Tag: Christmas

How much for that Baby Jesus?

The best part of Christmas shopping is driving into one of those monstrously phallic parking garages and discovering that it ascends in tightly wound spirals. The secret lies in steadily increasing your speed without allowing the G-forces to send you crashing through the passenger window.

By the time you reach level six you should be doing at least 90km/h and your eyes should be sliding off your face. It might make you laugh, it might make you cry, it will definitely make you feel like you’ve ingested a Schedule 9 drug. On the down side, you won’t remember where you parked and it will have worn off by the time you reach the escalators.

I usually do my Christmas shopping on the 24th but the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman said she would punch a new mouth in my head if I didn’t get her a proper gift. Last year I gave her a very valuable fossilised dinosaur tooth. A few days later she was digging a trench at the bottom of the garden – it might have been a grave – when she came across a bunch of them. I told her it must be where old T-Rexes went to die fifty billion years ago. She said it looked very much like a pile of builder’s rubble. I said many archeologists had made that same mistake.

This morning she smiled at me. “Please don’t give me another piece of concrete this year.” The hair on my buttocks stood up and my sphincter slammed shut like a startled clam. The look in her eyes was enough to make a grown man soil his broeks. Luckily, I am not yet fully grown.

She said that shopping for your loved ones was meant to fill your heart with joy. I don’t know about that. All I get is angina pectoris.

She mentioned something about my licence before we left. “I have ze licence,” I said. “Ze licence to thrill.” I jiggled my hips sensuously but my pants fell down and ruined the moment. “La Senza, you idiot,” she said. It turned out to be a shop full of feather-trimmed negligees, star-spangled panties and brazen bras begging to be filled. It was like offering a starving man a rubber hamburger. I stood in the doorway, slack-jawed and drooling, my imagination running amok like a wild horse of the Camargue.

Then I had some sort of bronchial attack in a shop that reeked overpoweringly of the stuff that women put in their underwear drawer to repel their husbands. If seems to be some sort of biological agent. Nerve gas, probably.

Right there and then I decided to buy toys for everyone. When one thinks of sex, a toy is generally the next thing that comes to mind. Well, not in my case, obviously. When I think of sex, I instinctively crouch low and avoid eye contact. Sometimes I lie down and pretend to be dead. A security guard nudged me with the toe of his boot and asked if I needed help.

Outside the toy shop was a mob of elves knee-deep in fake snow. I think it was fake snow. It could just as easily have been a couple of kilos of cocaine fallen from the top floor during a scuffle between rival gangs. I stepped over the plastic picket fence and was getting down on my hands and knees for a closer look when another security guard asked what I was doing. I told him I was an elf inspector from the department of sport and recreational drugs and that he needed to give me room to do my work. He gave me the lazy eye and told me to move along.

Once inside the shop I was bitterly disappointed to see how few guns were being sold this year. When these kids grow up, how are they going to know what to do to protect themselves?

“Wake up, there’s someone in the house!”

“Relax, honey. I have my Delta Squad Megazord Power Ranger right here.”

It’s good to see that the men over at Hello Kitty are doing their bit to ensure a steady supply of girls who will grow up unafraid of vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters, kettles and other cooking and cleaning accoutrements so essential to a happy marriage.

Dolls are big. Bigger than ever. And they seem to be getting smarter. I prodded one in the belly and it said, “Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat.” Apparently it is no longer politically correct to have dolls that say “Mama” and “Dada” because of the increasing number of dadas who say they’re nipping out to the shop and are never seen again. Also, the increasing number of mamas who prefer the company of other mamas and are quite happy with dada’s role being limited to that of anonymous sperm donor.

I took a shine to Mia Bambina. She promised a lot. “I sneeze. I babble. My heart beat. I drink. I cry. I snore.” I related immediately. I do all of these things and yet the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman still won’t play with me. Perhaps I should wear a pink jumpsuit to bed. Hold on. Mia Bambina comes with a stethoscope, thermometer and syringe. What the hell is wrong with this baby? Maybe she’s Mexican.

