Tuesday, 28 June 2011

All manner of manners

There was a time, not too long ago, when all it required to unnerve a man was mere flirting and slight body contact would discomfort the innards of a man and tailspin his ways. From across the room, the discreet dress slit would reveal womanly flesh, only for a moment and for a tease. Indeed, there was, once upon a time. Now it is no more. The lady in a slit has been replaced with the slut on heels. I hasten to add how difficult it is to find a lady with manners. Now, I write to declare a lady with manners is sexy. Yet such a breed, one finds not.

When was the last time you came across a man of manners? A gentleman? Not a chivalrous courtier, but simply a man of manners? I have been thinking about this quite a lot and grieved deeply the death of manners. Common decency has escaped the human race, we have become more and more crude and crass than wild animals. Please, May I, thank you's have been taken away from our vocabulary and all that is left are expletives about our behinds, our mothers and showing the middle finger as a sign of displeasure. When did it all go wrong?

Some argue, when writing, correct grammar and punctuation must be used at all times. Others think lowly of those that revert to text short-hand in emails or wherever the written word must be used. I am not too fussy on this. Honestly, why should I be worried? It is pretty lame to argue it bastardises the English language- when the English language itself is a bastard child of pure linguistic tongues like Latin and Greek. Yes, it shows impetuousness, but it is never offensive. Truly, use text message when you write me and I will certainly not think highly of you. But, neither will I think lowly of you. But use expletives as punctuation and my regard is gone with the wind. I totally understand the need to be dramatic and emphatic, when Chaucer used such words it was more emphatic than an exclamation mark. Now, if writers are told an exclamation mark can only be used after every hundred thousand words, then an expletive is the mother of emphasis. So let it be. Imagine then if every other word is a swear word or such.

There is nothing more sensual than a woman with manners, dressed appropriately and of intelligent countenance. I am quite convinced now; every woman in more carnal of relations can be quite Wolfish. But, I am not convinced in society too, the she-wolf can be a lady. So in mating I would rather simply look for a lady. The mini-skirts, make up, artificial coloured long nails, synthetic hair pieces and rowdy behaviour of our women folk is disgraceful. Is this what equal rights really mean? Is this what drinking beer means? To debauch one’s high regard and debase one’s standing to the lowly province of manly brutes in beer binge and sordid tongues? Honestly ladies, how do I become a suitable defender of your honour when such is nonexistent?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the mini-skirts on a feminine body. Only when appropriately dressed, with one with appropriate anatomy to flatter. Same with make –up, I love it to bits, on occasion and not every occasion. I love it when a woman dresses up; it is perfect manners to do so. Such efforts and indulgence are quite exemplary. My love for dresses and all femininity is well acknowledged. There is nothing more feminine than a sensual woman. Note, sensual, not selling sex. Sensuality is that refined allure when beauty meets charm. A lady who is both beautiful and charming. Now, it seems there is no difference between walking at the meat market place where every vendor is throwing all sort of meat at one. In a room full of ladies, the same applies-they have become vendors selling sex.

Men do not fare any better. But, in society there has always been a distinction between the brute and the gentleman. We knew what to expect from the brute and his ways. Similarly we knew the gentleman was raised in the highest order of manners. I decry the dearth of gentlemanly behaviour now. So few and far in-between. What has happened?

I remain forthright in my beliefs. I will dress up appropriately for any occasion and will address people with much regard and common decency. I will go to church in my Sunday best and shall demand the same of my off springs. Sunday reverence is demanded as a respect to God and those around me. Unless demanded, and by forceful of demands shall I swear- only for emphasis. I aspire to be a gentleman, because of all aspirations it is one that my children will remember me most by. And probably one I want my epitaph to say. He was a gentleman.

Monday, 13 June 2011

In which TV finds redemption

For purely aesthetics, I bought a TV. Well, at times it played a functional role in watching the old classics movies with Aubrey Hepburn and the like. Honestly though, I spent a considerable more on superior technology; that is, the sound system to accost my ears with innumerable pleasures of sound. Nonetheless,on those rare occasions the TV was a useful appendage in movie watching. Clearly, I can live without a TV, and its attended pollution.

