Not like this…

Sorry for the lack of action on 6000 miles… recently. I’ve had a very sick child, a very pregnant wife and a very lot of rain falling through our kitchen to deal with. You’ve got to love this “life” thing.
Talking of the weather, I’m getting a little fed up of people coming up to me and saying, “You must be used to this rain, coming from the UK!”.

Er… no. I have never seen rain like this. Never so much, so prolonged, so heavy, so sustained. So damn WET!
It’s unbelievable. And it’s cold too. That damp cold that cuts through you like a damp, cold knife.

Wet  Wet  Wet
Wet Wet Wet (but without Marty Pellow)

Apparently they’re forecasting something called “sunshine” for the weekend. I’ll believe it when I see it. (And when I have looked in a dictionary to see what it means).

More soon. Promise.

ANCWL comments trouble the nation

Following  the outspoken comments of Julius Malema, the President of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) two weeks ago that he and his followers would “take up arms and kill for Jacob Zuma”, the President of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has now landed herself in hot water with comments made at the organisations annual gathering in Bloemfontein:

My friends, my fellow women, my comrades. We must make it clear to the nation that we are fully behind Jacob Zuma. We support Zuma. We will iron for Zuma.

While her remarks gained widespread support from the delegates at the conference, opposition parties were less impressed. Leader of the opposition, Helen Zille, described the comment as “inflammatory”.

It’s another step in the wrong direction from some factions of the ANC. Making such inflammatory statements as being willing to iron for Zuma is irresponsible. It sends out the wrong message – it’s a small step from there to inciting widespread hoovering.

Mrs Zille refused to make any further comment, saying that she had pressing matters to attend to “but not Jacob Zuma’s trousers”.

Welcome back!

What with one thing and another, I haven’t been able to turn out for my football team – at least not in a playing capacity – for over three months. So, it was with some trepidation and a level of fitness one might expect of an average American teenager that I made my return in for the black and white wizzzzaaaaaaards in the shadow of the World Cup stadium in Green Point last night.

It was a beautiful evening; as I headed towards the hallowed turf I snapped a quick shot of the sun sinking into the South Atlantic – all was well with the world.

Sunset
Hellish scenes on the way to footy

Then I shook hands with the captain of the opposing team (made up of staff from a local Investment Management company) shared a joke with him and the ref and got on with the game.

It quickly became apparent that the current volatility in the world’s stock markets was causing the opposition no end of irritation. Since grievous bodily harm is generally frowned upon in the offices of such organisations, it was perhaps no surprise that they decided to take out their combined frustrations on the 7-a-side team of punchbags which had been set out in front of them. Within 90 seconds of the kick off, the same team captain who had been laughing and joking a moment earlier had mutated into the evil bastard son of Vinnie Jones and Beelzebub himself. As I fended him off at a corner, I found his studs high on my inner thigh, where they left an interesting and somewhat painful runic marking*.

Owch.
Studs up

I looked to the referee for some sign of action. To be honest, I’d expect to see more sympathy in the eyes of a suicide bomber. Fortunately, being from Yorkshire, I’m not one to fling myself Porra-style to the floor each time someone comes near me, which was just as well as I soon realised that the “Ass.” in “Investec Ass. Management” probably stood for “Assault”.

Meh – I survived. But I was hoping for a more gentle re-introduction to the beautiful game.
Next week, we face a team of lawyers. I can hardly wait.

* 24 hours on, these markings are outlined with a spectacular array of purple and deep blue. Beautiful. Magnificent. Bloody sore.

SA crime – the moaning continues

Sadly, South Africa is known, amongst many other things, for its high crime rate. But there came some good news on that front today with the release of the latest crime figures, which show a marked decrease, especially in many of the more serious crimes: murder down 4.7% and robbery with aggravating circumstances down 7.4%, for example. Well, I think it’s good news, but others aren’t happy.
Once again, (I always have to clarify this bit before I talk about crime in SA), I do recognise that South Africa has a problem with crime and I do recognise that something needs to be done about it and that people have a right to expect the government to do something about it. 
However, with the murder rate down to its lowest level in six years and a overall decrease in crime, I think that it is obvious that the initiatives and efforts which are being put in place to combat crime are beginning to work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are very few people who seem to recognise this, though.   

