Month: March 2017

Helen of Troyeville – The face that launched a thousand tweets

Dear Madam Premier Helen Zille the First, Grand Panjandrum of the Western Cape and Lady of the House,

When I read your tweets suggesting that colonialism wasn’t an entirely bad idea, I immediately suspected your phone had been stolen by an erudite thief whose idea of fun was to hijack politicians’ social media accounts and destroy their careers. On closer reflection, this seemed unlikely. Our phone-snatchers are of the common or garden variety who wouldn’t recognise erudition if it bit them on the bum.

A more plausible explanation was that you had succumbed to the curse of the legendary Singapore Sling and, finding yourself hysterically drunk inside an opium den at 3am, you went berserk and tried to call for help via Twitter but somehow ended up defending colonialism.

Apparently, though, you weren’t off your well-preserved face or even temporarily insane when you implied that were it not for the Europeans of yore popping over for a spot of the old rape and plunder, the natives would still be hacking paths through the bush, drowning people who claimed the earth was round and relying on lightning strikes to start the cooking fires because even cannibals enjoy a hot meal now and then.

You’ve had a chance to have a bit of a think and hopefully understand by now that there wasn’t a benevolent bone in colonialism’s bloodless body. Those early invaders brought guns and disease, slavery and Christianity. Sure, they also brought tobacco and alcohol. But is this enough for us to condone their war-mongering, land-grabbing ways? Almost, but not quite.

On the other hand, your ability to look on the bright side of one the most organised crimes ever committed is commendable. A lot of bad stuff happened in the past. It still happens. And it will continue happening. But is it really all bad? I’m sure if we dig a little deeper, we can find a silver lining around the most gloomy of clouds. Let’s give it a shot.

War. On the surface, war appears to be a negative thing. Particularly for those who get shot or blown up. But did war ever really hurt anyone’s feelings? No. Being told by an airline that you have to pay for two tickets because you’re massively fat is a lot worse than being on the Syrian frontline. War also gives people a chance to travel for free. And who doesn’t like free travel? I certainly do. Without war, thousands of Americans would have been denied the opportunity of a lifetime to visit exotic countries like Vietnam, Haiti, Guam, Iran, Afghanistan and even, for a lucky few, Somalia.

Hitler. A monster or simply misunderstood? Have you heard Germans talking among themselves? Not even they understand what they’re saying. It’s just one of those languages that sounds like everyone is planning a weekend of genocide. Hitler had his bad points, sure. For a start, his art sucked. But he did bring people closer. Or, in the parlance of his times, “rounded people up”. Then he put them on trains and sent them off to concentration camps, which, according to historian David Irving, were treatment centres for attention deficit citizens. Also, large parts of London were flattened during the Blitz, which saved on demolition costs when it came time to put up fancy new buildings.

Stalinism. Forget, for a moment, the millions of people Uncle Joseph ordered executed in the purges and focus, if you will, on the enduring magnificence that is the Moscow Subway. Let us not even speak of the glories of Stolichnaya vodka. Ah, yes. Socialism. What’s not to love?

Apartheid. Millions of black people were spared the indignity of having to go to school and the army. The benefits of this policy didn’t end there, either. There were also laws keeping black people safe from whites, a surly tribe isolated in their own suburbs with their own facilities. With the end of apartheid this protection was withdrawn and black people today still risk being abused by caucasoid neanderthals everywhere from public beaches to Spur restaurants.

Paraplegia. One word – wheelchair. No more walking means enormous savings on shoes. Also, no more sitting down and standing up hundreds of times a day, something that leaves non-paraplegics drained and miserable.

Hijacking. In a country that desperately needs employment opportunities, every bit helps. The man pointing a gun at your head and stealing your car is doing a job. He is self-employed and showing initiative. He isn’t hanging about the robots with a piece of cardboard covered in illegible scribbles, making you wind up your window and feel like a tight-fisted bastard until the lights change.

Alcoholism. The body’s way of letting you know that you’re still alive. Well done on not being dead. Alcoholics and their “social drinking” cousins keep the breweries ticking over nicely. Countless jobs would be lost and millions of lives destroyed if everyone had to stop drinking.

