Month: December 2016

Boxing, Wrestling, Stabbing Day

It was like the fall of Saigon.

Choppers buzzed low over the beach, rescue boats fitted with powerful engines circled beyond the breakers, the wail of ambulance sirens filled the air. A weird mist hung over a shoreline jammed with writhing, screaming bodies. Minibuses packed with half-naked, hysterical people weaved through the dense traffic. Ragged children emerged from makeshift shelters and fought among themselves for the few scraps of food still available.

When I saw the last white family being airlifted off Camps Bay beach, it was only my experience as a war correspondent that prevented me from sobbing like a girl.

Everywhere around me, people were drinking heavily to numb the horror. Those who had foolishly finished their drinks before the sunset curfew and the imposition of martial law were copulating openly as people do in times of great stress.

I watched as six Swedish tourists stepped over the bodies and set up their volleyball net. I had to look away. Even though I am immune to scenes of carnage, there are still some sights that turn my stomach.

On one side of the road was the Western-backed south, its chrome and glass bars and restaurants providing a safe haven for hundreds of people pale with fear. On the other side of the road, the Communist-backed north was gathering for a final push on the degenerates of the south.

Fortified by Chinese takeaways and Russian sausages, big-breasted commissars in red spandex leotards pushed deeper. The Vietcong were Girl Guides in comparison. Their enormous voices drowned out the desperate cries from the south. I was close enough to hear them and I can tell you it was pitiful. “Who ordered the crayfish?” shouted a harried man in a white coat, tears streaming down his face.

We all knew that the south and the north were deeply divided, but few could have predicted that the final showdown would take place at Camps Bay. Where there should have been a Blue Flag, the skull and crossbones snapped in the wind.

Durban’s most popular beach fell to the north years ago and was renamed North Beach even though that was its name anyway.

Now Camps Bay, the final refuge of the flaxen-haired blue-eyed devils, was on the verge of being declared Tai Chi Minh City.

I took up the classic position of the United Nations peacekeeper but stopped short of molesting young girls and instead simply observed as the north began massing, as only the north can mass.

Just when I thought all was lost, a Humvee full of Gauteng coke dealers crudely disguised as Patagonian toothfish poachers drove up. The south rose as one, rattling their jewellery and shouting for more cocktails.

I heard what sounded like a gunshot and a stampede broke out among the north, but they were quick to regroup when word spread that it was nothing more serious than a Zulu warlord taking care of a methane gas build-up.

I was weighing up my chances of making it to the nearest bar without compromising my objectivity when a glue-stained orphan tried to sell me his teeth. I am no newcomer to the seedy world of black market teeth, but now was not the time so I denounced the urchin as a filthy spy and he sloped back to his people.

American intervention in the form of a dozen Harley Davidson’s gave the south renewed hope, but their courageous cries for more lobster and champagne were reduced to a dull murmur once they realised the cavalry was made up of men more comfortable with holding each other than holding the line.

The north, meanwhile, was in disarray. The frontline had stopped its advance and had begun shoving and slapping one another. A renegade faction, probably on the south’s payroll, had put out the word that this was the queue for taxis and that the real invasion wasn’t due until Thursday.

Quick to exploit the situation, the south sent out a patrol of underage drinkers. They stood there for a bit, swaying gently in the breeze and giggling among themselves. I was hoping for a bit of action, but the only thing that blew up was their skirts. I shouldn’t complain, really.

After requisitioning a shot of morphine from the mobile mediclinic, I witnessed what looked like a ceasefire agreement being signed between a clan leader with an oozing head wound and a Kevlar-coated cop whose eyes were glazed with indifference.

I doubt it was implemented because I was still standing on the back of a moving bakkie calling for the reunification of Camps Bay when the south surrendered and all the bars were collectivised.

Blouberg accepted the first wave of refugees but the rest stumbled down to the shorebreak where they made a raft from free Engen beachballs and drifted off in search of a brave new world.

As in any war that involves political ideologies and girls who offer up their maidenheads for a bottle of cider and a ride in a fast car, there were the inevitable civilian casualties in the battle for Camps Bay. Most of them ended up in municipal body bags along with used condoms, broken sandals and half-smoked bottlenecks – the usual Boxing Day detritus of any conflict this side of the 16th parallel.

Helpful holiday hints

Now is a time for reflection, a time for evaluating the year gone by and a time to make fresh plans for the year ahead. More importantly, though, it is a time to lie on the beach and chuck as much alcohol down your gizzard as is medically possible. It must be said, though, that both the beach and drinking come with their own attendant risks. Let’s start with drinking.

The worst thing about drinking, apart from waking up to find a wedding ring on your finger, is the hangover. Some doctors try to tell you that hangovers are caused by dehydration. This is like saying floods cause drought and I, for one, would sign any petition that calls for these charlatans to be struck from the roll.

