I liked Wolverine quite a lot. When you fail, despite a determined effort, to spend an entire day in bed alone with books, papers, your modem and the laptop (I don’t know about “Jack”… I am thinking of another name), getting up to catch a quick movie is a great out. I tried remaining horizontal again today, but had to take back my DVDs (nothing interesting, really, except maybe the first disk of the third series of The Closer, which I had already seen, and is wonderful) and get the papers. While I was doing that I also had to get a double shot tall cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake at Seattle in Hyde Park, seeing that I was in there already. Obviously.
As I only managed the Independent with those two food items, I had to move onto Rosebank to read the Sunday Times and drink beer. The endorphins created by the consumption of carbohydrates (above) created enough of a feeling of well-being for me to need to increase this euphoria by the consumption of alcohol. Only in rare exceptions, I believe, does alcohol not actually increase whatever feeling of well-being one is already suffering from.
But let’s talk about the papers. They were particularly entertaining this week, with Ben Trovato’s pithy but acute take on swine flu (oops, H1N1) exploring many things I already had in my heart: the fact that Egypt nearly killed its entire pig population without a shred of evidence that 1) pigs actually spread the disease and 2) anybody was actually suffering from it in the whole country. It also added gravitas to this week’s “Irony of the Week”: fifty people die from swine flu and everybody wants to wear a mask. Millions die of AIDS and no one wants to wear a condom. Debra Orr’s piece in the Independent calls both the WHO’s and the media’s responses to swine flu “scare-mongering”, and exposes the panic these agencies caused as shameful.
Last week’s Weekender carried two columns with similar sentiments. Swine flu had been big news, what, with SAFA considering canning the Confederations Cup because of clear and present danger. Anyway. I feel a bit bad now having sported with Paris Hilton’s ignorance on the subject. She may well turn out to have the sanest take on the whole scenario: “I don’t eat that.”
My travels round the social hotspots of the northern suburbs this afternoon also prevented me from finishing the second part of the mental hara-kiri piece. It was taking a long time anyway, because a lot of it is about serious literature, which always takes a long time. It was when I got to AS Byatt’s Possession, but could not remember the author or the title (I Googled “obsession novel literature” and found books by Jonathan Kellerman and various editions from the Mills and Boon umbrella with pictures of desperate women, often half naked, on the covers) that I became very tired. This meant that I immediately had to get up and drive to the video shop.
On the way I sms’d both Laurence and Ruth with “who wrote obsession?” and Laurence came back almost immediately with “as byatt”. I then sent “Of course. And I think it was actually called possession. Thank you.” And then I got a message saying “but I think you mean possession” and then he must have received my response in between his two because it was followed immediately by “I think sometimes its hard to tell the difference” and I said “I was just thinking that” and he said “I thought you might be PS have you read william boyd Any human heart” and I responded with “No. But have read Kafka on the shore.” He sms’d me last year saying he was reading it and it reminded him of me. I had it on my shelves from some Exclusive Book sale orgy and so I read it. And that was when my faith in modern fiction was restored. But I could not figure out what Laurence meant and did not care to pursue it.
Anyway. Our conversation ended with him offering to lend me the book and me saying “Thx”, and him going “Cool”. I have so much to reading to do at the moment that I might well get round to borrowing the book from him about two years from now.
(Note how we did not use SMS code. I find it idiotic really, especially when someone wants to get a bit sexy and they send messages like, “wot u werin”. No, I just made that up.)
Funny thing, the Independent today had a review of “her (Byatt’s) first full-length fiction in seven years” – there’s synchronicity for you. There was a picture of her with the caption “As a general principle, I avoid myself,” says novelist AS Byatt.” She looks like somebody’s aunt and somebody’s grandmother. In spite of what I am going to say about what I remember of reading Possession in On writing #5, this endears her to me terribly, and now I am going to have to keep the article and read more of her books, including, possibly, finishing Possession. Shit.
I did not watch the inauguration yesterday, but the newspapers said nothing about heads of state attending from anywhere beyond Africa. Was this so? More than that, I was a little depressed by general reports of shockingly graceless behaviour by the team of our new president in various fora since winning the election. In the National Assembly on Wednesday, ANC chief whip Mathole Mtoshekga had to ask ANC MPs not to heckle and hiss at opposition party members as they were sworn in. They sang, apparently, “Shilowa is a fool”, and “mewed” at Linda Odendaal, Cope MP and second deputy president. Anele Mda “received sarcastic wedding-type ululations for her sweet, silky gown” Caiphus Kgosana wrote in the Independent. Is the National Assembly not a dignified gathering of the leaders of our nation? Is it so absurd to hope for grace in victory by sensible adults, and some realisation of the gravity of the task that lies ahead of them? Instead we have a catty, spiteful attitude to people, and inane attempts to humiliate them merely because they hold different political views. Look. See. The leadership of the ANC.
Similar insults were lobbed at Thabo Mbeki at the inauguration, as he was first booed and then hissed at. He is a cadre, (we had a funny discussion of how to pronounce “cadre” here and in the rest of the world at Giles on Friday night) and one of their own. How frightening. There is no pretense of or an attempt at unity in the ANC. The factions hate each other and are not afraid to make this public. In spite of JZ’s conciliatory speech, the divisions in his party, I think, will not give them a bigger majority in the next election, and will most certainly impede any service delivery he has dreamed of. He is in the centre of this break, and not strong enough to fix it. This is my honest opinion.
And then, finally, Baleka Mbete’s childish refusal to be sworn in as MP, the equivalent of publicly stamping her foot, when she understood that her comrades never REALLY intended for her to be deputy president ALL BY HERSELF. And I think, considering her response to this, they have made one of the rare great decisions that marked our political landscape in the past few weeks. How she still managed to get a R1.8 million annual salary out of the deal is stupefying.
It is all very fucking embarrassing.
I was going to write about the fun things that there were in the papers today as well, but now I just want to have a little lie down.