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After 3 years of working with the Ads24 team, I am astounded at how much we achieved together and how much extraordinary fun we had along the way.

This is just a taste of what we did.

Ads24 Food for Thought
Ads24 Sundae Sundays 2018
Wat Meme Jy? 2018
Diski 2018
Food for Thought 2018
Food for Thought 2019

The Pandemic and the Pangolin

“Mummy, how did the world end?”

“Well darling. Some idiot ate a pangolin.”

Why on God’s green earth would you want to eat an animal as inedible looking as a pangolin? Is there even meat on a pangolin? Enough for a meal?

In short, some covidiot went to lunch and set off a pandemic that has wrecked the world. Well, that’s what they say. When the conspiracy theories sound far more credible than the actual story I’m tempted to go with the official story. Who on earth would make up a tale so bizarre?

What it has brought into stark reality for me (like the world in the morning when I put on glasses and see my sleep-mussed face in the mirror – horrifying clarity) – is just how little actual life skills I possess. Basically, I’m a bit of a dud in a global crisis. I’m not even a good gardener. I suppose I could write the spin? Not very helpful.

Now that my job has been torpedoed by a single-celled organism, I find myself having to look at my old world with new eyes. It’s at turns exhilarating and abjectly terrifying. I’m still in the free fall hoping to land on a bed of feathers but concerned that it may actually be very sharp rocks.

I can’t really tell because I’m too scared to put on my glasses and a blurry world seems less intimidating than the cold hard truth.

If only I knew who that pangolin-eating mofo was, I’d steal the TARDIS, go back a few months and sic a Dalek on him. (That’s a Doctor Who reference. My daughter kindly suggested that I add this note for those who don’t know the Doctor. So sad.)

It befuddles my brain that the world (and my world) has been brought to its knees by a takeaway lunch.

The no good very bad day

Image by SvenKirsch from Pixabay

Everyone gets anxious, sure. But most people aren’t afraid to leave home in case there’s a zombie uprising.

Most of the time I can be funny about it. I can find the humour in being terrified in the frozen food section. Who knows what damage a fish finger could do?

But, some days, like today, I can’t find anything funny about it.

Today is a ‘no good very bad day’.

Tomorrow, will be an ‘I’ve got this day’.

I’ll pick myself up from the pit of self-inflicted misery, put on my big girl panties, straighten my tiara and slay my day or whatever stupid inspirational shit works.

But today, my anxiety is packing a punch to the gut.

If you ask me, “How are you doing?” I’ll say, “I’m good thanks.” I don’t think you really want to know the answer, but here it is anyway…  

There’s a restlessness in my legs I cannot control. They dance steps to some hidden beat.

There’s a swarming knot of serpents in my belly. They writhe and undulate ceaselessly whispering, a susurration of nameless fears.

There are crows trapped behind my ribs. Flapping and clawing they rake their talons down my breast trying to escape.

There’s a fire in my throat. A volcano of liquid lava erupting and burning a path to the outside. My personal Vesuvius.

There are voices in my head feeding the paranoia. Someone always watching. Something always going terribly, irrevocably wrong.

I hear death stalking in the shadows. I plan for it constantly. How and when and why. And what songs I want to play at the funeral and if anyone will come.

I have a body that I live in, but it is not me. It is some uncomfortable suit that does fit quite right. Like a six-foot six behemoth in a compact car.

I’m getting fired today. I know that’s not true but I can’t stop the vomit from rising. If I’m unemployed and homeless by 5pm where will I get a trolley and do I have enough cash for a shelter?

I’m going to the doctor. It’s routine. Nothing to worry about. But what if I die? What if it’s something serious? What if it’s nothing but a physical symptom of my degrading mind? What then? What’s worse?

The lights are blinding me and I can’t see through the static. I want to cover my eyes and cower away, but I hold my head up and I count. How many steps to the exit? How many pens on my desk? How many flowers on her dress? How many?

I am so very tired. It’s exhausting when I don’t whether to turn and run or stand and fight some non-existent hydra.

None of it is real. There is no zombie uprising. Coronavirus is not a bioweapon unleashed to destroy 90% of the world’s population. I’m not losing my job. I’m not going to die today. Probably. Maybe.

If you want to find out more about living with anxiety, have a read of these…

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/living-with-anxiety_b_8452658

https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/health-fitness/women-anxiety-disorders/

Smash and grab

I was a woman with a plan.

If some asshole was going to hijack me or smash my car window I was going to go medieval on his ass.

I was going to be a hardcore Ninja assassin.

I was going to scream and shout and let it all out. I was going to stab him in the eye and punch him in the face.

I was going to floor the accelerator and drive off with him clinging helplessly to the car door.

Only, as it turns out, I didn’t.

I just sat there.

I think I made a sound that could only be described as an eep.

I was sitting in traffic, minding my own business, complacent in my daily route and listening to a podcast about crop circles. Just another trip to work.

Until my quiet solitude was rudely broken by the loud bang of shattering glass. It rained over me. But before I could comprehend that, the entire upper torso of a human being launched into the car and grabbed my cellphone. Just as suddenly he withdrew and ‘poof’ was gone. It took seconds.

