Chris Roper

Ways of lying

2009-05-20 13:12

Chris Roper

So Gordon Brown is going to dismantle the "gentlemen's club" of Parliament (his words), averring that it "can no longer operate as a 19th-century institution where the members make up the rules, and operate them among themselves".

I don't know... what's the point of being a politician if you aren't allowed a little honest thieving? I mean, really, has it come to this - where the people who elected you to power actually have a say in how you spend their money?

Still, that's in the beknighted (sic) island kingdom of Britain. Here, we still have a long way to go before our politicians have to resign over a silly little thing like expenses claims.

My word, our Travelgate MPs must be giggling to themselves around the gravy trough. Especially ones like travel voucher fraudster Craig Morkel, who I believe is still an ANC MP.

Having said that, it is good to see that our MPs have way fewer privileges than British ones.

For example, they only get R25 000 reimbursement for airport parking, and their 86 free domestic flights a year have to be on economy class. A frugal bunch indeed. Well, except for the ones who get caught, obviously.

Amusing reactions

I was intrigued by a headline from, claiming "Magazines interact with readers".

Turned out it wasn't about magazines that chat you up in a coffee shop, buy you a cappuccino and then take you home for the afternoon, but instead a boring account of the usual half-assed Web 2.0 meets mobile marketing campaign that desperate agencies believe will create new clients. Something about using the new-fangled technology of photography to send MMS pics as competition entries.

I was about to write a scathing critique of people who write crap headlines about non-stories, when I noticed the comment that had been left under the story.

One Julian writes, despairingly, "Clever - But now we can't guarantee that readers' snapshots will ever get to their intended destination, can we? After the Idols debacle, how many people will enter R2.00 per entry SMS competitions anymore?"

Ha ha! Julian, people can't even remember Idols a week later, never mind any so-called debacle. Nobody has a memory for that stuff, relax. It's always highly amusing when people react to minor hiccups as if they're major tragedies, and it's also very, very South African.

One week, we're lamenting the fact that our new president is going to be a man who's under a cloud because of previous corruption allegations, the next we're totally in love with the all-new dancin' Zuma. Look at him go! That's a mover and shaker.

But perhaps this is our way of being in our world, where we're up one day, down the next, and where we find it highly amusing that someone like Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele has returned his Mercedes Benz gift, but nothing else.

Or, in the words of Informed Source Roger, who mailed me with the following semi-lucid information:

    "Okay Sbu gives car back, not because he realises it's a conflict of interests but because he wants to 'avoid the hassle'. Okay that's messed up, but what everyone is missing is the fact that he wasn't only given a car, he was given a whole lot of cattle as well (according to the Mercury on the day it happened, they reported it as a nice gesture). He has not given the cattle back. It seems that he's only given the car back because it's what everyone noticed. Anyway draw your own conclusions."

I could draw my own conclusions, but why bother when I have readers who can do that for me in the comments section. Instead, I'll turn to the end of Kevin Bloom's recent book, Ways of Staying, for inspiration.

Looking to the future

It's a great book, a soberly realistic account of the crap bits of living in South Africa, from xenophobia to crime to the impossibility of getting your Alfa serviced.

I urge you to buy it; it'll give you some valuable insight into the ways South Africans deal with their world. Or our world, which is really the point.

He looks to the future, and writes of a time when "maybe... we will have new means of embracing the world, new limbs in place of the figurative ones we have lost - just from being here, just because these are our ways of staying."

It does seem that we evolve to meet the challenges that life in SA throws at us, mainly because we don't have much choice half the time. Man, it's a laugh. Even for the corrupt and the criminal, alas, but I guess even politicians need a laugh every now and then.

Chris Roper blogs on Join my Facebook group, or follow me on Twitter @@ChrisRoperZA.

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