The South African Civil War – a short historical essay

No-one truly believed that South Africa would escape the descent into civil war at some stage – that was sadly inevitable – but I would wager that few of the naysayers and doom and gloom merchants could ever have accurately predicted the source of the conflict. It seems likely that, if pushed, most of them would have plumped for one of the more obvious causes: poverty, inequality, politics, corruption, race. But of course, that wasn’t it.

No-one ever realised that the previously-docile, overtly-privileged, white upper-middle class would rise up after the rumours that the City of Cape Town had threatened to close Newlands Spring. Even looking back, it seems ridiculous that this could be a trigger for any confrontation, let alone a protracted armed engagement between citizens of the Republic, but no-one thought about it. Well, why would you?

No-one foresaw that springing (no pun intended) from an online petition (where else?) set up by local businessman, ex-water collector and now infamous instigator of widespread civil unrest, Riyaz Rawoot, would come an army of discontented middle-aged white people. Never mind that the alleged closure turned out to be an entirely unresearched story put out by a local newspaper in order to incite outrage in an attempt to increase their dismal sales figures. That’s just incidental. It’s history now.

No-one would have believed that a barrage of strongly worded letters from the Southern Suburbs would be all that it took to bring down the elected leadership of Cape Town and the Western Cape, after they were unable to provide a satisfactory response within the 10 working days as promised in their electoral manifesto, prompting mass resignations in the higher echelons of provincial government. We had always thought that the war would be fought twixt electric fences and long knives (or at least machetes from Builders Warehouse). But the pen, it seems, is indeed mightier than the panga.

No-one ever thought that the effect of that sudden power vacuum in the south west of the country would be so disastrous. That it could come to this. That the alleged threatened lack of access to a slightly broken 4 inch plastic pipe at the end of a cul-de-sac in an affluent Cape Town suburb could drag the entirety of Southern Africa into bloody conflict.

No-one ever considered the butterfly effect; the implications of the true powerbase of the country getting swept up in a wave of outrage over a misunderstanding of what was frankly a rather trivial issue anyway.

No-one should ever underestimate how something so small could lead to our collective downfall.

Have a nice day.

Aquarium jellyfish photos used in Aquarium jellyfish blog post

Just documenting the fact that my jellyfish photos from the weekend have been used in the Aquarium’s blog post about that same jellyfish.

This is great. The only issue is that I linked to that same Aquarium jellyfish blog post (above) in my original jellyfish blog post (er… also above), so there’s a risk of some degree of recursion.

But I’m sure you’ll cope.

You can also look at the jellyfish pictures on Flickr.

Weather warnings noted

It has started. It started this weekend. Subtly.
It started on the way to the Beagle Run.

We’re heading to my homeland soon, and whenever we do that, there is mention of the prevailing meteorological conditions over there. There has to be. It’s the law.
During previous visits, we’ve had an occasional glimpse of blue skya lot of rain and even some snow. Oh, and then that fortnight where it never got above or below 3ºC and was just… very grey.
I didn’t bother with photos that time.

The weather in the UK isn’t as nice as it is in Cape Town. You know that. I know that. But Mrs 6000 still likes to remind me of the anguish her body – which is a Capetonian body – is inevitably going to have to suffer while we’re over there.

It started this weekend.
It started on the way to the Beagle Run.

At 7am on Sunday morning, somewhere near Klapmuts, she asked what the temperature was. It was 11ºC. A bright but chilly start to the South African day. I told her that it was 11ºC, despite the fact that she was driving and had the thermometer reading directly in front of her on the dashboard. Sometimes it’s just easier to play along. Because we both knew what was coming next.

And what’s the maximum temperature in Sheffield today?

She asked, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

“It’s going to be 13,” I replied, dutifully.

We both knew this, because just the previous evening, we had spotted the UK weather on Sky News, and had remarked on how it was going to be 13 in Sheffield the next day. So my answer was just for confirmation, and to allow for the mathematically simple, but utterly essential, next line.

So, just 2 degrees warmer than it is now, then?

“That’s right.”

Wow. Just two degrees warmer. And it’s only 7am here.

“Yes. Just two degrees warmer.”

And we were done. For the moment at least. The weather in Sheffield isn’t as nice as it is in Cape Town. But then, in its favour, Sheffield has water. Decent internet. Great football. Proper relish. And fewer beagles.

Don’t get me wrong. Cape Town is great too. I love Cape Town. Mountain, beaches, Milk Stout, braais, Cape Agulhas (not strictly Cape Town, but you get my drift, right?). Yes, Cape Town has lots of good things too.

It’s almost as if each city has some positives and some negatives.

Apparently, one of the negatives about Sheffield is the weather. But I grew up in Sheffield. The cold doesn’t really bother me.
Although, I’ll admit that I’m actually quite glad we’re not going this week:

Storm Aileen is expected to bring very strong winds with gusts of 50-60 mph on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The worst of the winds, with gusts to 65-75 mph are expected to be across North Wales and the North Midlands. Longer journey times by road, rail and air are likely, with restrictions on roads and bridges. There is also a chance of power cuts, and damage to trees and perhaps buildings.

Oh come on, Aileen.

Weather-wise, all I really need while we’re there is a couple of days of calm weather to fly the Mavic. Anything else half-decent will be a bonus.

And then we can come back home and thaw.