But, this last week I have been enamoured with such fascinations as to please my person considerably. Cajoled to watch the TV series “The Tudors”, I was deeply appreciative of all. It is about King Henry VIII, the enigmatic fellow in England during the tail end of the Renaissance and the beginning of reformation. I am a student of history and a child of the Renaissance and thus on this count I did not need much persuasion. I was indeed persuaded most by the ability of the series to capture fully the time, trials and goings on of our favourite King. The producers have surely done a splendid and glorious job in bringing to TV the most troubling of times. The history content is apt and much has been done to preserve the historical account of things. Though I find the TV series to be extremely damning of the King. He was after all, a superior in intellect , widely read and a writer of note.

King Henry VIII, stands at the edifice of reformation, when the church of England broke away from the Papacy. This was fundamental, and it could only take a man of such fortitude and scholarship as Henry VIII. Of course there was the small matter of wanting to marry Anne Boleyn and subsequently find an heir to the throne. But, let us be honest, every man has his own trifles. And it is on these trifles of six marriages, the main focus of the series.

I have watched all four series and highly recommend this. I could not honestly claim to have a favourite character, but believe the Chancellors, Wolsey, More, and Cromwell did fabulous jobs as actors and brought to character the most formidable individuals during this period. Of all, though he played a minor role in the series, is the Earl of Surrey who brought to foe the tyranny of the king, and paid it all with his life. It didn’t matter his superiority in blood, those of low pedigree had gained favour.

Enjoy his poem, the happy life. A timeless piece with such eloquence and force in words it provokes at every stance:

MY friend, the things that do attain

The happy life be these, I find:

The riches left, not got with pain;

The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge; no strife;

No charge of rule, nor governance;

Without disease, the healthy life;

The household of continuance;

The mean diet, no dainty fare;

Wisdom joined with simpleness;

The night discharged of all care,

Where wine the wit may not oppress:

The faithful wife, without debate;

Such sleeps as may beguile the night;

Content thyself with thine estate,

Neither wish death, nor fear his might.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Monday, 6 June 2011

When Kelz used to be Robert Kelly.

How times change. Do you remember the time when Robert Kelly was R Kelly? A music maestro with a voice so soothing it stopped a whirlwind in its tracks, so melodious the ocean tide waved to his notes, lyrics so powerful soldiers recited them before battle. The scintillating “heaven I need a hug” became the sound track of every criminal in jail. “I believe I can fly”, the song I played before my ‘A levels’ exam was not only inspirational but was my right of passage to life. I had gained my wings. I fell in love to “Forever, and ever” waltzing to the echo’s of “marry me, marry me”, with a young damsel I envisaged I would build the picket fence for.

Now R Kelly is Kelz. And there is something not right. Does success lead to fornication of one’s ideals? Is money, the cocktail of mental derangement? So many times I have heard the proverb, “with age comes wisdom” and each wrinkle a baptism of Aristotelian ethics. Kelz defies the time old proverbs. But, he is not alone. In today’s’ society many people are walking remnants of what was the “best of them “decades ago. So empty and vacuous are their ideals, the devil refuses even to curse a demon on them- it would be utter kindness.

Think, Vivica Fox, I remember a time standing in the queue at the local movie house for hours waiting for the movie, “set it off”. And there she was, towering splendour, an Aphrodite incarnate. That night I experienced my first wet dream, so wet I woke up panting, sweating and manly excretion dampening my sheets. Confused, I dried myself and slept. Vivica was not yet done, the next morning my body was slurped in dry white salt.

Today, to think this is the woman that made my testicles dance and vomit for the first time, is an embarrassing admission. What happened to the glory?

What happened to the most intelligent guy I grew up with? He committed suicide, I overheard the local barber lament,“he killed himself that is what happens when you are too intelligent”. I guess he just could not bear the life of ordinary. What of that pretty girl every guy had a crush on, “yes that one, many others and I bought a Mr bear ice cream for”. She died, Facebook advised, and left 3 kids.

In my library I picked up a GQ magazine, of yesteryear. GQ had Shaft on the cover page. A dapper man with brawn, brain and as the duke from a borough of bravery made life an adventure worth living as the “bad man”. When he told his woman, “my duty is to please that booty”, we all knew what he was talking about. All the ladies wished they had this ravenous savage for themselves or at least for one night. GQ has replaced Shaft with the clean shaven sweet faced Jude Law, and were it not the confessions of a nanny I would never have thought he had the courage to walk past a caged dog.

Marvin Gaye asks, “has anybody here, seen my old friend, john, can you tell me where his gone. He freed a lot of people but it seems the good die young, I just looked around and he was gone”. I remember my friend John- what happened dude? You introduced me to life and helped me buy my first shares. And then you just disappeared. I still needed hand holding dude. Where are you?

