I have a dream…

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. If Woody Allen is to be believed, those who can’t teach, teach gym. And those who can’t teach gym, write advertisements for radio.

Typing troglodytes, bottom-feeders infatuated with word processors, these vendors of numbing banality cling to the sphincter of human discourse, hawking verbless exhortations to action and the battered corpses of 60-year-old puns. In their hands 30 seconds is an eternity.

So when the reassuring drawl of Gary Player rose clear above the aural sludge, I sat up and listened. Gary was urging me to open an account with Nedbank, which was dashed altruistic of him considering he doesn’t even work for them. If I opened an account, Gary told me, Nedbank — out of the goodness of its great big, freshly baked, sun-dappled dew-sprinkled heart — would give one needy child a …

Long-overdue thrashing? No, banks only brutalise people with an income. So what bounty was Nedbank about to scatter to the throng of ululating cherubim? Would the opening of my account give a needy child a meal a day? A classroom with a roof? Gary’s voice supported a tone of exquisitely noble suffering, while outside my window a team of municipal labourers broke into a chorus of When You Wish Upon a Star.

Staggered by my innate goodness, I lunged for the telephone, eager to dedicate my life to Nedbank so that the little children might live. But true rapture was still to come: Gary finished his sentence. Open an account, he revealed, and Nedbank will give one needy child a pair of golf shoes.

Thank God for Nedbank and Gary Player and their immaculate timing. Just last year the United Nations stopped delivering truckloads of golf shoes to the developing world. In Myanmar, North Korea and Liberia there are an estimated 150 pairs of golf shoes, 120 of them with at least one cleat missing.

A 2002 report by Médécins sans Frontières featured the chilling estimation that if sanctions were not lifted against Iraq, children would have no choice but to stop playing golf altogether. And in Afghanistan, where handicaps are decreed under Sharia law, the Kabul Country Club is now used to grow poppies for the banquet halls of St Andrews, a stark testament to the West’s cynical abandonment of Afghan golf.

Without wanting to exaggerate my virtue, I did once try to give a needy child a pair of golf shoes. That is, I once tried to open an account at Nedbank. A limp and patronising creature with prehensile jowls held my bank statement like a soiled nappy, and informed me that there was a minimum balance required, and I had best try elsewhere, ”somewhere without entry standards”. As I left he took out a can of air freshener and cleansed his cubicle, before straightening his toupee and continuing work on his rubber-band ball.

Now surely this was a case for targeted charity? If my account couldn’t have afforded a pair of shoes, how about some balls? Or those overpriced tiddlywinks discs one bangs down on the green whenever you want to blow your nose or look thoughtful? This Christmas little Shadrack will sit in his family’s shack, writing a letter to Santa by the light of a candle:

”Dear Santa, since grandma died on the back nine at Fancourt it has been very difficult for us. Dad drowned in the water hazard at Royal Cape last year, Mom ran away with a caddie at Augusta, and grandma’s pension used to cover our membership fees, but now we can only manage one round a month. Please Santa, I have four irons, a putter and a driver, but I had to sell my divot fixer to pay for Thandi’s lunch yesterday. Could you bring me a new one?”

Once, Shadrack would have been denied, forced to sell his six-iron for school fees. But today he has Nedbank, Gary Player and God on his side.

The last paraphrase should go to Martin Luther King: ”I have a dream that one day on the green fairways of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to tee off together in a fourball of brotherhood … I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the contents of their golf-bags. I have a dream today.”

Amen, brother.

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Maya Fisher French
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