Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Wonderland was never this screwy

Lately, it feels like reality has plunged down the rabbit hole, lurched through the looking glass, and tumbled us into Backwards Land where everything is topsy-turvy and logic needn’t apply.

It’s the kind of place where sports gets twisted like a pretzel to suit dubious agendas, so a girl accused of being a boy gets bounced around like a hapless hedgehog in a mad game of political croquet where everyone’s coming out swinging.

The one-time mother of the nation has turned Queen of Hearts, nurturing melanin-deprived conspiracy theories and yelling ‘Off with their media heads!’ at the slightest provocation.

Mad Hatter Malema is throwing madcap tea party press conferences and serving up steaming hot cups of bile topped with a froth of racism and chocolate hate-speech sprinkles. His tea party pals hand out big sticks and party-loyalty blindfolds so they can wish a very merry un-revolution to you.

Backwards Land is a funny old place. Only here would the Women’s League attack the dirty bastards who dare take a stand for women’s rights, while freedom fighter veterans threaten to rise up against freedom and democracy.

Only in such a lunatic land would the taxi associations charged with keeping people moving bring traffic to a standstill. Only here could they get away with attacking their would-be passengers with bricks and guns for daring to think of trying to go to work and earn a wage and feed their children any other way.

Only in such a twisted terrain would the twin fat cats Tweedle Dum and Tweedle SABC have been allowed to get up to their bureaucratic bumblings and corrupt shenanigans.

Tweedle Dum aka Home Affairs is such a stupid, corrupt prat that people would rather commit suicide than deal with him, especially when their whole lives, new jobs, new hopes for the future were hinging on being able to get hold of a simple ID book, while Tweedle Dum tore up the forms and laughed in their faces.

Tweedle SABC is just as bad as his moron twin, a real tube boob who blew the broadcast budget on Chuck Norris re-runs and juicy staff bonus packages. Video may have killed the radio star, but Tweedle SABC has killed the local TV industry – and still walked away with a fat pay-out.

Think it can’t get any weirder? Try asking a hungry Walrus to guard over the baby oysters, ala Mo Shaik poised to take over the National Intelligence Agency. Or how about appointing a frequently intoxicated caterpillar (of dubious morals and a penchant for spouting nonsense) Judge President of all the land, over the protests of Hlope’s constitutional court colleagues?

And how is a showboating Bheki Cele going to stand up to the looming Jabberwock of Crime with its jaws that bite, its claws that catch, when he left his vorpal blade (also known as meaningful social intervention) at home?

And all the while the Cheshire Cat grins mysteriously, while his chosen cohorts find their way to their designated places on the chessboard.

As for Alice? We’re Alice. Stumbling through this crazy place not even trying to make sense of it all as just get on with our lives.

But maybe we need to stop painting roses and take a stand against insanity before it all comes tumbling down around our heads like a house of cards.

(First published in The Big Issue #153. Thanks to Twitter followers for suggestions on characters. And thanks to the High Court process for ousting Hlope from the runnings aka, tossing the caterpillar off his perch.)


Recent comments:

  • ar
    October 2nd, 2009 @13:19 #

    This would be funny if it wasn't true. Or maybe it's funny because it is true. I can't tell anymore. Drink this eat that. I keep reaching for Finuala's poem about the gentle knocking of familiar boats, to keep me steady.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 2nd, 2009 @13:44 #

    Aah, fuck, this is brilliantly twisted. Lauren, you should turn this into a dark cartoon story. Oh, wait, it's real. Ok, Lauren, you should turn this into a brillianty dark and twisted cartoon story.

    p.s. you can thank me in the acknowledgements.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    October 2nd, 2009 @14:09 #

    Gasp. This explains how my head got done in. There I was thinking a wall reached out and blindsided me.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 2nd, 2009 @20:27 #

    No ways about it, this is a way crazy place. But oh Goddess, how I love it, even as I'm outraged by the Walrus, the Tweedles, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Just read an interesting piece in the August issue of Fair Lady (I was at the hairdresser, ok?) by Marianne Thamm about the SA ability to live with complete paradox, to juggle contradictory narratives. She thought it was a good thing. It is, too.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    October 3rd, 2009 @21:50 #

    It is. We've learned to laugh, otherwise we'll cry. As for me, keeps me sane. Lauren, looks like we'll be turning to you for reality therapy!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">liamkruger</a>
    October 4th, 2009 @13:34 #



Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat