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.

Bergvliet’s NIMBYs are a disgrace

People all over the city are trying to help out (see DC’s blog) with the refugee crisis that has hit Cape Town since the xenophobic violence. However, it would seem that these fine examples of humanity and selflessness only go so far:

The Methodist Church has accused some Bergvliet parents of “an exquisite form of genteel xenophobia” for forcing refugees and migrants displaced in xenophobic violence to move from a church in the upmarket suburb.
The Methodist Church has expressed its disappointment at having to move 57 displaced foreigners from the Bergvliet Methodist Church to venues elsewhere, because of “safety and health” concerns of parents of children at the preschool on the property.

Yes, when it comes to actually having displaced people living in a church hall near your house and using the same toilets as your children, then suddenly your viewpoint changes. Dropping a couple of cans of beans or an old coat in at a collection station is great, because then you don’t actually have to see the problem. Someone else can do the hard miles and you can sit back in your comfy chair in front of your fire knowing that some poor black person is happier now – as long as he has a tin opener, anyway.

But actually finding that your local church has made its safe, dry and warm church hall available to temporarily house immigrants fleeing from violence.
Hang on a minute! Little Verity goes to creche there – whatever is the church thinking, providing shelter and food for these stinking, robbing, drug-taking foreigners?!?

I disagree with Tim Attwell’s “genteel xenophobia” comment. It’s an oxymoron.
Yes, he’s comparing it to the horrific violence in the informal settlements – but in many ways, moving these people on in this way is equally prejudiced, equally unnecessary, equally heartless, equally ugly. It’s xenophobia – hatred of those who are different to you – there’s nothing genteel about it.

Four parents wrote to the church and 12 signed a petition, giving the church an ultimatum to remove the displaced families, or they would remove their children or stop paying fees.

The refuge seekers were moved to Trinity Methodist Church in Heathfield, Aldersgate Methodist Church in Steenberg, and Lotus River and Grassy Park Methodist Churches at the weekend.
Members of the Bergvliet congregation are still taking food to the people every day.

That 16 misinformed, prejudiced hypocrites can have such an impact on the lives of these people, especially in their time of need, is a great shame. I know some of those “members of the Bergvliet congregation” who are continuing their good work in helping the refugees. They now have to drive further into less reputable areas and at their own cost – many of them are pensioners who struggle to afford petrol as it is. It’s sad that their humanitarian efforts have been associated with this negative story.

I hereby invite any of those parents who complained to the church to get in touch and give their side of the story. Because, as it stands right now, you are as much a disgrace to this country as those beating and burning their neighbours in the townships.

Bergvliet Methodist Church: (021) 715-3045

NIMBY – “Not In My Back Yard”

Get the balance right

Actually, there’s more to this post than just quoting Depeche Mode songs, but…

Don’t take this way, don’t take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn til you’ve got it right.

Being the editor of a hugely popular international website brand isn’t all fun and games, you know. Aside from the hard work, trolls and begging letters (yes, I’m still writing them), there’s the constant heavy weight of responsibility resting upon my shoulders.
See, what I’ve found is that there are an awful lot of gullible people out there. I haven’t calculated exact numbers, but I’m guessing that we’re probably looking at about 95% of people who have access to the internet. All of which means that you can basically write what you want and people will actually believe it.

Incoming from Katie at brand42 last night, an email inviting me to “preview” (subtext: “please blog about”) their “exciting new site”, mysouthafrica.tv, which launches next Monday and  invites people to send in their images, videos and thoughts on SA – and which CHOWS bandwidth, so is completely rubbish for er… South African users. The small print indicates that this is a SA Tourism initiative. How patriotic of them to use a UK-based web design company. Hmm.

But I don’t mind SA Tourism promoting SA. In fact, I’d be rather annoyed and somewhat bewildered if they didn’t. After all, it is their job.
What I don’t like are sites which are blindly positive or negative about SA. I’ve always tried to strike a bit of a balance on 6000 miles…I’m not completely objective, because this is a personal blog and yes – I like here and I like living here. If I didn’t, I’d pack my son, a few kilos of biltong and a crate of Castle Milk Stout into a rucksack and head for the airport. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the bad things that happen here. Or that I ignore them. One only has to look at the coverage that I gave the recent xenophobic violence to see that.

Compare and contrast my attitude with homecomingrevolution.co.za or sagoodnews.co.za. Read them and you’d wonder how such a perfect Utopian society had previously gone unnoticed by the world. Which it hasn’t, because SA is far from Utopia. And which is why I don’t read them, because being blindly positive is misleading and ignoring the challenges which SA faces doesn’t help overcome those challenges. So really – what’s the point? You still go out of your front door and see the real SA every day.

