Uber Tales 26

Uber Clarity in Clarens

The shadows fall where they should. The mountains, stark, carve the clear blue sky as only bleak, brown, half-burnt, wintery mountains can: “Here wind, take some dust off my topsoil; here water take some of my rock; here fire burn my sides, but next year as you blink, I’ll stand here still.”

So, the blank page stares back at my blank mind again. Once more, who will blink first? The smokes smoked, the words unwritten? I now have an official muse, Jax. I phone her for inspiration: Voicemail. She is playing squash and that idea is quashed and not squashed, as so many people seem to think it is. “I just had my speeding fine squashed by my friend who is a prosecutor,” they used to tell me in the days when these matters still weren’t dealt with ‘lunch money’ on the streets.

Turning favours for friends is not new here or elsewhere and neither are small or big bribes to get out of tight spots, but when your friends park illegally on the whole country and speed off with billions in illegal money and buy you a plot in Dubai, I think one should draw a line. I really do.

I sit at what seems to be an unoccupied house on Bowling Ave, Gallo Manor. A man in his forties was shot in a ‘suspected hijacking’ not far from here today. Bowling Ave used to be a good pickup point, but as Yogi Bear once said: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” The dead man’s future is no more and the market is overtraded with the entry and rapid expansion of Taxify. My earlier successful strategy of sitting under shady trees in leafy suburbs no longer seems to work. Taxify sends you the nearest driver, no matter what your or his rating is. It looks like this:

I have to rethink all of this and more. I need to get out of it in order to get back into it, I tell myself. He agrees. Jax and I go to Clarens. That’s far out. It’s a bustling little tourist town on any weekend, but on Youth Day it makes me feel old with all the hustle. It looks like Taxify on a bad day. Having been out of a relationship for so long and now being in one also need consideration.

I do an experiment. I drive ‘out’ on Beyers Naude first thing in the morning instead of ‘in’ towards Rosebank Gautrain. My reasoning is that driving out while everybody else is going in, I’m sure to get a paid-for trip back in, or better still, a paid-for trip further out.

My experiment works. Instead of doing those pesky 2.5km trips around Rosebank, where one is no longer even assured of getting two of the peskies in an hour these days, I work the outskirts.

In the outskirts, I get strange requests such as transporting a Weber braai; an electricity recharge voucher (which I first have to buy); a flower arrangement; cakes of various shapes and sizes; a six-pack of beers; industrial floor insulation or something that looks like it; a small scuffed box; a book by an unknown author; a used envelope with seemingly nothing inside and what have you else.

Those are my favourite trips.

I don’t have to talk to the objects while smoking in my car and I can have fun imaging why somebody would pay R174 to have a plain white, frequently fingered, envelope transported across town in an Uber? It is stapled closed, not for the first time… Holding it up against the stark winter light from a shady spot, reveals no contents, neither does it bear a name or address. “Shady shit,” I say to myself. I hand it in at a smart hotel in Sandton and get out.

I do do pickups in Sandton CBD these days again. Taxify is forcing my hand, but since the roadworks are mostly complete, the traffic is not so bad. I still do not hang around in Sandton, but I remain online in there while I drive out to Rosebank. Trips are hard to come by once you’re ‘in’.

My muse, Jax, says I should write to get in. She doesn’t say it in so many words, but she puts it out there. I sigh and light a smoke to blow against the blank screen. Zuma must out.

This morning I drive out and get a trip to Keyes Ave. This is almost ‘in’ Rosebank Gautrain. Should I drive in or out? I drive out and get another trip to Keyes Ave. I still find my knack for scoring those little ‘doubles’ uncanny, but the same question remains: In or out? I drive out again and get a trip to Rosebank Gautrain. I wonder if it’s a sign? I shake my head violently to expel the superstitious nonsense.

