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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

There are more words for lies than Eskimos have for cocaine

Porky pies. In spite of my predilection for porcine products, I am not thinking of pastries and pig giblets. Far from it. Porky pies is cockney rhyming slang for lies. The cockneys have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Forget them. The British government certainly has.

Let us talk of lies. There are more words for lies than Eskimos have for cocaine.

Fibs. Falsehoods. Fabrication. Falsification. Equivocation. Shaggy dog stories. Whoppers, hogwash and bullsh*t.

Lying is now the default position among many of those who infest this great nation. If you disagree with me, you’re lying to yourself. Or you’re delusional. Much like postmarital fellatio, the truth is an increasingly rare thing these days.

When I returned from Durban recently, I noticed that Brenda’s car had a scratch down the side. I asked her what happened.

Quick as a flash, she said: “I accidentally reversed into the gate…no, wait. I was parked at the mall and there was a…no? OK, how about this…”

There must be a manufacturer’s error, because so many people revert to the default position when asked anything more complicated than: “Do you have the time?” And even then, there are those who will instinctively reply: “I might. Depends on what you have in mind.”

And when I say “manufacturer”, I don’t mean God or even a reasonable facsimile thereof. This is not a fairytale. I mean there is a toxic red tide bleeding into the human gene pool, and it will take a force more powerful than Travis Bickle (of Taxi Driver fame) to wash this scum off the streets.

Where the f**k is my beer? Oh, there it is. Emptying itself into the plugs on the extension cord. Brenda! Bring me another beer. Maybe put on a pair of rubber shoes before you come in here. Fine. I’ll get it myself.

All you have to do is read the papers and watch the news to get an idea of the depths to which we have sunk. We have Pinocchio for president and professional prevaricators running banks and businesses.

Here’s Kgalema Motlanthe denying he has designs on the presidency. There he is on a stage raising his glass to Julius Malema.

Here’s Shrien Dewani tearfully denying that he had his wife killed. There he is slipping his taxi driver a bag of cash.

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Open Letter to Dr Wouter Basson

Dear Wouter, I thought you might need a few words of support while trying to persuade the Health Professions Council that you are not some depraved monster who isn’t fit to slice people open and fiddle with their vital organs.

You might be a dinosaur in a political sense, but it’s not as if you escaped from Thoracic Park and rampaged like a giant lizard through our cities.

And so what if the media dubbed you “Dr Death”? My own family calls me Dr Drunkenstein. These are terms of endearment and we should be grateful for them.

You have come a long way since slipping the hook on a range of offences so impressive that you would almost certainly be guaranteed of a top position in the 28s should you ever move to the Cape Flats.

I cannot understand why, as former head of the old National Party government’s chemical and biological warfare programme, you have still not been given the recognition you so clearly deserve. As you told the committee this week, your work was “for the benefit of mankind”. Instead of trying to nail you for unethical conduct, they should be nominating you for a Nobel prize. I shall write to the Norwegians at once demanding that they at least give you a lifetime achievement award.

Mankind has indeed benefited from your work. Who among us can forget dancing the night away after popping a couple of Basson’s Brownies at one of the secret raves that made the 1980s such a fun decade? Pure ecstasy, I tell you. Ridiculously pure.

As you told the committee, the ’80s were “crazy years … people did things. Doctors planted bombs.” Right on, bro. You tell ‘em. I got so crazy in the ’80s that I planted marijuana. Turned out to be poison ivy. Smoked it anyway. Forgot I had a job. Went colour blind. Misplaced my girlfriend. Damn fine stuff.

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The average home is full of drugs and porn. And that’s just for the children

‘You are currently waiting for a Telkom consultant.” Oh, of course! I have been sitting here for the past seven years with the phone pressed to my ear under the impression I was waiting for the Rapture.

