THE dog Ben chasing sheeps in Mooi River Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

The shopping malls of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, have been terrorised over four years by a group known as the “gang of blondes”. They have abducted 54 female shoppers then used their credit cards to buy luxury items.

Why blondes in particular should have such proclivities is not clear. Nor why they should have remained at large for so long. In a country like Brazil, with its Latin/African demographics, their coloration would surely have made them stand out rather.

The gang is said to be made up of blonde, bilingual and well-educated women who rob female shoppers and hold them in captivity while the credit cards are being used. Then the victims are released.

Anyway, the Brazilian police seem to be about to crack the case. A blonde and her blond husband – said to be the ringleaders – have been arrested; also the husband of another blonde, who is still at large.

A curious case. Hopefully it’s not a foretaste of the Rampaging Redheads and the Bullygirl Brunettes.

Cosmas Desmond

THOSE of us who knew him are saddened by the death of Cosmas Desmond at the age of 76. A light of conscience and intellect has disappeared from our midst – a light that at the same time shed entertainment and merriment.

The sadness actually began a year ago and more when Cos’s strident voice was stilled by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Until then he had been the source of corruscating wit and wisdom across a range of issues – politics, international affairs, sport, science… His interests seemed endless and he loved sharing thoughts with those he met.

He was convivial, a wonderful conversationalist, the discussions often well lubricated with Irish whiskey.

Cos came to SA from England as a young Catholic priest and was appalled by the cruelty of the apartheid government’s Soviet-style population resettlement in the rural districts. His vocal opposition led to his being banned for several years.

He eventually left the priesthood and married, though he remained very much a practising Catholic, committed to social upliftment and to children’s rights.

Cos was a socialist of the very best sort. His political beliefs were actually very simple. He hated apartheid for its cruelty and injustice and the misery it caused. He believed in a fair sharing of SA’s natural bounty. I’m sure he was appalled by the champagne socialism of today – the BMWs and the Breitling watches.

He will be missed – in fact he had been missed ever since he went silent. Cos was one of the most entertaining and stimulating men I have ever known. An exuberant spirit is now at rest.

Ice cream research

AVALANCHE experts have been drawn into the manufacture of ice cream. According to this news report, technology from the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research at Davos, Switzerland, is being used to study how ice cream’s crystal structure changes when it is stored in a household freezer.

It’s as well. We need to guard at all times against ice cream purchasers being buried in an avalanche of chocolate mint.

Alphabet response

MANY readers responded to the recent spoof phonetic alphabet published. It seems one of the two letters I could not work out was due to a wrong formulation – “G for police chief”. It should have been simply “G for police” (chief of police).

“H for wisdom” meant age for wisdom.

Several alternatives were also given: “P for relief”, for instance, rather than “P for penny”; “O for the wings of a dove” instead of “O for the wall”.

My thanks to all of you.

Mein fuss

AN UNEMPLOYED Austrian man cut off his foot with a mechanical saw so he could not be declared fit enough to go to work, according to reports from a place called Millerlabill. Austria has a history of unemployed nutters. One wrote a book called Mein Kampf, then went on to cause no end of trouble.


PHILOSOPHICAL proposition from Tennessee: If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pick-up trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world’s great literary works in Braille.

Last word

I passionately hate the idea of being with it; I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time. – Orson Welles