SARS – where is your money going?

Postage, mainly.


Thirteen letters where one would have done

The South African Revenue Service (the equivalent of the Inland Revenue or the IRS) actually has a pretty good reputation over here. They rarely get stuff wrong, they get things done quickly, quietly, efficiently. And then they give all the money (all R627,692.8 million of it) to the highly respected Trevor Manuel and he spends it wisely.

This find in the PO Box wasn’t quite so impressive though. Is this what you mean by Stamp Duty, Trevor?

How many nurses?

My plans to post an entry each day in February seem to have been somewhat derailed by a HTTP 500 INTERNAL SERVER ERROR, which is denying me access to 6000.co.za and also to the dashboard and inner workings of the site where the wonderful milky prose you come to lap up each day is created and stored. Serves me right for using that cheap deal with the servers in South Australia, I guess.
Thus, it’s back to basics and I’m writing this up using MS Notepad. Ah – the memories. None of them good.

And phew – whatever gremlin was playing about with the important stuff that makes the site work has now given up and gone to the pub, or been burned, or whatever. And I’m back. Although, I guess it was all pretty seamless for you, so I’ll just make the font look a bit funny so that you can be reminded of how I suffered to bring you this. There we go.

As I write, Jeff Randall is tearing into Barclays boss, Bob Diamond, on Sky News.
The main thrust of Randall’s argument seems to be somehow related to the £22 million which Mr Diamond received in bonuses last year. I can never decide whether Jeff is really on the side of the man on the street as he claims: “That’s about 1000 times what an average NHS nurse earns – do you think you’re worth 1000 NHS nurses?”.
It’s a typically unfair and unnecessarily emotive kind of question. Exactly what Sky News is paying him for.
Because of course, it seems likely that Jeff Randall also earns significantly more than the average NHS nurse (albeit not as much as Bob Diamond).

But how much?

Well, I don’t know, but his previous time at The Telegraph and the BBC surely means that he can’t have been cheap. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that he’s pocketing well into seven figures. So I wonder how many nurses Mr Randall thinks he is worth. Mr Diamond hasn’t actually asked him that, but he must be tempted. Or maybe he did and it was edited out*. After all, Jeff is supposed to be on our side and such hypocrisy wouldn’t look good.

Incidentally, I am worth at least 20 average NHS nurses. In addition, I don’t sleep with junior doctors, lose important specimens or give patients the wrong drugs.
I even wash my hands once in a while, which is more than any of them do.
If my boss is reading, please sort out some sort of remuneration package reflective of this. And backdate it.
Do this now.

 * A large chunk of today’s Jeff Randall Live was actually pre-recorded.

2010 rip-off

As Sepp Blatter finally told the world that there was no plan B and that there was no way that 2010 World Cup would be held anywhere except South Africa (again), I was out and about, trying my best to fulfil his wish that South Africa must get more involved in and more enthusiastic over the event, now just days away, (albeit 542 of them).

Ever since the 2010 Mascot – a cuddly green-haired leopard called Zakumi, was revealed to the world – I have been trying to find some 2010 merchandise with him on for my young son. And it’s been harder than you might imagine. Official outlets are few and far between and even when you find one, they rarely stock children’s stuff. Good plan, guys. That’s great thinking right there. Nice work.


Zakumi

Today, I finally found what I was looking for. A t-shirt for a 3-4 year old with a picture of Zakumi on.
Yours for just… R190. (£12.70, $19, Zim$168,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

To me, credit crunch, global financial crisis or whatever, that is an obscene amount of money for a toddler’s t-shirt. Now, I’m not stupid*. I know that as soon as something has a logo on it, the price goes daft. But even Naartjie, South Africa’s premium over-priced kids clothing store can’t match that for a kids t-shirt.  When that happens, you know it’s stupid money time.

As with any event where there is money to be made, I expect to see plenty of knock-offs in the lead up to the tournament. And while I certainly don’t advocate buying fake merchandise, one has to say to FIFA – if you don’t want a black market, don’t create one with outrageous prices like that (you greedy bastards).

* Hush. And stop thinking that.