The signs are there for all to see: The world is fixing for a fight. The ‘Black Hand’ that killed the stupid Franz Ferdinand is called ‘terrorism’ now. Now, before you get your tits or whatever else in a knot, just go and read your history, stupid. Yes, history tells its own story of weak leaders needing a good fight to prove that they can ‘lead’ the world out of recession or depression into something worse. We’ve got plenty of weak and ignorant ‘leaders’ wanting that same thing right now. They must all be forced out. But enough of all the in and out stuff.

I think of these and other things as I sit on the back stoep of the Ko-operasie in Clarens of which I can heartily recommend the traditional dish of ‘skilpadjies’ (lamb liver in netvet). I see the shadows fall across the mountains carving into the clear blue skies, the yellow poplars reaching up into the same and it all becomes clear to me. “Clarity in Clarens,” I tell Jax. “You should write about it,” says my muse. “Yes,” I say, “It has become clear to me that I should be where I am, no matter where it is.” I lean over and kiss her.



June 22nd


Uber Tales (24)

An Uber Love

I stop on a quiet street, a cul-de-sac, but as soon as I touch it they come: One child having lonely fun; two tarts teasing along; three boys chasing a bee; four fat maidens farting a song; five fierce females fixing for a fight; six silly shepherds selling sheep; seven Sicilians looking lost; a car guard; eight girls running as if they’re late; nine nannies pushing prams and ten tannies to boot. I kid you not, sirs and mams. As soon as I touch my dick to have a piss on that quiet cul-de-sac, they all come. They all come to see me pee. I swear.

I suspect I’m feeling like our beloved president. I can’t do anything in contravention of even a city bylaw or somebody is likely to see that shit. It is a good thing, but still I need an honest piss at some stage and now more frequently with age and cold. I’m waiting for you and the hold cannot hold. I take it out and there you are.

So far I’ve just taken the piss to break my blogger’s block.

Jax, in her newfound role as my muse, says I should write from the heart about what love means to me. I go and have a glass of wine with Bert to discuss the matter. We drink several glasses and I say something profound about love. Bert says I should write it down lest I forget it. We drink more wine and I forget. Now I regret.


Love then. It comes suddenly. It turns a five-year friendship into something more, a light touch into an expression of itself, a look into light, light into laugh. Yes, love indeed changes everything. It changes you and I into us. This time is no different, yet it is completely different. It smacks of being the real thing. No whitewater rush, rather a river that flows where it knows it must, calm and clear, now and here.

I pick up a French couple in Melville and they buy me lunch at Wandie’s Place in Soweto where the food is good. I ask them about love. Claude has been married six times and Joelle never. They’re not married. They’re both retired and they ‘only do the good things’ together. They don’t even live together. They’re clearly fond of each other. Is that the love that endures? Each to his or her own and only the good things together? I don’t think so. I’m vaguely disappointed.

Claude asks me if I ever pick up interesting characters. I say no, I only pick up business people, busy with their things on their phones. Claude tells me he has beaten cancer of the worst kind by signing all indemnities for experimental cancer treatment and refusing all removals of organs affected. He says: “I told them: ‘I want to be able to stand up and piss. I want to eat and I want to fuck. If you remove anything preventing that, I’m not interested.”

I see some couples together for a long time are often at each other’s throats, yet, they endure. Is that love? I see others seemly resigned to the fact of their togetherness like a cul-de-sac they can never leave. I see those who are seemingly happy and the next week they leave each other.

I struggle with this because I’m not in love. I love. It is as strange and sweet as a new river flowing through a city street and opening life’s cul-de-sacs and a bridge over all of that. I love you Jax. And it is astonishing. I do not begin sentences with an ‘And’, but for  you I do. For now.







June 8th



The black doctor of a white accountant who fucked up his knuckles and his coloured lawyer’s jaw or vice versa. I mean the coloured lawyer could’ve been the doctor’s patient, either with a sore hand or jaw, told me the other day that Zuma is a goner.

Work on your writing, Jax says. Easier said than done, I think, but here I am saying the Singing, Dancing, Stealing, Laughing, Fucking #1 is a goner (again), repeating what the black doctor told me about what happened when the accountant the coloured lawyer and what they all agreed upon when the Indian nurse poured oil, spirits and libations on the troubled waters and peace returned to the land, if not immediately to the hurt hand of whoever struck the blow or who received it on the jaw. I have to concentrate on my driving and couldn’t give the story, however compelling, my full attention.

