to old pineapple face in 2009.

 

Dear Comrade Blade,

How dare these scoundrels accuse you of betraying the revolution simply because you ordered a car worth R1.1-million? This is peanuts when you compare it to other cars. That Swazi chap Mswati owns a Maybach that cost R3-million, which probably explains why you only ever see him in animal skins.

Even the Russians travel to the International Space Station in a vehicle worth $1.7-billion. That’s excluding petrol. Your fuel bill is probably higher than theirs, what with having to visit all the universities around Sandton every second month.

You need a powerful, reliable car because education is a dangerous business. Far more dangerous than defence. And while the defence minister is a lot better-looking than you are, it is you who controls the future of this great country.

Karl Marx said religion is the opium of the masses and Pablo Escobar said opium is the opium of the masses. Both men were right. As are you. There are those who would like to cause you harm and see you fail in your job. I don’t know who these people are or what their agenda is, but they are out there.

I have no idea if you are a communist or a socialist. Truth is, I lack the education to tell the difference. But you strike me as a decent and honourable man. A bit scary, certainly, but that goes with the ideology. If I had to bump into you on a moonless night in an isolated area near a deserted truck stop in the middle of nowhere, I would scream like a girl and run away. Perhaps that’s just a white thing.

The BMW 750i is a damn fine vehicle. It can outrun anything the police own, which is an important consideration if you have inveigled your way into a political system with the intention of subverting it from within. You are snuggling up to a nest of vipers and it is vital that you are able to get away quickly when they strike. And strike, they will.

To be honest, I am impressed that you chose a car. If I were you, I would have demanded a Rooivalk attack helicopter. Communism needs to spread quickly and effectively, like tuberculosis, and once in the air you could fire at convoys carrying plutocrats like Pravin Gordhan and all the others who make you look bad by driving around in second-hand Volkswagen Beetles bought off the Internet.

For a long time Gordhan went out of his way to make me look bad, too. Dear God, how many audits must an honest man go through before he turns bad?

I am very disappointed in Cosatu. They are meant to be comrades, people who know the difference between Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, and yet until just the other day they were howling for you to dump your chariot of the gods.

Patrick Craven, Cosatu’s pet goat, said you and other admirers of German technology should set an example to the struggling masses by driving what he called a “modest car”. What a thing to say. Does he not know that cars are like women? What man would choose a modest woman if he could have one coated in silver and gold who goes from naught to 100 in five seconds flat without even asking for a blood test?

The pet goat said you gave the impression that you “do not care about the message this opulence gives to the poor”. Message? Please. If the poor want messages they can go to the post office like the rest of us. The goat also said, “Spending so much money on vehicles is a slap in the face of the unemployed …”

What rubbish. I know unemployed people who are more than grateful to get a slap in the face. I asked one just the other day why he allowed me to slap him, and he said, “It’s better than nothing, comrade.” I had to slap him again for calling me comrade. I am not a comrade. I am an anarcho-syndicalist with Bolshevik leanings and a penchant for women’s underwear.

Interesting how, in just a few days, the idiot savant Julius Malema went from calling you an elitist Tassenberg junkie to defending your right to buy a BMW. Coming to his senses, he quoted the ministerial handjob – I beg your pardon – the ministerial handbook which entitles you to purchase a vehicle to the value of the GDP of Lesotho.

And don’t worry about what the Democratic Alliance says. Those hippies are still riding skateboards.

Your man in the back seat,

Ben Trovato

Trike-protest

Crafting a new revolution

There is so much to write about this week. The crisis at the country’s universities. Oscar Pistorius’ release into controlled captivity. Britain’s unseemly fawning over the president of one of the world’s most repressive and undemocratic regimes – no, not Syria. China. So I thought I’d write about beer instead.

The poetically named Anheuser-Busch InBev has put in a cheeky offer to buy SABMiller for $104-billion. Big deal. That’s my monthly tab at the pub.

I’m not usually a fan of megalithic corporate conglomerates, but this one will be able to penetrate deep into Africa, Asia and Latin America. If there’s one thing the poor need, it’s greater access to fresh beer.

Unlike some people I could mention, beer has always been there for me. That’s not strictly true. It hasn’t been as loyal to me as I have been to it. I have spent many nights in its company, only to wake up the next morning to find that it has stabbed me in the brain and made off with my cellphone.

I am not alone in this. Many of my compatriots are in a committed relationship with beer and yet South Africa is not even in the top 24 countries that love beer the most. This is pathetic and I, for one, am deeply ashamed. I know I’m doing my bit. It’s you people out there – drinking wine and other rubbish – that are letting us down.

At the bottom of the list, 67% of Ecuadoreans drink beer. We can’t even beat that. Fiji, for heaven’s sake, drinks more beer than we do. Namibia at least does the continent proud, coming in third with an unhealthy 96.7%. Bhutan, of all places, takes top honours. There, the entire population drinks beer. They score a perfect 100%. Those Buddhists sure could teach us a thing or two about commitment.

