The Percy Bartley House Post

Incoming from Amy:

As you may know, I work at Ogilvy and over the past 6 months have been trying to get this amazing project approved and moving and finally its happening and I need your help. When we moved into Woodstock a few years ago we wanted to help uplift the area and therefore adopted Percy Bartley House as our un-official charity. PBH is an NGO operating out of an old home in the area which looks after troubled teen boys – those involved in petty crime or living on the streets – and aims to not only provide a home for the boys but to give them a second chance; whether that’s enrolling them in school or skills training, or teaching them life skills.

PBH is run-down and has lost its sense of life and colour. We’ve therefore collaborated with Write-on-Africa – a not for profit initiative also based in Woodstock, that mobilizes creativity in Africa for inspiration, social change and urban rejuvenation. We’re giving the home a new coat of paint, we’re planting a sustainable garden and we’re providing them with donations of linen, towels and furniture from our clients. However, most importantly, we’ve brought on a crew of well-known graffiti artists and illustrators (Faith47, black koki, mac1) to breathe new life into the home, making it a work of art which inspires the youth, while also getting them involved in the process and teaching them responsibility.

This after I saw this video yesterday featuring some of the kids they are helping and Farlane Nsinale – the Director and “Mom” of the house. It’s a great advert for the work they are doing there and the opportunities PBH is providing street kids who would otherwise be in a lot of trouble. It’s also evident that, like Farlane, Amy is extremely passionate about making a difference and it’s for these reasons that I am more than happy to help her – and them – out.
Back to Amy’s email:

I have initiated a fundraiser – selling tickets to a movie – Long Street – set in Cape Town, directed by well-known SA director, Revel Fox and starring his daughter – Sannie Fox – you may know her as lead singer from Machineri. I booked out a cinema at the Labia on Orange for opening night on Thurs Sept 23rd at 20h00 – 20h30.
See the facebook event link here.
Anyone who wants tickets (R50 each) just needs to email me here – I have 60 tickets left to sell.

That would be your safest option, but if you’re feeling lucky, we have 2 pairs of tickets for the opening night of Long Street to give away. To stand a chance of winning a pair of tickets, firstly make sure you are able to make it along (i.e. you will be in Cape Town and not doing anything else that evening) and then simply tweet this: “#PercyBartleyHouse”.

The winners will be drawn at random from entries at 21:00 on Monday evening, giving you enough time to plan your week accordingly. Judges decision is final etc etc.

I’m not expecting this to be quite as big as the #AfrihostRelaunch thing.
But I think that’s for the best, don’t you?

And well done to Amy and all those involved in making a difference at PBH.

Is summer finally coming?

As proven by this weather forecast for Cape Town for the week ahead?

Things are looking up. It’s a good sign when even the cloudy days are warm. And I have it on good authority that we may be in for a 29°C scorcha!™ on Sunday. Bring forth my ceremonial braai tongs and slaughter that bloody sheep, Jennifer. Then make a salad.

Meanwhile, less good but far more spectacular weather for my parents in the Isle of Man as a particularly virulent area of low pressure rolled in across the Irish Sea:

This was taken by my Dad this morning in Port St Mary and has a distinctly Kalk Bay feel to it. A quick look at the latest weather report from the local airport suggests that the pressure is still falling there – not good news when you have a three-hour long boat crossing of that sea tomorrow like they do.

Bon voyage…

Double Header

I was at the well-organised, well-attended and most enjoyable “Loving Local” PSL Double Header at the Cape Town Stadium last night – the first big event there since the World Cup semi final in July.

Cape Town’s PSL new boys Vasco da Gama were edged out 2-1 by Orlando Pirates in the first game and then Ajax Cape Town put in a great performance against Bloemfontein Celtic to win 2-0.
That second game was billed as the clash of the strikers – by me anyway – with SA legend Thembinkosi “Terror” Fanteni for the Urban Warriors and ex-Ajax favourite Nathan Paulse up front for Bloem Celtic.
Fanteni was disappointing, despite all the good service he got from his Ajax collegues and Paulse had an absolutely brilliant game despite having no help at all. Neither scored.

Here is Paulse finding space to get in a (single) header once again and here are the rest of the pics I took last night.

Just doing your job?

Or: “Why you need to be nice to people in Cape Town“.

This is a bit of a personal story, but there’s an important message in it (I think), so I’m going to bore you with it anyway.