Most shocking of all was a doll I tripped over. He was lying on the floor with a tag saying R89. A real bargain in the child trafficking business. He was a white baby and he had no clothes on. Nothing. Nada. As naked as the day he was moulded. I picked him up, studied his anatomically correct willy – small, as you might expect a whitey’s willy to be – and made a few hasty notes. Mothers looked at me with narrowed eyes and shielded their young. I dumped the little nudist and moved on to the next aisle.

I thought the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman might appreciate the ‘My Little Home’ range. It has things she’s never set eyes on before – a plastic washing machine, mop, broom, bucket. Next year I’d like see a ‘My Little Broken Home’ range that comes with a miniature crystal meth lab. Accessories will include paramedics and a social worker.

I didn’t get her the electronic kitchen set after discovering that it made Realistic Sounds. The last thing I needed was a toy that shrieked, “You’re not having another beer, are you?” or “You can also cook sometimes, you lazy pig bastard!”

‘My Little Iron’ also made Realistic Sounds. Like what? “I’ve had enough of working for these ungrateful mlungus” or “Open the safe or I’ll iron your face.”

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 Belgian paedophiles. Sippin’ Sue was 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 imported vodka and an iPhone 15.

Then there was 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 for me to do a wee. 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.

There was another doll that promised “27 lovable phrases – press my tummy!” Nothing happened. I felt cheated. It didn’t say a word, not even when I jumped up and down on its tummy. Things have come to a pretty pass when shop assistants order paying customers to step away from the baby or face expulsion from the store.

Barbie was back, looking more desirable than ever. Her old metrosexual buddy Ken seems to have been dumped and replaced by a limp-wristed prince who comes with the warning, “Choking Hazard – Small Parts.” I can’t imagine who, apart from Barbie, might want to put the prince’s small parts in their mouth.

There’s still no Junkie Barbie with her own cookin’ up kit or Greedy Barbie with advocate’s robes or Corrupt Barbie with her own seat in parliament. I came across a raunchy rock ‘n roll Barbie and took her out of her box for a quick inspection. A sales lady caught me looking up her skirt and threatened to call security. I explained that I was in Thailand not long ago and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Anyway, for that price I could pay a woman in the parking lot to hoik up her skirt and allow me a squizz at her frilly bits. Not that I would. I’m just saying.

Lava lamps are still being sold even though weed remains illegal. It makes no sense. You genuinely have to be stoned 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.

There was 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.

It’s hard to believe that toy shops are still selling microscopes and chemistry sets. This country needs more pole dancers, not scientists, goddammit. In the old days this type of thing was sold because the state wanted to encourage an early interest in the noble art of biological and chemical weapons manufacturing. I bet Papa Basson bought little Wouter a splendid set for his fifth birthday.

I found an Ant Mine but don’t tell Malema or he’ll want to nationalise it.

The shelves are full of lies. Call it aspirational if you will, but I call it setting your kid up for a lifetime of feelings of inadequacy and failure. Here’s what I found in the toy car section: an Audi Q7, a Range Rover Sport and a Mercedes G55 AMG. I want to open a toy shop that stocks faded red Hyundais up on play-play bricks with small plastic hobos passed out in the back and dented Vauxhall station wagons with missing hubcaps and doors rusted off their hinges.

The same goes for ‘My Happy Family’, a lurid atrocity of a doll house. It comes with a double-storey home, a vintage convertible and better furniture than mine. There’s mom, dad and a little girl, all glowing with health and happiness. In my toy shop I would sell ‘My Horrid Family’ featuring a crack house covered in gang graffiti, a tattooed dad wearing a wine-stained vest and mom sporting a black eye. The kid, being an only child, would be weeping into a bowl of gruel. There would be no furniture, what with it having been repossessed and all.

I even found a battery-operated ATM machine. All it needed was a battery-operated skabenga in a balaclava blowing it up with some plastic plastic explosives. The sound effects would be awesome. First the blast, then the police sirens, then the bad guy in court being acquitted on a technicality, then the sound of him laughing all the way to the next bank.