Anyway. At least it’s still October, a month in which beer is worshipped around the world. Not so much in Saudi Arabia. The northern hemisphere traditionally pays tribute to beer at the height of the fall. The height of the fall often depends on where you are and how much beer you’ve had. America named this season after the Pilgrims developed a taste for Wampanoag homebrew and spent seven months struggling to get to their feet. We call it autumn although we also fall a fair bit. It’s very confusing.

The Germans gave us Oktoberfest. However, they also gave us the Third Reich. Then again, they gave us the Easter Bunny. But they also gave us the accordion. On the other hand, they gave us aspirin, essential to any serious beer-drinkers’ survival kit. So it all evens out in the end.

Many countries have followed Germany’s example and celebrate their own version of the Oktoberfest. According to my research, “the southern Mexico City borough of Xochimilco hosts an annual traditional German knees-up complete with beer and bratwurst, all served up with a fiery Mexican twist”. The twist presumably comes when the Los Zetas cartel crashes the party and kills everyone.

Durban doesn’t have an Oktoberfest because it’s held in September so they have to call it the Bierfest. It’s quite understandable. It’s hot, the venue is available and the beer is on ice. What the hell difference does it make what month it is? We’re going to be drinking beer solidly every day until the end of the year anyway.

The first mistake the organisers of the Bierfest made was to introduce a European element to the festivities, offering oompah bands, ‘Bavarian’ barmaids with their chests hanging out, weird German sausages and so on. Their second mistake was not to invite me.

With October running out of days, I was becoming anxious about missing the few remaining opportunities to celebrate the month of beer. Of course I had been celebrating all along, but slumped on the couch throwing peanuts at the monkeys and talking to a dog I don’t have isn’t much fun. I wanted to be among fellow aficionados, or, as my mother used to call them, drunks.

After going for a surf at Umdloti the other day, I was standing under the shower when this guy joined me. It’s not what it sounds like. For a start, he had his own shower. And he didn’t just come out of the bushes, either. He had also been surfing. Surfers in Durban don’t generally talk to each other unless they’re related or have known each other for at least twenty years.

This dude broke with tradition and said he’d seen me around. Asked who I was. I gave him a fake name because I don’t trust anyone, least of all myself. Next thing you know, I’ve been kidnapped and sold off to a gang of degenerate white slave traders operating out of the Bush Tavern. It can happen.

A few days later I saw his picture in the paper. He wasn’t involved in human trafficking at all. What he had done, though, was start his own brewery. I cursed myself for being such a fool. It was as if I had allowed a soul mate to slip through my fingers. The company is called Poison City Brewing. My column is called Durban Poison. The logo is five surfboards positioned to resemble the leaf of one of Durban’s most popular herbaceous plants – the Cannabis sativa. I have five surfboards and … well, I needed no further proof that the invisible hand of Jah was trying to bring this brewery and me together.

Using my finely honed investigative skills, I tracked him down and insisted that he introduce me to his beer. It’s a lager called The Bird. I hoped he would leave us alone for a while so that we might become better acquainted. Instead, he invited me to a mini Oktoberfest at his home. After making sure that nobody would be wearing lederhosen and I wouldn’t be expected to do the ridiculous Chicken Dance, I agreed to attend. He said that, as a nod to tradition, his German wife would be there. Blonde? Yes. Okay, then. Dark-haired German women terrify me. It doesn’t feel right. Like tall clowns. Or talking sheep.

It turned out to be way better than a normal beerfest because the beer was free. Obviously it had to be an invitation-only affair. Open something like that up to the public and you’d have to get the riot police in. Especially on the north coast.

Being a Sunday I was dressed casually – much like a homeless person dresses casually – and was relieved to find myself in good company. This wasn’t the kind of crowd one might expect at, say, a wine-tasting soiree. I suppose a beer made by a company called Poison Brewing, with a logo that might get you searched at a roadblock, was never going to attract a conventional crowd. I might have been the only person there without a tattoo. Or, oddly, a young child.

And that’s the point, really. Anti-establishmentarianism might be damnably hard to say when you’re off your face, but with a bit of effort it can become the new zeitgeist.

If this Anheuser-Busch-SABMiller merger goes ahead, they will control a third of all global beer sales and rake in $64-billion a year. And they’ll pay tax in Belgium. I’m done with making rich people richer. Anheuser-Busch chairman Olivier Goudet and his accomplices have quite enough money.

If craft beer is the Che Guevara of the brewing industry, carry me to the barricades.

BenBeer

SUCK ON  THIS: Ben Trovato has found a crafty way to deal with giant brewing monopolies – show them The Bird.

 

 

 

Sgt Poephol’s Lonely Hearts Club

28-yr-old man seeks subservient woman who enjoys cosy nights in. Also days. Height ranges between 1.5m and 1.8m. Prefers strict routine. Will expect dinner at 3pm sharp. Sense of humour and the wearing of orange not encouraged. Should not expect to celebrate Valentines Day. Own bathroom provided. Prefers to be called Oscar but also responds to 17467/14.

