Koos Kombuis

A lesson from the Beatles

2016-09-20 13:00

Koos Kombuis

Call it synchronicity, call it what you want, but my 14-year-old daughter got tired of Miley Cyrus and One Direction exactly at the right time.

Towards the end of last year, she had an epiphany. As teenage epiphanies go, this one was quite intense.

She discovered '60s rock ‘n roll.

Right now, she is the only kid in her class who, in the year 2016, whenever we go somewhere in my car, insists on listening to the Beatles. At top volume. With all the windows open.

She wants to share her epiphany with the whole world.

In a way, this is quite nice. At least, having been a teenager during the 1960s, I can relate to her musical tastes. And hell, I’m glad I probably won’t ever have to endure Justin Bieber’s music ever again while stuck with her in rush hour traffic on the way to school.

Lately, though, a sad note has crept into her adoration of the Beatles.

Every morning, she puts on her favourite Beatles album – at the moment, it happens to be “Revolver” – and every morning, it so happens that the song “Eleanor Rigby” starts playing the exact moment we drive through the busiest intersection of the town on our way to her school.

The timing of this never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

There is something heartbreaking about watching dozens of unemployed people lining the streets and begging at stop lights to the accompaniment of Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics.

Ahh look at all the lonely people

Ahh look at all the lonely people…

It is almost as if these moments are God-given.

She can feel it too. Every time that songs starts playing, I see her staring around her, wide-eyed with a sense of awe and mysticification.

Yesterday, she actually dug into the glove compartment and handed out a few coins to an unemployed man through her open window just as the chorus started playing, as usual, at top volume.

Ahh look at all the lonely people

Ahh look at all the lonely people…

This morning, though, after dropping her off to school, I felt that I'd had enough. I took out the CD, determined not to listen to it again on the way back home.

But when I switched on the news, and I soon realised I could not bear to listen to that either - it was even more depressing! - so I put the “Revolver” album back in, and started listening it all by myself. At normal volume, this time, of course, and with the windows closed.

And once again, the music seemed to form a soundtrack to the scenes I witnessed around me.

As I looked left and right and noticed the stern and tense faces of the drivers in the other cars, all on their way to work, everyone of them unhappy and stressed-out – who is NOT stressed-out in the current economic climate? – the first song on the album, which happens to be “Mr Tax Man” came up, with lyrics like

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat

If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat

If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

No matter how I tried, I just could not get away from the realities of living in South Africa at present.

That was when it hit me. Like a slap in the face.

The rage.   

Rage at what is happening in our country right now.

Rage at the thieves plundering our assets at the highest level while the ordinary people suffer and starve.

Rage at the Zumafication of our ruling party.

Rage at the absolutely avoidable prospect of South Africa being reduced to junk status.

I could not help thinking back to a column published by Adriaan Basson on News24 in April this year.

I remembered, in particular one image from that column. The image of “blood on the floor”.

At the time when Adriaan wrote that, Zuma and his cronies had been severely humiliated. It appeared as if the Guptas had left the country for good. Everyone was expecting the president to either step down or be nudged gently out of office by the ruling party as soon as expedient.

There was to be no such luck.

In his column, Adriaan hinted darkly at the more sinister possibility of Zuma NOT leaving voluntarily.

If Zuma and his cronies, he wrote, “decide to dig in their heels and fight it out to the bitter end… there will be blood on the floor and they risk decimating their legacies.”

Decimate their legacies? What do they care? All they want is the money. Nothing else matters to them. We know that now. It is plain to see.

That blood is on the floor right now.

The arrogance of those men, who are prepared to send an entire country and all its citizens to the dogs so that they can make a few bucks, is simply too much to bear. It cannot be comprehended. It is beyond belief.

As the jarring notes of “Mr Tax Man” gave way to the gentle sadness of “Eleanor Rigby”, something started howling inside me like a wounded animal. I felt like doing exactly what my 14-year-old daughter did every morning: to open the windows and listen to those lyrics at top volume. 

Ahh look at all the lonely people

Ahh look at all the lonely people

Ahh look at all the lonely people

Ahh look at all the lonely people…

And so I did exactly that.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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