Seen it all before

One of the biggest eye-openers you can have is seeing a story in the press of which you have personal knowledge.
When you read the article, you can marvel at just how inaccurate and mis-representative the reporter or journalist is being.
Applying this new-found enlightenment to other stories in the media can lead to chronic cynicism when reading newspapers or perusing internet news sites. You may suddenly find that you want to take the content with an appropriately sized pinch of salt. Builder’s Warehouse sell 25kg bags of salt for exactly this purpose. Buy a couple – they’ll will last you a week.

Of course, it could be that you just got unlucky and that all the other stories out there are 100% bang on, deadly accurate.
But that seems rather unlikely, doesn’t it?

And it was with a heavy and cynical heart that I read the latest attack on Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup in the Guardian.

And so to 2014. Three years ago, when Brazil was unveiled as the host of the next World Cup, the country’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, promised a tournament so well organised that even his country’s greatest rivals – the Argentinians – would be unable to criticise it. Now, however, even Brazilians are starting to speak out against the lack of progress in stadium construction and infrastructure projects, amid concern over corruption and bad planning and calls for the number of host cities to be cut from 12 to 10.

It’s exactly what they were saying about South Africa 4 years ago. And that’s got me on the phone to my local salt mine.

Because the issues over crime and security were unfounded. The allegations that the stadiums would not be ready or would not be up to standard were nonsense. Our transport system upgrades were completed and well utilised. And when the media realised this, they moved on to more trivial, more foolish stories of snakes, race wars and the like.

I know you’re as thankful as I am that SA stayed free of significant seismological activity during the tournament.

The Guardian article describes Brazil’s 2014 bid as being “ambitious”. Well, good. What were they expecting? Brazil to submit their bid documents detailing six 50-year-old stadiums and hope that visitors will find their way around on foot, noting that it might be a long walk from Rio to some of the stadiums in the north of the country?

And then the dig at the transport infrastructure:

Even in the country’s affluent south-east, motorways are often crater-ridden dual carriageways; in the poorer north-east and mid-west their standard is frequently life-threateningly bad.

Has Tom Phillips actually relied on anything other than hearsay and his own creative licence before reporting that? Because it does sound like much of the stuff I was hearing about South Africa in the (elongated) run-up to the 2010 World Cup. And I know that a lot of that wasn’t actually true – or was at the very least blown out of all proportion. Who could forget Louise Taylor’s nonsense in the… er… Guardian (and which I dealt with ever so briefly at the bottom of this)?

Marcotti wrote of some long, unpleasant drives in the dark after covering matches. Commenting on the lack of dual carriageways and lit highways in certain areas, he described negotiating one road heading towards Jo’burg as “like snorkelling in a sewer filled with squid ink”. Shortly afterwards came the sad news that a German journalist had been killed in a car accident while driving to a Confederations Cup match.

Personally I’d have preferred the 2010 World Cup to have gone to Egypt. Yes, it would have been very hot (although it’s a dry heat) and it would, in places, have been dirty and ultra-chaotic, but it would also have been friendly and welcoming. And, in terms of crime, Egypt is extremely safe. Eyebrows would doubtless have been raised at the potential for organisational mayhem, the nightmarish Cairo traffic and the downtown air pollution, but surely if the Egyptians could build the pyramids they could host a World Cup.

Of course, the Egyptians did host the World Cup back in 4010 BC and it was a highly lauded tournament – but with their abilities as pyramid builders, it was always going to be a success. And this even though many of their roads were very poorly lit.
And South Africa’s success some 6000 years later was achieved despite it going dark at night. Amazing.

But I digress.

Maybe Brazil are behind schedule. Maybe the transport infrastructure is poor. Maybe there is political interference at every level (perish the though that this would occur anywhere else in the world).
But I don’t believe all I read in the newspapers. And I’ve seen what can be achieved in four years and thus I refuse to write them off already. Looking at many of the comments below Phillips’ piece, I can see that a lot of others are losing faith with these stories too.

Of course, when Brazil isn’t ready and the 2014 tournament is in disarray, Phillips will be able to look back and tell us that he told us so. But where is Louise Taylor’s admission that she got it so very hopelessly wrong about South Africa in 2010?

Força, Brasil!

Why does our society hate children?

Try flying with a small child and retain your love of humanity.

Incoming from The Guru:

Perhaps of interest?

Oh yes.

