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Tom Eaton

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Buddy, can you spare a Nobel Prize?

R.W. Johnson reckons South Africa’s usual Nobel suspects got their gongs by hopping on the Apartheid bandwagon. Apparently young Nelson was taking the long view when he planned his career: go to school, train as a lawyer, get nicked, bounce a baseball against a stone wall for 27 years, and then…jackpot, baby! “I’d like to thank my warders, without whose patience this wonderful award would never have been possible! And Hendrick V, is he here tonight? Hendrick, are you out there? Oh, I think he’s been perforated by a tapeworm, but okay, HV, I love you, man! Geez, who else? There’s…I’m…Oh, they’re started playing me off the stage. Thank you! Thank y…”

So what hope is there for a young writer growing up in the R of SA? How can this callow and coddled thing ever hope to dangle Swedish gold around his pencil neck when he’s been so cruelly liberated by history, so unfairly tolerated by the political system of his day? Should he just stop writing now, as so many of those rejection slips urged him to do when he was at University and kept sending inspirational Winnie the Pooh stories to The New Yorker?

No.

There will always be new windmills to tilt at, even though he’s not entirely comfortable with the allusion because he’s never read Cervantes and is more or less winging it on general knowledge. There are stories that must be told. Or at least synopses to be written.

I shall write on the beaches, I shall write on the landing grounds, I shall write in the fields and in the streets, I shall write in the hills; I shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this solipsist or a large part of him were subjugated and starving, then my imaginary empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the imaginary pod of exploding killer whales I have at my command, would carry on the struggle, until in God’s good time, my Editor, with all her power and might, steps forth to the rescue of my ego. Or until they tell me to stop being such a poseur by whipping out my bloody laptop on every bloody field, beach and landing ground, because only total wankers write in public.

I will not cease from mental fight, nor will my sword sleep in my hand, til I have watched Chariots of Fire enough times to the end to get the full quote right.

All of which has brought me to this decision. I can and will win a Nobel Prize by fighting the fight of my generation and my class. I will win my Nobel Prize by creating a body of work that critiques the shortage of internationally popular causes in South Africa.

I have already begun to plan it: ‘Why Won’t Anybody Listen To Me?’ (Acme and Acme, 2010), ‘Somebody Really Ought To Do Something About The Crime and That’ (self-published, 2012), and ‘Waiting For The Barbiturates’ (e-book, 2014).

The Brinks and the Jonkers were the Sestigers. We think Le Roux might have been one too, but we don’t know how to pluralize ‘Le Roux’ because Afrikaans Second Language was an awful long time ago: we suspect it’s got an apostrophe somewhere but we might be making that up.

So, yes. They were the Sestigers. We shall be the Tsetse Flies. They opened eyes. We shall close them. Let us embrace our calling, and accept that suburban ennui is the new angst. Come on, young middle class writers! Join me as we storm the barricades at the end of our road, lay siege to Woolies Foods until they restock with blueberries, and singe the literary world with the white heat of our boredom, cutting through the bullshit like a hot simile through a cliché!

Let us fret about capitalism over drinkies at La Frommage Exquisite on Friday afternoon! Let us decry the dehumanizing effect of an online life by posting important thoughts on www.whatireallywanttodoisidirect.org!

Once more unto the beach, dear friends!

We are Les Miserables of the burbs! We have come to correct the politics of today! We are political correctors!

(Cantabile, con brio, con chocolo malto)

Do you hear the people sing (which is not to dismiss the efforts of the tone-deaf, who have their own special skills)?
Singing a song of angry men (and women, who have more reason to be angry than men)?
It is the music of a people (or nation-state, or tribe, or clan, or collective)
Who will not be slaves again (because slavery is WRONG)!
When the beating of your heart (or whichever significant organ your culture privileges)
Echoes the beating of the drums (or some other affirming symbol of cultural heritage)
There is a life about to start (unless you have chosen to remain child-free, which is also your right)
When tomorrow comes (if God wills it, or physics demands it, whichever you feel more comfortable with)

Cover me. I’m going in.

NOTE: the opinions expressed in this posting do not necessarily reflect the views of the author, his holding company, the state in which they are licensed to trade, or the Government of the Republic of South Africa. All reference to anything are fictitious, or made up, and bare no similarity to anything, at all, either real or imagined. The exploding killer whales are real, though. No, they’re not. Except they are. No. Yes. Come on. Seriously. Really? Perhaps.

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 23rd, 2009 @23:47 #
     
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    ROFL, until I got to the bit about con chocolo malto, then became openly hysterical.

    Does this mean that our date for drinkies at Le Frommage Delicioso is cancelled?

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 24th, 2009 @01:00 #
     
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    In Stockholm
    A sleeping giant stirs
    Farts loudly
    And dreams of dynamite.

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  • <a href="http://fionasnyckers.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    Fiona
    February 24th, 2009 @07:46 #
     
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    I do believe in exploding killer whales, Wendy. I do, I do.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 24th, 2009 @15:29 #
     
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    Big Bump I - and a couple more coming up.