How thoughtful of Telkom to have an automated voice reminding us of who it is we are waiting for as the inexorable passage of time atrophies our bodies and rots our minds, leaving us to slump to the floor and be slowly devoured by the dog who could wait no longer to be fed.

Telkom inspires violence. Although I lack any hard evidence – which these days doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for making wild, sweeping accusations – I suspect that most of our mass murderers and serial rapists were normal people until the day they tried to get a phone line installed. Maybe not the rapists. They probably tried to deal with Telkom, Unisa and the municipality all in one day.

A monkey just peed on my head. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. An occupational hazard in Durban, apparently. Not that anyone in these parts appears to have an occupation. People slope about yawning and sweating, eyes swollen and red from marijuana and monkey urine.

I’m sitting in a bar that inexplicably allows children inside. They are just beyond the range of my steel-capped boot, behaving like the spawn of the Antichrist. Their parents seem oblivious. To everything.

So it was probably a bad time to pick up the local newspaper and read an article by a professor from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Philosophy and Ethics. I won’t name him because I am apparently under threat of a lawsuit by a garage in Fish Hoek, which is a supakak thing to happen to anyone, and so I am on my best behaviour.

The professor seems to believe that smacking children is a bad thing. I have never heard such nonsense. As a child, I was beaten mercilessly with an array of leather belts, coat hangers and kitchen utensils, and there is nothing wrong with me today. Well, when I say nothing, I mean … forget it. Perhaps I’m not the best example.

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Application for the Position of CEO of the National Prosecuting Authority

Dear Sir, I couldn’t help noticing your advertisement while trawling the Careers section for government jobs that involve tremendous amounts of money and very little work. To be honest – and I think honesty is important if one is to work for the NPA – it was the salary you are offering that caught my eye. The idea of earning R107 1264 a year speaks to me on many different levels.

Although I have no formal legal training, I do have a fair amount of experience in matters involving the law. For example, I was once charged under the Police Act. This afforded me considerable insight into the way prosecutors operate, and I can assure you that when it comes to attending expensive lunches and finagling squid-pro-quo incentives, whether they be in the form of rough diamonds or unpolished Cambodian whores, I am more than capable of following due process.

You may also rest assured that, unlike certain former NPA employees, I will not leave myself exposed to covert surveillance when dealing with sensitive matters involving high-ranking members of the ruling party. In fact, assuming that your building has more bugs in it than a Chinese casserole, it is probably best that I not come into the office at all.

Apparently applications must be submitted on form Z83. I always thought the Z83 was a car. No wonder I am unemployed. If you like, I can print this out, write Z83 at the top and fax it to you. That’s another of my strong points: always looking for a loophole. And free beer. But mainly loopholes.

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Breast reduction makes as much sense as gobbling medicine guaranteed to make one’s willie shrink

Most women, on Valentine’s Day, are quite happy to wake up and find a few hundred rand on the bedside table. But not Brenda. Oh, no. She woke up and wanted new breasts. “No problem,” I said, getting off the floor upon which I had inexplicably spent the night. “I’ll nip out to the shop and pick some up.”

By the time I left the pub, I had forgotten what she wanted so I sent her a Please Call Me. “Breasts,” she said. “Chicken or beef?” said I. She pointed out that cows did not have breasts. “On the udder hand, Darren,” I said.

Anyway. Turns out that I had cocked it up as usual. She wanted a completely new set of human breasts and not something smothered in honey and mustard sauce and nibbled on at lunch, although why we couldn’t combine the two was beyond me.

Most women, I imagine, choose the enhancement option in matters this close to the chest. Brenda wanted quite the opposite. Unheard of, where I come from. Come to think of it, given where I come from most things are unheard of. Intellectual gigantism is one of the few conditions my so-called friends do not suffer from.

To men, the notion of a breast reduction makes about as much sense as gobbling handfuls of Chinese medicine guaranteed to make one’s willie shrink. Ever since we were born, we have been conditioned to believe that bigger is better – the exception being the willie department. Here, we are more than happy to cling to the unusually charitable Cosmo myth that size doesn’t count.