These, Helen, are just a few examples that tie in with your refreshing new way of thinking. Feel free to use them at your disciplinary hearing. Well, I say hearing, but it’s really going to be more of a medieval scheissesturm of monstrous accusations, desperate denials and multifarious explanations. You’re going to need to suppress your inner Attila for this one. Avoid stamping around the room barking at everyone. Your enemies in the party smell blood in the water and they’re not going to let an exposed flank go unsavaged.

If you do get fired, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Afriforum, for instance, would be keen to have you. Their reputation as a coven of white supremacists is improving, thanks in part to that prosecutorial pit bull Gerrie Nel, and you will be among like-minded folk who believe that “speaking while white” is not, in fact, one of the deadly sins of democracy.

Your days at the Leeuwenhof palace do seem numbered, though. It’s a good thing you have mastered the power of positive thinking. You’ll probably need to leave Cape Town for a while. Property is dirt cheap in Orania, a town where “critical race theory” relates to strategies in the wife-carrying event on their annual sports day. You’d like it there.

As for that leadership baton you passed to Mmusi Maimane not even two years ago? There’s a good chance he’s been whittling it into a sharp point all this time. Watch your back, madam.

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Happy St Patrick’s Day

BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison

Why is it that the Irish have all the fun? To be sure, there was that nasty business with the potatoes in 1845, but if it weren’t for the Great Hunger, Boston and New York wouldn’t be the same today.

Apart from the potato famine, the Irish have always had nothing but a rollicking good time. Well, apart from the potato famine and 200 years of sectarian violence.

St Patrick’s Day is full of fun traditions. The colour green plays a big part. After a day of eating green food and drinking green beer, many people go to bed with their faces suffused in many interesting shades of green. This happened to me after one particularly robust St Paddy’s Day with friends in Durban. My girlfriend at the time said it wouldn’t have happened if I had listened to her and had my stomach pumped. But where’s the fun in…

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An open letter to the Minister of State Security

Dear Honourable Comrade Mahlobo,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time to congratulate you on your meteoric rise from humble ANC deployee in the department of fisheries to the exalted glory of the cabinet in just a few short years.

Truth is, though, I’ve always been a little afraid. One doesn’t simply write to the minister of state security as one would to, say, the minister of sport. You have proper powers. Other ministers only get to follow people on Twitter. You get to have them followed in real life.

I can’t say I envy you your job, though. It must be a nightmare trying to ensure the security of a state as berserk as South Africa. Keeping us all under surveillance can’t be easy. And yet it must be done. We can’t be trusted. Half of us would happily spy for the Russians in return for free cocktails and the other half would think nothing of plotting a coup if it meant skiving off work for a few days.

Hang on. It’s not the Russians you’re worried about at all. They’re still mates of ours, right? And it can’t be the Americans, either. Not with Donald Trump in the White House. I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that our much-loved president has taken note of Trump’s unorthodox approach to governing and has decided to emulate him. In other words, take no notice of mounting scandals, ignore calls to step down and blame foreigners, the judiciary and the media for everything. Also, never confirm or deny anything. As Jacob Zuma so eloquently put it in a message to his senior people, “The lesser you talk, the better.”

Comrade minister, who are these foreign intelligence agencies you say are working with “negative domestic forces” to undermine the state? Which country has so few problems of its own that it can afford to get involved in the affairs of another, particularly one with an economic growth rate of one percent and a second place ranking on the global Misery Index? Could it be Zimbabwe? We should just buy them out. Make Mad Dog Mugabe an offer he can’t recognise.

I know who the “negative domestic forces” are and I am prepared to identify them for a modest fee. It doesn’t have to be cash. I’m happy to stick with the dop system. Should we say one name, one case of beer? I’m open to negotiating group discounts. A family for a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt, for instance.

No, I didn’t think you’d fall for it. You know as well as I do who the negative domestic forces are. They’re everywhere. And yet nowhere. Sorry. I didn’t meant to make you paranoid. Like you, I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories. Unlike you, though, I don’t get paid to disseminate them. I don’t mind. Walking into crowded places wearing a hat made of tinfoil and whispering to strangers, “We know where you live” is reward enough for me.

