Swings and Roundabouts

Or rather, Roundabouts and Swings

Said he “the job’s the very spit of what it always were,
“It’s bread and bacon mostly when the dog don’t catch a hare,
“But looking at it broad, and while it ain’t no merchant kings,
“What’s lost upon the roundabouts, we pulls up on the swings.”

Roundabouts and Swings by Patrick Chalmers

Poetry on 6000 miles…hoodathunkitt? But I always wondered where that expression came from.

After my minirant regarding the injustices of football and the backward mindedness of the FA, Karma (which I really don’t believe in) was happened – or whatever Karma does – yesterday as my beloved Blades scored an offside goal and a really soft penalty to win 2-1 in a crunch match against Birmingham City.  
I now expect to find similar rants all over the web from Birmingham City fans. Or at least I would if any of them could write. I guess that’s a bit of an ask when you’ve only mastered the basic vowel sounds.
And even those, incorrectly.

It’s hard to remember – especially in something as emotive as football – that things do tend to even themselves out. Thus, Birmingham’s “bad luck” will probably be passed onto whoever they play next and so on and so forth.

Of course, humans being what they are these days, with the general “glass half-empty” approach to life, will never believe that they are getting anything but a raw deal, especially us bloggers, desperately narcissistic, craving attention and sympathy like some sort of Münchausen Syndrome victims. Twitter just concentrates the effect.
You know who you are.
And if you’re thinking “maybe he means me,”  then I probably don’t, but you’re obviously heading that way. 

More happy “Joy of Rusk” style posts, please. With smiles and stuff.
Which, I accept, this one isn’t.

Ooh ,the irony.

Not sour grapes…

…but when your team goes out of the FA Cup because of this:

GOAL Hull City 1-0 Sheffield United
It’s an unbelievably controversial goal and the Blades will be furious about that one. A cross from the Hull right is for some reason headed against the underside of his own crossbar by Kyle Naughton and the ball bounces down on to the line and away. The whole ball isn’t over, though, so it shouldn’t count. Poor decision from the assistant referee to award it.

and then this:

Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp is booked for diving in the Hull box – but replays show his right foot was kicked away from him by Kamil Zayatte. Should have been a penalty. More poor officiating.

All of which leads to this:

Referee Peter Walton has apologised for his performance in the Blades’ 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Hull on Thursday.
“The officials have to live with their mistakes but, to be fair to Peter, he rang and admitted he made major errors and that’s big of him,” said [United Manager] Kevin Blackwell.

…it makes me wonder why football can’t institute the kind of technology which has worked so well in cricket and rugby, both of which I’ve been watching over the past couple of days and neither of which has been ruined by a 30 second delay while a decision is referred “upstairs”.

And it makes me bloody annoyed as well, obviously.
The fact that someone then chose to replay the “goal” on the big screen at the stadium was amusing though:

Naughton’s 24th-minute goal was controversially shown on the big screen inside the stadium, meaning the crowd were aware that the goal should not have stood, but referee Walton was unable to act. Controversial incidents cannot be shown on big screens under Premier League and Football League rules, but in FA competitions it is usually left to agreement between the clubs.

Hull boss Phil Brown admitted that controversially showing a replay of the incident inside the ground “could have started a riot”.

Yeah, but deep down, I reckon Hull boss Phil Brown isn’t all that bothered, really.

Trevor Mallach – fake letter

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Thabo Mbeki, January 2009

A letter – which initially appears similar to Alan Knott-Craig’s brilliant first and not so great second – has been doing the rounds here in SA. It purports to be penned by the hand of one Trevor Mallach, “a Shoprite Group executive” and comes with his request to “please pass on to just five friends with the request that they do the same”. Do I hear the faint sound of alarm bells?

The letter is a plea for South Africans to vote in the upcoming elections. Good idea. No problem with that: Want democracy? Use democracy.
In fact, I almost agree with the sentiment:

I swear on my grandma’s grave… if I hear someone (who didn’t vote or couldn’t vote because they were too lazy or hungover to register) complaining at a braai about the government, I will come in from the side with a flying head-butt which will leave you so brain-damaged you’ll join the ANC youth league and vote for Julius Malema in 2013.

But sadly, the rest of it is utter tosh: standard disingenuous “facts”, thinly-veiled comparisons of Jacob Zuma to Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe, promises that SA will become another Zimbabwe, that Zuma will commit murder during his tenure without fear of prosecution and will be President “forever”.

And then, when the election comes, vote for anyone except the ANC. You can vote for Vernon Koekemoer or Skippy Peanut Butter for all I care, just as long as no one gets a two-thirds majority!

Is that official Shoprite policy, then?

So, it’s fake – but how fake is “fake”? Well, Trevor Mallach does exist and he does work for Shoprite. I know this, because I spoke to him this morning. It’s not difficult to do this, but it’s no use googling his name – all you get is daft blogs worshipping “his” letter and using cut-and-paste because they have nothing more interesting to share. Instead, I went to the Shoprite website, rang the number on the page and asked to speak to him. Tough.

And that’s where the sad side of this sordid tale comes in. Because Trevor Mallach does exist and he didn’t write this letter. But it’s his reputation and his name which is getting dragged through the mud each time this rubbish is forwarded (and it’s being forwarded a lot!). As soon as I mentioned the letter, there was both resignation and anger in his voice – I’d describe it as a kind of angry, resigned tone. He asked me not to forward the email, asked me to delete it, said he was fed up of hearing about it and that it was all a lot of nonsense. Of course, it’s a futile effort, this thing is whizzing around South African cyberspace like a SAA crew on coke. Just wait til it hits the ex-pats – they’ll have a field day with its rampant misinformation and scaremongering.