The first thing boy babies see when they open their eyes is a giant breast bearing down on them like some godawful Peruvian landslide. It has a tremendous impact on their outlook on life, especially if they are expected to swallow a nipple the size of a bricklayer’s thumb.

I had a friend who claimed that he refused to be breast-fed on the grounds that his mother’s numbies were too small. So he tried to suckle the domestic worker instead. We used to call him Jungle Fever until he started dating black girls. After that, we didn’t call him at all.

I tried telling Brenda that if she really wanted smaller breasts, there was a far less permanent way of getting them. She headed me off at the pass. “You will never have a threesome for as long as we are married.” I keep a very good divorce lawyer’s number on speed dial for moments like these, but he is due for release only in 2017. By then I expect I shall be more interested in philately than philandery.

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Pravin Gordhan’s Reckless Talk of Budgets Causes Trouble in the Trovato Household

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan caused terrible trouble in the Trovato household this week with his reckless talk of budgets and frameworks and belt-tightening measures.

Where I come from, “budget” is a dirty word. Even as a child, the concept was an unfamiliar one. Once my father got paid, we would live high on the hog for around 17 days, then spend the next week wandering about in filthy rags scavenging for grubs and spitting at the neighbours.

Not for us the careful apportioning of resources so we might live modestly for the entire month. What is the point of saving for a rainy day when you live in Durban?

I would save up my pocket money for an hour or so, then tell my mother it looks like rain and run to the shop to fill up on toxic confectionery that, years later, would make my teeth fall out and my brain go soft. No regrets there, then.

The family motto was: if you have it, blow it, and to hell with the consequences. It’s a credo I have lived by for centuries. That’s right. I am immortal. If you wish to join this exclusive club, please line up outside my house and I will be along shortly to bite you in the neck.

After hearing what Gordhan had to say on Wednesday, Brenda began expressing doubts about my fiscal acumen. She said I appeared to understand money about as well as Rick Santorum understands evolution.

Our household finances make Greece look like Switzerland. We steal from one another’s wallets, rack up hideous debts and live permanently in overdraft. We borrow from anybody who will lend us money and leave the keys in the ignition so the sheriff can repossess our cars without ringing the doorbell.

Everything we own is on hire purchase, and bounty hunters from four major chain stores are looking for us. In other words, we’re no different to anyone else.

So when Brenda heard Comrade Pravin spouting his dangerous agitprop and firing off incendiary phrases like “activate the levers of economic change” and “we must do more with less”, she decided an intervention was necessary.

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An open letter to the omnipotent being who owns Impala Platinum

Dear God, I address you in this way not only because nobody has ever seen your face, but also because you wield such extraordinary power over people’s lives. Furthermore, you strike me as being a not overly compassionate being or one that tolerates dissent of any kind.

Speaking of strikes, kudos on the way you handled this last one. It takes balls the size of Epcot to fire 17000 workers before the new year has even changed out of its party dress.

You strike a worker, you strike a rock. Except they’re not. Striking rocks is their job, if I am not mistaken. What are they after? The usual, I expect. More money. A BMW each. Holiday homes in Plett. Free air travel. Relatives in the witness protection programme relocated to the Costa del Sol.

I’m surprised your majority shareholder, the Royal Bafokeng Nation, has been so quiet. Thought there might at least have been a little darkie solidarity with the workforce. Then again, R12.5-billion in royalties must buy a tremendous amount of looking the other way.

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There is no point in saving someone’s life if it doesn’t get into the papers

I was once told of a woman whose husband collapsed after suffering a heart attack at a cocktail party in one of the affluent suburbs of Cape Town.

She had been in the toilet and came out to find a ravishing blonde straddling her husband with her mouth clamped to his.

Outraged, she whipped off one of her stilettos and plunged the heel into the back of the woman’s neck, severing her spinal column and leaving her a paraplegic.

