Equine sign

In the week that Canadian diva, Celine “Ole Horse Face” Dion arrived in Cape Town to perform two concerts at Vergelegen Wine Estate as part of her Taking Chances tour , the Western Province Horse Society chose to release the following reminder to horse owners across the province:

African Horse Sickness
Link

Coincidence? I think not.

If only Canada had enforced some sort of export ban, we’d be feeling a lot happier in Cape Town right now.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in this city as I pray for hoarse of a different kind.
Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Whose rights – who’s right?

Did you enjoy your Valentines day?

Stupid looking pink sparkly thing on your blog? Soppy card? Chocolates? Flowers?
WAIT! You bought flowers?!?

If you’re in the USA (and a fair number of accidental tourists to 6000 miles… are) then your lovely bunch of roses probably came from Columbia or Ecuador and were grown and cut for the love of your life by exploited workers. Still, it’s better than other Columbian crops imported into the USA, I guess. Fairness in Flowers is an organisation campaigning for better rights for cut flower workers. Their page is worth a read.

Human rights organisations and campaigners do a great (if highly subjective) job of alerting us to these issues. However, I can’t help but think that their position is undermined by the odd stupid campaign thrown in, seemingly because some organisations have nothing better to do.

This week was pretty quiet, so Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, dived in to the row over the Mosquito device, dramatically calling it:

a sonic weapon directed against children and young people

and arguing that its use constitutes:

a disproportionate interference with an individual’s right to a private life

Quite a soundbite over a device whose effect is compared to “the level of irritation of going downstairs without turning off your alarm clock – you can ignore it for a couple of minutes but after five minutes it starts to get annoying.”
Woo. That’s infringing my right to watch Vuyo Mbuli in peace right there.  

Evidently, the week in which Garry Newlove was kicked to death in front of his family by a gang of teenagers after confronting them when they vandalised his car, was a little busier for Shami, despite the fact that the anti-social mob had long been causing a “disproportionate interference” with his and his family’s right to a private life.

Shami also missed the death of Mi Gao Huang Chen, beaten to death by a group of teenagers who regularly gathered outside and vandalised his takeaway shop.

I’m well aware that these incidents are rare and far more serious than the usual issue of chavs outside the local chippy, but they are the product of an escalation of that problem – one that can be prevented by using the Mosquito. For example, a South Wales shopkeeper says:

The problem we have is large gangs of youths that congregate in the entrance way – hanging around, drinking, and I know other narcotics can be involved.
It ranges from them being annoying to intimidating customers and staff to outright physical assault.
One customer has been mugged for their alcohol, and in the time I have been here there have been three occasions where someone has tried to stab me.
The problem comes and goes. When it gets bad it generally lasts for three of four weeks.
At certain times before we counted over 40 people outside the shop.

The Mosquito has reduced the problem massively. It still happens, but nowhere near the same amount. It has had a positive effect. Customers have praised us for it.

or how about this:

Gurmes Chatta, 54, runs a general dealers on Chiswick Road, Hylton Castle, an area where teenagers regularly congregate.
In recent years he has seen damage done to his shop by yobs kicking footballs and has suffered verbal abuse. But now Mr Chatta says the problems have virtually been wiped out by his Mosquito device.

I’m also well aware that more needs to be done to sort out the problem of anti-social teenage behaviour than just moving them on from trouble hotspots. But hey, it’s not a bad start.
I think Shami has missed the point. Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of criticising the Mosquito while conveniently ignoring the rights of the thousands of people whose lives are made a misery by anti-social teenage gangs is blinkered. That sort of thing puts me right off listening to anything else her lefty group has to say.
And her doing it in an irritating high pitched whine which annoys people of all ages is somewhat hypocritical.

No. Don’t ban the Mosquito. Use it wisely as part of a bigger scheme to get teenagers off the streets.

And send me one so I can enjoy the footy in peace over the weekend.
Do you perhaps have one that will deter wives from wandering in front of the screen just as a goal goes in?
That would also help.

Never give up

In some ways and despite its somewhat amusing headline, the Cape Times story which I read this morning was rather sad. But you just can’t help but read a piece entitled: 
Escaped mental patient stones police and jumps into Durban harbour.

The fact that someone is so ill and so out of their mind that they have to be locked away from society is tragic. That in desperation, they then escape, attack police cars and injure a police officer before throwing themselves into a harbour is perhaps even worse.

But as ever in this crazy country, there is an funny side too. And it’s a lesson that many of us would do well to remember: Perseverance is a wonderful trait.

An hour-long chase ensued before the man jumped into Durban harbour.
While in the water, he was still “very aggressively looking for anything to throw”.

Presumably, there weren’t many stones floating around, but this being in an industrial harbour, god knows what he could have found to fling.

Never give up.

Out of the frying pan

Once again, Eskom is to blame.

Newlands got load-shod mid-afternoon and the traffic lights on the M3 never really recovered. It was all a bit of a mess and I joined the queue by the Aquarium.
At this point, anyone that knows Cape Town thinks I’m lying. I wish I was. But no, my journey home from work is 15km and I queued solidly for 14½ of them. It took about 2 hours.

And it’s only going to get worse. But not for me. The city is upgrading Hospital Bend – perhaps the largest interchange on the outskirts of Cape Town – where the N2 meets the M3 and traffic mingles across 10 lanes near some zebras, on the bend next to the hospital –  an old, famous and listed building.
It all sounds quite romantic, but you’d be amazed how many of the cars coming from the right want to go left and vice versa. Weaving happens and then chaos regularly ensues (at least twice each weekday).
Fortunately, it looks like someone from the council has finally noticed this and they’re going to sort it out.

It is a condition of the contract that at least two lanes of traffic must be maintained in each direction for the duration of the project. This will lessen the disruption of traffic flow and consequent inconvenience to motorists.

Two lanes each way, huh? Down from five each way now. Yeah, right. That’ll lessen the disruption nicely.
Never mind – it’ll only take a couple of years. And then we’ll have this for the zebras to look at:

Click for largeness
All new Hospital Bend. Complicated is the new sexy.

All very pretty. But since my work is moving out of the city centre and a little way north, I won’t have to contend with Hospital Bend on a daily basis anymore. I was rubbing my hands together in glee and laughing in the way that only truly lovely people can, when I was told that while the City were taking Hospital Bend to bits, the Province would be upgrading Koeberg Interchange.

Bugger.

Because if you thought that Hospital Bend was a bit of a design error, then you’ll love Koeberg Interchange:


Koeberg. Indescribable without swearing.

Koeberg Interchange was designed by Willie van der Plooy – a nasty, bitter individual with a hell of a temper, a drink problem and complex psychological issues including a vendetta against all forms of road transport after he failed his driving test six times in a single month. Legend has it that he hid himself away and studied long and hard to become a civil engineer, then got his own back on an unsuspecting Cape Town driving public one evening by downing 6 bottles of Klippies, popping a couple of tabs of LSD and coming up with a new design for the crossroads of the N1 and the M5.
Some say he invoked Beelzebub through ritual worship and got him to fart on the plans, such is the barbed, twisted, evil nature of the junction. These days, tourists and locals alike flock from miles around to sit in massive queues and gaze miserably upon the fetid industrial heartland of Cape Town awaiting their turn on the aging concrete spirals.
And van der Plooy is no more, assassinated by terrorist group The Provisional AA in England for coming up with the concept of the M25 in retaliation for being charged an extortionate taxi fare on a trip to London in 1958.

So it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for me. Stick a few decent CDs in the multichanger, bang up the aircon, sit back and crawl to work up the M5 instead of up the M3.

Love it.