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Literature / Indecent Exposure

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It's as mad as it looks. Crazy secret policeman, larger than life German Nazi refugee, exploding ostriches, and policemen undergoing aversion therapy

A novel, set in The Apartheid Era, about the police force in South Africa. A black comedy and satirical tour de farce by Tom Sharpe, a man expelled from South Africa for being illegally in possession of a sense of humour.

The sequel to Riotous Assembly.

Die volgende tropes neerkom op 'n onwettige vergadering in die verbreking van die rasseskeiding Handelinge en die wette van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Jy het vyf minute om te versprei.


The following tropes constitute an illegal assembly in breach of the Racial Separation Acts and the laws of the Republic of South Africa. You have five minutes to disperse.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: depending on perspective, van Heerden for Mrs Heathcote-Kilkoon, or Mrs Heathcote-Kilkoon for van Heerden.
  • All Psychologyis Freudian: Dr von Blimenstein's work as a psychiatrist in Piemburg.
  • Baa-Bomb: Exploding Ostriches figure as a plot point.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Afrikaans, the word verkramp has a colloquial meaning of crazy, politically conservative, hysterically nutty or simply constipated.
  • Black Face: Konstabel Els is last seen, naked and black from being covered in powder-burns, among the rampaging asylum patients, hoping to escape before he is detected as white; in itself an inversion of his implied mixed-race status, much remarked on by the Kommandant
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  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: The Nazi-refugee Dr von Blimenstein enthusiastically assists with the therapy. In her day job as psychiatrist, she deals with the sexually repressed neuroses and paranoia of white South African women, that one day the blacks will rise and rape every white woman they can, and, well, the blecks are so big, aren't they? Her white female patients express an unhealthy obsession with the sheer size of black African penises and she uses this as the core of her shock therapy. She clinically calls this "blackcock fever". She also dealt with a case where a zookeeper with an inferiority complex chose to measure his erection against the length of a poisonous Black Mamba. This did not end well.
  • Cosplay: The Dornford Yates Club dress up as characters from their literary hero's novels and re-enact scenes from the books in character. As the books extol a toxic sort Englishness and disdain for all lesser races - such as Boers - this doesn't play too well.
  • Cure Your Gays: Dr von Blimenstein is convinced that a combination of electric shocks, strong emetics and aversion therapy can cure anything. she gets a chance to test this and applies it first to policemen sexually attracted to black women, and then on gays.
  • Earth Mother: Dr von Blimenstein in her desire to smother Verkramp with a unique sort of love.
  • Genius Bonus: Dornford Yates actually existed in Real Life: he was an author who wrote a series of horrendously dated and Up to Eleven hack novels, viewed even in their day as horribly bad writing extolling the virtues of a certain sort of Englishness. In-Universe, the Dornford Yates Club views him as an under-rated genius and literary great.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The aversion therapy to stop the police raping African women (showing them pictures of naked black women while electro-shocking their genitals). It makes them averse to all women, and they turn into camp gays.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Luitenant Verkramp enlists the help of a female psychiatrist to provide the police garrison with aversion therapy, with the aim of stopping them from fraternising with black girls. This is done by strapping them to chairs, propping the eyelids open and showing them slides of naked black women while electro-shocking their genitals. While this has the desired effect of making them averse to fraternising with black women, it also made them averse to fraternising with all women and turned them into Camp Gays. It was even worse for one officer when the terminally stupid Konstabel Els decided that the subject must be bored looking at all of these pictures of naked women, and started showing him slides of his last holiday to a nature reserve instead—while continuing to administer the electric shocks to his genitals! A horrified Verkamp comments that the poor bugger is never going to be able to take his kids to the zoo again.
  • The Only True Englishmen: The Dornford Yates Club, dedicated to preserving a long-dead sort of Englishness on the ebb-tide of Empire.
  • Race Fetish: The white policemen consider sexually assaulting black female prisoners is a rare perk in an underpaid job. Kommandant van Heerden himself is not averse - but when he feels the need, he takes it over the border to brothels in Portuguese Mozambique, where isn't breaking any South African racial separation law. Liutnant Verkramp keeps a file on his boss to bring out when the time is right.
  • Recycled Script: A plot device from this novel is used again, several years later, for Wilt (1976). A man arrested by incompetent and largely useless police investigators and subjected to low-level torture, who is innocent of a crime, realises the only way forward is to create a confession which is good enough to fool the police - who are willing to accept a confesssion and aren't prepared to look too closely at it - whilst being, at the same time, so wildly preposterous that any rational court would throw it out. Unfortunately for Bishop Hazelstone, he is living in South Africa in The Apartheid Era. In his case, a sane and rational court is not a possibility.
  • Secret Police: Liutnant Verkramp and the BOSS organisation.
  • Sleep Deprivation Punishment: Sleep deprivation is used by the Bureau of State Security's local agent, Liutnant Verkramp, on the suspected communist spies and subversives he rounds up for interrogation. They include hitherto unexpected comsymps like the manager of the local Barclay's Bank, who the interrogating officer wishes to get even with for refusing him an overdraft.
  • Shout-Out: to Zulu, which is heavily parodied in the re-enactment scene at the mental hospital.
  • Take That!! - Sharpe's setting in "Piemburg" - a thinly veiled Expy of Pietermauritzburg, the city in Natal where he worked prior to deportation as an undesirable alien.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Dr von Blimenstein's fixation on the weedy Verkramp.
  • Title Drop: Van Heerden delivers this to Lieutenant Els.
    ‘You’ll do more than that,’ the Kommandant told him. ‘If I catch you flashing the thing again, I’ll book you.’‘What with?’ Els asked.‘Indecent Exposure,’ snarled the Kommandant.

Vyf minute het verstryk. Ons sal nou begin skiet, sonder verdere waarskuwing.

Your five minutes have expired. We will commence shooting with no further warnings.


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