“Honey, it’s not what it looks like” has never rung more true. Pity the husband didn’t live to say it.

Making sure someone is dead before trying to resuscitate them avoids wasting time that could be better spent with your mates in the bar. Don’t just kick them in the ribs to see if there is any response. And just because someone has dilated pupils, blue lips, glazed eyes and his mouth is hanging open doesn’t necessarily mean he is dead. He might be a civil servant having a little mid-morning lie-down. If you’re not sure, here are some handy pointers that the subject has in fact perished: bullet hole in forehead; knife protruding from chest; head detached from body.

Once you have confirmed that the person is deceased, notify the emergency services. The police will arrive at the scene within between five minutes and five days, depending on the area you are in. Before they arrive, wipe your fingerprints off anything you may have touched. The police will be hoping to make a speedy arrest and get back to the station before the duty officer finishes the brandy. Often they merely handcuff the person nearest to the body.

A lot of people fall down in South Africa for different reasons. It doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with them. They might simply be paralysed with apathy and lethargy, maladies that are prevalent in the country right now. However, if they are not breathing, it is your moral duty to attempt to revive them. You may, on the other hand, have your own moral code. If this is the case, loosen restrictive clothing, remove jewellery, wallet, cellphone, laptop and whatever else you think they won’t be needing. Then walk away. Do not run. It attracts attention.

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Open Letter to Comrade Thobile Notla, President of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union

Dear Comrade,

Allow me to join President Zuma in congratulating your union for the excellent work it’s not doing.

Your efforts in the Eastern Cape in particular are paying less-than-handsome dividends. A lot of people might disagree with me, but I think the Eastern Cape is a shining example of what can’t be achieved through a sustained campaign of resistance to learning.

Education has destroyed lives and made countless people miserable. Our eternally cheerful president is a living manifestation of the proverb, “ignorance is bliss”. To clear up any confusion, I am not referring to ProVerb, the rapper from Joburg.

The teachers who belong to your union serve South Africa far better on strike than they do in the classroom. An educated child is an angry child. That is why I like the Transkei so much. There are no angry children. They stand on the side of the road and smile and wave and ask for sweets. In countries ravaged by education, Greece, for example, children throw petrol bombs and rocks at the police.

I need not tell you that knowledge is a dangerous drug. I tried it once when I was younger, and right away I wanted more. The counter-revolutionary teachers at the white school I attended had no qualms about feeding my need. They made me what I am today, the bastards.

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Open Letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Dear Mahmoud,

I think you’re one cool Persian cat and I want to pledge my support in your war against the axis of evil (America, Israel, Homer Simpson).

I was pleased when I heard some time ago that your government had banned Barbie from being sold in toy shops, and I was doubly pleased when I read this week that the Simpsons had joined that immoral she-devil on the blacklist.

I won’t allow the slut Barbie in my home, either. She represents a terrible sickness that pervades Western society today. I hate her so much, flashing her long, smooth legs at us and shoving her sexuality in our faces. It’s wrong and shameful and her entire family should be stoned to death.

As for those degenerate Simpsons, the less said the better. Well done to your Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults for banning this dangerous filth.

I used to watch the programme and began spending less time at home and more time in the pub. I started abusing the pets and frequently tried to strangle my own son.

Before I knew it, my skin had turned yellow and my hair fell out. I put on weight and lay around the house dreaming of junk food, deviant sex and how to make piles of money without having to work for it.

Apparently Iran has not banned Superman and Spider-Man on the grounds that they help the “oppressed”. That’s what they want you to believe. These so-called superheroes are CIA agents. Worse than that, word on the street is that they are gay. Take my advice and add them to the blacklist. Your country will be safer for it.

If you have to give your children gifts, give them chemistry sets so they may learn how to enrich uranium from a young age. Israel and America would like nothing more than to destroy the nuclear family in Iran. They must be thwarted.

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