Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Am Your Hooker

A poem by Richard de Nooy

I love this man's writing!

The full post on Book Southern Africa can be read

I Am Your Hooker


But I like thinking, sir. And reading. And soccer, sir.


It takes one to know one, sir.

Is what I should have said
but didn’t,
Which is why I write:

Dear Sir,
Thank you for causing me so much pain and embarrassment
That I shall spend a lifetime seeking words to express my rage.
To me you are an endless source of inspiration.
And I shall always remain
Your kaffir, your queer, your hooker.

PS: May the screams of a thousand schoolboys torment your dreams
And may the men of a hundred scrums drink beer in your rectum.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

6ix Fang Marks and a Tetanus Shot by Richard de Nooy

It is not often that one finds a book that you read with a strange mixture of awe, delight, slight confusion, and sheer horror. 6ix fang marks and a Tetanus shot is one of those books.
It is mankind’s gain that Richard de Nooy finally decided to come out of the closet as a novelist. He has a wit as sharp as a mother-in-law’s tongue and is very talented scribe and artist. I say artist because it takes immense skill and talent to enthrall adults with a story like one would a pre-school group with a fairytale. While reading this book I, a bloody cynic, found myself in the same state of enchantment that I can recall whilst listening to my first grade teacher telling us a story.
In the foreword Richard warns the reader that you will be lied to. However, I caught myself on a few occasions actually believing every word of it. Descriptions of people and places are so authentic that one can easily believe it to be reality. Parts of the story are told by Ysbrand de Heer, presumably de Nooy’s alter ego. Is this one of the many twists in the cat’s tail? I still do not know what is fact and what is fiction and that makes it a remarkable and extremely well written story.
It is a tale of an extraordinary relationship between two brothers growing up in South Africa during the 70’s and 80’s in a somewhat dysfunctional family in a totally dysfunctional society. This tender and remarkable bond grows stronger as the brothers mature, primarily due to one’s proneness to accidents which leaves the other to pick up the pieces over and over again until one fatal day when the roles gets reversed. The bond gets cemented with a dark secret that the two brothers share and explains why Ace has the patience of a Saint with Rem’s frequent mishaps.
The reader gets transported back and forth in time and space; Johannesburg, Amsterdam and Namibia. The ingenuity with which the two brothers solve the problem of Rem getting hit by a tram in Amsterdam can only be described as brilliant and totally hilarious in its tragedy.
Rem takes on the role as a war correspondent who returns to South Africa. In doing so he manages to pull together bits and pieces that, at first might seem unconnected. But in the end each and every little snippet of information connects the events together, leading the reader deeper and deeper into the two brothers’ private hell.
Frequent quotes from e.g. Joseph & Schwarts regarding accident proneness are some of those snippets that serve to underline the absurdity of being a shit magnet as Ace puts it.
“Frankl (1963) studied a number of children intensively, reaching the conclusion that accident proneness is related both to the function of self-preservation and to the existence of certain age-specific conflicts in infancy, childhood and adolescence.”
Whilst following the brothers all the way from childhood to maturity ample examples are given of how the quote relate to the two boys.
Quite a few quotes will stay with me for a long time but to mention one:
“You are quite fokken stupid to be a student you know.”
What led up to that comment from a police officer involved a hand brake and an impressive intake of booze. Want to know what that was all about? Read the book! It is a superb story.
Initially a few things plagued me at the end of the book: I felt that void that comes with the conclusion of a ‘feel good book.’ I wanted to read more! And what the heck happened to one of the key characters when he disappeared like a bat out of hell, but true to form, in a much sneakier way? Is the darkest of secrets the brothers shared fact or fiction?
But then I learnt with pleasure that de Nooy have already completed a new book called Zacht als Staal (Soft as Steel) again narrated by JR Deo. Rem gets involved in the story about halfway through. He befriends the main character (a gay Afrikaans lad called Staal) and the readers of 6 Fang Marks and a Tetanus Shot will then learn what happened to Rem after he left Ace’s attic and how he became JR Deo.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the new book. I have already started going to gym to prepare for the bloody combat, with my wife, that is sure to erupt if I dare to try and read it first.
6ix Fang Marks and a Tetanus Shot is a brilliant story told by a man who possesses an intense understanding of human nature.
The book is published by Jacana and also available at Amazon and

Saturday, April 24, 2010

When water is thicker than blood (1972)

It was five minutes into our 2nd break. On this day the matrics were acting really childish. It was their last week of school and their juvenile antics were starting to get on my nerves. Gone was the prim and proper behavior of the past year, replaced by conduct one would normally associate with a primary school. I was getting truly pissed off. Part of my mood was of course due to jealousy. Jealous that I could not be one of them, like my brother, that will soon shrug off the shackles of a verkrampte predominantly Afrikaans school. A school where we were subjected to weekly hair inspections and that only allowed short back and sides. Square cuts were out. Hell they even had weekly panty inspections carried out by the sexless croons that were but a few years away from retirement. Somehow they believed that this would fortify chastity. It did not help or make sense. It was just for the show. No teenager would dare to try and get leg-over at school. The teenagers still fucked like rabbits and annually quite a few unwanted pregnancies saw the light. This of course was totally taboo at the time and resulted in great shame on the families involved. South Africa never really experienced the free love of the 60’s or swinging 70’s. We had three 50’s and went right into the 80’s. Maybe the panty inspections were done to keep the male teachers from lusting after the teenage girls as there was quite a lot of that going on behind the scenes.

The paper water bomb hit me so hard in my face that my nose started bleeding. It was a big one, made and thrown by Hendrik Bruwer, the star flanker of the first rugby team who two weeks prior had broken his nose rather badly in a rugby match. I was soaked from the top of my head to mid-chest and a thin trickle of blood was making a rather interesting abstract pink artwork on my white school shirt. Around me everyone were screeching with laughter. Hendrik was big. He easily had 6 inches and 25lbs on me. That however did not deter me and we were soon circling each other like two peacocks. Hendrik’s girlfriend kept on shouting: “It was only a joke, please, it was only a joke.”

Hendrik tried his best to talk his way out of the fight. He was a school monitor and he did not know what to make of me because very few would dare to challenge him. I also had a reputation as a brawler and was the provincial boxing champ in my weight group. He however believed that his sheer bulk was more than a match for me. I was apprehensive but knew about his weak spot, his nose, and stood my ground. He threatened and blustered to get out of the situation but I was not going to back down. He refused to apologize as he maintained that it was an accident. He stated that he did not intend to hit me and also could not afford to lose face in front of his girlfriend and mates. He started to get really insulting. Telling me that I might believe that I was a force to be reckoned within the confines of the filthy and poor military base where we lived but that I was a bloody nobody in town i.e. the real world. This in turn wounded my brother deeply as he was ashamed of the humble conditions we lived in and also believed that Hendrik was his close friend. My brother tried to hide his hurt and thus minimize the effect of the insult by saying: “Ag moer him Hendrik.” (“Oh fuck him up Hendrik”)

I felt something inside of me tear and knew that it would never mend again. My brother turned on me to hide his shame. I saw red and when the mist cleared Hendrik was lying curled up on the tarmac clutching his nose with both hands trying unsuccessfully to stem the flow of blood. Apparently I hit him with a swift left to the nose and broke it in the exact same spot as before. I searched for my brother amongst the shocked onlookers but he was nowhere to be seen.

It is now 38 years since my brother and I have done no more than acknowledge each other’s existence. We treat one another with respect but aloofness. Love and the family bond are not recognized.

Hendrik’s rugby career ended that day and I got caned six of the best from the vice-principal who was also the rugby coach.