The other day you scornfully referred to people who “run to court on political matters to undermine decisions taken by the government”. I sympathise with you. This is not my idea of a democracy, either. The solution is simple. Get rid of the courts or get rid of the people. I apologise. You’re the boss. You obviously know what the solution is. The courts can be stacked with judges quick to show their appreciation for what the ANC is doing, but it gets trickier when it comes to the people. Luckily, South Africans, and not just the police, are easily bought off. All 50 million of us must be put on the payroll as soon as possible. The finance minister will have to be drugged.

I commend you on your ability to learn from history. In 1985, then state president PW Botha said in parliament, “The tragedy is that hostile pressure and agitation from abroad have acted as an encouragement to militant revolutionaries in South Africa.” Your words might be different, but the sentiment is the same. I like to think that Botha is looking up at you from hell, nodding approvingly and twisting those squabby lips into a grotesque approximation of a smile.

If social media had been around in PW’s time, I have no doubt that his boys from Boss would have pulled the plug in no time at all. As you so succinctly put it a week ago, “We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space.” Are you talking about democracies like China and North Korea? Of course you are. When it comes to putting up roadblocks on the information superhighway, they are hard to beat. For example, thanks to Beijing’s grip on things, we can safely discount Western propaganda about events in Tiananmen Square, where two protesters were slightly injured in a minor scuffle with a policeman. Barely worth reporting on. And Pyongyang is such a paradise that the country had to close its borders to stop people trying to get in.

By “regulating” the internet – in concert with your sock puppets over at the Film and Publications Board – you will also be able to prevent information on covert operations from leaking out. You were obviously in deep cover on a top secret mission when visiting the Jinxu-Chinese Massage establishment in Nelspruit. You said you were there to get your nails done, which is exactly what I would have said had I come home looking deeply relaxed and smelling faintly of exotic Oriental unguents.

Thanks to that nest of neo-liberal vipers over at al-Jazeera, there was no happy ending for you. Not this time. They caught your parlour owner friend and suspected rhino horn merchant, Guan Jiang Guang, on camera saying things like, “(Mahlobo) came to my massage parlour every week or at least twice a month. I know him very well.” Upon broadcast of the documentary, Guang disappeared faster than a bottle of poppers in a gay club. What a shame. Another few months of manicures, pedicures and facials and you would have had him. Bloody media. Damn their selfish eyes.

Guang also said he did business with your wife. How were you to know? It’s impossible to keep track of a wife these days. They have their own cellphones and cars, for a start. Remember your predecessor Siyabonga Cwele? He was surprised to learn that his wife Sheryl had been running cocaine with the Nigerians in her spare time. She’s still in prison, which doesn’t seem fair because cocaine is way more yummy than rhino horn. Or so I’ve heard. Comrade Siyabonga was subsequently punished by our president for being the minister of state security and not knowing his wife was a drug trafficker. He is still serving penance as minister of telecommunications and postal services, both of which are listing sharply to starboard.

By the way, did you ever find the R17-million that was stolen from your offices just over two years ago? Probably not. We would have heard about it by now. No matter. These days, anything under R20-million is considered petty cash and if it goes missing someone might get around to asking the cleaner if she’s seen it, but otherwise it’s no biggie, really.

I was wondering about something. Do you and the minister of police ever get together at, say, the Saxonwold shebeen and compare notes? I only ask because there seems to be a tremendous amount of organised and disorganised crime happening without either of you knowing about it. Sure, most of it happens inside the government, but still.

Hey, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but did you hear about the R200-million heist at OR Tambo International? It’s been in all the papers. I first heard about it on social media. Isn’t it awful? A crackdown is urgently needed. Once the internet and independent press have been shut down, nobody but the bandits and their victims will know about the terrible things that are going on. In effect, crime simply wouldn’t exist. Imagine a deaf, blind one-handed man clapping in a forest while a tree fell. He’d make a pathetic witness. What? Good heavens, this stuff is strong. Where was I?

Oh, yes. My point is that bona fide intelligence is hard to come by in South Africa these days, so there’s no need to feel bad if you don’t know what’s happening. None of us do, either. Have you ever considered using informants? These are people who live in the community and tip you off about crime. Hire me. I’ll tell you anything if the price is right.

Your priority now, though, is to control the internet. Please hurry. I am addicted to Twitter and Facebook. My intellect and concentration span are rapidly approximating those of a pigeon. With your help, we can all be liberated from this heinous electronic prison.

