Letter: Written on the wall

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Sir: It is reassuring to know that even under the censorship of the long-lived apartheid regime, affluent South Africans must have been receptive to some cultural influences from abroad. In his election notebook (22 April) John Lichfield cites humorous graffiti which clearly have been adapted from those that, in another national paper, I have reported from Northern Ireland over the years.

The wearily fatalistic 'Buy early while shops last' appeared at the height of the IRA's bomb blitz on Derry's city centre in the mid-

Seventies; 'Help the RUC - beat yourself up' can still be deciphered, faded by the years, at one entrance of the green, leafy and largely loyalist Belvoir estate in South Belfast.

'Any problems - dial AK 47', which Mr Lichfield cites from the East Rand, I have also seen in South Armagh but I can't recall precisely where.

Presumably in the South African election they would have no cause to borrow another classic from the Catholic Markets area of Belfast, of some 12-15 years ago: 'God is airborne, the Pope's a para'.

Yours faithfully,



Co Down

22 April