Are Italians naturally dull?

Having swum down to Newlands in miserable conditions on Saturday to watch the rugby, I was disappointed with the atmosphere, the standard of play and the complete lack of general excitement that usually surrounds an international test match. Sure, it could have had something to do with the weather, but being the scientific kind of person that I am, I then extended my research further the following day.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to watch the second bit of my experiment, because it was a Ferrari winning at the French Grand Prix. Formula One is only worth watching for the crashes, and what with all the new safety equipment and silly little rules from the FIA, even those are getting a bit few and far between and less exciting when they do happen. For the rest of the time, it’s just like a procession, with the fastest car starting in pole position and then going round and round the track with no-one able to catch it or overtake it. This fastest car is usually a Ferrari – and Ferrari is?
Yes – Italian. Exactly.

Incidentally, have you noticed how irritating it is when people think that they are “in the know” by referring to F1 drivers by their first names?

Ja, Kimi had a great race as he followed Filipe around the track for 79 laps…

Presumably, these are the same bores who refer to Star Wars films as “Empire” or “Phantom” and their favourite bands as “Jovi” or “Leppard”; their movie and musical tastes giving us further insight into their sad little lives.

Anyway, by now, a pattern was beginning to form: Italy + Sport = Dull.

A last chance to disprove my theory came with the eagerly-anticipated Spain v Italy Euro 2008 quarter final clash. And, dear Lord (even if you did vote ZANU-PF) – they went out of their way to hammer the point home. 90 minutes of the most excruciatingly dull viewing I have experienced since I last watched an F1 race. And then another 30 minutes of extra time as added punishment. What did I do to deserve that?

It seems to me that a country with such a proud military history (well, until about 100 AD, anyway), a wealth of national monuments and treasures, a pretty cool, bouncy, upbeat national anthem and moreover, a well known reputation for passion and excitement, can turn out such mind-numbingly boring sporting performances.

Has the true Italy come to the fore? Is this what Italians are really like, their genuine characters previously hidden under a thin veneer of heated, volcanic emotions?
I don’t want to believe it, but the evidence of late is pointing firmly in the direction of dull.
Convince me otherwise. Please.

An important announcement

Helen Zille will never be allowed to rule this website – never ever.
Only God, who appointed me, will remove me: not the DA, not the British. Only God will remove me.

I hope this is clear. Also, I will not be allowing NGOs to work in the rural areas beyond the dining room without my express permission. And I’m already organising pre-printed voting forms for next year’s SA Blog Awards.

In other news, you can now enjoy some randomised rhetoric from the archives of this illustrious site by checking under the post from the past link about halfway down the sidebar on the right. So even if you’ve only just joined the 6000 miles… family, you can still show off to your mates by quoting something I wrote last March.

Brilliant.

Not in Kansas anymore

UPDATE: Looking for pictures of the 30-31st August 2008 storm? Try here!

As I stared, bleary-eyed, out of the bedroom window into the cold and dark of the Cape Town morning, I was once again blown away by the sight of the lights of Muizenberg glittering on the ocean. What a view. Despite the atrocious weather of the past 24 hours, I am very fortunate to live here.
It was only a few minutes later, standing under a very welcome steaming shower, that I realised that we live about 10km up the road from Muizenberg. Something wasn’t right.

It turns out that rain over the past 24 hours had turned my back garden into something akin to the ocean. As the gloomy, grey morning struggled to be slightly less gloomy and grey, I caught sight of an aging hippy in a wetsuit with his longboard next to my braai, anxiously looking across the lawn for any sign of sharks before he paddled out towards the birdbath to wait for the next big breaker.

It’s true that it has been a pretty torrid couple of days weather-wise for the residents of Cape Town. One of those times that you are glad that you aren’t living in a shack in a township or a tent in a temporary refugee camp (sorry – “displaced foreign nationals site”). Glancing at the SA Weather Service website, I see that Kirstenbosch – home of the famous botanical gardens and just around the corner from us – had 135mm of rain dropped on it in the last 24 hours. That’s 5½ inches for you oldies out there.

S'wet
Kirstenbosch: Rather damp

Still, this is winter in Cape Town so we really should be expecting the wet and the cold. Interestingly, in exactly 2 years time, the entire world will have descended upon the Mother City for the 2010 World Cup. I’m already buying up Pak-a-Mac’s by the lorryload which I will sell at a vastly inflated mark-up to ill-prepared Europeans who think it’s hot and sunny here all year round.

The profits will be used to install some sort of drainage system into my garden before high tide floods my living room.

Real Life is pink

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written on here. And the reason for that is pretty simple: that annoying thing called Real Life has gone and got in the way again. With about 6 weeks left until child number two enters the world, it was decreed that my study was finally to be given up and painted pink. Which is why I am currently sat here in the midst of what appears to be a furniture stacking convention and what smells like… well… paint.