I, for one, long for a return to the days when men would sit around the fire sharpening sticks and telling tales of bravery while the women gave birth and foraged for berries.

If all else fails, follow Donald Trump’s lead. Nothing can go wrong.

mahlobo

Non-cyclist wins non-race

By the time you read this, I will have crossed the finish line in the Cape Town Cycle Tour way ahead of Lance Armstrong and if anyone is looking for me, I’ll be in the Fireman’s Arms carbo-loading on Windhoek lager.

I intend crossing the finish line on foot and will probably catch a cab to the pub. I don’t, you see, own a bicycle. I believe that bicycles are for children and circus bears.

But even if I mentally regressed to the age of nine, or turned into a grizzly overnight, I still wouldn’t get one. Far less would I mount a sliver of a saddle and compete against 35 000 pointy-headed people wearing disturbingly tight Lycra and gay shoes over a distance of 109kms. I can’t even drive my car for 109kms without falling asleep or stopping for beer.

So my dirty little secret is out. I am not a cyclist. I’m glad that’s out of the way. I wouldn’t want racers getting halfway through this column and thinking: “It’s this kind of idiot that gives cycling a bad name.” Come to think of it, I am precisely that kind of idiot. And I can do it without going anywhere near a bike. In fact, I’m doing it right now from behind my computer with a jug of sangria at my elbow. If I open my window, I can shout: “Faster, you lazy bastard,” at every cyclist who comes heaving into view.

I have to make sure my gate is locked, though. Cyclists are renowned for their over-sensitivity to verbal abuse and many a motorist has been grateful for a gap in the traffic opening up as an outraged peloton bears down on him after he had the sheer bloody nerve to overtake while they were riding 17 abreast.

As all serious writers do when faced with a subject requiring in-depth research, I turned to Google. “Cycling” throws up 52 million results. This was astonishing, especially when one considers that “sex with your wife” throws up 21 million results. Okay, perhaps it’s not all that astonishing.

The first website I encountered was a tremendous help. It said: “Cycling is an activity most commonly performed on a bicycle.” This is like pointing out that walking is an activity most commonly performed on the legs.

“I know what cycling is!” I shouted, giving my computer a swift backhand. It was more cooperative after that, and it wasn’t long before it coughed up a fact that I could use.

Did you know that the modern bicycle was introduced in the 19th century and numbers about one billion worldwide? What I find even more alarming is that the Chinese were introduced in the Neolithic era and now number about 1.5 billion. This means that bicycles are multiplying faster than the Chinese. You don’t have to be a genius to conclude that the threat of world domination comes from bicycles and not, as previously thought, the Chinese. Bicycle-riding Chinese clearly pose the biggest danger of all to the planet.

The first bicycle was invented by a Frenchman, an Englishman, a Scotsman or an American – depending on who you ask. One of the earliest prototypes was called a velocipede. It was designed by a German and had a wooden frame, square wheels and no handlebars or pedals. It just sat there, looking rather stupid. Perhaps I’m thinking of the inventor.

The Penny Farthing was an improvement, if you can call anything designed by an escaped mental patient an improvement. Okay, I’m bored with that bit.

Let us rather look at the development of cyclists themselves. Early cyclists were covered in hair and had long, curved incisors which they would use to bite one another while bunched together at the start. In that respect, not much has changed.

The evolution of cyclists, from wild-eyed Neanderthals to red-eyed substance abusers, coincided with the evolution of performance-enhancing drugs. In the 1800s, the most popular drugs were morphine and cocaine. This meant that many entrants in earlier events, such as the Bordeaux-Paris race, carried on past the finish line and eventually had to be brought down by police snipers waiting at the Italian border.

Once the bodies began piling up, cyclists reluctantly agreed that powerful opiates and amphetamines were tarnishing the image of the sport. For a long time, cyclists were the only people in Europe not getting high on weekends. Some of the top athletes of today still talk about that era in hushed tones, which goes a long way towards helping people fall asleep.

These days, I am pleased to report, cyclists no longer feel guilty when it comes to stuffing their faces with any number of illicit narcotics. Alcohol remains a firm favourite, although the jury is still passed out regarding its performance enhancing qualities.