Dehydration is caused when the bartender ignores you because he is too busy catching bottles behind his back and flirting with all the pretty young things.

In rare cases, dehydration is also caused when a girly little hormone that is meant to tell the body to conserve water can’t hold its liquor and passes out on the job. This results in you having to wee every ten minutes. With the floodgates open, the body starts borrowing water from less important organs, like the brain. This causes the brain to shrink, which annoys it tremendously. This explains why stupid people with small brains suffer worse hangovers than smart people with big brains.

All alcohol contains methanol. I would have thought this is a good thing since it is also the fuel used in motocross bikes. And, boy, can those babies go.

However, instead of doing the sensible thing and using the methanol to accelerate the mind, the body breaks it down into formaldehyde and formic acid. Deformed foetuses and pygmy brains are preserved in formaldehyde. Ants and bees secrete formic acid when they attack. What the hell are our bodies thinking?

The monstrous aberration known in scientific terms as Babelaas Horribilus is also partly caused by the depletion of magnesium in your body. As we all know, magnesium constitutes 2% of the Earth’s crust. So before you go drinking, take the time to step out into the garden and grab a handful of that damn fine crust.

Just remember to wash the dirt from your face before you walk into the bar. Not many drinkers can handle the sight of a grown man with a soil-encrusted mouth spraying bits of grass and earthworms about while shouting for another round.

Drinking & Swimming

Lifeguards warn you not to drink and swim. I have never heard such nonsense. What are you going to do? Lose control on the backstroke and sideswipe a jellyfish? Burst a water-wing and roll? Have a head-on collision with a snoek? The ocean is by far the safest place in which to drink. For a start, it is impossible to fall over. This means no more inexplicable cuts and bruises the next day. And there are no roadblocks to ruin your life. No chance of irresponsible sex with someone whose name you can’t remember. The only problem I ever encountered while drinking and swimming was having my beer diluted with seawater.

Bluebottles (Bloublasies)

Apart from the Congolese gentleman selling beaded flowers, the thing next most likely to ruin your day at the beach is the bluebottle. This little scoundrel is also known as the Portuguese Man-of-War, although we are no longer allowed to call them that because the Portuguese say it portrays them as an excitable people who are always up for a fight. I thought that was the whole point of being Portuguese.

The tentacles of the bluebottle trail through the water with the aim of snaring small crustaceans. Whenever I go into the sea, they trail through my baggies with the aim of snaring my testicles which, it must be said, look nothing like small crustaceans.

One of the first times I was stung, a friend said the best way to ease the pain was to urinate on the affected area. Since I had been stung on my back, he volunteered to help out. Our friendship was never the same after that. Later, after leaving school, I heard that he had joined the priesthood. As I grew up, I heard more and more about people weeing on each other without even having been stung by bluebottles. As far as I could tell, they hadn’t even been near the beach. I found it all rather disturbing.

Using Sharks to Pick Up Girls

Very few girls can resist a shark attack victim. One bite, and you’re theirs. But don’t think you can simply pitch up at the beach, wade in to the water and expect something to chew helpfully on your arm.

There are an average of only six shark attacks a year in South African waters. With a strike rate like that, you might think that sharks are rubbish when it comes to dishing out a decent savaging. You’re right. They are.

So don’t waste your time with second-raters like the Zambezi or the hammerhead, let alone that big aquatic pussycat, the ragged-tooth. For a start, you would have to slap him around a good deal to get him angry enough to even nibble your toes.

You need to find Carcharodon carcharias – the Great White – the most frightening of all creatures in the sea apart from the Gauties wallowing off Umhlanga’s main beach as we speak. Here are some tips to help you lose a limb and get laid:

* Swim only at river mouths at dusk and dawn.

* Use a razor blade to lacerate your legs.

* Head into deep water and splash vigorously.

* Have a Ferrari in the parking lot.

Right. That’s enough helpful hints for now. You’ll be hearing from me next year. Possibly sooner.

trovatobali1

Unleash the troglodytes

Today, 178 years ago, the Voortrekkers defeated a Zulu army at the Battle of Blood River. And today, the Boers and the Zulus will join forces to defeat me at the Battle of Gateway shopping centre.

The Zulus will stream in through strategic entrances to isolate me in a pincer movement that would have made King Shaka proud. And the Boers will use their traditional tactics of walking eight abreast, scoffing ice-creams and knocking people out of the way with their meaty hips and big asses. I don’t stand a chance.

William Butler Yeats wrote, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Except he got it wrong. They’re slouching out of Bethlehem (there by the Free State) and into Durban. Quite frankly, they scare me. If I had the space, I would explain how one can tell the difference between trolls, homunculi and troglodytes.

I did a recce earlier in the week to check out the exits and locate the shops that sell weapons. If it was going to turn ugly, I wasn’t going down without a fight. To hell with reconciliation. At this time of year, it’s every man for himself.