Unknown

Maid in South Africa

The exchange of labour for money is the greatest confidence trick since some dude called Abraham duped his slave into paying for his own circumcision. I don’t know the finer details but apparently it’s all there in the Book of Genesis. Read it if you like. Don’t tell me how it ends. Badly, I imagine.

This is how transactions involving the swapping of work for currency almost always end. Badly. Bosses feel they’re not getting value for their money and employees feel they’re not getting money for their value. So the bosses start firing people who sometimes come back a bit later on and do some firing of their own. Fair play to them.

That’s why, when it comes to people who perform menial labour, I have a soft spot for domestic workers. Despite the way they’ve been treated in the past, they hardly ever wake you up with a cup of tea and a gun to your head. There’s more chance of your wife doing that sort of thing. Except your wife wouldn’t bother with the tea. Unless it was poisoned. In which case she wouldn’t bother with the gun.

Domestic workers have been with us for a long time. I don’t mean in South Africa, specifically. Throughout human history there have been drawers of water, hewers of wood, washers of dishes and fat bastards exploiting them.

Not much has changed over the last four thousand years. Sure, the pay has gone up a bit but the work is pretty much the same. Do the laundry, kill the king’s half-brother, mop up the blood, fellate the first cousins and report to the supervisor for further instructions.

I have a domestic worker and I live alone. I find that appalling. How much of a pig can one person be that he has to hire another entire person to clean up after him? A pretty big pig, as it turns out. Yeah, I’m the prettiest pig in town. In my defence, though, I didn’t go looking for her. She came to me. She knocked on my door one day and asked if I needed help. I asked if she was a psychiatrist. Apparently not.

My instinctive reaction was to threaten to have her arrested if she ever again showed up on my doorstep offering to make my life easier. But then my empathy gland squirted a shot of empath into my brain and I relented. It’s why I can’t go to the SPCA on a Saturday morning just to browse. Of course I’m not equating humans with animals. I’m merely trying to make the point that I am sensitive to the needs of sentient beings of whatever species. But while I’ll happily take in a homeless dog, I’m unlikely to extend the same courtesy to a homeless man. Does that make me a bad person? In a perfect universe, yes. But the universe is not perfect. It’s way too big for a start. And just when you think you’re getting somewhere, you trip over a brown dwarf and fall into a black hole.

“How are you placed for Tuesdays?” I said, as if I were arranging a regular squash game with my lawyer. Not that I have a lawyer. I did, once. His street name was Psycho Syd and he refused to defend me on anything so I had to let him go.

She said Tuesdays were fine. I quickly introduced myself because if you don’t do this right away, domestic workers will call you “boss” or “master” and you let it slide until it’s too late to start over and you spend years and years hating yourself for allowing this strange woman to make you feel as if you were the captain of the Amistad with a brother who personally captured Kunta Kinte.

“Call me Sir Ben,” I said. “We shall reserve my full title for special occasions such as my birthday.” She nodded slowly. “And what, my good lady, is your name?”

She glanced over her shoulder, clearly considering making a run for it. She wouldn’t have got far. I would have brought her down like a leopard on a startled doe and dragged her back to the doorway so that we may complete the formalities.

“Betty,” she said. I snorted and raised the singed remnants of my eyebrows. “Madam,” I said. “I am not referring to the name foisted upon you through neo-colonial imperatives. What is the name given to you by your mummy? Your tribal name.” She sighed heavily. “Nkosiphendule.” I nodded. “Great. Betty it is, then.”

Yes, I am fully aware that the domestic worker industry is traditionally exempt as a subject for humour and that I am treading in a minefield where every mine could blow my career to bits. Not that I have a career. I did, once.

It doesn’t really make sense, though, that the efforts of those who toil in this field should remain off-limits in our daily quest for cheap laughs. After all, thanks to the success of the national democratic revolution, domestic workers are now freely exploited by members of all races.

Every blue-collar worker brings his or her own idiosyncrasies to the job. Plumbers show us their cracks. Electricians talk as if their last job was on the space shuttle. Builders destroy your house and disappear. Domestic workers have their own unique quirks and foibles and we would be doing them a grave disservice if we had to leave them off the list of things to complain about around the braai on a Saturday afternoon.

The apex maids, if I may use that phrase without endangering my livelihood, are in great demand. However, they are like unicorns. Unicorns in uniforms. Suburban etiquette dictates that if you find one, you don’t keep her to yourself. Friendships have ended and families fallen out because of one person refusing to share.

Most, however, fall somewhat short of apex. Not a few fall into the Movers and Breakers category. Nkosi-Betty is a Breaker. Her first couple of Tuesdays were marked by the sound of plates and cups plummeting to their death. In normal circumstances, the hurling of invective follows the smashing of crockery. But on Tuesdays the impact is followed by an eerie silence. If a soup bowl breaks and there is no sound to acknowledge it, perhaps it never existed. Or perhaps, the next time I open the cupboard and find one instead of four bowls, I will think I must have taken the other three for a little outing and inadvertently left them on a park bench or at the beach.