I have to admit that I laughed out loud as I read James C Kaufman’s take on the recent Southwest Airlines throws mother and child off plane because child is too noisy story. Especially when I found out that it was because the 2-year-old in question was drowning out the the safety announcements with shouts of “Go Plane! Go!”.
I think we’ve all felt that way as they run through yet another sodding demonstration of how to put a sodding life-jacket on.

Kaufman seems to have exactly the same approach to parenting as me:

I believe in rules and good behavior in public. I don’t like ruining people’s days (at least via my child), and we don’t take our son to nice restaurants, movies, or live theatre when he’s clearly not ready for it. But there are some situations where it is necessary to take a child into the public eye. One that’s on my mind right now (because we’re traveling quite soon) is plane rides. I have seen the most egregious behavior here – from adults.

Before I was a parent, I wasn’t a parent. And those days aren’t so far gone. So yes, I understand that unruly kids can be a pain.
What I don’t think I understood before I was a parent was that sometimes kids have to be a bit unruly. And what better time for them to be unruly than on a plane?

Think about it. You’ve been cooped up in a car for an hour (or however long) to get to the airport. You’ve stood in 13 different queues – check-in, security, customs, etc etc.
And then you sit – seatbelted in – doing precisely sod-all for another hour once you’re actually on the plane before a really scary take off and 11½ hours (I’m doing Cape Town – London here) of having to sit in your seat and not go anywhere – oh, and then a really scary landing as well.
All in all a wholly unpleasant experience. I’d certainly scream and cry.
I still do, from time to time.

The thing that non-parents forget to take into account is that they were once kids too. And they almost certainly  behaved in exactly the same way, be it on a plane, in a shop or in public anywhere.
Because that’s what kids do, from time to time. It’s part of what being a kid is about.
Of course, parents have to react to this – especially in public. One can’t be seen to be simply ignoring the fuss that one’s child is making. Goblin – in her charmingly titled post Just Gag It points this out:

Parents should be fined when their child is throwing a tantrum in a public place and they pleasantly continue to drink their coffee saying, “Oh he’ll calm down in a second. I will ignore him until he behaves properly. Until then, we will ruin your experience”.

Of course, it should be noted that trying to deal with your child throwing a tantrum in a public place (or even in a private place) very rarely yields instant results. Or at least any beneficial ones. But it’s the fact that you are at least trying to do something about the noise which is enough for most people. Most people.

Things to remember:
1. It’s not pleasant for me [the parent] either.
2. I’m doing my best to stop the noise for everyone’s (incidentally, including my daughter’s) sakes.
3. We’re at 37,000 feet. Where would you like me to go so I’m not disturbing anyone? (Actually, don’t answer that)
4. It’s 10 minutes out of your life. It may seem like longer, but it’s not. 10 minutes. Deal with it.

I would argue that most of the anger that is directed the way of parents and their children on aeroplanes is there because other travellers have given themselves a false level of expectancy. I would also be disappointed if, when traveling economy, I was expecting free champagne, caviar, ample leg room and a nice massage with a happy ending from Denise the Stewardess.

Dream on, sunshine. Ain’t going to happen.

And likewise with kids on flights – as I pointed out earlier – you have basically put them through every situation that they hate. What do you expect?

Kaufman again:

Several folks on this and other sites pointed out how much money they would pay for a child-free flight. You know what? I’d pay just as much for a child-friendly flight – where reasonably behaved kids can fly without fear of glares from miserable old ladies, put-off hipsters, and misanthropic businessmen.

Correct again, Professor K.
I have already suggested this idea to influential people in the parenting business. Like Mrs 6000.

This doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be allowed to fly. All it takes is a bit of understanding from all parties involved. From the children – as much as they can understand; from the parents – who must do everything to make the experience as uneventful as possible for all concerned; but most of all from the other people on the plane, who – when one looks at it properly – often end up behaving like… well… children.

P.S. Southwest Airlines apologised to the mother and her son that were kicked off the flight.

This is it

I have been waiting for the perfect time to share this little bit of video footage with the 6000 miles… reading public.

And this is it. Because today marks the release of the Michael Jackson documentary and this is my bit of Michael Jackson tribute.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no fan of MJ and I am more than ready for the whole thing to go away now. Which of course it won’t.
So, if you can’t beat them, join them and show the world your love of Michael. Sham on!