Orphans are big this year. I saw several shops offering to donate a percentage of purchases over R100 to those who are lucky enough not to have parents. They never say how much goes to the orphans, though. It could be 0000.1% of each purchase. This means that by the end of the holidays, three orphans in a village north of the Tugela will each get a tin of soup. Next year, if they are really lucky, they’ll get a tin opener.

As I made my way through the mall, hugging the walls and keeping to the shadows, retracing my steps to confuse the sniffer dogs and darting from doorway to doorway to prevent the snipers from drawing a bead on me, I saw a brawl break out in Dis-Chem. My money was on a geriatric with purple hair and no teeth. She looked as if she knew her way around a Zimmer frame but security intervened before any bets could be placed.

The war for drugs escalates at this time of year. Too many family reunions, dinners and parties mean that old and young alike are desperate for their meds. If you’re new at this, I recommend something from the benzodiazepine family. Xanax, Ativan and Librium will do nicely if all you need to do is get through Christmas lunch without cutting a sibling’s throat. However, if you’re trying to avoid exposing Uncle Pervy for the paedophile that he is, you might need one of the neuroleptics. Thorazine works well, but get your timing right. You don’t want to be slack-jawed and drooling into the turkey with your paper hat over one eye while everyone else is pulling crackers.

I saw a sign saying, “Add more sparkle to your festive season – shop with American Express!” Yeah, sure. It’s all fun and sparkles now, but what happens next year? It’s bad enough what the local banks will to do to you, but you fuck with the Americans at your peril. I’ve heard that Guantanamo Bay isn’t a prison for political detainees at all. It’s for people – Muslims, mainly – who have maxed out their American Express cards and are late with their payments.

I saw another sign. “Gateway recycles 248 378 litres of fuel – enough to send a single car 87 times around the circumference of the Earth.” Hang on. Wouldn’t the carbon footprint of this car be worse for the environment than if the fuel hadn’t been recycled? More importantly – can this car turn into a boat? No wonder our children suck at geography.

And a box saying, “Magic fish – real living fish! Watch them hatch and grow before your very eyes!” We are expected to believe a lot of made-up stuff at this time of year, but I draw the line at magic fish. Or do I? Ah, what the hell. Give me one.

I saw television sets so big you would have to sell your house, buy a piece of land and build a new house around the telly. Where will it end, this race for the biggest television? Will new homes eventually offer plasma screens instead of walls? I hope so. I already spend hours staring at the wall. I may as well be watching something.

Lava lamps are still being sold even though weed remains illegal. It makes no sense. You genuinely have to be on drugs to fully appreciate a lava lamp. I’m surprised that each purchase doesn’t come with a bankie of Durban Poison and to hell with the consequences.

I spent some time in the toy section because it reminds me of my childhood, none of which I can recall, although I must have had one. There’s a doll that speaks six lines. Or does six lines. I can’t remember. Cocaine Barbie, perhaps.

For the boys, there are millions of heavily armed action figures that don’t look as macho as they do gay. This is a good thing. If you want your son to grow up believing he can kill with impunity, rather he does it wearing nothing but short hair, a moustache and a pair of tight red shorts.

I found a paramedic’s kit but it lacked a plastic handgun for when the ambulance has to go into the township on a Friday night.

Then I came across a whole series of things you can do in the tub. “Shaving in the tub” was one. This is a filthy habit, whether you’re a girl or a boy, and you should only get this for your child if you have someone other than yourself who cleans the bath. Also, if your child is shaving, there might be something wrong with it. Everything on the box is in French, which makes sense when you consider what these people regard as acceptable behaviour. What’s next? Wine in the Jacuzzi? Pissing in the pool?

I felt my masculinity listing badly and headed to a shop selling goodies capable of blinding, crippling or killing your enemy, many of whom were jostling me and pushing their trolleys into my ankles. They had a matte black rifle mounted on a stand at the entrance. Gamo Big Cats, it was called. I rather fancy myself as a big game hunter so I bought it. Knowing my luck, I’ll discover that it’s barely powerful enough to take out the feral tabbies of Umdloti just as the last white lion of the Kalahari lunges for my throat.

Too weak to make it back to my car, I bought a bag of tartrazine-flavoured carbohydrates and found a table outside next to a family built like bakkies who barked at each other in a harsh guttural tongue, wolfed a tray of burgers then lit up cigarettes and blew smoke over the baby in the pram. As it was, the creature barely looked human. Darwin was wrong. It’s the survival of the fattest. If not the dumbest.

Avoid the maul at all costs

Christmas decorations seem to lack something of the Christian ethos this year. When I was growing up, you could barely move for cheerful scenes of the crucifixion and mawkish tableaux of ceramic shepherds hanging around dodgy mangers. For years, a church in Durban North put out a nativity scene on the street. Then people started stealing the livestock and a couple of the wise men went missing and it was stopped altogether the year baby Jesus was nicked.

