Wednesday, October 26, 2011

PO Greenberg – No1 Loser

The Gokwe Kid. My room in the Gwelo police singles mess, June 1978. The hat I believe I borrowed from fellow PO Keith Wainwright. The leather jacket is mine but not issue. Behind me is my clothes cupboard. The mini Rhodesian flag I still have. Also stuck to the door are some strange shiny squares. They are office numbers made from aluminium that I stole from the Monomatapa Hotel in Salisbury when I was a hardcore daring individual. I did these raids with my mate Tim Bell. We nearly got caught. As the lift was going down, some staff member got in, and my screwdriver fell out my sleeve and onto the lift floor. The Black gentlemen picked it up, and handing it to me said,
            ‘Excuse me Sah, you have dropped your screwdriver.’

Greetings all. I see I have not updated for a while. As usual I was very busy going over the same stuff again and again. The same laughs, the same crying. Tweak it here, tweak it there - until the whole thing starts to drive me mad.

Okay, I have reached the end for the umpteenth time. Now it is having a little look over for obvious defects by a couple of friends before it gets popped off for editing. But as I went over the chapters, I spotted a weird pattern. I then spent several hours trying to work out what the hell am I doing?

I mean, this is a memoir right? A memoir is about all or a part of someone’s life. You go from A to Z and hope something interesting happens in-between to keep your readers even vaguely interested in (as in my case), some complete 18 year old tosser thrown to the lions in 1976 Rhodesia. (Rhodesia? Where is that?)

I have read many Rhodesian memoirs and factual accounts. All, in their way, crept something into my ‘version’ of the dying days of Rhodesia. One, in particular I will mention. It is the academic book by Peter Godwin and Ian Hancock called ‘Rhodesians Never Die’ The Impact of War and Political Change on White Rhodesia.

This is seriously hardcore stuff. I must have read it at least four times over the last ten years, each time something imbedded itself in my mind. I haven’t read it for a while and although it sits right now in front of me, I decided enough is enough. If we look at the topics abstractly that these great writers covered in clinical terminology, I come up with a list -

Homophobia, racial discrimination, alcoholism, religious intolerance, relationship problems, corruption, internal military rivalry, sexism, machoism, torture, abuse of power, blind ignorance, downright primitiveness, propaganda, bravery and cowardice, censorship, white class structure, sport fanaticism, incredible entrepreneurship under sanctions, shortages due to sanctions, betrayal, arrogance of perceived superiority, materialism, isolation and forced integration, friendships imposed by circumstances, and…the utter brainless waste of human life… and that is to mention a few.

Okay, it sounds like a horror trip. But it is not. Or is it? Can it all be just a huge joke that no one really understood because; it is never the joke that is the star - it is the way it is told. Ah, but there is always the other side to the story. Honour, respect, good manners, incredible comradely between Blacks and Whites, survival against incredible odds, perseverance, pride, love, humility, stunning nature, incredible weather and drinking.

All these themes slip effortlessly into my prose. Some so subtle you need to look twice. The whole memoir IS a joke, a Shakespearian tragicomedy - for the joke’s on me. But how can I write a tragicomedy, for surly that is fiction? Welcome to my memoir - because I may have achieved the impossible. High, middle or low brow writing, it is all three and yet it is not.

But, most of all about my memoir, it is an entertaining adventure story with more twists than Piglet’s tail. Where are the truth and the fantasy separated? Easy. The truth is boringly obvious – the fantasy makes it exciting. But then memoirs don’t normally follow the classic style of story telling. Some ups, then down, up a bit, then down and finally up to the grand finale. Life isn’t a fairy tale - far to complicated. So how does a memoir become a fairy tale? Hansel and Gretel meets the Gokwe Kid? Hang on to your seat, because as you go deeper and deeper into this weird world that I unfold, it gets seriously crazy.

And then – what the hell is the genre and style? War, love, adventure, tragedy, comedy, fantasy? It is all of them. Occasionally I mention directly with hindsight or retrospect. But there are many sentences that are riddled with rhetoric and futuristic hindsight. I state the bleeding obvious but obviously blinkered.  In theory - it is all impossible. I claim ignorance of the situation I am eagerly accepting, whilst at the same time acknowledge the faults of the system that I had no clue of what it was at all about!

In clear text – I was full of shit - jumped freely into the shit because I didn’t give a shit, and I was as thick as shit and then realized it was really shit the shit I was in, but managed to bullshit my way out to write more bullshit about the shit I got into because I was a stupid shit. Got it? I shit you not!

I believe it works! Crazy shit.

I use occasionally modern slang and terminology foreign to us Rhodesians at the time.
I mention technologies that never existed, and internet services such as Facebook and Ebay. Also television programs such as Rhodesia Has Talent and the Rhodesian X-factor. These programs never existed, although we did have very primitive versions at the time. Google is often mentioned. For example in a certain chapter I have this line –

Bush Rhodesia acacia trees long yellow grass lions gooks dangerous Christmas Eve 1976 end of the world as we know it

The idea is if you cut and paste that, if read on a PC, or type it out by hand if reading from that thing called a paperback. In theory, it should bring up the link to the above blog heading.

It just has to be the wildest thing - Rhodesians Never Die. We will - we are dropping like flies, but no one envisaged the internet and in that massive universe called cyber space - they are all out there, for ever! Let the future ponder over a miniscule moment of time that meant so much, to so few, for reasons to be dissected for eternity. Good luck I say, because…the task is impossible. But, if one book throws a spanner into the academic works – this is it!

Catch ya later…


Anonymous said...

I had written out a whole spiel, which in the way of the Internet proceeded to disappear. So I will just go with my first few words - to thine ownself be true. Everything else is bulls--t, if you don't stick to that maxim. I sense you are getting bogged down in 'white guilt'. Or again possibly in what a bunch of (and here insert from homophobia etc) the BSAP were, and I saw that and did nothing. What is the point. I'm not surprised that this is getting 'heavy' to deal with. Skeletons are difficult to bring out from dusty cupboards to air. Good read though.

Sorry not putting my name, but you don't know me anyway.

Lore (aka Karl) said...

Do not worry, there is no guilt in this narrative. It is all a...well wait and see hey.