Not a great start

It’s not been a great start to the day.

My phone’s software updated yesterday and reset the volume setting on the alarm clock. This was never going to be a good thing. Either it was going to be very, very quiet or IT WAS GOING TO WAKE UP EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!

I almost soiled myself when it turned out to be the latter, but that blast of volume was actually the better option as I had had a particularly restless night. My uneasy slumbers had been punctuated by dreams of Godzilla hurling flaming cars from the M3 onto nearby sports fields. And that wasn’t even the worst bit: some of the drivers of those cars had agrostophobia, and those that survived the impact and the resulting blaze found themselves wholly triggered. It was awful.

You can see why I feel somewhat unrested.

And then, with assessments for both kids beginning today, the careful balancing act on the drive to school between recognising the importance of the tests and not scaring our little cherubs half to death. And it really doesn’t help when one is so laid back he’s practically horizontal and the other is concerned that she might get a sum wrong.
At some point.
During the rest of her life.

With them suitably advised (one newly terrified, one newly blasé) (well, done, Dad), I headed off to work. I could have taken the M3, and indeed it was probably the route of choice, but the chances of being attacked by a mutated dinosaur seemed so much higher along that route, so I took the low road instead.

Along with everyone else who was avoiding death by traumatic exposure to grass.

Desperate times called for entirely sensible measures, and thus I employed a mixture of soothing Ludovico Einaudi and Susanne Sundfør to calm me down as those around me (many of them in these categories) gave their best efforts at sabotaging any attempts at me getting to the lab in time to complete yesterday’s experiments.

Suffice to say, thanks to Ludo’s Petricor [sic] and Susanne’s The Golden Age, I remained calm, focussed and got to work in time to add the appropriate reagents at an appropriate time.

It’ll take more than dinosaurs, dodgy alarm clocks, the spectre of school examinations and all of the traffic in Cape Town to beat me.

Although I could do with a nap right now.

Traffique

Back in Cape Town. The traffic heading back into the city after the long weekend, together with the rain sweeping across the Western Cape made for a long, miserable and taxing journey home.

Which idiot decided on that 500m of single carriageway between the bottom of Sir Lowry’s Pass and Somerset West? Who thought that would be a good idea?
Tosser.

I’m tired, and so I’ll sort out a few photos and some more words for you tomorrow.

Ok?
Ok.

Late one

I’ll just slip this in before midnight…

image

Another packed day, another bike ride with the boy – followed by a long drive home in the post-Easter traffic (at least the views were nice) and friends staying over this evening.

Back to life, back to reality tomorrow.
Let’s chat again then.

An open letter of congratulation and gratitude to all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town

Hello all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town,

You don’t know me, and I haven’t “Gott 2 Tour” (LOL!), but I was fortunate enough to witness a selfless act of humanity by one of the drivers of your 16-seat minibus tour vehicles yesterday evening. In the world today, there are far too few selfless acts of humanity and even fewer open letters of congratulation and gratitude recognising these selfless acts of humanity. Perhaps this is why society is falling apart around us. Or perhaps not. Either way, I don’t feel that it could do any harm for me to write you an open letter of congratulation and gratitude recognising the selfless act of humanity that I witnessed last night.

Picture the scene, if you will, on the M5 Southbound carriageway at around 5:15pm. Mmm… messy.
Somehow – bewilderingly – the traffic seems worse than usual. I realise that this doesn’t seem possible, since the upgrade to Koeberg Interchange effectively destroyed any hope of reasonable traffic flow from the N1 south, but believe me, as a regular driver of this route, things were slower than I was used to; a sure sign of some sort of incident up ahead.

Just north of Berkley, alongside the three lanes of near stationary traffic, a tow truck raced past in the yellow lane on the left hand side of the carriageway. One could see the sudden realisation sweep across the rows frustrated drivers as they suddenly realised that there must be an accident on the road ahead.
No relief from the queues, sure, but at least some reason behind the excessive delay and at least some help was on the way to clear the road and get the traffic moving again.

But you know, much like the proverbial London buses, tow trucks never come one at a time. This is actually quite a good thing, because quite often, there is more than one vehicle involved in an accident and all of the damaged parties have to be removed from the carriageway before the horrible congestion can begin to be addressed. And indeed, true to form, along came another tow truck, its shiny black paintwork gleaming in the evening sunshine.

