I come from a long line of great worriers. My earliest memory is of Father, the morning paper spread out before him, tearing his hair out. He was concerned that Aunt Mildred's tea party at the Union Buildings would be interrupted due to the fall in the gold price.
His outburst resulted in a fresh surge of nail-biting on my sister's part, and I promptly wet my nappy in sympathy. The Ugandan au pair, Jane, was possibly the only sane member of the household, and had long ago realized that all of this madness would pass as the day wore on. She merrily picked up our toys and saw to my sister and me while my mother searched the papers for something new to satisfy her appetite for Recreational Anxiety.
Yes, I call this Recreational Anxiety, because it is a common fault of our modern society. We have defined recreational drugs and recreational sex, so why not Recreational Anxiety? We worry about silly, insignificant things. This happens while matters more deserving of our concern go unnoticed. For example, Pravin Gordhan's eyes. Did you notice that while he was reading the budget speech on television recently, he had a nervous tic just above his left eyelid? Maybe you didn't see, but our family gathered round to watch, and all remarked on the repeated clearing of his throat, and his oscillating eyelid. Cancer of the thyroid was Grandad's assessment but my son, Arthur, corrected him by referring to Gray's Book of Infectious Diseases. (We keep a copy on the shelf under the stairs). He read out in his halting schoolboy English, The major symptoms of Thomson's Myofalgium are facial contortions and the inability to swallow properly. Arthur likes exchanging bad news with virtual strangers, and has his own web site - feel free to google have you heard and add your morose predictions to the collection. Leave your details and we'll all sit around discussing your personal problems, and with some luck, things might get worse. If Pravin Gordhan goes, we all go, predicts Grandad.
Possibly the most exciting day of my life was when Nelson Mandela emerged from prison. The feeling in Mafikeng was electrifying. The taxi's all drove up and down hooting while the white people hid indoors, fearing that the revolution had finally come. The Town Clerk was taking 7-5
odds that our little town would be in flames by the end of the week. Sadly nothing of the sort happened and we all went back to worrying about the cost of dog licenses. That was the biggest letdown in the history of our nation. It has gone from bad to worse. I mean, Jake Zuma has nothing but positive predictions for Africa in the next 10 years. Soon there will be nothing left.
Do you know that as I was writing this, a cockroach emerged from a crack in the wall, sniffed the air with his proboscis, and scuttled down to the counter where the remains of dinner are sitting, and is now proceeding to examine the leftovers I had planned for tomorrow's lunch. I am appalled at the paucity of character in a Body Corporate who simply don't give a fig about those of us who have the misfortune to live in Little Paradise. This firms my decision to revoke the debit order on the levy going forward. I shall call my bank manager at the earliest opportunity. This nonsense cannot continue unabated. I shall meet sloth and greed with prompt action!
Anyway, to continue, after having been so rudely interrupted...
I have high hopes of discovering a new source of anxiety to power the people's imagination in the New Year. I am quite keen to start a movement called Think and Worry Today - ThaWT. I feel sure that we can, as a country of nervous thinkers, avert tragedy just by sitting still and thinking about what may happen in the future. If you think about it there is so much to worry about. The papers, the Internet and, closer to home, the people we come into daily contact with, all provide opportunities. Follow me for a moment.
You could be standing next to someone in the checkout line, when an opening gambit sets the tone. 'Looks like rain.' The surprised confidante will possibly scan the ceiling for signs of precipitation and nod cautiously. This is no indicator of failure. Stand erect, brandishing the morning paper, and set your glasses on the edge of your nose. Read out, clearly and in a raised voice, the headlines, City Women Looking Fatter. This headline will raise an eyebrow or two, maybe elicit a hostile cough from the lady behind you. Do not give up. The next question, Excuse me, but do you have funeral cover? opens a whole can of worms. You can tell everyone in the queue about the people you know who have died in suspicious circumstances. If you don't know anyone who died mysteriously, feel free to pick from articles in the newspaper. With luck you could start a Recreational Anxiety support group right there in the supermarket. You could get one another's phone numbers and liaise afterwards. There are a lot of nervous people out there, and ThaWT needs new blood.
Just think about it?