Sarah Buitendach Editor: Wanted and FM lifestyle
A woman walks past a closed liquor shop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Picture: Michele Spatari / AFP
A woman walks past a closed liquor shop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Picture: Michele Spatari / AFP

You’re over it, aren’t you? I totally am. You can’t switch on the TV or turn your head without being bludgeoned by more bad news. It’s a perpetual grenade attack of death, economic disaster and bad decisions. And just when you think the coast is clear — heads up, there’s a new volley of nightmares heading your way.

When will it end?

Never, it seems.

Still, in an effort to alleviate some of your pain, here’s a bit of fun and light-heartedness

First off: there’s a good possibility the funny might just save us.

Tyson Ngubeni, the comedian, writer and actor, is leading the way as the star of the new Chicken Licken commercial that has everyone laughing. Its mix of SA lockdown in-jokes and references (including the guy who tried to smuggle his girlfriend across a provincial border in the boot of his car) and the exceptional production of director Tebogo Malope and his team will brighten your day. You can watch the commercial and read more about it on TimesLIVE.

Then, here’s an article to file under the tag “We’re going to have a celebration that lasts for six days when this is all over”. The New York Times asked a selection of US wedding DJs to name the tunes that always get people onto the dance floor. Sure, they’re talking nuptial gigs, but who’s going to resist TLC and Diana Ross at any kind of party? As DJ Tom “Doc Delay” Shiner says of The Contours’ Do You Love Me: “C’mon. Try not to dance.” Click here, press play and then send feedback.

If you like your feel-good a little more sedentary, The Guardian’s pick of summer books to escape into might do the trick. The fiction list includes cracking sci-fi by NK Jemisin and a bit of make-believe by Curtis Sittenfeld about what would have happened to Hillary if she hadn’t stayed with Bill. There are also lovely kids’ books and a nonfiction selection that includes lots of worthy choices — but then, who needs more real right now?

Which isn’t to say all fiction is fun — but writers fashioning worlds and narratives from scratch is a thing to marvel over nevertheless.

In celebration of this, The New York Times Magazine has put together the most mesmerising package of new short fiction, all inspired by The Decameron. In case you missed that history lesson, The Decameron is a collection of novellas written by Italian Giovanni Boccaccio in the 14th century.

The stories in it are told by a group of young men and women sheltering from the Black Death. They’re not all wretched — some are erotic, some are funny, some are life lessons.

For the magazine’s redux of that idea, it has enlisted heavy hitters like Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Colm Tóibín and Kamila Shamsie to write stories inspired by this bizarre moment in time. Go here to get lost in these tales, and enjoy the fantastic illustrations that accompany the pieces too. The project is journalism at its most imaginative.

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

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