Now, it should be noted that, technically, driving in the yellow lane isn’t actually allowed. I know this, the traffic police know this, the tow truck drivers know this. But in these cases, where everything else is like a parking lot, the cops are willing to overlook this minor transgression in order to get the tow truck to the scene of the accident, get the road cleared and get the literally hundreds of cars stuck behind the crash, moving again. But the law is the law. And those tow truck drivers were breaking it. We know that everyone hates tow trucks: they’re second only to the minibus taxis and way, way ahead of Golden Arrow buses who occupy third place when it comes to inciting extremes of hypertension amongst the populous of Cape Town.

Naughty tow truck drivers. Naughty.

Gott 2 Tour employees reading this should have no fear, however. I know that the driver of your (empty) white minibus – registration GOTT 3 WP – was aware of this naughtiness as well, because his inner superhero kicked in and he swerved across the inside lane and got his wheels across the yellow line to quickly and effectively block the tow truck. In some sort of twisted analogy for Apartheid, the fat, white bus prevented the sleek, black tow truck from going about his business.

Ha! That’ll show him that we won’t stand for his flagrant disregard for the laws of this country! Yeah, he’s going nowhere now, certainly not past all these irritated drivers and to the scene of the accident up ahead where he will hopefully be able to assist with getting the traffic flow going again and get these hundred of people safely and timeously back to their respective families.
And who cares if I am technically breaking the law by driving at 2kph partially in the yellow lane, because I’m stopping the tow truck driver from driving in the yellow lane, because that’s breaking the law.

So weird though, because there was so little recognition of his selfless act of humanity from the other motorists around him. It was almost as if they were thinking, “Dude, don’t be a twat. That tow truck is going to remove the blockage ahead and get me home in time to see my kids before they go to bed”.
Almost exactly like that, it was.

There was a sort of slow motion stand-off going on over to my left. For second after second, Mr Gott et al, your driver used your tour bus (and effectively, your livelihood) as a rolling barricade to prevent the – now understandably irritated – tow truck driver from getting past in the yellow lane. Well done, tour bus driver! You’ve made a stand for the common man, facing up bravely to the tyranny of the tow truck fraternity and merely inconveniencing everyone else on the entire road as a slightly unfortunate by-product.

Eventually though, your driver realised that he couldn’t keep this courageous behaviour up all the way home, as the margins for error were becoming smaller and smaller thanks to the thoroughly pissed off and increasingly desperate tow truck driver, who seemed almost prepared to see if his vehicle would fit through the tempting – but not ever so wide – gap between bus and kerb.
Eventually, a whole 45 seconds after he began his epic crusade, your driver relented, went back to driving legally, and allowed the tow truck past.

But, you know, point made, right? Right.

If there were medals for holding up a law-breaking tow truck in the traffic for almost a minute while slightly breaking the law yourself, your driver would have got one.  Because that’s exactly what he did. But now the bad news, all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town: I’ve checked, and sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any precedent for awarding medals in this somewhat niche category.

And so it comes down to me to express my congratulations and gratitude in this, an open letter of… er… congratulation and gratitude to all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town.

I think I can safely speak for all the frustrated motorists on the M5 yesterday evening when I say that I will certainly not forget the actions of your driver.

The Killers at Val de Vie – Review

We went, we saw, we made it back almost partially unscathed.
Personal photos, courtesy of Mrs 6k’s K850i are on the way, but in the meantime, here are some others to keep you going.

The Venue
Val de Vie is very nice. Posh. And the concert crowd (and the concert, actually) seemed a bit out of place. The stage was the usual Big Concerts stage, the big screens with the one rogue pixel, the rectangular stage and the pretty impressive array of lighting. The field was well kept, nice short grass, flat – limited chances of twisted ankles etc. I thought the free* bar was well run (went several times, queued a bit), the loos were plentiful (went twice – no queuing!!).
I was rather impressed.

The Parking/Traffic Issue
This morning, I note that there’s a huge storm about the traffic and the parking at the concert. If I see the words “epic fail” one more time, it will just be… well… an “epic fail”. On the way in, we met traffic just before the N1 junction and then we queued all the way into the estate. We had (as everyone had) received two emails from Big Concerts last week, both stating (amongst other things):

Fans are advised to arrive at the venue as early as possible in order to prevent pressure on the roads approaching the estate. Gates are scheduled to open at 16:00.

