Yes, it’s different here

“Proper Christmas” just doesn’t work in South Africa. I tried to point this fact out in the article I wrote for the December issue of Emigrate2 magazine. There are plenty of reasons for this, but here’s the biggie: it’s the middle of bloody summer.

So: no chance of snow, it’s hot, it’s light, it’s bright and therefore it’s about as festive as genital herpes. (Obviously, I didn’t put that analogy in the emigrate2 thing: it’s a classy publication, not like this dross.)

Chicken. Safe and traditional.   Pwawns in garlic butter - adventurous

Hence, at Christmas in SA, you get to take pictures of regular readers of 6000 miles… (both of you) slaving over hot braais. Christmas parties take place around swimming pools rather than around roaring log fires; mulled wine is entirely inappropriate and replaced by cold beers (in evidence in both those pics above – you can tell those guys are experts) and you head for the beach instead of watching the James Bond film* on Boxing Day morning.

 Pool party   Building

All well and good, but not ever so atmospheric. Not in a “Proper Christmassy” way, anyway. So if you want to enjoy Christmas here, it’s very much a case of adapting to local conditions and not trying to make it like a Christmas back home. Embrace the change, enjoy the differences. It’s taken me a while, but this has been by far my best Christmas over here, simply because I’ve finally given up trying to fight the system**.

I have a friend who moved over here 2 months ago and who came for breakfast at Chez 6000 on Christmas Day. Seeing her looking so homesick brought back a lot of memories for me. Moving countries is a brave thing to do at any time, but I think that this time of year is definitely the toughest if you’ve done a UK to SA move. I know a lot of expats read this blog and if you’re finding it difficult, my advice to you is just to hang in there. It does get easier. And while you might be desperate for a cold and dark Christmas, try sms’ing your friends and family back in the UK from the beach. Mention the soft white sand and the gentle rolling waves. Hint at the soft, warm breeze that’s blowing and the sun beating down on your bikini-clad body***. Then ask them where they’d rather be right now.

Be prepared for some coarse language when they reply though.

(More Christmas pics are available for fans and family on the 6000 flickr page.)

* “Never say we’ve never seen this one before”.
**  OK, watching 0.6 open his presents probably helped a bit too.
*** Probably best to leave this bit out if you’re a bloke.

 

New dawn for SA?

As the morning mist cleared over the city of Cape Town this morning, slowly giving way to the African heat, I was driving into work, listening to soundbites of Jacob Zuma’s inaugural address as ANC President yesterday and thinking that the whole mist thing would make a really cheesy start to this “new dawn” post.

Suddenly, it seems that now the public have heard JZ speak about his thoughts and plans for the ANC party (and therefore theoretically for the country), rather than the media’s somewhat one-sided interpretations of the man, they actually quite like him. Certainly, that was the impression of many (mainly white) callers who got in touch with the radio station this morning, expressing their shock that he had some good ideas, some supportable policies and wasn’t intending to kill off all the white people by 2010*.

There were some on the BBC website (as there always are), however, that continued with my favourite “We’re going to be another Zimbabwe theme”. Specifically logicman from Stevenage:

It all depends on what the people of South Africa want? If Jacob Zuma gets into power the country will go the same way that Zimbabwe has. Do they want that? If he takes control then he will probably jail, or murder, all those who oppose him.

Yes. Jail or murder. Probably.

Of course, Stevenage isn’t in South Africa, so logicman fortunately doesn’t get a say in things. He’s still wondering where the World Cup 2010 is going to be, since he knows that the whities won’t allow “that dark sport” into their beloved South Africa.

There is of course, one spanner in the works. The corruption charges against JZ which seem set to lead to a court case sometime in 2008. While all the evidence (as helpfully provided by that balanced media I mentioned earlier) points to his absolute guilt, JZ still protests his innocence and welcomes the opportunity to have his day in court to prove it.

All in all, despite the doom and gloom merchants continuing to be doomy and gloomy – mostly from lands far, far away from here – there are others who this week have seen a new side to Zuma and are cautiously optimistic about moving on from an Mbeki-led ANC to a ruling party run by a charismatic, “people’s person” with radically different ideas on big issues like crime and HIV.

Only time will tell of course, but is this a new dawn for SA? Well, the mood seems generally positive. The booming economy and those who run it are happy that JZ seems to have adopted a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach; the whities are very glad that he used the words “crime” and “zero tolerance” in the same breath, while those at the other end of the scale are encouraged with his plans for land redistribution, poverty alleviation and aggressive approach towards the HIV/AIDS problem.

So – new dawn out of the way and I think it’s time for breakfast. Thabo on toast, anyone?

* Well, he didn’t say he would, anyway…

Wellington. 6050 miles from civilisation…

Believe me. That 50 miles makes a hell of a difference. We popped out to Wellington – more specifically to Diemersfontein – for a wedding this weekend. What an interesting experience.

Maybe it didn’t help that it was raining, but Wellington is nowhere near as pretty as some of the other towns in the Winelands. It also doesn’t seem anywhere near as geared up for visitors. Aside from the KFC and Wimpy (God help us!), we managed to find just one restaurant (D’Olive, if you feel the need) open for that most unusual of mealtimes… er… Sunday lunch. (It was bloody good though.)