Shooting (jelly)fish in a barrel

The weekend. Yesterday, we went to the Aquarium and saw their Pink Meanie, and I found just how difficult it is to shoot jellyfish in a barrel cylindrical poly-carbonate tank.

Then this morning, the beagle got (slightly) eaten at the Beagle Run: ruining my plans for using its ears as coffee coasters once it has joined the choir invisible, and resulting in several (or more) Rands in vet’s fees.

I’m heading for channel 203 and a Black Label.

Other pics: here.


Landing wholly unsolicited in my inbox, a link to this page.

A page upon which a well respected – award winning even – local coffee house asks for your financial support. Have they perhaps fallen upon hard times? Doubtful, given the prices they charge. Do they want to somehow support some local charity initiative? Well, no. They want to build a new Brew Bar. Let’s have a look at their plans, shall we?

But first, the intro:

We are TRUTH. Coffee Roasting. 

We opened in 2009 and are currently located at 36 Buitenkant Street in Cape Town, South Africa.
Our cafe has won multiple international awards from newspapers including The Guardian and The Telegraph UK , who have identified it as the best in the world. Our cafe features a steampunk design and is truly one of a kind.

Ta, and indeed, Dah. Well done.

And now the reasoning behind their appeal:

As our roastery has developed, and our new product development team has blossomed, so has our need to adopt and perfect new brewing methods (think Aeropress, Drip Coffee, Cold Brew, Nitrous, etc).

Well, not really. Because “need” is a rather strong word. In fact, “choice” might fit better here. You wanted to do something different, and that’s great. But the world would have kept on turning if you’d not “blossomed” a “Nitrous” brewing method. We’re only into the first paragraph here and you’re already getting ideas above your station. This does not bode well.

This process is amongst the most exciting endeavours underway here at Truth, and we need a platform to share this project with you! After all, the overall goal is to provide ever better customer experience!

“We need a platform” = “We want some money”.
But fair play, you can’t fault that overall goal.

We do this through a brew bar. We can invite you into our developments, allowing you to broaden your caffeinated horizons and curiosities, and allowing us to streamline our processes in a way more appreciative of your wants and desires.

Woah, dude! Step back from the drug-addled, buzzword-infused marketing thesaurus and just look at that last sentence again.
What does that even mean? (No-one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.)
“Better customer experience” was just fine. The decision to then fling that perfectly reasonable phrase into your patented Jargonator™ was a massive and wholly unforced error. And the results are nothing short of a 33-word disaster. Honestly. Check yourself before you wre… oh wait.. too late.

We need R550,000!

The Best Coffee Shop In The World is crowdfunding for $40,000? Right.

At Truth we believe in quality above all else. To build something joyfully extraordinary requires time, passion and importantly, the right funding. We do not do things half-assed. We are going to build a brew bar that will truly be one of a kind.

It’s a lovely idea. Why can’t you fund it yourself?

We don’t want to give too much away, but here are some key words. Think pneumatics, hydraulics, levitation, aeronautics and of course, steampunk. 

Just for the record, aeronautics is defined as “the science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere”.

And levitation is “the process by which an object is held aloft, without mechanical support, in a stable position”.

Sure. Absolutely no exaggeration. Just magic at work.
Nothing to see here (that hasn’t already been seen at Hogwart’s).

You will step through a gate, onto a private platform, with your own personal barista and party, the gate will shut behind you and the entire brew bar will levitate, taking you and your friends/family into a private space, overlooking our cafe, but providing a distinctly private experience.

Ugh. “Levitate” again?

But OK. Glad you haven’t given too much away there.
No. You’ve given basically all of it away. It’s a table on a mechanical jack, isn’t it?
I take that “lovely idea” thing back. It sounds like a fairground ride. A ridiculous idea. Ridiculous and odd. Ridiculously odd. Oddly ridiculous. Ridiculously hipster. All really wanky. Right up the wacky Truth Coffee street. It will appeal to… well… it will appeal to your current clientele. Although of course, if it kicks off, then foreign tourist money will surely keep it going, especially while the ANC keeps the exchange rate at such a favourable level.

But why are you asking us to pay for it?

Crowdfunding is fine. But it’s really aimed at startups, charities, individuals or businesses that have no money and no other means of getting any. It’s not for established, profitable companies. I mean, I don’t think there are rules, and so of course you can ask. And you have. But why should the general public choose to fund your next money-making scheme? Haven’t you heard of banks? Corporate loans?

And what’s in it for us? Well, there are various rewards for your money, but give Truth Coffee R300 and they will give you 30 minutes in their new Brew Bar, watching Truth owner and much-vaunted business guru David Donde (who apparently can’t afford to fund his own new money-making ideas) (although maybe that’s why he has so much money) making you a cup of coffee.

Or, (and could we have this in bold please? We can? Great!), or your R300 could buy a bed for FIVE homeless people for FIVE nights at The Haven Night Shelter in Cape Town (by clicking here).

It’s your money and you can do whatever you like with it. I’m just saying that there might be other, better, things to spend it on.
And if you want to go along and enjoy this new physics-defying Brew Bar once it’s open (assuming we’re still here), then all power to you. Go. Enjoy.

But paying for it to be built so that an already hugely successful business can make more money on the back of it? Are you nuts?

For the record, 6000 miles from civilisation… has no ties with any other coffee store. We just think this is a really crap way to try and use your cult. 
No bitterness intended. (No sugar required.)