We would have been there at 16:00 on the dot. Who thinks that if they aim to turn up at the venue at 17:00 or later then they’re going to sail straight in? Seriaas? As it was, we got in and parked up just after half past four. Fine by me.
On the way out, it was hugely congested – much like other gigs and sporting events I have been to in the UK and SA. Back to that email again:

The show will be over by 22:30 and we expect traffic volumes to have eased by midnight.

Which was pretty much exactly right as well. Actually, the show finished at 22:15 and I left the venue by quarter past midnight. But I’m not going to quibble over a couple of quarter hours.

I refuse to blame Big Concerts (the promoter) for the “epic fail” parking and traffic. I never saw it. It was busy – hugely busy, sure. Were people not expecting that, despite the emails and the information? Even if Big Concerts had opened the gates an hour earlier, people would still have left it until the last minute to try and get in and then ignored the well-publicised warnings about the traffic after the concert.
You got home a bit late – big deal. Was Mummy angry because today is a school day or are you just jumping on the bandwagon because you need something to whine about?

The Support
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Zebra and Giraffe are the most promising band to come out of South Africa since, well, certainly since I’ve been here. I always feel sorry for support acts as they are so regularly overlooked, but this was a huge opportunity for Z&G and they gave it everything. In My Eyes stood out for me as did The Knife. There was energy, there was passion. Greg Carlin’s voice was perfectly on form and the audience interaction was perfect in tone and quantity and was well reciprocated.
Zebra and Giraffe and The Dirty Skirts are playing in Cape Town this Saturday in a (not ever so) well-publicised event at WBHS and I’ll certainly be there, because I just can’t get enough of these guys at the moment.

The Killers
Ah. The main event. And – I know this is going to prompt howls of derision – but can I say that I was a little bit disappointed?
The hype, the build-up, the anticipation had been huge. And yes, the set was good – it was really, really good – but for me, it didn’t live up to the expectation. Maybe that was because my expectations were too high, but why shouldn’t they have been? After all, this is one of the biggest bands in the world right now and they had n thousand fans eating out of their hands.
In truth, it was a one man show. Brandon Flowers has remarkable energy and a remarkable presence: as he approached the microphone before they kicked off with Human as if working out how best to attack it. But as he strutted around and posed like he was the only one on stage, it began to feel a bit faux; a bit contrived.
This was a show that they have done all over the world and in many ways, it was as if they were just doing another show. Like there was nothing special about it for them. You knew that the ad libs had been ad libbed for the last six months: “Is it too early to say that you’re a bit louder than Johannesburg yet?”. If anything, it was just too well done.

That said, they know their stuff. None of the B-side rubbish – this was a catalogue of their hits and there’s nothing that a crowd loves more than hit after hit after hit. Smile Like You Mean It and Mr Brightside  (written about a bloke from the industrial East end of Sheffield) were particularly well received. Confetti and pyrotechnics assisted with wowing the audience and there were numerous sing along moments to boot. Ronnie Vannucci on the drums was one of the forgotten heroes as Flowers pandered to the audience and stole the show, but what a passionate performance at the back.
The encore was undeniably spectacular. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine and When You Were Young were a superb end to a memorable show, but one which never quite reached its full potential for me.

Overall
An excellent afternoon and evening out. Great company (including (briefly, at least) the legendary Ian MacDonald from SA – The Good News), a great vibe and a great concert. And the perfect end to a spectacular party weekend. And while The Killers didn’t quite do it for me, I think I was perhaps in the minority. Mrs 6k loved every single minute and that’s a rare, yet very welcome, vote of approval.
Next up for Val de Vie is Elton John and they’re going to have buy a teleporter if they’re going to keep Cape Town’s old tannies happy.

UPDATE: Kfm/Big Concerts comment on the traffic:

Heavy volumes were always expected and as a consequence fans were repeatedly advised through various channels to assist the authorities in reducing the traffic load.  These requests included allowing enough time to enter and exit the venue; the sharing of rides (carpooling), and a general call for patience and respect for other fans on the road.  
Regrettably it appears from the reports provided through the Venue Operational Centre that the warnings were not heeded and many motorists left their approach to the venue much too late.  As a consequence of the congestion they experienced, tempers flared and many people simply parked their cars illegally blocking the venue entry and exit. 

That’s what I just said. 

* free: allegedly because the liquor licence was refused/not applied for.