12 January 2011


Yesterday I received news, courtesy of producer Ross Garland’s carrier pigeon, that prefers to fly under the curious pseudonym of Henry Charles Bukowski, that it carried with it an important missive.   After languidly wolfing down a bowl of seed and slotting half a Red Bull, the feathery creature kindly extended its leg and I was able to remove the small note attached to its knobbly ankle. The note read:

Spud (the movie/film) has passed the R15m mark at the South African box office with over half a million tickets sold in just six weeks.  Frosty Regards. The Producers...

Forgive me for being blunt my friends, but this is an astonishing number of people who clearly had very little to do over the holidays and thought a film about a wistful boy with small privates would enliven their moribund festive season. It could be something to do with the weather, or more specifically that our weather is read by an American. Nevertheless, I would like to thank all of you who came out to see the movie and  to those who still plan to catch it in the coming weeks, or later on DVD, or perhaps even on MNet for those with gout or an affectionate armchair.  The monumental effort made by so many talented people has been rewarded after all the months and years of agonising, which is a thrill and also a relief.  However, even with my severely limited Mathematical capabilities, I couldn’t help but identify a slight but noticeable difference (300 000) between the number of Spud books and movie tickets sold. I admit that cinema tickets are far cheaper than novels, and that reading for many is akin to having an intravenous injection of rat poison, but it’s simply not good enough. After an afternoon of contemplation I may have stumbled upon a devious plan to encourage reading in the country. I have decided to withhold the film rights for The Madness Continues until more people have read Spud than seen Spud. Taking the book’s current growth path into consideration this should mean the Madness film will hit cinemas in early 2028. Enjoy the show.
But enough about shooting potatoes...

For those returning to school this year, and I suppose one would have to include Spud Milton in this unfortunate category, I offer my sympathies and wish you all the best for your year/ordeal.  I think it’s important that you focus on the positives of your situation (if there are any) rather than dwell on the overwhelming and numerous negatives. Remember too that education offers you the chance to grow your mind, expand your horizons, and pick on unfortunate looking people without being arrested. For those returning to boarding school, there is always the bonus of connecting with old friends and foes and sharing false conquest stories from the holidays. Day school learners should smile heartily at yet another year of mum’s Bovril sarmies at break time. For the rest of you who aren’t returning to school, you will either be making your own Bovril sarmies or buying them at exorbitant prices elsewhere.

I wish you all a fabulous year, and if it turns into a stinker, remember to keep laughing  and imus vita in momentum.

John van de Ruit

Ps Two insane Penguins from Penguin Books (my publisher) have concocted a devious plan to amass 200 000 human Spud fans The Official Spud Books Fan Page. Now I readily declare these two fine Penguins to be absolutely and without a shred of doubt insane, but one still has to admire their chutzpa, and applaud them for making this the fastest growing Penguin fan site in the world. Moral of the story: “Live free and embrace your insanity”.