Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Biff and Knorr: Building a nation

There is absolutely no truth in the spurious claims made by some analysts that South Africans lack sufficient common ground with which to transcend their differences in race, culture and religion and become a united people.

Quite the contrary. There are in fact many strange and idiosyncratic occurrences which we all have to endure on a daily basis and which are more compelling than the various issues, such as languages, which separate us.

Take the new adverts for Knorr.

Everyone knows that branding is vital to the long term future of any product. As such, and in order to ensure instant recognition, advertising agencies adopt a consistent approach or campaign in respect of individual clients.

In the case of Nando’s, for example, the focus is on humour with each development in the political sphere, drawing them out to give their unique “chicken-take” on the issue.

The team who designed the Knorr campaign, on the other hand, must have figured out that – seeing as though Nando’s had already cornered humour and the Metro police had saturated the market on fear (what with their stories about e-tolling and highway carnage) – they would take the road less travelled, and attempt to irritate the public to the extent that they could not ignore their adverts.

Mind you, it can’t have been easy to find actors that annoying.

Must have employed three ladies with long fingernails and a blackboard. Told them to scrape their nails up and down it until the panel auditioning the actors for the “Knorr family” roles get to those wannabes that are so mind-suffocating that the judges ask them to keep their voices down because they can’t hear the ladies scratching the blackboard.

It worked.

One fecking pasta dance from that woman later was enough to have me emailing my member of parliament and demanding clarity on assisted suicide where the woman involved wasn’t actually that keen on it.

I thought the Yanks had cornered the market on sickeningly cutesie-wutsie child actors but take a bow Knorr; pharmacists countrywide can’t find an email of sufficient width to cope with the noughts required to order enough Valoid to satisfy demand.

Tourists must think that lobotomies are compulsory for all South Africans before they enter pre-school.

And if that’s not enough to unite us as a nation through embarrassment, how about Biff?

Whenever Smith-Out goes out to choke for the Proteas, we are almost guaranteed that his innings will be as ugly as it is short.

Keppler Wessels, while commentating, normally tells batsmen how he thinks the shot should have been played.

In the case of Biff: “To play that shot he should have been on the front foot…” or “…he needs to turn his body more square to play that shot on the off-side…” or “…perhaps if he stops closing his eyes…”

Of course, where most people miss out is in believing that Biff is one dimensional.

In the third one-day international I had the kids glued to the television during his knock. They were taking notes for their Life Sciences project which deals with treating the victims of choking. And of course, who better…?

Apparently, the treatment involves having your middle stump removed by a Malinga yorker.

As soon as that was achieved, Smith-Out’s colour returned to normal, his breathing stabilised and he made a dashing – sprinting is closer – figure headed towards the pavilion.

Despite all this, the pundits keep telling us that Biff’s experience is vital to the team.

Must have the only map of Ireland with all the safe houses pinpointed in case of World Cup failures or CSA bonus meltdowns.

If that doesn’t make South Africans of all colours red, then how about the weather services?

Imagine entertaining tourists in Cape Town after the new weather services bill is passed. That’s the one where any independent weather forecaster gets up to 10 years or R10-million in fines for predicting a major weather disaster without permission from the state agency.

Picture one stormy night in the middle of July. The rain is lashing the windows so hard that they look like they’re about to break, the temperature is three below freezing and the wind is so fierce that you’ve chained the car to the house in the hope that they both don’t blow away with you still in it.

Your nervous friends from Indonesia who are staying with you are saying silent prayers in the hope that they may be spared the onslaught so that they can return home to milder conditions like earthquakes and volcanoes.

In order to calm everyone down, you turn on to the eNews weather.

The station has employed a new lady from North Korea – Kim On Crack – on account of her ability to work with state “guidance” in the face of clearly misguided information. She cheerily pronounces: “…the Western Cape will be fine and mild to warm with the occasional shower and a slight breeze.”

The “slight breeze” meanwhile has wrenched the car – still chained to the house – off the ground and is dragging it towards the sea.

Frantic, you are waiting for Kim to make a correction and give advice on emergency services when there is suddenly a blackout.

Thankfully, the phones are still working so you contact Eskom who advise you that the substation – which they told you last week had been swept away by a tsunami – has now been hit by lightning.

Load shedding.

Never mind what they tell you, if you examine the contents of your underwear you’ll see that this is load shedding.

And no one can tell me that in their blind panic they still harbour any prejudice towards their countrymen.

This is nation building at its finest.

Viva ineptitude, Viva!


I would also like to clear up a terrible misconception that has arisen.

Three years ago Gavin Varejes, after much consideration, decided that I was South Africa’s worst dressed man. He explained that despite fierce competition my appearance was so offensive that even a dung beetle that had lost its will to live and let itself go could not compete with me in this category.

This has been taken up by David Bullard in his latest book where, while thanking me for my assistance, he felt compelled to point it out.

Needless to say, this issue requires a response.

When this was first pointed out to me, I immediately approached the gay community. I figured that a “queer eye for the straight guy” choosing my wardrobe has to be the solution.

They sent me a guy called Bruce who sat with his legs crossed, constantly removed lint from his black slacks, and kept going “I know…I know…”

Has to be.

After two weeks of Bruce picking out open-necked trousers, vests, and crimplene suits he broke down and confessed that he had been lying to me all along and wanted to come out of the closet – or get back in it?

Turns out he wasn’t gay but was terrified of telling his parents because they had their hearts set on not becoming grandparents.


So if you see me in a blue pant wif a khaki tie and a crimplene jacket, that’s my version and I’m sticking to it.

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