They all agreed on just one thing: Surely this time the centre cannot hold as new fronts open against the SDSLF#1 and his band of palookas every single day? We all know that this is Zuma’s endgame, but forget about his stranglehold on the ANC (don’t forget that he is in fact strangling that organisation to death) and look at the ‘army’ he has at his disposal and who is arrayed against him as we go into the final round.

If ever a man has decided to march into a last battle that may well see him ending up spending his last days in jail if he loses, Zuma could not have chosen a worse set of ‘generals’ if he tried. Foremost among these is ANCWL leader Bathebile “I’m not drunk and manyana skeletons” Dlamini. Need I say more? Yes, I’ll add Sassa and social grants and the picture of rank criminal incompetence is complete. I would not share a luxury hotel with her and to have her in the same ‘trench’ as I in my last battle, would scare the shit out of me.

Then there’s Colin ‘Oros’ Maine, the middle-aged ‘youth’ ‘leader’. I can see I’m going to run out of inverted commas long before this piece is done. These people are usually the very antithesis of what their nomenclature describes them as. I mean Oros as ‘leader’ or ‘youth’? Oh, come on, be serious.

The so-called ‘Premier League’ is comprised of the ‘leaders’ of the poorest performing provinces. That already tells you something about their ‘calibre’ as people. If they weren’t such disasters as premiers they would’ve been jokes, but this ain’t funny.

Sorry, I quickly slipped out to go and buy more inverted commas because my work here is not done.

Let’s now look at the ‘spearhead’ of the Save Zuma campaign, his ‘ex’-wife. Could he have chosen a more blunt and dull instrument? Methinks not. Besides who in his or her right mind will vote for more ‘Zuma’? That ‘brand’ stinks to high heaven and with each passing day the smell gets worse and reaches further into Zuma’s heartland as was witnessed by him being booed off stage in ‘Premier’ Ace Magashule’s Free State on Worker’s Day. You gotta love that.

Before I look at the vast army arrayed against Zuma, let me tell you about a not insignificant event that happened on 11 or 12 April. The Daily Sun’s front page was devoted to the launch of the Save SA campaign. The People’s Paper with its deep reach into Zuma’s core rural support base went political and anti-Zuma in one move. Think about it and you’ll see it’s not insignificant.

So who is against Zuma? The cities are. This was amply demonstrated in the ‘racist’ (see what I mean with the inverted commas) marches against the wannabe tyrant. People from all races, religions, ages and social standings took time off to go and show their immense displeasure at that buffoon and his cronies across the country. As I’m writing this Clarens is marching against the wannabe tyrant. Clarens!

The Shembe are! There about three to six million of them depending on whom you ask. Once again a significant number from the rural heartland that Zuma claims to own. Coloured lawyers, black doctors, white accountants, Indian nurses, ordinary workers as in Cosatu and you and I are. Everybody, but his close cronies are. In short, everybody is against the filthy fucktard and his incompetent cohorts fucking up our land.

I can go on about the best and the brightest of the country coming out every day to lambast the bastard, but suffice it to say that the law is against Zuma. The Constitution wants to be rid of him and slowly but surely it will prevail. We should make sure it does.




May 10th


Uber Tales (24)

Uber Joburg

Cloudless blue skies soothe the eyes through trees of green and gold.

Rusty reds and deeper greens compete to complete the scene.


Maroons, marooned in between.

Oh what beauty to behold!

The serene air.

Not hot nor cold.

Now, I know every leaf is mine.

Every day sees you and I under

the falling brown blue sky of leaves and…

I lie.

It sees me alone. Knowing.

Knowing autumn in all its dying.

I live here now.

I live in junk status as I always had.

I live here in the beauty of luxury cars growing short leafy wings.

And my heart sings despite my stolen phone.