Anyway, nativity scenes are outdated. If it were today, the three wise men would be unemployed academics with substance abuse problems, Joseph would be out working overtime to pay for the new baby and the shepherds would be on strike.

Meanwhile, not too long ago, you could barely walk through a mall without smacking your head into a polystyrene angel swinging from the rafters. These days it’s all disco balls and plastic dross swaddled in fairy lights. It’s not so much Santa’s grotto as it is Hugh Hefner’s grotto, although you do have a slightly smaller risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the Hypermarket.

You’d think the very least the dude responsible for all of this could do is send down a few real angels to pretty up the city. Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong and everyone has gone straight to hell. Or perhaps this is hell. Perhaps heaven is another planet with mountains of marijuana and rivers of beer and beautiful women who don’t mind if you never call them but who will happily whip up a hearty breakfast if you drop by early on a Sunday morning, horny and bleeding.

With only a couple of weeks left before the traditional exchanging of gifts and bodily fluids, I found myself in the maw of a gargantuan shopping maul, having been driven there by guilt. Or, more accurately, by the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman. I am dating a woman who believes in the magic of Christmas instead of doing the sensible thing and dating an iconoclastic pagan who would sooner perform outlandish fertility rituals around a burning goat than go shopping.

At first glance, it appeared as if the complex was designed by Dante Alighieri himself. There was Cerberus tied up outside and a sign at the entrance saying, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Inside, nine levels of hell, jam-packed with opportunists, adulterers, gluttons and greedheads, hypocrites, thieves and sodomites, the sullen, the slothful and the suicidal. It sounds more fun than it was.

“Let’s split up,” said the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” I replied. “I’ll have my stuff out by Tuesday.”

She gave me the lazy eye and, in an instant, was swept away in a raging torrent of hoarders and wasters, deceivers, flatterers and sowers of discord. I sought refuge in a shop called Dad’s Toys. It was either that or CUM Books, a shady outfit that looked like it might sell tasteful Christian porn to happily married couples.

Dad’s Toys was the perfect shop to get something for my landlord. He’s been married for a while, so it was a toss-up between a crossbow, a knuckleduster, two throwing knives, a pair of nunchucks, a bulletproof vest and a riot shield. In the end I took it all. To even things up a bit, I bought his wife a stun-gun, a flick knife, a hip flask, a can of pepper spray and a pair of handcuffs. It’ll be like a second honeymoon for them.

Back on level three of Dante’s inferno, I suffered some sort of weird asthma attack in a shop that reeked overpoweringly of the stuff women put in their underwear drawer to repel their husbands. It appeared to be a biological agent. Nerve gas, probably.

Fighting to breathe and lurching like an escaped lunatic, I was steamrollered into Game by a mob of unbaptised heretics. Almost immediately, I felt my sanity slipping away. An alarm wailed as if the store were under terrorist attack, purple-faced tellers shouted for reinforcements, wild-eyed women clawed at one another’s eyeballs to get the last trolley, the floor vibrated to a hideous rap version of Hark the Herald something or other and every few seconds the madness was cranked up a notch by some maniac screaming over a PA system for Dawie to meet Hannelie at the front of the store. I think it was meet. It could’ve been eat.

Ripping through the mayhem like a circular saw through the occipital bone came the most terrible sound of all. If Christmas is such a happy time for children, why in God’s name are they all crying? Why are they lying on the floor thrashing about like epileptics?

The idea of penetrating too deep into the belly of the beast filled me with revulsion, so my plan was to buy anything within spitting distance of the tellers. A man in a red waistcoat came over and asked me to stop spitting.

Adrift in the toy section, I overheard an assistant say to a man with a troubled face, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Spiderman has sold out.” This was disturbing news. Had our hero been bought off by the Green Goblin? Or had Peter Parker finally discovered that it would be far more lucrative to become an estate agent and use his superpowers to spin a web of lies and deceit, instead?

I was distracted by row upon row of babies stacked up like prematurely born infants in cheap plastic incubators. There was Butterfly Doll with eight functions – five more than a real baby – and Kissing Baby, a favourite among visiting Belgian paedophiles. Sippin’ Sue is a cute little thing “who lets you know when she wants more”. Yeah, she’s cute now. Wait until she grows up and starts demanding cunnilingus and vodka at 3am.

There’s a doll that speaks six lines. Or does six lines. I can’t remember. Cocaine Barbie, perhaps.

I came across New Born Baby. “Look after me,” the synthetic sprog demanded. “I can drink and use my potty.” So can I, but you don’t see me lolling about in a cardboard box expecting people to pay R300 to see me do a wee, do you? Not that I wouldn’t.

There was also some kind of contraption that could accommodate seven babies. Of course. Why have one when you can have seven? It’s a valuable lesson for any girl to learn in a country starved of people.

