How to be a winner.

I have been trawling the local news outlets for a couple of days, looking for something interesting or different to write about. It’s been a depressing exercise. I’m obviously in the throes of one of those phases which I go through every now and then when I get news overload. It’s all just the same, every day. Out in the world, it’s Syria, Syria, Syria, the economy, gay marriage in the States, gay existence in Russia, Syria. Back home it’s corruption and strikes, racism and violence against women and children.

They're all just the same newspaper with different ads.

They’re all just the same newspaper with different ads.

Each of these stories on its own should command my attention. But they’re not on their own. They’re together. They pile up on top of each other to form a tidal wave, the same things every day, over and over again, with no end in sight and no solution at hand.

But I have the solution. Not to the problems of the world, but to my disaffection with the news. I go out and buy a newspaper. This might seem like a rather silly thing to do, like eating more bacon because I’m feeling overweight, but it’s not. I am not, you see, buying just any newspaper. I’m buying the Daily Sun. This is why;

Eat your heart out, New York Times!

Eat your heart out, New York Times!

And this;

BIZARRE! Most of the tortoises I've come across have spoken Icelandic. Slowly.

BIZARRE! Most of the tortoises I’ve come across have spoken Icelandic. Slowly.

And just to prove that gay people are in the media worldwide at the moment, this;

newspaper_reports_on_man_raped_by_gay_tokoloshe

Move along please. Absolutely no horrible stereotypes to see here.

The Daily Sun is not for me. It is the paper of the working class. Or the desperately out of work class. It is the paper of South Africa’s poor. And reading it is a fascinating exercise. It offers just a fleeting glimpse into a world that people like me know almost nothing about.

I did not, for example, know that it was common practice for roaming pastors to board the 4am bus from Malalane to Mbombela and then spend the journey preaching. And taking collection. This seems like a rather unsporting thing to be doing; I would imagine taking the 4am bus from Malalane to Mbombela must be a rather harrowing experience all on its own, but to have some random freelance pastor leap up and start brandishing a bible and shouting about salvation must kick things up a notch.

Although the 4am Malalane to Mbombela bus is close enough to hell to really focus the attention of the listeners.

Although the 4am Malalane to Mbombela bus is close enough to hell to really focus the attention of the listeners.

But this morning, it must have all seemed worthwhile. Two roaming pastors boarded the 4am bus from Malalane to Mbombela. Heated words were exchanged between Pastor Ndlela and Pastor Nyundu. By all reports, it was Ndlela’s bus. The interloper Nyundu simply leapt up and, without so much as a by-your-leave, began preaching.

Pastor Ndlela, however, seems to be nothing if not practical. While Nyundu spread the word, Ndlela busied himself with taking the collection. And then he wouldn’t share it. The swine. He even had the gall to look at the unfortunate Nyundu “in a bad and bitter way”. Yup. When roaming bus-pastors go to war, things can get pretty damn ugly.

Hugh Laurie missed his calling. He would have been absolutely brilliant at bus-pastor combat.

Hugh Laurie missed his calling. He would have been absolutely brilliant at bus-pastor combat.

I need to take public transport more often.

But it wasn’t a news story that made me happy this morning. The Daily Sun has been running a competition. One with an awful lot of rules. This may not seem unusual to you; all competitions have rules. What made the Daily Sun competition stand out is that most of the rules applied after the competition was over. The prize, you see, was a live sheep.

Snapshot_20130912_1

Or rather 135 live sheep. Why a daily newspaper should decide to hand out 135 live sheep rather than, say, 135 microwave ovens was never adequately explained. Maybe they had them left over from a team-building exercise. But it has obviously dawned on them at some point between the launching of the competition and the handing out of the prizes that not everyone knows what to do with a live sheep. I don’t. Do you?

Although choosing the right outfit seems like a good place to start.

Although choosing the right outfit seems like a good place to start.

Not? Have no fear. The Daily Sun has got your back. Here, then, are the Daily Sun’s rules for what to do when presented with a surprise live sheep. Print them out and keep them on your fridge.