A few months back, the company I worked for closed its doors “for operational reasons”, meaning that the people working for that company were summarily retrenched. Me included. It was not a pleasant time, as you might imagine and it was a particularly unpleasant process. This unpleasantness was due in no small part to the attitude of the people who employed us and the lawyer who they had hired to do the hatchet job.
Now, at this point, you can spring forth with all your “Did you really expect to meet a nice lawyer?” quotes and your perhaps more reasonable claims that I would say something like this because I’m being subjective and the matter was emotionally charged and of course I’m not going to like what’s going on, am I?
Do you want to get those things out of your systems now? I can wait.

Done? Good.

Because I have met nice lawyers before: they don’t all conform to the stereotype in the same way that not all accountants are dull and grey and not all microbiologists are good-looking, witty ex-pat bloggers.
And while it was not a nice thing to happen, I accepted that a business decision had been made and we didn’t realistically have a huge amount (read “any”) chance of reversing things. So I did my homework, spoke to some (nice) lawyers I know and made sure I understood my rights in terms of the Labour Relations Act 1995 (section 189) and Basic Conditions of Employment Act 1997 (sections 35, 37 and 41). Fascinating stuff.

Given the situation, I chose to put emotions away and went in to the discussions with my new-found knowledge and my scientific logic as my sword and shield.
Sadly, the lawyer who turned up for the other side scored highly in every category of “typical” lawyer behaviour. On the personal side, I found him pompous, arrogant, aggressive, belittling and generally unpleasant. On the professional side, he sailed very close to the wind of illegality in his actions when going through the official processes. And then he made a verbal agreement on behalf of his clients which he later went back on. Which was nice.

Anyway, to cut a long story slightly shorter, we fought back and we won.

And that’s that. Except to say that then, out of the blue, his wedding photos popped up on my Facebook stream yesterday. Because while the entire world is apparently interconnected via the famous human web of Six Degrees of Separation, in Cape Town it’s generally about 1.2 Degrees of Separation. Friend of a friend happens here very regularly.
And that’s well worth remembering before you act like an arse.

Sure – I’m aware that there’s some parts of anyone’s job that aren’t easy and aren’t pleasant. But when you are dealing with people – especially upset, vulnerable people – while “just doing your job” and you act like you don’t give a damn, try to weasel your way out of promises you made and walk all over them, well that’s when you clearly cross the line from “professional” to “arse” for me.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking you to care, I’m just asking you to make it less obvious that you really don’t.

Interestingly, seeing his those photos allowed me to put some pieces into my mental jigsaw and I realised that I had actually bumped into him “socially” a couple of weeks ago (through the same friend). My mind couldn’t quite work out who he was, seeing him out of context like that, but I didn’t introduce myself because there was this nagging doubt that I knew this person but I didn’t like him.
Now I know why. My mind is great and I have renewed respect for it.

So be nice, be respectful to people you meet: professionally, socially or even on the roads. Especially in Cape Town.
Because you will meet them again at some point and your previous actions could make that situation rather awkward.

Just saying.

DIY Biltong

Ah – biltong – the staple food of South Africans since 1652.

What is it? Well, in case you don’t know and you haven’t already clicked through the link above, it’s essentially seasoned, dried meat.
But there’s more to it than that. It’s completely addictive, it keeps the South African toothpick and dental floss industries afloat and at anywhere between R150 – R350 per kilo (do the sums on the smaller packets), it’s damn expensive as well.

And it was these outrageous prices which led me to consider making my own biltong. But wouldn’t that be rather difficult?
Actually not – thanks to an article in June’s Popular Mechanics magazine. (I’m trying to keep this bit quiet because June still doesn’t know I’ve got it.) And, a couple of bits of wire, a light bulb, some dowel, a plastic box, an old computer fan and two hours later, I have my own homemade biltong dryer. And it works. Really well.

The first lot came out midweek and actually tasted very professional. And so the next lot has already gone in and will be ready by Tuesday morning: 72 hours being the current estimate for the optimum drying time.

I’m using strips (or “stokkies”) of Scotch Fillet (on offer at R60/kg at Pick n Pay) and seasoning with a mixture of black pepper, rock salt and coriander seeds. Then it’s into the dryer:

The meat is hung on bent paperclips from doweling crosspieces around a 45W light bulb. The lid goes on, the fan blows fresh air in and the timer is set.
And at night, it looks like a UFO has landed in the corner of the garage. Which is also quite cool.

Further tweaking of my methods and repertoire will obviously follow, but I think this must surely be the final step in my integration into South African society.

UPDATE: And here they are – ready to eat (remove paper clips first).