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Until the band stops playing


Yesterday morning I woke up realising that someone, somewhere was shaking a defiant fist at me and my fellow elite

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I thought that we got up to mischief as youngsters, but the more I listen to the stories that the generation that preceded us tell, the more I realise that we were amateurs.

For example, I recently heard the story of let me simply call him ‘J’. Now J, according to the person that related the story, was a party animal.

Bear in mind that back then – the 1950s and ’60s – partying was unlike modern-day clubbing with its loud, pulsing music and outrageous behaviour; on the contrary at that time there were the more refined dances and dinner dances.

These dances featured a live band that didn’t need amplifiers and flashing lights to entertain the patrons, all they needed was a few square feet of stage space and someone to keep the beat. Back then if the lights went out, they’d foxtrot by candlelight.

These were elegant affairs, people would dress up in their finest suits and ball-gowns and gracefully float around the dance floor.

And there was no one more elegantly dressed than J and Mrs J.

Although J was not a wealthy man, he and his wife would pitch up in attire that would cause the breath to catch in the throats of the other, more well-to-do patrons.

J and Mrs J would gracefully float around the dance floor and they would be the envy of the room with every lilt, sway or swing of their elegantly dressed forms.

However, eventually one day, someone finally figured out how J’s wardrobe could be seemingly bottomless.

You see, J worked for the dry cleaners. He would pick up and deliver clothes for the more affluent families in the city, and therefore, there was always a high-quality suit that would fit him and an expensive gown that would fit his missus.

J and Mrs J would dance the night away on the weekend and then he would see to it that the suits were cleaned, pressed and delivered by Monday morning; and no one was the wiser because back then, with communities separated along racial lines, there was no way that the owners of the suits and gowns would be at a dance where J and his wife were ‘cutting the rug’.

In J’s defence, his naughtiness never actually harmed anyone.

J became a symbol of defiance, a kind of a folk hero that was shaking his fist at the conceited elite who thought themselves better than those of his colour and class, even though they were none the wiser to the rebellion happening right under their noses.

Yesterday morning I woke up realising that someone, somewhere was shaking a defiant fist at me and my fellow elite. When I got up I learned that the cables that supply our suburb with electricity had been stolen – again. I suppose they thought that seeing as we were sleeping we didn’t need it.

What disturbs me more than the prospect of more cold showers, like I had to take a few weeks ago when the same thing happened, is the fact that it seems that there are not sufficient deterrents in place to prevent the theft and sale of cable.

How is it, I wonder, that the citizens of a country who pay their rates, utilities and taxes to keep our government and municipalities running smoothly seem to be drawing the short straw?

Have we reached a point where residents have to sit up at night to protect – not only the infrastructure that supplies our suburbs – but also our homes and families?

If nothing is done to address the problems that are causing our society to crumble, then our society will continue crumbling to dust.

The problem we are facing is not as shallow as a cold shower, or spoiled food in the refrigerator; it is that our country is still, pretty much, divided and there are self-styled ‘Js’ out there who feel justified in shaking their fist at the conceited elite. And these new Js have no intention of returning anything no matter who gets harmed.

They’ll just keep dancing to their own beat until the band stops playing for good.