Marijuana, South Africa’s most popular cash crop, is regarded as more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to beating the cut-off time. Given the Cape’s spectacular scenery, some riders have been known to take up to three days to finish the race after accidentally sucking on a bong right before the start.

Forget about rubbish like dehydroepiandronsterone, methylhexanamine and recombinant erythropoietin. If you struggle to pronounce it, you can be sure it’s banned. Stick with something simple. Like LSD. It will diminish your resolve to finish the race and you will make lots of interesting new friends along the route, some of whom may actually exist.

Hopefully nobody will be asked to wee into a cup after today’s fiasco. This is not a police state like Australia and I urge officials to have the good grace to turn a blind eye or, at the very least, accept bribes.

Welcome to the future

Speech to Parliament by South African President Nomzana Naidoo-Green on the Occasion of National Men’s Month 2307

Madam Speaker

Honourable Madam Members

Madam Chair of the National Council of Provinces

Madams of the Media

Ladies and Madams

In celebrating Men’s Month for the first time, it is important that we take a moment to recognise the contribution men have made to our country. All too often, we remember only the horror and forget that the pioneers of modern medicine, mining, construction, law and sport were all men.

But while it is this government’s policy to give credit where it is due, I believe it is equally important that our children continue to learn about the Great Argument of 2050, the Great Silence of 2060 and the Great War of 2100.

Today, fewer men than ever before are serving in positions of power. Every political party is headed by a woman. Women constitute 95% of our armed forces. Our national soccer and rugby teams consist solely of women. Building sites are full of women. Road crews and garbage collectors are all female. The scales of equality have been heavily balanced in our favour for the past two hundred years (pause for applause).

Men’s Month honours those who relinquished their grip on power all those years ago. We also salute their children and their children’s children, many of whom are right now preparing the evening meal and making themselves look attractive for when we get home.

Even though men continue to be barred from holding positions of political or economic power, the fledgling Men’s Liberation Movement is making headway. Earlier this week, I was informed that a man had been elected chairman of a basket-weaving collective in the Northern Cape. This is to be welcomed, not feared. Having said that, I give the assurance that members of the fringe Meninist rebel group are monitored at all times by our intelligence agencies.

It was our foremothers’ relentless demands for equality that gave us complete control, and I am not for one minute suggesting that we concede any of our gains. However, as sweet as it is, victory has come at a price. With critical levels of oestrogen in our drinking water and the steady weakening of the Y chromosome, our baby boys are little more than genetically modified baby girls. Whether this is a good thing or not is currently the subject of debate at national level.

While we all agree that men are not yet sufficiently evolved to be accepted as our equals, there are steps we must take if we hope to reduce the high rate of suicide among our young male population. Self-inflicted deaths often have a negative causal effect on foreign direct investment, particularly when it comes to defiantly patriarchal countries such as America, Germany and Nigeria.

We could start by allowing married men to travel outside their demarcated areas with permission from their wives. They could also be permitted to open bank accounts with the written consent of their state-appointed guardians. And, one day, as radical as it may sound, we might give even them the vote.

There has already been considerable change. It is no longer compulsory for men to donate their seed once a month. The last sperm bank closed its doors many years ago and although sex is not illegal, it remains immoral. Today, most children are conceived through electrofusion. Admittedly, the process only breeds girls. But there is still freedom of choice. For women who prefer to fall pregnant the old-fashioned way, embryonic stem cell kits that produce synthetic sperm are available at state supermarkets around the country.

I am the first to admit that running a country is hard work. When I am called upon to take a difficult executive decision about overthrowing a male president in a neighbouring country, I often think of my househusband and envy him his simple life.

At risk of being called a Meninist sympathiser, I would say the time is coming for us to encourage our men to leave their kitchens, cancel their proctologist appointments and take a more active interest in the affairs of state. I fear, however, that it will be no easy task to persuade them to break free from their cocoons of domesticity.

Two generations of men have grown accustomed to living lives that revolve around children, cleaning, cooking, manicures, pedicures and playing tennis on Wednesdays. We may need to offer incentives. Or, failing that, impose martial law.

