Today I find myself working from Europa, on Grant Avenue in Norwood, which is directly below my office. And by “working”, I mean not working. Rather, blogging, facebooking and scanning the day’s news. As my friend Vic says, “What would we do without facebook, twitter and blogging? Probably our work”. So very true. Anyways, I’ve relocated to Europa since my office keys got stolen by my boss’ helper, Benson, who had come to clean our offices. He needed to buy a new plug for the vacuum cleaner, so I gave him some cash and asked him to get one from the hardware store a block away. An hour later, he still hadn’t returned, so my boss went to look for him and found him totally wasted on the pavement downstairs. He’d used my cash to buy booze and, come 9am, was basically passed out. Seriously. To cut a long story short, my boss fired him… and only many hours later did we realise he’d taken my office keys with him. And now I can’t get into my office. It’s all a little awkward really.
Earlier that day, when my boss introduced Benson to me, he said Benson was from Northern Rhodesia. So I said, “You mean Zambia?”. My boss then said “Oh, no, I mean Nyasaland”. “Malawi?” I said. “Yes, Malawi”, Benson said. Awkward silence followed for a moment, while both Benson and I were trying to work out why anyone thought it was vaguely ok, let alone amusing, to refer to the former Confederation countries by their colonial names. After being described as being from Northern Rhodesia, and then Nyasaland, in 2011, I would also go out and get drunk, even at 9am. I don’t blame him.
I don’t mind being locked out of my office as, at least there’s Europa here, and not only can I access my office’s wifi from here, but our portable landlines work from Europa too. And they have great coffee. I could always just relocate here permanently. I would pick an outside table to catch Joburg’s warm winter sun. Except I won’t, because the Israeli mafia in Joburg basically works out of Europa, Norwood… although I also have my suspicions about the Schwarma Company outlet half a block away.
I used to see weird things go down on Grant Avenue, and never understood what was happening, like seeing guys walking around with machine guns… guys who are definitely not cops, and a huge number of people that you never want to meet in a dark alley. Everyone else acted like they didn’t see these things and/or these things were normal, which confused me even more. But now, after learning that I work in the Israeli mafia’s turf, I understand the situation a bit better, and “weird” has become very relative. Now I also pretend that all weird jazz that I see is totally normal.
That said, I avoid this area after dark, as well as all guys sitting in corner cafes and speaking in hushed tones in Hebrew, usually grouped around a backgammon board. That, friends, is the most accurate way of identifying those with Israeli mafia links in Norwood. They’re probably plotting who to take out next. If you don’t believe me, read Mandy Weiner’s “Killing Kebble”, which, by the way, is an excellent book. Her expose on Joburg’s underworld will open your eyes big time, and will probably stop you sleeping for a few days.
Anyways, I best be off, a friend of mine has just arrived. Well, he’s actually a former client. I first met him in the filthy police cells in Brixton after he got arrested for possession and some other stuff. He’d had a fight with his girlfriend and she retaliated by telling the cops about his stash. Next thing, they broke his door down while he was minding his own business and watching TV, and he landed up in Brixton. But these days he’s a free man and we’re homies, often catching up at Europa. Although he has numerous piercings and his entire body is covered in tattoos, apparently even “down there”, he looks totally normal on Grant Avenue and, despite the fact that part of me is still fearful of this place, part of me has come to love how anything goes on Grant Avenue. You should visit sometime. Preferably during the day.