The FIFA World Cup draw – a warning

Let the moaning begin. Eh?
But yes, because Cape Town is going to be hosting the World Cup 2010 draw on Friday 4th December and there’s going to be a party. And they’re going to shut a few roads to make sure that the partygoers don’t get flattened by… you know… cars and stuff.

There’s a full and comprehensive list of road closures, including times here and there are sure to be some people moaning about the traffic despite the fact that they’ve had adequate warning via the radio, newspapers and internet. And despite the fact that these roads are regularly closed when there are large conferences at the CTICC. And despite the fact that no-one in their right mind would try to drive up Long Street on a Friday afternoon or evening.
Some people are just like that.

The traffic is just the tip of the iceberg though. Some people are still in denial about the whole World Cup thing and they’re going to go out of their way (with the help of the sensationalist SA media and the Daily Mail) to publicise every little bit of negativity that they can possibly find in glaringly bright lights. And with an estimated 700 million viewers fixing their eyes on Cape Town next week, they’ve got their first little platform ready and waiting.

This should be a celebration – and it will be. The World Cup will bring jobs, people, infrastructure and money into South Africa. But possibly worth more than all those put together, it will bring publicity. And publicity can swing either way.
It’s like that, is publicity, flip-flopping between sides like Allan Boesak.
There is, of course, that age old saying that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but that’s complete bullshit. Try telling that to Gary Glitter or… well… Allan Boesak.
While this is a huge opportunity for South Africa, it is sadly also a huge opportunity for those that seek to derail the good things that are happening in this country and the hope that goes with them. I’m talking about the racists, the ex-pats, the union leaders and those who put their own selfish agendas in front of the good of the country. They too will be watching the draw next Friday, but for different reasons to you and I. They will be looking to pounce on anything that is not 110% perfect; be it the traffic, the TV production, the pre-draw entertainment or the weather.
Whatever they can find to dampen the celebration, they will use.

It’s sad that I feel this way, but I think that it is important that someone gets this message out there before the mis- and dis-information spreads its way out across the media. Simply put, you can fully expect the usual situation of the media over-reporting the negative aspects of life in South Africa to be concentrated while the World Cup is on. (And that includes the World Cup draw). Every incident of pickpocketing, poor organisation, drunken fist-fighting, overfilled buses or littering (ok, maybe not littering) will be documented and analysed in minute detail under evocative and exceptionalist headlines. Believe it, because it’s true.

Whatever happens, it is vitally important for South Africa that the optimism and the positive vibe that surrounds the World Cup is not drowned out by the small but vociferous minorities that want to drag this country down. So go and enjoy yourselves, have fun. And take photos and blog it, because that’s exactly what they’ll be doing for the other side.

As for me, I’m planning to leave my comfort zone of Southern Suburbia and take my Dad into town to join the chaos party on Long Street.
Can I, as they say, get a woop woop?!? (Oh, and England picked as team C1? Thanks.)

P.S. I just updated this with some amazing video. Go see.

Hard to work

It is quite difficult to get stuff done when you have this view from your study window.

The TV mast not only provides me with a TV signal, but also proves that I actually did a very good job of keeping the camera level.
Thanks for that.

In My Eyes

As I sit in the lab, pitching various antibiotics into battle against my TB while hiding behind negative pressure, an N95 particulate mask and several layers of protective gear, there’s nothing I like more than some loud music on Snoopy Too, my iPod.

Today’s offering is Zebra & Giraffe: local favourites and official support act for The Killers SA tour next month.

This is the brilliant video for In My Eyes, frontman Greg Carlin goes driving around the city at night in a hastily-modified Mercedes-Benz while trying to shake the memory of his girlie. It’s worth watching right through to the end, believe me.
You didn’t see that one coming, now did you?

I think I’m almost looking forward to seeing Z&G as much as Brandon et al on December 6th.

Bring it.

To St James by train

One Sunday each November, the children of Alex’s playschool, together with their associated parents, grandparents, various hangers-on and their teacher Jayne, head off to Kenilworth Station to board the 08:54 train southbound to St James. St James is charming little place which has a road, a railway line and a row of colourful beach huts on the shore and not much else – but that’s fine, because the station is all of 50 metres from the beach.
Much like last year, the party of around 40 individuals – many of them small and loud – descended upon the Southern Suburbs line, much to the horror of the more regular users of the service.
I’ll never forget last year, when passengers getting on at Retreat stopped and stared, open-mouthed, as the doors opened and they were greeted by a carriageful of somewhat out-of-place, (almost) middle-aged whities and their kids. It was awesome. South Africa has a interesting relationship with the concept of race (for obvious reasons). It warms my heart when people go out of their comfort zone and try something they usually wouldn’t. Even more so when all involved can find some wry humour in the situation: as was the case last year.


