On how life is right now…

So ends another mammoth gap in the annals of 6000 miles…. It’s really been a question of time and inclination. I’ve had both, but never at the same moment. I’m not about to disappoint my readership (or what’s left of it) with disappointingly poor social commentary, tired jokes and space fillers.

Neither of you would appreciate that.

Anyway: Yes, as widely predicted on this website, South Africa were humbled by Australia in the cricket, but that’s all well behind us now. New national pride is being sought through the Super 14 rugby and the progression of two South African teams through to the semi finals of that competition. I was fortunate enough to be at Newlands for the match between the Stormers and the Sharks last Saturday and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The canap├ęs were delightful and the spring rolls a joy. Also, there was free beer. We watched some of the rugby too, which was OK.

My dear little son has turned one year old. No-one is more surprised than us that he’s made it this far with our previous parenting experience; i.e. none. I guess it just goes to show how resilient the little fellow is. I will, of course, have some birthday photos up on the 6000 miles flickr site in the very near future. I’m in trouble at home for not having uploaded them already, which I guess is fair enough.

In addition to Alex’s birthday, my wife and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary (do the anniversary/birthday maths – it’s all completely legal), which came as shock to no-one – we were always meant to be.

But while there have been some variable sporting results and impressive bar snacks, baby’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries and partially-justifiable husband chastising, one thing is overshadowing my life at the moment. Sit, dear reader, for this is a biggie. This may foretell of a catastrophe of epic proportions.
My iPod has developed a rattle. This is, undeniably, a “bad thing”.
It is widely accepted that iPods should not rattle.

So far, there has been no further problem with the device, but I fear that it is only a matter of time.
And while it may be a couple of years old and well-used, I would hate to be prevented from enjoying the great sounds of Favourite Worst Nightmare by the Arctic Monkeys and Peace Breaker by the interestingly named local band, Springbok Nude Girls, (careful with the title of the page on that one if you’re at work), both of which I would highly recommend.

I showed my wife the iPod. I explained my concerns and then, with all else quiet, I shook it and demonstrated its terrifying death rattle. I explained that I would need a new, improved 60GB model with funky colour screen.
She seemed unimpressed.
“That’s easy to sort out,” she told me, lifting my forlorn hopes, “Don’t shake it.”

Readers, sometimes there is just no arguing with female logic.

Cricket and this country

The Cricket World Cup is on at the moment. Anyone reading in countries that don’t play cricket (Denmark, USA, England etc.) may have missed this fact, but here in South Africa, no-one will talk about anything but “that match” tomorrow. “That match” is the eagerly awaited semi-final between everyone’s long-standing tournament favourites, Australia and South Africa’s tournament favourites… er… South Africa.

The rivalry in this particular game has been upped somewhat by South Africa’s audacious snatching of the world number one spot from the Aussies just before the tournament started (although they have since relented and given it back by losing to… er… Australia). That and the still-fresh memories of the “greatest game ever” in Jo’burg in 2006, when Australia smashed 434 – a new world record score – only for South Africa to come out (not like that) (well, maybe Andre Nel) and score 438; beating them with one wicket and 1 ball remaining. That’s gotta hurt.

It’s difficult to desribe the hype surrounding the game here, which even the most hardened South African fans are admitting Australia should win. Think of England in the (Football) World Cup final or the USA actually winning the war in Iraq.
There are South African flags everywhere – some of them even being flown the correct way up*. The back page of the local newspaper was filled entirely with SMS’s of support for the team, which they’ll never read as they’re playing cricket over in the Caribbean. My football team is annoyed to have to be taking time out from the big game to play some poxy soccer match. Strange behaviour indeed.

This, of course is a far cry from the dark old days of South African cricket. Back then, when a stuttering South Africa side lost by 67 runs to minnows Bangladesh, things were very different. In those days, newspapers slated the team’s terrible performance, radio DJ’s declared themselves “ashamed to be South African” and the locals wanted the head of the captain, the coach and the selectors removed and publicly displayed next the the Ben Schoeman highway in Gauteng.

What a difference two weeks can make, huh?

* That’s with the blue at the bottom, in case you’re struggling.

How to win friends and influence people

You may recall me mentioning my being interviewed by a journalist. That article has now been published (I made Page 7, just next to the advert for Harris’ Patented Haemorrhoid Preparation), although it’s sadly not available online anywhere just yet.
One of the comments on my last post was from June who read the article in Emigrate SA and asks if I can direct her to Expat clubs and societies in Cape Town.
This request – as well-meaning as I’m sure it is – opens up a huge can of worms.

