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What with one thing and another, I haven’t been able to turn out for my football team – at least not in a playing capacity – for over three months. So, it was with some trepidation and a level of fitness one might expect of an average American teenager that I made my return in for the black and white wizzzzaaaaaaards in the shadow of the World Cup stadium in Green Point last night.

It was a beautiful evening; as I headed towards the hallowed turf I snapped a quick shot of the sun sinking into the South Atlantic – all was well with the world.

Sunset
Hellish scenes on the way to footy

Then I shook hands with the captain of the opposing team (made up of staff from a local Investment Management company) shared a joke with him and the ref and got on with the game.

It quickly became apparent that the current volatility in the world’s stock markets was causing the opposition no end of irritation. Since grievous bodily harm is generally frowned upon in the offices of such organisations, it was perhaps no surprise that they decided to take out their combined frustrations on the 7-a-side team of punchbags which had been set out in front of them. Within 90 seconds of the kick off, the same team captain who had been laughing and joking a moment earlier had mutated into the evil bastard son of Vinnie Jones and Beelzebub himself. As I fended him off at a corner, I found his studs high on my inner thigh, where they left an interesting and somewhat painful runic marking*.

Owch.
Studs up

I looked to the referee for some sign of action. To be honest, I’d expect to see more sympathy in the eyes of a suicide bomber. Fortunately, being from Yorkshire, I’m not one to fling myself Porra-style to the floor each time someone comes near me, which was just as well as I soon realised that the “Ass.” in “Investec Ass. Management” probably stood for “Assault”.

Meh – I survived. But I was hoping for a more gentle re-introduction to the beautiful game.
Next week, we face a team of lawyers. I can hardly wait.

* 24 hours on, these markings are outlined with a spectacular array of purple and deep blue. Beautiful. Magnificent. Bloody sore.

How did I make it to Monday?

Ah. Monday morning. My favourite time of the week. Apart from all the other ones, of course.
But I was actually quite delighted to make it through to this particular Monday morning.

As my alarm sounded (thankfully slightly later than the infamous 5:19), I rolled over on the 30cm strip of mattress which remained unclaimed by my wife and her onboard foetus and lazily reached out from under the security and warmth of the covers for the TV remote to flick on the news. I was greeted by the beaming face of Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, South African Minister for Public Service and Administration. This was slightly perturbing, as I hadn’t actually switched the TV on yet. I opened my eyes again and Geraldine was gone. Shame – she could have got me a coffee.

1029_largeGeraldine – too 80’s popstar for Government?

Such are the hazards of waking up after a hectic weekend involving curry, a heated political argument with a couple of lesbians, a singing fibreglass train, a tub of pink butter icing, a Castle Milk Stout or two, a giggling monkey, an essential visit to a local pharmacy and an urgent – but minor – service for the new vacuum cleaner.
And if you think I’m lying about any one of those, then you’re unfortunately mistaken.
Unfortunately for me, at least.

The big event of the weekend was a second birthday party for our son. No-one is more surprised than me that he’s made it this far*, bearing in mind that for at least some of that time, he’s been in my care. A whole 731 days** is not to be sniffed at, but judging by the green ooze permanently emanating from his left nostril, sniffing is an art which he has yet to perfect anyway. Photos of the party, selectively edited to avoid any audience exposure to catarrh, will be posted to flickr at some point this week.

Roll on 5pm Friday, at which point the madness restarts. Albeit hopefully with less pink butter icing.
In the meantime, a combination of Placebo, Arno Carstens, REM, Smashing Pumpkins and an occasional coffee will aid with my further recovery.

OK – perhaps he is as well.
** It’s a leap year, remember?

The 6000 miles My CokeFest 2008 review

Snappy title, eh?

Once again, I was blown away by the differences between UK and South African concerts. People here are so conservative. To be honest, I’m glad I did things this way around. I’d be bloody terrified if I found myself down at the front at Glastonbury if I’d only ever done SA gigs before. There’d be other people around for starters. Within touching distance and everything.

So yes – things started a little quietly, despite the promised 100,000 watts of music power.

First up, local boys Shy Guevaras. Great start. If you’re looking for a good example of their work, try Little Suzie, which you can download for free – gratis! – here. And I advise that you do exactly that.

