Monday, August 1, 2011

A Famous Grouse: July 9

As submitted to Weekend Argus. On a rather pleasant note, it should be recorded that the Hips did rather well at the Radium on the night in question, and management have asked us back. October 15, I think, is the date. -- AD

TO Johannesburg where I am to perform this evening at one of the city’s more historic beer halls with The Hip Replacements, the cult rock band whose members, all of advanced years, have turned the amps all the way to 11 and, as a result, won’t be going gently into that good night.

But enough of my glamorous rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, and onto more pressing matters.

It occurs to me, in the back of the bullet-proof stretch limo hurtling along another of Jozi’s rutted roads, that the Formula One people were perhaps possessed of some uncommon good sense in considering Cape Town as the possible venue for a South African grand prix and not this place.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Johannesburg. It’s a dynamic, wonderful city and it doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

And that may well explain the howls of laughter on Thursday when the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, suggested during her opening address at Education Week 2011 at the Sandton Convention Centre that five times seven is 45. She was stressing the importance of fundamental disciplines in education. Or something.

Shame. But moving on. Johannesburg would probably never entertain the notion of an F1 event with damn fool millionaire playboys in high-octane rockets hurtling through its streets. Naturally, the usual jokes about stolen tyres and hijackings would apply were that the case, as well as some unkind remarks about the guys from the local chop shops showing the so-called professionals a thing or two with the pit stops.

But it won’t happen. That stuff is too girl’s blouse and limp-wristed for these guys. Not nearly enough explosions and death involved.

To be fair, though, Jo’burg could very well host a rally. Paris-Dakar is an obvious example, and they could do the whole thing within its municipal boundaries with the Senegal leg in Hillbrow and Berea alone. Think Mad Max meets District 9, and the television networks would be at each others’ throats for the rights to broadcast that one. Advertisers, too, because we have a world-wide audience here of, I don’t know, zillions, if not even lots more.

Personally, I have very little interest in motor racing. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not even a proper sport, lacking as it does the requirements to pass muster in this regard: two teams and a ball. I may of course be speaking for myself but it is for these reasons that women’s professional beach volleyball is a far more entertaining prospect that, let’s say, silly people on bicycles.

However, I am willing to accept that are many Capetonians who consider themselves grand prix fans. Bizarrely, their enjoyment of these spectacles is often enhanced with the consumption of beer.

Government, of course, is aware of this and, typical of those with the personality disorder that compels them to bother and interfere with other people, wants us to stop and there is talk once again of banning alcohol advertising.

It was this aspect of the striking artist’s impression of “a Monaco-style grand prix” roaring through Green Point that appeared on the front page of Wednesday’s Cape Argus that impressed us at the Mahogany Ridge. There were absolutely no alcohol billboards in the picture.

True, there were other elements missing from the picture. People, mainly. And hawkers. Which is just plain weird. Why would anyone pass on the opportunity of selling sebastian Vettel or Jenson Button a pink chicken made out of plastic bags or a wire shark? It would be like a grand bazaar down there on Beach Rd -- a mere R20 would get those attractive durable coat hangers for the entire Ferrari logistics team.

Actually, it could well be that there were no advertising billboards in that artist’s impression simply because by the time Cape Town did host a grand prix -- September 2013 was bandied about as an “optimistic” possibility, according to the Argus report -- it will be illegal to advertise anything except the odd pronouncement by Jimmy Manyi, the government mouthpiece.

Seriously. These are extremely weird times and political correctness has run amok. Everything is bad and can harm us. Nothing is good, and for advertisers to urge others to think otherwise these days is criminally irresponsible and possibly a gross violation of someone’s human riots.

Even romance novels should come with health warnings, according to a recent report in a British academic journal, because they can “dangerously unbalance” their readers. As a result, according to the busybodies, the Mills & Boon-type potboilers can be blamed for unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancies, unrealistic sexual expectations and relationship breakdowns.

And all along we thought rock ‘n’ roll was to blame.

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