COMMENT

Soaking the poor

David Bullard writes on the brutish police response to the #ServeUsPlease protest

OUT TO LUNCH

You know what it’s like…..you buy a kid a ‘Super Soaker’ water gun and what’s going to happen? Is he (I am offensively assuming a male child here) going to put it away in the back of the toy cupboard only to be used on special occasions? Is he hell? He’s going to fill it up and look around for an easy target to drench in water.

Possibly his sister’s friends or granny sleeping in a deck chair in the garden. The ‘Super Soaker’ was the Rolls Royce of water guns. Invented in 1990 and still going strong today it had a large reservoir and used manually pressurized air to shoot a powerful jet of water with amazing accuracy and range. Against the ‘Super Soaker’ the conventional water pistol as useless.

You know what it’s like……you buy a police force a powerful water cannon and what’s going to happen? Are they going to park it somewhere safe only to be used for extreme cases of civil unrest? Are they hell? They’re going to bring it out onto the streets when a whole bunch of members of the tourism and restaurant industry are out peacefully demonstrating against lockdown enforced job losses.

And just for fun they’re not only going to spray the anarchic demonstrators with a high pressure jet of water that can knock them off their feet, they are also going to soak the inside of coffee shops and internet café’s and render most of the electrically operated equipment useless after it has been drowned in water.

A fun afternoon’s entertainment for the boys in blue though and the only way to quell a mob of dangerous tour guides and restaurant owners.

I can’t imagine that TV footage of what happened in Cape Town last Friday will greatly enhance our reputation as a tourist destination or, indeed, instill much trust between the people of Cape Town and the police who are apparently there to protect them. The sheer volume of police vehicles at the demonstration would suggest that it must have been a quiet day on the Cape Flats.

Maybe the gangsters were having a day off or, maybe, as some have suggested, it’s just so much easier to threaten a crowd that poses no threat whatsoever. The now famous appearance of the water cannon trundling along Buitenkant road will almost certainly present an image of Cape Town as a city in the grip of violent protest.

Just as I would never have visited Paris during the yellow vest riots I imagine potential tourists would look at the Cape Town footage and make much the same decision.

Of course, this argument is largely academic because tourism is dead at the moment and likely to remain that way if the ANC have anything to do with it. The usual influx of foreign tourists that we expect to start arriving in September either can’t leave their own countries for any number of COVID related reasons or can’t find a flight into Cape Town at a decent price. I’m told that the price of a one way only fare to Europe from SA is now R19 000 in economy. That’s roughly more than three times the pre COVID price.

Even our ‘swallows’ (those Europeans who own or rent homes in SA and spend six months here greatly bolstering our Cape economy) are unlikely to return this year. The current prediction is for international flights to only return to some sort of normality by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

With airlines worldwide laying off staff by the thousands that seems a little optimistic. So Cape Town is going to feel rather empty this holiday season, particularly if the provincial borders remain closed. The effects on our once thriving hospitality industry are already dire and are about to get much worse. But, as our financially cossetted Marxist friends angrily demand, do we really want to put profit before lives? Well, actually, yes we do because the repercussions if we don’t are too terrible to contemplate.

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According to the sour faced killjoys who support the ban on alcohol we are one of the most boozy nations on earth. A World Health Organisation research document dated August 2019 claims we consume, on average, 28.9 litres of grog per adult per annum making us the fifth heaviest drinkers in the world with Tunisia claiming first place.

This should immediately raise alarm bells as to the WHO’s credibility because Tunisia is an Arabic speaking country where the religion is Islam and the last time I looked the Mullahs weren’t popping corks. This may all be yet another example of the fake news our government relies on to control our lives. But why are we surprised?

Back in 2016 that most grumpy of men, Rob Davies, confidently claimed that South Africans were the heaviest drinkers in the world as he presented his National Liquor Amendment Bill to a press briefing. When questioned on where such data came from Davies and his department refused to answer the question so Africa Check looked into it and discovered that Mr Grumpy was talking absolute twaddle. Although we are a heavy drinking nation we only came in at 30 out of 195 countries with an average adult consumption of 11 litres per person.

As always, it’s the word ‘average’ that skews the real story and further intelligence from Richard Matzopoulous, a senior scientist at the South African Medical Research Council’s Burden of Disease Research Unit revealed that Davies may have been mistaken.

He pointed out that “what South Africa is renowned for is one of the highest per capita rates of drinking among the drinking population”. Useful to know. That’s rather like saying that the highest incidence of motor vehicle accidents is among the vehicle owning members of the population. Anyway, it turns out that if you are measuring consumption by people who actually drink alcohol then we are nearer the 28.9 litres the WHO mentioned but still trailing Tunisia.

Is this anything to be worried about? Well the answer is yes because if our average consumption per adult is only 11 litres per head and 28.9 litres among those who actually swallow the stuff we have a major problem on our hands.

According to news reports, thanks to lockdown there is a 3 million litre wine lake in SA and somebody needs to drink it to make way for next year’s vintage. That 28.9 litres only translates to 38 standard bottles of wine a year and that is pretty much what I get through in as many days.

In fact a quick calculation suggests that my consumption is nearer 330 bottles of wine a year which is a much more respectable 247 litres consumption compared to the rather pathetic 28.9 that the WHO are banging on about. Obviously that figure doesn’t take into account consumption of Gin and Tonic, Whisky, Brandy, Port and Beer.

All of which qualifies me as an alcoholic I suspect but, as I explained to the shocked young nurse who did my Discovery Vitality health check when she asked me how many units of alcohol I consumed per week, I’ve been doing this for the past 50 years so no point in quitting now.

Years ago I completed one of those questionnaires to find out if I was an alcoholic and I passed with flying colours. Of all the dam fool probing questions they asked there was one sensible one missing - “Do you drink because you like the taste?” to which the answer would be yes.

Am I dependent on alcohol though? Well, since I was wrong-footed by Cyril on the 12th July and can’t get hold of any new stock the answer has to be no. The lockdown ban on all things enjoyable has greatly reduced my consumption and we are on wartime rationing at Chez B.

In fact I’m thinking of writing a letter to the Command Council thanking them for putting me on the path to righteousness. But since they drove me to drink in the first place I probably won’t bother.