Then came a Tuesday when it was as if a poltergeist had snuck into the cutlery drawer and was tossing knives and forks about the kitchen. So now I leave the premises before the demolition derby can begin. I often have nowhere to go. There are some Tuesdays that I sit at a bus stop and wait for six hours to pass.

Some people get Movers. I think I’d rather have a Mover than a Breaker, to be honest. They keep you on your toes by shifting things to new and interesting locations. Okay, sure, if you find your car keys on the toilet roll holder and your underwear folded neatly in the microwave, she might be more than just a Mover. Quite a few Movers are also frustrated interior decorators and you’ll frequently find the layout of your lounge has changed substantially by the end of the day.

Then there are the Groovers and the Takers. When you get home you’ll find your DStv is on the gospel channel and your radio is set to Ukhozi FM. That’s when you know you have a Groover. You tell yourself that she combines the dancing with the cleaning rather than simply kicking things under the furniture as she pirouettes from one room to another.

The Takers generally help themselves to whatever they please. They arrive with a small handbag and leave with three bulging plastic bags. It’s not really stealing, though. I think it’s more of a civil service mentality and it’s best to let it slide. Unless, of course, a bakkie arrives to pick her up and a couple of guys load up your bed.

So here’s the question. Would you rather live in a developed country where everything works but you can’t afford a servant, or in a country with a rapacious, corrupt government and a functionally innumerate president but, thanks to a history steeped in violence and injustice, there’s a huge pool of cheap labour available?

And it is cheap. Oh, yes. Thanks to white liberal guilt, domestic workers in the Western Cape are the highest paid in the country. They get an average of R188.50 per day. Or, in terms we can all understand, the price of a case of beer. KwaZulu-Natal romps home in third place with R151 a day, the equivalent of a McMeal and two bottles of wine. That’s more than enough to feed a family of five for a week.

You don’t want to live in the Northern Cape if you’re a domestic worker. Those penurious swine pay their servants R120 a day. I wouldn’t live in the Northern Cape if you paid me that every minute.

Before you decide to emigrate, bear this in mind. A company called Maids of London charges the equivalent of R204 an hour for someone to come around and do a little light dusting. And if you’re going to New York, be prepared to pay between R1 500 and R3 000 a day to have your home cleaned. For that price you’d expect Angelina Jolie in a frilly French maid’s outfit. Instead, you get a belligerent Bulgarian banging on about how the dirty Syrian refugees are destroying Europe.

In South Africa the recommended minimum wage for domestic workers is R10.95 an hour. R10.95. You’re probably thinking this was set by the National Party in 1984, right? Wrong. It was set by the labour department last year. With comrades like these …

Ben-Maid in hell

 

 

Of art, life and fuckbois

I don’t usually do this sort of thing. “What sort of thing?” I hear you ask anxiously. Well, if you just sit the fuck down and shut up for a second, I’ll tell you.

I rarely write unless I’m paid to do so or unless there’s at least a reasonable prospect of some sort of remuneration down the line. I’m what is known in the trade as a jobbing writer. I’m also known as a you-drink-too-much writer, a you-missed-your-deadline-again writer and a this-is-my-house-and-if-you-don’t-like-it-you-can-leave writer.

It’s Friday and I had no intention of writing tonight even though I missed a deadline today. If you are a writer and you’re given a Friday deadline, you can be sure it’s a fake deadline. The person doing the commissioning hopes you’ll at least get it together over the weekend and submit the piece on Monday. It usually works.

So, since I’m not getting paid for this, I should cut to the chase so I can get back to doing nothing, for which I’m paid about the same.

An ex-girlfriend, perhaps to punish me, sent me an email a couple of hours ago that forced me to cancel my Friday night plans to not write.

It started on Instagram, where the trouble usually starts. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Syrian conflict began when Omar al-Bashir caught sight of an unflattering photo of himself posted by a disgruntled member of the Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade. To be fair, they are all disgruntled. However, not all are on Instagram.

This is a photograph of five schoolboys who attend Hilton College in the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal. One of the five is dressed up as a girl. The ‘girl’ is wearing a St Anne’s Diocesan College uniform. So far so good.

However, they have arranged themselves in a mise-en-scène, if you like, that depicts what has variously been interpreted in breathless journalese as a gang-bang, a mock rape, an orgy or a picnic gone terribly wrong, depending on which newspaper group is doing the reporting.

The image, not content to wallow in its own filth on Instagram, was soon winging its way across the Twitterverse causing outrage and confusion wherever it came to roost. Yes, it’s not only cows. Pigs, too, can come home to roost.

The photograph shows four laughing schoolboys dressed in Hitler’s – I beg your pardon – Hilton’s summer uniform. They are pretending to have sex with one of their mates who clearly drew the short straw. I assume he drew the short straw. Perhaps they fought among themselves for the privilege of dressing up as one of Saint Anne’s cossetted virgins. Some things are best left unknown.

