Counter Attacks

“When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do, is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue.”
So sang Phillip “it is here” Collins in his hit Against All Odds.
Quite why he couldn’t find another word to rhyme with “blue”, particularly with the massive lexicographical selection available to him, I have no idea.
But it doesn’t matter, because that’s not relevant to this blog post at all.

No, because I meant to start (and sing along with me here):
“When I’m wondering what to write about here, all I have to do, is take a look at the letters page of the Southern Suburbs Tatler, then I don’t have to wonder what to write about anymore.”
It’s like Phil Collins’ efforts, but far more pertinent to this blog post, because it’s exactly what I did (and have done previously). And it was there that I found a letter from P During of Newlands.
It went a little something like this:

Counter Attack
Here is a simple solution to counter Table Mountain muggings (“Mountain Safety Concern”, Tatler, June 17).
Or armed forces must have special people trained in unarmed combat.
Dress some of these people as tourists with valuables such as expensive cameras and watches.
Unsuspecting muggers could then be roughly handled and handed over to the police.
Perhaps people highly skilled in karate would also be prepared to help out.

This issue of muggings on Table Mountain is hugely contentious. People like me lament the fact that each incident (in single figures each year) gets front page news, while the other lot are annoyed that more isn’t made out of it – as if it could be. It’s perfect fodder for the local tabloid though – drama, crime, dismay and the opportunity to prompt letters from P During of Newlands.

In just 5 lines, P During delivers well-considered and powerful advice. You can’t almost see him sitting at home, smoking his pipe and slippers while reading the Tatler’s story on June 17th. He’s thinking that there’s surely some way he can help in sorting this situation out. And then suddenly, it hits him: bring in the army!
“Yes, back in my day, we had to learn what to do when we ran out of bayonets behind enemy lines. A little unarmed combat. Of course, back then you could whip Fritz’s gun and shoot him in the face, but if I suggest that, they probably won’t publish my letter.”

And he’s right, of course. But no-one is fooled by his clever line “Unsuspecting muggers could be roughly handled”. Despite the fact that P During is – in all likelihood – a lovably harmless 80-something year old granddad, that line is clearly unsubtle code for “Unsuspecting muggers could have seven bells of sh!t kicked out of them” (sorry Mum).

But it’s his last line that takes the biscuit. It’s almost as if he thinks that having members of the Special Forces beating up muggers in Skeleton Gorge might not be enough. And while he doesn’t actually use the ‘N’ word, we all know what he’s thinking.
Yes, P During of Newlands wants Ninjas on the slopes of Table Mountain.

And it might not be a bad idea, but it will never happen. Because ninjas (as we all know) are covert agents or mercenaries of feudal Japan. And Table Mountain is a National Park. There is no way that the authorities will allow an alien species to be introduced to the area. Last time they did that with the Himalayan Tahrs, they changed their minds and went out and shot them.
Release some ninjas and if you change your mind, you’ve got problems. Ninjas would obviously be a whole lot more difficult to locate than tahrs once they were released on the mountain.
And you’d have to find some very brave or very stupid marksmen to go after them. While tahrs are known for their sure-footedness and small horns, ninjas are known for stealth and their ability to kill people very efficiently. Get too close when hunting tahrs and while you might get butted, you’re unlikely to find a shuriken embedded in your forehead, flung by a hand you never even saw.

I don’t have the answer to these over-publicised attacks, but I will be writing to the Tatler this week to advise the National Park Board against deploying ninjas for the reasons I give above.

5 thoughts on “Counter Attacks

  1. I’ve always thought that Collins could have used Nelson Goodman’s word “grue”, from the new riddle of induction.

    More seriously: you say “in single figures each year” for the Table Mountain muggings. While I fully agree with the broader point that these things are sensationalised, a friend of mine and some visiting students she was taking around were mugged last week, and the police told her that on that day, she and the students took the mugged tally to 13 – none of whom appeared in the press.

    So there’s a chance of under-reporting, perhaps especially when SA is trying to look as sparkly as possible during the World Cup.

  2. Jacques > “grue”? Trust you to come up with some fancypants suggestion.
    Thanks for the heads-up on the figures, though. I wasn’t far wrong… 🙂

    Ant > Slipper soles = soapbar! No wonder he was looney-tuned!

  3. Just to clarify – I meant 13 on that day alone, rather than the implied “taking the 2010 tally to 13”. So this year at least, you will be far wrong. Happens to us all sometimes – I was wrong in 2001, if I remember correctly.

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