Boo!

There you are – happily sailing away in Table Bay, the most intrepid part of your day being the name of your yacht and then:

Boo!

Yep. That would be a Southern Right whale (probably a calf) jumping  – or breaching, to be technically correct – onto the yacht belonging to the Cape Town Sailing Academy.

No Photoshopping here folks – this is the real deal, as reported by Joyanne’s SA Portfolio Travel blog and local newspaper Die Burger (which might be a bit Afrikaans for some readers).

The result: No injuries to crew. No apparent injury to whale.
R150,000 ($20,000) worth of injury to yacht.
Ouch!

UPDATE: And now there’s video of the allegedly harassed whale doing its thing.

JD Bryce explains all

And he/she explains it in a letter to the Cape Times today.
Over to you, JD Bryce of St James:

The tirade against Bakkies Botha compels me to defend him.

Ti•rade [tahy-reyd, tahy-reyd] – noun; a prolonged outburst of bitter, outspoken denunciation.

Ok – I’ll give you the denunciation bit – and maybe a hint of bitterness because he was an idiot.
But prolonged?
He only did it 6 days ago (and therefore a maximum of 5 days before you wrote your letter). Prolonged is when something goes on for longer than it really should – like discussion over Luis Suarez’s goalline handball (which I’m still in awe of) or whether Jacob Zuma should have stood trial for corruption (still raised most days on Cape Talk).
And outspoken?  No. Everyone (including Bakkies) realises that it was a bloody stupid thing to do. Apart from you. But apparently, you are compelled and have a compulsion to defend him.

So I’ll let you continue, despite your initial foolishness and inaccuracy, because I’m nice like that.

I believe the real reason for his action is the New Zealand Haka.

Ah! Sorry – I misunderstood! This is a sarcastic letter. Amusement! Satire! Hilarity!
Go for it, JD!

The Haka is nothing more than a barrage of abuse in which the All Blacks threaten to beat the other team to a pulp and sever arms and legs. This raises the their [sic] adrenaline levels and creates a dominance over the other team.

Nice build up – and now deliver that punchline!

I believe Bakkies probably had a smouldering resentment to this.
His reaction is understandable.

Wait. What?
Is that it? Are you having a laugh, JD? Are you, perchance, “extracting the Michael”?

I have done some rudimentary calculations and seventy-four points as to why you are an idiot for writing this letter come to mind right about now. I will, henceforth and forthwith,address some of these below.

First off, Bakkies was not alone in facing the All Blacks’ Haka that day. There were 14 other players alongside him as the New Zealanders shook their little asses before kick off. If each of those 14 also harboured a smouldering resentment to the dance troupe, they hid it rather better than Bakkies did. And what’s with this “smouldering” stuff, anyway. You make it sound like he hid this supposed resentment rather well, when in fact he chose to smash himself headfirst into the back of Jimmy Cowan’s head.
While he was lying on the floor.
His reaction in this case is clearly not understandable.

Next up, a quick look at his Springbok Hall of Fame page, indicates that Bakkies had played for the Boks against New Zealand on 12 occasions prior to Saturday’s game. That’s 12 previous Hakas he has face without going completely LooneyTunez 2 minutes later. There was also a match against the “Pacific Islands” in 2004 which probably included a little dance up-front as well, because Pacific Islanders like doing that kind of thing.
Given this information, surely no jury would find that the reaction of Mnr Botha was “understandable”.

And then there are “other incidents” involving Bakkies, where he has tried to break players who haven’t even done the Haka. Gio Aplon of the Stormers, for example. Mind you, that was a long while ago – well, two months ago, anyway – in May this year.
I was there that day and watched as Gio (who weighs a mighty 75kg) was illegally taken out of a ruck by Botha (120kg) and was quite broken. Although, he got better.
But Gio hadn’t been dancing and threatening to beat the Bulls to a pulp. His only crime was to be on the end (corner?) of Bakkies’ shoulder in front of the Railway Stand at Newlands.
Maybe Botha had got him confused with one of the cheerleaders, who did have a quick boogie on the pitch before the teams came out.
We’ll probably never know. But since there was no Haka involved, his reaction in this case was far from understandable.