The Americans, being the peace-loving democrats they are, seem to have ditched the toy guns this year. Instead, your cuddly little psychopath can look forward to Santa bringing him remote controlled Apache helicopter gunships, M1 tanks and amphibious assault vehicles that come with flashing lights and fabulous sound effects including machine gun fire, explosions and wounded civilians screaming in Arabic.

The ideal present for a boy isn’t, as you might think, a plastic M-16 rifle with pull-back breech action and realistic auto sound. It’s a kitchen play set and vacuum cleaner. The lad needs to be equipped with survival skills because by the time he is of marriageable age, all the women will be riding Harleys and staging cock fights in the local pub.

Some mothers never taught their daughters to clean and cook and I believe it’s never too late for them to learn the basics. Girls, or even grown women, will appreciate the “My Little Home” range. It has everything from a plastic washing machine to a trolley fitted with a mop, broom and bucket. Next year, I’d like see a “My Little Broken Home” range where nothing works except a miniature crystal meth lab. Accessories would include paramedics and a social worker.

The electronic kitchen “makes realistic sounds” so you might not want to get that. The last thing you need is a toy that shrieks, “You’re not having another beer, are you?” and “You can also cook sometimes, you lazy pig.”

My Little Iron also makes realistic sounds. Like what? “I’m sick of slaving away for these ungrateful white bastards” and “Why doesn’t your useless father ever do this?” and “Open the safe or I’ll iron your face.”

There’s also a talking octopus. What can it possibly have to say? I once met an octopus while snorkeling and I can honestly say that in the brief moment our eyes met, we both knew there was nothing we had to say to each other. If octopi could talk, I expect they would say, “Please take that pointy stick out of my head and return me to the rock pool from whence I came.” Well, the educated ones would. The more common octopi would probably squirt ink everywhere and try to strangle you with a tentacle.

A shop assistant caught me looking up a doll’s skirt. Awkward. I simply wanted to ascertain whether it was anatomically correct. With the education system as it is, I wouldn’t want my nephew growing up thinking all girls have a piece of hard plastic between their legs. Not that I have a nephew.

I had ingested a muscle relaxant in the parking lot and fortunately was able to deal with almost anything – even the Verimark aisle. It was like stepping into a future filled with home appliances designed by mad geniuses on hallucinogenic drugs and whiskey.

Talking vacuum cleaners with an incredible 22Kpa suction power! That’s enough to suck the eyeballs right out of your head. There was one that not only picks up dust mites, but gives them in-house training so they can entertain you with tiny circuses and cabaret acts instead of freebooting on skin flakes and crawling up your nose while you’re sleeping.

Slumped in a jewellery shop doorway, I watched a middle-aged man staring blankly at a pair of diamond earrings. He noticed me and asked what I thought. I took a look at the price.

“I think you you should get something cheaper. She’s probably cheating on you right now.” Apparently a sense of humour is out of place in the festive season.

With my blood-alcohol levels dangerously low, I repaired to the restaurant area where several companies appeared to be having their get-togethers. Christmas parties used to be held at night. There would be carousing and fornicating and the company would happily pay your bail the next day. Now, the grinches offer their employees a free lunch.

As if there’s such a thing.

xmasben

Best news of 2016

Big numbers rolling in on the blog for 2016. At last count, 201 073 views and 154 945 visitors. Best year ever.

Total views since 2011 – 715 864.

Thanks WordPress for the platform.

And thanks to everyone, in 200 countries, for taking the time to read my so-called work, including 24 people in Kazakhstan, 13 in Iceland, 8 in Palestine and 1 in Syria. You know who you are.

https://bentrovatowhippingboy.wordpress.com

A season for exchanging gifts and bodily fluids

Bloody Christmas. Again. Squeaky little humanoid hamsters on a giant treadwheel in the sky. Round and round we go. Well, I’ve had enough. Stop this thing. I want to get off.

Why the 25th of December, anyway? It’s not as if anyone has irrefutable evidence that Jesus was actually born on that day. In fact, my research indicates that Jesus very nearly wasn’t the messiah at all. Luke (not Skywalker, the other one) tells the story of a childless couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, who were visited by Gabriel. The angel told Zach his prayers had been answered and that he and Elizabeth would have a son. They were to name him John. Zach was, like, “Yeah, right, I’ll name my own son, thank you very much. Bloody angels, coming around here thinking they own the place.” Pissed off with Zach’s bad attitude, Gabriel went down the road to Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, and pretty much told her the same story, only that she was to call her kid Jesus. Word on the street is that Jesus was born six months after John. There’s no mention of it, but I reckon Liz couldn’t have been too happy.

“You idiot, Zach. That gold, frankincense and myrrh could’ve been ours!”

“What the fuck is myrrh, anyway?”

“That’s not the point, you idiot. For thousands of years, people would have prayed to me, the Virgin Elizabeth.”

