For the kids

And so, after 24 hours which have very, very nearly given us 100mm of rain in Cape Town, I find myself sitting in a car park near an oil refinery, in the dark and the continuing downpour, as the Boy Wonder trains for his next Big Thing (more about that at a later date).

The car park in question is about 30 sodden, spray-laden, trafficky kilometres from our house, and so with the session being two hours and the petrol price being what it is, I will sit here with my coffee, my portable hotspot for the internets and write a blog post as I overlook the lake.

Which… wasn’t there yesterday.

Not worth the effort and money of going home. And probably much safer to be here than on the road right now. In a country where every day is like driving in a video game, driving in the dark and the rain are like giving Pro Mode a try. You can get a hi-score just by arriving safely at your destination.

Of course, running your kids to various parties, events, classes and such is all part of being a modern day parent, And I’m very happy to support my children in all their chosen endeavours.

But there’s a lovely fire and a warm TV full of UEFA Nations League at home, and if I’m honest, I can’t help but feel that I’d rather be there than here right now.

Not drinking, but it always makes sense to be prepared

I’m trying to cut back on fun unhealthier things in life at the moment as the long road to post-Covid fitness continues. One of those things is beer, because it’s hard enough work to get the calories, inches and kilos off without the additional challenge of beer exacerbating those numbers.

But I might want to go back to beer (after all, who wouldn’t?) at any given time, and so I’ll just remind you all of this post. Because nothing in this world comes for free and increasingly, lots of stuff in this world costs a lot more than it used to:

So please forgive me for earning a bit of pocket money when I can.

Left it too late

I wanted to watch the football this evening.

We got back from the shops early enough, but then I accidentally clicked through onto the Epsom Derby while scrolling through the sport channels. I chose to take a couple of cues from the Irish punters who were in the local feed, and lobbed a quick bet or two on the race.

Long story short, I got two of the top three, including the winner on an each way bet, and so now I’m several (or more) Rands better off as I settle down to the first half from Budapest.

Sadly, it’s left very little time for blogging.

So: more tomorrow.

Difficult decisions made easier

The biggest ever petrol price increase in South African history kicks in tonight at midnight. At present, the (government-regulated) petrol price is estimated to go up by an additional R3.50 for a litre of the good stuff. And while that might be nought pounds noughty-nought to you, that’s a massive amount to all South Africans, representing an overnight increase of around 16.6%.

And of course, that increase will be felt by businesses as well, and they will pass on their higher costs onto their consumers and so your man on the street is going to get smacked with even more increased prices for… well… for everything.

And that means that even more individuals and families are going to have to make some difficult decisions as to what they can and can’t afford, and as to what has to be let go.

Fortunately, one company has just helpfully raised their head above the parapet for me.

Yesterday, we were informed that my daughter’s music lesson this evening at a local music school (let’s call it the College of Stone for the purposes of this blog post) was cancelled due to loadshedding this evening.

I was actually impressed with their organisation. Letting us know what was going on over 24 hours in advance. Nice work.

However, due to some magic deity smiling down upon us, there is no loadshedding this evening.

So I call the good College people this afternoon just to check that the lesson is now going ahead as usual and they say no, because they “can’t reinstate a lesson once it’s been cancelled”.

Thankfully (for them), they can still charge us for it though.

Now, I wasn’t happy at the lesson being cancelled, even more so at still having to pay for it, but it’s not the College of Stone’s fault that loadshedding happens, and while my daughter shouldn’t have to miss out on her lesson thanks to the crappy local electricity monopoly and years of horrific corruption therein, nor should the College of Stone have to lose out on their income. I do get that.

But now there is no loadshedding – it’s what passes for a “good electricity day” in South Africa – and they’re still not providing the service we’re paying them for, even though there’s now no reason for them not to… well, to paraphrase Radiohead:

When I am King making those difficult decisions, they will be first against the wall.

I’m well used to crappy service in South Africa, but this is a new low. The only positive is that it does make one of those upcoming unfortunate decisions a whole lot easier.

Called it

Remember this post from last week, expressing disbelief and dismay at the alleged plans to spend R22 million on a Big Flag?

The Government said:

This has the potential to unite people as it becomes a symbol of unity and common identity.
The project is envisaged to contribute towards nation-building and social cohesion. 

And I said:

Well, guess what happened?

This week, pisspoor Minister (apologies for the tautology) Nathi Mthethwa launched the Big Plan for a Big Flag, and the nation – all built and socially cohesed – turned around together as one and told him to Tsek.

Now, having “taken note of public discourse” (which was basically a collection of suggestions, generally ending with the word “off”) and:

In upholding these ethos and the inalienable rights of citizens to be heard, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has directed his department to review the process related to the Monumental Flag in its totality.

Now, this is actually a Good Thing. It is very unusual for a Minister or any member of government to actually give a toss what the public think. And that’s because those ministers and members of government are safe, privileged and untouchable. They don’t have to listen, because there are no consequences whatsoever for them not listening.

So Mthethwa apparently hearing the er… “discourse”, and actually having some sort of reaction – albeit merely “reviewing the process” at this point – is to be applauded.

The real acid tests come when: 1. there is a reasonable outcome to the review – and that doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is dropped: maybe they find private sponsorship for it, for example; 2. the next time something like this crosses Nathi’s desk, he remembers this situation and says “no” before it goes any further; and 3. any other Minister looks at this situation and Mthethwa’s reaction, and chooses to listen to the public regarding their feelings on any given project or idea as well.

Optimistic people may think that this could be a watershed moment.
The realists amongst us have already drunk half our glass and we’re ordering a brandy chaser to deal with the inevitable disappointment.