Woolworths – in their own littleworld

Over here in SA, we have our own Woolworths. It’s completely unconnected with the UK Woolworths which finally died the death in a blaze of media coverage in January. Our Woolies is more akin to Marks & Spencer, with food prices to match.  

I occasionally pop in to Woolworths, usually for fresh produce – flowers, fruit, fish and meat – which, although a little expensive, will at least last until the use by date, as opposed to Pick n Pay stuff which is rotten by the time you get it home. Also, their kids meals and baby food are excellent. So yes, I’m a fan of Woolies. Or rather – I was.

While in their Milner Road store the other day, I spotted a leaflet advertising their littleworld programme, whereby when you buy kids food, kids clothes, kids accessories etc, you can get “a world of rewards for mother and child”, including (but not limited to) pampering at a spa, discounts on magazine subscriptions, a free muffin at W café, exclusive Woolworths vouchers and free entry into competitions and prize draws, as well as a newsletter with helpful expert advice on raising your child.

Sounds great, as I like muffins, I enjoy buying nice stuff for my kids and – of course – I want to raise them the best I can.
Except – I’m not a mum. I’m a dad. So apparently, I’m not welcome.

Check the terms and conditions:

Mothers of children between the ages of 0 to 6 years are invited to join the littleworld programme, as are mothers-to-be, grandmothers, aunts or anyone who loves shopping for little ones.

Now – I don’t want to appear over-sensitive or anything, but that list does appear to be ever so slightly female-orientated. This is very much the same as the non-progressive shopping malls with their “mother and child” parking bays and the baby changing facilities in the ladies loos.
In this country with its model Constitution – and moreover from Woolworths, one of the flagship brands in SA – you would really expect more inclusive policies, programmes and offers. 

And yes, I’m sure I fall neatly into the last category on that list from their leaflet, but that’s really not the point. 
Admittedly I’m not a business or consumer expert, but even I can see the common sense in thinking about the messages you’re sending out before you launch a new programme like this. I recognise that there is a specific target market for this programme. But I think they chose the wrong target market.
Can only women bring up children now? Don’t fathers count? Granddads, uncles? And if we do exist, then why can’t we have some reward or thanks for using Woolies products for our children?

It’s not so hard. I don’t see anything there that would be lost if the leaflet read “a world of rewards for parent and child”. Or if they included some male relatives in the “who can join” section. Or even if they just didn’t include the examples of “other” people who can join.
But instead, they really seem to have gone out of their way in order to exclude fathers – and frankly, that is a big disappointment.

EDIT: Update, 19th June 2009

Is that really the best you could manage?

It being a public holiday in South Africa today, we had the choice of taking the kids to the Aquarium to attack some generic fish or to Bizzy Bodies to attack a jumping castle or three. Given the choice early on, Alex opted for fish molestation at the aquarium, but as soon as inflatable fun was mentioned, there was no turning back and we headed off to Westlake (which, as mentioned previously, lies to the west of a lake) (genius).

Bizzy Bodies is basically a big warehouse which has been carpeted and has a giant climbing frame, three giant inflatable jumping castles and a whole heap of various toys for kids to choose from and play with. Parents can sit and drink coffee, eat unhealthy food and watch their child’s energy resources becoming more and more scarce with happy smiles on everyone’s faces. It is – I think – perhaps the perfect symbiotic relationship between parents, children and the business owners, who presumably, are Mr & Mrs Body.

Obviously, the four large brick walls of a warehouse are pretty dour for kids, so they have decorated them with happy stick figures and a wonderfully airbrushed Mickey Mouse. Oh – and this, right above the infants section:

Seriously… WTF? [Bigger here (if you dare)]

I’m guessing – from the information which my mind was still able to process, having seen that monstrosity – that those are supposed to be Winnie the Pooh and friends. But, resisting the urge to unleash a plethora of swearwords, what [on earth] was the artist thinking about? Pooh Bear doesn’t look like Pooh Bear, Piglet’s head is deformed from the ursine grip in which he finds himself, Eeyore looks kind of resigned to being in a really crap mural, Tigger looks like a happy paedophile* and Roo… I just… don’t have… the words. I thought he was supposed to be a baby kangaroo. Not some sort of deviant monkey.

What on earth possessed them to hire a blind artist? And why didn’t they paint over it the moment she had left the building? She’s even signed her name and left her cell number at the bottom. I will have to follow up on that at a later date. I was too shocked to take it all in at the time. Too scared to go close.

I found K-pu, ignoring all the exciting toys surrounding her,  just staring – terrified – at the image on the wall. Staring. Inexorably staring.
I was very worried about her seeing anything Pooh Bear-related when we came home, but I need not have worried. The difference between those utter freaks in the mural and the friendly faces from the Hundred-Acre Wood was far too great a leap for her little mind to grasp.

Thank goodness. She may never have slept again. (Although I’m not sure if we would have noticed a difference).   

* which, given his surroundings, is perhaps unsurprising.


The world has ended.

Or so it would seem if you were to tune into Cape Talk today. Whities from all races – anxious not to miss the ‘soccer’ bandwagon – have tuned into the Confederations Cup and are upset by several issues:

1. The rules of the game,
2. The way the black people in the crowd booed the white bloke playing for SA and
3. The noise of the trumpets – called ‘vuvuzelas’.

