One way

This was the song that graced most of my time at University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I still get shivers down my spine when I hear it. If I had ever managed to compile a Top 10 of my favourite songs ever, this would probably be one of only three songs that would be a shoo-in. I can’t quite recall what the other two are right now, because my head is filled with the sound of the quite brilliant One Way by The Levellers, seen here at Glastonbury in 1994.

I was lucky enough to see The Levellers in Brixton in 1995 as part of their Total Chaos tour and rarely have I seen a band have quite so much fun on stage. The evening was a great success and – despite the tour’s moniker – wonderfully organised, save for the young gentleman that climbed up one of the rope ladders at the side of the stage and refused to come down for the rest of the set.

It wasn’t me.

We can take them breakfast

The innocence of kids. It blows me away sometimes.

Yesterday evening was one of those times. Having picked the boy up from his grandmother’s, where he had spent an exciting afternoon mainly eating, playing snap and eating, we were on our way home via the M3 and then slipping down the Constantia Main Road off-ramp. At the lights on the junction, I saw a mother and her two kids sitting by the side of the road, begging.

Sadly, this isn’t an unusual sight in South Africa, but I have seen this lady here before. She has two daughters – almost exactly the same ages as our two kids (3¾ & 1½, for new readers). And that kind of makes it a bit more personal.
As it happened, I had a small packet of sweets with me which I had planned to share with Alex, but given his gastronomic exploits throughout the afternoon, I had thought better of that idea. Thus, the kids by the side of the road became the grateful beneficiaries of a packet of candy polar bears. Seeing the young girls’ delight at the quickly opened packet and its contents brought a lump to my throat. So I probably wasn’t ideally prepared for what followed.

As the lights changed and we headed home, Alex piped up.

“Why did you give the lady some sweets?”
“Because the lady and her children were hungry.”
“Where do those children live, Daddy?”
“I don’t think they have a home, Alex.”
“So where do they sleep then?”
“I think they sleep wherever they can find some shelter.”
“And where do they eat breakfast?”
“I don’t think they have breakfast, Alex. That’s why they are hungry.”

There was a brief pause in the inquisition from the back seat.
Then:

“I’ve got an idea, Daddy. We can take them breakfast.”

And despite the much deeper issues that lie behind their situation, Alex was right: We can take them breakfast.
And because I’m a great believer in actions speaking louder than words, this Saturday, we’re going to take that mother and her kids some breakfast. Yes, I recognise that this isn’t a solution; I know that it won’t solve anything other than their hunger that day, but it will at least solve that.  

And when u-turn finally get back to me (hello?!?), we’ll maybe be able to help them out a little more.

Top Gear Live – Cape Town

Last night we headed out to the Grand West Arena, which – in a fit of misnomers – is not particularly spectacular and lies to the east of here – to see the Top Gear Live Roadshow.  The tickets weren’t cheap, but were actually excellent value: what a hugely entertaining experience. Explosions, stunts, laughs, fun, even international Car Football, the Cool Wall and laps of the Top Gear track – it was actually like an episode of Top Gear… but Live.
I’m guessing that this is where they got the name from.

Local guest host Sasha Martinengo wasn’t anywhere near as annoying as I expected – probably because he was playing third fiddle to Jeremy and Richard, while ringleader Clarkson was his irrepressible best. The Stig didn’t feature much, but the stuff – or rather the THING – that he did do was spectacular.

Since they asked nicely, I lent them a couple of my runabouts for the evening…

I’m not hugely into cars – I can’t give you the list of engine sizes that the latest Mercedes SLK is available in or anything like that, but there were some lovely machines out there: Bentleys, Porsches, Aston Martins, Audis (over-rated: Audi Fanboys being to motoring what Mac Fanboys are to computing – irritating and blinkered) and that orange Lamborghini. Nice. 

After the show, we went on the Paddock Tour – more nice cars and some BMWs, plus a chance to see a Pagani Zonda up close, the Audi R8 being revved by a middle-aged car salesman (didn’t sound that great – and neither did the car) and a host of rather dull Chevreolets. Mrs 6000 ordered her Porsche 911 Carrera GT3 and I squeezed myself into a perfectly lovely Mini Cooper S JCW which I almost took home in my pocket.

All in all –  a brilliant night’s entertainment and if you have the chance to go and see the show in Jo’burg, Sydney or Auckland, I would highly recommend it. A couple of beers before you go in will certainly help, but then aside from perfoming brain surgery, that probably goes for most things.

Top Gear Live – Jan 10 set on flickr.

Home

The Molton Brown Curry Club avoided curry this month (for reasons that I won’t go into) and headed out locally last night for our monthly dinner evening, this time at Home restaurant in 2nd Avenue, Kenilworth – a venue chosen by the Tall Accountant.

As Dave Gahan once put it in Depeche Mode’s song about this intimate, down-to-earth eatery:

And I thank you
For bringing me here
For showing me Home

And why?
Because their warthog ribs were a thing of beauty. Absolutely exquisite and highly recommended.

Make your booking on (021) 683 6066, ask for Jana as your waitress and make sure you mention 6000 miles… – it won’t get you a discount, but it might lead to a few more hits for me.
And that would be nice.

Other places to eat in the Harfield Village area (there are more than you think), are listed here.

Getting six years older

As we celebrated the sixth anniversary of my arrival upon these shores, we came to realise exactly how much we’d got through in those six years. Actually, when one takes into account what we’d done in the first five years, this last one has been pretty quiet.

Four jobs, one engagement, one marriage, three new cars, one new house, first child, second child, four trips to the UK and about three vineyards-worth of fairly decent red wine, I’m still here and still loving it. But of course that wasn’t always the case.
Settling into South Africa and the distinctly different way of life took a long while. When it did happen, it happened overnight, but that night was after a thousand other nights here. It came with a sudden change of mindset – an epiphany, if you will – that this wasn’t the UK and I couldn’t make it like the UK. And while that fact may please many (if not all) South Africans,  it was finally my declaration of a ceasefire against the system that brought peace to my life.
(Incidentally, it’s worth noting that since then, the system has actually become a very good friend and we regularly meet up for a beer and a chat about politics, religion and the World Cup.)

Which is nice.

And in those six years, I sadly seem to have crossed that line where things that would previously have bored me have become things that now excite me. Like, for example, the fact that I can’t wait to install the new irrigation system in my front garden. Now, I’m not so far gone that I don’t see that that might seem a bit sad to younger readers, but when I put it in – it will be awesome.
Seriously.

Still don’t believe me? Right, I’m going to take photos…