On my way out of the mall, empty-handed and emotionally crushed, I passed a fat bearded man in a tight red suit trimmed with white fur. That’s a bit gay, I thought. He was sitting in a chair waving at small children. That didn’t seem right so I went over and asked if he was an employee of the Catholic Church. He looked at me with Bride of Chucky eyes and said he was a Father, but not that kind of Father. We shook hands, agreed on our mutual loathing of children, and went for a drink.

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It’s that time of year when …

It’s that time of year when boilerplate journalists stare out the window, sigh heavily and begin writing stuff that begins with “It’s that time of year when ….”

Calling them journalists gives them more credit than they’re due, I suppose. They’re content producers. And it can’t even really be called writing. ‘It’s that time of year’ stories are almost always lists or advice. Quite often advice in the form of a list. Any idiot can draw one up. I am nothing if not an idiot, so here’s my contribution.

It’s that time of year when the ravening dogs of capitalism are out of the cages and straining at their leashes. Their eyes are red and wet and their foam-flecked jaws snap and slaver. Soon they will slip their choke chains and, howling and biting at our heels, they will herd us into the malls and shopping centres until panic drives us crazy and we plunge desperately into debt.

The objective of this appalling game of loans is to accumulate as much new stuff as you can while not losing any of the stuff you already have. Cars, handbags, cellphones and occasionally entire families are lost at this time of year.

One of the byproducts of poverty, unemployment, sloppy genes, faulty upbringing and bad drugs is that the closer we get to Jesus’s birthday, the more our personal belongings become irresistible to others.

For some the festivities have already begun. Last week a group of 20 armed shoppers visited a shopping centre in Limpopo, blew up a safe, shot a policeman and left with some cars that weren’t theirs. In some towns people gather around and cheer when the Christmas lights are turned on in the main street. The other day in Vereeniging, onlookers cheered when a Fidelity cash-in-transit van exploded during a heist. I’m not making this up.

Parking lots are filling up fast and you don’t want to find yourself having to park so far away that you need a GPS to find your way back to the mall. I was lucky enough to buy a second-hand car that already had a disabled sticker on the windscreen. I don’t really take advantage of it because shopping takes so much longer when you have to pretend to be crippled. You can’t just get out of your car and limp off, either. To properly pull it off you have to gimp it up spectacularly, which can be exhausting. Also, everyone around you then makes a very obvious point of not looking at you, which is a bit cruel if you enjoy being the centre of attention, as I do.

A lot of malls have parking bays right at the entrance that are reserved for women with babies or toddlers. I don’t know why toddlers. I’ve toddled around plenty of parking lots as an adult and if I can do it I don’t see why a two-year-old can’t. They don’t even drink beer.

As for babies, they’re either pushed in carts or carried in plastic bags. Any mother who can’t portage her own baby shouldn’t have one in the first place. And if she has more than one, she shouldn’t be allowed out in public. The parking is great, though. If you don’t have a baby, try to borrow one for the afternoon. A lot of mothers would be grateful for the break. I think R30 an hour would be a fair rate for a decent baby. If it has teething or colic issues, or is one of those babies that can move objects with its mind, insist on a discount.

I can’t remember if the sign actually says ‘Mothers With Babies’. That would be incredibly sexist if it did. If security says you can’t park there because you’re a man, tell him that you are in fact a woman and threaten to hit him with your borrowed baby. There’s a lot of sensitivity and confusion around gender at the moment. Exploit it.

Don’t think you’re safe once you are in the belly of the beast. Keep your guard up. Trust no-one, especially not members of your family. Children who could barely string a sentence together a week ago suddenly understand the psychology of guilt and coercion.

And remember that even though pickpocketing and purse-snatching is considered quaint and old school in this glamorous age of state capture, the pilferers and purloiners are still out there practising their ancient craft. Fleet of foot and nimble of finger, not for them the tedious complexities of tender rigging and money laundering. Handbags are their thing. This is why women should keep a small explosive device in their bag at all times. If the bag is stolen, they can detonate it with a remote control. This will not only teach the thief a valuable lesson but will also help thin out the crowds in the mall.

Apparently the big thing this year is not to go to the mall at all but instead to second-hand shops. Peter Forshaw, the chief financial officer of Cash Converters, said more people were starting to buy “pre-loved” gifts. This makes sense. There are a lot more pre-loved people out there than ever before.

