/ 2 February 2017

Sozzled at the Saxonwold Shebeen

Columns in the historical city of Palmyra
Columns in the historical city of Palmyra


It is midnight at the Saxonwold Shebeen. Brian Molefe sits disconsolately in a corner, nursing a Belvedere. Andile Myxomatosis is already drunk; slumped crosswise on the sofa, muttering to himself: “Bliff bloff bluff … bilf? Blaf, blaf …”

A man in a trench coat enters the bar and takes a stool at the counter. The bug-eyed barman twitches.

The man in the trench coat says: “Call me Jimmy Mumbles. I’m here on a top-secret mission. No names, no pack drill. Give me a Rémy Martin. A little one. But in one of those big French glasses like Mayihlome drinks from.”

“Okay,” says the bug-eyed barman, turning to the glittering array of bottles shelved alongside mirrors that make them magically appear to double in number. This is known as the Black Ops Bar.

He delicately sets a balloon glass before Mumbles and, with an almost imperceptible flick of an immaculately manicured finger, removes the cork from a bottle of Rémy and tilts a golden shower of honey-coloured goodness into the glass.

“Mmm,” says Jimmy Mumbles, taking a sip of the sacred nectar. “That will most certainly do for the Black Business – ”

“Aaargh!” comes a blood-curdling cry from the sofa. Andile Myxomatosis lurches to his feet and comes stumbling towards Mumbles, yelling: “Blarf blank biznips – hey, Jimmy, where’s my money for expenses?”

The man in the trench coat is on his feet in a millisecond. A gleaming Makarov pistol is in his fist, without it having made any visible transition from holster to hand. As the narrator said before, it’s like magic.

“Shut up, fatso!” Mumbles growls at Myxomatosis, sidestepping the bearded man’s trajectory. “You’ve got your VBS gold card, goddammit! Isn’t that enough for you?”

Myxomatosis comes to a halt against the bar, his chin shuddering towards the polished-wood bar top. “Blaf, bluff,” he mumbles.

“And, besides,” says Jimmy, “you’re not supposed to call me Jimmy. I’m on a top-secret mission, dammit. You always fuck things up, Andile. Juju warned me! But did I listen? Oh no. Those guys at Bell Pottinger said: ‘Get him on board, he’s got a good line on white monopoly capital.’ And I went along with it.”

Jimmy sits down on the barstool again. “Bloody waste of time,” he says. “Barman, I’ll have another Rémy. Please.”

Andile Myxomatosis has slumped to the floor. He is silent.

This time, Jimmy Mumbles does not sip his Rémy Martin, as Mayihlome would doubtless have him do, but throws it down his throat in one swift gesture.

“Right!” he cries manfully. “This is obviously not the place to come looking for a new finance minister! I put on my best trench coat, polish up my vintage Makarov, and set out for this famous locale – a place I thought would be heaving with dynamic young finance ministers-in-waiting! But no, all I find is a sozzled ideologue and …”

“Excuse me,” comes a little voice from the corner.

“Huh?” asks Jimmy, then: “Brian! Just the person I was looking for!”