Too hot, too cold, not enough pubs

2013-10-24 00:00

THE Croc (photographer Khaya Ngwenya) and I end up in Maritzburg. The capital. The seat of provincial government.

I’m not a fan. The capital is not my favourite town. By a long way. There’s no beach. It’s dry. It’s cold at night and scorching in the day.

Maritzburg has an attitude problem. It’s this farming town with airs and graces. Thinks it’s all academic. Important. The CBD goes on lockdown at 5 pm. Everybody vanishes. Nowhere for a decent drink. Mall pubs full of cats with pointy feet. Suburban joints with rugby muppets scrumming in the bar. Not cool.

Maritzburg’s doesn’t have enough parking. Or streets. Too many politicians. Farmers. Bureaucrats. Way too many Babylon.

I lived in Maritzburg for a year. A couple of decades ago. I can’t remember all of it. I was stoned most of the time. I was sleeping the rest of it. I got into a fair amount of trouble with the law. Relatively quickly. It’s a small town. It was even smaller then.

I moonlighted for a knock and drop. The editor was this short cat called Harvey. Harvey’s real name wasn’t Harvey. Harvey came from Ginman Lane. So did the cat who introed us. Dawood Khan. Dawood was a taxi owner. Businesman. Extortionist. Insane gambler. Capo of Maritzburg’s biggest crime family. A heavy cat. But cool at the same time.

Dawood had a sense of humour. Big time. The Babylon wanted to nail Dawood. The Babylon sent this agent to set Dawood up in a cocaine and Mandrax deal. Dawood sees him coming. Dawood gets the Babylon on film doing gear and drooling in the back of one of his gambling clubs. Adds some classic Immorality Act footage. Just to make sure. Flogs the Babylon 10 000 Disprin with the logos rubbed off. Half a kilo of baby powder mixed with Vim. By the time the heavies cut through the gates, the trap money’s in thin air. Dawood beats the rap. Walks on all charges. Even the alternatives of fraud. For peddling bogus narcotics.

Harvey bought a horoscope for the knock and drop. The first edition. In the second, Aries becomes Taurus. Gemini becomes Pisces. Harvey was that kind of cat.

Harvey hustles the advertisers. Pay upfront for six or 12 months and get a big discount. Edition four, Harvey disappears. Things cool off, he’s back to Maritzburg.

Maritzburg’s broke. The comrades running Maritzburg gutted it. Properly. Went berserk with the chequebook. Ran it into the ground. Bloated it and clogged it’s streets with pork-barrel pal projects. The comrades got fired. Sort of. New comrades got sent in to clean up. Sort it out. They didn’t.

The comrades did tear up the streets. Some of the paving didn’t match the city hall. Fair enough. The comrades spent billions on enough fibre-option cable to connect the capital to Katmandu. Twice. Just about in time for it to become obsolete. Nice.

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