Warning. Contains humour, satire, ridicule and bad language. If you do not appreciate any of that, then look away!
A Walk On The Wild Side, with Ben Trovato.
I’ve always fancied living in St Francis. I mean, let’s be honest, the dude from Assisi was pretty damn cool as far as saints go. Anyone who walked around with badgers and wombats on his shoulders and spoke fluent pigeon deserved to have a cute town named after him.
A couple of years ago, while living in Cape Town, my wife and I came very close to moving there. We had even found a place to rent on the canals. Just before we were due to leave, it occurred to me that getting divorced was the more sensible thing to do.
I once went to St Francis for lunch and ended up staying for three months. That’s how long it took to recover from the hangover. The current editor of this newsletter, Craig Jarvis, has to shoulder a fair amount of the blame. Some responsibility must also be shared by St Francis Brewery and a grungy pool bar called Stix in Cape St Francis. I, of course, was entirely blameless.
These days I find it safer to stay in Jeffreys Bay, although I still can’t resist taking the back roads to St Francis while I’m there. There are never any cops around and one can quite safely enjoy a beer while driving. Not being a big fan of poverty porn, I tend to race through Pellsrus. The scenic route only really begins once the shacks are in the rearview mirror. Aston Bay feels a bit creepy, as if it’s hiding something, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all have skeletons in our closets. In Aston Bay, though, this might be true in a literal sense.
One time, having been on the road for twenty minutes and in need of cold beer, I pulled in at Mar Azul on the beach. The owner seemed surprised to see a customer. I’ve been to rustic beach bars in my time, but this was something else entirely. I didn’t stay long for fear of having my organs harvested.
Crossing that ridiculously skimpy causeway over the Seekoei estuary always makes me laugh. A bit of rain upriver and you’d find yourself floating out to sea. Paradise Beach sounds more idyllic than it is. The people are strange and something feels off-kilter. Curtains twitch as you drive down the unnaturally quiet streets. I don’t know what they do there for entertainment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it involves wife-swapping.
The tarred road quickly gives way to a hellish stretch of dirt and gravel that will destroy your kidneys if you drive too fast. And if you go too slowly, maniacs driving tractors will overtake you and you’ll be blinded by the dust and veer off the road into a cow.
When I finally reach the tar, I swear never again, and then I have more beers in St Francis and do it all over again on the way back.
I think I’d rather live in St Francis Bay than Cape St Francis, and not just because that’s where Craig J lives and we’re both afraid of bumping into each other because our livers are no longer what they used to be and one of us would probably die.
There’s just more to do in St Francis. Also, I need to be near restaurants otherwise I would starve to death. It would help if I played golf, which I don’t, even though I wrote a book about it once. I would need a girlfriend, of course. Not only to reassure menfolk that their village hasn’t been infiltrated by a maladjusted lone wolf and that their wives are safe, but for reasons of comfort and conversation. The winters are brutal and my willy would shrivel up and fall off if I had to spend every night alone.
See you all soon.
• Ben Trovato is the author of thirteen books, although you wouldn’t think so if you had to see his living conditions. With a background in print and television journalism, Trovato’s popular newspaper columns have earned him a wicked reputation and a fatty liver. He can often be found surfing instead of meeting his deadlines. Trovato lives alone with two regrets and a hangover.