Does every country have a London?

Not an actual London, of course. I mean – maybe they do… There’s a Little London on the Isle of Man, there’s East London in South Africa, there’s a London Island in…. Chile? I think…?
I’ll have to look that one up.

[later: looked it up, yes – close to the Western end of the Beagle Channel.]

But I’m not referring to lazy colonial nomenclature. I mean the essence of London. For many people, that means excitement, bright lights, a cosmopolitan lifestyle and world-famous landmarks.

After all:

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.

I love London. But in small doses.
Could I live there? No.

Oxford seemed a good compromise. All that London razzmatazz was just an hour away, but equally also a world away. Much like someone else’s cute but irritating toddler, it was nice to be able to play politely for a while, then hand it back over, make one’s excuses, and leave.

[Gets out broad brush]
London is a deeply impersonal, insular place. Gone are the days of the friendly cockney market traders. They’ve been replaced by soulless automatons, looking out only for number one. Maybe I shouldn’t blame them – maybe it’s the city that has shaped the people who have then shaped the city. A vicious Circle Line.

Alan Partridge gets it:

Go to London! I guarantee you’ll either be mugged or not appreciated.
Catch the train to London, stopping at Rejection, Disappointment, Backstabbing Central and Shattered Dreams Parkway.

Of course, it might just be me. Square peg, round hole and all that.

But no. London is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.

All of which leads me back to the question in the title of the post. And ‘m pretty sure that everyone in SA will agree that out local London is right here under Table Mountain.

Cape Town isn’t exactly London… squeezed between the mountain and the ocean, the geography and its Apartheid history dictate its society.

But can it compare? Sure it can.

Because yes. Cape Town is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.

In saying this, I’m not suggesting that I don’t belong here. At least, I feel that I belong here as much as anywhere else I’ve ever lived.
I’m also not trying to criticise the city for being the way it is. Cities evolve, and as individual residents we have very little control over what direction that evolution takes. But I do find it interesting that if you were asked to single out a city in either of the countries in which I have lived that fitted this description, you wouldn’t hesitate to name London and Cape Town.

Not Birmingham or Johannesburg. Or Manchester and Durban. Or Leicester and Bloemfont-look I think you get my point.

So – is there a London (or a Cape Town) in your country? Or, if you’re in the UK or SA, do you agree with what I wrote above?

Draft night update

Last night was a lot of fun. Bit of a depressing drive home, if I’m honest, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Reality is a bummer, hey?

I ended up with some players from top clubs like Spurs, Liverpool, Man City, and a few from the also-rans like ManU, Chelsea and Arsenal.

My cosmopolitan team features some top names from three continents, and is ready to lose play its first match this weekend.

There was actually more interest in this than I thought (basically one person sent an email), so here’s the starting squad for the Regal Beagles on Fantrax.

Shotstoppers:
Hugo Lloris
Fabri

Big D:
Serge Aurier
Leighton Baines
Stephan Lichtensteiner
Ashley Young
Danilo

Midfield Maestros:
David Brooks
Fabinho
Jorginho
Riyad Mahrez
Jack Wilshere
Pedro

Up Top:
Laurent Depoitre
Firmino
Kelechi Iheanacho

On paper, I think it looks like a pretty decent team.
Sadly though, I’ve just been informed that most of the games this season will be played on grass, not paper.

I still have high hopes ready to be dashed.

Waves

“You’ve Never Seen Waves Like This Before” proclaimed the title of the WIRED article.

See?

And it goes on to detail some of the photography of Rachael Talibart, who:

…remains both frightened and fascinated by the sea, a tension she explores in her new series, Sirens, which was recently shortlisted for a Sony World Photography Award and will go on exhibition at the Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts in September.

Here are a couple of examples.

Wonderful. So much power and energy.

Thanks to an extra high tide, a strong wind, and a sun that kept breaking through the clouds, the waves were large and crashing—and perfectly lit. Lying on her back, her feet to the ocean, Talibart used telescopic lenses and an ultra-fast 1,000 frames/second shutter speed to capture the towers and troughs of foam-flecked seawater.

Umm. An “ultra-fast 1,000 frames/second shutter speed”?

So, a 1/1000 exposure then? Woo! Speedy! [/sarcasm]

But fair play: the results are incredible.

Bring on the next Cape storm and look out for me lying on Sea Point Prom.

And Nothing Ever Happens

…nothing happens at all.
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before
And we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow.

Driving home from town the other night from town I found myself sitting at a red robot* while precisely no vehicles went the other way.

And it reminded me of Del Amitri’s 1989 single Nothing Ever Happens, which includes the line:

Now the traffic lights change to stop, when there’s nothing to go

Not 100% accurate, in that my issue was that the traffic lights had turned to stop when there was something to go: me. More like the traffic lights had turned to go, when there was nothing to stop. Which is equally irritating.

We can put a robot onto the surface of Mars (and not get it stuck at traffic signals), but we can’t have traffic lights that are able to see if they actually need to allow no cars to flow freely across junctions.

Anyway, that got me thinking of all the other lines in that song.
There are several.

As an observational piece about modern, urban society, it’s pretty accurate.
And pretty damning.
And pretty depressing.

What did intrigue me was that although this song is now basically 30 years old (eina!) – an entire generation on – and given the progress we have allegedly made in that time, nothing has really changed.

American businessmen continue to snap up Van Goghs for the price of a hospital wing.
Bill hoardings go on advertising products that nobody needs.
Bachelors still phone up their friends for a drink while the married ones turn on a chat show.

 

And we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow.

 

* a traffic light. 

Drought news

Apparently it rained a lot in Cape Town while we were away.
Well, ok. If you say so. We’ve been back for five days now and we haven’t seen any continuation of that alleged precipitation. And, looking at the forecast for the next five days, there’s only a small chance of a little bit of drizzle on Monday evening as far as I can see.

That said, some local websites are full of good news about our local big reservoir “doubling in capacity”.

For the record, this hasn’t happened. There may be a case for suggesting that the volume of water in Theewaterskloof has doubled from the worryingly low levels earlier in the year, but I have to tell you that the capacity has stayed exactly the same.

Semantics. I know. Sorry.
Pop me in Pendant’s Corner.

Meanwhile, another blog helpfully tells us how this whole sorry situation  came about (it didn’t rain):

And how the reservoir “fought back from the brink” (it rained):

It’s fascinating, incisive stuff. But I do appreciate that it’s all a bit technical, so don’t worry if you’re struggling to keep up.
That’s why we have experts for this sort of thing. And that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

Don’t get me wrong though. No matter how shitty the reporting, it is great that we’ve moved forward from what we saw when we went out there in February.

But drought isn’t a purely Capetonian thing. Take a look at Sheffield’s local reservoir, which also supplies Derby, Nottingham and Leicester:

It’s looking scarily similar to scenes we’ve seen here recently. In the distance, you can see one of the towers of the Derwent Dam, which should look like this:

There’s a lot more dam wall on show in that top image than there should be.

Sheffield isn’t quite at the point of water restrictions yet, although other places in the UK are about to be (and Northern Ireland was, but isn’t any more).

As for Cape Town, our Level 6b water restrictions are still in place. We’re out of the woods, but we still can’t afford to be complacent. And the city council are going to ensure we remember that by charging us a ridiculous amount for the water that we use.

But I can understand their caution in not cutting the restrictions just yet. When they do, water use is inevitably going to spike and it would be seen as a huge own goal to have to reinstate the restrictions once they had relaxed them.

Perhaps what they should do is to double the capacity of all our dams.
That would make a huge difference.

As long as it rained.