I get called a lot of names because of this blog. Some are nice, but probably most are not. The less pleasant ones dribble limply into the metaphorical pond, like water off a duck’s back. But there’s one which is fairly regularly used each and every time I make any criticism of South Africa (that being both my home and the country where I pay my taxes) or anything or anyone South African.
That insult is “Soutpiel” – usually abbreviated to “Soutie”.
And it reared its ugly head again after the Zuma v Zapiro post yesterday.
The term is almost exclusively used in a derogatory manner, but when I actually looked up (or asked someone, can’t remember) what it meant several years ago, I almost burst out laughing.
A quick look at the wonderfully-titled Wikipedia page “Alternative names for the British”, tells us:
Another common term in South Africa used mostly by the Afrikaans is Soutie or Sout Piel. This is from the concept that the Brits have one leg in Britain and one leg in South Africa, leaving the penis hanging in the salt water. Sout Piel means Salt Penis (or rather “dick”). However, this term refers more specifically to British people who have settled in South Africa, as they are more likely to be imagined as having one foot in each country than a Briton who is simply visiting as a tourist.
Is that really the best that you can do?
Let’s look at the logistics of this. The distance from South Africa to the UK is about 6000 miles. Don’t ask me how I know that off the top of my head. It’s just a unique talent I have around memorising numbers.
Thus, in calling me a Soutie, you are inferring that when I stand, my feet are about 9656km apart. A ludicrous suggestion, I know, but this is your mind at work here, not mine.
And then, let’s suppose that in standing firm, one foot in Cape Town – possibly Greenmarket Square, I don’t know – and the other in Sheffield at the top of Fargate (next to the Yorkshire Bank), my legs are each at a sturdy, safe angle of 60° to the ground. In your mind, you now have a massive, massive equilateral triangle.
My legs are each stretching 9656km into the sky.
To put that in perspective, the International Space Station is orbiting around my ankles.
Your mind, remember?
The next bit might not be so nice to imagine – depending on how you like to butter your bread – it’s my “piel” and it is – for geometric purposes you understand – descending directly from the apex of the huge triangle created by my legs and the surface of the earth, which I have conveniently assumed is flat. The eagle-eyed mathematicians among you (those that haven’t fainted at the sheer scale and might of what stands before you) have just realised that we now have a right-angled triangle and we can bring our friend Mr Pythagoras into play, theorem in hand.
I hope that you can all remember that Mr P told us that:
(Piel² + 4828²) = 9656²
Which I will helpfully rearrange and solve for you using just a simple pen, an ordinary sheet of A4 paper and a Casio fx-85WA calculator.
To sum up, what you are telling me when you call me a “Soutie”, what you are saying is that
my member is 8363.341km long.
But, you know what they say: “size isn’t important”. That’s what they tell you, isn’t it? Hmm?
But that’s not all.
While we’ve had a long, hard (careful now) examination of the “piel” portion of the word, there’s still this issue over where my prodigious organ is dangling and getting salty.
There is no ocean between Cape Town and Sheffield. Your only briny options are the horizontal slivers of the Mediterrenean and the English Channel. And my mighty manhood isn’t landing anywhere near either of them.
In fact, consulting any accurate map or globe will show you that it actually comes to rest somewhere close to the city of Tahoua in sandy, landlocked Niger, where it would probably nestle happily amongst the population of just under 100000 and be used as some religious monument or record-breaking sundial.
The closest you come to any saltiness is the fact that gypsum and phosphates are mined in the area.
It sounds like Brakpan. Not great.
So next time you want to come up with a first class insult to put me firmly in my place, I would steer clear of “Soutie”, if I were you.
It really doesn’t work.