But it is still early days. The Men’s Movement has a long way to go before it receives any kind of meaningful support at grassroots level. After all, centuries of damage cannot be undone overnight. Landscaping units are still in the process of returning thousands of unsightly golf estates to their natural state. Teams of forensic auditors continue to unravel complex tender scams going back 250 years. An enormous stockpile of warships, fighter planes, tanks, guns and ammunition is in the process of being melted down and reworked as part of our national Jewellery For The People campaign.

Even though it is only future generations that will reap the benefit, my government remains committed to the National Rectification Effort.

The time for blame and retribution is almost over. Men’s Month marks a new era, an era of forgiveness, an era in which I hope to see men once again being treated as human beings and not simply as domestic servants, sex objects or things to hold the door open for us.

In closing, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that domestic violence has reached unacceptable levels. Our prisons, long since converted into shelters for abused men, are full to overflowing. In the spirit of conciliation, I urge all of you to use non-violent methods when it comes to helping men to understand what it is that you want to say, mean to say, think what you mean and want them to guess what you think you mean.

Finally, when I retire at the end of my 10th term, I hope to see at least one male face in this august house.

I hereby declare parliament in oestrus. Happy holidays, girls.

Trovato-mother

Small change makes big trouble

I’ve been wondering if xenophobia really is a phobia at all. I mean, it’s nothing like arachnophobia, for instance. If it were, people who suffered from it would run screaming whenever they saw a Congolese car guard heading their way. Instead, our xenophobics actively seek out foreigners, then run aggressively towards them. It’s an odd way of showing fear.

Everybody seems to have something to say about the fresh hell erupting around Joburg. Here’s an excerpt from Trevor Noah’s contribution. “I don’t see (my) fellow African as a competitor, but a fellow compatriot who is struggling to feed his family and have some comfort in this short lifetime.”

Yeah, I guess you won’t see many unruly mobs of Africans outside your Manhattan studio fighting to get application forms for your job, Trev. Not much competition from these parts, mate. And, yes, of course you can relate to your fellow compatriot struggling to feed his family. After all, you’ve just bought an apartment in New York for the knock-down price of $10-million. That’s R130-million in our rinky-dink currency. Or, in a language your struggling African comrade might better understand, a billion Happy Meals for him and his skinny-ass family.

Moving on to that wretched cybernated universe infested with cats, food and other people’s children – yes, Facebook – where a DA uMhlanga councillor earlier this week pronounced on our own itinerant colonies of fringe-dwelling gutterpups.

“Wanna know why vagrancy is such an issue in North Durban? Cause some people still continue to give beggars and vagrants money. Like the man who just gave a beggar R50 bucks in Broadway, Durban North. There are NGOs and welfare organisations who would love that R50. Instead he will go make the bottle stores rich.”

While we’re making wild assumptions here, I bet it was a white man who gave the beggar that red lion. I’m also willing to wager that the mystery benefactor is involved in one or other white-collar crime. No law-abiding, wage-earning office drone has that kind of cash to give away willy-nilly. I’d say our guy is likely up to his eyeballs in one or other commercial crime. Whiteys, even the compassionate ones, love tax evasion and fraud more than they love fishing and golf. No mess, no fuss. Hell, if he’s a genuine empath he probably turned to crime just to be able to support the destitute as well as his family.

I give money to beggars at robots, but only if they get to my window before I can close it. If they tap on the glass, I drum on my steering wheel to create the impression that I can’t hear them because the music is too loud. Sometimes they jump on the bonnet and bang on the windscreen. Then I have to pretend I’m blind, which is harder to do.

When I was growing up in the area, Broadway was lined with trees alive with millions of screaming, defecating Indian mynahs. You wouldn’t be able to hear a beggar if he exploded. You’d see it, though, and perhaps wonder why a beggar had exploded. The only possible explanation would be that the mynahs had driven him mad and he’d blown himself up.

The trees and mynahs are long gone and, if the DA is to be believed, have been replaced by marauding bands of mooching dipsomaniacs who, upon receipt of a modest sum, will proceed as fast as their suppurating legs will take them to the nearest bottle store instead of doing the sensible thing and using the money to enroll their bastard children at Kearsney College.

