Russell’s Top 10 Things White Ballies Like To Talk About In Bars 2017

With his finger on the pulse of the Zeitgeist, Russell Grant breaks down the biggest topics of conversations amongst white ballies at bars in 2017.



Every year Bob asks all of us to write a top 10 of pretty much anything we want. Every year I forget to write it. Every year Bob sighs and considers every possible alternative career option for the thousandth time this week. This year, however, I remembered. So, without further ado, and with over a week left till 2018, I bring you “Russell’s Top 10 shit white ballies like to talk about in bars”.


10 – Jacob Zuma


Earlier this year I started working part-time as a barman/waiter at a small restaurant/bar in Morningside. It’s a fairly straightforward job that helps me keep my head above water during periods where the freelance market isn’t exactly booming (this is always). Bartending this particular watering hole is, mostly, a low fuss affair, save for two rather irksome occupational hazards: memorizing the exact number of ice cubes each of the 6 different local Daves prefers in his dirt cheap whiskey soda special, and having to sit for hours on end listening to some of the most painful conversations this side of the Umgeni. As you might imagine, many of these conversations are so offensive they don’t bear repeating here. Others are just boring, but some become annoying simply by virtue of their endless repetition. I cannot tell you how many times I have been subjected to THE EXACT SAME conversation being conducted by THE EXACT SAME patrons, complete with THE EXACT SAME lines of argument, premises and conclusions. Perhaps it’s all the GABA being stimulated in these guys’ brains that keeps them coming back to the same old tired topics of discussion. Perhaps it’s the combination of the smell of alcohol, cigarettes and grilled peri-peri that acts as a trigger. Whatever the reason, it drives me nuts. To remedy this, as you already well know, I’m getting it all off my chest in this comprehensive top 10 list, starting with every white person’s absolute fav punching bag: No. 1 (or in this case, No. 10) Jacob Zuma.


I picked Jacob to go at the top here because, well, he is just the easiest. Where there are white ballies talking, Jacob Zuma is on their lips. Begin a conversation with any white ballie, and one will soon realise that any non-Zuma related conversation is simply a curtain raiser for the main event. “How’s your family doing?”. “How’s the job?” “How’s Colleen?”, “How’s Cheryl?”, “Otherwise, you well?”… these are all mere formalities. Necessary niceties white people still observe as an homage to the empire.


Ballies in bars, however, tend to check their protocol at the door, and skip the fanfare all together, the assumption being that, if you are white and drinking in a place that is not your home, you are there to moan about the president.


With the big guy out of the way, let’s proceed to number 9


9 – “This Country”


I’ve always had a morbid fascination with the way white people speak the words “this country”. I’m sure citizens of all countries utter these words from time to time, but I’m certain they don’t come with that special brand of privileged disdain as ours do.


Conversations about “this country” are most often tied in with conversations about our no. 10. The two are often treated as equivalent, but there are some important differences. “This country” can be used as a catch-all phrase for complaints of any nature made by people who are currently within the borders of the Republic of South Africa. Jacob Zuma is an obvious one. Quotas are another. Not so obvious complaints include: traffic, avo prices, and sea-life depletion.


8 – Fishing



Until I started working as a barman, I really had no idea what a prevalent hobby/career fishing is amongst white men. I don’t quite get it myself, to be honest. Nothing about the prospect of luring sea-dwelling creatures to their doom with a rope and some food appeals to me. I even once had a guy show me footage he’d taken by securing a Go Pro to the side of his spear gun. The resulting clip looked like a particularly twisted version of Quake 1, with rather bewildered looking fish filling in for the NPCs.


Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I still know a lot more now about the pastime than I ever thought I would.


7 – Quotas in Sports


This one is huge. The bar I work in is ostensibly a sports bar, which means sport-related talk is kept to a maximum. God help you should one of our Springbok players of colour fumble a ball or not summon supernatural powers to make that last ditch tackle to rescue a try saving opportunity afforded to our opponents by an error made by a white player (as in life, so too in rugby). The resulting post-play analysis can take hours, leaving me wondering exactly what good reason I had for giving up drinking.


6 – The Border War


This one is a slightly touchy subject so I won’t dwell on it. I realise that there is a whole generation of men who were shipped out to one of South Africa’s bordering nations to fight and die in a pointless war to protect an unjust system of oppression, and that these men had no choice, and that many of them are still suffering the consequences of severe trauma, but if you’re one of those dudes who likes to sit at a bar and brag about some of the genuinely fucked up shit you did whilst on duty in one of our neighbouring countries, you are going to bum me out.


5 – Robert Mugabe/Zimbabwe


This is another familiar staple for anyone raised on Woolies school lunches and private health care. Zim-speak seemed to have taken a dive in 2017, but ol’ Bob made a major comeback near the end there thanks to a certain coup that wasn’t actually a coup.


4 – Rugby



This one is so obvious it hardly merits inclusion in this list. There has never been a year in the history of years in which white people did not gather in public houses to discuss the finer details of this or that match of rugby. This one I don’t mind so much because I am, in fact, a casual sports fan, and can engage most patrons on the subject, and easily use it to distract away from more loaded and problematic topics (although our aforementioned quota systems always have a way of sneaking in here).


3 – Other Sports


It appears there is more to life than rugby. There is also cricket, tennis, golf and, god help us, Moto GP. I find that I can engage quite cogently in talk about most sports, but not a chance when it comes to Moto GP. This is one kind of competitive pursuit in which I genuinely find no point. You’re all welcome to fight me on this. Please, sweet baby Jesu rapture me lest I should be subjected to another lap.  


2 – Music from the 70s


This is another all-time bar talk classic. At least 3 of our 6 Daves have preloaded playlists on our jukebox, and every one of them has Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, and Crosby Stills and Nash. Just kidding, only 1 of our Daves has this, but I dare anyone to walk into this pub and try suggesting that any new songs were so much as thought about after 1979.


1 – Bitcoin



This is the hands-down winner for most talked about, and most annoying, bar discussion topic of choice in 2017. Not a half hour goes by without SOMEONE piping up about their insane returns or their new mining investment. Some of these patrons have even gone so far as to start a gang, and have begun unashamedly sidling up to strangers to tell them about their lord and saviour. I foresee a growth in this trend in 2018

2 Responses to “Russell’s Top 10 Things White Ballies Like To Talk About In Bars 2017”
  1. Ian says:

    Nice early morning read Russell..should have been reading it in a bar. One last thing is their fascination with Facebook…go into any bar with free WiFi & 9 out of 10 baillies will be on FB & showing off that fish, grand child, new golf club etc. All the best to the DYI team for 2018…

  2. The 7th Dave says:

    yo russ !!!

    cool article. . . . You have a beautiful way of writing : )

    i have worked a bar in durban once before for an extended period and relate to most of your findings : )


    The 7th Dave

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