Friday morning

ADVERT: Don’t forget to nominate 6000 miles… in the 2009 SA Blog Awards. Thank you.

They say that Friday is the best day of the week. Of course, “they” say a lot of things which are untrue, poorly thought-out or just plain silly:
“This won’t hurt a bit”, “Let’s play cricket in Pakistan” or “Jacob Zuma – now there’s a bloke I’d trust”.

In all honesty, Friday started badly.
It’s not that I don’t like to hear from my kids – of course I do. I just don’t want to hear from them at 3:15am. Unless it’s really urgent. And little 7-month old K-pu – who last week looked as cute as a button with her rusk – demonstrating her new found ability to “sing” doesn’t quite make it into the really urgent bracket.

I tried to break this fact to her gently and without swearing, but she refused to listen and broke into something that sounded concerningly like Lily Allen. It was at that point that I realised that the use verbal force in order to halt the noise was entirely justified. So I used it, in a kind of hushed, trying-not-to-wake-the-rest-of-the-family way. That sort of verbal force takes a lot of practice and tightly gritted teeth. Fortunately, I have plenty of teeth to grit and have had the opportunity to practice at great length on many occasions and thus I am an expert at being loud, softly.

The Lily Allen stopped. 
K-pu blinked.
And then began with her vintage Coldplay selection…

I was momentarily caught off guard by Yellow.
“That’s actually pretty good,” I remember thinking, before the realisation hit me that it was twenty past three and I wanted to be back asleep in the arms of Claudia Schiffer my wife.

And here I must pause to tell the world what a great wife I have. A wife who brings football boots to important football matches when her half-crazed husband leaves home without them and then flies into a flat panic 20 minutes before kick off. That’s quite cool.  

OK, she’s gone now. Grovelling sycophancy completed and I’ll remind you that I am in the nursery in the early hours listening to Chris Martin Jnr belting out the classics while not wandering along a wet beach in an anorak.

In Science, if you want to know what effect something has, you change that something. For example, if I want to know what effect oxygen has on a hamster, I take two hamsters and I remove oxygen from one of them. 
Mr Oxygen Hamster wees in the corner of his cage. Mr NoOxygen Hamster is still and stiff in the corner of his.
Thus, having considered the results and put almost 20 years of education, training and experience to use, I conclude that oxygen makes floppy hamsters wee.

It would be nice to know why K-pu wakes up in the middle of the night and launches into Britpop. That way, we could perhaps prevent it happening. The trouble is, there are just too many variables (oxygen is not one of the ones I am willing to try). Is she too hot, too cold (not likely), hungry, thirsty, does she have tummy ache, earache (maybe due to the Lily Allen), is it a dirty nappy, a bad dream, was there a noise that woke her or does she maybe just like Coldplay?
But changing one of these variables each night is virtually impossible. And even if it were possible, you know that it would be the last one that you try which will make the difference. And that’s two sleepless weeks. Try it. You might like it. Not.

Fortunately, there is a little-known company called Nestlé out there that makes something called formula. Formula is a cure-all when it comes to halting episodes of Baby Idols in the early hours. Sure – it doesn’t sort out smelly nappies or earache, but it does make baby forget about them for a few hours. Much like the effect of brandy on an adult.  

Two minutes of contented sucking later (and no, this isn’t a reference to the Joost video) – beautiful silence.
Gently place happy child back in her cot.
Leave room quietly humming Trouble and climb back into bed next to wonderful boot-bringing wife.

Bliss.

Until, about a minute later, a remarkably accurate version of Travis’ 1999 hit Driftwood pipes up from K-pu’s room…

The Joy of Rusk

Alex Comfort may have written the original love-making manual in The Joy of Sex back in 1972, but I doubt that he has ever brought as much pleasure to anyone as K-pu’s first rusk brought to her this afternoon.

For the record, we went with Bokomo Plain Sliced Rusks: small enough for tiny fingers, but big enough to satisfy, even though it only really got sucked to sogginess. And more alarmingly, having just checked the box, packed full of 9 different E-numbers. Although why they’re not A-numbers over here, I don’t know. 
Didn’t seem to bother the little one though; check these out (probably my cutest Flickr set to date).


And then I shall slurp this side

From here, it is surely only a small jump onto the important adult foods: pizza, curry and curry.

Worth a try

The lack of sleep chez 6000 continues. Together with the heat of the day, this child-induced insomnia each night is pushing us to our limits. Even 2¾ year old Alex has called in the Unions who have threatened a “dirty protest” should the regular nocturnal crying from his little sister’s room persist. It’s a horrifying thought.

