Buks

2009-07-25 00:00

A BIOCAFE was not of the same nature as today’s Internet cafe where you can do all your e-mailing and stuff, I mean it was not a place where you could go and do biology, biochemistry, biodiversity, all those bios, it was a bioscope in which you got a free cup of tea or a red raspberry flavoured glass of tepid water whilst watching a movie. I mean flick, ie film, we didn’t have movies then. Each row of seats had a shelf at the back which served as a dining table for those on the seats behind, see, because you could also order meat pies and extra cups of tea et cet or even bring your own grub if you wanted to. Indeed you could bring all three meals if you wanted to, since the biocafe ran all day and you could see the flick as often as you chose. You could pretty well have your entire being in there, I dare say, as long as you found somewhere to sleep at night. Come to think of it, if you learned to sleep sitting up and you had a night job you could live rent-free in a biocafe, including the cup of tea (or raspberry drink), though it cost R1 in today’s money to get in, which you might count as rent, I suppose.

My best biocafe was the Roxy, bang in the centre of town nogal, though there were also the Palace and the Colosseum. The insides were less majestic than the names outside. I mean, for example, since they ran just all the time all weekdays and Saturday and everybody went to church on Sunday, maintenance work was done on the hoof, as it were. While the flick was showing. A bit like those Tour de France riders after a multi-bike pile-up who get their shredded limbs disinfected whilst hanging on to a moving car with a doctor leaning out of a window. The Palace had faint vapours of chlorine, the Colosseum of Dettol and the Roxy of Jeyes Fluid, for the discouragement of cholera, I supposed, which I remembered from doing an exam in British Crimean War military hygeine whilst in the WW2 Air Force. Also carpentry, plumbing and electricals were done on the hoof, and it was thus that I first came to meet Buks.

Godzilla was showing. I mean the very first original Japanese Godzilla with a great big scaled-up plasticine Honourable Kamikazosaurus jerking about and breaking in half an electric train with its bare claws and shaking out all the passengers and feeding off them where they lay on the ground, like poultry picking at flying-ants. I was lucky to get a seat at all. It was next to a great big scaled-up woman with a floral hat and three kids and a basket of nosh which she parked ’mongst the raspberry juice and teacups: there was a chicken on a plate and a loaf of bread and a chopping-board and tomatoes and lettuce and onions which she started slicing up for a salad. Luckily I was on the aisle, I leaned outwards to avoid the onion-fumes. Buks suddenly appeared with his toolbox. Is your seat uncomfortable? said he, just stand up for a minute, hey, and set to with saw and hammer, rrr rrr rrr and bang bang bang. Try that, said he. Lovely, said I, but felt I should say something friendly. Are you happy in your job? I asked. Man, said Buks, I miss the sunshine, laaik, also it is very boring in here, laaik, I see every flick thirty times, laaik. Well I teach figure drawing at the Tech, said I, would you like to come along and be a model for us? What! said Buks, and take off all my clothes? Oh you can keep on your underpants, said I, things happen to male models with all those ladies looking at er, you know?

So he did come along, and a great model he made too. You don’t have to be good-looking for this job, all you need is a visible musculature, not all fat, also your bones must be visible here and there, plus tendons and ligaments. But Buks was good-looking, see. These were student art teachers, also part-time well-to-do housewives, a mature group, but everybody darem likes a good-looking ou, hey, and everybody loved ou Buks. But suddenly he disappeared. Gone. Nobody knew where. Until one day in the Roxy when they’d stopped for the usual adverts and fresh cups of tea and pink drinks and suddenly a great cry arose Hey there’s ou Buks! HEY BUKS! HOWZIT, MAN? And there indeed he was, in pricey Woolworth’s clothing on the screen. Hair handsomely done by a pricey hairdresser, a neat fashionable beard nicely trimmed, smiling healthily. Seems one of the well-to-do housewives had a husband who ran an advertising agency with Woolworth’s his prize account. Ou Buks thereafter appeared all over town in expensive jerseys in winter and expensive shorts in summer, big, big posters, wall-size posters. Excelsior! Ever onwards, ever upwards! Laaik.

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