Personally, I found their tight khaki shirts and shorts to be the most disturbing element of all. What the hell kind of … never mind.

Here is how one newspaper described the action: “The ‘girl’ is bent forward, with a boy up against her from behind, and ‘her’ face is at crotch level of another of the mirthful boys.”

Let us, for a moment, consider that the word ‘mirthful’ was last used in print when Dick played a practical joke on Anne. Dick and Anne are two of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and their names dovetail rather nicely with the narrative of this terrible tale. How frightfully fortuitous.

Once the media had ensured that everyone, including Vladimir Putin, had seen this photograph, it was left to Hilton College headmaster Peter Ducasse to say how appalled he was. How appalled was he? Very. He was very appalled.

“We cannot condemn this strongly enough. It flies in the face of all that the school stands for and teaches,” he said from his office once electronic jamming devices had been installed and he had deleted his browser history.

I imagine the phone call wasn’t long in coming.

“What the fucking fuck, Peter?” whispered Dave Argyl, head of St Anne’s College, which was probably a poor choice of phrase given the circumstances.

“It’s not what you think, Dave,” whispered Peter.

I could go on but since I’m not getting paid for this, I won’t.

It was quite clear, though, that Dave was far from impressed. Like Peter, he, too, was appalled. Speaking to a bag of rags posing as a reporter, he said, “We are appalled by it. It is a slur on all women, even though it is clearly a boy in a St Anne’s uniform.”

Forget, for a moment, that Dave is referring to himself in the third person. Forget even the slur against all transvestites who might not behave in a manner that behooves a young lady of good breeding. What I can’t get my head around is that someone called Dave is in charge of St Anne’s Diocesan School for Girls.

From 1877 to 1972 the Lady Wardens were, from Miss Creswell to Miss Beer, unmarried wimmin all. There was a Mrs Morgan, briefly. I don’t know what she did, but a woman never again headed the school. Dave is fourth in a line of headmasters.

Let me just say, though, that 1977 saw the start of a tradition to wear white to the St Anne’s matric ball. This was because white represents purity and virginity, unlike, say, black, green and gold, which represents the ANC.

I’m getting off track here – which is always the danger of doing research, particularly on a Friday night – but I’d like to share with you their school song and it goes a long way towards explaining why the boys chose to apologise to St Anne’s before the rest of humanity. It’s called The Hymn of Light and it goes like this … one, two, three, four …

O joyful Light, by Whose clear shining only,


In trust we seek, and seeking find a way;


Strength of the tempted, Brother of the Lonely,


From out our darkness bringest Thou the day.


Lo having Thee, we lose not one another,


Sundered, united, dying but to birth:


All worlds are one in Thee, O more than brother,


An one our family in heavan and earth.



So shine in us, our little love reproving,


That souls of men may kindle at the flame;


The whole worlds hatred, broken by our loving


Shall bow to love,

Thine everlasting name.


Therefore to Thee be praise and thanksgiving


To Father, Son and Comforter Divine;


We lift our voice and sing with all things living,


O Light of life, the Glory that is Thine.

Many girls have stood in that hallowed hall and sang their pure little hearts out to this mess of mangled syntax and mixed messages. One of them was Candice Swanepoel, a sweet-faced girl who broke free, spread her wings and went on to become one of Victoria’s Secret Angels. Perhaps there is a god after all.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Bafana Bafana. The boys, the boys. Seeing the error of their ways in a dull blur of light caused by the weak Midlands sun reflecting off the letters from their daddies’ lawyers, they issued a statement. An apology. It was addressed to St Anne’s. To the headmaster, teachers, scholars and parents. No mention of the cleaners, cooks or gardeners who presumably wouldn’t be offended by this sort of thing because it’s part of their culture.

The photo, I should point out, was originally posted by Sebastian Dawber from what else but his iPhone. The caption reads, “Apparently we are ‘fuckbois’, yet they love us anyway.”

Apparently, though, they were fuckwits. Not long after the photo was emailed to the Mars Rover to ensure that other worlds would be aware of their utter fuckwittery, this came sniveling across the internet.

“We would like to apologise for our actions on Tuesday the 13 of October 2015. The manner in which your school has been portrayed due to our irresponsible and inconsiderate behavior is something we are not proud of and would like to profusely apologize for.” I’m already subtracting marks for the American spelling and dodgy grammar.

So the most important thing, right off the bat, was to apologise to St Anne’s for taking a picture of a boy wearing their uniform in a poorly staged tableaux that looks nothing like a realistic fivesome. Or so I’ve heard.

“We have embarrassed our families and Hilton College due to our unfathomable actions.” Unfathomable? Nice try, lads. That’s the Hansie Cronje defence. I wouldn’t travel anywhere any time soon by air if I were you.

Then they waste no time opening their mouths wider and ramming both feet in.

“As Hilton boys we should know better and put more thought into what we upload on social media.”

Unlike, of course, the dumb fuckers over at Uyahlanya Secondary who are somehow smart enough not to post pictures of themselves on social media pretending to bang a boy dressed as a girl.