I remember R Kelly today, in the prime of his manliness- at his rhetorical best. “Reality” was on the album R and unable to afford a psychologist and with a father never at home, R Kelly was my counsellor. The photo of my generation was in the inlay, whereupon R Kelly looks out of the window reflecting. The image was beautiful, it told of a man looking beyond, beyond the trajectory of what eyes could see. The image, words and baseline still writ large in my brain; “any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a father, talking about a family, the kid, you and me, it’s not a fantasy but its reality.”

Remember the time when Erika Badu could captivate with her poetry, telling us to call Tyrone, to pick us up and as far away from her, sort our lives out. A decade later Ms Badu has fallen on hard times, she can’t even hire a video vixen for her music videos. To grab our attention she has to take off all her clothes and gyrate, her amble behind, for half the video. Years ago, she used to be covered head to toe. We were not even allowed to see a stray strain of hair; she had this huge hideous head gear on. We didn’t care; really we didn’t care, just how fashion was lost on her, because her poetry was just too powerful.

Writing this essay got me thinking, about that which is lost with time besides the slim waist and chiselled facial features as we become rotund and disgustingly lazy. Money becomes a substitute for courage, the more grey hairs we get the sillier we become (picture a 50 something year old with a grey haired jerry curl and fake Gunit chains). But not all is lost.

I have a good friend that stays in the outskirts of Pretoria in a country estate with his family. One unfortunate night his house was burgled by menacing, gun touting thieves. In the middle of the night they demanded all the jewellery in the house. My friend obliged and simply asked they do not touch his wife and kids. But, the thieves had other intentions. After taking the jewellery they started to man handle the wife despite the wife’s screams of protest. My friend, in a fit of rage, did what was instinctive to him. He ran straight to the offender and gave him a fierce jugular. The thief, half in awe and half dazed by the punch fell down. The other thieves then shot my friend three times before disappearing into the night. My friend was in hospital for a month. When I visited them at their home, there was a sparkle in the wife’s eye that I had never seen in her before. Her man, she said “was her hero”.

I also got to hear a heart wrenching story about another friend, a candidate PHD at an illustrious university and a bright future ahead of him. His parents come from Mt Darwin in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. One holiday he decided to visit, unfortunately this was during the election period in Zimbabwe. Bands of marauding apparatchik Zanu Pf youth and war vets had become the new war lords in this part of the country. No opposition party was allowed in this heartland of Zanu pf. unfortunately my friend’s family feuds spilled over into the politics of the day. Apparently his uncle (father’s brother) ratted on them, accusing their family of being sympathetic to the opposition.

The war vets would routinely round up everyone who was suspected to be sympathetic to the opposition and give them a night of orientation in Zanu pf politics. This basically involves a thorough beating until one can sing all the Zanu pf songs. My friend and his mother were rounded up with others and they were taken to the middle of the forest where a night vigil would occur. He says he was scared to death and could not reason with these pot infested, alcohol infected and angry as hell thugs.

Eventual they were told to lie face down, and the leader of the war vets, prepared a sjmbok from the trees around. He then started thrashing the captives, one by one. So thorough and determined was the hiding the screams could be heard miles away. My friend says when they got to his mother he just could not lie there, especially having seen how the other victims had suffered. Instinctively, without thinking he just sprung up and went straight for the war vet leader’s throat. If you know this chap, round about now is when you start laughing. I never imagined. He says, he does not know where the strength or courage came from but he just held on tightly to the throat. The war vet was now choking, with wide eyes and fell on the floor. The strangler did not let go. The other war vets having seen what was happening quickly came to the rescue of their leader. After breaking them up, they then tied my friend to a tree and beat him up until he passed out. The war vets did beat his mother up, but she tells the tale of her son-her hero. She says they beat her up but she could not feel a thing.

In these two stories, I have begun to understand manliness. The instinctive nature of man, beyond civilisation. It is this distinction that separates us from women that women fall in love with, that society find pride in. Alas, society will never hear these two stories, they are busy watching "Survivor" or dancing to Beyonce's "i'm a survivor". The hero, is the 1m winner of survivor. Decades later I wonder where they will be.

In building the next decades of our lives it is important we focus on what is important. On those virtues, which through practise make us real man. Because, if we are not careful, we too shall change our names from Robert Kelly to Kelz. If the name change does not help then maybe our naked posterior might. Desperate to just be in the limelight, when our shine was long gone.....

As for me, I am growing a beard....