Getting things done

It’s a phat 5 years since I wrote about a possible degree of slippage in the City of Cape Town’s efficiency in responding to ratepayers’ issues and getting stuff done about them. Back then, I said:

…the city is becoming less Capetonian and more Joburgesque every day. The DA are slipping, but they know that they can afford to, because everyone can remember – and can still see – just how bad the alternative is.

Of course, these days Joburg is a DA city too, but that doesn’t mean that things here have really improved. Politically speaking, Cape Town remains so staunchly blue that there’s no real pressure for them council to repair potholes, power outages and the like promptly like there was when their governing future was in the balance.

Or maybe I’m just being cynical? But either way, the city’s response to local problems is simply not as good as it used to be.

There are ways around it though. So, in order to assist you in dealing with the system, here’s how I got the streetlights on our road fixed, in an easy 47-step process.

Note that many of the streetlights on our road aren’t working. Odd.
Email the council, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive auto-reply email promising “a response shortly”.
Wait several days.
Re-email the council with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive auto-reply email promising “a response shortly”.
Wait a day.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive prompt response asking for name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive all important reference number.





Wait several days.
Ask council (publicly) on Twitter for progress update on given reference number.
Receive prompt response asking for name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Annoy wife by swearing out loud.
Send council a message on Twitter, with name, location and contact number, plus details of the problem.
Receive message on Twitter saying that they are following up on it and will revert when we receive information.
Wait 16 hours.
Come home after nightfall to find streetlights have been fixed.


Still, at least they brush up their grass clippings.

Grass Verge Mess Left

This is arguably my favourite newspaper story of the year so far.


‘It’s absolutely disgraceful’

Strong words, indeed.

It’s from local (to Sheffield) paper, the Sheffield Star. And it ticks all the boxes as far as Angry People in Local Newspapers goes:

Local Newspaper – check
Nothing Story – check
Undue Pettiness – check
Picture Of Angry People Pointing At Problem – check:

So. Talking of the problem, what is the problem?

Sheffield residents have hit out at the mess left by council contractors cutting grass verges. Harry Marshall, his partner Ann Hartley and neighbour Gaynor Elliot said waste grass cut from verges along their Basegreen homes is spewed out across the pavement and road each year.


Mr Marshall said residents along Basegreen Avenue where he lives are having to sweep it off their drives and pavements to prevent it staining their shoes and being trailed into their houses.


“It gets in the drains and clogs them up. In this year, the 10th anniversary of the Sheffield floods, have we learned no lessons regarding blocking up the drains, or do we want some more floods?
It is absolutely disgraceful, it’s all over the place.”

CLOGS! (Maybe less stainable than shoes? I dunno. Just a thought.)

DO WE?!?!?

Obviously, instead of simply contacting the contractor involved, Mr Marshall – who is allergic to sweeping – decided that involving the local newspaper was a better bet. And the Star duly sent out a ‘tog and a notebook and gave us this story and this pic:

That is terrible. Why on earth are we importing drain covers from Stockport? Oh, also yes, the grass is an issue. Maybe just brushing it up would have been a better option than ranting to the papers though? I reckon it’d take, like, two minutes, tops.

“We’ve recently got back from Spain and they keep their grass verges really tidy. You see the workmen picking up after themselves. I got back to Sheffield and I couldn’t believe the difference. If the workmen in Spain can keep it tidy then why can’t they do it here?”

Yeah, good point, Mr M. But those Spaniards are the bomb when it comes to sweeping up grass clippings. They’ve been European picking up after themselves champions for the past 5 years straight and were runners-up to Oman in the World’s held in Vladivostok last year. You’re comparing Sheffield to the very best mankind has to offer here: it’s a tall order. Do you own a brush, by the way? I’m just asking.

It’s a wonderfully unimportant, petty rant, which is great in itself, but then there’s the bottom picture.


Now, I’m no professional when it comes to taking pictures. Especially when they are pictures of angry people pointing at grass clippings (niche), and I’d hate to stain my shoes or trail grass into their houses while out on assignment, but… but…

Maybe you could try one more step back, just so you can get both the offending partially grass covered drain and whiney neighbour Gaynor Elliott’s head in shot?

And then also, isn’t Harry Marshall (for it is he on the left there) risking a rather nice pair of slacks by kneeling in that rather devil-may-care fashion? Incidentally, I’ve found that using a solution made of one part white vinegar to two parts water is a good remedy for grass stains. Use a toothbrush to work liquid into the area. Leave for 30 minutes before washing. But then, maybe I’m just a shill for Big Vinegar.

In fact, Mr Marshall’s sour-faced partner, Ann Hartley, is the only one that really comes out of this with any glory, albeit that that glory is tempered somewhat when one remembers that she chose to stand there and look grumpy in front of an inept photographer, rather than just using a brush for all of 90 seconds.

People, ne?

Man of War

Not me, obviously. Personally, I avoid all sorts of violence unless I’m absolutely sure that I’m going to come out both victorious and unscathed. And those conditions are so rarely guaranteed that I’m basically deeply into self-pacifism these days.

No, I’m referring to the new Radiohead video, of course. From the ever so good new album, which I have really been enjoying, and is already in my top 4 albums for 2017*.

There seems to be some confusion as to what exactly this video is meant to be telling us. No-one seems very sure and everyone is taking a different message from it.
I am also confused as to what exactly is going on. Some sort of descent into anxiety, paranoia and madness? And when he falls over on the railway tracks [spoiler – he falls over on some railway tracks, by the way] is that him taking his medication, with calming, but transient results?

Or is it merely a reminder that otherwise apparently normal places can get much, much spookier when night falls, just like Bergvliet does (especially on Fridays)?

Yes. “Bergvliet is flippin’ terrifying in the dark”. I think that’s actually the message they are trying to get across here.


* Current other three contenders at this point (in no particular order):
Elbow – Little Fictions
Future Islands – The Far Field
a-ha – As yet untitled acoustic release, Nov/Dec

False Bay Flight Fun

A quick lunchtime trip to the False Bay Rugby Club with the newly-mended Mrs 6000 gave me a chance to chuck the Mavic around, much to the joy of the kids and dads playing on the rugby field.

This was all about having fun, not a photo or video expedition, so there’s not much to report other than the fact that it was nice to get some fresh air and some more but you can have a look at a different view of things here if you want.

School holidays are now upon us, so not only does that mean an extra hour in bed each morning, but I will also be using every opportunity to spend some time with the kids and – because I have a little bit of annual leave coming up – flying some new places too.


It’s the weekend, but I’m at work. Hence “workend”.
Yeah, I know. I was also impressed.

Experimental protocols are no respecters of the 5-day working week. Actually, scrub that: they are if I write them. I work around the difficult concepts of “weekdays” and “weekends”, and the work still gets done. This one wasn’t written by me though, and that’s why I’m in the lab at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

Yes, I know that some people work weekends, and I’m very lucky to only have to come in for a few hours this morning. But I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I worked in the NHS for 9 years and even if you’ve never been to the UK, the Daily Mail has told you just how much that workforce gets routinely shafted (fairly equally under both a Conservative and a Labour Government, for the record).

So I’d kind of hoped that I’d done the hard yards in the respect, like I’d moved on, settled down and could spend cold, winter Saturday mornings snuggling up in bed with a warm wife and no beagle.

But other people who write experimental protocols are no respecters of the 5-day working week.