OUT TO LUNCH
The ‘Out to Lunch’ column had already been running for eight years in the Sunday Times when one of the country’s top businessmen (evidently a fan) had a quiet word with the publisher Jonathan Ball and suggested that a collection of the columns would make a good book.
Jonathan Ball contacted me and, after I got over my surprise, we held a preliminary meeting to discuss the project. Obviously the management of the Sunday Times (then part of Johnnic in one of its many previous incarnations) would have to be involved. Jonathan was enthusiastic about the project and thought the book could do quite well but would be unlikely to be a best seller. For me it was the beckoning world of literary stardom and countrywide book launches that really appealed.
The obvious stumbling block would be the question of who would get the author’s royalties. I correctly anticipated that this would be the first item on the agenda in the meeting with the ST management. Since they had already paid for the columns to be published they were technically their property although the intellectual property, such as it was, belonged to me.
I came up with a neat solution that I thought would please everyone. The author’s royalties would be split between a charity of my choice and a charity of the editor’s choice. The charity I chose was called The Hospice Association of the Witwatersrand back in 2002 (now HospiceWits). My suggestion met with approval from management and the book went into print in the third quarter of 2002.
When the book appeared in the bookshops, prominently displayed together with a life-size cardboard figure of me to promote it, it did rather well. I did a series of liquid fuelled book signings around the country and the book did ever better. One good thing about authoring a book back then was that the Mount Nelson would upgrade you to one of their suites if they also happened to be hosting your book launch. The celebrity status was starting to appeal.
Just before Christmas 2002, to both my and my publisher’s delight, ‘Out to Lunch’ became the number 1 best seller on the Exclusive Books Top Ten list. This is when things started to turn ugly.
Not all my fellow Sunday Times staffers shared my joy at the number 1 status of the book; particularly those who had published books which hadn’t even made it onto the best seller list. But what really rankled was that the author’s proceeds were going to charity in their entirety. I was told I had been very selfish and that this could set a dangerous precedent for those who may want to bring out books in the future.
A second book of columns came out in 2005 and a third under a different publisher in 2007. The author’s proceeds were again split between my charity and the editor’s. What I hadn’t realized was that this was to become a useful marketing tool and by the time “Screw it, Let’s do Lunch” came out in 2007 large corporates were ordering the book as client gifts safe in the knowledge that the author’s proceeds would not be blown on a new Mercedes but would be uplifting a couple of charities.
The third book didn’t make it to the number one spot but it did spend more than three months in the Top Ten bestseller list and generated a decent amount of cash for the two charities. By this stage the level of loathing had reached dizzy new heights.
Then came April 2008 and everybody calmed down. That is the month the Sunday Times sacked me for writing a ‘racist’ article they had chosen to publish but pretended had “slipped through the system”. The haters danced jigs of joy in the street and rushed to the keyboards to knock off ‘obitcheries’. That was to be expected and didn’t particularly bother me since I had every confidence I would soon bounce back.
What wasn’t expected and what did hurt was the sudden and very public rejection by Hospice Witwatersrand. I had been scheduled to address a sell out breakfast (for charity obviously) at the Park Hyatt in Rosebank. The top dogs at Hospice cancelled the breakfast and told me they could have nothing to do with a ‘racist’. This after a five year relationship which had yielded them an amount well into six figures. I was devastated at the time but as karma would have it, not long after the CEO was suspended for alleged misappropriation of funds.
I mention this because in the past few weeks the membership of the ‘racist’ club has swollen with first Lindsay Dentlinger, followed by the outing of Stephen Grootes, Andre de Ruyter and now Adam Habib. We really are going to need a larger venue for our annual reunion.
When you are labeled a ‘racist’ there’s not a lot you can do about it. You can try apologizing for any hurt you may have caused but that is a futile exercise because the rules of the game now are that an apology is an admission of guilt which means that the baying mob will double down on demands for you to lose your job and be publicly shamed.
The days when these things just blew over disappeared when the internet appeared. Your sins are permanently recorded for all time now and judgement is wholly in the hands of the woke. What you can be sure of though is that people who you thought were friends will often turn out to be spineless or simply too afraid to not run with the woke herd.
Last month I was suspended from Twitter to the evident delight of the very same journalists who thought they had danced on my grave back in 2008. I’m not sure why but I suspect it was something to do with my defence of Lindsay Dentlinger and some fairly fruity language I used towards COSATU who were calling for her head on a plate.
