Picturing my kingdom as an island

Wednesday morning.

It’s indecently early, still dark, but I’m up and hopefully about to start hammering at the keyboard. I’m a day behind in terms of copy, courtesy of Tuesday’s perfect storm of nonconnectivity, created by what appears to be a conspiracy among our dearly beloved service providers.

After eight hours of failed attempts to get online and into the system, and seemingly endless arguments with call centre staff unable to end my technological isolation, I conceded. Gave up cursing and issuing death threats. Admitted defeat. Jacked it in. Wrote the day off. Decided to watch the Belgium versus France game to soothe my frazzled nerves, only to find that my better half already had control of the remote, which she was never going to relinquish during either Isibaya or The Queen.

I went to bed in a huff. Lay there awake for hours, my mind racing about how to fit two days’ work into one while Tuesday became Wednesday and the chances of waking up fresh and ready for an Everest of copy decreased exponentially. Sleep brought no relief — tranches of copy kept appearing in my dreams.

It may be paranoia on my part that makes me want to cry foul over a day with no communications, the result of too many years hanging about in court houses and other strange places with former commander-in-chief Jacob Zuma.


A decade of watching the country unravelling while the head of state giggles and plays snakes and ladders with the organs of governance, the revenue service and the governing party will do its bit towards making one paranoid, I guess. So, too, will a lifetime of watching for the cops over one’s shoulder every time one lights up a spliff.

The truth is, it’s hard not to believe in conspiracies. They’re real. #GuptaLeaks, Nkandlagate, Hansie Fucking Cronjé, the current hearings into the alleged capture of the South African Revenue Service, England’s presence in the World Cup quarterfinals. The fix is well and truly in; the only question is: How deep?

How else does one explain the simultaneous death of the Telkom ADSL line, the MTN 3G modem and the wi-fi hotspot on the Vodacom mobile phone? What are the chances of all three networks going down simultaneously for the whole day in the same place? A thousand to one? A million to one? I’ve no idea how to calculate the likelihood of this happening, but it seems suspicious from where I sit.

If Zuma were still president, I’d have been outside, taking a look for a white van with black-tinted windows and a crime intelligence muppet inside messing about with a signal-jammer, or for a data-grabber. Zuma was recalled, so I don’t bother. Perhaps that was a mistake on my part. Perhaps not.

I say a small prayer. Crank up the laptop.

It’s still dark in the Kingdom, as our would-be breakaway brigade down here call it, but it’s warming up nicely.

Another few weeks and it will be light enough and warm enough to hit the ocean at this time of the morning. Provided that those arguing for a Zexit, as it were, don’t take the ocean when they break away from South Africa.

I wonder how that works, breaking away from South Africa and taking KwaZulu-Natal with one? Does one get out the crowbar, pickaxe and sledgehammer and start chipping away along the borders with the Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga? Deploy one’s regiments to do the digging in synchronised formation? Oh, and the boundaries with Lesotho and Swaziland as well. And the Mozambique bit. Don’t forget that. Surely those sections of the Kingdom’s borders should also be dug out. One is breaking away, after all.

Does one dig a rather large ditch and leave it at that? Does one mine the ditch or populate it with lions? Or does one flood it and fill it with crocodiles and Zambezi sharks to keep the South Africans out?

Does one keep on digging until one literally breaks away and floats off into the Indian Ocean? Allow one’s Kingdom to become an island. If the Earth were flat, I suppose, one could.

Or does one adopt the Trumpian approach? Issue an edict ordering South Africa to build a wall, or even a fence, for the Kingdom? And get them to pay for it, of course.

That seems the most likely option, given that South Africa is paying for everything else in the Kingdom already. Why buck a winning trend? I certainly wouldn’t, if I were among the breakaway brethren.

I check the wireless. The ADSL line is still dead. No night shift for Telkom, it seems. The 3G is just as useful. I hurl it against the wall. It breaks into pieces; stupid move.

I hook up the phone. The hotspot works. A wave of relief washes over me. I can work again.

I’m back in the system, like a breakaway kingdom reunited with the rest of the country.

My fingers stroke the keyboard. The keys feel sweet to my touch.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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