“People understandably perceived our action in the opposite way to which it was intended …” Rookie mistake, fuckbois. Never give people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time they can barely understand how to cross the street. You should have told everyone that this was a carefully choreographed satire of life imitating art and referred to Ayanda Mabulu’s latest depiction of the presidential penis.

Unless you’re Donald Trump, sloppy genes and too much testosterone is a career killer.

Here’s another gem. “Respect towards women and gender equality is something we hold close to our hearts. Women have been influential in all of our lives, we have nothing but respect and admiration towards them …”

Listen up, fuckbois. Unless you were raised by wolves, women have been influential in all of our lives. And if you had any respect for women, you would have put your cross-dresser on his knees and given him a cushion to kneel on. Next time be more sensitive.

The names attached to the apology are instructive. Murray ten Hope, Sebastian Dawber, Bonani Beebz Komani, Reece Lambson and Tristan Way. Murray appears to be of Dutch origin, a degenerate nation that came over here, spawned Afrikaners and then went home to shag whores and get high.

Lambson, Way and Dawber will recover from the scandal and go on to start a law firm specialising in whatever makes the most money.

The photograph itself tells a story, too. There is only one person there who looks like he knows what he’s doing and that’s the acceptably light-skinned Bonani Komani. The white fuckbois look like they’re auditioning for the school play and the boy in the St Anne’s outfit appears to be looking for a contact lens. Fucking amateurs.

The mea culpa ends with yet another apology. “We hope that in the near future we will be able to prove that this does not show who we are or what we represent …” What exactly do you represent, fuckbois, apart from the elitist wanker demographic?

You call this “an unfortunate and thoughtless event that occurred because of nothing else other than our stupidity”. See what you’ve done, now. Your mothers and lawyers have gone and over-egged the pie or whatever the fuck it is that you put eggs into.

It costs R200 000 a year to go to Hilton. You cannot publicly admit to being stupid when you attend the most expensive private school in the country. Unless, of course, you really are that stupid.

Lastly, the next time you pull a stunt like this, don’t look at the fucking camera.

candice

fuckbois

ayanda

 

Guns don’t kill people. Arseholes kill people.

Don’t get me wrong. You won’t catch me hugging any bunnies, but that’s largely because I’m afraid of them. It’s not funny. Leporiphobia is a real thing. I don’t come around to your house and laugh at your phobias, but I will if I have to. Actually, no, I won’t. I will come to your house with spiders and snakes and black men wearing balaclavas and force you to confront your fears. I might also laugh.

So, anyway. We have established beyond doubt that shooting deaths are caused by aresholes with guns, whether it be the paranoid 26-year-old arsehole who killed nine people at an Oregon college or the 28-year-old arsehole who killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Then there are the tens of thousands of people around the world walking the streets today who have shot and killed people. Some of them even got medals for it. They are soldiers, former soldiers and that guy at the end of the bar who you really don’t want to bump into. Are they all arseholes? Of course not. But mostly, yes.

I like the idea of guns more than I like guns themselves. They’re a bit like women, really. And I don’t mean loud and capable of going off for no good reason at all. I mean you feel invincible when you have one, but take it away and you spend your nights in the foetal position crying yourself to sleep.

Guns are weirdly supernatural. I don’t understand how they work. I also find television and electricity weirdly supernatural. Did you know that Superman is the only person who can travel faster than a speeding bullet? It’s no wonder we haven’t seen him in ages. He probably overshot Hillbrow in the 1960s and has been trying to find his way back from the Andromeda galaxy ever since.

The idea of being able to kill someone sitting on the beach a kilometer away is one that I find strangely compelling. You needn’t even have to stand up. Simply put your beer down, rest your rifle on a small child’s head, aim and pull the trigger. Bam! One less person on the beach.

History has shown that hostile forces tend to gather at the seaside. The Germans killed thousands on the beaches of Normandy. Of course, you’re going to need more than a sniper rifle if you hope to match figures like these. And you’re going to have to wait until December.

Google spits up 381 million results if you search for “guns”. I googled “sex” and got 1.6 billon results. Then I got distracted. Later, I googled sex and guns and got 96 million results, one of which was a story out of an American town called Blacksburg. “A small community in Virginia mourns as a man dies after having sex with his revolver.” It got worse after that. The next few results pointed me to sites about Guns N’ Roses, a band that toured Europe in the late 1940s, precipitating the early surrender of the Nazis.

I prefer knives to guns. When you’re not stabbing someone, you can use it to put Marmite on your toast. Try doing that with a gun.

Perhaps I need to learn how to love guns. Embrace them. Not in the way the guy from Blacksburg embraced his, obviously. Besides, I’d have a hard time inserting my … never mind.

I’m not a complete stranger to guns. When I was a kid my father would take me and his Walther PPK pistol down to the mangroves near Blue Lagoon. The first time it happened I thought he was going to kill me. Especially when he sat down and polished off half a dozen beers. Instead, he lined up the empties in a row. Then he put the gun in my little hand and told me to pretend the tins were communists. If this was a rite of passage, I failed miserably. “Go a bit closer,” he said every time I missed. Eventually I had the barrel pressed up against one of the cans. It was like an execution.