“Oh, please. You’re no virgin.”

“Bastard. My mum always said I should’ve married Joseph.”

Anyway. I suppose we should be grateful. It just wouldn’t be the same if every time we were overcome with frustration and rage, we shouted, “John!”

I trawled through a few more biblical tales in the hope of verifying JC’s date of birth, but became so depressed by all the wanton begetting and random savagery that I wanted to kill myself. Perhaps this is what one is meant to feel over Christmas. It certainly seems like a more appropriate emotion.

All this before I had even slithered from my lair in search of gifts. I once suggested to my ex-wife that instead of gifts, we exchange bodily fluids. She seemed to think something more substantial was in order, so I gave her a rough, uncut emerald I found in the driveway. She said it was a piece of broken beer bottle and threw it away. Ungrateful cow. That was the last time I gave her jewels. That Christmas I also gave my loinfruit a beautiful picture of the Maldives which I tore out of a magazine in the toilet. He was so overcome with gratitude that he wept for days.

Quite frankly, I’m still a bit pissed off that the Christians hijacked a perfectly good pagan festival, but if you mind your manners and wish Jesus a happy birthday, you can still get drunk and drugged and have hot monkey sex with your neighbour’s wife without being consigned to burn in the eternal hellfires of damnation. Okay, I might be wrong, but it’s worth a shot.

The worst thing about Christmas is that you have to go shopping and buy stuff for people you don’t necessarily care about – like your friends and family – because you know that if you don’t, you won’t get any stuff from them.

I was in a shop today, happy as a lamb in Islamabad on the eve of Eid-ul-Adha, loading up my basket with the cheapest, tawdriest rubbish on the shelves, when I overheard a young couple complaining.

“I don’t know what we can get him.”

“No idea. He has everything.”

I’ll tell you what you can get the person who has everything. You can call the SARS hotline and get him audited. You can bring him to the attention of the Asset Forfeiture Unit. You can send him to live among the untouchables for three months in the hope that his conscience will drive him to give away half of the everything he has. Preferably to you.

Nobody deserves to have everything. For a start, it makes a mockery of capitalism. What kind of world would this be if none of us wanted anything ever again? The only reason we work is so that we can get money to buy shiny stuff. If we break the cycle, everyone will go off to lie on the beach and play didgeridoos while the streets fill up with unemployed advertising executives begging for cocaine at the traffic lights. The world just isn’t ready for that.

I’m easy to buy for. Beer and power tools, I’m happy. There’s nothing more fun than spending Christmas Day drinking heavily and chasing your relatives around the garden with a whining Black & Decker drill in one hand and a nail gun in the other.

If you’re looking for the gift that keeps on giving, you might want to consider getting a restraining order. They don’t need batteries and they work fabulously. Actually, they don’t work at all if the phone at your local police station has been disconnected. In a perfect world, the state would provide newly-weds with a marriage certificate and a complementary restraining order. Any trouble with the husband and all you do is dial 10111, wait for someone to answer while your beloved chops your legs off and then, when the police arrive three days later, you claw your way to the front door, show them the restraining order and everything will be fine. Well, once you get your prosthetic legs, everything will be fine.

Or you may want to give your spinster aunt a street child. Just grab him off the street. If your aunt doesn’t like him, or wants a different colour, take him back and find another one. There are more than enough for everyone so don’t panic.

Vietnamese potbellied pigs also make unusual gifts and, once their cuteness wears off, are even better on the braai. Alternatively, you may want to get a potbellied Vietnamese. They make excellent servants but not such good eating.

I could go on, but I won’t.

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Jingle Hells

School holidays should be abolished.

Our creaking infrastructure and shattered nerves can no longer withstand the blitzkrieg of semi-educated savages at the end of every year. There should be new rules starting from next year. Any pupil who scores an aggregate of, say, less than 90% in their final exams will be deployed to help the M23 rebels take the Congo. There is nothing wrong with children being soldiers. They are already halfway there, what with being accustomed to wearing uniforms and fighting among themselves. Then again, the rebels might not be able to put up with the constant cries of, “Are we there yet?” Never mind the convoys having to pull over every five minutes because someone needs to wee. It would take forever to reach Kinshasa.

But not everyone can afford to send their brat away to help topple a government. Here are some cheaper ways of keeping the ingrates entertained, while at the same time scoring a bit of payback for the twelve months of hell they have just put you through.

Shopping malls. Generally not a place for any sane, self-respecting adult, but exceptions can be made at this time of year. Decorations are up, tills are jingling and shops are getting more and more crowded. Consider, for a moment, that your child will probably only get a job if he is good with his hands. I wouldn’t normally suggest you encourage him to consider pickpocketing as a career choice, but with a pair of nimble fingers he could certainly help bring in some extra beer money.

Boys make the best pickpockets. If you have a girl, there’s no need to despair. Well, that’s not strictly true. If you have a daughter who is older than 13, you will know despair. In truckloads.