I didn’t scream.

I didn’t fight.

I didn’t do anything kickass at all.

As a result of my inertia I am equally as annoyed with the thief (may he have a shitty Christmas) as I am with myself. I should have done something. Not sat there stricken dumb.

And there are the waves of self-recrimination.

What if I had another cup of tea before leaving the house?

What if I had taken the earlier off ramp?

What if I hadn’t had used Google Maps?

What if…?

Shocked panic gave way to intense rage which has simmered down into exasperation leaving me irked. I’ve never really had cause to use that word before, ‘irked’, but it seems to fit this situation quite aptly.

Dealing with the administrative aftermath was almost as taxing and traumatic as the smash and grab. I had to come to terms with the utter incomprehensible way in which our police service barely functions.

I went to a police station.

I was directed back to my cell provider for a blacklist number, which they didn’t want to give me because 3% of their revenues come from resold stolen phones.

I went back to another police station.

This time I could report it, but the forms would have to be sent in the mail to the first police station, which could take anything from 2 weeks to never.

Only then would I get a case number.

And then…

Everything is on paper. Labouriously written out by hand. Assigned a number in the big book and left to gather to duct in a filing cabinet somewhere.

How crimes are ever solved here is an utter mystery. It’s like the dark ages. Forget CSI, this is anarchy.

Not that I’m expecting anyone to solve the crime of the daylight robbery, but what if was far more serious? If a serial rapist rapes a different woman in a different neighbourhood every day, the cases will never be connected. This is because there is no national database or searchable record keeping.

And, here’s the rub. You see, even if someone programmed a simple interface where the cops could input the case data on a national scale, with searchable keywords, and even if that person went to the head of the police and gave it to them for free, it still wouldn’t be deployed because of the bureaucratic red tape, tender fraud and the fact that someone’s uncle’s cousin twice removed didn’t get the kick back.

I can’t solve this endemic problem, but I am going to take another shot at solving mine by going back to the police station this morning for another try.

I am somewhat resigned to the fact that my car will be windowless until the new year and that I will have to muddle my way through a digital world without a cellphone.

I feel better now that I’ve had a rant.

So, thanks for that.

Friday Fictioneers: Just now

PHOTO PROMPT © Mikhael Sublett

“Could you hang up this picture ?”

Yes.”

Sands whooshing through the hourglass.

“I don’t want to nag, but you are going hang the picture, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

“Nevermind. I can do it.”

“Uh huh.”

Bang.

Swearing.

Smashing.

More swearing.

“What in the name of all that’s holy are you doing? Put the hammer down. I said I would do it.”

“That was 2 years ago!”

“You never gave me a time frame. I’ll do it just now.”

“When will ‘just now’ be ‘now’? When hell freezes over? When the polar ice caps melt? When Brexit happens?”

“Yeah. When Brexit happens.”

“So, never then.”

Smartass.”

NOTE:

In South Africa we have three time frames:

Now – meaning right this minute.

Now now – meaning soonish.

And…

Just now – meaning when I bloody feel like it, but maybe never.

We follow and are followed

Another day of grey rain is tracking tears down the window. I suppose it is in its nature to bring about a strange strain of self reflection.

To each a multitude of messiahs

Our disciples cloaked in silk and rags

Hungry for glimpses of some ignoble life

Starving for the scraps of slander

We follow and are followed

A fragile veneer of sepia filters

Cover the momentary mundane

Superb realism in the unreality

Truths built on a multitude of lies

We follow and are followed

Friday Fictioneers: Call a cab

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Take a taxi they said.

They go everywhere fast.

They’re reliable.

Everyone uses them.

Everyone.

Including their extended family, a gaggle of geese, a stable of horses and their mother in law.

There’s always room for one more.

Somehow.

It defies known physics.

I was the one more.

The last sardine.

A chicken pooped on my head.

A goat ate my shoelaces.

We set off at a terrific speed enveloped in a plume of black exhaust.

We swerved and careened through the crowds, hooting like a parliament of owls.

The ancient tires squealed and yowled like a convocation of screaming eagles.

Welcome to New York, they said.

I closed my eyes and thought of England.

Friday Fictioneers: Dog days

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

Every day.

I can’t take it anymore.

Today I will catch him in the act. I will get my revenge.

I’ve had enough of this horrible hound doing a full day’s business on my lawn.

He’s a poop ninja.

I’m going to hide behind this bush and wait for the opportune moment to exact my revenge.

He’s coming closer. He’s past the circle. I’ve got him.

Oh my god! It’s Headmaster Jenkins.

I can’t do it. I’ll just stay really quiet until he moves on.

No. Stop sniffing this shrubbery.

Please no.

Don’t lift your leg.

No. Not on me.

I hate dogs.

Shrinking heads

Sitting in the waiting room at the shrink is a lot like I imagine it is at an STD clinic. You all know why you’re there, but don’t want to acknowledge it.

Sadly, I think it’s probably more socially acceptable to have gonorrhea than depression. At least you’d have had some fun getting the clap.