But then compare that with the doom and gloom merchants like Daxk and his sort on [forum name censored]. They can turn any thread on there into a rant about how miserable life in SA is in about 2 minutes, despite the fact they don’t actually live in SA.
e.g.

Tourist sights in Cape Town
Hi, I’m coming to a conference in Cape Town and I have a spare morning for sightseeing. What should I see in my spare 4 hours?

1st Reply: If the weather’s good, you should try and get up Table Mountain – it’s a wonderful experience and the views are fantastic.
2nd Reply: Be careful with your bag in Cape Town. The armed robbers look for foreign targets with bags.
3rd Reply: I would think twice about attending the conference if I were you. There was a murder on a farm near Brakpan (fake photos attached) and all the black people in SA have AIDS and rape tourists. 
4th Reply: My mother’s old next-door neighbour’s sister’s boss was hijacked in Jo’burg last year.

And so on.
And that’s why I don’t go on there any more either. Because they are racist idiots.

So it really is a bit of a balancing act on here. Mainly because I think that as soon as a site gets so very subjective one way or the other, the value of the message it is trying to convey is lost. Mysouthafrica.tv could rapidly join the list if (as I suspect) the user generated content on there is heavily edited to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Seriously, you’re better off sticking here at 6000 miles… with me. Unbiased, reasoned social comment on South Africa and everything else besides, all for the cost of free. Consider yourself informed.

Serves you right

Fresh from yesterday’s Cape Times and it’s sister paper, Pretoria News:

An agency that sold tickets for a Celine Dion concert in March and a cancelled Josh Groban concert in April has been placed under final liquidation.
An application for the liquidation of Ticket Connection (Pty) was yesterday brought before Judge P Burton-Fourie by the agency itself, which said it was unable to pay debts of R7 million.

Just as the Nuremberg Trials and the legal processes against Saddam Hussein and his henchmen brought to justice those who had inflicted pain, suffering and misery upon their nations, so Ticket Connection (Pty) must also atone for their crimes against humanity.

 

Luister Engelsman…

… as jy dit nie hier laaik nie, hoekom gaan jy nie maar terug Engeland toe nie?*

Why do people always ask me that?

So asked a commenter on one of my bosparra.com posts (scroll down to comments – his is the very first).  Normally, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of something said over there. I select posts which I think might be of interest to the bosparra audience and I thought that one fitted the bill. The selection process is more about choosing something topical and South African than choosing something sycophantic. If people don’t agree, well – that prompts (occasionally heated) discussion and that’s fine by me. People must say what they want to. It’s the only way things get sorted. Well, that and rubber bullets.
Also, I must admit that my Afrikaans isn’t all that it might be, which leaves me a little behind when posting on a predominantly Afrikaans site, (although a GCSE in German stands one in surprisingly good stead when it comes to the basic vocabulary).

However, two things changed that plan of (lack of) action in this case. One was the same commenter popping up over here and the other was the point at which I got my basic Afrikaans together and realised exactly what he was moaning about. Either of which would have made him fair game, to be honest… but both together – well…

Yes, My Name is Botha (as in Earl) – let’s call him “MNIB” for short – is upset about… (and here I pause for dramatic effect)… the title of my blog. He whines:

HY impliseer dat ONS nie beskaafd is nie!
(HE is implying that WE aren’t cultured!)

No, I’m not. Unless you’re Australian. Are you Australian?

MNIB has failed to see the heavy sarcasm dripping from every letter of the title. However, rather than lecture me on the good (or civilised) bits of South Africa, he instead goes on the attack – telling me about how my native country is assisting with the destruction of Islam and is at war with the Irish (really?!?).  

So: Luister MNIB – I think I’m more in love with SA than you are. While you can only be negative about the UK (so far as to make up fake wars!), I’ve long been waxing lyrical over how great this country is. About the milk stout, the optimism, the people, the mountains, the spirit, the beaches etc etc.
The title of the site is very much tongue in cheek – when one has seen Oxford’s Blackbird Leys on a Friday night, one could never truly accept the UK as a bastion of civilised behaviour.  

As I said in my reply to your comment – I won’t be changing the name of the site, even if you pay for the rebranding. I honestly can’t see that your suggestion: 9,600 kms from s**t would really attract as many visitors as the now (in)famous 6000 miles… brand does. Also, as I have absolutely no bearing upon the decisions of the British government, which is nearly (but not quite) as barmy as their SA counterparts, I will be unable to prevent them participating in conflicts overseas.

Maybe you’ll actually choose to read a few of the posts on here and you’ll see what I mean. But more likely, I guess you’ll just mutter doos and start whining when I post at bosparra again.

Your choice. But asb… think before you moan.

* “Listen Englishman, since you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back to England?”