If I do get a gun, I’ll probably order it from America. You get two-for-one Tuesdays, plus a Happy Meal voucher, and they all have their serial numbers intact. I found Springfield Armory online. I liked the sound of it because the Simpsons come from Springfield. If it’s good enough for Homer, it’s good enough for me.

According to their website, in 1777 George Washington “ordered the creation of Springfield Armory to store revolutionary ammunition and gun carriages”. I won’t bore you with the details of what happened between then and now. There’s a saying that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I failed to learn history and got 17% in matric. I was damned if I was going to repeat it.

Their website says, “Let us help you find the firearm that fits you best.” Fair enough. Who among us hasn’t seen a toddler struggling to load her AK-47 and thought, “If only she had gone to a shop that cared.”

They have seven categories of guns including competition, concealed carry, home defence and short to long range. We don’t mess about with categories in South Africa. We just go a township and ask around. Or take one off a sleeping policeman.

I was immediately drawn to the concealed carry category because I have always liked hiding things. This probably explains my two failed marriages.

They offer 19 handguns. “Whether you’re looking for the most possible capacity or the deepest possible concealment, you can find it here.” I suppose one shouldn’t expect impeccable grammar from arms dealers, but how deep is the deepest possible concealment? And if we’re talking womb or lower bowel, how would you get it out in a hurry?

The multi-purpose category has 25 handguns to choose from. “Perhaps you want something to put on the nightstand after spending the day with it on the range. Or maybe you want something that you’ll shoot as often as you carry it.” I don’t understand what any of this means. I want to be able to pull the trigger and have a piece of lead ejected at 1000m a second. That’s all that matters. Forget all this talk of nightstands. You don’t want your gun reminding you of bed – you want to be reminded that it makes living things dead.

Home defence, or defense as they say, because Americans can’t spell, has 26 options. “The good news is that Springfield Armory produces several ergonomically pleasing and feature-rich firearms with plenty of capacity and power.”

This is good news for victims. Imagine the indignity of dying in a pool of your own blood after being shot with a firearm that was less than ergonomically pleasing. What a horrible way to go.

It’s not all handguns, of course. “When it comes to long-range sustained fire, you can do no better than the M1A.” Sounds a bit too close to MIA for my liking. There’s only one situation I can think of when an ordinary person might need a weapon capable of long-range sustained fire and it involves Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I’m disappointed that the shape of guns has barely changed since they were invented. Look at the range of bubble guns in toyshops. I saw one the other day shaped like a seahorse. Why can’t we do the same with real guns? I, for one, would be far more inclined to arm myself if I could buy a pistol shaped like a mongoose or a dolphin.

Come on, gun people. Let’s put the fun back into fundamentalism.

Lastly, I agree with those who say that mental illness is to blame for all the mass shootings in America. The National Rifle Association alone has five million mentally ill members. In 2013, a proposal on gun control was torpedoed when 45 mentally ill senators voted against background checks and a ban on assault rifles. Half of America’s adult population opposes stricter gun control laws. That’s 120 million mentally ill people right there. With that many crazy people on the loose, no wonder everyone wants a gun.

South Africa has never looked more sane.

We need guns to prevent dolphins from taking over the world-2

We need guns to prevent dolphins from taking over the world.

 

White male gets blackmailed

Someone is trying to blackmail me and, quite frankly, I’m delighted. I consider it an honour and it shall become the latest addition to my heavily embellished curriculum vitae.

The blackmailers call themselves The Impact Team and their business is to extort money from subscribers who were exposed in the recent hack of the Ashley Madison infidelity website. Once again, let me reiterate that I signed up for research purposes.

The site has 36 million members so it must have been a very busy few weeks for the blackmailers. I was wondering when they’d get around to contacting me.

The thing is, though, I don’t believe they are who they say they are. The person or group who initially hacked the site call themselves The Impact Team and it seems highly unlikely that they did it for personal enrichment. In fact, the hackers said they would take on any target in the future that made money off “the pain of others, secrets and lies”.

The email I got, then, almost certainly comes from someone using The Impact Team’s name as a way of acquiring credibility. Blackmailers, as everyone knows, are five rungs below hackers on the ladder of evil. Besides, I picked up several errors similar to those found in emails sent by those lovable 419 rogues. Relax, my brudda, nobody has said anything about Nigeria.

After trying to scare me by naming the city I live in and accurately quoting the last four digits on my credit card, they said, “We are very pleased to announce you what will follow.” They gave me two options, which I thought awfully decent of them.

“We will publish your complete data (secret fantasies, conversations, pictures) and will match the data with your name and address on our new site. Your family, colleagues, friends will be informed. Many thanks to Facebook & Co. Email account contacts are a worthwhile information. You should better change the login data but it is to late.”

