Well, I must say

Weekend Witness - - Opinion - LIFE with Harold Stra­chan R. TOVEY Westville

LAST night I saw on the dish scratchy old photographs of the Im­pres­sion­ist painter De­gas, end­lessly, end­lessly and alone walk­ing the streets of Paris in his sev­en­ties, with the TV man say­ing what a strange and pur­pose­less thing this was for an old top­pie to do. Well, maybe I’m strange and pur­pose­less too, be­cause that’s what I do around Durbs, and a damn sight more pur­pose­ful than sit­ting like Renoir with a brush strapped to his an­cient arthritic fist and some­body at hand to stick a cig­a­rette in his mouth, paint­ing end­lessly great bul­bous nude girls with tiny lit­tle heads and teenage breasts, pink and orange and red flesh like crus­taceans dipped alive in boil­ing wa­ter. Ex­cept th­ese loll about there­after on banks of soft grass or wash their cloth­ing in rivers, fat, rus­tic, mind­less. One won­ders how he made such breath­tak­ing art about young peo­ple in the early fresh days of Im­pres­sion­ism.

Any­way, I’ll tell you a great way to roam your city if you are so in­clined: set off in a ran­dom di­rec­tion, and when you come to a ran­dom bus­stop catch that bus to wher­ever it’s go­ing and walk home. A sur­prise hike, and you’d be sur­prised whom you meet. At a stop some­where in Um­bilo, I come across this strick­en­look­ing gent with a lit­tle cro­cheted thingummy on his head, lolling on the bench there. Howzit, man, say I, are you all right? Why shouldn’t I be all right? he replies. Well, you look sort of sleepy, say I. Tired, ah tired, says he. I slept not a wink last night and now I must get through a day’s work. He tells me his sor­row­ful story. Ge­of­frey Chaucer should have had him amongst the Pil­grims.

The Mus­salman’s Tale: I saw on the In­ter­net a cer­tain e­mail or­der form, says he, placed there by a firm in Bur­bank Cal­i­fo­ria that pro­duces cus­tom­de­signed com­pos­ite aero­dy­nam­i­cally­formed sails for ocean­rac­ing yachts, plus a whole range of hi­tech fixtures and plas­tic ac­cou­trements. Amongst th­ese num­bered also a very re­al­is­tic pneu­matic woman, anatom­i­cally cor­rect in ev­ery de­tail, in­clud­ing in­ter­nal stiff­en­ing of the limbs to take the place of bones, so that the arms and legs should ar­tic­u­late nat­u­ral­is­ti­cally as re­quired, and not merely bend like Vi­enna sausages. As­sum­ing th­ese ladies to be de­signed for the com­fort of solo round­the­world sailors, I or­dered one from the cat­a­logue, auburn­haired, out of mar­itime cu­rios­ity. But when She ar­rived I found no low­pres­sure pump as listed, and ea­ger to find what cul­tural pur­pose sailors might have for Her, started to blow her up by mouth at about 8 pm. But by 10 pm, I was so ex­hausted as to have lost all cul­tural in­ter­est.

Sud­denly awak­ing at 11 pm, I re­alised I might take Her to a fill­ing­sta­tion, there to make use of their free air ser­vice, and hastily don­ning dress­ing gown and slip­pers I placed Her in the 4x4 and took Her to the Shell pumps down King Dinizulu Road. But alas, whilst strug­gling to fit noz­zle to an un­matched valve on Her left big toe a Gaut­eng fam­ily pulled in be­hind me, mak­ing an early overnight start for home af­ter a beach hol­i­day with the chil­dren. All 10 eyes fixed ap­palled on this sunken old lady with bright gin­ger hair in the back of the 4x4, naked, and me do­ing un­nat­u­ral things with her feet, in my dress­ing gown. There and then I went across to the Shell all­night su­perette and pur­chased a maid’s over­all in green and clad Her in this be­fore mov­ing the 4x4 to a con­ve­nient shadow and sol­dier­ing on with the in­fla­tion prob­lem. But sud­denly high­pres­sure noz­zle and big­toe­valve matched and out of con­trol She puffed up to the pro­por­tions of an obese mid­dle­aged ma­tron — and ex­actly at that point the po­lice ar­rived with weapons drawn. Well, I must say they were not as bru­tal as they are ac­cused of be­ing, but I felt there was no need for their silly gig­gling nor ad­vice from a mere 18­year­old that I should see if they also sell panties at the su­perette, says Pil­grim.

A brief si­lence en­sues. Maybe, say I to Pil­grim, you should buy a blow­up bloke for your mis­sus. Con­vex, so to speak, for round­the­world solo lady sailors. Then you could do in­fla­tions com­pan­ion­ably at home with an in­flat­able­mattress low­pres­sure foot pump from a camp­ing shop. Do not talk in that cheap man­ner about my wife’s sex­u­al­ity, says he. She is a deeply re­li­gious woman who has never looked upon a naked liv­ing man, let alone a plas­tic idol. Not even you? say I. I al­ways switch off the lights, says he, and wear some item of cloth­ing. Like your socks? say I. Maybe if you switch on the lights and try a bit of zizipom­pom with­out socks you won’t need Her, hey?

A bus ar­rives. He boards with no word of farewell. I de­cide to walk a bit fur­ther, ran­domly. MO­TORISTS caught driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol and other sub­stances must have their driver’s li­cences can­celled. To re­claim them, they should have to go to a rep­utable driv­ing school and then take the test again. This is the only way to stop this drunken road car­nage. And those who have not paid traf­fic fines must not be al­lowed to re­new their ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion.

The trans­port depart­ment needs to stop beat­ing about the bush and take dras­tic ac­tion.


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