Nice weather…

…for ducks.


Bigger duck photo

Anyone who was foolish enough to believe that spring has arrived in Cape Town was put firmly in their place by a grey day packed full of precipitation. Although I’m now fully moved into my new study, I am yet to actually enjoy the view of the Constantiaberg mountains as I was promised, since they have been covered in cloud all week.
Unless someone has stolen them. This is, after all, South Africa. Although a quick look at the recently released crime statistics shows that our “precinct” (for that is what they are divided into) is safer to be in than at any point since 2003. Well done SAPS.

All of which is very nice.

But I’m digressing when what I really want to do is go to bed and watch some Spanish footy.

More thoughts on god and the plane crash

The Times (dead tree press edition) continues coverage of the Durban plane crash with news that Alistair Freeman, the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft and Ebrahim Mthetwa, the now infamous Municipal Worker, are currently in hospital in a critical condition, while the co-pilot (female) (just sayin’) and the other crew member are in a stable. Which seemed like an odd place for them to be until I read the next line: “condition in hospital”.
I should read ahead more often.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to each of them. But all that is incidental.

Firstly, before we wade into further heavy religious debate, let’s hear what Andre Smit “a private pilot with 20 years of experience” (although it doesn’t say in what) has to offer:

The pilot is to be commended. For him to come over all those houses to land shows true airmanship. His ability to fly is almost a miracle.

The pilot’s “miracle” ability to fly has, on this occasion, failed to impress me.
His ability to crash is truly awesome though.

“Emotional resident” Santosh Ramnarain has lost the plot though. Once again, here is an example of someone who can’t see the wood for the trees. Speaking (again) of the Pilot, Santosh tells us:

This man is a hero and God has to save him because he saved us. My whole family could have died in an instant if he did not act so quickly.

Santosh – who caused this accident? Well, if you believe in him and you believe in his omnipotence – and you obviously do, since you’re asking him to intervene in the pilot’s recovery – then god did! Don’t you see?

So, while you’re asking the big guy upstairs to save Captain Freeman, the whole plane crash thing was his idea in the first place.
Couldn’t he rather just have cut out the middleman and let Captain Freeman have a ordinary, undramatic and safe journey (albeit to Pietermaritzberg)?
That alternate scenario would also have resulted in the co-pilot not having two broken ankles, one broken hand and severe pelvic and chest injuries; the third crew member would not have damage to her spine and face and Mr Mthethwa would have been able to go home to his family in the evening instead of lying unconscious in a public hospital ICU bed.

That – to me at least – seems like a much nicer way of doing things.

So Santosh, maybe instead of asking god to save Captain Freeman, you should first ask him why he insisted on bringing the plane down in the first place.
Are you Bruinman in disguise? Blinkered to the crap that happens at god’s will, but giving him props for sunshine, pretty flowers and miracle pilots.

How to help a municipal worker

Following online news reports covering this morning’s plane crash in Durban, I have gained new insight into what action to take in the unlikely event that a small twin-engined aircraft should crash-land in my neighbourhood, skidding over an unfortunate municipal worker in the process. 

ND CRASH.JPG       ND CRASH.JPG
Pictures: Gcina Ndwalane via iol.co.za

My first reaction – being trained in first aid – would have been to approach the aircraft and try and assist in whatever way I could, taking into account the dangers inherent in such a move. One of the first things I was taught by St. John (or one of his discipley people) is how not to make oneself an additional casualty in such any given incident. 

However, it would seem that in the intervening period, the rules have changed.

Logie Naidoo, said she noticed the low flying plane just after 8am. “We are used to planes flying low overhead but this was too low.”

Being at ground level? Well spotted, Logie.

“There was a very loud noise and the plane slid in between our houses through a vacant lot and into the school property,” she said.

Naidoo said a municipal worker who was cleaning the street at the time appeared to have been struck by the plane.

“I was horrified, it looked like the plane slid over one man. I started screaming and praying. It all just happened so quickly.”

Again, flawless insight. Plane crashes do tend to be pretty quick. That, I believe, is due to the combination of the effects of the aircraft’s jet engines and the seemingly relentless pull of gravity.
Slower plane crashes tend to be more controlled and are called “landings”.

But did you pick up on the important detail there?
On no account should you try to physically assist anyone in or underneath the crashed aircraft. The best response is to scream and pray.

Scream and pray.

Screaming is a good idea because the noise will alert other individuals in the area that there has been a plane crash (probably a quick one). You may find that screaming is superfluous however, since the noise of the actual plane actually crashing may have made them already realise that a plane crash has occurred.
Never mind. It’ll help to scream anyway. And pray.

Praying, to be honest, is less helpful in these sort of situations when you actually stop to think about it. Which you won’t, because you’re too busy screaming.
Praying suggests that you believe in some deity or higher power being responsible for the things that happen on, around and – crucially – just above this planet. That being the case, your deity or higher power has already made his/her/its mind up about the little SAA Airlinkplane that just tried to take off from Durban Airport. And about the unfortunate municipal worker underneath it. Strangely, he/she/it has also made up his/her/its mind about you as well and you get to live, presumably so you can scream and pray.