And what of this Haka and the threats and abuse it brings with it, anyway?
Have the All Blacks actually ever beaten anyone to a pulp during a Haka-prefixed game? Only on the scoreboard, methinks (32-12 last weekend).
And is there really any evidence that arms and legs – (is it ok if I use the collective term “limbs” here, JD? Is that alright?) – is there any evidence that limbs have been severed during an All Black game?

I’m no expert on rugby, but I can use Google and I can find no record of traumatic amputation of any limb during an international rugby match involving New Zealand. And that’s 462 games.

Ignoring replacement players and the complications that they would bring to the calculation and therefore working on the basis of 15 opposition players per game (and a rather obvious 4 limbs per player), that’s almost 28,000 limbs that the New Zealanders have – through the medium of dance – allegedly threatened to amputate during rugby matches and a grand total of zero that they’ve actually managed to tear off.

If you or Bakkies had actually done the maths, you’d surely realise that this Haka thing is obviously just an empty threat and nothing to get all wound up about. Sadly, that does mean that his reaction is anything but understandable.

I recognise that this blog post may seem to you to be part of the “injust” “tirade” against Bakkies, but it’s actually not. It’s simply a reasoned response to your foolish action in attempting to explain his foolish action.

And so, JD Bryce, your letter to the Times is therefore declared null and void and you are banned from 9 weeks from writing anything remotely involving rugby to any newspaper.

Save maybe for an apology.

Helen doesn’t love me anymore

Oh for a politician with a sense of humour. Or at least one with my sense of humour.

It’ll never happen.

We had a great time at the game on Saturday. Beers and prego rolls at &Union, heated debate over the Luis Suarez handball, the awesome Cape Town fan mile and then an entertaining, if rather one sided match at the Cape Town Stadium.
I wouldn’t have even thought about Helen Zille on Saturday if I hadn’t spotted her walking down Bree Street on the way to the match. This is one of the things that impresses me about Zille: she’s so down-to-earth (or if she’s not, she’s a damn good actor). I couldn’t see Zuma or Mbeki or even Tony Leon ever wandering down the back streets of Cape Town CBD to the stadium before heading up to the VIP section.

Anyway, I saw her, I tweeted, I moved on, stadiumward.

The first half went by and we further watched football, drank further beer and had further heated debate over the Luis Suarez handball. I took a quick pic of the front row of the VIP section: Blatter, Zuma, Merkel, Khosa, Zille, Jordaan – they were all there.

It was only when the second half began that I noticed a problem. Helen Zille had not returned to her seat. I was (obviously) filled with concern and I told my followers so:

7 mins of 2nd half gone. @helenzille still not back in her seat. Bad curry last night?

The first two thirds of this was first hand eyewitness stuff. The final third may have been pure speculation, but it was at least based on my own football watching experiences. Why else would anyone miss the first 7 minutes of the second half of such an important game? Or indeed any game?
Surely Delhi Belly is the only reasonable excuse for such behaviour.

11 minutes later and there’s still no sign.
Germany are planning their second goal and Helen is going to miss it.
I let people know:

@helenzille still stuck in toilet. Wilderness Search & Rescue have been called.

By now, “Where is Helen Zille?” and “Bad Curry?” were trending topics on twitter. Possibly.
Concern was mounting, as @simonwillo’s tweet testifies. Germany were anxiously passing it around at the back waiting for Joachim Louw’s signal that Helen was back in her seat and that they were now cleared to go up and pop another one in. The Rand had dropped 2% of its value based on the political instability caused by having the leader of the opposition MIA in a VIP toilet and Mayor Dan Puppet Plato was wondering who was going to tell him what to do now.

