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Coming hot on the heels of my (as yet unpublished) Jacob Zuma Ate My Hamster post comes some unexpected praise for those masters of the dark arts – Jacob Maroga and Eskom.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).

Spring Day and more…

Once again, South Africa’s unofficial “Spring Day” (today) is ruined by the typically unspringlike weather which has left puddles on my lawn and rendered Table Mountain completely invisible, in a spookily David Copperfield kind of way.
Is this some hideous effect of climate change? Season creep? Or just a hopelessly optimistic plan by the locals to pretend that winter is over?
It ain’t – the sudden influx of wading birds into our garden surely proves that. September or not, this sort of weather hints that you should be indoors, under a rug, a glass of red wine in your hand (might I suggest KC 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Klein Constantia just down the road?) and some decent music playing (unless there’s footy on the TV, obviously).

Decent music? Can of worms, anyone?
South Africa has a number of very good bands and singers. I have eluded to several of these previously, but just to run you through 6000’s Top 3 once again, they are the incredibly James-esque Parlotones (new album out 28th September), aging rocker Arno Carstens* with the Springbok Nude Girls, and the incomparable FreshlyGround, who can’t be compared with anyone, because they are incomparable.

And now add to that a couple of other names. One for the laydeez amongst you, pretty-pop-chick-folk-piano-and-vocals-with-nipplestand-in-a-laid-back-Tori-Amos style, Louise Carver, which is currently playing in the background here (good place for it) as Nix wrestles with another terrifyingly large spreadsheet full of terrifyingly large numbers; and the “the power of the Foo Fighters meets the pretty pop of Britney Spears” (their words, not mine) of Love Jones – whose imaginatively-titled debut CD, “Love Jones” is certainly well worth a listen.

But why would any South Africa muso want to stay in and listen to local stuff?
Well, let’s look at the international artists winging their way down to see us in the near future, shall we? Lest we forget, SA is a small market for the big stars and it’s a long flight, so we don’t get spoilt for choice.
And I think I’m about to prove that right here, right now:

  • Pink: September 07
  • Enrique Iglesias: October 07 – followed closely by his dad:
  • Julio Iglesias: November 07
  • Michael Bublé : December 07
  • Elton John: January 08 – and then to add insult and injury to insult and injury:
  • Celine Dion: February 08

The worst bit is, this isn’t a selective list. This is the list. There are no others.

Dear Lord. I know I don’t believe in you, but just supposing for a moment I did, please save us. Please.**

And with that, it’s back to the red wine, I think…

* He won’t thank me for calling him that. In fact, he won’t say anything to me, because he won’t read this.
** He won’t thank me for asking him that. In fact, he won’t say anything to me, because he won’t read this.

Taking Shorty to the WBHS

One of the more mundane tasks I do from time to time in my line of work is to travel to another lab nearby and collect specimens for our experiments. This basically involves tipping infected sputum from 240 tubes into… er… 240 more tubes.

I’m sure Lizzy M and the other tutors on my Masters course would be proud to see my agile scientific mind being utilised so thoroughly. It’s not exactly rocket science. That would involve boosters, liquified gases and exciting roaring noises, none of which I have the luxury of enjoying.


I do, however, get to listen to Heart 104.9 – which claims to be “The Soul of Cape Town” – while I’m there, blasting out the latest sounds via a tinny clock radio in the corner. It’s not my kind of music. In fact, most of it seems to be about how some bloke is going to take “Shorty” “to the VIP” and what “Shorty” is going to do for him in return. Presumably, the “Shorty” in question, isn’t Danny DeVito. The thought of him rewarding Notorious LARD for entry into the back room of some LA nightclub is just not appealing. Well, not to me anyway.
My own little Shorty, all 75cm and 11.4kg of him (that’s slightly taller, but much lighter than Danny DeVito) continues to be frustrated by the chilly winter weather. He knows that there’s mud to be eaten on Wynberg Boys High School field and he knows that he’s the toddler for the job. We had a great time chasing geese and ibissess.. ibiss’s.. ibii.. an ibis (x2) up there last week.

. .Rugger?  Boy  Guilty
More pics here.

He’s not the only one that’s fed up with winter now.
In between the dry and sunny (but chilly) days came yesterday. Grey, moody, windy and a bit wet.
A bit like Michael Douglas, but without the Welsh tart on its arm.
Not really that bad, but enough for the organisers to postpone our football match in case we got a bit cold and damp. Pathetic. If we called off games for weather like that in the UK, we’d never kick a damn ball.

Next week’s game is an early kick off, which will allow the team to head off to Newlands immediately after the final whistle to see some “real” football – Pele, Eto’o, Gullit, Radebe and a myriad of other international stars in the 90 minutes for Mandela exhibition match.
Let’s hope they don’t cancel everything there because of a bit of drizzle on the breeze…

Da Lowdown

As my virally-ravaged body continues to exude mucus at an alarming rate, I felt it was time to update the site once again. This is mainly because, although my symptoms have shown a mild improvement since yesterday, I’m still far from convinced that I’ll make it through to the end of the week.


I have already been forced to miss two football matches, one international rugby game and one father’s day, while the pharmacists of Cape Town now greet me happily by my first name and offer less then reasonable credit terms for the myriad of their products I have been utilising. At one point, I was taking 22 times my RDA of vitamin C. My kidneys were extremely unhappy about this and it seemingly made precisely bugger-all difference to my immune system. I cut down when my hastily calculated risk/benefit analysis on the back of a tissue box revealed that the vitamin C would allow me to live for approximately 3 more days than if I wasn’t taking it.
3 more days of snot, coughing and generally feeling like crap?
No, thank you.

So, aside from generating bucketloads of phlegm, what have I been up to?
On the technology front, I have discovered Audacity and have been playing around with that. Now all I need is a nice OpenSource video editor and I’m sorted. Anyone?
My music listening on the now infamous rattly iPod has been almost exclusively Send Away The Tigers by the Manic Street Preachers, which is dangerously happy by their somewhat melancholy standards, but with guitar work echoing back to Generation Terrorists and The Holy Bible (the Manics’ album not the book, which, although not an avid reader, I believe contains virtually no guitar work).


The public sector workers strike continues – just. A whole one bloke in the picket line outside the hospital this morning, which was rather amusing. He was toyi-toying, but mainly just to keep warm, I think. Note: solo toyi-toying is really funny to watch.
Anyway, according to the Allister Charles of the NEHAWU Union in this morning’s Cape Times:

Our demand is still at 10%, there’s no doubt about that. But the question nationally is: are we going to accept or should we fight until we reach 8%? That’s for you to decide.

Is it just me or does he have it all wrong? Isn’t he supposed to be fighting for a bigger percentage increase? Keep fighting, Allister and you’ll owe them money.
Once you’ve settled that little issue, we can chat about the R50 you owe me. What’s that, you say? You actually owe me R75? I thought it was R100. R125? Really? [continues until I’m a millionaire]…

One last bit of good news. While I may be slightly behind in updating my 2010 flickr pictures, South Africa is exceeding its obligations, as Sepp Blatter found out on his visit this week. Awesome stuff, even if he can’t pronounce Phumzile’s name. Lots of people struggle with that though.That’ll be all for now then – consider yourself informed.