Helpsful advice

We return to the Southern Suburbs Tatler letters page for today’s blog post. And a missive from David Helps (but does he?) of Newlands on a subject close to our hearts here at 6000 miles… – cyclists and cyclism.

Must Cyclists Fall?

begins David and already, I am starting to wince.

During my walk along the tarred path below Newlands fire station , earlier this week, I was just missed by three cyclists overtaking me – in one case, by inches.

how many inches, David? Two inches, or 59 inches? Because this matters, as we find out later in your seemingly otherwise pointless correspondence.

Having cycled myself when younger, I appreciate that wind rush effectively deafens a rider, helmeted or not, making them unaware of events behind them and no self-respecting individual would think of attaching a “bell” to their precious machines.

aaaaaaaand I’m lost… While I too cycled when younger, and while I too appreciate that wind rush effectively deafens a rider, making them unaware of events behind them, what does this have to do with them overtaking you? You’re not behind them, you’re in front of them. And so what if they’re deafened, because number one, they can see you, and number two, you’re not making any noise anyway.
Unless… Unless, that is, I’ve got this situation all wrong, and these are blind cyclists, blind cyclists cycling backwards towards you, and you (helmeted or not) are making a lot of noise that they can’t hear because of wind rush. It seems like a somewhat unbelievable situation, but if I’ve got it right, then you are fully justified in writing to the Southern Suburbs Tatler – and possibly even the UN. Cyclists are a menace. Blind cyclists, deafened by wind rush, cycling backwards towards you is downright dangerous.

And also actually amazing. Forget the local paper and the international authorities, call the bloody circus.

I believe the time is ripe to launch a T-shirt campaign depicting a pedestrian with a line marked 1.5 meters and a cyclist and on the other side, and the words “Do unto others…”
Alternatively, but now too passé, use social media #Cyclistsmustfall.

Yes, yes. Do the T-shirt, but make it a blind, deaf, helmeted (or not) cyclist, cycling backwards.
And make the pedestrian look like a buffoon.
For accuracy.

What do you think?

I think you know what I think, David Helps (no he doesn’t).
I think I’ve made it abundantly clear.

Support me and the royalties are yours.

Royalties? From a T-shirt idea you nicked from some cycling organisation and the “passé” social media hashtag you nicked from some rowdy students? I don’t think there’ll be any royalties. A couple of misplaced copyright lawsuits, sure, but no royalties.

You’ve been no helps at all.

The Three Helens

When Helen Zille announced recently that she was not going to stand for the DA Leadership again this year, the reactions were many and varied. Colleagues used the opportunity to praise her good work for the party, opponents (generally quietly) celebrated and thinkpiece writers fell over themselves to write thinkpieces, having been starved of opportunities for years hours since the statue debacle and not knowing that the lucrative magic porridge pot of xenophobic attacks were just around the corner.
Very few people turned to the medium of poetry. And that, dear readers, was a shame.

Surely someone must have gone down the versificational route to express their feelings on this momentous event. Yeah, there was plenty of interpretive dance, but I was after metrical composition, and I could find none. In fact, it was only on page 2 of the esteemed Southern Suburbs Tatler that I found appropriate balladry documenting Zille’s decision. Only right, then, that having found Charlotte Caine of Claremont’s The Three Helens that I share it with you.
I’m on it. Doing it right now.


The Three Helens

Charming and friendly
Yet firm when she needs
With vision, courage and purpose
Is how this first lady leads

Voted “The Best Mayor in the World” [Is this going to scan? – Ed.]
Always giving her extraordinary all [No. No, it’s not. – Ed.]
She has always steered the way forward [Double use of ‘always’. – Ed.]
In showing us how to stand tall [Utterly dreadful. – Ed.]

She’s a person who knows how to plan
She’s a woman who knows how to work
No matter how arduous the task may be
She’ll face it; she will never shirk [Semi-colon = extra points. – Ed.]

She has gone from strength to strength
She stands above the crowd
She always goes the extra length [It’s ‘goes the extra mile’, ne? – Ed.]
She has made this country proud [Double rhyming couplet special bonus. – Ed.]

Completing an industrious trio of Helens
Helen Suzman, Helen Joseph, Helen Zille [Keller? Mirren? No? – Ed.]
With dedication, intelligence and determination
Each one a warrior; each one a winner [This doesn’t rhyme. Just saying. – Ed]

Helen Zille is a phenomenal woman
She has earned her place in history
She personifies an invincible spirit
And leaves an indomitable legacy


[Rather awkward and stumbled a bit towards the end. A bit like her, I suppose. – Ed.]