But thankfully, the chaos was averted as Helen returned to her seat:

@helenzille is back, but can we have some new loo roll to the Ladies in the VIP please? Thanks.

Dan breathed a huge sigh of relief, the Rand recovered instantaneously and the JSE rose slightly on buoyant toilet tissue sales figures. On the pitch, Miroslav Klose effectively put Argentina out of the World Cup.

All was right with the world and I thought nothing more about the whole politician stuck in the toilet saga until I got up on Sunday morning, all bleary-eyed and bushy-teethed, and checked my email.
And there it was:

At first it seemed as if my somewhat purile tweeting of the previous day had been taken out of context; that somehow, Helen thought I had been poking fun at her. But to unfollow me seemed like a huge over-reaction and wholly pointless, since now she’s hit the QUIT button, everyone can still read what I’m writing about her (or anyone else for that matter), except Ms Zille.

But then I saw the serious side of things.
What if Helen Zille had had a bad curry the previous evening. How would I have known that?
Not only would I have had to have followed her to her restaurant of (poor) choice, I would also have had to have been sat close enough to her to gain the knowledge that she was unhappy with the quality of her main course.
And then – how would I know of the unfortunate and dramatic half-time repercussions of that dodgy balti?

I need to go on record right now and say:
I did not film Helen Zille on the loo on Saturday afternoon.
Nor was I stalking her on Friday evening. I was watching the Ghana game, like the rest of you.
If my tweeting was suggestive that I had access to the VIP loos at the Cape Town Stadium, a la Pavlos Joseph, then it was never meant to be that way. It was merely speculation and if it was actually 100% accurate, well, that was just the fickle nature of fate.

Helen, if you’re reading this (and you surely are), I’m sorry if – by chance – my supposition around your temporary disappearance was concerningly correct in its allegations. I didn’t mean to scare you or insult you (I know you have issues with toilets).

I just didn’t want you to miss the football.

The Kalk Bay Photo Story

Since there were no World Cup matches yesterday, we made the bold move to go out for dinner in a restaurant without any big screens. Or even any small screens, as it turned out. Obviously, this wasn’t hugely important, since there was nothing worthwhile to watch on the screens and that in turn was great news because the screens weren’t there anyway.
The restaurant in question was Harbour House in Kalk Bay – housed in a building which is perched on the rocks at the dry end end of the working harbour’s breakwater – and the views from its lofty elevation are superb. Even at night, which it was when we got there. Harbour House was working tirelessly to use up what remains of South Africa’s meagre electricity resources by shining a 1500w floodlight onto some rocks. The practice of illuminating bedrock is an expensive luxury and it struck me that the upcoming 25% increase in electricity tariffs across Cape Town probably accounted for their rather inflated prices for prawns.
However, on the upside, the prawns were superb and one could see the waves crashing onto the rocks below while eating them.

It was beautiful. I was inspired to create.
And that’s where the problems started.

After a couple of beers and a banging double espresso, I felt suitably charged to step out into the night air, most of which was moving very quickly in a north-westerly direction. This is not an unusual phenomenon in Cape Town and didn’t trouble me greatly. Around me, more touristy types were being blown into the water through a lack of awareness: braving a Cape SouthEaster is a acquired skill and the learning curve is steep like a harbour wall.

Wandering down onto the quayside and ignoring the wailing and splashing, I set up the camera to grab a couple of shots of the trawlers moored in the picturesque harbour. I didn’t have a tripod with me and so I was relying on the numerous walls and ledges around the place to give me suitable vantage points.
Shooting at night can be tricky. When I say “shooting”, I don’t actually mean “shooting”; I mean “taking photographs”. In fact, I actually mean “taking good photographs”.
Taking photographs at night isn’t hard at all: utilising a similar protocol to taking photographs during the day, one merely has to press a button on the camera. Much like actually shooting (as in with a firearm) isn’t any more difficult during the hours of darkness either. Interestingly – in both disciplines – accuracy is key; although a lack of it may have drastically differing consequences.