I have always known that when CN2 was on its way I would be forced to give up my last bastion of tranquility and sanity and head downstairs into the pseudo-spare room with Harold and Edith. Basically, the baby either got this room or slept in a tent in the back garden. To be honest, I was all for the tent idea – we’ve got thick curtains, which would probably allow for consistently undisturbed nights for her parents – especially if we pitched the tent right in the far corner of the garden in the patch of thorn bushes. However, after a brief discussion (well, it was more of a monologue, really) the missus made it abundantly clear that if anyone was going to sleep outside it was going to be me. 
Consequently, this will be my last post from this room. Of course, you won’t really notice a difference, save maybe for a greater hint of melancholy in my writing or the occasional extra letter here or there when my son gets hold of the keyboard.

I didn’t surrender without a fight, though. Oh no! Sure, overall the paint was a joint decision, but I got the final say. Hence, my wife looked at all those irritating little colour cards that I’d gone out in the rain and picked up from the paint shop and whittled them down to a shortlist of one. Then I got to choose the paint, go out in the rain and buy it and then apply it to the walls. Ha – I think you’ll agree that it’s clear exactly who is the boss in this household!
Anyway, the paint is “Sweet Sundae 5” as Dulux describe it (or “Pink” as most normal people would say). The tin, which confusingly, is actually made of plastic, advertises the product as being “Low Odour”. Ja right! Currently surrounded, as I am, by a plethora of airborne organic polymers, several pixies and a friendly dragon named Steve, I would beg to differ. Presumably the idea is that these errant molecules will have dissipated somewhat by the time any child attempts to sleep in here.

So farewell, my study. We’ve had some good times together. You’ve got the best view in the house (Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, the sunloungers next to the pool when the wife is in her bikini and I’m supposed to be working). Your acoustics are second to none for listening to Morten Harket, Jared Leto and Jamie Cullum. You are beautifully cool in summer and satisfyingly cosy in winter.
But now you are pink and you smell. And thus, it is time to move on to bigger and better smaller and worse things. Still, I shall remember our time together with a certain wistful fondness and when CN2 is of a suitable age (say, 6 weeks) I shall explain to her just what sacrifices were made in her name.
I know she’ll understand.

A money-making sideline

Completely ignoring the thoughts of flame-haired gyppo Mick Hucknall, I chose to mention just how tight money was in SA right now. Sitting watching the footy last night as prices around me continued to rise, I could see only one way out of the situation: sell our son.

Flushed with self-pride and bored with Greece’s lack of ambition, I ran to my wife and explained my brilliant plan. When I came round ten minutes later, I had a headache, my right wrist had been secured to the heater on the bedroom wall and my wife had locked herself and the boy in the nursery. Struggling to get myself off the floor, I contemplated the potential value of adding my wife to the deal. It was only after pulling the heater off the wall (I had only used rudimentary means of attaching it to the wall in case of just such an emergency) that I realised I should probably just have untied my wrist. Bugger.

I eventually talked them out of the nursery by using SWAT negotiation tactics that I learned on Discovery Channel. Well, that and pizza.
As they emerged, my wife handed me the boy and told me to blow his nose. Glancing down at his offending facial appendage, I was appalled to see what I could only imagine was the aftermath of an explosion at a pea soup factory. Evidently, it was actually the thought of drowning in snot rather than my agreeing to a helicopter and a fast car at the border which had forced my wife’s hand during the hostage episode.

Removing the rivers of green exudate from the boy’s top lip proved unexpectedly tough. It was sticky like glue, stringy like mozzarella, and clingy and difficult to get rid of like a couple of my ex-girlfriends.
It was then that my second idea hit me. Sell snot.
South Africans are bizarrely proud to have had a product called “Pratley’s Putty” developed within their borders. Pratley (Pty) Ltd supply “DIY Epoxies, Acrylic Adhesives, Anaerobic Adhesives, Cyanoacrylates, Sealants, Hybrid systems and Special Performance industrial adhesives” to home users across the Cape Flats. Their putty is marketed as “the only South African product to have gone to the moon” – presumably passing some of their less salubrious customers in the troposphere as it did so.
So there’s definitely a market out there for sticky stuff. And thanks to the continuing viral adventures of the little one, I’ve got litres of it.

Continuing with the space theme, it could be used to stick those errant tiles onto the Space Shuttle. Or as a sealant around the booster rocket joints. That’s 14 astronauts we could have saved already.
Closer to home, snot could be used as a non-lethal weapon to spray over mobs intent on xenophobic violence, thus immobilising them.
Tanks of it (in patriotic green) could be used for resistance training for the South African rugby team, or to drown Graeme Smith and Benni McCarthy in.

I’m sure there are a myriad of uses for this innovative and versatile product which I have not yet considered. There’s got to be some sort of waterproofing agent in there somewhere – and a kid’s toy. And maybe a foodstuff too.

I’ll have a quick sniff of Pratley’s finest and see what comes to mind.