The Chicken Coup

I have been reading a lot of news lately.
This is bad for the constitution, it seems, and for my stomach.
This news has recently, mostly included reports and revelations about a company called Bosasa, as told by a member of staff known as Angelo who I suspect decided to break ranks with his former boss (Gavin Watson), and probably did so because he got jealous that he wasn’t being given a bigger share of the Bosasa “chickens” to farm with himself, of those he was being ordered by his boss to dispense, to a steady and colourful procession of some of our most glorious revolutionary overlords – all of whom have been shown to have been standing in an unusually orderly row with open hands – and, who it seems, have suddenly turned all agricultural, if all this clucking about “chickens” by Angelo, is to be believed.
What boggles my mind is how Angelo could fancy himself as a farmer amongst them. I mean sure, he’s not a lover of darkies, apparently, so there’s that, and he’s fat and he’s white but I honestly doubt he knows three words of Afrikaans, and besides, it’s Lamborghini that builds tractors and not Ferrari. Any self-respecting farmer would know this.
Shame.

Come to think of it, with all the “chickens” they have being given I think I just figured out why our glorious revolutionary leaders are so obsessed with land nowadays. Where else must they keep all their new-found fowl? Mind you, the (not-so-)honourable revolutionary keepers-behind-bars-of-our-country’s-criminals, Linda Mti, Zach Modise, Khulekani Sithole and Patrick Gillingham should sommer just pass go and let their share of “chickens” come home to their correctional farms and roost there, since amongst themselves they have both the state land and free incarcerated labour with which to do their farming already. And who knows, if the NPA’s new boss Shamila Batohi is to be taken seriously, perhaps these glorious revolutionary avian agricultarians of the Correctional Services department, all of whom have been so colourfully fingered by Angelo, will yet have their day to don green overalls and farm their own fowl right there on Correctional Services grounds, by their glorious revolutionary selves. One can only hope…

But of course one can’t be too careful, you know. They will need to beef up their security. My aunty Susan from Zeerust says that life on farms is very dangerous nowadays and she would know. Especially when you consider all the security upgrades Angelo and his Bosasa cronies paid for and installed for more of our illustrious revolutionary leaders such as Mantashe, Mokonyane and Myeni, and they live in the cities, where it’s safe! Sheesh.
Ah well.
All this talk of fowl farming has made me hungry now.
Think I’ll take a look in my fridge and see if I can find myself some chicken of my own…

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Its your fault

Jabu Mabuza says it’s YOUR fault. (Jabu Mabuza is the new chairman of South Africa’s power generating and distribution, State-Owned-Enterprise, ESKOM, and he says that we’re all to blame for the energy crisis the country is now in)
Yes, you, aunty doing your makeup in the rearview mirror in your car at the robots on Oxford street while the light turns orange again. And for non, glorious-revolutionary-post-1994-south-africa residents, a robot is not what you think it is, which is probably generally a true statement in any case, but more so in South Africa. In South Africa we call a traffic light a robot. No one knows why. And for all us glorious-revolutionary-post-1994-south-africa inmates, a “light” is a thing that magically shines when you supply it with a rare thing called “electricity”, for which you have already paid, but like an Apple TV, doesn’t come with remote, cables, or an actual TV. But I digress. Yes aunty. While you were there sitting wasting the green light, you caused the current electricity crisis.

And you, single father in Mitchells plain, with your Fetal Alcohol Syndrome child and a SASSA card that used to be your only lifeline in this fucked up life situation that neither you nor your child asked for. It’s your fault. But don’t worry, Bathabile Dlamini who looks alarmingly like a crash test dummy with makeup, only with less intelligence than an actual dummy, will pay back 20% of your grant. Oh hang on, she can’t. She can’t even afford 20% of her legal costs, and besides which she doesn’t actually remember screwing you over, and somehow, for our glorious revolutionary overlords that’s good enough to deploy her elsewhere in government where she’ll surely leave another trail of incompetence and wrecked lives. But I digress. Because both you, your child, and Bathabile are to blame.

Yes, you, little girl getting dressed for school in the dark again in Secunda with no hot water for 2 days. While Jabu’s 18 year old daughter drives to school in the Porsche her daddy bought her, you’ll be pleased to know that together with millions of other “normal” South Africans, you are responsible for the fact that Eskom can’t supply you with the electricity that your parents faithfully paid for. But then again, your politicized municipality hasn’t paid its ESKOM bill for years, so maybe it is actually your fault. But again, I digress.

Don’t worry, it only took Jabu 9 years to wake up and realise that showerhead Jacob Zuma was a crook and then say something about it, so we won’t have to wait long for something tangible and positive to happen, I’m sure. In the meantime, please, dear South Africans, stop doing whatever it was that caused Eskom to become the looted shell of a utility that it now is, so I can switch on my non-revolutionary wifi and post this.