But if she  is very young – six or seven is good – take her to a mall that has a fat, white man wearing a red suit and fake beard sitting in a tawdry tableau fallaciously billed as Santa’s grotto. He will encourage your daughter to sit on his knee and tell him what she wants for Christmas. Before she does this, whisper that Santa will only bring her presents if she jumps off his lap and screams, “He touched me inappropriately!” Tell her those are the magic words that will make all her wishes come true. Santa settles out of court and you get a new car.

If there is something wrong with you and you don’t want to make money but still want a bit of a laugh, take the kids into a department store and remove a bunch of electronic tags from some of the clothing. Each person gets a tag and you all leave the shop at the same time. The alarm is the signal to start running. Security guards will chase you through the mall. The first person to the car wins. Even if you get caught, you can’t be prosecuted because you haven’t actually stolen anything. It’s good exercise and fun for the whole family.

Theme parks. In Cape Town, you have Ratanga Junction. Some of the rides, like the Cobra, get the adrenalin pumping. However, I have always found that at this time of year, the real thrill lies in gambling on whether you will make it to the front of the line before the seizures and hallucinations kick in. Heatstroke gives you all the symptoms of a heroin overdose and, best of all, it’s free.

Gold Reef City is Joburg’s idea of a theme park. I have never been there, but I imagine it’s full of undercover cops, coke dealers, human traffickers and obese families sucking on ice-creams and racially abusing the dude in charge of the Jozi Express. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a member of the tactical reaction unit shooting the Wimpy staff for getting his order wrong. For a bit of light relief, pop in to the Apartheid Museum.

Durban has uShaka Marine World where dolphins leap high into the air in the hope that their buddies in the ocean will see them and mount a rescue operation. There is also a paddling pool area where you can take your child to have its hearing impaired by hip-hop music. And, if you are white, you will feel right at home among all the other whiteys on uShaka beach. Too much of irony, my bru.

Children also like to be taken to casinos. They might say they don’t but they are lying through their filthy teeth. I have seen many happy little faces pressed up against the barrier as they watch their mommies and daddies getting drunk and gambling away the last of the food money.

Zoos are also popular among the kids. When my loinfruit was small I took him to a petting zoo which turned out to be a brothel. Still, he learnt a lot that day. And that’s what is important. It doesn’t matter whether it’s watching a chimpanzee playing on a tyre swing or daddy haggling with a black-hearted harridan whose name clearly isn’t Jasmine. It’s all educational.

Children also like to make things. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or complicated. Petrol bombs, for instance, can be made by kids who can’t even spell mathematics. And they don’t have to be used on Christmas Day, either. Keep them for a rainy day.

Of course, the best thing you could do these holidays is go to Thailand. Put the telly on, shout to the kids that you’re popping out to the shop and drive straight to the airport. When you get to Bangkok, call home and tell the family that they can do whatever the hell they like.

It will be the best Christmas ever.

Ripped abs and shredded underwear

After months of hard work, I have finally managed to develop an almost classic example of what’s known in the trade as a dad bod. By hard work, I mean minimal exercise, poor diet and unlimited alcohol.

It hasn’t all been downhill. Well, I suppose it has. But the body is a funny thing. Some are funnier than others, that’s for sure. It’s not as easy as you might think to lose all muscle tone and upper body strength and develop a healthy pair of moobs. You don’t just get a dad bod overnight, you know. You need to keep at it.

Here’s what happens. The body is initially delighted. Beer, bunny chows and no exercise? Woohoo! This is the life. Then the brain interferes. Hardwired to focus almost exclusively on ways of ensuring the survival of the species, it knows the road you’re trying to take it down leads to a place where opportunities for propagation are few and far between.

It knows that the only women who might, at a push, find a dad bod anything less than repulsive are the ones who have a mom bod. In almost every case, though, mom bods are more attractive than dad bods. There’s a reason men on dating sites don’t list their body type as “curvaceous”. Or so I’ve heard.

The brain eventually gives up and says, “Fine. Do whatever you want. Don’t get laid ever again. What do I care?” Parts of the body, overhearing this, shout, “Hey! Speak for yourself. Selfish brain.” The brain sighs heavily. “Stupid body.”

With the brain and body no longer talking to one another, you can get on with the job of developing the most perfect dad bod on the planet. No, wait. This is not what I’m meant to be writing about. This was supposed to be about getting into shape for summer. Nobody wants to see your sad dad bod on the beach. It’s horrible.

