Equine sign

In the week that Canadian diva, Celine “Ole Horse Face” Dion arrived in Cape Town to perform two concerts at Vergelegen Wine Estate as part of her Taking Chances tour , the Western Province Horse Society chose to release the following reminder to horse owners across the province:

African Horse Sickness
Link

Coincidence? I think not.

If only Canada had enforced some sort of export ban, we’d be feeling a lot happier in Cape Town right now.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in this city as I pray for hoarse of a different kind.
Won’t somebody please think of the children?

How did I miss Richard Hawley?

One of the most difficult things about emigrating is keeping up with things back home. Sure, you want to embrace the new lifestyle and the culture of your new home, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely lose touch with the land of your birth.

And thus, when I find myself watching Sky News and finding out about a musician I’ve never heard of – the surprise nominee for the Best Solo Male at the upcoming BRIT Awards – and he’s from Sheffield, I know I’m letting it slip a bit.

Richard Hawley is 41 years old* and has been working in music for years as a session musician for the likes of REM, Gwen Stafani, Nancy Sinatra, All Saints and Arctic Monkeys.
His first solo album came out in 2000 – long before I left the UK, but he’s achieved little commercial success. His albums to date have all had a Sheffield reference to them, including his 2007 offering Lady’s Bridge, promoted by the release of special edition Henderson’s Relish bottles. Too cool.

But it was his comments on Sheffield’s steel industry that made me laugh. He, like me, gets a little depressed and nostalgic when he goes to Kelham Island Museum. As he points out:

Working in Sheffield’s steel industry was a job that had dignity.
Can you see there being Call Centre Museums in 30 years time?

“Look, that’s where your dad plugged ‘is phone in”
“I can remember, me laptop used t’ sit rate ‘ere”

No, because those jobs don’t have dignity. No-one wants to remember them.  

As for the music – Roy Orbison meets Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Nick Cave. Perhaps a little Country/Folky/Pub Crooner for some, but it’s worth a listen anyway. Plenty to watch and listen to on YouTube.

I won’t mention his taste in football clubs. He has none.

* so getting on a bit… (P.S. Hi Ant! *grin*)

Muse in Cape Town

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now.

Are you going to see Muse in Cape Town on 24th March?
You’re not?
Oh, it must be me then.

So goes a variation on a very old Dale Collins joke. And no, it wasn’t really very funny when he did it either.

I can’t recall being more excited about a concert since Glastonbury 2003. And I might not even have been this excited then. I am literally quivering with mounting anticipation. TTypingg iss a problemm.
I think that Muse* are probably the last big band in my “want to see them, but haven’t yet” category. Well, them and the Arctic Monkeys, but Arctic Monkeyism only really took off long after I left the UK. I’ve been wanting to see Muse for ~10 years now, but we (Muse and I) never got together. In leaving the UK, I thought I’d probably blown any chance of ever seeing them (or anyone even half decent).

In truth, Muse aren’t even topping the bill at the My Coke Fest concert.
In truth, there’s a whole lot of detritus to sit through before they come on, but I guess that I can tick a few more bands off the list (and I am looking forward to seeing Kaiser Chiefs).
In truth, although you are probably envisioning a backdrop of Table Mountain with Matt Bellamy giving it some welly up front on Hysteria, it’s more likely to be power cuts and the slightly less romantic backdrop of Rondebosch East, (which will also have a power cut).  
And in truth, although “Muse in Cape Town” sounds like the title of one of those ads for outlandishly expensive concert trips in the back of Melody Maker or Q magazine, it’s actually more a case of “Muse just at the end of our road”.
But that doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

So if you’ll forgive me – I’m going to milk this one for all its worth.
Right back at you, Ms Perry. *wink*

* Some great live downloads available here.

Jacob Maroga saved my hearing

Coming hot on the heels of my (as yet unpublished) Jacob Zuma Ate My Hamster post comes some unexpected praise for those masters of the dark arts – Jacob Maroga and Eskom.
For those who aren’t in the SA loop, Jacob Maroga is the CEO of Eskom and Eskom is the company which provides South Africa with electricity.

Sometimes, anyway.

We simply don’t have enough power to go around. I told you about this last week. Then they went and stranded the cable car on Table Mountain – a story which the BBC chose to illustrate with a picture of City Hall taken in 1968.  
Anyway, although I’m pretty sure that the CEOs of major SA industry don’t read this site*, it seems that this week, they have taken my advice and are getting down to the business of dealing with the power outages, rather than moaning about them. Good for you guys.