In the minds of some, seekers of alms will forever be associated with alcohol. Journalists, too. When I get paid for this column, I take the money directly to the bottle store. The only difference between me and the Broadway beggar is that I work for it. Okay, fine, this can hardly be called work. In fact, I’m drinking on the job right now – something you rarely see beggars doing. I’m worse than a beggar.

Beggaring is a lot tougher than my job, let me tell you. On your feet all day staring beseechingly into one impassive face after another, a curt shake of the head or a dismissive wave of the hand the only validation that you even exist. God help us if they ever sober up enough to form a militia.

I don’t know if the councillor happened to be passing by when he witnessed this evil money-giving thing happening or if he regularly patrols Broadway monitoring the indigent. Incidentally, councillor, it’s called Swapo Avenue now. And has been for years. If you go berserk at the sight of someone giving R50 to a man who has nothing, I imagine you’re still not comfortable mentioning Swapo unless it’s followed by the word ‘terrorist’.

The councillor’s post received 20 ‘likes’ plus four ‘Wow’ and four ‘Angry’ emoticons. Vishen was the first to suggest that vagrancy in Durban North wasn’t so much caused by people giving beggars money as it was by the failure of the government, NGOs and welfare organisations to deal with homelessness in the first place. Pamela and Cristina agreed with Vishen. Bloody communists.

Rick said beggars are there because they want to be there. On three occasions he had offered R200 on condition they came to his house and did yard work. He said they refused. Of course they did. I wouldn’t get into a car with a strange white man either. Well, I might. But he’d have to offer a hell of a lot more than R200. I’d also expect unlimited access to beer once we were there. And a guarantee that I won’t have to take my broeks off.

Johan said, “I had some Aussie friends over a while ago and they were not impressed when approached by a beggar in Broadway.” Shame. I hope they went for trauma counseling. Australia doesn’t have a problem with indigenous folk loitering in the streets because they had the decency to allow themselves to be decimated by the settlers before going walkabout into areas where respectable white Australians wouldn’t have to be offended by looking at them.

Lurching back into the fray, the councillor threw a second punch in case anyone had mistaken him for a bleeding heart altruist. “People who donate money to beggars in Broadway do nothing but encourage alcoholism and drug abuse.” I always thought unscrupulous employers, appalling working conditions and an intolerant, insular society which shuns the sick, lonely and weak was responsible for that. And, of course, marriage, which has done more than anything to encourage people to hit the bottle or reach for the meds.

Claire, who seems to be another avid beggar-watcher, chipped in. “There is a vagrant who sleeps on Savell Ave by the petrol station. And as he gets food etc he stays.‬” This is outrageous. Money is one thing, but food? What next? Silk pyjamas? Tickets to the ballet? Timeshare in Margate? You give these people food and all they do is put on weight. The next time you see them, they expect a gym contract.

Nkosinathi, who must be one of the DA’s black members I’ve heard about, had his own tale of horror. “I’ve just seen 3 guys outside the church in Broadway, they looked quite high on something, definitely not from juice.‬” High on Jesus, maybe? I prefer to think they were high on life, Nkosinathi. After all, Durban North is essentially Stepford without the submissive and impossibly beautiful wives.

Theo was clearly on drugs when he wrote, “I will rather give that beggar the R50 irrespective of what he spends it on than give it to some organisation who takes R40 to cover their expenses and only R10 goes to the homeless.” We don’t need your kind here, Theo. Humanitarianism is nothing more than satanism in a cheap suit. Once word gets out that there are kind, generous people in Durban North, it’s only a matter of time before the Syrians start arriving with their tattered children, crudely severed limbs and cheap plastic begging bowls.

But don’t for a minute think that’s where our problems end. Our fearless councillor posted this a day earlier. “Have been keeping track of people in public restrooms. Wanna know why everyone is getting sick? So many people do their business and just walk out without washing their hands. It’s disgusting!” Trumpian parallels aside, I’d also be reluctant to hang about and wash my hands if a creepy white guy was standing in the corner watching me.

A few days earlier, he posted this. “Who can help their poor long suffering councillor with some furniture for his office? Need a coffee table and a couch or two.” Begging for a handout, councillor? Hmm. How do we know you’re not going to pawn that couch and buy a bottle of vodka or a bag of weed? It’s a slippery slope, my friend. It starts with free furniture and before you know it you’re sucking on a bong and snorting cocaine off a Cambodian hooker’s belly.

shebeen

Privates on parade

Ted called me this morning and said there was a parade in Cape Town. He suggested that we get onto it right away. As former military men, Ted and I always have enormous fun at parades.

