While you were sleeping

We’re down in the Southern Cape again this weekend, so I thought it wholly appropriate to share a pic I took last weekend of some ships rounding Cape Agulhas at night.

I’ve seen the ships in Table Bay illuminated at night, but I just assumed that they were lit up since they were stationary and just outside a major port.
Now I find that ships have headlights too – big bright ones.

It was rather eerie watching these bright lights moving silently across the horizon, especially with the atmospheric reflection off the cloud base.

Bigger and on a dark background here.

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The culture of entitlement

While watching the Chelsea v Man U game on TV (and twitter) last night, I was thinking a lot last night about football and my feelings on it and I think I finally worked out why I dislike certain clubs more than others: why I dislike Barcelona more than Real Madrid and Man U more than Liverpool or Chelsea or even Arsenal. Previously, I had thought it was the arrogance of these teams, but when one looks again, there is arrogance everywhere amongst the big clubs: Real Madrid has one of the ultimate primadonnas in their ranks with Cristiano Ronaldo, Arsenal has Robin van Persie and yes, I do harbour a strong dislike for him, but I can tolerate the rest of the team.

I was born and dragged brought up in Sheffield. It’s a Yorkshire city with two “big” football clubs and plenty of history. Having been a Blades fan since I can remember and attended many hundreds of matches, I can safely say that there is no place on the red side of Sheffield for the culture of diving and play-acting that has plagued the modern game. We’re known for our hard, physical approach and it’s something that the fans expect from the players. Simulation (the ridiculously posh name for diving) is not tolerated by the faithful fans and that’s something that the managers and players are well aware of, so it doesn’t happen.
Perhaps this attitude towards simulation is why Sheffield’s teams are struggling at the moment. While the big names like those mentioned above have moved on and evolved their tactics to include throwing themselves to the floor at the slightest touch (or even without the slightest touch in some cases), the prehistoric Blades have failed to adapt to the modern era, at the apparent cost of success on the pitch.

But I’m glad to be able to stand up and say that we’re still playing an honest game, the way it was meant to be played, while those at Man U tolerate (even encourage) Nani’s petulance and Chelsea and Arsenal fans conveniently ignore Drogba’s and van Persie’s springboard antics. That said, I do think that Drogba has cleaned up his game considerably and for that, he deserves some praise.

So why, if all the big names at the big clubs are throwing themselves to the floor and ruining what was the beautiful game, why do I find myself singling out Man U and Barca for particular vitriol? It’s a question that had puzzled even me until recently.
But then I watched as minnows Sporting Gijon held Barca to a draw a couple of weeks ago and it started to dawn on me. And then the Wayne Rooney incident on the weekend and Fergie’s (justified) rant last night about the referee sealed it for me.

It isn’t arrogance or success or diving – relying on those traits would encompass many clubs.

It’s the Culture of Entitlement: because these teams have “always” done well, they seem to think that they “always” deserve to do well.

But that’s not how it works. And that’s why when they don’t do well – Barca at Sporting and Man U last night at Chelsea – there always has to be a scapegoat. But having watched both those games, the reason they lost (or drew in Barca’s case) was that the opposition simply played better. Something that seems too hard for Barca and Man U to take.

Man U fans will be shouting furiously about Martin Atkinson and David Luiz right now and sure, Luiz was rather lucky to not get a second yellow card. But then again, Mark Clattenburg was very close to that nasty elbow from Wayne Rooney on Saturday and everyone knows that Rooney should have got a red then – even *gasp* Alex Ferguson.
But then compare and contrast Fergie then:

Wayne is a bit fortunate. It was a clash but nothing serious that hurt the player. Nonetheless, it was a silly thing to do.

and Fergie now:

The Luiz foul was six yards in front of the referee, maybe eight if we give him the benefit of the doubt, no obstructions whatsoever. I don’t know how he stayed on the pitch.

These things go both ways – any footy fan will tell you that – except that the Culture of Entitlement apparently means that they shouldn’t go against Man U.

And Alex Ferguson is at the heart of it. An amazing manager for many, many years, he has now grown too big for his boots – he’s getting old and cantankerous – he thinks he’s above the game and he has instilled that same attitude into his players. Compare and contrast Ancelotti or Mancini – when they get beaten there are none of the histrionics that you see after a Man U defeat. Even Jose Mourinho has introduced some humility to the Real Madrid team. Incredible, but true:

One team played to the maximum of its potential and the other very badly. It’s a well-deserved win and well-deserved loss.

