For those of us whose views of the South African Police were formed in the 1970s by Tom Sharpe's Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, there is a certain reassurance in a piece by Justice Malala in today's Grauniad alleging that little has changed. Kommandant van Heerden lives on as the chief investigating officer in the Pistorius case, Konstabel Els put down the Marikana mine strike and Liutnant Verkramp and Sgt. De Kock are randomly shooting any black men in vehicles that look too expensive. And as Jim was abusing minors in Television Centre, a white Anglican bishop in South Africa was notoriously administering an unusual degree of pastoral care to young African boys in his charge; he makes a thinly-disguised appearance in Sharpe's first book as brother to the nymphomaniac rubber fetishist whose shooting of her black lover / cook with an elephant gun sparked the mayhem.
In that era we were not at all astonished that Jean, Cardinal Danielou should die of a heart attack in a French brothel, or that Scott of the arse-antics was exposed as a senior politician's 'bunny'. In an era in which rock stars were expected to be sexually androgynous drug fiends there was popular delight in finding that many of the deeply conservative members of the 'establishment' were also all at it. The seventies were perhaps the high water mark of satire and target after target tumbled to the sound of common laughter. We couldn't look at a picture of a judge in full robes without imagining the lacy knickers, garter-belt and corsets beneath and Brian Rix in Whitehall bowler and sock-suspenders fled from adulterous wardrobe to window. Lindsay Anderson lampooned the lot in O! Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital and by 1973 even Hair was lampooning itself when the roof falling in at the Shaftesbury ended a run of 1,997 performances.
And it's those of us who came of age in the seventies who now remain least tolerant of official malfeasance, skullduggery and hypocrisy in the upper echelons, fraud and political corruption, public virtue and private vice. We've not only seen it all before, our satirical stereotypes still 'come good' in the F2 generation. Long may they last.