Next: Van Coke Kartel. Bloody dreadful. High point of their shouty, amateur performance was some pelicans flying overhead. Never seen that at a rock concert before.

Thankfully, Prime Circle reaffirmed our faith in South African bands. Given the honour of being to only SA band to perform at both MCF gigs, they did a tidy, if unspectacular, run through of all their favourites, finishing with a big performance of Live This Life.

And then the much vaunted international acts. Starting with Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars. Now here, I had a bit of an issue. I’m not a huge fan of the music and I am not a huge fan of the hype surrounding Mr Leto.
I so wanted to hate them.
But I was actually very impressed. Sickeningly impressed. Grr.

Without a doubt, 30STM (or more particularly, Jared) took the award for Best Showmanship of the Day. There were more F-words than in Chapter 6 of the Oxford English Dictionary, plenty of utterly outrageous posturing, heaps of repeated praise for “this beautiful country” and even a climb to the stage roof about 25 metres up.

30 Seconds to Mars      Up there! Stage left!
30 Seconds to Mars. Can you spot monkey boy in the second pic?

With my first unforeseen highlight still sinking in, on came Kaiser Chiefs. I was very concerned that they would bomb completely – when you look at the the line up, they stuck out like a pale face in Uganda.
But maybe the heavy rockers needed a break. A bit of fun. Some choons. Maybe their infectious energy spilled out over the crowd, still a little overwhelmed from being called “Mutha******s” eleven times in a single sentence. Whatever the reason, Ricky Wilson soon had them won over and, despite almost killing himself with an impromptu race around the Golden Circle, he came a close second to Leto for sheer audacity.

Ricky Wilson      Sing!
Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson having it large – ambidextrously

Look, I’m not going to lie to you here. We watched Good Charlotte and Chris Cornell from a distance. I was in need of food, the wife suddenly remembered that she was 5 months pregnant and needed a break and Good Charlotte are not only gruellingly commercial to listen to, but are also pretty unpleasant to look at as well. Especially if, like me, you have a mild aversion to tattoos.

Chris Cornell played at dusk and was all atmospheric, polite, steady and professional. He did his Bond theme, he did some Audioslave stuff, he did Black Hole Sun. There was a distinct lack of excitement though, but hey, the guy is 43 years old. Bless.

And then. Muse. Had I built them up too much?  I almost did that with REM. But no. They were everything I expected and a whole lot heavier on top. It was an hour long set and it went by in 5 minutes. That’s how good it was.
And the crowd went wild. For a band that get very limited airplay over here, they certainly have a big following.

Muse      Matt Bellamy 
Muse. Wow.

Musically, it was impressive too. I don’t want to come over all knowledgeable like some sort of sycophantic expert muso (geddit?!?) or anything, but jislaaik! Matt Bellamy knows what he’s doing with a guitar. And a piano. Awesome.

And then we left the gig with several thousand others (I did warn you that would happen) and listened to Korn from the house. Which was still a bit too close really.

All in all, a great experience. Some disappointing bits, but with 9 bands on the bill, you’re going to be lucky to like them all. 5/9 was a pretty acceptable result and the 5 in question were particularly impressive.

Photos are on flickr, as I hinted earlier and as several hundred people have already worked out. Enjoy.

My CokeFest 2008 Pictures

…and my mini review will follow on this blog a little later today once my recovery is at least semi complete.

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Now. Back to bed and dreams of Matt Bellamy.
(Not like that – get your minds out of the gutter)

EDIT: Now you can look at the pictures and read the review.

A reminder

We had a minor break-in at our house on Thursday, which capped a completely crap week off just perfectly (hence the lack of blogging). I don’t really want to go into it, but suffice to say that it really was the final icing on the coffin which broke the camels back.

So it was nice to take advantage of the stunning weekend weather to take the boy up for a run on the local school field. We sat there for a while, enjoying the view and eating jelly and custard in somewhat sombre introspection*.
Then the sprinklers came on and he made a dash for it.


Click here for bigger version

20 minutes later we returned home, both soaking wet but still somehow covered in an implausible amount of custard.

It’s amazing how one little thing can swing your whole mood around. It was a reminder that whatever bad things life throws at you, watching your 2 year old son giggling uncontrollably as you both succumb to several hundred litres of high pressure water can sort all your woes out…

 * I did anyway. He sat there eating jelly and custard via osmosis.