Which brings me to this video. Please allow me to set the scene:
It was filmed in Trafalgar Square, London UK on Sunday 5th July 2009 – 10 days after Michael popped some propofol and shortly thereafter, his clogs. A group of (mainly) middle-aged women had got together and were self-consciously dancing around a CD player which was quietly knocking out MJ hits.
Rarely have I seen a group so uncomfortable in their own skins. This was clearly the first IRL meet-up of an MJ internet forum. No-one knew anyone else and all present seemed to be disappointed with the turnout, the company, the organisation, the venue and the weather.

Until the forum loony turns up. Dressed in white crocs, cream opaque tights under white fishnets, blue polka dot shorts, a dark Union Jack top and a floppy hat, she (at least, I think it was a she) promptly demonstrated how MJ would have done things if he’d been a MJ forum loony.

MJ never did it like this

Note how the others in the group aren’t quite sure how to react. Two of them attempt to turn the loony dance into some sort of  Thriller move. It doesn’t work and they give up and try to ignore the loony.
In the end, it turned into two tributes – one with some middle-aged women shuffling around a cd player and one with a loony prancing all over Trafalgar Square. 

Just how MJ would have wanted it. But with less small children.

Broken garden

Just before we embarked on the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour, we had an evening of very strong northeasterly winds in Cape Town. Those of you from this area will recognise that northeasters are fairly rare and bring with them the heat of sub-Saharan Africa.

Not all of it, obviously. I mean, I am in no way suggesting that the Democratic Republic of Congo drops to Absolute Zero just because it’s a bit breezy in Cape Town. That would be silly. But when it’s blowing at 45km/h at three in the morning and the temperature is still 23°C, then you know that someone, somewhere, is missing that warmth.

The other potential issue for me was that aeroplanes taking off and landing at Cape Town International Airport don’t like those sort of winds. And that was my main concern regarding the gusty conditions – at least until I woke up the next morning and found what it had done to my big tree in the garden. It had broken it. And the big tree, being a big tree, had broken some more stuff underneath itself. Gravity wins again.

Before it was broken, the big tree used to provide a landing spot for Cape Turtle Doves who would gently coo and… coo some more; it gave us that little shady nook at the corner of the pool where you could escape the fierce rays of the Cape Town summer sun. And perhaps most importantly, it hid the rather messy bit at the back of the garden from us.

There wasn’t much we could do about the big broken tree with 12 hours to go before our flight to Heathrow, so when we got back from overseas, the big broken tree was still big and broken. Yesterday, some big broken tree experts came, tutted a bit and shook their heads and then took the big broken tree away, breaking much of the rest of the garden in the process.

Now I have a broken garden with a big tree sized hole where the big tree used to be.

“Look on the bright side,” said Mrs 6000.

But then she stopped and there was silence, because there was no bright side.

We have a broken garden and it’s very sad.

I’m making excuses…

It’s something that I have won many awards in – or at least, I would have done if there were awards to be won for making excuses.
Which, I guess, is an excuse – I hope that you can see the dedication therein.

I still haven’t uploaded the pictures from London (including those of the pathetic and awkward Michael Jackson tribute in Trafalgar Square) onto flickr and Big Ant is not going to be happy when he finds out. This annoyance has either just begun upon him reading the last line or has already occurred when he ventured onto my flickr and failed to find the images I had promised.
Either way, you probably heard the roar of disapproval.
The excuse is that it’s been so nice and sunny here that I have just been playing outside, with the kids, with the braai and with the new camera.

My intention was to play catch up this weekend. I’ve lost touch with everything a bit: news, sport, gossip, music and everything else besides. However, with the weather being so beautiful and the kids being so… “interactive” (for want of a better word), it just hasn’t happened. So I’m sorry that there is a paucity of observations on current affairs and the like. I would say stuff, but I’m still in holiday mode and I actually don’t know what’s going on. I wonder if this is what normal people feel like most of the time?
Maybe by Thursday, when it’s pitching down with rain (as is more usual for a Cape Town winter), you’ll get the sort of incisive comment which youhave come to rely upon – and which 6000 miles… has become infamous for – on those important matters. Until then, it’s sunny. Sorry.

Right now, I have to go an “interact” with the kids some more – it’s bathtime.
After that, I have big plans to “interact” with a nice robust red wine and – quite possibly – FIFA 08 on the PlayStation 2 (Yes, I like to do things a little Old Skool).

More trivial posts will follow until precipitation arrives. Please feel free to leave trivial comments.
I deserve nothing more.  

P.S. Please note the lack of an apology for not uploading those photographs.
I would have said sorry, but I’d already published this post.