Harold Strachan's Last Word

Lettuce Lady


Well I think these bus-style taxis are just the thing, man. You always had the feeling in those bloody combis that the suspension just wasn’t designed to handle such huge overloads of wriggling human flesh; the only available space was always about thirty cms wide in the furthest corner and the only way there was over the top of everybody else. Irritation was the main mood in a combi, ’mongst crew and cargo alike. These modern ones, now, they have an aisle down the middle, you can actually stand up and walk in there, and each seat is the designated width of a statistical human bum. I take mine to a double seat with a new-type Zulu lady on the window side. Lean. Old-type Zulu ladies, since you are what you eat, if you made a small incision in their skin and peeped inside what you would see there was solid phutu porridge, with plenty animal fat. Peep inside the skin of this one and you will see lettuce. They have transformed hippos into racehorses.

I like your hat, says she. Ja, say I, it’s insangu, you know, a nice open weave so cool breezes can blow through. You mean cannabis? says she. Ja, boom, say I, a bloke sells them on the roadside at Ixopo. She looks closely. There are no pips or those nourishing little buds you put in your chicken stuffing, hey? says she. No, man, say I, Ixopo folks use those to fumigate their kitchens. Cockroaches, you know. These are the left-over fibres, it’s just a pity to waste anything from such a fulsome plant as God gave us. It suits you, says she. 

Comes to mind a certain piece recently in the HSF magazine Focus, by a seriously sociological ou whose name I forget, and he points out that nemmine the SA Miracle, there is a deep deep racist schism in our society which we will have to work at like it’s a festering sore, and truesgod I must be stupid or something because I don’t perceive anything festering round here with the lettuce lady. Comes to mind also E Terreblanche who fell off his Boerperd in the middle of Kerkplein, he of the green onderbroek, he who pushed his six years for attempted murder, who comes out unbowed but much sobered and declares he is going to relaunch the AWB, unarmed, and take his case to the UN. Well good on you, boet, think I, you must take your place in our political process, or is it pantomime? Comes to mind the Vryheidsfront: if the ANC is going to win an easy victory in some election you might as well vote tactically and make sure the VF keeps a place in Parliament.  That’s where your right wing should be. As LB Johnson said of some Republican racist sonofabitch: It’s better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. It would be passing strange were there not a whole heap of racism yet in this our bevokde country; the point is that it’s lost its menace, it’s not dangerous any more. There’s a community of BEE ugly rich black bastards who have joined the community of ugly rich white bastards, that’s where the power is, and they don’t need any racist kak around here to muddy up their lives, thank you.

Why do you travel by taxi? says Lettuce. Because luckily I am vrek old and retired and I agree with David Attenborough that motor cars are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord and fuck up our health, our cities and our planet, say I, and I can get along without owning one. And you? No, says she, I got sick of having my cars stolen and I sat down and had a good think. Think how important the car-theft industry is for the economy, keeping the money moving, redistributing wealth. Think of all the jobs it creates, all those insurance workers paying out victims, those artisans in chop shops grinding serial numbers off engine blocks, new-car salesmen selling new cars, encouraging foreign trade. Et cetera. And it’s no less productive of anything you can usefully eat, wear, shelter under or play sport with than most enterprises in this our frenzied capitalist system. Surely no less productive than the armaments industry. Waste and profit. That’s the driving force. 

Also car theft promotes the car-rental industry, says she. When I need to go out of town I rent a BMW, don’t worry who nicks it. JEE-ZUZ! I exclaim, how do you come to have such a clear overview of Life? What is your employ that you have such elegant insight to things? I am the clerk of the Magistrate’s court, says she, and in a sense I am able to judge everybody there, including the magistrate. Also I judge the fatcats who rule us and distribute none of their wealth. City Hall! the driver calls. My stop. Have a nice day, says Lettuce. Already I’m having a lovely one, say I. 

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