It will come as no huge surprise to regular readers to learn that I took my camera along and managed to knock off well over 100 shots, which I have whittled down to 50 for the purposes of uploading to Flickr. Even that 170-odd MB took most of the afternoon to sort out. Gotta love SA internet and the ASDL hamsters enjoying a Sunday afternoon nap in their wheels in Bloemfontein.

The weather was much warmer than the forecast 19°C, much calmer than the 45kph SouthEaster we were promised (although that has since arrived with a vengeance) and (I believe) a good time was had by all.

Alex moves on from his two year residence at this school next year, but we have already secured our place on next year’s outing by popping out little K-pu. It should, however, be noted that although this is a great day out, we have ABSOLUTELY NO PLANS for any other back door invitations once our daughter has completed her time with Jayne. Believe it, because it’s true.

There’s talk of emigration in the air

Remember when we used to hear that at all the dinner parties, the braais, on the television and in the papers?
The ZumaRumas™. The dangers of another ANC government. Chasing the whites out of the country. Murdered in our beds. How South Africa was going to become “another Zimbabwe”.
I never did get a firm date for any of those unfounded scare-mongering stories.
When I asked, I usually just got a hard stare over my wors and some mumbled excuse about needing another Castle Lite.

Sure, South Africa does have its problems. Many of them, in fact. Which is surely all the more reason for not adding more silly ones that you made up on the way to the party.
But why the exceptionalism? Because nowhere is perfect and everywhere you go, you’re going to face challenges. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. And if it is, it’s probably because of all the s**t that’s around over there.

So – back to the talk of emigration in the air:

There’s talk of emigration in the air. It’s everywhere I go. Parties. Work. In the supermarket.

That’s Jeremy Clarkson in this week’s Sunday Times. He’s fed up with the UK – particularly the way it’s being run – and he wants out:

It’s a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained, Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral, trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual, mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set up shop somewhere else.

The rest of the piece is a wonderful rant about the amount of control and red tape that is exerted over those in the developed world. And a highly amusing list of the problems with each individual country that he considers emigrating to. And – while it is, of course, written with tongue firmly in cheek – at least Clarkson acknowledges that it doesn’t matter where you go, things won’t ever be perfect. Because that’s really not how life works.

I often think that immigrants to a country are better at seeing the good in it. I certainly think that I have a much more positive opinion of South Africa than many of those who have lived here all their lives. And that goes for a lot of the other ex-pats I’ve met here, too.
I’ve done my best to educate myself on the substance behind the stories, taking opinion from all sides – like The Political Analyst and The Guru amongst others – and I’m finding it easier and easier to recognise nonsense emails and stories earlier and earlier, because – like all lies – they really don’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny. I now regularly have friends emailing me with stories of crime and politics and the ANC, with online petitions and the like, asking me if they are true.
And they never are.

And while I’m happy to set records straight, I find it sad that people still willingly believe all that they read in their inboxes and in the newspapers. And sadder still that there are individuals who will prey on this gullibility to push their agenda across. Thabo Mbeki did some things right and he did some things wrong (and this really isn’t a post about that), but he hit the nail on the head with this line:

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Ironically, it now seems that he was behind some of the propagation of those deliberate falsehoods, no matter how unacceptable he found the practice. But it’s still a great quote.

What I’m saying here is that you can’t allow yourself to be dragged down by only seeing the negative side of things and you have to make the best of what you’ve got.
Because you’re never going to have it all.
A lot of people in South Africa fall into that negativity trap and their lives, their outlook and the mood of whole country in general are detrimentally affected because of it.
Positivity costs nothing and it makes you feel a whole lot better.

As for Clarkson – his column has now been removed from the Sunday Times website – probably something to do with his plan to strap Peter Mandelson “to the front of a van and drive round the country until he isn’t alive any more”.
Fortunately, I got there first and have a nice small (35kb) PDF of it for you to read. Enjoy!