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 neccessarily 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 deterrant, 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 know I haven’t been writing much

It’s all these bloody birthday parties I’ve been going to. *shrug*

More tomorrow, I promise. (Writing that is, not birthday parties…)

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…?

Is there a god?

When things in Cape Town are quiet and there’s not much with which to enlighten the readers of 6000 miles, I like to take a trivial subject and ruminate on it for a while.

Today, those conditions having been satisfied, I’m going to tackle the old chestnut of god. Is he? Does he? Who he?
There are three thing my mother told me never to discuss: Politics, Religion and West Ham United. She was hopelessly wrong on the politics – it’s the best entertainment that you can get out here in SA, and while she had a good point about the Hammers, I’m going to choose to ignore her advice on the god thing. Religion is important, however misguided it might be. West Ham United are just misguided, not important.
I don’t believe that there is a god. I just see christianity as an excuse to wake me up with church bells early on Sunday mornings. Right when I’m in the middle of that dream about Kari Byron from Mythbusters and the 50 litre vat of sweet chilli dipping sauce.
For me, this proves that there is no god. How could anyone be so cruel?

Which brings me to that age old question: “If there is a god, why does he let bad things happen?”
I don’t know. Makes no sense to me. Sorry.

Another sign of the lack of anyone upstairs is the increasing desperation, frequency and technological advancements with which the godbotherers turn up at my front gate.
The other day, two of them came around with a 20 minute DVD entitled How to get closer to god.
“Can we sit and watch this with you?”, they asked.
Seriously? Why? Don’t you have your own DVD player?
(Of course, living in the crime-ridden suburbs of Cape Town, it’s entirely possible that they just wanted to shoot me in the head and steal the DVD player as soon as they got through the door.)
(Or worse still, discuss West Ham United.)
I sent them packing, but before they left, they asked (begged?), “Do you know anyone that would be interested in seeing the DVD?”
Oh right, so now I have to do your job for you too, huh? No way.
“Sorry, we’re all pretty heavily into Islam around here.”
Cue their hasty exit before I arrived at the front gate with a “special belt” on.
Blimey. I’d better stop. I’m going to alienate everyone. Please feel free to leave offensive comments if I’ve insulted you or your religion. And please also mention (if you think you know) what noise an ostrich makes. It’s one of those things that’s been bothering me for a while now.

Oh – and I’m also looking for a local bulk supplier of sweet chilli dipping sauce…
I know I ask a lot of you, dear reader, but if anyone can handle it, you can.