The only thing I want for Christmas is for people to shut the fuck up about bitcoin. Stop telling me to get in now. Stop trying to explain the mining process. You got nine percent for maths and your mother was still helping you with your jersey at sixteen. Maybe that was me. The point is that you sell bathroom supplies, believe that women who have abortions are going to hell and that the earth is six thousand years old. When it comes to advice of any kind, I’d sooner trust a Nigerian prince.

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.

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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.

Of ganja and politricks

All eyes were on America last week as voters streamed to the polls.

The results were greeted with widespread rejoicing. That’s right, folks. California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted to legalise marijuana for recreational use. They’re certainly going to need the weed to keep calm over the next four years. Possibly eight. Although it’s hard to imagine the giant orange cockwomble serving his full term.

“Good morning, Assassinations R Us. We are experiencing high volumes of calls right now. Please hold the line for the next available assassin.”

I suppose I should make a few pithy comments about the other plebiscite that went so tragically wrong this week. Thing is, I’m a bit pithed off and am finding it difficult to mine the situation for humour. There are a lot of very anxious people out there right now. Poor little Cuba has already announced five days of military exercises. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is still partying.

I’ve been trying to understand how almost 60 million Americans voted for Donald Trump to become the most powerful man on the planet. That’s nearly 50% of the electorate. Or, in their case, the expectorate. They went into the voting booths and spat out their venom.

Sure, it was a broken socio-political system that poisoned them in the first place, but the right person to fix things would have been Bernie Sanders. Or me. The Democrats have only themselves to blame for losing the White House to a confederacy of dunces.

The dumbing down of America is complete and Jarvis Cocker’s 2006 anthem Cunts Are Still Running The World has never seemed more appropriate.

It’s all smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand, anyway, and it’s becoming harder to judge what’s really in our best interests. Political shysters and corporate shills are up on their soapboxes vying for our attention, our money and our votes. Turn on the radio or television and you’ll find chiseling dissemblers of every stripe shouting about what’s good for us, why we need this more than that, why one god is better than the other.

Extremism is the new apathy and we can expect to see a blind lashing out at seen and unseen enemies the world over.

Speaking of irrational behaviour, I once had a girlfriend who asked me to shoot her if she ever got a Clicks ClubCard. She even had the gun for it. I found the idea rather exciting and suggested she pay for me to go on some sort of shooting course. She got quite angry at this point, not because I’d asked her to pay, but because I’d have to be a dribbling moron to miss. Apparently I wouldn’t be taking her to the woods and setting her free, then stalking her and firing whenever a clear shot presented itself. Apparently I’d do it at home, while she was asleep. That didn’t sound very sporting at all and I had to inform her that all deals were off. She wouldn’t have sex with me for a week after that. Well, it felt like a week. It was probably only an hour.

I never really understood why she had such a pathological aversion to a Clicks card. Yes, getting a card is an appallingly middle class thing do, but then so is recycling, and we don’t necessarily believe the garbage-separators who live among us should die. They’re a pain in the arse, sure, but they do have a right to live. Besides, if we’re going to elevate prejudice to that level, I’d say we start with the gluten intolerant.

But it’s more than just a bourgeoise thing. Having a “loyalty” card of any kind in your wallet marks you as a sucker. You’re one step away from sending money to that handsome Nigerian you’ve befriended on Facebook and whose sister will almost certainly die if she doesn’t get a new set of kidneys.

When it comes to the mugging that passes for commerce these days, there is no such thing as loyalty. They want your money and there are no depths to which they won’t stoop to get it. Shop owners factor in discounts when they set their mark-ups. Their profits are not only unaffected by giving you a pittance off your purchase, but they stand to make even more money because, with that piece of plastic in your wallet, you’re emotionally conditioned to not shop anywhere else.

It’s the questions that annoy me more than the cards. Tellers at an increasing number of chain stores mumble something as you start unpacking the over-priced rags and artery-thickening filth from your trolley. I get caught every time. “What’s that?” I say, leaning in to the cashier. I suspect they’re asking if I have a card, but because they’re mumbling I’m not absolutely certain that they’re not saying, “Your fly is undone” or “Would you like to go for a drink when my shift ends?”

