Learning the hard way

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

It’s been a “fun” morning.
You know – “fun”? Like going to a local shopping mall with hopelessly inadequate parking 12 days before christmas. “Fun”. 
Yet, desperate to get into the festive spirit, despite the temperature outside being in excess of 30°C, we had headed out in search of a christmas tree. We chose to go artificial this year. Not ideal, but when you consider the utterly appalling range of twigs and mangled branches which claim to be the genuine article, together with their propensity to shed razor sharp needles all over the floor after being in one’s house for more than an hour, not really a tough decision.
Better then to go with the neatly boxed plastic version with integral fairy lights and needle-free-carpet guarantee.

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Game at the Kenilworth Centre was suitably over-priced, under-stocked and chock full of clueless employees being unhelpful and impolite customers binging their 0.5% interest rate reduction away. Thanks for that, Tito
While the season and the weather here may be rather different from back home, it’s nice to recognise some of the christmas traditions have made it safely over. We went for the 6′ (180cm) version – anything else just looks foolishly small – threw it in the trolley with a bit of tinsel and some baby food and set off on the 3 mile trek back to the car, which was parked 3 miles away.

 “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Feeling slightly weak after the ordeal of fighting our way through a billion (apparently blind) shoppers and inhaling lungfulls of car fumes during the return expedition through the parking lot, the wife suggested a stop at the McDonald’s across the road for suitable sustenance. Namely a chocolate milkshake for her, a really unhealthy burger for me, a Happy Meal for the boy and absolutely bugger all for the baby (we’re still trying to wean her off chicken mcnuggets).
And here, after all those other hard-learnt lessons about fir trees, Kenilworth Centre’s parking problems, foolish times of the year to go shopping and so on, is where I learnt the hardest lesson of all.  
“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys now make noises. Did they ever do that before?
Sure, some of them moved and stuff, but Alex the Lion from Madagascar 2 – Escape to Africa (I tried it, it’s not too bad, but avoid Jo’burg) goes  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” every time you shake go within 10 feet of him. My little Alex is delighted that, although his chesseburger wasn’t up to much, his small leonine namesake makes a noise. Repeatedly. An  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” noise. 

Alex the Boy has gone for his midday nap now. Alex the Lion is still “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”ing despite currently residing at the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Yep, you can say what you like about the Chinese, but when it comes to making annoyingly resilient cheap plastic crap, there’s no-one that comes close.

EDIT: And in reponse to this, these (with more at flickr):

        

Pretty knackered

Bouncebackability is something that kids have litres of. Or whatever unit bouncebackability is measured in.
Take a boy’s tonsils out on Monday (or get someone to do it for you) – and by Tuesday, he’s legging it around the house and garden and you’re left wondering if he really did have the op or if it was just a figment of your imagination.
But I’ve often thought that my boy has the speed gene, whose phenotypic manifestation means that unless he keeps going at 55mph or above, he will explode. All that can save him is Keanu Reeves hanging out of his bottom and then jumping into his nappy on the end of a cable in a shower of sparks. This will obviously all take place at Cape Town International Airport, once the construction work is completed.

In the meantime, the rest of the family is sick. The kitchen is awash with antibiotics and snot, and Kleenex shares have single-handedly lifted the JSE by about 6% since Tuesday. Ironically, Little Mr No Tonsils is the healthiest out of the lot of us. Still – best to get this nastiness out of the way before our Southern Cape Tour, which begins in 10 days time. But that is scant consolation at the moment as I sit here sweating, shaking, sniffing and wondering where the energy to pursue a rather rapid toddler around the garden is going to come from.

My parents fly out from the UK tonight to view their new(ish) grand-daughter (who, incidentally, has never met Russell Brand). I can only hope that they are not bringing their own viruses with them.
We have more than enough to share.

Revenge of the tonsil

I get all sorts of visitors to this blog. There’s a little widget at the bottom of my sidebar which tells me (and/or you) which nationalities are reading me. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Saffas and Brits top the tables right now.
What my little widget doesn’t tell me is which parts of the human lymphatic system are reading the site. And yet evidently, my son’s tonsils have been logging on of late. Upon reading my Ops and Balls post, they immediately went into action in order to prevent any sort of family fun this weekend with, I suspect, the final aim of avoiding their extraction on Monday.

Thus, on Thursday evening, we rushed the boy into the handily local Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic with a temperature of stupid degrees Centigrade (that’s ridiculous degrees Fahrenheit) and were informed by the doctor there that he (the boy, not the doctor) had the biggest tonsils that he (the doctor, not the boy) had ever seen in a two year old. Of course, somewhat ironically, you can’t do a tonsillectomy on a patient who has tonsillitis and so it’s a monster dose of anti-inflammatories and equally large amounts of cefuroxime (second generation cephalosporins rock my world) in a concerted effort to rid the kid of his infection before Monday.
And – touch wood – it seems to be working so far.

Looking out of the window at my garden, I note that either I have extremely good eyesight or I didn’t actually even manage to get on the plane to Fancourt. Due to business commitments, my wife is there though and she’s taken baby K-pu (the smaller of our little angels) with her. Fortunately, K-pu was packed as cabin luggage, since SAA didn’t feel it was necessary to take the passengers hold baggage to George with them*. My wife still plans to attend the Fancourt Ball this evening, despite the fact that her dress (or “gown”?) is still somewhere en route via the N2. At least it’s a bit closer than my tuxedo, which is in a cupboard upstairs. 🙁
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the photos of what should be a memorable event. Especially if the dress doesn’t get there in time.