A couple of points here. Firstly, that since (I’m assuming) the Southern Suburbs Tatler must have been near inundated with several (or more) poems saying how great Helen Zille was, this is ever so slightly disappointing on the quality front. How poor were the others? Were the rest of them just racist outbursts from angry, privileged, Southern Suburbs, white-bearded men? Well, yes. Yes, they were.
This is surely the only reason for fielding these six stanzae.
And then secondly, that in this isibongo, there is no mention of Helen’s continual Twitter meltdowns. And yet this makes up at least [a lot] of her legacy, indomitable or otherwise. So here you go:

Of course she has her dark side too
Like when she rants on twitter
And calls Simphiwe Dana
An ill-informed, arrogant critter

Yeah, I know. It was rushed, inaccurate, it doesn’t scan, it’s rather forced and poorly laid out. Fits right on the end of Charlotte’s work perfectly then. Hashtag seamless.

I’m almost (almost) tempted to write a whole Helen Zille poem, but right now I have to go home and build a flat pack table (uThug Life) so that’ll just have to wait.

Enjoy your long weekend, SA. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. And the day after. And on Monday. No rest for the well wicked, innit?

V.G.B, the SABC and e-tv

Ah, splendid! A welcome return of letters to The Southern Suburbs Tatler, although this one is an SMS, I believe. (To express your viewpoint via this particular medium to this particular publication, SMS “TAT” (yes, really) to 32263.)

That what V.G.B did. V.G.B lives in Pinelands, so we probably shouldn’t take his/her viewpoint too seriously, but still, if he/she is going to take the time and make the effort to SMS “TAT” and then have his/her rant, it’s only fair that we should at least read what he/she had to say. Which was this:

IMG_20140328_111556Quoth V.G.B:

Who sees to the content of what is shown on TV? Why can’t that person do their job properly? The shows on TV are mostly repeats. Please employ somebody who knows that they are doing. The SABC is going down the drain. And, why are you showing porn on etv? Have you at etv got no morals? Then you wonder why there is so much rape and kidnapping in your community

V.G.B, Pinelands.

Woah! That’s a whole lot of questions and opinions in one single SMS to 32263, V.G.B.

My first issue with your first question is that you seem to have tacitly answered it within your second question. You are seemingly aware that it is the job of one person (who can’t do it properly). Are you perhaps looking for a specific name? “Bob”, perhaps? And why do you think they’re not doing their job properly? Maybe it’s just you that doesn’t like repeats (it’s not, but I bet you never considered that). Maybe other people like repeats because they missed the first broadcast. Maybe you’re just watching too much TV. Have you really got nothing better to do, like trying to escape from the 531 hood or SMS’ing to your local newspaper or something?

The SABC, you tell us, is going down the drain. Is this something you’ve only recently noticed, or is this statement the culmination of a decade or more’s worth of square-eyed research by your good self? I’m just asking because many of us came to that conclusion quite a while ago. Surely an expert on matters televisual such as yourself would also have noted this before now.

But you’re not content with poking fun at the ailing national broadcaster, are you? Oh no, etv is in your sights as well. It’s not entirely clear if you believe that the same individual (“Bob”) is also responsible for the content of what is shown on etv as well, but if so, you clearly remain quite disappointed in their scheduling abilities. Why are they showing porn? Well, obviously, as you state, it’s because they have no morals. Or because there’s a market for it. Which probably means that you think everyone watching has no morals. But then… how do you know etv is showing porn? Have you been watching it (solely for SMS-to-the-local-rag research, obviously)? Did you see that one with the plumber last Friday? Excellent cinematography, I felt.

Now, not only is this individual (“Bob”) scheduling repeats on SABC and showing porn on etv, he’s also apparently wondering why there is so much rape and kidnapping in his community. (How do you know where he lives, by the way?)
Your lack of any conjunction here leaves it unclear if you are linking these activities, but let’s assume that you are, in which case, let’s remind ourselves of the lack of any link between porn on tv and rape.

But then, that still leaves us the thorny issue (eina!) of why etv showing porn (and having no morals) should affect the prevalence of kidnapping in any given community. I have searched extensively and have failed to find a single article linking (or even suggesting any sort of link between) late night televisual sexual proclivities and kidnapping. Or burglary. Or money-laundering. Or any other crime, really. Do you have some other, hitherto unseen, evidence for this etv porn/community kidnapping link? Perhaps you have someone in mind who is simply so appalled by the choice of repeats or amoral smut that he goes out and steals people off the street as alternative entertainment or maybe even, as some sort of bizarre protest?
Or did you just choose a couple of random crimes to bolster your none case for the rubbish “Bob” has been giving us on Welfare TV? I wonder.

