Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A Letter to Protektorvest

Dear Protektorvest

I am a South African living in London. I am writing to share something of our culture with you today - a culture which you have clearly misunderstood. If you are to be successful in the South African market, you'll need the right tools with which to fight your battles - of which there are many in my country, as I'm sure you'll agree. In fact, a recent study suggests that the genocide in Sudan and the invasions of Iraq and Afganhistan are mere extras on the world's stage when compared with the charismatic lead, the violence crisis in South Africa. This lead is getting so much tabloid attention that even Angelina Jolie has reportedly scheduled a visit to SA to showcase the plight of middle class citizen crime. (Aside: she could be a good marketing angle for you - imagine her 57 children all wearing your stab proof vests! Plus you know she has a knife collection, so they could test the vests' effectiveness at a press conference).

Now, it's not your business per se that I think is the issue. After all, you're obviously a bunch of young entrepreneurs who smoke a lot of crack, and on one of your trips to the land of WTF Am I Doing you spotted a gap in the market and decided to capitalise on it. Fair play to you - I've heard it's quite difficult not to shit your pants when smoking crack, let alone come up with a workable idea. The real issue is that you obviously have no idea what you're dealing with. Please imagine now that you are a vest-wearing visitor during the World Cup, and follow these ground rules to help you improve your business model:

1. In the UK, you have knife crime. In South Africa, we are not pussies. We have guns and we use them.

2. Sewing team colours and/or badges onto your Protektorvest will increase your chances of being attacked by 100%. Even those petty criminals who eschew violence cannot be held responsible for their reactions when they see the symbol of St George. This is akin to baiting a bull, and you know what happens when the matador is gored to death? Nothing - it is perfectly legal.

2a. If you ignore the strong advisory above and are grievously wounded in a resultant attack, do not expect assistance from our government. Remember, we are a lawless nation of gun toting savages, lead in part by the guy from the ANC who frequently incites the masses to 'kill for Zuma'. Prosecution is a dirty word.

3. Your proposed delivery of the vests presents a problem. You should know that in Africa we have no Royal Mail - indeed, the only recognised seal bestowed upon our postal service is that of possession being nine tenths of the law. In other words, don't expect your vests to make their destinations. In all likelihood, they will end up being worn by the criminals you wish to foil, meaning your only option would be to swiftly despatch AK47s to combat your attackers (note: these have been known to kill their owners when said owners are ignorant dipshits, so you might want to seek legal advice before proceeding).

4. I'm confused by the ambiguity of your marketing slogan, Protect and Connect. Protect and Connect your fist with your attacker's face? Protect and Connect with the other fist swinging Brits at the game? Protect and connect with your attacker on a spiritual level and in doing so promote world peace (if so, compliments on the marvellous paradox)? You definitely need clarity. I would suggest this: Protect the Defect. It's ok to be the face of bad genetics, it's out of your control.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that I have been of service to you today. I wish you the best of luck in your business venture, and I hope you don't mind that I blind copied in the violently left wing members of the ANC to this e-mail. It's important for all of us to promote the Freedom of Information Act.

All the best, and remember to clean out that crack pipe.
*Note: Text copied directly from the author's original e-mail to Protektorvest.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Sweet Song of Snow (or 'sssssssssss')

This morning as Shoes and I walked together to the station, anyone watching us would have seen what appeared to be a happy couple, hand in hand, strolling leisurely along the snowy banks of the River Wandel, looking into each other's eyes and laughing. Aaah, so sweet.

In fact this is not what was really going down. We were indeed looking into each other's eyes and laughing, but not about romantic coupley type things. We were actually cackling as we spurred each other on to think up increasingly inventive ways in which to peg in the arctic weather conditions. Such as:

Lopz: If someone kidnapped you, took off all your clothes and buried you under 6 inches of snow with only your nostrils sticking out, how long do you reckon it would take before you kicked it?

Shoes: Longer than if someone dumped you in the river, fished you out and then tied you in your wet clothes to a stake in a deserted park. That should do it in a couple of hours, don't you think?

We were also holding hands, but not because we can't bear to be apart for a minute. The roads were iced up, and we were hanging onto each other for dear life as we'd determined from the get go that if one of us was going to wipe out, the other one was going down too godammit!

Ah, sweet love. It's no wonder eskimos have such different traditions to us - people in permanently snowy countries must be a bit mental to survive.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

An Open Letter To London

Dear London

You really know how to welcome a girl back with open arms, don't you? 24 hours in your freezing bosom and my foot is just aching to kick you in the nuts. Not that you have them, but I can assure you they'd be blue by now if you did, rather like my hands everytime I go outside.

Just so you know, I am actually quite chirpy for someone who has recently returned from 30 degree sunshine into the depths of arctic winter. This may be down to the fact that everything feels surreal, a bit like those Baywatch montage scenes where CJ and Caroline run languidly down the beach with the background in soft focus and you feel like you've stumbled into a pornographic chocolate box illustration.

It's not that my arrival here was a bit bumpy, although it was. That's if you can call a two and a half hour delay in Paris, followed by the failure of our luggage to turn up at Heathrow, bumpy. I prefer the word incompetent myself, but that's the beauty of the English language - so many words, so many ways to hurl insults. I also like the words amateur and floundering, particularly when applied to the BA check-in chick who specifically and repeatedly told me that our luggage would be checked straight through to London, not languish at O.R. Tambo Airport. The words horse and shit come to mind when considering the lack of ground staff at Charles De Gaulle, who caused the rest of the luggage to sit on the tarmac for nearly 3 hours, while we all watched intently from the plane windows to see if it would eventually jump up and load itself. Slack and slothful are two more words I'd employ at this point.

It's not that our lack of warm clothes (see above: Languishing Luggage) meant our trek home in temperatures reaching highs of zero caused us to seriously consider chopping off our fingertips to prevent gangrene, although it did. I've never felt beany-envy quite like I did yesterday, so much so that every small be-hatted child in a 3 metre radius risked his head everytime he entered my personal space on the bus.

It's not even that, despite our most earnest prayers, the tubes from SW London were running almost faultlessly this morning while it snow stormed outside, meaning we had to go to work at normal time and couldn't spend the day cuddled up in bed watching Dexter. Your sense of humour is as gauche as your welcome mat.

What it is, London, is that despite the fact that I feel an offbeat affection for you - rather like I would for a particularly musty pair of old socks - I'm more than a little piqued that you insist on inhabiting this dank island halfway across the world from my real home. We'd get on so much better if you'd only pack it in and move closer. You might find you'd look more inviting too - no offense.

Anyway, since we are destined to nurture this fractious relationship of ours for another 12 months or so, I'll stop there - a fine exercise in restraint, if I do say so myself. Feel free to respond if you like, or simply sit there smirking as you dump another big freeze on us, whatever. Payback's a bitch, remember that.

Yours annoyingly,