But praying at this point is the equivalent of imploring a football referee to change his mind about the red card he just gave to your teammate. The mind is made up, the decision now set in stone (or at least a school fence). And your continued protests are likely to get you a yellow card. I presume that would be a mild heart attack or something similar.

But whatever you do, don’t actually go and try to help anyone. Stand there, scream and pray.
And then tell the newspapers about how you did it. You hero.

Waiting for Mum

Kids go through stages with regard to their relationship with their parents. Sometimes you can see obvious reasons why this might be; for example, when K-pu was born and had to spend a lot of time with Mum (because she’s the one with the boobs), Alex became firmly (often rather too firmly) attached to me. His rampant favouritism, caused by obvious and understandable insecurity, has worn off now though and we generally gauge who is flavour of the moment by his requests for bedtime story readers (Mum/Dad/Neither).

Perhaps it’s because she’s female (and therefore fussy), but K-pu has a very strict hierarchical list of favourites. I guess I should be flattered to be in second place and I have to remember that when Mum walks in and K-pu suddenly shows a complete lack of interest in me, it’s only the same as she does to other people below second place when she sees me.
(It’s still quite hurtful though).

This picture was taken while we were away last weekend. Mum had popped up the road to pick up the boy from the Kid’s Club and K-pu – outraged to have been left with only her dad for company – went and planted herself firmly by the front door and sulked until her mother returned.

That’s (another) one for her 21st birthday, then.

England to be based in Rustenburg?

Simon Austin on the BBC Sport website claims that “agreement has been made in principle for England to stay in Rustenburg next summer”.

Rustenburg is not a big place. I went to Rustenburg once, but it was closed. Fortunately, we continued west along the N4 and ended up in Zeerust, with its friendly drive-thru bottle store. From there we headed north until some nice Batswana* border guards with shiny R5 assault rifles politely asked us to stop and turn around. It seemed rude to disagree, though – safe in the knowledge that we were heading back towards a drive-thru bottle store – we felt the need to stop as soon as we were around the corner and down an entire bottle of Amarula. Each. 
Coming face to face with a forceful gentleman in uniform brandishing his well-polished weapon can have that effect on a man.

All of this was a whole road away from Rustenburg though. So, apart from there being a drive-thru bottle store in a town a few miles to the west, why do England want to be there?

It comes down to three things: altitude, logistics and facilities. At 3,800ft above sea level, Rustenburg is great for acclimatising to the rarified Highveld air, it’s only 30 minutes from the small (yet perfectly adequate) Pilanesberg airfield and the hotel and sports complex there (Rustenburg, not the airfield) is still being built – hence the option of some degree of customisation. 

Reports in South Africa claim Capello has already asked for an arcade room, plasma televisions bringing in British channels in each of the rooms, an electric security fence around the perimeter of the site and superb training facilities with manicured pitches.

Former Spurs and England defender Gary Mabbutt, who is advising the organising committee on their World Cup team bases, says such requirements are not unusual.
“Most teams want single rooms for their players kitted out with wi-fi, plasma TV, satellite and Playstations,” he told me.

I’m guessing that DSTV’s selection of repeated episodes of Top Gear from 2004 and repeated episodes of Top Gear from 2005 won’t be enough. Although, given the temperament of Wayne Rooney, repeated episodes of Supernanny from 2004 may be helpful. As may the Cbeebies channel.

While Rustenburg may seem to be the best option for the England team and their entourage, Austin makes a error in comparing it to Baden-Baden where the team was based for the 2006 World Cup tournament in Germany.
There is little in Rustenburg to attract England fans to stay there. Most importantly, it’s only within comfortable travelling distance of 4 of the World Cup stadiums. The major centres of Cape Town and Durban are a 2 hour flight away – and that’s from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport, which itself is a 2 hour drive from Rustenburg. It would be like staying in Sheffield, driving to Heathrow and jetting off to watch a match in Madrid. South Africa is big.
Added to that, the villages of Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit and Polokwane are even less readily accessible.
(No-one is ever really sure of how best to get to Bloemfontein, or why you’d want to.)

But there’s no doubt that having one of the big teams staying at your resort means big money.
The Times reports how Val de Vie in Franschhoek is going to extraordinary lengths to attract one of the larger nations including converting its polo fields into practice soccer pitches and planting Fifa-specified turf on them.

The estate’s 2010 coordinator, Martin Botha, said they already have massage and medical treatment rooms and team-building facilities. “We’re going to change the grass to the Fifa specifications for practice fields but otherwise everything else is in place,” he says.

I’ll check out how they’re doing when I head there for The Killers concert in December.

Finally, news just in that (apparently, allegedly) Brazil are going to be basing themselves in Cape Town. However, the same “expert” that predicted this then went on to say that England are going to be based in Johannesburg, so who knows?

Meh. Until things get confirmed (and quite probably beyond that time as well) it’s back to the Amarula for me…

FIFA 2010 World Cup match schedule | Green Point Stadium Webcams | Cape Town Tourism 2010

 * Officially the demonym of the people of Botswana.