Finals Day

This is another prewritten post, so I don’t know who is challenging for the 2018 World Cup. In fact, at this stage (the tournament kicks off in about 3 hours), even Google is unaware:

And you know that if Google doesn’t know, then neither does anyone else.

8 years ago, it was the final of the World Cup in South Africa. And, while it wasn’t held in Cape Town, I still think a quota photo of the stadium is somehow appropriate. After all, one of the semi-finals (I believe there’s one of them happening today?) was held here:

I actually took this in December 2009 – on the night of the draw for the World Cup in South Africa, after a busy night on Long Street.

Memories…

World Cup pundits

If you’re overseas (as in not in SA) and are watching the World Cup, how good are your TV pundits?

Supersport have gone big with our hard-earned Randelas and brought in Gianfranco Zola and Andy Townsend, but the only effect of this input of foreign talent has been to make the local guys look distinctly average.

Andre Arendse’s comment that Peru would struggle in the Denmark game “because they hadn’t been at the World Cup for 56 years” came about 20 minutes after Iceland – who have never been the the World Cup before – got a draw with one of the big tournament favourites, Argentina.

And what does it matter if “the game’s moved on” since 1962? None of the Peru players were even alive then, were they? I was half expecting them to turn out in baggy shorts and with a hugely heavy leather football with huge stitching for the warm up.

Oh, and in black and white, obviously.

But that sort of comment is sadly par for the course.

I’m not saying that the guys in the studio don’t know about football: not at all. All I’m saying is that they’re not very good at talking on TV about what they know about football.

Still, what you can’t see, can’t hurt you:

Sometimes I’m glad that the internet here is as bad as the pundits.

Repost: Braaiwood and Boogie’ing

One from 2007. I know, right?

The weekend has come and gone and this week brings the terrible realisation that with the start of the new school year comes the return of the traffic from hell. This trebles my journey time to and from work and serves as a reminder that I really need to win the lottery and buy that helicopter.

The abject depression that sitting in traffic can produce must be countered in some way. And that’s why we used this weekend to chill out and relax before reality kicked in. Saturday afternoon was spent next to the pool, braai’ing with friends. (Braai’ing, to the uninitiated, is what the rest of the world calls barbequing). The South African braai is a national institution – we even have National Braai Day here – and that’s why it is important for me to learn and follow the strict (yet unwritten) SA Braai Code if I am to fully integrate into this society.
No matter where you are in the world, braai’ing is a man’s job. Trying to get your average Saffa bloke to cook in the kitchen is like trying to get him to wear one of your daintiest dresses, pink fluffy slippers and lipstick, but there’s no separating him from his braai. And while other nations pile on the charcoal briquettes from their local petrol station, South African men stand for hours around braais and discuss which wood should be used on the fire. The traditional option is Rooikrans – alien to SA and therefore fair game for anyone to chop down and burn under some bits of sheep. But one of my visitors on the weekend was very excited to note that I was using dried vine wood.
“That stuff is great, hey – exceptional burning and great coals!”, he enthusiastically told me.
I nodded knowingly, despite the fact that I had bought it from the local petrol station in the sort of blind panic which only comes with finding that you have no braaiwood 10 minutes before your guests are arriving for a braai. I am the king of bluff.
“Have you tried Namibian Camelthorn?”, he asked.
I smiled and took a sip of my beer to give me thinking time.
“I haven’t, but I believe it burns forever?”, I ventured.
It was a good guess – this was more braaiwood talk – Camelthorn was not the latest beer to hit the market or some new designer drug. My guest was impressed. I am the king of bluff and the king of knowledge. It’s why I’m so successful at betway online sports betting.

The other thing I have to get used to is the fact that braai talk here is restricted to very few topics: rugby, cricket, kids (where applicable) and braaiwood.
Thou shalt not talk of music or women or football or beer. And that’s just a little bit bizarre as far as I’m concerned. Barbeques in the UK won’t even light without some mention of Kelly Brook and “that goal” from Thierry Henry on Wednesday night. That said, often they just don’t light because it’s raining.

