Christmas, worse than a bad hair day

2011-12-22 00:00

SOMEONE who recently moved down to the Cape from Gauteng told me, in all seriousness, that the chief reason he had to leave Jo’burg was “because there wasn’t anybody left”.

“It has become a ghost town,” he said.

“All my friends in the Transvaal have either emigrated­ to Australia, or have been murdered, or are on holiday in Kleinmond. The place is empty, especially this time of the year. Go up north tomorrow, and all you will find are the people still working on the half-finished Gautrain line, some unemployed folk hanging around at the traffic lights, and stray dogs abandoned by their owners.”

I believe him. Although I haven’t been to Gauteng lately, I have had the misfortune of travelling past Kleinmond recently and I tell you, there were Vaalies everywhere I looked. And not just in Kleinmond, but everywhere in the Western Cape. It’s like a pandemic.

I’m warning you, my fellow Capetonians: this is no time to venture forth on any of our normally tranquil highways. These weirdos are all over the place in their GP 4x4s, teddy bears dangling from the windows, towing boats and caravans, bicycles parked on their roof-racks, children waving from the back seats barely visible­ behind plug-on Garfields and bags of Christmas shopping.

They are impatient and pinkly sunburnt and they dress funny. (One lucky thing, though — they don’t drive quite as fast as they usually do in their own province. That is because, most of the time, they are lost.)

Although I recall, with horror, that this terrifying annual influx of stressed-out and frantic holiday-makers into our peaceful beach villages from previous years seems to be worse this year than ever before.

One would have thought that the recession might have persuaded the average Gautenger to stay put in Boksburg or Mellville or wherever they have their lairs, and spend a peaceful Christmas Eve beneath the fake mistletoe, but no sir. They are in Cape Town.

They have arrived in droves. They want to suntan. They want to boogie board. They want to hang-glide, surf, swim, eat ice-cream cones, do all the things that we civilised okes living in the Cape take for granted right through the year.

Although I have often promised myself never to go near any mall during the last part of December, something often happens to force me into those overcrowded places of exposed flesh, body odours, white noise and sheer hell. This year has been no exception.

Even though I had bought all my presents back in October, even though I had stocked up on sticky tape and wrapping paper and frozen turkey and anything I might need for this time of the year, this morning my hair-clipping machine failed on me right in the middle of a haircut.

You see, I often cut my own hair at home to save money and because it’s easy — my hairstyle is virtually non-existent. I simply shave everything off and that’s it. (I call this my Bruce Willis look.)

“You look funny,” my daughter remarked tactlessly. “There’s a triangle of hair at the back of your head.” In great wrath, I replied: “It’s not my bloody fault. I did everything right.”

Losing my temper at a nine-year-old was my first act of domestic violence so far this season. It might not be my last.

I made my second mistake soon afterwards when, foolishly, I sped off to my local barber in a desperate attempt to rectify my spectacularly failed attempt at cutting my own hair.

My local barber is a low-budget facility just for men, and going there is usually one of the few little mellow pleasures of urban life. Usually, you can read the paper­ while you wait five minutes or so before being ushered into your seat by the mirror by a friendly and attractive hairdresser. A pleasant half-an-hour of small talk later, you pay and you leave, usually feeling refreshed and somewhat lighter.

No such pleasant experiences awaited me this morning. I opened the door of the barbershop only to be confronted by the hideous sight of about 50 mothers­ in typical Gauteng garb (colour-co-ordinated handbags and sweatpants) with screaming and squirming toddlers. They had all decided that klein Jannie must get his haircut on exactly the same day that I was having my worst hair emergency ever. The horror … the horror.

After enduring an agonisingly long wait in the queue at Clicks, where I managed to pick up a new hair-clipping machine for only slightly more than the price of a trim, I am finally back home, traumatised but well groomed.

And home is where I plan to stay for the remainder of the festive season. I have barricaded myself in behind a defensive wall of fake mistletoe, chilled champagne­, and healthy, old-fashioned Capetonian xenophobia.

So ... tsjheers.

— News

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