To be rock and not to roll when winged beast seeks shel­ter

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION - Jou­bert Mal­herbe

THE other day I was in­stru­men­tal in a res­cue ef­fort that turned out okay and left me over­joyed. I was hav­ing a shower when I spot­ted a mug­gie (aka midge or gnat, ac­cord­ing to the Afrikaans/English dic­tionary in the of­fice), which was man­fully dodg­ing the wa­ter splash­ing against the tiles on the wall.

I thought I’d do what I could to as­sist in the ex­tra­or­di­nary en­deav­our by the crit­ter to live out its en­tire life­span, which Dr Google puts at a whop­ping seven days.

I ad­justed the show­er­head so that less wa­ter would splash onto the tiles and send the winged beast to a wa­tery grave. In do­ing so, un­for­tu­nately, a gush of wa­ter streamed down my arm onto the area of the wall where the mug­gie was. When I looked again, it was gone and I im­me­di­ately cursed my­self for be­ing party in bring­ing the be­ing’s so­journ on Earth to a pre­ma­ture end; even if it had per­haps al­ready reached dotage of, say, six days.

I have, of late, pon­dered afresh the the idea of the in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness of all of cre­ation, hav­ing just com­pleted the ex­tra­or­di­nary novel by Brazil­ian au­thor Paul Coelho, The Al­chemist. It reaf­firmed my long-held be­lief that every­thing in the uni­verse is, sort of, part of the greater whole. Even the wind, as is the case with the young pro­tag­o­nist in the book.

The mat­ter is dealt with some­what more suc­cinctly in the fi­nal verse of the clas­sic Stair­way To Heaven by Led Zep­pelin. This is where Robert Plant in­tones: “…and if you lis­ten very hard/ The tune will come to you at last/when all is one and one is all… to be a rock and not to roll.” A tad sim­plis­tic in ex­plain- ing the com­plex­i­ties of ex­is­tence, but it’s kinda worked for me for sev­eral decades.

Well, to get back to the mug­gie: I’m ex­tremely happy to re­port that as I stepped out of the cu­bi­cle to dry my­self, I spot­ted the lit­tle blighter deftly ma­noeu­vring its way be­tween the drops still cling­ing to the wall.

I as­sume it must have taken, what Dy­lan might have de­scribed as “shel­ter from the storm”, on a ce­ment strip be­tween two of the tiles at the mo­ment I reached for the show­er­head and the tor­rent en­sued.

“Oh joy,” I thought as I dried my­self and pre­pared to go and face the rigours of the world out­side.

Well, talk­ing of the clas­sic Dy­lan song, it sketches quite a few des­per­ate sce­nar­ios which the cen­tral char­ac­ter finds him­self in; I mean there’s a “oneeyed un­der­taker who blows a fu­tile horn” and at one point the poor geezer is “burnt out from ex­haus­tion, buried in the hail/Poi­soned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail…”

In­deed, the song – off the su­perb Blood On The Tracks al­bum – kicks off with the fore­bod­ing line: “…’Twas in an­other life­time, one of toil and blood…”

Well, talk­ing of “toil and blood”, not to men­tion be­ing “poi­soned and blown out on the trail”, I nearly choked on my beer when the news first emerged about pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Cyril Ramaphosa be­ing smeared as a se­rial “phi­lan­derer”.

The air­waves – and the in­ter­net – ex­ploded. Renowned sex­ol­o­gist Dr Eve weighed in and said on TV this was re­ally not some­thing to get our, erm, knick­ers in a twist about as we are ap­par­ently a na­tion of ha­bit­ual adul­ter­ers –“smal­l­anyna” skele­tons and all that.

What I found most ironic of all was the fact that those who prob­a­bly planted the story – or were most rub­bing their hands in glee at Cyril’s dis­com­fort – were in the other camp in the pres­i­den­tial race.

And we all know who they hope will take the reins at the elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

And if we look at the track record of the prin­ci­pal in that camp, what do we see: five wives (and count­ing), fa­thered child with daugh­ter of a friend (Irvin Khoza), Kh­wezi, baby oil and, of course, show­er­head etc etc.

Ah well, all are one and one is all...

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