I certainly did mention that there are a lot of Brits out here – there are. What I didn’t say was that I spent a lot of time with them – I don’t. I’m well aware that June’s situation is probably different from mine, but for me, it was rather refreshing (although certainly difficult at the same time) to get away from the British way of life and to give new things a try. (Of course I couldn’t have managed without this place!)
I recognise that’s not the way everyone wants to go, though. I actually don’t know of any specific British Expat societies in Cape Town – perhaps my readership can help me out here?
It’s always a good plan to try and meet some locals – however, that brings up another notorious obstacle: The Cape Town Clique.
I know that cliques exist everywhere, in every city all over the world, but that’s a girlie thing – it’s genetic, I swear. Here though, it also goes for the blokes as well. Yikes. I’ve never quite worked it out, but I guess that it’s got a lot to do with the way the populations were kept apart during Apartheid. This created a bit of a white enclave in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town and that small-town mentality has never really gone away. It’s all about what school you went to, where you play golf and who you know from “Varsity”. And we all know that most guys are pretty backward at coming forward when meeting other guys , which just exacerbates the problem. Before we go any further and I alienate all those friends I have made (heaven forbid that I should upset [name] again *grin*), let me tell you guys that you are obviously the exception that proves the rule. That said, I have had to pretend to have gone to one of eight different schools, depending on who I’m out with that night.

The point I’m trying to make is that you do have to work very hard to make new friends in Cape Town. And for me, that’s even more reason to make the effort to break the barriers and not stick to “your own kind”. After all, that’s what caused this problem in the first place, right?

In other news, I love medical science (although as a career choice, it could pay more, please).
Great news from friends on IVF yesterday (go guys!) and very promising signs from this little fellow too.

We’re holding thumbs for you both.

Crikey! I’m back!

So what happened?
Well, that’s the confusing thing really – nothing. Life just raced past and I never found a moment to update. I’ve been gone so long that they’ve started work on the ARS and Alex has started walking.
Sorry, regular readers: you must both have been at a complete loss for entertainment and information.

First things first: it appears that my March 12th post was taken rather too seriously by some people. Please remember that the views on 6000 miles… don’t necessarily reflect those of anyone. Including the author. You’ll be suitably informed of any post on here that you are expected to take seriously.
In fact, in order to prove that I love attending kids’ birthday parties, I’m going to be going to a kid’s birthday party this weekend and another next weekend. Thanks [name].

One weekend that was devoid of birthday parties was the one we spent at Caronne and Haydn’s place in Simonstown. I’ve finally got around to uploading the pictures from a really cool break.

For those readers who don’t know about Simonstown, it is famed for its colony of wild African Penguins. Alex had never seen a penguin before – he was fascinated. In fact, he loved them so much that we took a couple home for him to play with. Just don’t tell the Table Mountain National Park authorities, please – they just don’t want to understand.

We’re thinking of taking them back anyway. It’s costing us a fortune in fish and the pool is getting cloudy from all their excrement. Also, the neighbours have begun complaining about the smell and to be honest, I don’t blame them.
I thought the damn things would double up as some sort of intruder deterrent, but all they seem to do is swim, eat and crap everywhere. Talking of which – thanks to Ant for the heads-up on this (coincidentally, I’d just read about it in one of those “pointless facts” books I’m so addicted to). Figure 1 is particularly special and definitely worth a look. Genius.

That said, it does make one wonder why some seemingly more important scientific projects looking into HIV, malaria and TB struggle for funding while Prof Meyer-Rochow is looking into the rectal pressure of the Chinstrap Penguin.

Apparently:

Anyone who has then watched a penguin fire a “shot” from its rear end must have wondered about the pressure it generates.

Yeah right, Prof. Try investigating that on Boulders Beach and you’d be in a lot of trouble. Molesting a penguin carries a pretty heavy sentence here in SA. Right – I’m off – for the moment.

 

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I think he blew it

The thing with unwritten rules is that you can never go back and say to someone:
“Look – it says right here you shouldn’t have done that.”
I always thought that was because unwritten rules were so obvious that no-one would break them and there would be no need for any chastising or clarification (Darwin Awards nominees aside, obviously):
Don’t poke that tiger. Don’t touch that wire. Don’t chew on that razor blade.
Let’s be honest, it’s pretty straightforward stuff. But ignoring unwritten rules can result in consequences far worse than the traumatic amputation of your arm, a nasty electric shock or bleeding gums. Yes, really.

Take kids’ birthday parties as an example: An opportunity for a few mothers to get together and have a chat and a glass of wine, while the toddlers play happily with each other, eat sand and generally have a good time. Everyone wins. Especially since while the cat is away, the mice will play. And this proverbial mouse takes the opportunity to play FIFA 07 without fear of interruption from anyone asking you to make them a cup of tea and mow the lawn or anyone (slightly smaller) tugging the power cable out of the back of the PS2 and eating it. It’s a near perfect situation.
Or at least, it was until the Saturday just past.

That’s when someone tinkered with the system. Upset the equilibrium. Broke the unwritten rule.

It would be wrong of me to name and shame the person in question. He knows who he is. What he doesn’t realise, perhaps, is that with his attendance of a kids birthday party on Saturday morning, he has opened the floodgates. With him turning up, suddenly the rest of us have no excuse to avoid forthcoming events of this nature.
My wife was hardly through the door, a filthy but happy Alex in her arms, when she piped up, “[name] was there too – you should come along to the next one!”
At first I thought it was a bluff: no-one would be guilty of such folly – especially [name] – would they?
Sadly, my hopes were dashed – apparently [name] was indeed there and won admiration and brownie points deluxe from the assembled mothers at the party. Good work, sir.

The question is, will that reward be worth it when he meets all the fathers at the next one…?