Finally – meat. Australia has it’s prawns, England has its burgers and pork sausages, but here in SA you can braai anything. And basically, the bigger the chunks of flesh or the longer the boerewors that you stick over your Namibian Camelthorn, the better. Extra marks are awarded for the range of different meats you can braai simultaneously (without mixing surf and turf – a big faux pas). My record stands at chicken, lamb, pork, beef, ostrich, boerewors (4 different varieties) and a token frozen burger (I was feeling homesick that day).
If you have bought your wors from Checkers, never admit to it. Guests will wonder if they are eating donkey or dog and will be repulsed. However, if you bought donkey or dog wors at Woolies, that’s just fine.

I mentioned boogie’ing in the title of this post. That’s because we went to see The Parlotones at Kirstenbosch on Sunday evening to round off our weekend. They were really rather good. UK readers, you might not have heard of The Parlotones yet, but they’re going to be big, so why not impress your friends around the braai by slipping their name into the conversation?

Try that awkward silence while everyone’s thinking about their favourite bit of Kelly Brook.

On Dan Kneen

I’ve just read this heartfelt post on Isle of Man TT rider Dan Kneen, who was killed during a practice lap of the Mountain Course earlier this week.

It’s deeply personal, written from the perspective of a comrade, but also from an individual who clearly understands the mentality and determination of the riders and the rush of the TT – and all the glory, adrenaline, drama, camaraderie and emotions that go along with it.

We’ve had three solid evenings of practice without any real drama. The whole island seemed to be on a high – the weather, the racing and not forgetting the astonishing 133mph lap Dean Harrison set!

…but now we’re not talking about the highs. The mainstream media such as the BBC, The Independent, etc. were never talking about that. Oh, no. They’ve been waiting for this like they do every year. A red flag. A fatality. ‘Ban the Isle of Man TT’ brigade will be out tonight… and it really isn’t the time or place.

And it’s true. A quick google search will show you that every news outlet and internet site going, has – at some point or points – asked the question as to whether the TT should be allowed to continue.
Even the readers of Golf Monthly think their opinion matters.

Fortunately, the Isle of Man is not being swayed – at least not yet. And nor should they be. The riders know the dangers, and they make the decision to race or not.

Perspective. Perspective is everything. Racers aren’t forced to race these roads. They know that this sport in particular is dangerous. So do their families. It’s no secret. There’s furniture. Trees, stone walls, curbs. The more forgiving hedge and the less forgiving lamppost. These racers jump on a motorcycle and lean over a flammable tank full of fuel because it’s what they enjoy, it’s their dream, it’s their life!

For some though (and here, I’m looking at the likes of Golf Monthly readers), this won’t be enough. Their sheltered existence upon the dreary, dog-legged commuter belt fairways of Surrey surely won’t allow them to acknowledge that the rush of riding the TT is sufficient reason for someone to exercise their free will and to voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way. The UK (of which the Isle of Man is not part) has banned everything from the overtly dangerous right through to the laughably harmless on the grounds of “risk”, and it’s become a hugely sterile place because of it.

Were there some press-ganging at play here; were orphans being dragged from their beds and forced to blast around 37+miles of winding country roads at more than 200mph on machines better suited for Donnington Park, Silverstone and Brands Hatch; were they lining the more dangerous bits of trackside wall with puppies… well, then I would agree that something needed to change.

But that’s not the case. And thus, when a fully grown adult chooses to ride the TT, fully aware of the dangers they are subjecting themselves to, I think you can take your risk-averse London ways and your fancy putters and back right off.

South Africa has the best word for this: Voetsek.

 

UPDATE: This morning’s follow up is also incredible writing.

Snowy football

My brother sent me a photo, which I think came from the Sheffield Star newspaper, possibly more specifically from their correspondent here. It’s from last weekend’s Championship match at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane, in which Sheffield United played Nottingham Forest.
The weather wasn’t great. The match finished 0-0.

But the photo needed some playing with in Lightroom, in my humble opinion. (See here for details of why I appropriate other people’s photography).

When I saw it, it reminded me of a dramatic painting, so obviously I made it into a dramatic painting.

Make it bigger by clicking here.

The blizzard conditions are obviously what makes this photo so eye-catching, but it’s the juxtaposition of that chaos with the stability of the horizontal touchline in the foreground that I really like. It’s almost cinematic.

I’m not an artist, but if I was, I think I’d like to paint something this good.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to content myself by attempting to make artwork out of other people’s photos.