Pallas athena

2013-04-08 00:00

SEEMS there’s this gent called Mr Barraclough from Maritzburg, who in order to cure me of my ranting and railing against his religion recommends I should read his Bible end to end starting with a saint name of John, while I recommend Mr Barraclough should get stuffed. Also John, both of them. On a Sunday.

What need should I have for all those old Levantine spookstories when Pallas Athena has looked after me so well? And so undemandingly? Just a small sacrifice now and then is so appreciated, preferably an owl, that being her symbol back home in Athens, also her embodiment as she moves among us at night, quietly greeting us Uhu uhu uhu which is old-time Greek for Sweet Dreams. Of course, an owl is not something you can sommer buy in a supermarket, but came a time when I really needed one, pronto, in 1976. I phoned the Greek embassy and the nice secretary lady there said in old-time Greek never to worry, any similar wild bird of free spirit would do, and remember, she said, you don’t have to waste this bird by burning it all up as smoke, a good braai is what She likes best, where people praise Her as they tuck in.

Well, talking of supermarkets; being on chatting terms with the security guard at the local one, and Zulu people being still a bit in touch with Nature, you know, I was off to him for advice, saying Zondi, my china, can you tell me where to get a wild bird of free spirit, about so-o-o big, for a sacrifice to my security goddess? We’re going to eat it, so leave out the seagulls, which taste of leftover shad bait. Why sure, said he, my son will catch you a nice inkankane, a hadeda, fresh, R100. Oh nonononono! I exclaimed, my son would never allow it, he is a wildlife lover and birdwatcher! You’ve got a problem, said Zondi, but I’ll tell you what, you go to the Meat counter and buy a nice big frozen chicken and I’ll take it to a sangoma friend of mine before it thaws out and she will declare it to be an honorary small peacock. Also go to the Spices aisle and get a carton of Mama Mkhize’s Extra Special Chakalaka Chicken Stuffing and mix in lots of onions before cooking and your goddess will thereafter protect you under every circumstance.

But at this point I must remind dear readers about sex. For example, Athena is a virgin but she is sexually related to Achilles via a lascivious relative, and that means she’s going to be on Achilles’ side under every circumstance though he’s a nasty ill-tempered sonofabitch, indeed she rather fancies such a sonofabitch for his grootbek machismo, as virgins do. So when Achilles is chasing Trojan Hector round and round the walls of Troy in order to slay him, Athena suddenly appears to Hector as his best boet Deiphobus and persuades him to stand and fight. Which he does, and as he hurls his javelin Athena makes a small pouf! of cloud right in his line of sight and he misses by a mile and realises all too late that he’s been suckered and loses all energy and Achilles steeks him morsdood op slag and drags his corpse round the walls behind his chariot.

Okay, to get back to recent history then: I feast on this barbeque peacock with certain unchristians of the art world, and you wouldn’t believe it, it is an insurance premium just in time. One chilly night soon thereafter I am cosily asleep with my cosy missus in our cosy double bed at 02.45 hrs in our old tin house, when somebody blasts off at us close range with an SADF R4 assault rifle; I get my foot on her bum and hoof her out on that side while I bale out on this, we crouch across to the only brick wall in our house, the facade, wood splinters fill the air, all shots miss by a mile. A vehicle spins wheels, police arrive, blue lights flash down the street. Junior cops find this merry sport, all Liberals should be murdered. They giggle. Murder-and-Robbery top cops are enraged, this is not going to happen on their beat. The press arrives, everybody is talking at the same time … There’s a lull of exhaustion, and there stands a cripple old milkman with his cart such as they had in those days. Are you looking for the green Combi? says he; it went that way. He has number plate stuff written down with his pencil in his delivery book. All is abuzz. People rush off in every direction with news, nobody’s taken a statement from the milkman.

But it’s dead easy from now on. A week or so later Murder-and-Robbery Cape pick up the Combi heading for Cape Town in the early hours, but they don’t stop it and arrest all occupants hey? They follow at a discreet distance, one car taking over from another every km or so along the deserted road, just to see what happens next. Until eventually they’re right into flatland and there on the roadside stands ... stands ... a cripple old milkman with his cart. The Combi stops nearby and an ou with a military assault rifle leaps out and blasts off at the home of Colin Eglin, MP of the Democratic Party, missing everything by a mile. M&R Cape slaan toe, bust the lot, and the rest is history. The main ou gets seven years, his lads something less, but that’s not the interesting part of the story.

Interesting is that the milkman had disappeared entirely. M&R visited the Cloverlands Dairy office in Durban where Staff Management said No, they had no branch in Cape Town, they stopped door-to-door delivery of milk more than a year ago and no, they would never have employed a cripple old milkman for such strenuous work.

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