I guess that we can only hope that etv don’t start showing repeats of porn. Pinelands would simply not survive your apoplectic rage at such a coming together (careful now) of your much-maligned, twin travesties. )My concern is not for Pinelands, obviously, but for any collateral damage to surrounding, more important, suburbs.)

Having read the above, you may feel that I don’t really appreciate your insight into the issues of the day, electronically transmitted to the pages of the Tatler and then stuffed halfway into my letterbox. But that’s simply not the case. It’s merely that I don’t agree with anything you’ve said in this particular effort.
I’m sure that if you get your little 3310 out again this week, we can enjoy further discussions about other fascinating topics on here again this time next Friday.

Speed Kills

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have returned to the Southern Suburbs Tatler.
And therein to the Letters Page.
That’s where I found this beautiful piece of writing. Although, having described it thus, I should point out that I do have a few issues with it, which I will share below:

Speed Kills
On Monday March 11, a teenager lost her pet cat, killed by a speeding car in Oak Avenue in Kenilworth.
The cat had provided comfort and affection, crawling under her sheets to feel the teen’s body heat. She was writing exams that week, but her pet did not crawl into her bed that night. Her pet was found the next morning on the side of the road.

Drivers do not consider the grief they cause to the owners of pets. Speeding in suburbs causes hazards like this and also unnecessary noise which wakes residents.
This is totally ignored for the sake of the feel of power under the bonnet and the throaty noise of the exhaust. Instead, they must realise that speed kills and will have consequences. In this case the driver did not feel a thing, but the teenager and her family have been grieving.
We all know the speed limits. Why can’t people with powerful cars accept their responsibility to the community?

Henk Egberink, Kenilworth.

Henk, first of all, I am so sorry for your loss. Assuming it is your loss, that is. You never actually mention whether the warm teen in question is in any way related to you.
To lose a pet in these circumstances is difficult. To lose one that was writing exams must be doubly difficult.
And, because of these difficulties, I hate to question you regarding this incident. But I am confused, and that is a situation I hate to find myself in.

You should know that I am familiar with Oak Avenue. It’s just around the corner from us and I regularly used its steep hill to warm my calf muscles before my dreadful accident, which, incidentally, didn’t involve power under anyone’s bonnet, nor the throaty noise of an exhaust.

But I digress. Often.

My initial question is this: How do you know that the car that killed this remarkable feline was speeding?

I thought at first that you witnessed the incident, perhaps while holding a SABS-approved radar gun, calibrated to SANAS standards, which you were fully trained in using by an officially recognised regulatory body, but then you mention that the animal was found the following morning. Surely only a sick, sick man could stand to leave an exam writing, probably dead cat to lie by the side of the road overnight.
Although that having been said, I doubt that it would have bothered the cat very much.

Thus, this is where my confusion arising. Were you there or were you not? You seem to be a caring man, Henk. Not one that would leave an injured or dying animal at the side of Oak Avenue. So I’m assuming that you weren’t actually there when the cat met the front bumper of speeding car (and vice versa).

And that assumption brings up another question.
Do you honestly expect a feline-positive outcome to a collision twixt cat and car?

The speed limit on Oak Avenue is 60kph. You could argue that a 60kph speed limit is too high for Oak Avenue (and indeed I may be inclined to agree with you), but that’s another argument completely and anyway, as you so rightly point out, “we all know the speed limits”.

Your assertion that “Speed Kills”, the title and indeed the gist of your beautifully emotive letter to the Tatler, does tend to suggest to me that you believe that whereas an average car travelling at less than 60kph would not have killed this cat, one exceeding the speed limit of Oak Avenue by travelling at – let’s say for argument’s sake – 61kph, would automatically result in its certain demise.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I think you’re incorrect.

I think that the car would still have won this brief battle, even if it was travelling at 30kph. And that’s because it’s so much bigger and more solid than its squidgy, exam writing, organic opponent.

And I don’t want to have to wheel out the big guns to support my hypothesis, but suffice to say, Sir Isaac Newton told me so.

Yeah. Exactly.

Henk, I’m sorry your cat is no longer with us and I trust that you have made alternative arrangements for someone or something to continue with the exam writing, shitting on your neighbours’ lawns and yowling late into the night.

But making mistaken assumptions about our local speed demons isn’t going to bring your unnamed pet back. And while the driver may not have felt a thing at the time of the accident (I’m assuming you mean both physically and emotionally here), having to remove teeth, blood and fur from the front of one’s vehicle is never a pleasant task, especially if he, like you, only found about it the following day. I’d recommend Wash ‘n Wax, which as well as removing all traces of dead cat, will also give a long lasting shine to the bodywork. You can get it from Builders Warehouse, or some of the larger Pick n Pay outlets.