A lot of the negative comments I have read on various SA websites and forums on this subject fall broadly into four categories, which can overlap Venn diagram style, to allow maximum pessimism.
Firstly, there’s the Mugabe reaction: these people have read and heard that crime has decreased, but they are simply ignoring the news and pretending it hasn’t happened. That way, they continue to have something to moan about and a reason to live.
Secondly, the negative optimist approach – and no, that’s not an oxymoron. These people note that crime has fallen, but are not happy that there is still crime happening. In the negative optimists’ world, there is no murder, no robbery, no vandalism and everyone obeys the speed limits. These people should have listened to Safety and Security Minister, Charles Nqakula, as he was presenting the report this morning: 

He told media in Pretoria during the presentation of the annual crime report that even though the statistics indicated a steady decline, crime levels were still very high and “unacceptably so: Government wanted to see a more drastic decline.”

 See? He agrees with you. Crime is still unacceptably high. But it’s down.

Next up, my particular favourites: the nit-pickers. They will pick and choose the worst stats to illustrate just what difficult circumstances South Africa finds itself in: Yes, murder is down, rape is down, robbery is down, but what about truck high-jackings? Did you see that truck high-jackings were up?
Finally, the never-believers. They stand by the words of Mulder & Scully. Trust no-one. These stats are all made up by the Government to make us feel better, when really, crime has sky-rocketed. They cite the fact that these figures are only for reported crime. Which is absolutely correct. However, I defy any government, worldwide, to present accurate statistics on unreported crime, because, you see, it’s unreported.
However, in the unlikely event that the Government has completely fabricated the figures presented today, then I feel that they could have done a much better job on reducing truck high-jackings.

So, there you have it. Once again, I’m fed up with people moaning instead of doing something proactive, like joining their neighbourhood watch. I’m fed up with people only looking for the bad news instead of being happy that there’s actually some good news. I’m fed up with people having foolishly high expectations and feeling angry when they are unfulfilled. Bring forth your predictable and ill-thought-out comments.

One final thing – I’m also growing a little tired of Italians ruining my weekends. This time, the act was repeated by the utterly appalling one-sided refereeing of the Euro 2008 Final by Italian Roberto Rosetti.
Yes Roberto, handball and headbutting are against the rules in football.
German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann thinks the Euro 2008 final was fixed:

“The referee was a catastrophe and sometimes I think it is fixed when I see such a referee, who is biased and not correct in his decisions.”
For example, A Spanish player (David Silva) head-butted our player (Lukas Podolski) and the referee saw it and the linesman saw it.”

Now, I’m no fan of Lehmann’s, but I’m in full agreement that something weird was going on with the refereeing last night. One dodgy decision after another – all in Spain’s favour. How strange.

 

Want Chicken!

I was awoken from fitful slumbers, punctuated with dreams of Kari Byron relaxing in a bath of Woolworth’s peanut butter (crunchy, obviously), on six separate occasions between midnight and 3am last night. Our son – usually a sleeper of note –  is going through one of those stages that helpfully reminds us just how lucky we are when he doesn’t go through those stages.

Mostly it was just crying. Maybe a bad dream – the thought of Robert Mugabe in that horrid shirt, perhaps or maybe the thought of the South African national football side only managing a 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone last weekend. Understandably galling.


Bob’s shirt: Wakey Wakey!

Two of the wake-up calls were obviously premeditated, however:
There was the “Daddy! Dadddeeeeeee!” dragging me out from under the duvet at a quarter to two and the somewhat more implausible, “Want Chicken!” about an hour later.

As I heaved my soporific frame through the chilly darkness across the landing, I distinctly remember thinking, “It sounds like he’s shouting “Want Chicken!””. Which of course, he was.

The culprit was a small, plastic chicken from a farm set he got for Christmas. It was silhouetted against the glowing green of the digital clock in his room. I picked up said chicken and then, having considered the (hopefully minimal) choking hazards it posed and then considered the not inconsiderable warmth beneath my duvet, shrugged and tossed it into his cot. Cue silence. Wonderful silence.  

I recognise that this post will probably be, at best, of limited interest to many readers. However, it serves as the perfect excuse as to why I can’t actually get my brain to work on writing anything more intellectually challenging today.