PS: I took pictures of all the splendour but they are all on my stolen phone, so I’ll use this stolen one.



May 1st


Uber Tales (23)

Uber Existence

I open a new blank page. The road opens up. I open a beer. I roll into the Free State where the hills roll on forever or at least as far as I can see. It’s still a bit flat here, but I know where I’m going. I think, but I’m not there yet. I have to write, but I have nothing to say.

For now I can just see what I see. I sit in Clarens and this is what I see: Happy couples laughing; men straining at the leash to enter a bar and just sit there and stare, like me; women dragging them into the next arty or crafty shop; fat men driving fatter 4x4s; friends drinking; children playing; rich cars parking; a Ford Kuga! (I haven’t seen one of those for a while); tired couples; blue skies with cool fleecy clouds; more fat people; ugly people; a mother and daughter whose ankles are begging for genetic modification; a sexy girl alone with the bragging sons of self-made men; a woman who could’ve been attractive but for her slumpy posture; boeps, oh my goodness, boeps, enormous boeps on men and women alike; a war memorial on the village green; the village green; trees of green; mountains, majestic mountains; my waitress … no, I can’t see my waitress; a black man shaking an orange drink; motorcycles seeking to impress noisily; same with some cars quietly cruising by. I see a Saturday in Clarens and I smile.

On Danie’s farm I see a giant oak tree; palmiet waving white against the blue sky; more majestic mountains; a quilt of maize and sunflower fields; surreal sandstone outcrops like Mount Ararat on Danie’s farm. I’m happy. The turtledoves are still calling my friend Mathabo. I breathe in I breathe out. It feels as if it’s for the first time in years. The Laughing, Stealing, Singing, Dancing, Looting, Fucking No 1 may well be fucking up the country, but I’m happy here and now under this giant oak tree with the bees buzzing and a distant sheep bleating. Fat cows are grazing. I see a perfect autumn afternoon in the Free State.

It was a long battle I thought to be here, breathing. Breathing freely. A battle I thought with one hand tied behind my back, it felt. One does not beat poverty easily, trust me. Things are more expensive for those without money. That’s a fact. Now I have money enough to sit under this tree and breathe, but I still have nothing to say. This bothers me in a kind of existential crisis way.

On the stoep of Nuno’s I see Melville still hesitating between the sordid and the splendid as it always does. I stole the essence of that line from some Frenchman writing about Paris. He is called Michel Deon and the novel is Les Gens de la Nuit (The People of the Night). At first I thought I couldn’t remember the author or the book, then I remembered the title and Google did the rest.

Now, hands attached to people of all races race through the air, gesticulating ideas too complex for words alone. I sit alone with no words or ideas to express. My hands are still like my mind.

I see my friends Clive and Laura. They want me to join them, but I don’t like the company they keep. I can be a cunt in that way. Across the street at Hell’s Kitchen a pretty blonde smokes a cigarette. I need a muse, but she’s too skinny, not to mention too young. Hipsters in beards and black glasses stare who knows where from the Hell’s side. This country is going to hell in a hand basket, they say.

There must be a reason I didn’t buy my sister’s illegal handgun and shoot myself in the head. It is not without bitterness that I write this, but if I had it now, I would’ve shifted like Robbie Burns’ cow. Joburg is beautiful in autumn, I realise every day. I roll on.



April 16th


Zupta is bigger than the ANC …

I published this on 9 April 2014. Yes, that was three years ago. The ANC has yet to prove me wrong. This week is a good one to do so.

As my good readers would know by now, I don’t often make forays into political analysis and with good reason. Much of what I would have wanted to say, mostly has been said already by a number of erudite observers and if I don’t have anything new to add, I hold my peace. I’m not here to bore my readers with a regurgitation of commonly known political ‘wisdom’.

However, I ‘ve been hearing the phrase ‘the ANC is bigger than Zuma’ far too often from my black countrymen of late. It beggars believe, but they seem to believe it. Or, at the very least, they sincerely want to believe it. It would allow them to vote for the Singing, Dancing, Lying, Laughing, Stealing, Fucking #1 with a clear conscience against their better instincts.