But look at me, forgetting that it wasn’t you that hit the cat, it was a car driven by an inconsiderate and irresponsible driver.
A speeding driver.

Possibly, anyway.

What exactly happened up at the university?

Ah, the bizarre otherworldliness of the Southern Suburbs Tatler letters page. We’ve mentioned it here several times before, but yesterday’s edition gave us no less than two (2) examples of just how odd the folk that write into this freebie rag are.

Firstly, a simple and straightforward request from Douglas Rose-innes of Rondebosch:

I am requesting that homeowners do not pull up lawn and replace it with chipped stone, which is sterile and does not attract birds and life as grass does.

Short, sweet, to the point. I like it, Douglas. And it’s a reasonable request as well, although as a microbiologist, I can inform you that chipped stone is anything but sterile, its many tiny nooks and crannies harbouring a multitude of forms of microbial life.
Also, I have to ask whether this is a one off letter or whether this forms the early stages of a wider, multimedia campaign in order to prevent the life-attracting lawns of Rondebosch being pulled up and replaced with chipped stone? To be honest Douglas, if this is the only effort on your part to stop this scourge of the suburban gardens in your area, I think that you should be prepared to fail. Hard.
Perhaps learn lessons from the #Kony2012 campaign and misinform people that children are being kidnapped and used to pull up the lawns of Rondebosch and replace them with sterile chipped stone. Ask for donations which you will then quietly channel to the armed militia behind a despotic leader who will (possibly) use the money to buy lawnmowers and weedeaters to defend the lawns of Rondebosch from complete desecration.

Or not. It’s just a thought.

Robin Bond, also of Rondebosch, is far less direct. He rambles on for over 1000 words about two specific incidents in which red traffic lights were ignored and he nearly got flattened. You can read the whole lot on a quick and dirty scan here, but there were, for me, a couple of highlights amongst the waffle. (Mmm… Waffle…)

Last night, Tuesday at about 9:45pm, I was walking home from ballroom dancing. Coming to the pedestrian robot opposite Stardust, I noted two cars, one coming from the Wynberg side and one coming from the Cape Town side, both approaching the robot.

OK. Stop. While Robin has set the scene beautifully, I need to do some explaining for you foreigners:
Robots are a colloquialism for Traffic Lights.
Stardust is a restaurant and bar in Rondebosch, where people dance on the tables. Mad! It’s on Main Road, which goes from Cape Town towards (and beyond) Wynberg, which helps to explain Robin’s description of the cars’ direction.

Oh, and Robin does ballroom dancing on Tuesdays. This isn’t pertinent to the story, but it does give us a quick glimpse into the chaotic workings of Robin’s mind. Not only does Robin partake in ballroom dancing on Tuesdays, he also feels it necessary to tell us that he partakes in ballroom dancing on Tuesdays.

I pushed the button for pedestrians and the robot went red.
Both cars were a way off and had plenty of time to stop, but I was vigilant enough to be circumspect.

Vigilance and circumspection – the keywords of Tuesday night ballroom dancers across the nation.
But anyway…

The car on my side of the road (the mountain side) ran through the red robot, after which I proceeded to cross with caution, watching the oncoming car from the left.

Vigilance, circumspection and caution. Belt, braces and some more braces.

The car did not slow down and swerved to around me to get through the red robot. The car then pulled off onto the parking area opposite Stardust and the driver got out and looked at me.

Uh-oh. Hier kom kak, as the locals might say.
But then Robin just nonchalantly chucks the following line into the tale:

I had already had a bad experience up at the university, so I didn’t want to engage in any interaction.

Wait. What? Why? What “bad experience” happened up at the university? Did you perhaps kill a driver in a road rage incident up at the university, Robin? Because with the meagre information I’m given here, that’s what I’m imagining. What other “bad experience” could cause you to not want to engage in any interaction with a driver who has stopped and is looking at you? Was the red mist starting to descend again? I’m picturing you, swaying slightly (perhaps in the style of a gentle waltz) holding you head in your hands and praying for the demons to stop telling you to get the still-bloodied axe out of your ballroom dancing bag.

No. Please. Don’t make me do it again. He only ignored a traffic signal.

So – what was this “bad experience”? Well – there is no further elaboration in Robin’s letter, merely an appeal to the traffic department to clarify some methods of improving pedestrian safety. Which is all well and good, but leaves an mysterious and scary story hanging over what exactly happened up at the university, where they are still looking for the infamous and elusive Ballroom Beheader…

Muhahahahahahaha!  [with echo, repeat to fade]