Day: April 16, 2017

Petty thefts and passion plays

Trawling through this berserk electronic mental penitentiary infested with food, cats, babies and bloodshed, I came across Robyn informing her Facebook friends that her phone had been stolen. This heartbreaking news was met by an avalanche of sad and angry emoticons. Some were sad and angry at the same time. Sangry. They wanted to know how and where this atrocity had been committed. If you, too, feel a crushing need for details, let me give you the short version.

A man claiming to be the neighbour’s gardener knocked on her door and said he needed to trim the overhanging branches. He asked if he could borrow an extension lead. Anyone who has ever owned an extension lead will know that they are never where you expect them to be. They have lives of their own. So Robyn, and quite likely everyone in the house, embarked on a search for the cable. Bored and left to his own devices, the ‘gardener’ pocketed a phone and wallet and sauntered off into the sunset.

Amid a steady outpouring of grief and sympathy, Samantha had a similar story to tell. “I went to the neighbour behind me who told me he didn’t have a gardener. This guy was well spoken, well dressed, probably the same scammer.” Undoubtedly. After all, what are the odds of two darkies being in a white suburb, both capable of tucking their shirts in and stringing a coherent sentence together? Clearly the same person.

Deborah, too, had an almost identical encounter. She was tipped off when the “gardener”, under interrogation, admitted he didn’t know the neighbour’s name. I don’t know my neighbour’s name either, but it’s only been nine years. Besides, if a white man knocks on your door and offers to do menial labour, you call the police immediately. Or marry him.

“I was only suspicious because I knew that neighbour used a garden service and that day they weren’t there,” said Deborah. “They are very clever.‬” Our president warned us about these people – these clever blacks – but we didn’t listen. Now look. They walk among us.

Given that we live in a country headed by a president with the morals of a boomslang, I didn’t think anyone still bothered making an issue out of trust. Cue Imelda. “Just proves that you can’t trust anyone no matter how decent they are. Spoils it for the ones who are genuine.” So there you have it. If any of you genuine ones are reading this, you know who to blame when we don’t trust you.

The best comment of all, though, came from Robyn’s friend Sandra. “You damn lucky he didn’t kill you.‬” Indeed. What extraordinary luck. There’s such a fine line between petty theft and murder. One minute you’re nicking a phone, the next you’re chopping someone’s face off. It’s really just a matter of how you feel on the day. I don’t mean you, obviously. I mean they. Them.

So anyway. Easter, eh? Funny old business. For the past couple of months the shops have been jammed with gilded bunnies of all sizes. If one didn’t know any better, and one frequently doesn’t, one might be forgiven for thinking that the alleged son of God was a rabbit.

Who are we meant to be remembering? Jesus or rabbits? If we were to do this properly, surely we’d be sucking on white chocolate Jesuses moulded onto dark chocolate crosses.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John don’t really have their story straight when it comes to what went down three days after the crucifixion, but they do at least agree that the tomb was empty. And that Mary Magdalene, possibly with a couple of her mates, happened to be in the area. Given the present situation, it seems likely that Mary said, “This is weird. We should make a point of remembering it. Any ideas?” After a bit of head-scratching, a woman holding a crudely fashioned clay bong put up her hand. “I know. Every year on this day, we pretend that an invisible rabbit brings chocolate eggs for everyone.” And so it was writ in the Book of Rabbits, later to be struck from the Bible by a rogue Middle Eastern rewrite man suffering from severe leporiphobia.

Easter is a moveable feast, as are rabbits. Nobody can agree on a precise date on which Easter should fall. Even the pope relies on the appearance of chocolate chickens in the Vatican gift shop to tip him off that the day is getting close. I have also heard mention of an ecclesiastical vernal equinox, which sounds like it could be contagious.

How’s John doing?”

Not so good. Picked up a nasty vernal equinox.”

From his wife?”

Nah. He reckons it was Shirley.”

Shirley from the pub?”

Nah. The other Shirley.”

This could go on for some time. If you want to know more about the other Shirley, contact me privately.

I need to fill up space so let me tell you about the Easter weekend I once spent with a girlfriend in one of our many delightfully white bread in-bred coastal towns. It was a dark and stormy night when I came across a rapidly forming mob at the old harbour. Sensing a fight, I pushed my way to the front. If you stumble upon an outbreak of hostilities between rival gangs of perlemoen poachers, there’s no point hanging about at the back. You want to be close enough to hear the crack of teeth and the splinter of bone. You want to feel that whipspray of hot blood across your face.

This was, after all, Good Friday – a day in history soaked in violence and steeped in shame. Not for everyone, of course. The Rosicrucians, for instance, treat Good Friday just like any other day of the week. Similarly, the day has little relevance to practicing Gymnosophists. Then again, so does food and clothing. For others, like the Rastafarians, every Friday is good.

Kicking street urchins out of my way and elbowing the elderly and infirm aside, I made it to a small clearing down by the water’s edge. In the middle were two burly bearded types wearing sheepskin car seat covers and carrying plastic shepherd’s crooks. They were nodding sagely at one another. The crowd pressed in. The bearded men nodded some more.

“Hit him!” I shouted. The men stopped nodding, glared in my direction, then went back to their nodding. “Use your crook!” I shouted, making hitting and thrusting motions.

Just then, a powerful spotlight snapped on. Thinking it was a police helicopter, I grabbed a young girl and, using her as a shield between the sniper and me, I tried to fight my way through the throng. It was like getting sheep to move. “You’ll never take me alive!” I yelled. An ancient person of indeterminate gender kicked me on the shin and told me to shush. I dropped the girl and she scuttled away like a giant crab reared up on its hind legs. Maybe it was a crab I’d picked up. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

A voice boomed out across the harbour. It was as if God himself was speaking. “Dawid,” thundered the voice, “Kyk daar.” What the hell was this? Does God speak Afrikaans? Surely not. But maybe the Boers were right and they really are God’s chosen people. Then where does that leave the Jews? The weight of the moment made my head spin and I had to fall down for a bit.

When I got up, I was pleased to discover that it wasn’t the Almighty at all, but a couple of out-of-work actors huddled on a grassy knoll looking more bibulous than biblical. In the spotlight, they looked like a pair of huge mutant dassies. This was no gang fight. No police ambush. My relief was tempered by the cruel realisation that I was in the middle of a Passion Play, or, in the local parlance, ‘n Passiespel.

What I needed, way more than redemption, was a stiff drink. I could see the lights of a pub at the top of the cliff but there was no way out. The crowd had closed in like pack ice. I was trapped.

Just then, the spotlight picked out a flock of faux Pharisees. One of them stood up and said, “We must stop this man before people start following him.” I assumed he was talking about Jesus and not me.

Then the lights went off, leaving everyone drenched in darkness. I was the only one who screamed. A woman with a purple tea cosy on her head and the hips of a zebra clenched me to her heaving bosom. Either she thought I was having a religious epiphany or had become possessed by demons. I put my foot down. The snapping on of a battery of arc lights drowned out the snapping of her tarsal bones.

The crowd swivelled and gasped as one. There, on the far side of the harbour, were three wobbly crosses illuminated against the night sky. The crucifixion was mercifully brief and I began applauding the moment the lights went off again. Nobody else clapped, though. They probably knew that wasn’t the end of it.

We had three minutes of nothing happening to allow Jesus to get down off the cross and prepare for his resurrection in a fibreglass cave the size of a dog kennel. In the meantime, under cover of darkness, I found a path to the pub. Hallelujah.

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