I have bad news for them. If the ANC was bigger than the SDLLFS#1 they would never have made him president with the more than 700 criminal and corruption charges that were pending against him before he became prez. No they didn’t because those charges were ‘political’. But that was only the beginning of the ANC proving that Zuma was bigger than them.

What ensued was a soiled scandal- and blunder-ridden presidency that stumbled from one crisis into the next, like a drunk man at an accident scene. Nevertheless, when the ANC had the chance of ridding themselves of what by then already had become an obvious liability and outright embarrassment, not only to them, but for the whole country, they didn’t.

Instead they endorsed him overwhelmingly at their 2012 Manguang conference. Go figure. In the meantime, they had sufficient reason to fire him outright. His Merdos Touch (everything he touches turns to shit) is the stuff of legend. From Shabir Shaik and the arms deal to Zuptagate and Nkandla and many stinky places in between, the man seems to be going out of his way to embarrass the ANC. Yet, they’re sticking with their boy. The Zuptas are bigger than the country. GO Zupta, go now.

Why? You may well ask. At best… no there is no ‘at best’. The only conclusion one can make is the ‘at worst’ one. That is, the ANC is inherently and completely as corrupt as their poster boy and they like what he is doing. To say that the ANC is bigger than Zuma is akin to saying Zanu-PF is bigger than Bob Mugabe and I fear that we’re heading that way if we don’t stop the rot this election.

My advice to a young black woman at the Xai last night was that if you can’t vote for anyone then at least vote against Zuma and his corrupt ANC. So put your trifling excuses aside and vote DA. It’s not perfect but it’s the best out there.



April 2nd


Uber Tales (22)

Uber Loops

I wake up and the texture of the light is just right. I don’t set an alarm. I just check out the texture of the light on my wall and get up to that. If it has the texture of molasses I sleep on. If it has the texture of honey I’m losing money. It has to have the texture of thinned milk, a white blueishness. I once set an alarm just to make sure that I didn’t wake up too early, but that didn’t work.

My sleeping cycles should make me healthy, wealthy, happy and wise, they say. Who are they anyway? I don’t know and I don’t really care. My sleeping and waking pattern is just an encapsulation of other loops within loops.

Take the Rosebank Gautrain loop as an example. I park laboriously, reversing into the narrow space between the other car parked too close to the line and the pillar. I hate reversing. It feels so much like going backwards, yet I do an awful lot of it these days. Reversing and doing U-turns are what I do and I put it on record that I don’t like either.

But back to Rosebank. I park in reverse so as to see what is going on in front of me. As soon as I switch off my engine, I get a call. Is it going to be the Fricker Road, Wanderers Office Park or Vox Telecom loop, I wonder? They’re all within about 3km range from the station. It’s Fricker Rd. Or Wanderers. Or Vox Telecom. I call it my holding loop. It keeps me busy when everything else is quiet. Busy is good, they say. Busy is a loop by itself.

It’s easy to get stuck in a loop and conversely difficult to get out of one. If you’re in a loop you have to consciously drive out of it otherwise you can easily do a record-breaking day of 36 minimum fare trips for virtually no real income. That feels like work and I don’t like anything that feels like work. My work doesn’t feel like work most of the time. It just is.

When I pick somebody up in a crappy area, I’m almost sure to drop them off in the same kind or worse. Mostly worse. I have to drive out of the shitty area before getting stuck in a loop of 20-buck minimum fare cash trips. The same goes for the middle-class and rich areas. There, I hang around, but still. Still like a vulture in the blue sky wanting your dead buck.

The ant goes his ways and back to the place he stays. The mount, the mound and all around. Ever busy, ever round is the loop.

Mine is not so much different, but I know my shit. I sit and wait for it every morning. Every morning I wait for a shit. A good shit trumps everything in my business. One does not need the need for a good shit on the road. Is that a political statement? Is there a good Trump that shits everything? One would not know. I know when it’s time to break out of a loop, especially a shitty one. I just go. Shit, no shit, I go. I must.

