The Curse of The Stig

In news that has shocked the world, and just a week after he was revealed as the human face of Top Gear’s “The Stig” , comes the sad news of the death of Michael Jackson. Few would argue that Jackson’s story was amongst the most incredible in modern day history. Having released the best selling album of all time in 1982, Michael went on to win no fewer than seven Formula One Drivers Championships, while successfully defending himself against allegations of child molestation and, less successfully, of being German.

Jackson’s trademark was the Moonwalk, in which he would go out on slick tyres on a wet track and spin backwards around the circuit, while the wheels would actually appear to be going forwards. He was also famed for wearing one glove while driving (and often, another glove on the other hand). 

Michael’s family played a large part in his career, most notably in Scream, a 1995 duet with his youngest sister Janet, and also many on-track duels with his younger brother Ralf who drove for Williams. In addition, bizarre allegations surrounded whether Michael and his sister La Toya were actually the same person and, while these rumours were discounted, Ralf did – at one time – drive for Toyota, who was Jackson’s older brother.
You can see where the confusion arose.

The most successful part of Michael’s career was spent with Ferrari, during which time he released the critically-acclaimed album Bad. A track on the album, called Speed Demon was his tribute to Jeremy Clarkson, and featured the lyrics:

I’m Headed For Gambon, It’s On My Mind
And Coming Round The Follow-Through, I’ve Got To Be On Time

while Man in the Mirror was seen by many as a dig at Jacques Villeneuve, who regularly finished behind him in races.

Jackson was also infamous for his repeated visits to plastic sturgeons around the world and is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the tacky “plastic singing fish” craze which swept across America in the late 1990s.
His nose was also made of plastic, but didn’t sing.

His final revelation, that he was racing driver “The Stig”, came as a huge surprise to fans of Top Gear and Jackson alike. However, doubts still exist as to the veracity of the claim and many believe that the revelation was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Commentators pointed to the lack of sequins on The Stig’s racing suit and his apparent fear of children.
However, the transformation of the ‘tamed racing driver’ from black to white while the King of Pop underwent the same change is surely solid evidence that Michael Jackson was indeed The Stig.

He will be sadly missed. He touched many people (and now they can’t sue him).

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…”

Stupid forms

Ah, the divine VAF1B.
I’ve spent my entire morning filling in three of them to apply for UK visas for my wife, my son and my daughter. Ten pages per application, with crippling repetition, bizarrely detailed requests for bizarre details and stupid questions galore.

For example:

In times of either peace or war have you ever been involved in, or suspected of involvement in, war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide?

Seriously now, who – when applying for permission to enter the UK – is going to answer “Yes” to that one (and then provide full relevant detail in section 9)?
Certainly not my 10-month old daughter. And how can you commit war crimes in times of peace, anyway?

There was a worried look on the face of little Alex as I asked him question 6.14 though:

Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character?

Especially after he had snatched the cuddly singing snake off his sister earlier in the day. I thought I’d better inform the UK Border Agency of that little incident, since they seem to want to know absolutely bloody everything:

When did you last visit the toilet and was it for number ones or number twos? (If number twos, please fully describe consistency of motion in section 9).

But despite even the most made-up of questions and the infinite detail to be provided, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs still holds the record for the stupidest form ever. Their BI-24 allows you to register your child’s birth, but in the answer space for “Country of Birth”, fails to provide enough spaces for you to write “South Africa”.

I hope heads rolled. Seriously.

Added Ads

I was gently going about my business yesterday afternoon, only mildly depressed by the scorelines of earlier football matches, when someone (I’m not sure who it was) tweeted about earning money from their blog and how they weren’t, but they felt that they should be. It got me thinking.

6000 miles…has always been about the content. And while you might not agree that it’s very good content, my ever-swelling numbers of visitors and feedburner stats would say differently. So – primarily as an experiment – I have added some Google ads to the site. You may have noticed that subtle massive bar thing across the the top of this (and every other) post. If I make this post long enough, you’ll see the one in the sidebar as well.
And while I’m bound by the somewhat Draconian Google AdSense Terms and Conditions from enticing readers to click on them, that’s obviously what they are there for. Many of my regular readers will be wondering where the excessive profanity, hacking/cracking, gambling, casino-related, illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content and the sales of beer, hard alcohol, prescription drugs, weapons and ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns) stuff has gone.
Well, I’m not allowed to do that sort of thing any more either.

Yes, the ads are a little ugly and yes, maybe I’m ‘selling out’ a bit by installing them, but since this blog already conformed to virtually every standard that Google wanted to impose on it anyway, together with the fact that I work damn hard at maintaining the site (you’ve had a post every day for February, March and April), I feel that if I can get some monetary reward from it – well great. 

I’ll also be putting ads onto my RSS feed at some point. Possibly.

Meanwhile, if any company wants to buy ad space on the blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I have a big local readership and would offer very reasonable rates to local (Cape Town or SA) companies: I might not be South African, but I do still subscribe to the Proudly South African approach to business. Except that I actually do things when I say I will.

Of course, as a scientist, I recognise that experiments can go horribly wrong. Only last week, I managed to infect over half the population of [suburb] with XDR-TB after an unfortunate incident involving them and some XDR-TB. Hopefully, by the time they track the source, I’ll have made enough cash from Google to escape to [nice place]. 
But if this doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, it – like me – will disappear pretty quickly. Lingerie, pictures, swimsuit, photos, amateurs, underwear, lacy underwear, bra, suspender belt, stockings, sexy ladies.

“Playing Table Tennis”

The Molton Brown Boys monthly curry evening was moved forward this month to the 15th. This was due to the Tall Accountant having Chicken Labrador* withdrawal symptoms because we canceled the December meet. Well, I say it was him – I think we were all suffering and when TA just suggested we moved things a fortnight earlier, we jumped at the chance. 

But now this leaves us all with a gaping hole in our hectic social calendars for this week. So the suggestion of a Table Tennis Evening was vaunted at the recent meet.

I watched bewildered, befuddled and bemused as these plans were made in front of my Jhal Frezi and Mint Paratha. But, seeing the enthusiasm and gusto with which the offer was taken up by everyone around the table, I quickly worked out that a “Table Tennis Evening” was actually a codeword for… well… something else. So obviously, I quickly signed up too. Trouble is, I’m actually not sure what for.

Look, I could just go along to the assigned meeting place at the assigned time on the assigned evening and then see how things go.
But… what’s the dress code?
How much cash will I need?
Should I bring drinks? And if so – what? Powerade? Beer? Uitkyk 15-year-old potstill brandy?

 

Obviously, I have asked, but I always get the same sort of replies: “We’re going to play table tennis,” or “Bring your normal table tennis gear”. But was that a nudge and a wink down the phoneline? Are they assuming that I know more than I do or are we, a group of six 30-something, professional men, going to actually… play table tennis?

The answer, of course, is to prepare for every eventuality (perhaps barring “Gay Disco”) and to head out with an open mind, a wallet full of notes and a boot full of drinks and clothes. Unless, in the interim, anyone can decipher what “Playing Table Tennis” really means.

Please?

* never ceases to amuse.