There should be no questions at this stage of the transaction. Minimal eye contact and no heavy sighing. Just start ringing it up. If I have a card and forgot to produce it, that’s my problem. And if I have seventeen items, don’t ask if I want a bag. It’s unlikely I would prefer to make nine trips to the car carrying everything by hand. If there are questions to be asked, I’ll do the asking. It’s called Pick n Pay, not Pick n Interrogate n Pay.

I bought hundreds of rands worth of groceries the other day. After paying, the teller pointed at the slip. “You get R1.40 off the next time you shop here.” I threw my hands into the air with a cry of “Praise Jesus!” before sinking to my knees and tearfully thanking management for their extraordinary generosity.

Be on your guard. Christmas is a shell game and there’s a lot of baiting and switching going on at this time of year. You might think that “Buy any 3 gifts & get the cheapest 1 FREE” is the deal of the century, but it’s not. Your reptile brain is responding only to the word ‘free’. That’s why it’s capitalised. It’s psychotypographically designed to turn your anterior cingulate cortex into the equivalent of a Labrador coming across a bowl of lightly boiled chicken thighs.

The other thing is that if you give someone a gift set, he or she will forever wonder if that was the free one. You might as well give them anthrax for all it says how much you care. I say he or she, but I really mean she. He wouldn’t care what it was or how much you paid for it. He knows he’s lucky to be getting anything considering the way he’s behaved all year.

You might have noticed your Sunday papers gaining weight. Not because there’s suddenly way more news than before, although there certainly is. I suppose you already know the answer because you’d have spent some time on your hands and knees, either in the cafe or at home, picking up the avalanche of glossy Christmas supplements that have fallen out.

Clicks has one that’s as thick as a short novel. On the cover is the magical word FREE. How frightfully decent of them not to charge us for a publication advertising all their stuff they want us to buy. As if that’s not generous enough, they don’t even have an entrance fee to their shops!

Bless their calcifying capitalist hearts.

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Jingle Hells

Jesus!

The reason for the season. Happy birthday, dude. You’re looking pretty damn good for a 2000-year-old white hippy with a Mexican name. There aren’t too many kids born in a stable environment in that part of the world these days, let me tell you.

You are probably unaware of this, what with being on Sabbatical and all, but your name is taken in vain more at this time of year than at any other. The streets and shops are jammed with people muttering, “Jesus Christ!” beneath their breath. Some shout openly. Few, if any, show signs of being in a state of religious rapture at the time.

Now and then I am forced to deploy an Old Testament headlock and take one of the more strident blasphemers into a deserted shop, like CUM Books, and explain to him that at this time of year, nobody fucks with the Jesus.

Right. That’s enough about Jesus. This is my story. His story has been out for a while and still outsells my memoir by, like, three to one. I should have gone with his publisher.

A powerful combination of poor genes and even worse judgement saw me pass through the apocalyptic portals of one of Hell’s more commercial outlets this week. First, though, I had to progress from level one of Dante’s Christmas Inferno – the parking lot. Car guards are hopelessly under-equipped to deal with motorists in December. What they need is paramilitary training. They need pepper spray and cattle prods to keep people from leaping out of their cars and strangling one another. And that’s just the children.

This particular incubus-infested horror show had a hairdresser’s right at the entrance. The sight of women of every grimace and girth in various stages of lassitude and bedragglement hardly encourages one to move deeper into the belly of the beast.

Next to the hairdresser, possibly deliberately, was a shop called Outdoor and Velocity. It had an impressive range of paintball and pellet guns, including one shaped like an AK-47. The perfect gift for the man whose criminal record prevents him from owning a real gun. There was also a selection of knives that would’ve made the executioners of Islamic State envious.

Health shops were occupied only by their lentil-faced staff while bottle stores made the fall of Saigon seem calm and orderly.

Shopping malls are acoustically designed to enhance the high frequency sound produced by children hysterical on sugar and lies. It’s like psychological warfare; a way of rattling your synapses so you spend more money than you might otherwise have done.