During the war Ted was a sniper and I was a signalman. This is a perfect combination in times of peace and whenever we find ourselves in a large, unruly crowd of young people high on drugs we split up and use the old Zulu pincer movement to isolate the vulnerable females and herd them into the nearest bar where we ply them with cheap philosophy and offers that they hardly ever refuse.

I strapped on the old boots, boshoed and bayonet, went round to Ted’s place and hid in the garden giving the coded signal that in our army days meant “we attack the refugee camp at dawn”. I waited for the appropriate response – “women and children first” – but it never came. This time, I heard a signal with a chorus line. Something about raining men.

All thoughts of Cassinga were driven from my mind as Ted stepped out of his front door. He was wearing some kind of floral lilac dressing gown affair with one of his wife’s brassieres strapped to the outside. I was rooted to the spot, incapable of moving or even speaking. The entire course of the war could have changed had Swapo gone into battle dressed like Ted.

Come along, old chap,” he shouted. “We’re off to the parade.” I hadn’t even got my voice back and Ted was congratulating me on my uniform. “Military,” he said. “Very sexy.” He started humming the theme tune to Yentl.

Enough!” I barked, and ordered him to tell me what the hell was going on. He looked at me in surprise. “We’re going to the Gay Pride Parade,” he said. “I thought you knew. You’re certainly dressed for it.”

I was outraged. You don’t get more heterosexual than a former SADF signalman. Obviously I can’t say the same for the snipers, but I always believed that they were real men, too. I could perhaps understand it if Ted had been one of those parabatty boys, what with all that leaping from aircraft and drifting through the sky like big brown snowflakes. It’s just not natural.

Then they were upon us. Boys dressed as girls, girls dressed as hermaphrodites, flagellants dressed as Lutherans, preachers dressed as prostitutes, dogs dressed as cats.

This was pretty wild stuff, even for Green Point. I grabbed Ted’s arm to make sure we wouldn’t get separated. “That’s the spirit,” he said, taking me by the hand. I smacked him sharply on the side of the head, setting off a chorus of high-pitched squealing from a passing pack of sadomasochists.

I backed up against a wall, breathing heavily, fearing that someone would smell the testosterone on me and hand me over to this outlandish authority figure in a skin-tight camouflage skirt carrying what looked like a flexible pink plastic truncheon. “Relax,” said Ted. “Strapadictomy. Quite harmless.”

It might not have been Haiti, but I began to get an idea of how Jean-Bertrand Aristide must have felt in 2004. He was trapped in Port-au-Prince by roaming gangs of blood-crazed voodoo merchants. I was trapped in Green Point by roaming gangs of sex-crazed methylenedioxymethamphetamine merchants. At least Aristide had the option of exile.

Ted broke away and sashayed into the crowd, swinging his hips like a damn schoolgirl and shouting something about beers for queers.

Then an eyeballing situation began developing. People representing at least three separate genders started trying to make eye contact with me. I kept averting my eyes until I realised that this could also create the impression I was being coy. And nothing gets a deviant salivating quicker than the prospect of gnawing on the flesh of a shy virgin in combat boots.

I quickly changed my strategy and began darting stern no-nonsense looks at the perpetrators before letting my gaze trail away to the nearest woman. However, homosexuals operate on a secret code of mixed signals so there was a very good chance that I was letting them know that I would be available upstairs at Cafe Manhattan in twenty minutes. Anyway, the strategy was doomed from the start. I looked around and there wasn’t a woman in sight who would have been prepared to step in and save me from being licked to death by a baying mob of erotomaniacs in leather suspenders and fishnet stockings.

Just then Ted broke through the crowd and grabbed me by the shirt. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” he shouted. I saw that he had lost half of his dressing gown and his bra was hanging from one strap. He still won’t tell me what happened out there. Whatever it was, it turned him right back into the irascible old homophobe that he always was. He says he is organising a Straight Pride March. It’s open to anyone who owns a gun and is prepared to take a polygraph test in a controlled environment.

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