1. Your animal may not be tortured, maimed, kicked, or terrified.

This is a tricky one. Not torturing, maiming, or kicking a live sheep seems pretty reasonable to me. But I cannot help but think that being hauled out of your field and handed over to a complete stranger who has never been confronted with a live sheep before must be pretty damn terrifying, rule or no rule.

2. It may not be tied up or confined in a space that causes it suffering. In other words, DO NOT put it in the boot (trunk) of your car! Rather arrange to pick it up by BAKKIE! (TRUCK!)

This seems like an oddly specific and EMPHATIC rule. This is the sort of rule that people add after learning the hard way. I would have given anything to have been at the prizegiving of the Daily Sun’s first live sheep competition. I can see it now. The stilted speech by the sponsors. The smattering of applause from the tiny rent-a-crowd. The supremely awkward photos of the winner posing with his prize. And then the stunned silence from the assembled worthies as he strolled over and crammed his prize into the boot of his Toyota Cressida. Do you think you could get away with popping it into the back seat?

"Excuse me, sir, but I'm going to need you to pop the trunk so I can take a look inside, please." "No."

“Excuse me, sir, but I’m going to need you to pop the trunk so I can take a look inside, please.”
“No.”

3. Your sheep must not be starved, kept in dirty conditions, attached or tied to any equipment or vehicle, or transported over a long distance exposed to exhaust fumes.

If feel the organisers are being a little naïve here. As appealing as the idea may be, I don’t think that any of these sheep are going to be taken home as family pets, and sheep are not famous for their abilities as watchdogs. Starvation takes time, which is a luxury I don’t think these sheep have.

Am I the only one who finds the reference to “equipment” sinister? Do you have any equipment? And not just any equipment. Equipment big enough to hold back a determined sheep. I did, I suppose, have a rowing machine a while back, but Mrs 23thorns made me sell it because she was scared I would get too buff and start attracting all those Russian singles Facebook keeps telling me are in my area. But I would never have tied a sheep to it. The bleating would have made me lose focus.

I smell lawyers here. The Daily Sun legal department was obviously told to cover all of their bases to avoid any liability should something go wrong. “What if”, says one of them, looking around at his fellows, “someone takes their sheep home, and ties it…” He pauses. Looks down at his notes. Looks up again, his face a picture of brooding foreboding “… to his equipment?”

Adding a sheep to your equipment, or indeed anything, has the unfortunate effect of making it seem ridiculous.

Adding a sheep to your equipment, or indeed anything, has the unfortunate effect of making it seem ridiculous.

4. You cannot abandon your sheep or help anyone else to break the law.

I am not easily impressed, but that’s one hell of a legal department. “What if”, says lawyer number two “someone helps someone else break the law?” He sits back, a look of smug satisfaction on his face. “You mean with one of our sheep?” asks a fresh-faced new guy at the end of the table. “No.” replies lawyer number two, will the air of a chess Grand Master declaring check mate, “I mean just generally.”

I don't care how cute he looks. Give him a lift and we're taking back our sheep.

I don’t care how cute he looks. Give him a lift and we’re taking back our sheep.

5. When loading or offloading, remember:

Ramps must be used for bakkies (trucks) etc. and platforms must be non-slip with no loose objects. There shouldn’t be any gaps through which it may fall.

Seems reasonable enough to me. I would have thought that the journey would be safer for the sheep if you tied it to some equipment, but I’m clearly no expert. Just avoid any sudden stops.

6. Don’t pick your sheep up by its wool or in any other way that might injure it.

It’s the Toyota Cressida guy again. It has to be. That’s not something you would even think of unless you’d seen it with your own eyes. They gave him his prize, took their pictures and then watched in dismay as he leant down, grabbed a handful of wool, and then picked his sheep up like a suitcase before strolling over to his waiting boot.

Animals should always be picked up and carried in a way that protects both their physical well-being and their dignity.