Anyway, shooting at night can be tricky. This is mainly because it’s pretty dark and so you have to look very carefully to see what you’re actually about to take a picture of. I’m sure that there is a way round this (like Harbour House’s floodlight, for example), but I haven’t found it yet. This meant that I found myself leaning here, kneeling there and generally contorting my body into the most unusual positions in order to see what I was taking pictures of. At one point, I got seawater on my jeans and I rested my arm in a puddle from the rain earlier in the day, but that didn’t matter because dampened limbs or not, the alcohol, the caffeine and the cooling blast of the wind were fueling my creativity to new levels and I was shouting through the wind at the trawlers like some mad fashion ‘tog:

“Work it baby! Show me some more mast! OhMyGod!
Just LOVING that hull – give me more, give me more, sweetie!”

It was only when I joined my fellow diners in the car for the journey back to the relative meteorological sanity of the Southern Suburbs that it became evident that what I thought were puddles of water, weren’t.
They were puddles of fish blood complete with lumpy bits. Lumpy bits that were now all over my clothes.

Fish gut has a rather unpleasant smell which one really doesn’t notice when one is standing in 50kph winds, but which rapidly becomes very noticeable in a Renault Scenic. This leads me to announce an important scientific discovery: If you’re in a gale and you want to find out how you smell, get into a French car. (Further research into other makes and models will not be following).
Winding the windows down didn’t improve the comfort levels for anyone (9°C, 100 kph up the M3) and I was immediately unpopular. But was it really my fault?

Yes, Kalk Bay is a working harbour, but couldn’t the workers at least clean up after themselves a bit? Hose the place down before heading home? Do they not realise that the pretty harbour area will attract people wanting to get some nice photos for their flickr stream? In the dark and the wind? Where you can’t see or smell the danger until it’s too late?

Bastards.

I have showered twice – once in water, once in a 2% Domestos mix. All my clothes have been discarded into the washing machine and I threw my shoes straight into the bin as soon as I got home. So why is the smell of fish gut still haunting my nostrils?

I just hope the measly four photos I got were worth it…

UPDATE: Cape Town Tourism think so.

German man throws puppy at Hell’s Angels and then escapes on stolen bulldozer

File under Acts, German students carrying out inexplicable.

Via the Daily Telegraph and rather late due to World Cup traffic blocking the South African internet (cough):

The 26-year-old drove into the grounds of the motorcycle gang members’ clubhouse north of Munich on Sunday, according to reports in local media.
The young man, who was not identified, then dropped his pants, threw the puppy, and then fled.

After making his getaway, he stole the bulldozer from a construction site, and attempted to drive it to Munich. However, it was not fast enough, and his snail-like pace caused a 3-mile traffic jam near the southern town of Allershausen.

He then fled to his home nearby where he was apprehended by the police.

“What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell’s Angels is currently unclear,” said a spokesman for local police. He said the student had lately been suffering from depression.
The puppy was now in safe hands at a local animal shelter, the spokesman added.

Look, I think we’ve all done something like this when we’ve been a bit down at some point in our lives. I once hurled a squirrel at the bouncers outside the Ritzy nightclub in Newcastle and then escaped on a pogo stick after a Biochem practical went slightly wrong at Uni. And then there was the time I lobbed a goose at those soldiers and made off on a golf cart because I’d run out of jam.
There are many other incidents of this nature buried deep in my past, but those aren’t for here.

And what a line from the police spokesman: “What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell’s Angels is currently unclear”. I bet he couldn’t wait to get home to Mrs Spokesman: “You’ll never guess what I had to tell the media today, dear!”…
His optimism is refreshing though – the use of the world “currently” suggests that – at some point – they actually expect to get a rational explanation of why the man woke up that day and decided to fling a small dog at some hairy bikers.

I’m willing to bet that the bulldozer thing was just a spur of the moment decision.
It was a bad one.