It’s been designed to be deliberately soothing and non-confrontational. It has the complete opposite effect.

The thing is, you can’t help sizing up the others waiting their turn. On a scale of 1 to bat shit, where do you fall in comparison to the tidy little man in a suit sitting next to you? How many more screws do you have loose than the woman in the corner. Just one or a toolbox full?

And what if you recognise someone?

A hint: You do not acknowledge that recognition with anything more than a discrete head nod and don’t bring it up at the water cooler in the office. Ever. What happens at the shrink stays at the shrink.

Just knowing that someone is about to clinically evaluate my brand of crazy is enough to have my blood pressure going through the roof. Bats of anxiety fleeing the belfry. Most of them ending up stuck in my hair.

My head doctor is very nice. She’s very put together. Very… dare I say it… sane.

The more she looks at me the more I flight the urge to flee. I’ve actually being doing rather well, but you couldn’t tell that from my demeanour.

Every random tic suddenly comes to the surface and I end up twirling my wedding ring, playing with my necklace and tapping my foot at the same time. And then, I realise I’m doing it and try to sit on my hands instead.

I’m practically vibrating like a out of pitch tuning fork.

None of which is convincing her of my ability to be a productive adult.

Sometimes, I think that I rather have head shrunk by some headhunters in Borneo.

Of course, if I ever run into her in the real world, like at the mall, I can guarantee you that it’ll be a day when I haven’t brushed my hair, am wearing yoga pants and can’t decide between chamomile or aloe loo paper.

C’est la vie.

Shots fired

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“There’s a little incident downstairs.”

Incident: an instance of something happening; an event or occurrence.

E.g. “several amusing incidents”

There was nothing amusing about the ‘incident’.

Also, it wasn’t an incident.

It was a bloody (literally) armed robbery.

Not the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.

When we set out to go to the gym, I hardly thought that doing cardio was life or death training. It was just something horrible I had to suffer through in order to drop a dress size. That’s how trivial my thought processes were on Sunday morning.

When the gym lady said, “There’s a little incident downstairs’, it did not, in any way, convey that a gang of 5 armed robbers were shooting at people.

So, we went downstairs.

And the pharmacy was closed.

So, we walked to another one.

That’s when the shooting started.

That’s was when the screaming started.

And the running.

Turns out that even when my legs feel like overcooked noodles, I can run quite quickly when the situation calls for it.

All the shops slammed the doors shut and watched the panicked masses run past, banging on the doors only to be denied entry.

We hung a right and dived into the Nespresso kiosk.

Hearts pounding, we tried to catch our breath and not panic.

In fact, the lack of panic was quite strange. We were all very calm – eerily calm.

Hanging a right turned out to be an extremely beneficial decision. The robbers went left. A split second choice that could have ended quite differently.

As we made it out of the danger zone we met someone we knew.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“There’s an armed robbery and shooting.”

“But, can I go to Woolworths?”

“Um. No. It’s all locked down.”

“But, I just want pick up some groceries.”

Silence, as we absorbed this.

“Well, this is very inconvenient.”

Yeah, it was for us too.

Also, I imagine for the security guard who was shot and the robber who was killed, the other who was injured and the three who got away.

In mitigation, sometimes in such a dire situation you cling to the mundane like a small piece of driftwood in a tsunami.  

One upside from being denied entry into the stores, was that we managed to extricate ourselves pretty quickly from the chaos. Unlike the shoppers who found themselves locked in for the next 3 hours and who had to step over the discarded AK47s and the body.

As we sat in the corner of the Nespresso kiosk, all I could think was, “How very American”. It’s not really, but shootings seem to have made it into mass culture as an American thing. I didn’t even realise I had this stereotype until that moment. It all seems far too close to home for comfort, and I live in a city that competes annually for ‘Murder capital of the world’.

We arrived home.

I opened a bottle of wine.

And I drank it.

I don’t even like wine.

It gives me heartburn.

But, not nearly as much as being caught up in a jewelry heist.

Read the news report

“Gauteng police have launched a manhunt after armed men stormed a jewellery store in Bedford Centre in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. In an ensuing shootout with mall security, one suspect was killed.

According to Community Policing Forum chairperson, Gavin Henry, five men entered the shopping centre holding AK47 firearms when a security guard spotted them and raised the alarm.

“One of the entrance guards noticed them entering with their weapons and called in on the radio an armed robbery. One of the tactical guys responded and they started shooting at him first. He returned fire and the rest fled,” Henry explained.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the suspect was declared dead on the scene.

“One security officer was rushed to hospital after he was allegedly hit by one of the suspects as the latter fled the scene,” she added. She said the suspects made off in two vehicles and [took] some watches. It’s unclear at this stage what the make and the value of the watches are. 

“Police recovered on the scene a rifle – AK47 – with two loaded magazines. The firearm will be subjected to ballistic testing for further investigation,” Peters said. 

In the video, which was posted on the Facebook group Intelligence Bureau SA, shots suddenly go off as people can be heard screaming in the background.

No other fatalities have been reported besides but some shoppers were treated for shock.”