“What does it mean?” I ask Chuck. He says he’s busy. “Busy with what?” I ask. “Stitching something together,” he says smugly. “What?” “Moments.” “I hope they’re memorable moments?” “Nope, for your hope, just random moments. They call it life.” He flicks his cigarette ash and misses the ashtray by a mile in that annoying way of his. “Ashes to ashes,” he adds as if it means something. I sigh.

“It’s like Teazer’s, a Mobius Strip. You can only see from where you are sitting, but you can’t ever grasp anything beyond the horizon you’ll never see,” he explains. ”I see,” I say and sigh again.

Then it’s another day. The government steals from the people. The shit hits the fan. I wait for a shit



March 20th


Laudibau on Joburg (Guest Blog)

Laura Tensen holds a doctorate in animal genetics and works at the University of Johannesburg. She is a good friend of mine who infrequently writes a blog here: https://lauratensen.wordpress.com/   I republish her latest because it cannot be said enough.

Life as a Joburger

I’m going to tell you a little story about Johannesburg. Partly informative and partly as a warning, cause life ain’t always easy here as a foreigner. I think I’ve lived here long enough to give my honest opinion about this city, and I would like to take this opportunity to make a few things very clear for other visitors. I mainly want to warn people that come to Jozi with certain expectations, when they are crazy enough to visit this city in the first place. Jeh, Africa ain’t for sissies and Joburg definitely ain’t.

Firstly, let’s talk about crime. People love talking about crime in South Africa and Johannesburg has been a specifically hot item. Tourist agencies and travel guides will tell you to avoid Joburg by all means, and rather spend some extra hours on a detour when Joburg is on your path. So I would like to state the following: you will be very, very disappointed when you do dare to visit Johannesburg and expect crime, as it is largely absent. I have lived here for 4 years and have not yet looked death in the eye. To make matters worse: I’ve had zero crime-related encounters thus far, none. No guns, no muggings, no harassments whatsoever. It is actually very likely you will leave this city without any cool stories to tell your friends at home. To illustrate: those many “I was shot in Joburg” T-shirts and posters often refer to photography, as all these people have actually never been shot. It is highly disappointing for some people.

A second issue I would like to warn tourists about: people in Joburg are extremely nice. They tend to have small conversations with strangers, help them out whenever needed, invite them for a drink at their table, or even open their doors to them. The strangest thing is that these Joburgers want nothing more from you than a nice chat, and will leave you alone afterwards. This is unheard of in many European cultures and might take some getting-used to. Joburgers also laugh a lot and make jokes that will make other people laugh. For strangers visiting this city it might be considered uncomfortable, because they are not used to such open and genuine human interactions.

Moreover, people that sympathize with racism and think South Africa is the place to be will be distraught when visiting Joburg. Joburg is actually very mixed and in most places people get along so happily, no matter what race, age or background they represent. It is even okay to be gay or transsexual. Joburg people seem to just like being in the presence of other nice people, no matter how different they are. So please be aware of this.

Another thing I noticed about Joburgers is that they don’t care how you look or what you wear, which might be shocking to foreign visitors. They come all this way from fashionable Europe and no-one even notices their designer dress, which is not always appreciated. Because people don’t really focus on looks in Joburg, they tend to build more character. This can cause conflict, as many fashionable visitors from abroad have never worked on their character. So if you solely depend on your looks, Joburg might not be the place for you. I have also seen disappointed visitors that were told to never wear jeans, bags or jewellery in Joburg because it will attract crime. You will find out that all people in Joburg wear these items without any problems.

Then let’s move on to the aesthetics of Johannesburg. People often picture a large, dark city with high buildings and dirty streets. So if this is your thing, I’m gonna have to disappoint once more. Only few parts of Joburg are dark and dirty, and the part of the city that has high buildings is only very small. In fact, most of Joburg is hidden amongst trees, only has one-store buildings, and many parks and dams. Highly disappointing.

