Enough bloody seriousness

Jeremy Gordin asks why anyone would hold a Gathering to talk about tedious codswallop, such as Seffrican politics

I see that the Daily Schmendrick had its Gathering (mit a capital G) last Friday where various onanists, including especially the onanist-in-chief Zwelinzima Vavi, rabbitted on about various subjects. Well, pardonez-moi, mon petit chouchou.

Actually I'm rather fond of Branko Brickhead, the editor and founder (of the Daily Schmendrick, not of Cosatu). But, really, sometimes Branko's pretensions do rather get the better of him. Does he think he's a Gupta - or what?

Why in heaven's name would one call one's gathering a Gathering? And why would you have a bunch of solemn, uptight PCs representing the fourth estate when you could have the Bullfinch or me?

Why would you have a Gathering or a gathering to talk about tedious codswallop such as Seffrican politics - or the fact that the Jewish community is at the crossroads? (Oh no, sorry, got the wrong meeting there.)

You could be eating, drinking, having a massage, reading haiku, or watching Lady Gaga, and this is what you want to do? Really?

Anyway, I for one could not have attended the Gathering because I was attending the monthly Friday luncheon gathering of the curmudgeons' anti-cant club. Lower-case "c"s will do and the only qualifications necessary are that you do not discuss anything serious, leave your Zimmer frame at the door, and that you turn 60 sometime in 2012 - but the last stipulation is not rigorously applied.

Present were myself; Financial Mail stalwart Armanath Singh; the Bullfinch (David Bullard) hisself ; James Myburgh, editor of Politicsweb (we could have called it a Politicsweb Gathering, I suppose, if James had so desired); Peter "thick end of the wedge" Bruce, publisher of BDFM; and my lawyer, Kevin Trisk SC.

I never break bread with litigious people such as the Bullfinch without my legal representative present. Trisk SC also represents the kashrut department of the Union of Orthodox Synagogues and has, I believe, been sent to keep an eye on me. (I also understand, informally, that Trisk has another private arrangement with the human rights commission and on its behalf listens to what the Bullfinch says, especially when he - the Bullfinch - is in his cups.)

Lawyers are a tricky bunch - and maybe that last commission I mentioned is not from the HRC but from Mondli Makhanya, the world's highest-paid weekly columnist. But I digress.

In any case, we had an excellent meal (I had the lamb and couscous - oh, and some oysters - I saw Trisk making a note). We discussed cardiac arrhythmia, the sexual gyrations of sexagenarians, the different groups apparently bidding for Independent Newspapers (the last two subjects might have been more or less the same), and the falling circulations of all dead trees publications world-wide.

But when this last subject threatened to become too serious, we immediately talked about whether to have a fifth or sixth round of 1910 or 1920 or whatever that excellent cognac is called. We did not discuss any price-fixing arrangements nor did we put together a surprise slate, including Cyril Ramapoepchik , ahead of Mangaung. (Personally, unlike my friend Professor Anthony Butler, I am not a Ramapoepchik man.)

I think it safe to say that a jolly time was had by all. Might I go so far as to suggest that we had a jollier time at our gathering than the folk at the Gathering?

This returns me (thanks heavens, I hear you cry) to my fourth paragraph. The Daily Schmendrick has some really fine columnists. I'm talking about generally sound, intelligent, lucid, literate folk such as my friend Ranjeni Munusamy. (I hope she's still my friend; she seemed a bit annoyed the last time we exchanged sarcastic, biting notes.) The Mail&Grauniad has some fine writers too, as does the City Press

But, my Gawd (as the Bullfinch might have said in his cups), everyone is so bloody SEE-RI-YUS. SEE-RI-YUS, baba. It's positively depressing, I tell you.

How can you be serious about a putz such as Vavi who rabbits on at the Gathering about the ANC being the party that should be known as "Absolutely No Consequences" when he's one of the okes who's been cashing in (politically and status-wise) for yonx from the pervasive mind-set of "absolutely no consequences"?

This is the bozo who busies himself, along with that clown Patrick Craven, leading marches against Israel (Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman really, really care) when he ought to be in Marikana and at every other mine in the country taking care of business. But that's kinda hard work, ain't it? Much easier to fulminate about Israel.

How can one take seriously Blade Nzimande? How can one take seriously Tina Joemat-Pettersson and the rest of the useless profligates and buffoons that make up the cabinet and government? And these are merely the first examples that spring to mind. How can one take seriously a public broadcaster - in one of the great new democracies in the modern world - that bans a fish-and-chip ad about our frugal president?

Talking of which, wasn't the Mail&Grauniad coverage of Nkandla and all that stuff good? This reminds me:

In early May 2009, I received an invitation to the inauguration of Jacob G Zuma. One fine day I sallied forth therefore to the PretoriaArt Museum where one had to go to get accredited, or whatever it was called, for the ceremony at the Union Buildings.

The place was a hegdis (Yiddish: a mess, a slum) extraordinaire. It was unbelievable. You thought getting accreditation for Polokwane was a nightmare? Jeez, that was a walk in the park compared to what was going on that day in Pretoria. And the dire situation was not the case just for peasants and underlings such as I; I saw a number of VIPs who couldn't get their accreditation. There was Steyn Speed and there was Speed(y) Steyn and so on.

Now in those days, not yet so buffeted and broken by the slings of outrageous fortune, I was much more fearless; and I had what Kevin Ritchie would call "a Jamaican natural".

I went ape shit. "The phuquin ANC," quoth I, "couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery or a shtup in a bordello. What the phuque is going on here?" I really was very rude.

Enter one Geoffrey Quinton Michael Doidge, who, it turned out, was the minister of public works. Apprised by someone or other that I was The Biographer (as in The Gathering), he quickly came over to make nice. And I have to say he was very calm and forbearing because I was on a roll. I was gaaning aan much better, as they say in Brakpan. (He didn't in the end fix anything, by the way; I had to wait in the queue with all the working stiffs; but, hey, the spirit was there.)

Later I met Doidge and his family at the Cape Town annual jazz concert via one of Zuma's then circle of friends (no names, no etc), and my impression was of a God-fearing, ultra-Christian, straight up-and-down family. His children were impeccably dressed and mannered.

Most people will tell you that Doidge was axed from public works and sent into exile in Sri Lanka (the weather's appalling there - Prague is much nicer) because he tried to can the deals facilitated by police chief General Bheki Cele involving businessman Roux Shabangu.

But now I see that Doidge might have gotten the old heave-ho because he was trying to behave correctly when the Nkandla "revamp" started rearing its ugly head in 2009. (He was dropped from the ministry in October 2010.) I think the good lads and gals from amaBhungane need to hop a flight to Colombo chop-chop, don't you?

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