The 2017 Cape Town Sevens Review

OK, so here it is. The thing which I was too tired to write last night. A quick run down of my experiences with my son at the Cape Town Sevens Finals Day yesterday.

The parking: I’ve told you how to do this before, but ok, I’ll tell you again. You park at the CTICC (right hand lane off the elevated freeway, almost as if you were about to do a U-turn to go back out of town at Walter Sisulu) and walk through to the Civic Centre (it’s 900m, you’ll manage), from where you get the shuttle bus up to the stadium.
On your return, you get the bus to Thibault Square, and walk down Lower Long to the CTICC (it’s 600m, you’ll be fine).
The parking lot exits directly onto the elevated freeway, so no traffic problems at all. So it’s faster, cheaper and easier than the Waterfront. Or virtually anywhere else.

The stadium: I’ve been to several concerts, many football and rugby events and precisely no happy-clappy  religious gatherings at the stadium, and (without meaning to be negative) each of them has had their own little niggles. Not yesterday. The experience was flawless. Friendly staff, little (or no) queuing for refreshments (including at the bars), a wide variety of foods, lots of activities and freebies for the kids. Brilliant.

The entertainment: Lots going on between the games kept us interested. Dancing, music, beagle herding, enthusiastic MCs. The highlight for us (and many others, I suspect) was the “Rugby Skills” competition for a few happily inebriated fans towards the end. Very funny and very well managed.

The rugby: It was good fun and played in good spirit, as it should be. England were in self-destruct mode, New Zealand were in we’re-out-to-shock-the-opposition mode, the USA was basically just speed and muscle and the Fijians were just muscle. And then there was the Blitzbokke, who were clear favourites for the win.

But that didn’t happen, which brings me to my final point.

The crowd: Oh dear. I’m going to get into trouble for writing this, but that’s rarely stopped me before, so here goes.

We’re repeatedly told that Cape Town is the “best” leg of the 7s. I don’t know how they work these sort of things out – hey, maybe they tell everyone that their event is the best. That would be a bit naughty, but then, people are a bit naughty sometimes.

The thing is, if this alleged optimal status has really been bestowed upon Cape Town’s event, then it must surely only be for the fancy dress and the partying. Because yes, Cape Town does do the fancy dress and the partying very well. When it comes to actually supporting the rugby though, the fans are fickle and fairweather (OMG, he said it! And now see how the hordes are gathering their flaming torches and pitchforks! OMG! I can’t bear to watch!).

I took a few pics to illustrate my point.

Here’s the scene as the Blitzbokke played their first game (a fortuitous, ref-assisted win over Fiji). 60,000 fans in full voice:

Incredible gees, colour, passion, volume etc etc (allowing for iconic imagery like this). And it was the same for the second game against New Zealand. But when they lost that, and with it, any chance of winning the event, this was the scene during their last game of the day – a third place play off against Canada:

Either a shedload of fans couldn’t actually be bothered any more, or else they had turned up in grey plastic seat fancy dress.

And it got worse. Even more people left before the New Zealand v Argentina Final:

and we were one of only a few hundred that stayed for the Trophy presentation:

Mmm.

OK. So some points here:

South African sports fans are notoriously fickle and fair-weather. We knew this already. Comparing photos one and two above, indicates those fickle fans who came to see South Africa win, versus those real fans who came to see South Africa play.

I don’t know if this happens at every 7s event. Do Australian fans leave once their team has been beaten once in Sydney? Is the same in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and the USA? And if it is, does anyone even bother to turn up to watch in Dubai and Singapore?

There were very few people in the stands to see Wales v Russia, because it’s a meh game between two sides who lost a lot on Day 1 – well, ok. Equally though, that won’t be replayed all around the rugby-playing world. The final (and the trophy presentation thereafter, will). It’s not a great advert for the event when it’s being played (or presented) in front of tens of thousands of empty seats. And yet we all cried about not getting the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

That said, the spin is obviously good, because (as I may have mentioned earlier) Cape Town was voted the Best 7s Event on the Tour.

So, all in all, I think it shows a complete lack of manners and it really doesn’t look great on the international stage, but hey – it’s a free country (well, sort of, anyway). I’m not saying that you have to stay until the end. You’re free to leave when you want.
Equally, I’m free to pass comment on you leaving when you want, you disrespectful, fair-weather, part-time, so-called rugby supporters.

Norm for good service

Boy away on school camp.
Girl takes full advantage of parents’ undivided attention, asks if we can do dinner.
Of course we can.

Dad checks menu online.
Dad reads the small print.
Never read the small print.

Small print too small for you? Here’s what it says:

Gratuity Policy
We hereby respectfully advise that gratuity is not included in our main prices. The norm for good service is 100% of the total bill. The payment of gratuity is entirely voluntary and the amount is based on the quality of service.

