The Lowdown

Just a quick update on the news from ballacorkish.net and from South Africa.


Let’s get the dull bit over first.
Great news! My new RSS feed is up and running. This one is via Feedburner, so it should be universally acceptable. To subscribe, just click this little icon: Click me for updates! and we’ll tell you each time the site is updated.
It really couldn’t be simpler. (Unless of course the icon clicked itself.)

I’ve also spent a lot of time streamlining the page, so it should load more quickly than before and it’s also properly coded for the first time in years. The other pages on the site (pictures, Nix’s page and Alex’s page) will be returning soon. We’ll let you know.Meanwhile, in South Africa, it’s summer. You can tell this by just looking at the beautiful weather during this football match in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. You know that I don’t put YouTube clips on here unless they’re really worth it. Don’t miss this – it’s amazing. Finally, the most unjust criticism of the new Faithless album To All New Arrivals, which I think is just lovely, came from my wife, who I think is just lovely too. She described it as:

“Good, but a bit Faithlessy.”

Proof, if any were needed, that you really can’t win when it comes to women.

Worshipping at the altar of Ben

I’ve made a start on Ben Trovato’s latest compilation, Hits and Missives. Of course, it’s typically brilliant.
Interestingly, if you want the book, I’ve just noticed that according to that link, shopping with Exclusive Books “is 100% safe”.
Bit of a bold statement, isn’t it? One wonders exactly what that covers…?
Credit card fraud? Probably.
Loss of product during delivery? Probably.
Being gunned down by armed robbers who burst into your home while you were deciding between the latest Jeffrey Archer and Hannibal Rising? Perhaps not.
A little clarification wouldn’t go amiss.

Anyway, I digress. Often.
I enjoy Trovato’s no nonsense approach to topics and his irreverent sense of humour. Take the subject of his latest column in the Cape Times for Valentine’s week: wife beating.

Entry-level wife-beaters need to remember that spousal abuse is no longer the brutal sport it was when our parents were young. The application of minimal force through the use of smart slaps has become the feng shui of home-based violence.
The Japanese even have a name for it – they call it karate, the way of the empty hand – although they practice something else when it comes to killing whales.

Of course, ballacorkish.net would like to point out that any form of violence against women is entirely unjustifiable. Unless they really asked for it. (This category would include talking during the football or not having a suitably chilled beer ready for you upon your arrival home from work.)* But whatever your views on this tricky subject, I strongly suggest that you make time and effort to read more of Ben Trovato’s work. The man is clearly a genius.

The other things that was going to go into this post were the first photos of the work that began late last year on the Green Point Stadium for the 2010 World Cup.
However, they’re not in here because precisely bugger all has happened yet.
Maybe next time… (Ja right…)

* Yes, I’m joking…

Have you seen Peter?

Peter is one of those local urban bergies that were mentioned in my previous post. He’s not actually a true bergie as he doesn’t drink. He appears to do very little in Cape Town, but without an alcohol habit, he’d be completely at a loss in Arniston.
I see Peter most lunchtimes sitting on the corner of Portswood and Beach Roads in the shade (or shelter) of the hospital wall. Since late October, if I’ve seen him on the way to buy my lunch, I’ve always bought some fruit or bread to give him on the way back. He’s always genuinely grateful and always thanks me.
One day, just before Christmas, I introduced myself and asked him his name. With hindsight, this was a bit of a foolish move and could have proved fatal for Peter. It came as a bit of a shock to him – I don’t think anyone had ever actually spoken to him before.
And remember: One should never shock a homeless person – very few of them have medical aid.

Anyway, to cut a long and rambling story somewhat shorter, Peter has disappeared. Last week he was there, this week he was not.
I don’t know if he’s moved on, been moved on or what. I guess there’s not a lot I can do – it’s not like I can put “missing” posters up on the local lampposts – “Have you seen my homeless person?”

Peter, if you’re out there reading this (pretty unlikely, I know) then I hope you’re ok.
I also want to know where you got the money for internet access, which is notoriously expensive in SA.
I’d like to think that I didn’t make you ill. If you were allergic to apples, you should have said earlier.

I just hope that wherever you are now is somewhere better than leaning against your hospital wall.

Getting away from it all

So there goes another New Year’s resolution: “I will update the site at least once a week”, indeed! Put that with the “cut down on beer” and “watch England win a cricket match”.

Actually, I do have a very good excuse. We chose to head off out of the big city and find a small village. Preferably one with some sea close by. Arniston* seemed to fit the bill quite neatly and within 3 hours of leaving the metropolis, heading over Sir Lowry’s Pass and winding through the patchwork of fields of the Southern Cape, we were there.

I’d love to fill you in with tales of dramatic, action-filled days, but that wasn’t what we were there for. And so it was up early, hit the beach and swim in the lovely warm Indian Ocean, a spot of body-boarding perhaps and then back to the cottage through the hottest part of the day. Copious beer (me), wine (Nix) and milk (Alex, obviously) was consumed and then it was back to the beach to enjoy the evening before braai’ing each night til late.

Entertainment was provided by the local fishermen, who moored up on the Wednesday afternoon soon after we arrived and then proceeded to drink the rest of the sunny days away slumped outside the local bottle store just down the road, chatting and laughing.
Some readers would take pity on them and see that as a wasted existence, using up what meagre money they have on quarts of Black Label and Milk Stout, but fair play to them, I say. It seemed to me like they were having a pretty good time compared with our local urban dronkies and they all went home by 6pm, probably to be chastised by their wives. Which is probably why they came back the next day.

But all too soon, after a quick trip down to Cape L’Agulhas, it was time to bid farewell to Arniston and head back to reality. Fortunately, you and I can both relive those heady days via the Arniston set on my flickr.

That’ll be all for now then. Tell your friends to come visit. Leave comments. Oh, and help yourself to my
RSS feed on your way out.

* Arniston should not be confused with Aniston. We did not spend a few days chilling out with Brad Pitt’s ex, ok?

Braaiwood and Boogie’ing

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 institiution – 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.

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 beacuse we went to see The Parlotones at Kirstenbosch on Sunday evening to round off our weekend. They were simply awesome. 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.