I went out and bought a magazine for inspiration. I thought I was buying Men’s Health because it had a young half-naked bloke on the cover, but when I got it home I saw it was in fact a magazine called Fitness. The only reason I never took it back, apart from not wanting to do the 30m walk back to the shops after already having sat down, was because it occurred to me that it was more fitness and not so much health that I was after. Health you can get from doctors and pharmacists. Fitness, on the other hand, you can only get from a magazine that sports the photograph of a bronzed god with the most perfectly chiselled torso on its cover.

fitness

Sitting here looking at his body, two things occur to me. One, I’m not remotely aroused. Two … there is no two. I’m just relieved that, at my age, I don’t have to start rethinking my sexuality. I’m not even curious about experimenting. But if I was, it certainly wouldn’t be with Cover Boy. I’d take my shirt off and he’d start laughing and I’d have to kill him. While he was asleep, obviously. And I’d need a pneumatic drill to penetrate his chest, which would probably wake him up unless I’d dosed him with horse tranquilisers beforehand, and I don’t want to be going around to vets with a borrowed cat and then asking for 500g of ketamine for my sick pony who’s waiting in the car.

Right, then. Pleased we have that cleared up.

Fitness seems to be a gender-neutral concept so there’s no reason why, if you’re not a man, the advice I am about to glean and share shouldn’t also apply to you. Apart, perhaps, from the feature workout promised on the cover. “Rock hard abs! No excuse for soft abs this summer.” If you’re a woman, simply swap the word abs for willies. You’re welcome.

For a long time, I thought abs stood for automatic braking system. It was quite disappointing to discover that abs are in fact some kind of rare muscle group that disintegrates when you turn 30. When Darwin was dishing out abs, I must’ve been having a smoke in the parking lot.

The cover also promises a “full-body workout in just one move!” Oh, please. I’ve had that one down for years. All you need is a swivel ‘n tilt chair on wheels, a smooth floor and a clear run to the fridge.

Opening the magazine, you’re hit by at least three companies trying to get you to buy their whey. Looking at the models, it seems unlikely they got that way through whey alone. I reckon they’ve been dipping into the curds, at the very least. Little Miss Muffet certainly did more than sit on her tuffet all day long.

The publisher’s name is Andrew Carruthers. In my mind, he was a middle-aged executive who liked to keep fit but who was running a bit to flab as a result of all the meetings he has to attend. Then I turned the page to the publisher’s letter. I’ve had the police, army, ex-wives and hired assassins after me and lived to tell the tale. Having Andrew Carruthers after me is something I’d like to avoid. He looks like the leader of the most dangerous prison gang in the world. I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of out-running or out-fighting him.

andrewcarruthers

In his column titled “Grow your mind, not just your muscles”, he says, “The greatest ideas in history have come from people who were either considered outcasts, insane or mad.” This gives me hope that we could sit down over a brace of tequilas and a couple of whey chasers and discuss the subtle differences between insanity and madness.

Let me flip through the magazine to find ways of developing a beach bod that will blow the girls away this summer. I suspect, though, the only way this might happen is if I strap a bomb belt around my wobbly white waist and detonate in their midst.

I might’ve left it a bit late, to be honest. Summer is in full swing in Durban while Cape Town is still trying to make up its mind. Anyway, it’s rutting season and looking anything better than your worst is best for all concerned.

Alan asks, via email, what to do about stiffness in his joints after heavy lifting. Alan, if you’re struggling to lift your joints, you’re either rolling them too big and too tight or you have the physique of Mr Burns.

I’ve thought of going to gym at different points in my life – most of them were pretty low points, admittedly – but I’ve never known what to wear so I didn’t go. Good thing, too. A gym T-shirt costs R900 and a pair of shorts R749. I can go to a backstreet plastic surgeon and get the fat sucked out of me for that price.

I thought I might learn something from an interview with cover boy Wayne Coetzee. And I did. He says the secret is to never miss a meal, never miss a workout. Excellent. I have 50% of it under control already.

Another memorable quote is, “I always squeeze the muscle with every rep, whether it’s a superset or a max-rep set.” If I ever manage to find out what he’s talking about, I bet I can look like him in no time at all. I was married twice so I’m already familiar with the muscle-squeezing bit.

Oh, thank god. There’s a sultry, under-dressed wench on page 26. Just looking at her is cardio training on its own. Like Little Miss Muffet, she also likes her whey. And I bet she gets her whey whenever she demands it. Her ideal man, apart from having a body like Achilles (without the dodgy heel), is “good with cuddles and booty rubs”. I am the cuddle-meister and I used to rub my army booties until you could shave in their reflection. Call me, babe.

There is also advice on how to biohack your sex life. Biohack? Sex life? What are these things? It’s suggested that you perform “male deer exercises” and eat a Peruvian root that grows on the slopes of the Andes. I miss the good old days of just whipping off your broeks and getting to work without having to first go to South America or prance about the lounge snorting and pawing the ground.

If pain is your thing, there’s a feature on endurance where you can “learn to suffer”. Please. I’ve been married twice. I know about suffering.

“Upgrade your paltry four pack to a beach-ready six pack!” That reminds me. I have to get to the bottle store before it closes. See you at the beach.