Did I miss something here? Not since the Waterfront branch of Cape Town Fish Market conveniently informed tourists that ‘in South Africa, we routinely tip twenty percent’ has there been such a blatant attempt to rip restaurant patrons off.

But even the pisspoor CTFM kept it vaguely reasonable. This is completely off the scale. And at a restaurant where a 3 course meal plus wine will set you back ±R400 per person, it’s no wonder that the parking lot is full of Audis and Beemers – that’s clearly how the waiting staff get to and from work.

It’s here

The new a-ha album Cast In Steel came out last night. And I’m listening to it right now. I’ve been listening to it most of the morning, truth be told. I’ve missed several important phone calls and ignored all my colleagues in a meeting. These people must just understand. After all, I’m usually very accommodating. Today is different, though, because a-ha’s new album came out today and that’s actually far more important to me than they are right now.

I’ll obviously have to do a proper review at some stage (of the album, not the colleagues), but for the moment, have this:
First thoughts (spoiler: I’ve been listening to excerpts and track leaks for the last couple of months, so these are actually not my first thoughts at all) are that it is very Radio 2. This is no longer the cutting edge of pop music. This is mature music for a more mature audience. A Radio 2 listening audience.

However, there remains, amongst the music for old people, hints of the electronic synth-pop which made a-ha so popular 30 (*weep*) years ago. That ting-ting-ting in the chorus of The Wake, the first few bars of Forest Fire, which could be straight off 1985’s Hunting High And Low, will happily take you back to younger days.

Then add the 5 bonus tracks: demo versions and interesting remixes of previous releases, and you’ve got a proper treat for fans like me who have been around for too long since the early days.
And there’s more on the way, with a concert tour (yes, I shall be making plans) and the 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Box Set of Hunting High and Low [lengthy tracklist here] coming out later this month (strike while the iron is hot).

September has been kind to us.

Is This The Best Album Review Ever?

And Was That A Bit Of A Clickbaity Post Title?

Whatevs.

I’ve been listening to Drones, Muse’s seventh studio album for a couple of weeks now and it’s still not quite bitten. Just still a little bit hit and miss for me. One thing that is for sure (and is backed up by ever other review I’ve read thus far) is that it’s a “concept album” set in “a harrowing, Orwellian picture of a world reduced to a totalitarian state”, and describing “the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors”. Happy days.

Continuing from where The Resistance left off and railing against Big Government and Big Corporates (the album is released on small independent label, Warner Bros), Drones – promised as a return to their roots – seems to have done that rather effectively by simply being a mishmash of all the previous Muse albums. And that is no bad thing. In fact, musically, I think that the individual tracks are fairly spectacular. Together, though – I just don’t know.

Some people have made their minds up though, like this reviewer for example. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think that he’s hugely impressed.

F*** me with the wet end of a guided f***ing missile that’s accidentally landed in a giant tub of f***ing horseshit, the f***ing swear word hasn’t been coined that’s sufficiently f***ing potent enough to convey just what a jawdroppingly, pants-chewingly, arse-achingly abysmal f***ing album these serially offending c***wits have come up with this time round! To call it “utter bollocks” would a f***ing insult even to the meanest, sweatiest pair of bollocks! I would in all seriousness consider my time to have been more rewardingly spent if I’d pressed my f***ing ear up against the bollocks of a random f***ing bloke on the tube for 53 f***ing minutes than listened to the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma that is Drones! Can you imagine the internal agonies of whatever poor c*** of a f***ing record company executive had to experience every last minute of this pompous, incoherent, incontinent, beyond-laughable, addled, 112th rate, thunderously f***ing vacuous tower of toss?

If you can get past the constant self-censorship (which is actually rather off-putting, and not just in that is constantly disrupts the readability of the column) and try to imagine this as the rage of a utterly livid music journalist (something like an unrestrained Nick Taras) in a darkened room of a bedsit in London, rather than a contrived attention-seeking list of obscenities, then it could be one of the best album reviews ever. And I’m giving “Mr Agreeable” (for it is he) the benefit of the doubt, because lines like:

the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma

and:

“Save me, from the ghosts and shadows before they eat my soul”, warbles Bellamy, like he’s having his f***ing gonads sandpapered by an over-fussy mother!

would get nothing but praise were they to appear in an episode of Blackadder.

Mr Agreeable may not be Richard Curtis or Rowan Atkinson. He may not even be agreeable.
But this might just be the best album review I have ever read.

Some sound advice from Good Housekeeping magazine

Or “God Goalkeeping” magazine, as my phone keeps trying to rename it (Jesus Saves?).
Anyway, you may spot this in February’s issue:

image

which seems like a very good idea.

There’s also a lovely write up on The Guru’s blog.
The only issue is having to buy a publication with Sicky Dion on the front cover. However, I found that hiding it inside a hardcore pornography magazine made things a whole lot less awkward when going to pay.