Even the traffic is different in this bad-ass city. Traffic rules do exist but are not considered to be there for our own safety. Traffic lights, referred to as robots, cheer up the streets in the same way as Christmas lights do, but are not to be taken too seriously. The same goes for indicator lights on cars. They look nice when flashed, but rarely serve the purpose of showing other drivers what direction one is heading. There are also many stop signs and roundabouts in this city, and they are used in whatever way suits the driver at the moment. When traffic rules are violated you don’t have to worry about police cars too much. Well, not more than usual that is. Because in Joburg, the police is your enemy even when you do nothing wrong. They always find something to fine you for, so you might as well give them some value for your money. I have occasionally created life threatening situations in traffic just to avoid an encounter with the police in a road-block further down the road. Pretty bad-ass.

Another thing I want to address about Joburg is that the weather is exceptionally nice. I come from the Netherlands where people bitch and moan about the weather all the time, and I felt uneasy with the lack of bad weather in Jozi when I moved here. I had nothing left to moan about. It’s never too hot and rarely too cold, and it’s sunny most of the time. Very annoying. To make matters worse: when it does storm it storms so bad that there is literally no time to complain about the weather. When roads are flooding, roofs are falling and bridges are collapsing, you just focus on making it home alive. And the next day it’s sunny and 30 degrees again, which makes it so inappropriate to moan about the weather the day before.

The last good advice I want to give to my fellow Joburg visitors is that there is no need to spend too much money here. People are often advised to only book the fanciest hotels, to only dine in restaurants with ultimate security, and to never walk around but rather stay in bullet-proof taxis. It’s not that fancy hotels aren’t nice, but so are cute guest houses of which we have many. And we have many lovely restaurants that sell the finest food for little money. And they even have outside tables, right on the street, surrounded by plants. Because Joburg has many nice plants. And although taxis are nice to get around with, you can even walk in Joburg; in fact we do it all the time! And we have bicycle lanes, and people actually cycle around too! And we have city parks where you can picnic without bringing armed protection. And there is a lot of street art too. There are even walls with the most stunning graffiti without a single drug dealer around. We also have many events with live music, food markets and performances with a zero-terrorism record.

So my conclusion: Joburg is pretty bad-ass and it takes some getting-used to, but once you do it’s a pretty damn good city.




January 30th


Uber Tales (21)

Uber Principles

They shuffle, sweat and bulge by, they call it jogging, the New Year’s Resolutions. I sit under my tree and stare at them or nothing. My New Year’s resolution is to sit and stare less and write more. The universe applauds action, not thoughts I was once told in one of those self-improvement courses that H sent me on. Is writing action? Is the universe a sentient being with a zillion little hands it can clap every time I open my laptop and start writing a sentence?

The problem with writing in the car, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is that it’s difficult to maintain a train of thought when the universe applauds by giving you a call just as soon as you begin the action of writing. It is downright dangerous to write in the sense that I tend to continue writing in my head while driving instead of focusing all my faculties on the road.

Safety is, as it should be, my primary priority and thus I have developed certain principles according to which I don’t drive. The obvious one is DDD (Don’t Drive Drunk). Nobody argues with that. DDT (Don’t Drive Tired) also almost goes without saying, yet there are times when I have to argue with Chuck about quitting the day R250 short of target. What constitutes ‘legitimate tiredness’ and what is simple laziness? I consider switching the wipers on instead of the indicator as a sign of legitimate tiredness. Turning left when Jessica says ‘turn right’ towards the end of the day is another. Legitimate tiredness normally sets in as soon as I’ve reached my daily target or when I’ve covered 250km or so.

After my break, I discovered a different kind of tiredness of which I’m not convinced of the legitimacy. It consists of Chuck and I telling each other repeatedly: “We can’t afford another setback now. We simply can’t.” My alternator is in the process of packing up. I sigh and Stop on Slopes (the SOS principle?!).