I doubted I could single-handedly contend with this bloated river of humanity and its ungodly stink of anger and fear and money, so I ducked into a pet shop and asked for a medium-sized attack dog. They asked if I was blind. Absolutely, I said. Blind drunk. That’s a lot better than being barking mad, which they clearly were for charging R1 295 for a silly plastic ramp that allows one’s golden retriever to take a leisurely stroll from or into the back of one’s Range Rover.

“Protect the joints of the pet,” said the box. Nonsense. It’s our joints that need protecting from the ravening narcophobics in the police force. Point is, if you can’t lift your dog into your car then he’s either criminally big or you shouldn’t be driving.

I no longer even glance into the windows of jewellery shops because every time I have put a ring on someone’s finger it has ended in tears. “Here, darling, have this fabulously exorbitant bauble. It’s guaranteed to ruin your life or mine. Maybe both.”

Verimark’s Maxxus V-Trainer caught my eye. It’s a vibrating pad you stand on. “Get the body you have always wanted in just 10 minutes a day!” Watching a fat kid wobbling on the pad, I’d estimate it would take me 25 550 days to reach my ideal weight. And that’s only because I would have been dead for the final two years.

Buying gifts for people you loathe is never easy. What, for instance, do you get for the man who

has everything? Here’s an idea. You get him audited by the Revenue Service.

I heard the hideous sound of children screaming as if they were being murdered and rushed over to see if I could help but they were alive and, since I couldn’t kill them all on my own, I had a look around the toy department. The men who work in this section have nervous facial tics and their names are down for emergency vasectomies. The women don’t respond. To anything.

What is this fresh outbreak of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I thought they had been wiped out years ago. Shouldn’t they be called Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles by now?

I found a radio-controlled king cobra snake with glowing eyes and a flickering tongue and it seemed more like something Satan rather than Santa would drop down your chimney. It “looks so real that may scare your friends”. What’s more frightening is that there’s a word missing from that sentence. That’s the Chinese for you. Always looking to cut corners. Save a word here and there and soon enough there’s a secret stockpile of surplus words they can use to build an entirely new piece of junk around.

“Look, babe, here’s something that says ‘Big it that was new fish water real flash remote jump.’”

“What does it do?”

“No idea. I think it lights up.”

“Ooh, let’s get three.”

There are shelves of model cars for boys although they could just as easily be for girls because men rarely drive any more thanks to the heavily armed extremists found at roadblocks. Four beers and you risk spending the evening having your bottom interfered with by a fighting general in the 28s. Not worth it. Sell the car and buy beer. Lock yourself in your room.

There’s a kitchen set with a boy pretending to cook. He looks about 19. Then again, I’ve never been a very good judge of age. It’s astounding that I’m not in jail. “Let the children play happily and feel assured,” lisps the box. So you see, laddie, you can rest assured that it’s quite normal for you to be pottering about in a frilly apron packing the tiny dishwasher and making imaginary vol-au-vents in your tiny oven.

There are little plastic prams and pushchairs, all of which are being controlled by little plastic girls. This isn’t so much gender stereotyping as it is a reflection of reality. All the boys are clearly in court fighting for custody or getting nailed for child support.

“Anything is possible with Barbie” just doesn’t sound right. I’ve known girls who have embodied this ethos but, while initially fun to be with, stick around for too long and you’ll end up in a mental hospital.

With one exception, the doll section looks like a picnic organised by The Young Mothers of the Ku Klux Klan. Talking Tip has an anxious yet determined look on her swarthy synthetic face. Her box says, “Try me!” but there are no buttons to push. It’s probably a challenge. A warning. She probably says things like, “Don’t be tryin’ none of that white shit or I’ll bust yo cracker ass.” She comes with a spare outfit and removable shoes, which I imagine would be useful when she’s hiding out from her parole officer.

There are also boxes of twins, all of whom look like an experiment by Dr Josef Mengele gone horribly right.

Toy department staff aren’t trained to deal with hulking unshaven brutes clearly unsuited for fatherhood loitering around the dolls, and I could see them becoming visibly anxious. I stepped out into the fetid, roiling swamp of humankind and was almost immediately possessed by the festive spirit.

All I need now is an exorcist.

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