Right – parenting duties call. It seems that I have a Thomas the Tank Engine railway to mend and judging by the increasing desperation in the repeated requests, it’s rapidly becoming an urgent job.

I’ll get my spanner.

* Note to my work colleagues – I told you SAA were kak.

Ops and Balls

Sorry. I haven’t updated in quite a while. Life in Cape Town has been more than a little hectic and I haven’t always even been in Cape Town. In fact, last weekend, I wasn’t in Cape Town at all. We were off visiting friends outside Stanford, where the air is fresh, the fynbos is fyn and the beer flows all day long. Views were admired, dams were swum in and beer flowed all day long*. 7 adults, six kids (aged 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and 3 months). Chaos.
Photos or it didn’t happen? Your proof is here.

And this madness seems set to continue.
This weekend we’re off to a tonsil and then on Monday, my little boy is having his balls removed. 

Hmm. Sorry. Hang on a minute. That’s not quite right. 

Obviously, that should read:
“This weekend we’re off to a ball and then on Monday, my little boy is having his tonsils removed.” 
Short interlude while I phone the surgeon and check that we’ve got our ducks in a row…
OK. Sorted.

The ball is no less than the rather exclusive (although apparently they’re going to let me in) Fancourt Ball, hosted this year by Sabine Plattner and “Tannie” Evita Bezuidenhout. Black ties and big names aplenty.
We’ll be making our way out along the Southern Cape coast (although not as far as the sleepy village of Port Elizabeth) on Friday and then partying up a storm on Saturday evening before a return on Sunday.   

 
Say Aah! (Say Eww!)

And then – in an effort to stem the seemingly constant streams of snot from the seemingly continual respiratory and ear infections, as suffered by my little lad – surgery! Desperate times call for desperate measures and a full on tonsillectomy with free** adenoidectomy thrown in seems just about desperate enough. While the global markets may be crashing down around us, shares in private medical care and jelly and ice cream manufacture seem to be a safe option right now. At least for the next week, anyway.

Of course, all of the above assumes that I’m actually going to make it as far as this weekend, which may not necessarily be the case.  

In other news, the word on the street (actually, the word via sms), is that The Ad Wizard and Mrs Ad Wizard are expecting a Baby Ad Wizard. This is wonderful news for them, rather surprising news for those of us who know The Ad Wizard and possibly quite worrying news for the rest of the world. But congrats anyway, guys.

* I may already have mentioned that bit.
** “free” – ja right!

The 2010 story no one tells

I was delighted to read Luke Alfred’s inspired and inspiring piece on the South African media’s view of the 2010 World Cup in yesterday’s Sunday Times, not least because it neatly sums up a lot of stuff that I’ve been moaning about for ages.

You may have noticed that when it comes to the 2010 Soccer World Cup there is an endlessly circulating merry-go-round of stories, each with its own shape and unique place in the system.
There is the tryingly familiar “stadium budget” story with quotes by ex-deputy minister of finance Jabu Moleketi; there is the “Sepp Blatter mildly reprimands the organising committee” story, and the grotesquely amusing “plan B” story with its many denials.

Interestingly, I note that we are not the only ones to suffer with these stories. The plans for Euro 2012 tournament, to be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine are plagued with the same issues; who could forget that construction for the Athens 2004 Olympics was miles behind schedule (which we’re not) and they still managed to stage a thoroughly successful event? But it’s one of the duties of the world’s press to find the worst in everything and to sensationalise minor events in order to make mountains out of molehills and sell newspapers. And it’s something that the South African press are especially good at.


Soccer City, Soweto

With sport to some extent replacing nationalism (or being one of the ways in which the nation expresses itself in these post-nationalistic times) the stadiums for the World Cup will express the best of what South Africa has to offer as the century progresses.

They’ll become monuments by which the world recognises this country and by which we define ourselves.
In this sense, debates about what they will cost and how they will be used are profoundly beside the point. Despite the threadbare narratives of the present, stories of striking workers and an underachieving national side, the World Cup will be a pivotal event in the history of post-apartheid South Africa, a time that future generations will look back on with justifiable pride.

So besotted are we with the present that we can’t see it now, but over the long arc of time our children will look back on 2010 and tell their children “I was there”.

Alfred makes a good point, but no-one’s listening. There’s more to life than the present, no matter how tough times may be for many in SA right now. One of the major benefits of 2010, aside from the immediately obvious tourism and sponsorship revenue and its spin-offs is a shared national experience which will generate pride in the country. Our kids have yet to be tainted with the negativity running deep in the veins of the South African media and its followers. And it’s the children’s reaction as they view things with that objective innocence which will be the true marker of the success of the 2010 tournament.

It’s my intention to expose my son to as much of the atmosphere and spectacle as I possibly can.
He’ll be 4 years old and just beginning to form his first “proper” memories and I can think of no better time, place or event for him to remember. It’s going to be an amazing experience. Looking back to my own football-dominated childhood, I can only dream about having experienced a World Cup on my doorstep. (Yes, I was born well after 1966, thank you very much!)

Down the line, my son and I will watch rugby, football, concerts and gladiatorial events possibly involving tigers and pointy sticks at the Green Point Stadium. And while each event will be special in some way, the memories of 2010 that they trigger may never be matched.  

Live webcam feeds of Cape Town stadium site