A tsunami of want is once again engulfing the country. I want to go on holiday. I want a new car. I want a divorce. Everyone wants something at this time of year. From selling bits of seaweed tied together to vaguely resemble a crucifix to putting your house on Airbnb and sleeping in the bushes, people are trying their damnedest to get whatever they can out of the season of giving.
I’m no good at handicrafts so I put my house on Airbnb. I’m sleeping in a shack in the bushes, which is a step up from the bushes themselves. I provide guests with two complementary beers and a bag of nits … not nits, nuts. They get plenty of nits from sleeping in my bed. So beers and nuts, then. Plus free wifi.
This is fine when the guests are a Baptist couple and an oddly silent child. It’s a different story when enormous sprawling Netflix and porn-addicted families occupy my home like German troops occupying Paris. But the German didn’t use up all of France’s bloody data in three nights, did they? Or smash the ornamentals in running battles between the triplets and the twins. Or offend the neighbours with their drunken carousing. Well, I suppose Holland was a bit offended.
I was under the impression I had uncapped wifi until the Visigoths checked in. Apparently not. Apparently I am approaching my limit of 20GB. Very soon I will enter SoftCap mode. It sounds rather lovely. I imagine SoftCap mode would entail a gradual slowing down of things. A blurring of the edges. A gentle hushing of harsh sounds. But, like so many weasel words in the corporate world, it means quite the opposite.
Within moments of SoftCap engaging, the Visigothlets will begin howling and flinging their iPads across the lounge. There will be at least one decapitation. Later, moans of displeasure will emanate from the master bedroom – my bedroom – as Mr and Mrs Visigoth hunch over a poorly lit video of seven naked people and a barnyard animal endlessly shuddering and buffering until they can take it no more and are forced to turn to one another and use their depleted imaginations, for better or worse.
I don’t care, quite frankly. But since I do offer wifi, at some point they, or the people who come after them, will complain. Why’s your wifi so slow? Darryl can’t watch the rugby. Yes, he can. There’s a television set in front of you. With full DStv. Ja, but he likes to livestream it while lying in bed. I swear, I’ll come over there and burn my own house to the ground. With you and Darryl inside.
It’s okay, though. I’m not going to tell guests to control their urges because my wifi is capped. I’m not one of those people who gives R10 to a beggar and tells him not to spend it on drugs. Do these tight-lipped self-appointed arbiters of right and wrong even know how much drugs cost these days?
I don’t mind topping up my data to feed their filthy addiction to the internet. I do, however, mind having to deal with Telkom. I mind on a massive scale. In theory one can do this topping up of data by visiting the mythical online Customer Portal. In reality this is a portal to the very bowels of hell itself.
After being sent from pillar to page reconfirming one’s identity, one eventually comes up against the electronic equivalent of Charon, the boatman who transports the souls of the freshly dead across the river Styx. He doesn’t recognise your username or your password. Laughing cruelly, he gives you a number to call. People think 666 is the number of the Beast. It’s not. The number is 10210.
I crossed myself, sprinkled a little holy tequila on my hands, had two Bloody Marys and plunged in. After negotiating a menu more confusing than anything you might find in a Cambodian restaurant, the music began. Deceptively upbeat for a funeral dirge. Who died? Hope. That’s who. Hope of ever getting through to someone capable of giving you a happy ending. I bought half a million rand’s worth of airtime and made myself comfortable. Telkom shouldn’t assume I’ll be the first to crack. I can stay on hold for nine years.
And moving on to that other nasty business which occurred in the enchanting suburb of Nasrec. Well done to Squirrel Ramaphosa, then. To the presidency born, albeit through a relatively painless caesarean section. For the easily confused and those with the comprehensive skills of your average grade four pupil, I use caesarean here as a literary device analogous to not only the portentous birth of Julius Caesar but also the political assassination of the Roman dictator who, in this case, is represented by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with the opportunistic quisling Brutus being David Mabuza or Ace Magashule and the conspiratorial senators the delegates from KZN. Obviously.
This human melodrama that unfolded on the boulevard of broken dreams has sparked a wildfire of polemical pontificating and there isn’t much I can add. Well, there is. I choose not to. A couple of things caught my eye, though. The ANC has resolved to press for the full decriminalisation of prostitution, for both buyers and sellers alike, and have promised a national debate on the issue. A mass debate, if you will. I apologise. I am possessed by the Christmas spirit and will in all likelihood require an exorcism when this is over.
There was talk of new mechanisms to regulate the media and a scuffle in the plenary over a proposal for the expropriation of land without compensation. It’s understandable. A lot of the delegates were going into withdrawal by then. Daytime drinking is what makes this country what it is and it was nothing short of a human rights violation to deprive those brave men and women of their traditional muti.
So there you have it. Free education, loads of land, a muzzled media and hookers for all. The ANC National Executive Committee – making South Africa great again.
As for Telkom, I’m still on hold.