Oh, and, nice hat, Jabu.

~ this post was written in response to this article

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Phoenix

Ssshhh, he shooshed her.
This is my favourite part.

They were sitting in his lounge – a plush suede olive couch, rock hewn walls, downlighters, and glass for an expansive view over the apple orchards and vineyards, and in the distance, the blue mountains, and further still behind them, the setting sun.

A song had been playing a bit too loud for politeness, she thought, plus, it was quite harsh and jarring, and a bit shouty. But then it had calmed suddenly down and now Daniel Thompson’s voice resumed singing out again, from the speakers in Adam’s lounge.
“I can breathe again
I choose to never let go
Or lose control
See through the sights of a rifle
Live through the eyes of a child
Walk through the mind of a minor to extol”

Then she heard it.
His voice raise to the heavens.
Set free to swoop and swell.
She sensed the singer’s swooning cry of release and trust, and was transported with it.
Felt her surrender to its flow.
It was something purer and more keenly felt than anything she’d felt in music for a long time, she realised.
She understood.
A single tear rolled down her cheek.

He took her hands in his.

“I must change change because I’ve been chasing shadows” Adam whispered along with Daniel.
“Change, immersed in the night”
Then he stopped singing and moved closer to her than they had sat in months.

I’m so sorry, he said.

She knew she loved him right then.
For real loved him, not like before.
At that moment right there.

Tesseract – Phoenix 2015

I don’t know about you, but that’s what music does for me.

That’s why music matters.

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The Actor

“Depression is the soul’s way of letting you know it’s time to play another actor.”
The Instagram post was a photo of a grey-green misty forest, somewhere where trees grow, with a brown dirt road leading in, and with those words printed on it in a friendly but neutral font. Briefly he felt a flicker of connection. Besides his default introversion, he had been feeling more melancholic than usual and couldn’t quite put his finger on why.

He resumed flicking through his feed.

But now his subconscious was squirreling away at the new question, and he found his thoughts drifting as the parade of colours, shapes, places and faces spooled upwards beneath his thumb.

He thought of the awkward kiss, Saturday morning in the car.

Darren and Norma were potential new friends as well as being new residents in town, as he was. Although being new to the area, Darren was known in the region and painted frescos and murals for lodges and restaurants in the winelands and local towns, but it sounded more exotic than it really was.
Between the 2 of them, they had a crop of collected kids from a string of collective collapsed lives, and a newish one jointly of their own. Norma was a stay-at-home mom who picked up part-time admin jobs here and there.
Both of them were street-smart and had that steely killer’s instinct in the eye but they were also nice people and she had made an effort to bring the 2 men together, because although Darren worked all over and was in fairly high demand, he had no close friends in the new town either. So far, the only place he had been able to actually spend any time with Darren had been at the greengrocers, where Darren had been commissioned to do a mural depicting a local orphanage’s soccer team that had been sponsored to play matches in neighbouring towns. It was a thoughtful and touching gesture, he thought as the 2 men stood next to the rough outline of the infant project and jokingly discussed Darren spending unhealthy amounts of time on his back with this new mural being his sistine chapel. Their exchange was funnier in person, because it involved a complicated machinery for turning the earth roughly perpendicular, so that the wall, would now be the ceiling. He was secretly delighted that Darren was familiar with 1950’s BBC radio comedy.

Every other time he had been invited or tried to visit the couple, he would find Norma alone with the kids.

Norma was a very “fleshly” person.

He had felt an attraction to her that disconcerted him. He experienced her as being very much in her body in an earthy way he was not familiar with, and it made him feel awkward and uncomfortable around her, but weirdly, something about it paradoxically drew him.

His thumb lifted off the ignored digital lives below.

It occurred to him that perhaps it was this earthiness he was drawn to, rather than to her, specifically. That maybe it was this “earthiness”…

He led his life in a world of his own thoughts, and spent much of his time mostly in his own head, he realised. He wondered how it could be that he didn’t have a mental model for this desire to be in her company. It was self-consciousness, he realised, that made him feel awkward and shy around her, because of this unquantifiable, drive. Naturally he had no intent to intertwine himself with her beyond the friendship of a married couple. He was smart and disciplined enough to know and do better than that. But this earthy attraction troubled him and then made him stop going there altogether, even when the next innocent invite from her had come.

He had been too “busy with deadlines” the next two times she tried as well. But then their car had broken down. Darren managed to arrange wheels for getting to his jobs, but Norma was now stuck and unable to do emergency grocery hops, and so it was, that on Saturday morning he had driven into town and waited for her in the parking lot of the local supermarket, to give her a lift back home. She made her way, unseen to him, through the bustling weekend shoppers and arrived at the car, hot, weighed down with packets and infant on hip. He couldn’t help thinking she looked somehow more earthy than before, but before he could hop out and help, she had the packets on the back seat, baby on lap and was seated next to him, closing her door. Like she’d been doing it in and out of his car a thousand million times, all executed in one fluid, confident motion. She did all this while loudly greeting him in her typical explosive fashion.