Twitter have invited me to learn more about my suspension but I really can’t be bothered. If I did get back on Twitter it would only be a matter of time before I was cancelled again for having an opinion which offends some scrofulous woke youth in the Twitter policing department.
Last week my iPhone announced to me that my screen time is down 34% from the previous week. That’s the amount of time I must have been frittering away on Twitter and it’s time that can now be devoted to more cerebral activities.
So I’ve decided to re-read some of the best works of Shakespeare. Last year I bought the Royal Shakespeare Company version of the complete works which runs to nearly 2 500 pages including the plays and sonnets along with notes and explanations on all the plays.
Instead of wasting time interacting with the harpies on Twitter I can now be found at the dining room table slowly paging through Julius Caesar. The Tempest or Macbeth and savouring the language as one might savour a chilled class of Ch d’Yquem 1967. I’m also sleeping better.
The only problem with becoming a “Bardoholic’ is that, like so many addictions, there can be some unexpected side effects.
The Tragedy of Prince Harry
Now shall we hear tales of such horror
That our fetid entrails wouldst leap from our
Bodies and become, unto themselves,
Like the writhing maggot that doth
Infest the kitchen rubbish bin,
Ere the honest yeomen,
Bedecked in orange doublet,
Taketh away the squirming creatures
Ever to be buried in landfill
On stolen soil.
Now do our ears confuse our minds
With such calumny as might make
The noble Zondo swoon; as if t’were
The babbling lies and false evidence of
Those who would the state capture
For their own glory and profit.
Now do the royal pair manqué
Who, in exile flourish, come into the garden,
To speak with the sorceress Winfrey.
Mark them I prithee.
Winfrey (for it is she)
Tell’st all unto the common folk
Who do listen in
Like carrion crows
To hear the bad reports of the Royal House of Windsor.
Name not names, I prithee, but leave it to the rabble
To fill in such detail as shall fit their wildest imaginings.
Be woke and then shall thy words take wing and alight upon the lips
Of the greatest in the land; excepting Morgan who is known as Piers.
He, like an untrained puppy, shall be sent into the garden
The better to empty his bladder on the untamed weeds
That do strangle the sweet rose.
Speak, oh Duchess, I pray you.
Meghan-Duchess of Sussex
With all my heart I thank thee honest Winfrey.
And do vouchsafe to tell of plots and stratagems
Designed to push aside my royal ambitions
And remind me of my humble station.
It was as t’were I were a polar bear trapped upon an iceberg
Newly calved and bobbing in the icy waters of the Arctic.
When I did cry out for help none answered.
Physicians had I none and the palace courtiers
Didst mockingly hide the Prozac behind the royal throne.
My madness did consume me and, as proof,
I considered mine escape to welcoming Canada.
Alas and alack, welcome was as weak as a stoup of ale
That has by lemonade been bespoiled.
Our royal selves, needing protection from the fearful grizzly bear,
Did beg for some security from the state which did say no.
So, forsaking the frozen wastes, we did remove our royal selves
To the friendlier clime of California and there did set up camp.
A modest dwelling did we buy with fifteen bathrooms
And nine bed chambers fit to accommodate visiting nobility.
And there we did think it fit to sulk and hide from prying eyes
Shunning media reptiles and their loathsome lies.
But bubbling resentment doth feed like a greedy dog
On a plate of stolen meat.
And ere long it was before we both grew bold
And said that, for a price, our story must be told.
Many tales of woe could I reveal and some of cruel fate
Such as when I would weep bitter tears because of Kate.
My husband’s royal rights were mocked
And his allowance most cruelly cut off.
Neither the heir to England’s throne
Nor the heir to that heir
Would countenance his calls,
Thus cast adrift was he.
But, good Winfrey, stay thy disbelief
As I recount the unkindest cut of all.
When Archibald was still within my womb
Some, feigning interest, wondered aloud
What complexion the new born babe might have
And whether he might have his father’s great wisdom
And his mother’s humility.
But, who saith these things?
That question I must answer with a knowing shrug
But my lips must remain mute.
Winfrey (to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex)
And what of you my noble Prince?
Thy socks I see match thy dark and melancholy mood.
What have you to say sirrah?
Harry – Duke of Sussex
My gentle Winfrey. My voice is but an echo of my Duchess.
For she best voices my unformed thoughts and my petty grievances.
I once did have a voice and did the common crowd much please
But now I give myself to Hollywood and lefty media sleaze.
(Exeunt – much laughter off)