Monday, January 7, 2019

The Idler, Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cops who

like a



THE roadblock blitz is behind us. Statistics as to who and how many got blitzed are yet to emerge, but the authorities certainly put every resource into it. Never before have I seen the provincial cops operating in Durban, yet there they were in their khaki uniforms with a roadblock in Florida Road on New Year's Eve.

Intimidating? I've always found the provincial cops – Road Traffic Inspectorate, to give them their proper title – rather amiable fellows.

In Maritzburg late one night, two of them pulled up a carload of us students (I wasn't driving), claiming we'd jumped a red light or something of the sort.

This we disputed hotly and volubly. Suddenly a sash window flew up in an nearby house and a woman yelled: "Stop that noise or I'll call the police!"

"Madam, we are the police!" the officer called back, at which everyone packed up laughing and the traffic infraction was forgotten.

Another time a desperado known as Ginger Dick was driving a carload of us through Maritzburg late at night in his Morris 1000. We were going from a celebration at Collegians Club to another celebration at the Country Club, the other side of town. Following us in a zooty Ford Zephyr was a fellow named Mango.

The Zephyr tried to overtake and Ginger playfully swung out to cut him off. This happened two or three times. Then, as Ginger dutifully stopped at a red light near the city hall, the Zephyr screeched to a halt alongside.

Ginger leaned out and playfully flicked a cigarette butt through the Zephyr's open window. It hit the steering wheel, sending a shower of sparks over the RTI officer behind the wheel.

Alas, this was not Mango. The RTI also drove Ford Zephyrs.

The cop was spluttering with rage. But Ginger was a man of great charm, insouciance and humour. He apologised, explained it was a case of mistaken identity and by the end of it had the cop laughing his head off.  He was issued with a "warning" ticket.

As I say, amiable fellows the RTI. And here they were suddenly in Durban. I encountered them again in the early hours of New Year's Day, returning from a splendid dinner washed down with fine wines and a nip or two of Polish vodka.

They stopped the car. But I wasn't driving. They checked the Uber driver's licence. All OK. That's the way to get about the place when in festive mode.


IN A BID to break the impasse of the federal government shutdown in America, Nancy Pelosi, newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, plans to negotiate directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the New Yorker.

The shutdown means 8 000 federal government employees are going without pay and various institutions such as national parks are closed.

"I owe it to the American people to bring this shutdown to the swiftest possible conclusion, and so I'm avoiding the middleman," Pelosi is quoted saying.

In an official statement, Putin said he welcomed Pelosi's overture and shared her desire to end the shutdown. "At some point, I'd like to visit Yellowstone," he said.

Yes, this is satirist Andy Borowitz again.



THIS fellow is in a bookstore. He approaches a woman behind the counter.

"Do you keep stationery?"

"No, usually I wriggle a bit."


Last word

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.

Christopher Hampton

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