Norma wasn’t one for softly spoken parries, for hiding behind toned-down behaviour and tactfully offered, neutral language, with the minimum of emotion revealed. All cloak and dagger and such. Nossir.
What was happening right now, in the moment, was precisely what you got with Norma. It fascinated him all over again. She was speaking words to him in the hot car but he heard almost none of them as he took all of this in, instead.

When she leaned slightly across the centre console of the car, he felt it as being perfectly naturally appropriate for him to kiss her on her cheek in provencal style, and inferred that it was this that she was offering, by her doing so. So he leaned in and did it, planting a sidelong kiss on her right cheek.

Immediately he sensed a change in her posture.

Perhaps he had read everything wrong. Maybe that was not part of her fleshy greeting routines, and maybe Norma was all about the big hugs and loud words, but that’s it. He desperately hoped he hadn’t crossed a line. They were not, not-nice people. Something in his eyes or body language must have reassured her then, because she softened her suddenly tense frame and carried on exploding.

His digit still hovered over the now dark mobile screen.

Perhaps it’s time for me to be a bit more like Norma, he thought.

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What now

How do people do it? He wondered.
How do they get it right to live in confined space with the same person and the same stories, and the same life, day after day after day?

He’d tried marriage once.
It lasted 18 months.
It ended with her throwing a hiking boot at him, and him holding her down on the bed with his hands on her neck.

He’d been scared to try again, but in the end he had given in and dated again and learned that he was not an evil man. Sometimes dumb, but not malicious.

The closest thing he had had to a best friend was Jonathan Liddel. They spent many summers working together as brothers in arms. But then Jonathan  packed up his family and moved far away. And after that they became too busy to talk.

He wondered if there was something wrong with him.

Not some flaw or fault that made him undesirable or unwanted or unwelcome, but rather, that he was lacking in training. Like code missing from an algorithm.
For all his OCD, he wondered, surely he could figure it out…

It struck him.

I can’t control people. He thought.

With that he realised what it was that terrified him. There are things in life beyond control, and first and foremost is people. He knew he didn’t mean to be mean or dominating, or that everything should always go his way. But it terrified him that people would want to do boring shit he had no interest in, and that he would be “stuck” in unpleasant, long and drawn out situations he had no control over.

How do you pretend? He wondered.

It’s easy enough to pretend in front of strangers but how do you pretend in front of co-habitors?

He had to get out of bed then. It was time for work.

He went through his routine, but the question vexed him all day.

Particularly in light of the fact that he had met his one, and that they were essentially for-all-intents-and-purposes married and very much in love, but very much living apart.

She shared his creative interests, sci-fi taste and dark humour and even – miracle of miracles – shared his taste in music. But he wasn’t physically attracted to her and he didn’t know what to do about that.

And she’s fucking messy and a hoarder. He thought.

At lunch he pondered how to convince her to rent storage to store her shit so they could have room to live in. Then he wondered how to broach the subject of changing their living space completely.

Besides being cluttered, her house felt claustrophobic, dark, and morbid to him. It was a thoroughly depressing place.
He pondered how he liked open, light, exposed and airy places, like the holiday houses on the west coast she loved to vacation at so much. Perhaps she doesn’t get it. He thought. Perhaps she doesn’t see that where she loves to vacation is how she should be living.

It would do her colon wonders, he thought.

He considered the dynamic woman she was, in senior management of a global corporate with dynamic energy and drive. Her. And the corporate. But then he shuddered again at the thought of living in that space.

As he drove home from work, cars behind him hooted while it struck him that he couldn’t bring himself to love her in a physical way anymore, and that once upon a time he had begun a mental process in which he allow himself to stop doing it, because of how it made him feel afraid to live in her house.
But the light was green now.

In everything else he realised, they were a perfect match.

Over supper it dawned on him how he had put up walls to distance himself from her, and how over time those walls had became permanent. There were new rules in an algorithm that were once questioned, with him knowing that he was rejecting her advances and him seeing the little pains that it caused her with each poisoned, distanced dart. He had felt it hurt him too as he had wounded her, and he considered how now these rules were no longer questioned but simply obeyed.

That’s the real truth of why he couldn’t even hold her hand softly with real affection anymore. Why after less than a year he had stopped being amorous entirely and had not so much as properly kissed her again since then.

And why even now, for nearly 2 years he was living one thousand miles away from her.

So, what now?

He wondered.

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