Of course the ball is round, not like a proper ball, which is oval. And the goal posts stop at the crossbar instead of making a giant H shape. Weird. And the players don’t use their hands. And they’re allowed to pass forward. Weirder.

The white bloke playing for SA is Matthew Booth. ‘BOOOOOOOTH!’ shout his adoring fans when he has the ball, prompting desperately misconstrued allegations of racism from the uneducated paler quarter of Cape Town.

Finally, the vuvuzela issue. ‘We don’t do that at rugby, so it can’t be right!’
Oh please.
The vuvuzela is to SA football what the braai is to the Afrikaner. And you are ruining your desperate attempts to be trendy by watching football by trying to change it. Ain’t happening. The vuvuzela will be the trademark of the 2010 World Cup.

Here’s a newsflash! Just because you weren’t watching doesn’t mean that football didn’t exist. In fact, it was getting along quite happily before you turned up and started moaning.

Want to stop the irritating noise that’s spoiling it for everybody? THEN STOP WHINING!

The importance of twitter explained

A common complaint of Twitter users is the assumptions made about Twitter and Twitter users by non-Twitter users.

Twitter does have many different uses depending on what you want to get out of it, whether it is organising get-togethers, discussing or seeking solutions to technical problems, sharing photos and news stories in real time, promoting your blog (apparently, anyway) or business. It isn’t just a little chat service for nerds and geeks. Although, of course, it can do that too if you want it to.

So, before you step forward and slate what you don’t know or don’t understand, try looking at it using Brian Micklethwait’s criteria:

I’ve said it many times before, but it will bear constant repetition. When some new technique of communication is invented or stumbled upon, you should not judge its impact by picking ten uses of it at random, averaging them all out, and saying: Well that’s a load of trivial crap, isn’t it?!? How will “I am just about to make another slice of toast” change the world? The question to ask is: Of all the thousands of uses already being made of this thing, which one is the most significant? And then: Well, is that very significant? If yes, at all, then forget about the toast nonsense.

And the other thing to point out is that, even if you don’t care about some stranger being about to make some toast, there may well be some other strangers out there who do. For them, such twitterings may be very significant. What if the person about to toast suffers from suicidal depression, and his mere willingness to attempt any household task however trivial is a source of rejoicing to all his friends?

But there will always be the haters: those who can’t or don’t want to understand. Simon Heffer of the Telegraph, for example:

One very good reason why I would not join Facebook or Twitter is that I cannot imagine there is a soul anywhere on earth that I am not in touch with in any case who could care less what I am doing at any moment of the day. I cannot believe that anyone should want to spectate the ordinariness of my existence, for I certainly have no wish to spectate anyone else’s.

But then again, Simon Heffer is described in this month’s British GQ as “a pasty faced Billy Bunter figure with a penchant for college ties”.
David Cameron wrote of him, thus: 

“The attitude that he personifies – hatred of the modern world – is not just part of the problem. It is the problem.”

Of course, the simple rule for Simon and his type is: If you don’t like it, don’t do it. And stop whining. Yes, you’re going to hear about it in the newspapers and on the TV, but if it really bothers you that much, then skip those stories and read about the war in Afghanistan or the latest goings-on in the World T20.

Or do you really consider yourself so very important that just because you don’t get it, the rest of us aren’t allowed to either?

On being studious

I’d love to be studious again. I have tried to be studious for most of my life, but after I finished my Masters, I discovered that I had become so fed up of studiousness that I decided to turn my back on it forever. Or at least until I changed my mind. Which appears to be now.
I crave information. It doesn’t even have to be anything useful: I love to hoard trivia and facts just in case they come up in a pub quiz somewhere, sometime. It would just be nice to formally study something again. But there has definitely been a paucity of opportunities for learning of late.
Add to this the fact that I have a pair of energetic children who are often active from the time I get home from work in the evening until the time I leave for work in the morning. This also applies to weekends. Bummer.

So I need time and space and with that in mind (and before I go completely Iggle-Piggle) we have decided to build a study. This is good because there is nowhere better for studying than in a study. And although the new study is currently merely some expensive lines on an expensive bit of paper, the ground rules have already been set. It is out of bounds for children and will have an awesome and expensive sound system. I haven’t told my son about him not being allowed in there yet and I haven’t told my wife about the expensive sound system, but I foresee only minor issues. Hmm.  

Because the builder suddenly decided that he wanted to start work this Wednesday, I spent much of the weekend digging up the garden where the new study will be and dodging thundery showers (with limited success) with the aim of saving valuable turf and plants. Thus, I now have heaps of wet, muddy clothes and every muscle in my body is now screaming in protest at my sudden call to action. One of the few benefits* was the opportunity to occasionally lean on my spade and plan the position of my new desk, which will have absolutely stunning views of the Constantiaberg and will be absolutely perfect for continuing and further refining the procrastination for which I have become famous.

How does this affect you readers of 6000 miles…? Well, I’m well aware that avidly following the progress of minor extensions to other people’s property is what people mainly surf the internet for, so I’m obviously going to make the most of this chance to allow you all to share in the highs and lows of our study-building experience in minute detail.
And then, once it’s completed, I will sit in it, oblivious to my son banging at the door, and wonder where all my readers have gone.

* who am I trying to kid? This should read “the only thing that was even vaguely close to being mildly beneficial…”