STEPPING into the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties the other evening, I was momentarily struck by an upturn in the attractiveness of the damsels frequenting the place. What caused this surge of pulchritude? But then I realised I was looking at the Halloween masks placed all about.
Yes, it's Halloween tomorrow. For a week or so now, the pubs and eateries of Durban have been haunted by witches, ghouls and scary clowns, whose appearance even outdoes neck tattoos and nose piercings in causing horror and revulsion. There are Halloween parties all over the place.
It's all in good fun, of course, but it's a mystery how the celebration of Halloween – All Hallows' Eve or All Saints' Eve – suddenly comes to be celebrated in this way in our parts.
Halloween has of course been a part of the church calendar since mediaeval times, celebrating the departed, including saints (hallows) and martyrs. In America the custom arose of marking it with the scary Jack-o'-lanterns – hollowed pumpkins carved into faces, a candle placed inside – and the "trick or treat" visitations.
But that was America. Here, until fairly recently, Halloween went unnoticed. The same was true of Britain and, one gathers, most of the rest of the world.
Yet now, suddenly, everywhere it's a time of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night.
It's something like the Black Friday shopping phenomenon, that began in America and is suddenly an entrenched tradition everywhere. How do these things spread?
INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener laments in his latest grumpy newsletter the failure of Tito Mboweni to derail the gravy train.
"Yet again an ANC cadre stumbled at the hurdle where he ought to have told the nation that the gravy train was not only to be discontinued but also that the rolling stock will be sold for scrap and any shortfall still outstanding thereafter will be billed to every one of the passengers who have been aboard in the last decade.
"Finance Minister Tito Mboweni (Yes, a previous governor of the Reserve Bank) did make a tentative reference to a need to do something about the expenditure side of the equation instead of just squeezing ever harder on the income side, but then he totally ruined the mood by doling out more bail-out cash to the likes of SAA and other hopelessly insolvent and atrociously managed state-owned enterprises.
"Unsurprisingly the government's debt spirals ever higher. It is frustrating to note that simple economics can still suggest the stringent remedies that are probably capable of fixing this mess. However, history shows that politicians ahead of an election have a blind spot in this area."
Greener also notes that in terms of economic freedom South Africa is now ranked 110 out of 162 countries in the world.
"The official ranking depends on scores in five areas: size of government (big is bad), legal structure and security of property rights (Expropriation without Compensation is very very bad), access to sound money (the rand is one of the world's weaker currencies), freedom to trade internationally (possibly OK) and regulation of credit, labour and business (far too much regulation, especially the last two).
He notes the existence of the Economic Freedom Fighters. "But perhaps it's a different economic freedom they are after?"
VAN der Merwe got thrown out of the casino. He completely misconstrued the purpose of the crap table.
Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.