Learning the hard way

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

It’s been a “fun” morning.
You know – “fun”? Like going to a local shopping mall with hopelessly inadequate parking 12 days before christmas. “Fun”. 
Yet, desperate to get into the festive spirit, despite the temperature outside being in excess of 30°C, we had headed out in search of a christmas tree. We chose to go artificial this year. Not ideal, but when you consider the utterly appalling range of twigs and mangled branches which claim to be the genuine article, together with their propensity to shed razor sharp needles all over the floor after being in one’s house for more than an hour, not really a tough decision.
Better then to go with the neatly boxed plastic version with integral fairy lights and needle-free-carpet guarantee.

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Game at the Kenilworth Centre was suitably over-priced, under-stocked and chock full of clueless employees being unhelpful and impolite customers binging their 0.5% interest rate reduction away. Thanks for that, Tito
While the season and the weather here may be rather different from back home, it’s nice to recognise some of the christmas traditions have made it safely over. We went for the 6′ (180cm) version – anything else just looks foolishly small – threw it in the trolley with a bit of tinsel and some baby food and set off on the 3 mile trek back to the car, which was parked 3 miles away.

 “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Feeling slightly weak after the ordeal of fighting our way through a billion (apparently blind) shoppers and inhaling lungfulls of car fumes during the return expedition through the parking lot, the wife suggested a stop at the McDonald’s across the road for suitable sustenance. Namely a chocolate milkshake for her, a really unhealthy burger for me, a Happy Meal for the boy and absolutely bugger all for the baby (we’re still trying to wean her off chicken mcnuggets).
And here, after all those other hard-learnt lessons about fir trees, Kenilworth Centre’s parking problems, foolish times of the year to go shopping and so on, is where I learnt the hardest lesson of all.  
“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys now make noises. Did they ever do that before?
Sure, some of them moved and stuff, but Alex the Lion from Madagascar 2 – Escape to Africa (I tried it, it’s not too bad, but avoid Jo’burg) goes  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” every time you shake go within 10 feet of him. My little Alex is delighted that, although his chesseburger wasn’t up to much, his small leonine namesake makes a noise. Repeatedly. An  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” noise. 

Alex the Boy has gone for his midday nap now. Alex the Lion is still “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”ing despite currently residing at the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Yep, you can say what you like about the Chinese, but when it comes to making annoyingly resilient cheap plastic crap, there’s no-one that comes close.

EDIT: And in reponse to this, these (with more at flickr):

        

Ops and Balls

Sorry. I haven’t updated in quite a while. Life in Cape Town has been more than a little hectic and I haven’t always even been in Cape Town. In fact, last weekend, I wasn’t in Cape Town at all. We were off visiting friends outside Stanford, where the air is fresh, the fynbos is fyn and the beer flows all day long. Views were admired, dams were swum in and beer flowed all day long*. 7 adults, six kids (aged 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and 3 months). Chaos.
Photos or it didn’t happen? Your proof is here.

And this madness seems set to continue.
This weekend we’re off to a tonsil and then on Monday, my little boy is having his balls removed. 

Hmm. Sorry. Hang on a minute. That’s not quite right. 

Obviously, that should read:
“This weekend we’re off to a ball and then on Monday, my little boy is having his tonsils removed.” 
Short interlude while I phone the surgeon and check that we’ve got our ducks in a row…
OK. Sorted.

The ball is no less than the rather exclusive (although apparently they’re going to let me in) Fancourt Ball, hosted this year by Sabine Plattner and “Tannie” Evita Bezuidenhout. Black ties and big names aplenty.
We’ll be making our way out along the Southern Cape coast (although not as far as the sleepy village of Port Elizabeth) on Friday and then partying up a storm on Saturday evening before a return on Sunday.   

 
Say Aah! (Say Eww!)

And then – in an effort to stem the seemingly constant streams of snot from the seemingly continual respiratory and ear infections, as suffered by my little lad – surgery! Desperate times call for desperate measures and a full on tonsillectomy with free** adenoidectomy thrown in seems just about desperate enough. While the global markets may be crashing down around us, shares in private medical care and jelly and ice cream manufacture seem to be a safe option right now. At least for the next week, anyway.

Of course, all of the above assumes that I’m actually going to make it as far as this weekend, which may not necessarily be the case.  

In other news, the word on the street (actually, the word via sms), is that The Ad Wizard and Mrs Ad Wizard are expecting a Baby Ad Wizard. This is wonderful news for them, rather surprising news for those of us who know The Ad Wizard and possibly quite worrying news for the rest of the world. But congrats anyway, guys.

* I may already have mentioned that bit.
** “free” – ja right!