Never a cross word

Previously, at least.
I have a friend who – because he requires a “creative outlet” – devises crossword puzzles. You may have seen some of his work on the back of the Funny Money pamphlet you bought at the robots.

Apparently, there is a dearth of cryptic crossword puzzles with a South African slant, and he aims to do something about that, while keeping up with the more regular non-SA themed stuff as well.

My readership is pretty bright.
He wants an outlet for his creative outlet.
Someone out there is desperately searching for SA-flavoured cryptic crosswords.

[light bulb moment] So – why not have a monthly crossword on 6000 miles…?
Spoiler: There’s no reason – so let’s play.
[teething problems: if you can’t see a crossword just below this, please click here and you should see this post with a crossword]

 

Incidentally, I’m no good at crosswords. I mean, the

Frozen water (3 letters)

ones, I’m ok with. But this stuff is a bit beyond me.

Apparently, I just need to get my head around the terminology, so with that in mind, here’s a helpful Summary Guide to Cryptic Crosswords for us all to learn together. For the record, I managed to work out a few of the clues above without looking at this guide, so I think it might be an easy one.

It’s going to be just for fun to begin with: hence the buttons there to help you out if you get stuck. But if I get some positive feedback, maybe we’ll look at other options for the future. Let me know.

Summer Officially Opened

We love summer here in Cape Town. Perhaps less so this time around because we’re so very dessicated, but there will still be some people who will be over the moon at this news.

Summer is officially opened by insects: the Christmas Beetle (not actually a beetle, but never mind that) and the bastard mosquitoes.

We saw our first Christmas Beetle this weekend, which is always a sign that summer is just around the corner. Clumsy, noisy fliers, they are hated by gardeners and beagles. Apparently, they are related to cockchafers.

And then the dear mozzie, which is definitely one of my favourite things about living in SA. It’s not that we don’t get mosquitoes in the UK, it’s just that we don’t get 117 of them in each room, each night. I got devoured while I was in bed last night (by a mosquito, not a cockchafer) (thank heaven for small mercies).

The way I’m itching today means that summer has very definitely arrived in Cape Town.

House prices

This is not a comment on the crazy prices for property in Cape Town. Even with ‘semigration’, the Mountain, those beaches, dem winelands and the fact that it’s not in Gauteng, those property prices in Cape Town are crazy.

But, like I said, that’s not what this post is about.

This is a post about me wondering how the people who come up with those house prices, come up with those house prices. And here’s the property that prompted it, sent to me earlier this morning.

Now, before we go any further, I know that once this house is sold, it will disappear from the internet. So here’s a screenshot, in case you’re reading this in 2022 or something.

Again, I’m not commenting on whether the price quoted makes this a great deal or a complete rip-off. How much do you charge for interior features like “House Levels”, anyway?

No. I’m commenting on the selling price.

How did they arrive at that figure? (It’s about $235,000 or £178,000 for you uitlanders, by the way.)

It’s basically got to be a disagreement between the houseowner and the agent, hasn’t it?

The estate agent felt that R3,250,000 would be a reasonable place to start, only to be told by an indignant owner that they wanted it on the market for R3,400,000 “and not a penny less!”.

How would that conversation have panned out? Well, the estate agent will have surely have pushed back…

“But no-one will look at it if we put it on at R3,400,000. It’s too high. Believe me, I’m an expert in this property market.”

“No-one will look at it?!?! It’s got 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a kitchenette which could easily be converted to a full kitchen on the lower level and a well appointed kitchen and scullery on the upper level. That’s 1½ kitchens, mate. One. And. A. Half. Kitchens. R3,400,000.”

“Hmm. The kitchen thing is good, yes. How about R3,300,000 then?”

“OK. I’ll meet you halfway. R3,350,000. Not a penny less!”

“Well, a lot of people on our website actually search for properties which are less than R3,333,333, because they simply can’t be arsed to move their finger from the 3 key once it’s there. Marketed at R3,350,000, your property won’t be in those searches. And fewer views means less chance of selling. How about R3,325,000?”

“How about R3,330,000?”

“How about R3,327,500?”

“Well… OK then. But it’d better sell quickly.”

“I’m sure it will, it’s a great property.”

“R3,328,000.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

 

I don’t want to buy this house. It’s ugly and it has too much kitchen space.
And it’s got a weird price tag.

David’s Water Crisis Facts

Mythbusting. It’s a thing. Two middle-aged gentlemen in San Francisco famously made a living out of it. So step forward then David W. Olivier, who – right from the get go – is anxious for us to know that he:

does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

That article being this one, in which he rejects our reality and substitutes his own:

David has gone out on a bit of a limb here by using facts and relevant information to make his case. An approach that the Facebook hordes are unlikely to recognise. And if you read it through rather cynical eyes, it does appear as a bit of a City of Cape Town puff piece, but then you realise that maybe, just maybe, they have also been using facts and relevant information when informing us about the water crisis.

Wow.

David hits us with truth bombs about the much alleged lack of preparedness:

Climate trends over the past 40 years gave no indication of the drought’s timing, intensity or duration. In fact, dams were overflowing in winter 2014. The weather forecasts gave no indication that the 2015 drought would continue over another year. A study by the University of Cape Town came out a few weeks ago, saying that the odds of the drought carrying over again into 2017 were less than one in one thousand.

He then goes in for a combination attack detailing the myths of lack of enforcement and water being lost to leaks, before a killer blow on the “why didn’t we build a big desalination plant?” debate:

A desalination plant large enough to accommodate Cape Town’s needs (450 megalitres per day) would cost 15 billion rand to build and then millions more to maintain.
There is a chance that by the time such a plant is built, the drought would be over. The city would be left with a very expensive white elephant.

And then, after a page or two of cold, hard realities, a single paragraph of reasoned opinion.

Blame shifting, fault finding and panic are usual reactions to water crises all over the world. Some anxiety is good, as it motivates water saving, but blame shifting actually pushes responsibility away, and causes water wastage. The best attitude Cape Town’s people can adopt is for every person to do their best, together. The world is watching, let’s set them an example to follow.

How dare you, David? How very dare you?

Of course, as a Cape Town resident, you might feel that sharing this sort of thing might move some of the responsibility away from the city and onto your shoulders. And, if I may be so bold, that’s probably one very good reason that these myths have conveniently gone unchallenged and been perpetuated on social media, around braais, and on social media around braais.

Why not lead the way by breaking the cycle and when one of these Seven Deadly Myths [Really? – Ed.] gets quoted in your presence, give them a friendly nudge or punch in the face and tell them the truth?

It’s ever so liberating.

Turgid Sausage

Careful now.

On the weekend, I bought some flat plastic tubing from local DIY Superstore Builders Whorehouse (Thanks, H). It cost at R18 a metre. That did seem a bit steep, but Builders isn’t exactly known for its great value.

I attached the flat plastic tubing to the bottom of various drainpipes around the house and positioned the other ends into the garden or the pool.

And, thanks to last night’s brief, thundery downpour, I was rewarded with several (or more) litres of fresh rainwater in a turgid sausage.

All of that (and the contents of the other sausages) would have been lost down the drain. But because of this somewhat serpentine intervention, we’ll now be able to use the pool for an extra 9 minutes this summer.

Awesome.