A woman walks by the lantern display of South Korean traditional dolls on the eve of the Seoul Lantern Festival, which will be held from today until November 18 in the city. Picture: AP

NEWground was again broken at the Mondays at Six soiree this week with the world premiere of Presto, a movie made in Durban by fellow-columnist David Basckin, of the Sunday Tribune. The Alliance Française was packed.

Presto is a film of unusual format. It consists of a monologue by one Budgie Smith, in which he describes his day and a half as a national serviceman in the bad old days; his escape from the army camp in Bloemfontein (and from the terrors of the Tempe Tigers); his being “carted” by the military police and clapped into detention barracks; and then his successful persuading of a psychologist that he was simply too whacko for military service.

This entertaining yarn is interspersed with snatches of song and boogie-woogie style dance from an a capella trio with the somewhat alarming name, Dr Fly and the Nurses, who specialise in impersonations of the Andrews Sisters, very popular in the 1950s. They also do a very good rendition of a Miriam Makeba classic.

These girls really can sing. They are: Sophia Basckin (soprano – David’s daughter); Jessica Sole (mezzo – and daughter of Sam, another colleague in the hackery trade); and Natalie Shama (alto).

David directed Presto, which was produced by Zoe Molver.

The thing writhes with humour – partly Budgie’s story, often the incongruity of the musical interludes and sometimes a kind of zany connection. His early disparagement of things military is followed up by a lively number from the girls about the Bugler of Company B.

I am most impressed. The quirkiness of Basckin’s regular newspaper column translates readily into film. And David, it seems, specialises these days in film through his company, 1412 Productions. I’d guess this one – which lasts just under an hour – is aimed at the Christmas party season. It’s got the ingredients – lots of laughs and some really zingy music from way back.

I wonder if it’s too late for me to audition with my well-known rendering of the gumboot dance?

Budgie again

MEANWHILE, the same Budgie Smith features at Monday night’s soiree (the last of the season at Alliance Française before we return to St Clement’s) when he introduces Tryptych, which is a reprise of Neil Sack’s film on Andrew Verster, together with films on Walter Battiss and Neil Sack himself.

Be a man!

SUCH conflicting advice one gets. The city’s Natural Resources Department suggests one should “dress as a man” to scare the daylights out of the marauding monkeys.

Yet (quite apart from the fact that I generally dress as a man – and the monkeys display an insolence that is absolutely intolerable) the advice is totally at variance with that of my vet.

He says monkeys are terrified of ballerinas. Put on a tutu and pirouette about the front lawn and they will skedaddle and not come back, he says.

I haven’t followed his advice as it might be misinterpreted by the neighbours. Besides, this vet is a bit of a scallywag. I shall tax him further on the issue later today at a First Friday of the Month lunch we both attend.

Another idea

MEANWHILE, Barry Bechard of Hillcrest responds to this week’s recommendation by Herr Dokter Klaus von Schlenterschtoppen – that politicians should be fed to the lions at Moses Mabhida Stadium – with the idea that monkeys should be added to the menu.

“I suggest that the monkeys be served as a dessert as they would be much tastier than the politicians. It would also save the ladies from having to dress up like men, which could be illegal in any event.”

What a wonderfully constructive idea. It’s known as thinking outside the box.

Only answer

OF COURSE, the only real solution to the monkey problem is to own an Irish terrier.

There is a downside, such as the dog going into shrieking hysteria every time somebody mentions the word “monkey”. Also, Irish terriers misbehave in bars. Mine was banned from three pubs and had a police record for disturbing the peace.

But they do put the monkeys in their place.


She: “I’ve had enough of you and your nonsense! Pack your bags and go! Now!”

He: “I’m off!”

She: “And I hope you die a slow and painful death!”

He: “Now you want me to stay?”

Last word

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. – Nikita Khrushchev