Whereas when Man U lose because they played badly, Fergie sends his assistant out to to the press conference. It’s almost as if the Culture of Entitlement refuses to let him admit that his team can lose simply because they were outplayed.

There’s no conclusion to this post and I don’t expect Man U fans to agree with me, of course (borrowing Fergie’s “Wayne Rooney trial by media” tactic). It was more about documenting my epiphany.
Now I can get on with watching football without the nagging doubt that I need to justify the reasons my hatred of Manchester United and Barcelona.

‘Tis done.

Sunday Lunchtime reading

I’m still away, so I thought that I would pre-program my blog to publish this just in time for your Sunday Lunch.

We’ve just had payday, so I’m guessing that the naked Salticrax (careful now) which have been the staple diet for the last few days have been discarded and you’re going LARGE today:

Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots, lashing of gravy?
Am I right?

No Cuitlacoche then?

Not heard of that?

Well, it’s basically a fungal infection (Ustilago maydis, no less) of corn that renders the kernels blown, replacing them on the cobs with large distorted tumours.

I can tell that your mouth is watering right now.

Don’t dribble on the keyboard, will you?

If you were Mexican (and you might well actually be Mexican, because this blog is now available worldwide), you’d think of this infected and rotting corn as a delicacy.
If you’re not Mexican, you’re probably wondering what they’re on about.
Fortunately we at 6000 miles… have found someone to taste these things so that you don’t have to.

Step forward Steve from Don’t Eat It, Steve:

Don’t worry, I checked the ingredients before I tasted it. “Smoker’s lung” was not on there.

Before I even got the whole can open, I detected a vague aroma of sweet corn, along with what I can only describe as a deep musky funk. Put ’em together and it smells like corn that forgot to wipe.
In just a single serving, you’ll experience a wide array of textures. Without getting too gross, it’s because the disease is more advanced in some kernels than others. One bite might be kinda chewy, while the next might burst in your mouth like a black pus-filled blister. (Whoops, forgot about the not-too-gross thing. Oh well. Nuts to you!)

If you want to know what Cuitlacoche looks like served on your plate, you’ll have to click through here. If you were brave enough to look, why not leave a comment below telling us your thoughts, so that we can admire or pity the work of your right index finger.

Bon appetit!

Stellenbosch Hills Biltong & Droewors Adventure

This sounds like it could be fun.
Step forward PG Slabbert – winemaker and manager at Stellenbosch Hills:

Stellenbosch Hills is the first cellar to combine two proudly South African delights with their Biltong & Droëwors Adventure to be enjoyed in the cellar door. The art of drying meat nowadays is as specialised as the art of wine making. Our aim was to create a competition where three of South Africa’s most popular products – wine and biltong and droëwors – could be combined.

Wait. What? Let’s just review that again: the plan is to combine wine and biltong and droewors?
It’s only the best idea to come out of the winelands since Big Concerts decided not to have the U2 concert at Val de Vie.
And enjoying them (the food and drink, not U2) in the cellar door may also yield some small degree of protection should a Kiwi-style earthquake unexpectedly hit Stellies.
They’ve thought this through.

So what’s it all about?
Well, essentially, it’s a biltong making competition, which I was alerted to by twitter user @Tara_L_B. Good work, Tara.
And, as Stellenbosch Hills notes (seemingly with a hint of disappointment):

Somebody has to win ….

and by “win” they mean “win” the fat R60,000 worth of prizes for the biltong which best complements their 2007 Shiraz. Surely to do that though, one would have to eat loads of biltong and drink loads of red wine in the name of research?

Damn.

As regular readers will know, I’m a bit of a biltong fan and I have been rubbing my meat with spices, hanging it out, letting it dry and giving to friends and family to nibble on for several months now. In fact, only this morning, I unhung some of my best work so far.

Using Freddy Hirsch spices together with my not-so-secret Sheffield-based (or should that be “Sheffield-Baste”?!?!?! LOL!) (sorry) ingredient, I like to think I have crafted an ex-pat masterpiece, capable of beating even the most ardent of local biltong craftspersons.

So – could an outsider, a rooinek, a soutie – really slip in and nick the R60,000 from right under the local’s noses?

Usurper can like to be my middle name.

Better bring your A-game, Boland, ‘cos I’m in it to win it.
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