This is the unedited column I submitted to the Weekend Argus for Saturday, November 13. Due to some or other problem with templates, it had to be drastically cut, and in the process 150 words or so were lost. I'm going to be posting some of my WA columns ("A Famous Grouse") for the benefit of those who can't get the newspaper. -- AD
DEAR venerable and perhaps aged tycoon-type men in Asia. Greetings from a small fishing village at the bottom of Africa.
I trust that you are all well and in rude health, particularly in the pants department, because frankly we’re fast running out of rhino here trying to keep up with your keeping up demands, if you know what I mean, and I rather suspect that you do.
Now, it is not my place to question customs and traditional beliefs. We have the ubuntu here, you know, and we have been taught to look the other way in a respectful manner when confronted with unacceptable behaviour. Nevertheless, I’ve never understood how you could kickstart the mojo by ingesting keratin -- because that’s all rhino horn is, made from the same stuff as our hair and nails.
And forgive me for asking, but how do you take it? Is the horn ground into powder and smoked? Sprinkled on the noodles with the pepper and chilli? Or do you just snort it off some bored woman’s mams? Once you’ve finished the sushi, that is? You may be pleased to note that this particular aspect of oriental culture is now all the rage with the elite and one can hardly move at the better sort of social gatherings for all the models lying around with sashimi poking out of their underwear.
But back to the horny business. Who got the stuff that was stolen from one of our museums in 2008? You may not have read about this, but it was disturbing news here. Thieves made off with the horns of two rhino that were stuffed way back in the 19th century. The thing is, those horns, as was the practice with taxidermy back then, were steeped in arsenic and DDT to prevent insect infestation. Take that, and you may just have the wrong sort of stiff on your hands.
Which brings me to a point. Please, we’re desperate about keeping our rhino. The few that we have left. Given the rate that you guys are killing them -- and it is you lot, not some raggedy-arsed poachers, who’re ultimately to blame here -- it won’t be long before the only place we’ll see rhino is on a ten rand note. Which is sad, really, considering that a ten rand note is only worth R4.50 these days.
However, we understand your needs, we really do. What is the point of being an impotent potentate? How humiliating that must be. And, whether placebo effect or not, who are we to doubt that the consumption of animal parts refreshes those parts that Viagra can only dream of reaching? So, I’d like to suggest a compromise.
Did you know that like their beaks are made primarily of a calcium compound -- very much like nails? Five will get you ten that the beak of a rock pigeon is just as good a muti as rhino horn. And unlike rhino, there is no shortage of rock pigeon here.
Take my place, for example. My garden is cluttered with the vermin. The pepper tree is so full of them, it’s a wonder the branches don’t break. They freak out my dog, Bob. He’s a Lavender Hill special, and trust me, he doesn’t need freaking out. But the pigeons splash about in his drinking water and eat his crunchy chicken-flavoured pellets, and it drives him nuts and he lunges away at them in fits and bursts.
They make me pretty mad, too, the way they drop their guts on everything. Friends visit, and next thing their cars are streaked in bird stuff. In fact, the pigeons are so cavalier in this regard, that I worry they may be a bad influence on Bob, who has the toilet manners of a cat, and is very particular about where he does his business. His middle name could be Fastidious, but not really, because he only has the one name.
Bob has, on the odd occasion, caught a pigeon. The mess of feathers and soggy bits afterwards was not pleasant, but the experience gave Bob a certain spring in his step, a cockiness, if you will, that made me think of you guys. You too could proudly strut about and do the houri if you had a bit of beak in you.
It’s just a thought, but let me know either way. Yours, etc.