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My life as a tourist trap

Patrick McCabe |  28 January 2014

Crowds gathered outside Nelson Mandela's childhood home in SowetoWhen I have achieved universal fame, and I am dead, they will probably turn my childhood house into a tourist attraction.

In order to do so, it will be necessary to build a ticket booth on the front lawn. This will require the removal of the old tree that grows in the front garden, which will be a shame, but a small price to pay to grant the masses the privilege of entry to my childhood house — for a fee.

In any case, the booth will be done in a very tasteful, modernist style — that is, it will be a large, featureless concrete block, with holes in the wall from which underpaid teenagers will sell the tickets.

There will be one queue for those who reserved tickets online or who are with an authorised tour guide, and another for everyone else. Of course, owing to my universal fame, both queues will bend far down my street. A large steel fence will be erected across the front lawn, to ensure people don't get in without a ticket.

Unfortunately, the entrance to my childhood home is not wheelchair friendly. So it will need to be redesigned. Purists will complain, but they'll still come.

Since they have to redesign the entrance anyway, it will make sense to enlarge it just slightly to include space for an information desk. At the desk, you will be able to pick up a map and hire an audioguide.

It won't destroy the appearance of the original facade too much to also add a toilet block.

My mum and dad's bedroom won't be of much interest to many me enthusiasts, so that room will be converted into a me museum, housing various artefacts such as my plastic tricycle and some bedraggled picture books. Plaques will declare each artefact's provenance and significance, and explain what part it played in shaping my life such that I would go on to do whatever great deeds I did in order to attain my universal fame. The artefacts themselves will sit inside inlets in the wall, glassed off to protect them from prying fingers, and the elements.

In the lounge room, visitors will be excited to see the original family lounge suite. Of course, visitors will not be permitted to sit on the original family lounge suite. They will be prevented from doing so by an elegant red rope, suspended by two stainless steel poles, and a pictogram sign that will indicate 'do not touch' to all visitors, regardless of their native language.

The highlight will of course be my own bedroom. There will be a permanent queue at the door. The tourist attraction's management will arbitrarily decide that photography is banned within my bedroom, and they will appoint guards to enforce this edict. Tourists will pay these guards no heed, but the guards will perform the Sisyphean task of preventing photographs with admirable gusto nonetheless.

Unfortunately, visitors will be disappointed to find my bed gone, substituted with a sign featuring a photo of the bed and advising that thanks to the kind donation of a particular American philanthropist, my bed is currently undergoing a restoration to ensure it maintains its original character for future generations to continue to enjoy. Visitors will inwardly curse the philanthropist in question, and outwardly exclaim at the very unfortunate timing of their visit. They will remain unaware that the sign has in fact been there three years.

It is unlikely my Ikea bookcase will have stood the test of time. However, happily, visitors will be able to enjoy a faithful reconstruction of the original bookcase, built by an artisan specialising in the 'Allen key' method of furniture design, popular in the early 21st-century period.

In the ultimate settlement of sibling rivalry, my brother's and sister's bedrooms will be the logical places to establish the museum cafeteria and shop. One wall of my brother's bedroom will be removed so that the cafeteria will open up onto our backyard patio, thus enabling patrons to enjoy al fresco dining. There would be no better way to finish a trip to my house than an overpriced baguette under my patio's original fibreglass roof, watching the sun set behind the clothesline.

Visitors will go home happy, their bags filled with miniature replicas of my house and stuffed toy replicas of me, and their minds filled with an authentic insight into what my inspiring life was actually like.

When I achieve universal fame, but before I am dead, I think I will ensure my house is demolished.

Patrick McCabe headshotPatrick McCabe recently went back-packing through Europe.

Image: Outside Nelson Mandela's childhood home in Soweto



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Submitted comments

Baby, look at me and tell me what you see/You ain't seen the best of me yet/Give me time, I'll make you forget the rest/(Fame) I'm gonna live forever/I'm gonna learn how to fly (High)/(Fame) I'm gonna make it to heaven/Baby, remember my name/(Remember, remember, remember, remember).

Pam 28 January 2014

Oh Patrick . . that I could live long enough to visit your tourist attraction! (but I'm 73 already!) Attached is 50c towards the restoration of your bed.

glen avard 29 January 2014

Patrick this is great. So witty. You have a gift!

Kate Nestor 29 January 2014

There should also be a signed photo of teddy, more so a whole room dedicated to him. And maybe a book in the gift shop on the rules and regulations of the I hate Pokemon club. Can't forget these vital aspects that made you the great man whose house must become an exhibit.

Sam 29 January 2014

Nelson Mandela's childhood home was not in Soweto, nor anywhere near!

Mary Hazelton 30 January 2014

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