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.

Wanted: R180 million for an ARS

One (or more) of the posts that disappeared into the black hole which was 123-reg.co.uk’s hosting disaster was on the World Cup, which is due to make landfall here in a mere 3 years from now. Currently, there is a little confusion over whether Cape Town will actually get to see any football played here during that competition.
As usual in South Africa, the issues over building the new stadium are political, financial and race-related. And, with everyone blaming everyone else, nothing is actually being done to build our new stadium at Green Point. Can you imagine a World Cup in South Africa without Cape Town? Really? This city is the icon of SA. Have you seen our mountain? It’s bloody lovely.

First off, before we even consider why no construction has begun, let’s look at the mentality of the people in charge. The new stadium, an example of technology and cutting-edge design, a beacon of new hope for an embattled continent will be grandly named: The African Renaissance Stadium or The ARS.
Great thinking, guys.

OK – cash first. The ARS was meant to cost about R2.5 billion (GBP180m, USD350m). That’s a fair amount of money for a city where about half the residents don’t have access to basic services like water and electricity. This was the original price, which then suddenly increased by R1.2 billion for no apparent reason (as these projects do) but has now settled at a much more reasonable R2.7 billion, meaning that we’re just R180 million short of our target. It’s peanuts, really.
And here comes the politics. The City of Cape Town is contolled by the Democratic Alliance (DA). The Western Cape Province and the National Government is controlled (sometimes) by the African National Congress (ANC). These two parties don’t see eye to eye on many issues. And ooh look – here’s another.


The City refuses to pay out a cent more than they said they would, while the Provincial and National Authorities are refusing to make up the shortfall. And while negotiation would seem to be a great way out of this, it’s become a battle of wills and the parties involved refuse to budge. Anyone hear that clock ticking?

I promised you a bit of racial tension too and I’d hate to let you down. Speaking frankly, in South Africa: football (soccer) is a sport played and watched by black people and egg-chasing (rugby) is a sport played and watched by white people. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t really much of an over-simplification – it’s just how things are. And Green Point is a predominantly (almost exclusively) white suburb. And they don’t want that black sport coming into their back yard.
Of course, there’s the usual bluff over increased traffic and noise, which is fair enough I suppose, but in actual fact, it’s about racial division and prejudices.

“So where do you stand on this?”, I hear both you readers asking.


Well, I know that R2.7 billion could go a long, long way to sorting out a lot of the problems Cape Town faces. But I also recognise that when (if?) this stadium is built and the World Cup comes to Cape Town, the money generated for local businesses and therefore the added job creation and increase in money coming into the city and surrounds will far outweigh the inital costs of the build.
South Africa knew the problems it faced when it bid for the right to hold 2010. Now that it’s won that right, it must deliver. This isn’t about throwing money at problems which might help in the short term, this is an investment for the long term – it’s an opportunity which could really be a turning point for Cape Town and for South Africa.
Thabo, Ebrahim and Helen: I know you’re reading this (ja, right!) please let’s just get it sorted out.
Whatever it takes.

Thanks.

Childcare 101

While checking up on the news from back home in the Republic of South Yorkshire, I came across a story detailing how an 18-month old toddler had injured his mother by putting an aerosol under the grill.
The aerosol – somewhat predictably – then exploded in her face and she ended up with some (probably quite nasty) burns.
The toddler, bless his little cotton socks, was unharmed in the incident.

Reading this story will have divided the 6000 miles… readership.
A percentage of you, who do not have children, and who enjoy watching shows like Jackass and Dirty Sanchez are thinking: “Cool, dude… Exploding aerosol!”.
This percentage will then probably snigger like Beavis and Butthead.

A disappointingly large percentage of you aren’t really very bothered and haven’t even read this far.
You’re missing out. Really. And you smell.

The remainder of you are either mature, balanced individuals (like I used to be) or parents (like I am now).
You are probably wondering what on earth an 18 month old was doing with access to:
a) an aerosol can, and
b) a grill.

Back at Chateau 6k, the jury is still out on whether we are going to allow the “naughty” coffee table to stay around after it “attacked” little Alex twice in as many days*. It’s currently on a final warning, and with plans for a braai this weekend and a sudden hike in the price of Namibian Camelthorn, it had better watch its step.
As for Alex, I can’t imagine that he will enjoy the company of aerosols and grills for several years to come. I don’t think that’s being over-protective, I think that’s being responsible. When he’s old enough, I’ll be there to demonstrate the dangers of putting an egg in the microwave. And then we’ll try a 60W lightbulb.
And we’ll both sit back and snigger like Beavis and Butthead.

* Actually, the first time, he just fell over near the table. But we blamed it anyway.
I think the second time was merely its act of petty revenge.