    As Rustum would say - "Free column from Tom Eaton!"

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 24th, 2009 @17:48 #
     
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    Disclaimer II: the ego-blasting Editor in this piece has nothing to do with me. (Right, Tom?) No, really. Seriously. Come on. Perhaps. etcetera.

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  • <a href="http://tomeaton.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Tom</a>
    Tom
    February 24th, 2009 @22:56 #
     
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    Ben-Editor, your bump is gratefully accepted on bump-starved knuckles. Helen, you are not She. Fiona, the pod says 'zup. Actually it says, and I quote, "Krrrrr fweeee feweeee eeeeeuuuuu krrrrrr - bang!"

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 24th, 2009 @23:36 #
     
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    Ah well. And there I was hearing the soundtrack from Notting Hill swelling in my ears. My best to the penguin-eating pod.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @01:26 #
     
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    I just ran that through Babelfish, Tom, and it reads: "Does this tuna smell of semtex, dude, or what?"

    And I don't want to pee on your onomato, but I'm pretty sure an exploding pod of killer whales goes Vhoomp. But I'll have to check this with Rustum, our resident depth charge expert.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 25th, 2009 @09:45 #
     
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    Snort snort snort (transl: Not-She is amused).

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @10:19 #
     
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    What pot?

    Oh, pod. We never faced pods of exploding killer whales, but I suspect a vhoomp or whoomp after immediately after the Krrrrr fweeee feweeee eeeeeuuuuu krrrrrr - bang as the expanding gases leave a subsequent vacuum in the nih.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 25th, 2009 @10:29 #
     
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    Now look you - them pheasants are for his pot. These whales are for my pot. Now what makes you think I should give you something for your pot?

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 25th, 2009 @10:32 #
     
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    Are you guys channelling Douglas Adams perchance?

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @10:55 #
     
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    "If I hear more words out of you, I'll put one of these here black pods on yer."

    "Don't threaten me with a dead fish"

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @11:01 #
     
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    "There be orcas in them thar woods, Mr. Frodo."

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 25th, 2009 @11:14 #
     
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    Right, here's the plan. First, we go in there and get wrecked, then we eat a pork pie, then we drop some Surmontil-50's each. That way we'll miss out on Thursday and come up smiling Friday morning.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @12:19 #
     
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    Two large gins. Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @12:20 #
     
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    Ben, you do know of course that the script sits just to my right, in a small shelf where I keep my dictionaries and other reference books.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 25th, 2009 @12:25 #
     
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    The script sits in my brain. Most of it, at least. I swallowed it and ran a mile, once, you see.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @12:33 #
     
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    I am proudly and vociferously unscripted.

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  • <a href="http://tomeaton.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Tom</a>
    Tom
    February 25th, 2009 @13:06 #
     
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    Now I know what you're thinking: 'Did he release six whales or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I've kind lost track myself. But being this is a 44-ton Orcinus orca, the most intelligent marine predator in the world and would chew your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 25th, 2009 @13:09 #
     
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    Richard is an original work of fart. (OKAY OKAY, stop chucking fish at me already.)

    And while I am in puerile mode, I'll have a couple of Long Island Iced Teas, please.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 25th, 2009 @13:22 #
     
  • <a href="http://tomeaton.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Tom</a>
    Tom
    February 25th, 2009 @13:48 #
     
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    Used to be one of mine, but had to let it go. It was supposed to breach and then explode in mid-air, obliterating the advancing kayak menace with red-hot blubber, but the bastard chickened out at the last minute. What was so insulting was that it tried to make a really big splash when it landed so I'd think it had detonated late. I forgive failure, but not when it's covered by lies and foamy Atlantic spray. I gave it the week's sardines, a reference, and showed it the door.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @14:36 #
     
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    Upcoming from Penguin - Tom Eaton's long-awaited whaling spoof Boobie Dick.

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  • <a href="http://tomeaton.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Tom</a>
    Tom
    February 25th, 2009 @17:43 #
     
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    Sorry, Richard, it sounds awesome but I'm too busy working on my three latest: 'The Adventures of Huckleberry's Fin', 'The Humpback of Notre Dame' and 'To Krill a Mockingbird'.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @18:04 #
     
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    You people are incorrigible as Southern rights tacked on course.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @18:05 #
     
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    My name is Ishmilk (Boobie Dick).

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @19:01 #
     
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    I'll be writing 'Can You Hear My Sperm Wail?' under my pseudonym Tim Cambridge.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 25th, 2009 @19:04 #
     
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    Surely, Rustum, that should be: "Call me e-mail, I don't care."

    (I need to lie down now.)

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    February 25th, 2009 @19:50 #
     
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    Right, Call me E-mail. I was confusing Eugene Dawn with E-mail.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 25th, 2009 @22:12 #
     
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    You all get the Booby Prize for egregious breaches of good taste. Try not to blubber. (Eish! males.)

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    February 26th, 2009 @08:52 #
     
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    Thomas darlink, you are over on Alex's "Golden Shorts" thread. Your name is being taken not in vain exactly, but in wail.

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