Anyway, back to my praise of Jacob and Eskom. Why? Because load-shedding has its benefits too.
Obviously, these don’t include the my safety cabinets losing power and MDR-TB starting to drift throughout the lab. That’s not particularly beneficial to anyone, although the shrieks of glee of the recently-freed airborne bacteria was heart-warming to hear.

No. I refer to a particularly ironic and comedic incident as I headed down to the Waterfront for lunch today. Crossing Dock Road, I could hear the sounds of the minstrel jazz band playing along to some cheesy backing track for a crowd of tourists.
Picture the scene. It’s a wonderful atmosphere – the sun is shining, there’s a light breeze and a happy vibe. A backing track plays through a tinny amp while the band – none of them a day under 70, I swear – sit under the trees in the dappled shade; one on bongos, one on a Hammond organ (or similar), one on oil-can guitar and another who occasionally shakes a tambourine, blows a trumpet or sings.

Improvisation is the name of their jazz game. The cerebral musicality of jazz mixed with the visceral groove of funk. 
And their repertoire…? Extensive.
Stretching today to a bloody awful instrumental version of the 1987 Starship hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Except that then, Maroga and his Eskom boys stepped in, load-shod – and promptly stopped them.

The irony was lost on the tourists, many of whom were only continuing to endure the overly cheesy soft rock hit while trying to work out if the keyboard player was in fact dead or just asleep.
The guitarist spat on the floor, shook his head in disgust and took out a cigarette. For the next two hours, the Waterfront would be listening to the Sounds of Silence…

* They will when I publish details of the ANC President and his rodent-munching antics – senior management loves JZ gossip.

Stuff and Nonsense

Every so often, when there’s nothing big to write about* – crime, politics, rugby, antelopes etc. – every blog has to have a bit of a catch-up post. This is mine.
I generally try to avoid catch-up posts if I can. I prefer my posts to be discrete – that is “separate and individual; not reliant on any other”, rather than discreet – “showing prudence and circumspection; modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious”. If this blog ever becomes discreet, please let me know. I’ll stop.

Anyway, before the stuff – the nonsense: Delboy‘s comment from my last post.

Come on 6K. Have you already forgotten what happened 4 years ago in London? Or, as we are STILL so often reminded, in 1966?… [some more guff about England in 2003]… [some stuff about sour grapes]… (And it DEFINITELY wasn’t a try. And even if it was, you still would have lost by at least 2 points.) Blah.

In writing this, Delboy has demonstrated a level of selective vision I have only seen previously in last night’s bent referee in our game against the brothel-owning Bulgarians**.
He’s also missed the point of this blog. Anyone can write a piece gushing over the SA rugby team’s achievements, describing the match that everyone here watched anyway and metaphorically fellating Schalk Burger through their passage (of words). And everyone has. I like to look for a different angle – because I’m not swept up in all this rugger madness.
And now things are settling down again – lookie here! – political interference in SA sport is the big news.
Me? Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt and sold it on eBay.
And no. It wasn’t a try. I said that too.
Delboy also revealed that his bun-in-the-oven is a little girl. Which is cool. Congrats, mate.

OK, I don’t know how I’ve managed to keep this in for a paragraph and a half already.
Muse are coming to South Africa. Let me repeat that, Seth Rotherham style. Muse are coming to South Africa. Probably one of just two bands that I have wanted to see for ages and haven’t yet managed to get to.
Tickets out tomorrow for the gig (just down the road from us) next March. The only worry about this is that Guns’n’Roses, the much-anticipated (although not by me) headline act for this year’s My Cokefest chickened out at the last minute, citing stair falling bass players and stuff. Surely no repeat though.
But what a refreshing change from the usual rubbish that we get to see down here. Did I mention that Gladys Knight is doing the rounds right now? Awesome.
And this (Muse, not Gladys) is only the first bit of good news. Yes – Ben Trovato has a new book out. Just in time for Christmas, coincidentally. Amazing how these things happen, isn’t it?
Ben and I share views on many things (I think he looks up to me as a father figure in many ways), most recently, the reaction to the RWC. Which wouldn’t please Delboy much.

Unite the nation, my flabby white butt. It’ll take more than 15 green men to pull that off.
They carried the hopes of the country on their shoulders. That’s what the lying dogs in the media told us. That our dreams rested on a couple of white boys kicking a ball between two sticks.
Oh, good. No more lying, cheating, stealing, raping and pillaging. We are one big, happy family full of … HEY! Get away from my car! Put that down, you thieving bastard!

Great minds, hey?

*Or even when there is.
**Another story (obviously).