Wel­come to Durbs, en­joy your stay

CityPress - - Voices - Paddy Harper voices@city­press.co.za

Run­ning to the show­ers won’t help. Vine­gar or methy­lated spir­its will. Urine works best

Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. There’s a nasty east­erly blow­ing, so my plan for a quick body­surf at North Beach to help me claw my way through the last week of work for the year dies as I watch the fron­trun­ners of the Gaut­eng mass that have been wait­ing all year to de­scend on Dur­ban jump up and down in the shore break, their faces a blend of joy and ex­cite­ment un­til they get their first taste of the flotilla of blue­bot­tles blown in from the Mozam­bique cur­rent.

It’s an ugly sight. Men, women and chil­dren sprint­ing out of the wa­ter, rip­ping at the long, thin rib­bons of blue fire that have wrapped them­selves around their arms and legs, stum­bling as the jel­ly­fish they stamp on as they make their way out of the wa­ter sting their feet and legs, ugly lit­tle bas­tards ca­pa­ble of in­flict­ing pain even in death.

The crew of life­savers who had been try­ing to keep the pun­ters out of the wa­ter look on know­ingly. Run­ning to the show­ers won’t help. Vine­gar or methy­lated spir­its will. Urine works best.

I head off to get a taxi back to town. A mere R5 gets you through the maze of bar­ri­cades the city bosses have erected along the beach­front, al­legedly to free up traf­fic flow when the horde from across the Jukskei River lands in earnest on De­cem­ber 16, at top speed.

There’s a bit of a wait. Across the road is the metro po­lice op­er­a­tions cen­tre set up for the fes­tive sea­son. There’s a charge of­fice, breathalysing fa­cil­i­ties, cells and even a court­room – a one-stop shop for any­body caught hav­ing too much fun in the area.

Next to the cop shop, there’s blue-and-white cop tape stretched across the perime­ter of the Vic­to­ria Park. I move closer. There are no bod­ies, just this weird look­ing baby Je­sus in the manger na­tiv­ity in­stal­la­tion. Next to that, there’s some kind of in­flat­able gin­ger­bread house straight out of Grimm’s fairy­tales. There are a cou­ple of blow-up mush­rooms and some other struc­tures that look like they’d be more suited to one of Hierony­mus Bosch’s vis­ual night­mares than a kid­dies’ park on Dur­ban’s Golden Mile.

An out-of-town bus pulls up. A swarm of kids pours down the stairs and onto the pave­ment. A few of them see the dis­play in the park and bolt to­wards it.

They make it as far as the crime scene tape be­fore the se­cu­rity guard de­ployed by the city to look af­ter it ap­pears and chases them away.

Wel­come to Dur­ban.

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