Animals should always be picked up and carried in a way that protects both their physical well-being and their dignity.

This whole concept might seem completely bizarre to you. It’s not. Or rather it is, but only because it has to be. All brands have to cultivate their own particular “look and feel”. The Daily Sun can’t hand out microwaves or weekend getaways for two. It just wouldn’t feel right. No. The Daily Sun has to give away prizes that are in keeping with these sorts of headlines;

I have nothing to add.

I know how he feels. My neighbour once parked on my section of the pavement for the WHOLE WEEKEND!

To be honest, I kind of like their style. They’ve inspired me. Next week I, too will be running a competition to boost my readership. First prize will be a large hadron collider (the winner will be required to provide their own 27km tunnel). Remember that, should you win, DO NOT try to put it in the boot of your car.  Rather arrange to pick it up in a BAKKIE! Helping anyone else to break the law will result in immediate disqualification.

Second prize is an angry bear. Remember not to tie it to your equipment.

Second prize is an angry bear. Remember not to tie it to your equipment.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “How to be a winner.

  1. I think I’d have to add to the list, having kept sheep – make sure, no matter how hard it may be, to fence your property adequately to prevent the sheep from straying – something buried 6ft down in the ground, and approximately 12 feet high, with extra strong links should just about do it 🙂

  2. mariekeates says:

    We have a Daily Sun here in the UK and its much the same except for the sheep.

  3. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Sheep are good for the lawn. Fertilizer and lawn mower in one. And then you can shear them and mrs23thorns can knit child B a fashion item for Barbie.
    Thank you for a good start to the day!

  4. But I was so hoping…about the bear…never mind.

  5. narf77 says:

    Hugh Laurie looks quite a bit like our local Green minister for education…a “preacher of sorts” that would also look perfect on the 4am bus from Malalane to Mbombela. At the moment he is supporting a well-known human rights activist in his desire to turn Tasmania into an asylum seeker processing centre where we would process the asylum seekers and they would live here until they were rehouses…the whole of Tasmania…apparently it would do MARVELS for our economy…Maybe with an unofficial unemployment rate of 28% Tasmania should start its own “Daily Sun”. Most of the population can’t read but as they say, a picture says a thousand words and I am sure they could borrow that Gay Tokoloshe image to strike terror into the hearts of the great unwashed.

    Love the Rube Goldberg vibration machine and I am sure that attaching 135 live terrified stampeding sheep to the apparatus would cinch that waist in an instant ;). My own hadron collider? My robot loving son would be MOST impressed! We may as well gazump the prospective Pulp Mill and at least if it results in our instant oblivion (which let’s face it…put an hadron collider in the hands of 2 science plebeians and it is NEVER going to end well…) ground zero is the place you are going to want to be…a short journey to the netherworld and a degree of surprise when you get to the other side. Sounds like the ideal way to go to me! I do like the option of the bear. Even Earl is going to think twice about a bear. Do you reckon we could train it to eat blackberry bushes and Bone seed? Even with the condition that we can’t tie it to our “equipment” I figure it would put paid to any wandering 4am pasters (who took a wrong turn at Albuquerque) making it up the driveway from the front gate…

  6. amithi says:

    Lucky for me I didn’t win a competiton, because the two sheep I handreared actually did arrive in the boot of a car (delivered by the owner…). It even had a special plastic inset for easy cleaning. 😀

  7. Ike Jakson says:

    We all go through it, mate. It will pass and you will be Ok again. Blogging can be fun but is also a lnely road though not commonly seen in that light. Ike

  8. And for the record, that rowing machine was disposed of because I didn’t want to have to take the children for tetanus shots when they tripped over it while running around the washing line (it really was stored outside under the washing line, quite obviously the best place on the property to exercise) and cut themselves to ribbons on the RUSTING parts.

  9. Ha ha! Last year I was involved with giving smileys to the nation’s DJs from Daily Sun. Our poor intern had to wrap them up. I refused to go near the kitchen until well after their removal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s