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Things to do in Grahamstown when you’re dead

by Bartlett / 28.06.2013

Things to do in Grahamstown when you’re dead. And by dead I mean spiritually. Or emotionally. Not literally. Nothing is meant to be taken literally in this place. It’s all metaphorical, allegorical. And by this place I mean the National Arts Festival. “Ten Days of Amazing” as Tony Lankaster and his Ireland Davenport advertising fiends would have you believe. Ten Days of Amazing-ly poes cold weather, more like. Ten Days of Amazing Patience Required To Deal With All These Fucking Car Guards. Ten days. A lifetime.

94 years and 300-something days and counting… now that’s a lifetime. 27 years of which were spent shoveling limes. Or was it limestone? Who knows what he really did on that island. Long Walk to Freedom was a long-ass book to read. Too long. I’ll wait for the Tarantino biopic to get my facts straight… “that’s a kaffir on a horse! Het nooit gesien nie ‘n kaffir on a horse!”

I wish Madiba would just die already. There, I said it. Fuck me if we aren’t all thinking it already. Give the homey some everlasting peace. Enough of this ‘the story being the story’ bullshit. Media vultures circling over his hospital bed, ready to hit ‘send’ on their pre-ordained tribute pieces, filling their time and ours in the interim with dead-time puff pieces about how the world is watching and waiting. No, you’re watching and waiting, dickheads. I’m getting on with my life. Madiba died so that we may live. Hang on, that was Jesus. Close enough. And Madiba ain’t dead yet. Not when I last checked. So don’t go quoting me as an unconfirmed source now, DSTV.

I sat watch over my gramps when he kicked. It was tragic. A John Donne poem in all its 90s glory. Death be not proud. I was feeding him Coca-Cola through a straw, which he still believed was laced with brandy. The pupils of his eyes were snow white as he lent up from his pillow, craning for the straw.

Are you OK, grandpa? Do you need some more Coke?
…I…I… need a pooh.

And with that, he died. Infamous last words. My family and I are forever stuck in the ‘anal phase’, so bum, pooh, wee and fart jokes are always a winner. Pull my finger is a directive not to be ignored. So ja, Gramps got a good last one in and perhaps there is some dignity to be found in that.

Not here though. Not in the festival media office, where I sit, fly-on-the-wall, listening to the vultures talking about how they’ll have to “walk out of a play” and “drop everything” when Nelson Mandela dies. How it’s such a shame, how he’s such an icon. This death-obsessed depravity makes me sick. Tweet someone who cares. You won’t even need all 150 characters.

Madiba is gone from this world. He was one helluva guy. May he rest in peace. Viva Mzansi, viva!

Sorry about that diatribe, I just came in here to type to keep my fingers warm. And then I got annoyed and distracted. So ja, cool shit going down at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Or…

Things to Do in Grahamstown when you’re dead.


1) Watch CHAMP. It’s fucken awesome. Fucking amazeballs. Fokken mind-blowing, ek se. They say “fuck” so many times it’s literally a fuck-fest. Not literally, I warned you about that. Written by Louis Viljoen, who’s got this mad stutter in real life (whatever real life is), it’s obviously some God-given hi-jinx going down there. Like the HNIC was all like, look, dude, I’m gonna give you this kak stutter to deal with throughout your life – but your writing is gonna smoke the pages. You’ll win a 2012 Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best New South African Script and bitches, they’ll be trippin. The show stars Pierre Malherbe (from the TV ad with that hot model who loses out on the adoration of her male pervs to the tannie who owns a Spur), Mark Elderkin (great actor-slash-model), and Oliver Booth (a stand-up comedian with a cult following and a very bright future). CHAMP is about 3 wannabe actors that get to dress up in bear suits and entertain the devil’s spawn at a local mall. It’s degrading for them to deal with, genius for the rest of us to watch.


2) Eat at Gino’s Restaurant in Hill Street. They make pizzas that’ll give you a cardiac arrest. Literally. Kenny, the owner, just died. Official cause of death: his organs collapsed. Unofficial nudge-nudge wink-wink lowdown: he chowed down on one too many of his own cheese fiestas. This is Eastern Cape decadence at its most beautifully indulgent. So much cheese on your pizza you’ll have nightmares while you shiver in your sleep. It’s a must. RIP Kenny Zacharrelli.

Mountain Drive

3) Get high on Mountain Drive. Find a local who knows how to get you there or hook your last left past the caravan park and Settler’s Dame before you hit the N2, and explore away. You’re looking for the rondawel with a view over Frontier Country, with history etched into the landscape. A time when wars were fought between men with guns and men with spears. Now is not that time. Now is the time to sluk down on a bottle of old brown sherry and bust a fat reefer. The Grahamstown night will come alive when you are good and goofed.

Pants on Fire

4) Check out some late night comedy. Kurt Schoonraad is hosting ‘Jou Ma se Comedy Club’ and Rob van Vuuren and Martin Evans are hosting ‘Pants on Fire’, each with their own smorgasbord of schlebs. It’s a little-known fact that prior to being a comedian, Kurt made a living printing fong kong Ts. Now he has a house in Obs with a bond that he’s paying off himself, and he’s even made his own movie. If that’s not a rags-to-riches tale of an amazing Cape Coloured , then I’m not a well-endowed black man. Prior to Rob van Vuuren being a name in his own right, he was Twakkie. He was also shorter, if that is possible. He has always been the most talented actor of his generation. He’s not paying off a bond though. Again, some God hi-jinx at work methinks. I miss Twakkie so much. Good paying corporate gigs can’t bring you back from the grave. RIP Twakkie.

That’s four things to do in Grahamstown when you’re dead. Or waiting for someone important to die. This was my day one of Ten Days of Amazing. Damn straight.

Till the next salvo, peace be with you, Bartlett.
P.S. I’m getting paid by the word for this shit, so here’s that John Donne poem I referenced:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

*Check the full Grahamstown National Arts Festival Program here.

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