In addition, maybe it didn’t help that we had booked into the bewilderingly named La Rochelle B&B, run by a lady who spoke only a smattering of English – Afrikaans being die taal of choice in the Winelands. The name wasn’t the end of the French connection, however; the olde worlde charm of the place included an olde worlde mattress with a depression so great in the middle of it that the Frenchies would have build a damn great viaduct from one side to the other and raised goats in the valley below.  Still, several beers and a bottle or more of the wonderful Pinotage at the reception probably assisted with my getting a decent night’s sleep – and also probably explains the utterly bizarre dreams about treading grapes with gold-shoed Croatian ladies.  

In a final cruel twist of the La Rochelle knife, the “B&B” turned out to be just “B”. 9am, mildly hungover and pretty much exhausted from freeclimbing my way up the side of my mattress to get out of bed really wasn’t the best time to find this out.

“The price you pay are not including the breakfast. There is a good place in town to eat, but I think that they is not open for breakfast.”

Looking back, the wedding was wonderful, I would heartily recommend the Diemersfontein Pinotage – “I’m getting chocolate, I’m getting coffee, I’m getting quite drunk” – and Wellington is another town to cross off my SA list. Whether it will be one I revisit remains to be seen…

Return of the Mac

Remember Guy MacLeod of Plumstead? Of course you do. He was the guy that wrote to the local paper comparing Jacob Zuma with Princess Di. I did take the mickey a bit, but in one way (most especially the comparison that he made, rather than the ones I suggested), Guy was right. They both appeal to the public (known locally as the masses) and it makes them both very popular figures with every chance of taking on the ANC Presidency and presumably therefore being President of South Africa in 2009.

Well, JZ anyway – Di is dead like Elvis.

If you read the post, you’ll see that Guy dragged me out of a period of not writing. Perhaps I did the same to him. After he commented on my infamous Big South African Crime Post, he appears to have been inspired. Another letter to the Argus and it appears that Guy thinks that criminals have had their day!

Imagine if anyone (including a burglar or hijacker) placed his/her hand on a “technologically treated” door handle on which you have a chemical/electrical imprint indiscernibly placed but which lasts for days or weeks and is satellite-trackable? Criminals will be unable to hide!

This isn’t actually so far away, I guess. We already have datadot which is the vehicular equivalent and which seems to be having an effect, despite not really catching on just yet. But hang on. There’s more…

Better still is the next generation development where an individual’s criminal thoughts can be identified by a remote control “intelligence base” – well before the criminal act is implemented, so that counter measures can be taken.

Hmm. These “counter measures” worry me. I hope they’re not monitoring what I’m thinking right now… But wait, there’s… even more!

And a later development that enables the central intelligence base, at the touch of a button, to trigger an instantly disabling electrical charge that also also serves as an effective remote-controlled punishment for premeditated serious crime.

Argh. Mnnurgh Mnuff.

Mnnnnnnn. Mn.

Sorry – I’m back. Not sure what happened there. Or how I ended up twisted on the floor like John Travola gone wrong. It also appears that I have a slight nosebleed.

Sadly, I think these wonderful ideas from the realms of Fortress and Demolition Man (both of which were on the TV last night – hmm) are about as fanciful as Superman coming to save the earth next Tuesday (Monday is a public holiday) or me getting this blog sorted out by February.

February 2009.

Meanwhile, according to K Dawson (also of Plumstead) there are more pressing matters to be attended to. “K” – if that is its real name – has noticed at the turnstiles at Cape Town Station:

… you are met by only two people manning two turnstiles at rush-hour, with a no-care attitude. And I have noticed that people of a certain race are left to go through without their tickets being verified properly.

Well K, if they singled you out for being white(?) then it sounds like they are at least paying some attention. But well done for getting this out in the open now. 50 years down the line, you’d be writhing on your carpet just for thinking about writing something like that.

The doctor will see you now…

Here’s the post that I was going to put onto 6000 miles last night, but couldn’t.
Ha – you’d thought you’d escaped, didn’t you?

No. No-one escapes the long arm of Doctor Perez…

In the letter box this morning…

Dr Perez will help you out

Dr Perez – He can do magic. (click for bigger)

May I draw your attention in particular to three unfortunate claims:

Need to take long in action (24 hr results)
It was long ago that I last claimed to understand the female mind. It’s a foolish thing for a male of the opposite sex to try and comprehend or predict. But even I feel confident in suggesting that 24 hours “action” might be a little too lengthy for most ladies. In a single stint anyway.
Presumably, if one were to actually attempt such a feat, one would have to plan in advance and have food and drink readily to hand (I’d avoid garlic). A completed sponsor form for an abused women’s charity would probably also be appropriate. And you’d have to set the video to avoid missing your favourite shows. In addition, from a male perspective, try to plan the session over a Thursday evening when there’s unlikely to be any decent footy on.

Also:

Women who can not produce Female discharge
I’m gathering that the good doctor is actually claiming to cure two separate ailments here – infertility and well… female discharge. But could he not have separated them a little better? It’s just confusing.

And:

Need to control your speed of reaching orgasm premature (24 hr doze results)Yes. Nodding off for an entire day will almost certainly delay orgasm. Anyway – there’s a “100% refund if it fails”, so why not give him a call and see if he can help you with your problems? The International Dialling Code for South Africa is +27. And drop the first zero. Let me know how you get on. (And if you’re able to get back off again afterwards)…