By Chris Marais
You and I are sitting in a bar somewhere in downtown Jo’burg, South Africa. You’re buying the beer and I’m spinning the yarns.
We’re going to talk about more than 15 years of murder, mayhem, teargas, roadside Smurfs, courtroom shenanigans, biker gangs, diamond divers and old tannies who brew mampoer on distant farms.
I will give you the graphic highlights of my time as a rogue reporter with the legendary Rand Daily Mail, and then you and I will walk the streets of Hillbrow in search of something juicy for the late and lamented Scope Magazine.
We will journey from the heady days of a red-hot anti-Apartheid morning newspaper to the sharp edge of a steamy men’s magazine during the height of South Africa’s Crazy Years.
What am I saying? We’ve always been crazy down here in SA. And we probably always will be.
I’ll take you on a long, slow drive across the USA and we will toast the Knights of Mardi Gras together. We will drink cold Buds at the Dirty Shame Saloon in faraway Montana and slip into Old Mexico for a night of bad behaviour.
Together we will sit and listen to why the Carlton Hotel Bombers strapped dynamite to themselves before ordering room service. We will hunt for missing tourists on the Bulawayo – Victoria Falls road.
We will hear how a small teenager stowed away on trains and planes all over the world.
I played no role in the downfall of Apartheid, but I did manage to help keep the Killer Pinks off the streets of Hillbrow for a week or so sometime in the late 1980s.
And I worked with good people.
So just sit tight and order another round. You, my friend, are going to meet some of the greatest, most colourful characters ever dished up by the Old South Africa.
The Journey Man – A South African Reporter’s Stories by Chris Marais (print) is available HERE
The E-book is available HERE