Dude, it must be true, Trevor Mallach said it and he’s a Shoprite group executive!!!!!!!

So – if you get this letter – don’t forward it.
Rather forward this explanation and remind people that behind a fake letter is a real person.

Post 903

Post 903
(title assigned automatically by an annoyingly slow WordPress (see below) and which I have neither the will nor the imagination to change to anything more interesting)

Stuff I have noted over the last few days:

1. The internet in South Africa has been even worse than usual of late. I blamed my ISP, my ISP blamed Telkom and Telkom blamed Ndujani.
It turns out (following extensive research) that Ndujani is a mongoose god, worshipped by some tribes in the Northern Cape. Any claim that Telkom is merely passing the buck is met with the standard, “Please don’t turn this into a cultural issue, Mr 6000”.
More likely is that one (or more) of their ADSL hamsters which keep the internet working by running around their little wheels in Bloemfontein has died or gone on strike or something. Probably over a cultural issue.

2. The Oscars were on. A celebration of Hollywood excess while everyone else suffers the wrath of the global credit crunch.
More salt with your wound, sir?
I’m not a big fan of the movies, but was pleased to see that Kate Winslet finally won something after so many bare-breasted cinematographic moments. Had to be worth it in the end, hey? (But please don’t stop now – you could win again!)
One thing I found shocking was that, even though winning a little gold man surely marks the pinnacle of any actor’s career, Keith Ledger couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and receive his award for Best Supporting Actor. What a snub. They should have given it to someone else. It’s just plain bad manners.

3. I’m concerned over a tectonic shift in my musical tastes of late. Away from decent Indie and Nu-metal towards irritatingly-catchy Brit-pop, hip-hop, rap and pumpin’ House.
As I write this, I have David Guetta’s Joan of Arc on the iPod. Actually, to give everyone credit, it’s actually David Guetta (featuring Thailand). It remains unclear whether everyone in Thailand (pop. 60.5 million) played their part, but if so, then they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
[Mental note to self: Check up on most ridiculous names of “featured artists” for future blog post]

4. Twitter isn’t actually that good. Either you follow too few people and nothing ever happens, you follow too many and everything happens too quickly or one person (no names, sorry) fills your screen with rubbish for the sake of putting something (usually about cooking) on twitter.
I’m left debating whether the very occasional good bits are worth the very regular daily disappointments. Le jury est out, as the French would say.

5. I saw a “collaborative project” in the Art Spot of the newspaper yesterday:

Trasi Henen curates a collaborative project [see?] called I Forget That You Exist’ at the Cape Town gallery, Blank Projects. Participants were asked to engage with the following Dialectic: Dominant culture is a victim of the Will (after Schopenhauer’s The World as Idea and Representation) and therefore perpetually oscillating between Desire and Ennui. Desire is a state of potentiality.
When the desired destination is reached, is this a tragedy?

Sometimes I forget that you exist is a collaborative research project around desire and the heterotopia. Participants are asked to engage with the above dialectic. The exhibition process is ongoing, and contingent, culminating in a closing event. In the two weeks leading up the exhibition, blank becomes the research studio which opens the project to dialogue and interventions.

Something for everyone to think about there, then.

I was once asked (in a 1992 interview for a place at Wolverhampton Poly, no less) if money spent on the Arts is a waste. I wish I’d seen stuff like this before they asked – it would have made a rather stuttered, awkward answer much simpler. (Because there’s obviously nothing more beneficial that Trasi could be doing for the world).

Cyclists still at it

As yet another cyclist was knocked off his bike in Fish Hoek this weekend:

David Swingler was injured while cycling along Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek late on Saturday morning.
Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said Swingler and a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi had been travelling in the same direction on the dual-lane road. They tried to change lanes at the same time and Swingler was hit from behind by the taxi.
“The cyclist allegedly wanted to go into the right lane and the taxi into the left lane at the same time,” Steyn said.

Pedal Power Association vice-chair Elton Davids said although the recent spate of accidents involving cyclists had made many others reluctant to venture out, some were “not obeying the rules of the road”.
“They are not making it any easier for themselves,” he said.

And even the dangerously subjective Cape Argus finally admitted that not every cyclist is as pure as the driven snow:

Out on Ou Kaapse Weg, tempers frayed as motorists battled with cyclists for right of way on Saturday.
Motorists told Weekend Argus there had been scores of cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg, and while most were cycling within the yellow lane, others either tailgated motorists or rode in front of cars.

Dave Bellairs, director of the cycle tour, said they did not condone cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, as they was for their own safety. But he pointed out that the majority of cyclists obeyed the rules of the road.

“Obeying the rules of the road is for the safety of the cyclist and the motorist and it shows mutual respect.”

A motorist said cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg were riding three abreast. Another said a cyclist tailgated him on the scenic mountain drive.
Photographer Chad Chapman said even though most of the cyclists obeyed the rules, he saw some at the summit picking up speed and sweeping into the traffic lane, cycling in front of cars.

Meanwhile, in Milnerton:

Oh Lordie…
This morning, at half past dark, coming down the R27 to work, the fog/mist was so thick that in places visibility was down to 50m.
At Woodbridge Island, scene of Saturday’s unfortunate death, it was especially heavy, and just past that, what do i see…?
Some **** on a bicycle, black shorts on, dark top, dark helmet, dark backpack, a rear light consisting of about 2 LEDs, and NO front light.
Now, one would have assumed that given the blanket coverage in all the Cape papers and other media, this two-wheeled tit would have ‘caught a wake up’.

Obviously not.

Live by the sword… die by the sword. But is this message finally beginning to get through their thick helmets?

EDIT: Please see Ordinary Life’s comment below with links to (allegedly – I haven’t read them yet) sensible posts about cyclists taking responsibility for their safety on the roads.