Just keep going…

When I do the wiper thing or the left-right confusion early in the day, it may be a sign of my general directionally challenged being, or a sign of DDH (Don’t Drive Hungry). When I’m hungry I don’t play serendipity dice. I go offline to eat a garage sandwich. Gone are the halcyon days of sit-down lunches in fancy restaurants. My cash flow is as tight as the clothes of the New Year’s Resolutions jogging by. I sigh. I’m trying to gain weight and eat chocolates while I wait on my shady slopes. I sigh again.

There are other principles too, but since they do not directly affect your safety, I’ll just mention them in passing. There is the KIP principle (Keys in Pocket) and the PIP principle (Phone in Pocket). These do affect you indirectly because without them it would be impossible to drive at all and thus have the pleasure of picking you up. There is also the NEOR principle (No Electronics on Roof). The dent on the corner of my computer tells that story eloquently enough.

But back to the writing bit. I have to bite the bullet and write despite it being in contravention of the DDW principle (Don’t Drive Writing) of not driving. The writing in my head mostly jus make me miss a turn-off or two, so forgive me. It could also have been Don’t Drive Worried and there’s nothing I can do about that either.



January 21st


Uber Tales (20)

Uber Thanks

I see the sea stretching before me, blue across the bay to the bluff and beyond while the wind winds it up to a light white break on the near shore. I’m inspired you see, but my pal Al butts in to wipe the table and with it, my inspiration about the blue sky and the misty mountain across the bay. It’s the Outeniqua range as seen from Mossel Bay and that’s all I can tell you now. A Kubla Khan moment. What wonders could I have written from that Xanadu?

At least my table is clean with the exception of one spot, which Al missed and which now bothers me. Should I clean it or should I wait for Al to come back and show it to him?

Now I just sit and stare. My friends, Al and his lovely wife Sal are publicity shy so I can’t thank them in public for affording me the opportunity to just sit here and stare across the bay. I thank them anyway. They’re the salt of the earth and the sea and the blue sky where birds hover and fly. You see I can ill afford not to thank them. They’re so grounded they could afford to take me from my daily grind. The travails of the poor can tax the rich, but Al and Sal can afford it. I could not really afford taking this break, but on a different level, I really couldn’t afford not to take it. I ran the risk of breaking.

A little two-car tourist train runs from the ‘Fork&Train’ restaurant in Mossel Bay to Hartenbos and back. The last car is named ‘Dick’. This is a prime whale watching spot. My first bet is that the other one must be ‘Moby’. It’s ‘Tom’. I sigh. Al tells me that Harry died in a hurry with people getting poorer and the season shorter. Al says, and the man from Hartenbos whom I meet in the smoking section of the Wimpy at the George Airport concurs, it’s now only two weeks long whereas last year it was three.

It’s now time to reflect on years past and contemplate the year ahead, which may well be a watershed. I thus reflect that at the same time in 2015, I had no money and no plan except suicide, if you can call that a plan. I limped into 2016, with a leaky and listing plan and a stealing driver driving my Uber car and me to distraction. At least I have an Uber car now.

Now I have a car and many plans from merchandising to ChuckV TV of which you have witnessed the humble beginnings, but for now I’m content just to sit here and drink a beer and stare. Sometimes I sigh contentedly, sometimes I burp in the same way, but mostly I just sit here and stare across the bay.

Thank you again, Al and Sal for the calm you brought at the end of all the troubled times. Now I can also thank (in no specific order) you: Jan, Vince, Heidi, John, Jax, the other Heidi, George, Eric, Karla, Heste, Danie, Maaaretjie (jy weet wat ek bedoel), Bert, Scotty, Jordaan, Jorrie, Francois, Gerda, Hanny, Kevin, Abby, Sweet Baby Jesus, Jana, the Girl From Korea, the other Jana, Fanie, Harvey, Gallie, Izak, Delme, Laura, Mark S, Mon Ange, Ollie, The Judge, the Girl Who Said So, Luke, Karimba and all the other friends who stood by me in some way or another when setback upon setback set me back and my spirits were low and my bank account lower. Thank you all and those whose names escaped me. I’m still standing because of you.




January 8th

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