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Ian Martin

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Frikkie And Plug Honoured

They would have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics, but because they had no academic credentials they were instead given the Peace Prize.

“Well, let’s face it,” said Plug, “although there was nothing altruistic in our intentions, the consequences have been beneficial to our verminous species, Homo sapiens.”

He and Frikkie were seated at the dining table in the Camps Bay apartment, composing their acceptance speech. Plug was typing on his laptop, and Frikkie had his back to the view, which, he said, wasn’t worth a glance on an afternoon like that. The sea was a boring colour, neither blue nor green, and the sky was a mess.

“These scientific names are from Latin, right? ‘Homo’ is man, but what is ‘sapiens’?”

“Wise,” said Plug. “Wise man. That’s a good one, hey?”

“Fucking hilarious,” said Frikkie. “What’s ‘stupid’ in Latin?”

“Dunno. Google it.”

Frikkie used his thumb for a bit, and they eventually agreed that ‘stultus’ was what they were looking for. Homo stultus. Foolish man.

“I am going to say that we were driven by a desire to improve the lives of billions of poor people all over the world. I’ll say that we were looking for a way to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality without inflicting any pain on the wealthy. If the wealthy had been required to make any sacrifices, the bastards would never have agreed to come on board, and nothing would have changed.”

“Sounds fine,” said Frikkie. “Tell them any old bullshit you like.”

“I won’t admit that uplifting millions of people was an unintended consequence of our clever scheme to exploit the poor by converting their destitution and squalor into tradable commodities.”

“No it wouldn’t look good to say we don’t really give a stuff about the plight of the poor, and would be quite happy to sort them out with some heavy-handed Smarty Eugenics.”

“Hell, I wouldn’t dream of breathing the E-word. Shit no. I am going to waffle on about the nobility of spirit lurking beneath the surface of every human being. Even your filthy beggar grovelling in the gutter for a stompie or a crust of bread.”

“Yah, that sounds good,” said Frikkie. “What’s that word they always use? Domitable, or something?”

“Indomitable. Good one, Frikkie. The indomitable human spirit. Fuck! Euphemism for ‘insatiable greed’. I must use that platitude at least twice. But I need to keep my creative juices flowing, and I feel that now would be a good time for a dry Martini. Have I ever mentioned that Luis Bunuel created all of his surreal masterpieces while totally pissed on dry Martinis?”

“Many times, many times,” said Frikkie, going to the bar and getting busy with gin and vermouth. “That Louis Bunwell was a drunken poes, if you ask me. That’s why his movies turned out totally senseless, even if they are weirdly funny. Feel like a joint as well?”

“Feel like is one thing. Write a speech is another. If I get too lekker I will lose the plot. But you go ahead.”

Frikkie returned with the drinks and, while Plug continued to type, lit up and began to do some surfing.

“Will the King of Sweden be there?”

“Nope. But the King and Queen of Norway will. We’re going to Oslo, not Stockholm, remember?”

“Ah, yes,” said Frikkie. “I was thinking, maybe you could include a joke or two. Just to lighten things up a bit. We could tell a Norwegian joke about the Swedes, which would go down well in Oslo, I’m sure. Here’s a good one. What do the Swedes call their King? Answer: Tarzan. Get it? Tarzan, king of the Apes.”

“Not bad,” said Plug. “I’ll try and work it in.” He began to stare at a blank space on the wall, and when his glass registered close to empty he spoke once more. “Interesting that you mention Tarzan. Remember how we used to play in the trees when we were kids? Tarzan was my hero, my role model. Brought up by a bunch of apes, he was able to move on and get somewhere by using his superior intellect.”

“I didn’t like that dude,” said Frikkie in a high-pitched voice, trying to speak without exhaling. “Those apes attempted to teach him some manners, but it was a waste of time. I used to dream of being an ape and throwing him out of a high tree in the jungle, and when he hit the ground he would break his cast iron balls.”

“Remember how you used to crap from the tallest tree, and I used to charge the other kids to come and watch? Who would have thought we would turn out to be billionaires, and one day be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?”

“No one,” said Frikkie. “You would have to smoke a couple of joints and wash down some mushrooms with half a dozen Martinis for you to imagine something like that.”

“Yes, it really is hard to believe how much we’ve achieved.”

“You could say we are at the pinnacle of success. But what the hell are we going to do next when we get back from Norway?”

“Who knows?” said Plug. “But don’t worry, we’re bound to think of something. We always do.”

 

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