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I write a column for Die Matie, the student newspaper at Stellenbosch University. It isn’t about much, but I have a good time doing it. Here is the archive of those esteemed articles.

Dance Dance Sniff Sniff

The Third Term is traditionally a bad time for doing anything productive. There’s something about the combination of returning from an exceedingly long holiday devoid of any intellectual endeavours, the frigid winter weather, the highly anticipated Ser Season and the proliferation of Huisdanse that make the start of the Second Semester a Perfect Storm of work avoidance. Add to that the completely and utterly rational fears about H1N1 and you have an uphill battle to accomplish anything within the sphere of academics. This has been a particularly harrowing time for me as I am usually the first person to pick up any sort of flu or cold and the last person to get healthy again. I have a large amount of pride in that I have remained unaffected by illness throughout the past four weeks. It is my opinion that my uncharacteristic health has been due to my replacing all meals with oranges and religiously following the medical advice issued by the University which includes such gems as “Cough into the back of your elbow.” What wonderful advice. I’m not being sarcastic people; you should seriously be coughing into the back of your elbow. I have a dance coming up and I can’t afford to be struck down by your disease-carrying sputum when I should be partying it up.[1]  Getting sick after writing this article would be hugely ironic. Or maybe not. I’m not entirely sure what irony is.

Of all the factors inducing a lack of academic prestige in the Third Term those Dances are most to blame. They create a nightmare scenario of Maties students either joyfully hopping from one generic dance venue to another, eating the same meals over and over again or sitting at home in your pyjamas wishing their lives contained more generic dance venues and repetitive meals. Either way it’s not conducive to a productive work environment.  Luckily for those not gifted with the good looks and sokkie-feet that ensure a hundred huisdans invites, there are other ways to entertain yourself.

Despite the fears associated with large assemblies of people in this day and age, I managed to survive a sleep-over in the Neelsie and obtain much sought after Ser Final Tickets; items so valuable some are able to trade them for ridiculous amounts of money, a Huisdans date or an offer of marriage. The show itself was highly entertaining for a number of different reasons[2] and aside from the inconvenience of having “I Got A Feeling” permanently burned into my brain, I had a great time. I was most impressed by the choreography of the groups. After a couple of practice sessions at various 21st Events I can just about recreate most of the Pieke Ser’s Dance moves, a skill that will hopefully aid me in not looking like a complete idiot while dancing. This is, of course, a huge problem. Guys inherently look like ill co-ordinated and inebriated ragdolls while dancing. Those of the Lady-persuasion do not suffer in the same way; they only need to lift their arms above their heads and they wouldn’t look out of place in an R&B music video. Watching Ser I realised that with a large group dressed up in matching outfits and pulling out choreographed moves to Black-Eyed Peas songs, it is a lot easier pass for cool. Unfortunately, buying matching outfits for all your closest friends and practicing your dance moves together over the weekend so that you can rip it up on the dance floor ends up making you look even less cool than you did on your own.

My dance strategy is simple: I approach the dance floor with the assumption that everything I do is going to end up looking pretty stupid anyway and then I make sure that my moves are the most ridiculous. That way when people comment on how stupid I look while I’m dancing I can say with complete sincerity: “It’s alright, I meant to dance like this. I’m being ironic.” At least I think I’m being ironic. I can never tell.

In all seriousness though, take care of yourselves and try to stay healthy.


[1] If you are ill and reading this in bed, I apologise for belittling your sputum and wish you a speedy recovery in a room as  far away from me as possible.

[2] “When I saw Sonop Ser I started believing in Polygamy” was one particularly passionate comment I overheard.


Of Stones and Manliness

Love is a strange thing. At times it can arrive in a furious tsunami of passion, crushing everything in its path and demanding, in a very insistent manner, that it be the only thing on your mind. At other times love can sneak up on you, quickly and quietly like a well-oiled tiger in slippers; you’ll be so focussed on one seemingly important event that something beautiful can appear right under your nose. Literally. So it was with me: At the ripe young age of twenty-three I was stricken with Kidney Stones. More fun than Swine flu, less fun than…you, know…not having Kidney Stones. The first thing that just about everyone will say to you when they find out you have ‘the Stones’ is that they’ve heard the pain is just as bad as child birth. Now I’ve never given birth to anything before and barring any huge leaps forward in both Genetics and Gender Equity Legislation I never will, but it’s my opinion that the difference between a having kidney stone and a having beautiful newborn child is that women were specifically designed to produce younglings whereas I was never supposed to shoot a rock out of my urethra. And after all of you’ve been through your friends won’t even throw you a ‘Kidney Stone Shower’. Despite the vast amount of medical knowledge I’ve managed to pick up from television (All of those House and Scrubs episodes I watched must be worth at least one eights of a medical degree) my kidney stone ordeal lasted longer than I expected it to. Days dragged by while I sat in my room fearful that a sudden onset of calcium conglomerates in my inside bits would leave me curled up in the foetal position. All the while something beautiful was happening: while moping forlornly around the house, sleeping, watching television, trying to write World War II: The Musical and generally neglecting personal hygiene, I accidently grew a beard.
Alright, it wasn’t entirely accidental. The growth transpired in part as an indicator of my suffering (I thought that it would be a good idea to let my facial hair bloom so that I when I walked into the Doctor’s office he would have a visual representation of the extent of my anguish) and in part because I was too lazy and/or cheap to go out and purchase razor blades. Did I mention I had Kidney Stones at the time? Whatever the cause was, it was there and I liked it. What very soon became apparent was that while I may have doted on my facial hair like the proud father of musical-prodigy, genius super-baby, others were not so taken with the look. Reactions were mixed: For each time someone yelled “Kyk, hy lyk soos Jesus!” , there would be someone else telling me that “Your beard makes you the most attractive person I’ve ever seen and we should spend a lot of time together and I will bake you biscuits .” While University is for the most part a safe and accepting environment where we can discover what makes us who we are, there are some out there who are too quick in pointing fingers and making Castaway jokes. These pockets of enmity towards the bearded and moustached among us must be stopped. There may have been times when I looked like I should have been preparing for the Final Immunity Challenge or at least Speaking Always in Parables, but the importance of growing a beard cannot be underestimated and should never be mocked. The early Young Adult Stage is a vital period for the male psyche. Affirmation of manhood is something the male population craves. Without any official Rite of Passage (whether it be killing some sort of mildly ferocious animal or joining the armed forces) in our society, young men are left with a gnawing question right at the centre of their hearts: “Am I really a man?” I now know the answer: “Of course I am, take a look at this Awesome Beard.”
Upon returning home and undertaking some holiday employment I was forced to temporarily bid farewell to Beardedness as it isn’t appropriate for an aspiring auditor to look as if he’s just escaped from a Peruvian Prisoner of War Camp. Since the start of this semester I’ve been expending a lot of energy in re-growing the beard so that I’ll be ready for Snor-gustus, that glorious celebration of the most ridiculed of facial adornments, the Moustache. In the past I have mocked it, but this year I won’t be heckling, because this year I know the truth: Real Men Have Facial Hair.


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