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 canapés 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.

Why has no one asked the obvious question?

The world news this week has been dominated by the shootings at Virginia Tech. I know most of you have now stopped reading already. You’re thinking (as you click onto something infinitely more exciting): “What can this intelligent, good-looking, informed and amusing writer tell us that we haven’t already heard?”
Well, only that everyone has missed the single most important question about this whole incident, that’s what.

Of course, “tragic” though they are, these sort of shootings are manna from heaven for the rolling news channels. Reporters are live from here, there, everywhere.
Every word of every press conference is replayed time and time again. Everything is analysed by so-called experts. Were there warning signs? Could this have been prevented? Was George W Bush to blame? What brand of soap did the killer use?
Thus far, I think it’s more than fair to say that the picture painted by the media and the authorities shows that Cho Seung-hui was an obviously disturbed individual.
I could have told them that three years ago – because no-one has asked the blindingly obvious question:

Why would any sane and rational person choose to study English in the USA?

Let’s be frank, that’s like studying capitalism in North Korea: “Sorry Mr Jong-il, how did you say the free market economy worked again?”.
The Americans have done more to bastardise the English language than any other nation.
Except maybe the Australians.
If they’re not talking about “Toe-May-Toes” and “sidewalks”, then it’s that dreadful ESPN football commentary where new words are invented at a rate of about three per sentence, leaving the typical English football fan who’s been following the beautiful game all his life, completely bewildered as to exactly what just happened.

A zip-two shutout for Meelan saw Bayern bested and team Italy elevated to four-left status at soccer’s Euro Tournament Wednesday. A Clarence Seedorf 40-yard speed-play upfielded for Filippo Inzaghi to put through the scorebag with a score-shot – equalling jubilation in the Meelan locker-room. Dida’s blanking left Bayern facing a negative score-stat scenario and brought Meelan to a 8-4-5 close-out on the road. Dida performed big when Bayern’s offensive hitman van Bommel had a net-shot opportunity late in the third quarter.

Hmm. I seem to have strayed from the point somewhat. How unusual.

I guess what I’m saying is that with everyone asking the same questions repeatedly, there’s not real opportunity for objective insight to events such as those at Virginia Tech.


Producers at BBC News 24, Fox, Sky News et al may wish to know that I am available to provide exclusive expert analysis on anything you care to throw at me, from school shootings through to the Iranian nuclear standoff (I can even pronounce Ahmadinejad correctly). My fees are very reasonable.

A fishy business

Well, the penguins (see below) are gone, but their memory (and the mess around the pool) still lingers on. Nicole has developed an unusual taste for pilchards. Some husbands might be worried about this unusual craving having some “hidden meaning”, but not me. Why? Because the pilchards are being fed to Alex.
“The omega oils will do him good!” she exclaims.
“In what way?” I counter, ever eager to have my thirst for scientific proof of everything sated.
It’s usually at about this time that she smiles pseudo-knowingly and then ignores me completely until I forget to ask again.

I’ve no doubt that she’s right though. Dolphins and seals always seem to look healthy and indeed, Alex has already gained a wonderfully waterproof oily layer over his skin, which not only keeps him warm in the water, but also makes him extremely difficult to handle in the bathtub.
The only drawback is the smell. The boy, rapidly approaching his first birthday, has not yet completely mastered basic table manners. Why, only yesterday, he used his dessert knife to butter a roll.
OK, I jest (he’d never do that), but feeding him is an understandably messy business at the moment. And that pilchardy smell does end to stick around somewhat: hands, clothes, hair, walls, high chair, floor, cutlery, ceiling – you can imagine, I’m sure. One finds oneself just catching a brief whiff when one least expects it – in the car halfway to work, for example. And if you can smell it, surely so can other people. Hmm.

Still, as long as it’s more healthy than his diet over the weekend, I suppose we should be thankful. Two birthday parties and his first experience of chocolate cake – scary stuff. But then I guess no-one wants to eat carrots at a birthday party. And they shouldn’t be forced to either. Although, of course, we tried. Anyway, pictures from the Easter weekend and this weekend’s RSS feed.
Alternatively, get your computer to do it for you; such are the wonders of modern technology…

Sorry – did you just smell something fishy? Or was it just me?

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.