See what I’m saying? Anyone with the technological ability to hack into a site like Ashley Madison would probably be able to string a coherent sentence together.

So that was my first option, which, on reflection, wasn’t really an option at all. That was the threat. Option 2 was the option, and yet wasn’t.

“We are providing a chance to solve this case. You make a payment of 1.1 Bitcoins to …” Here, they provide a jumbled sequence of no fewer than 33 numbers and letters. No wonder Bitcoins have never really caught on.

Helpfully, they explain where I can buy Bitcoins and how to do the transfer. They also provide the exchange rate. One Bitcoin is worth $228 dollars. Fascinating. Then, as if in a James Bond movie, the clock starts ticking. “The time ends in five days. We will not publish your data and we will not inform your contacts.” In the event I still hadn’t got the message, they tacked on what appear to be terms and conditions.

“Reply is a waste of energy and time.

“We will never contact you again after you paid us. Our guarantee!

“You are ignoring us? We will not give you a second chance. Then we will inform your family and friends about you. Non-payment and we will destroy your life 100%.

“We do not make empty promises.

“Thanks. The Impact Team.”

In spite of their advice, I replied.

“Dear Sir/Madam. I have decided to reply because I have plenty of energy and time, as you’d expect from someone who subscribed to Ashley Madison. Here’s the thing, my brudda. Compared to my friends, I am a paragon of virtue. Revealing my ‘secret fantasies’ would only embarrass them, not me. Nobody wants to hang out with someone whose fantasy is to live in a world where animals can talk. As for my family, they couldn’t give a damn what I do, just as long as I don’t ask them for money. And when it comes to destroying my life, well, I’m doing a pretty good job of that without your help. I do, however, have a counter-offer. You give me two Bitcoins or I will publish your email and expose you for the loathsome, semi-literate filth that you are. Thanks. Ben Trovato.”

Unknown

 

 

Dear Saudi Arabia

Congratulations on your decision to kill the Shiite boy who goes by the name Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Teenagers are dreadful at the best of times, what with their sighing and eye-rolling and endless demands for human rights and justice. If I had my way they would all be put to death.

I suppose I shouldn’t call him a boy. He is, after all, 20 years old. However, he was still a teenager when he committed the dastardly crimes for which he must die. Apparently he participated in the Arab Spring protests in 2012. Is that right? My kid once participated in a school play and by the end of it I wanted to slaughter the entire cast and most of the audience, so I know how you feel.

I gather you are breaking with tradition and not beheading the lad. Well done. Beheading is too good for some people. Crucifixion is the only language this generation understands. Well, that and textese and SMSish. Hang on. I’m getting conflicting information here. Some reports say you’re going to behead him and then crucify him. I don’t want to sound like a liberal, but isn’t that overkill? I apologise. You obviously know what you’re doing. I’m a bit worried, though. Crucifixion can lead to new religions forming and nobody, least of all you, wants that happening. Yes, I’m talking about a certain Mr J Christ of Bethlehem. If the Romans had let him off with a light whipping and a warning, Christianity would probably not exist today. And even if it did, their symbol certainly wouldn’t be a cross. I’m just saying be careful, that’s all.

Your own media, which never gets anything wrong under pain of death – in my country that’s just an expression – said you wanted to string up the body after the beheading as a warning to others. I may be out of line here, but would the average Saudi be shocked at the sight of just one body? From what I’ve heard, one can barely move in Riyadh for the corpses of people executed for jaywalking or littering. That’s just the men. Apparently the countryside is littered with the bodies of female radicals who were caught driving, watching television or talking to men who weren’t their brothers.

Wouldn’t it be more effective to round up everyone who participated in the Arab Spring and crucify the lot of them? You could do a thousand a day for three months. If the United Nations starts gnashing its gums, tell them it’s none of their damn business what you do. Tell them it’s population control. If they threaten to pass a resolution, threaten to fire nuclear missiles into New York. You do have nukes, right? You’d better have, or even Israel could whip your arse.

I hear France has also asked you to call off the execution. France! That’s a laugh. After the terrible things they did in the Congo. No, wait. That was the Belgians. Same thing. If they want a united Europe, then all of Europe must take collective responsibility for all the horror.

At least you don’t have to worry about Britain putting the boot in. Their prime minister is too busy doing damage control after it emerged that he stuck his honourable member into a dead pig when he was younger. Also, they really want to land that £6m contract to provide prison expertise to your country. To be honest, I’m surprised you still bother with prisons. Decapitation is so much more cost-effective in the long run. I hope you’re not going soft on us.

By the way, congratulations on being chosen to head up the UN human rights council. This couldn’t have come at a better time for you. It doesn’t matter how much the limp-wristed dolphin-kissers wave their yoga mats and rattle their daisy chains, the fact remains that the US State Department has welcomed it, as do all right-wing, I beg your pardon, all right-thinking members of the global community.

By the way, you might want to get the plasterers in. I hear there are some nasty cracks developing in the House of Saud. The last thing you want to do is let the light in.

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