While down at the Waterfront, and having exhausted (npi) all other legal possibilities of inducing a good night’s sleep, I found this:

Kurt et al lullabyified

They do other bands, too.

Rockabye Baby! transforms timeless rock songs into beautiful instrumental lullabies. The soothing sounds of the glockenspiel, vibraphone, mellotron and other instruments will lull your baby into a sweet slumber.

So hopefully, from now on, with the lights out, it’s less dangerous.

(sorry)

Of penguins and picnics…

I haven’t been on teh interwebs much today, but I would imagine that absolutely no-one in the blogosphere has mentioned the fact that it’s Valentines Day at all. And so once again, the responsibility of informing the world about these things falls on my shoulders. But it’s fine. I can manage. Honest.

I had almost forgotten that the big day was coming up, but was fortuitously forewarned by a sudden and otherwise bewildering increase in the price of cut flowers. So I popped out and adopted a couple of penguins on a buy one get one free offer at SANCCOB (offer valid until end of February 2009), cos penguins is romantic: especially when kept at a suitable distance. They tend to get a bit smelly otherwise, mainly due to their ichthyophagous habits. So it’s handy to stay a whole credit card transaction away from the actual birds, cute, clumsy and cuddlable though they may appear.

During the afternoon, we packed the kids, the pram, a picnic and the camera into the back of the car and popped just around the corner to Kirstenbosch. It may appear to the more attentive reader that we go to Kirstenbosch most weekends. And indeed, that does seem to be the case just lately. But there can be few more romantic places than Cape Town’s beautiful and almost completely penguin-free Botanical Gardens. Although initially, it seemed that we had the place to ourselves, walking on deeper into the somewhat repetitive fynbos after we had eaten, we found a myriad of courting couples.
Fortunately, Kirstenbosch is pretty open plan, so there was no danger of coming across any naughtiness, but we sent the boy, happily and loudly singing about microwaves, ahead anyway, just to kill the mood should the mood be there. Safety first, dear reader.

       
A Valentine’s Day Selection…

And that was it – almost. Heart-shaped chocolate brownies and tea in front of Coupling on DVD and then a quick upload onto Flickr (actually, this is via the South African telecommunications system and someone needs to get the ADSL hamster to run faster in his little wheel up in Bloemfontein or wherever he’s kept so I’ll have to finish the Flickr stuff off tomorrow, ok?) and then I’ll wend my weary way up to bed, hoping and praying that the little one doesn’t start moaning about her erupting incisors again tonight.

I wonder… do penguins have teeth…?

Visa woes

Between them, the UK Government, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa and the British Consulate in Pretoria have conspired against me.
I’m not sure in what proportions the blame should be meted out, but I’m going to have a go. In more ways than one. 

First off, the UK Government. For once, I think they are pretty blameless in this one. All they have done is to extend the list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter the UK. Unfortunately, South Africa is now on that list (along with 75% of the world’s countries). This is to help prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the country, probably as part of their “Jobs for Brits” policy: after all, why import terrorists when you have a roaring trade going producing your own?

Secondly, the Department of Home Affairs. This Department has a terrible reputation, which is almost entirely justified. Of all the Government Departments, Home Affairs is the one which elicits the most laughter, anger and sheer disbelief as to how bad an organisation can be. And they must take their share of the blame in this sorry tale. Their security and systems areso bad that anyone can get a South African passport – hence the UK’s concern over who is getting a South African passport.
Of course – if you go the legal route to getting a South African passport, you end up buried under an avalanche of red tape from which it will take you a good few months to escape.
The UK, of course doesn’t have this issue: passports there are completely safe and secure. Right.

But, I’m putting 0.5% of the blame of the UK Government and about 2% on Home Affairs. Why? Because I’m saving it all for the real culprits.
The extra R3,000 that it’s going to cost to take my family across to the UK in July is solely down to the utterly useless ****s at the British Consulate in Pretoria.
Thanks to them losing our (original) documents when we applied for a passport for the boy, we can no longer proceed with that application, nor one for the girl. Getting replacement documents means going through the Department of Home Affairs – and you may have heard what a reputation they have in South Africa.
And thus, because we can’t get the documents which they lost from the Department of Home Affairs, we have had to apply for South African passports for the kids through – the Department of Home Affairs.

A brief pause while I bang my head against a brick wall. Ah – such sweet relief.

The worst bit is that despite the fact that the British Consulate have prevented us from obtaining passports for the kids by being useless, they are rewarded by us paying them some more money for the privilege of taking my (half-British) kids to Britain. And this despite the fact that they will have a combined age of just less than 4 when we go over. And very limited bomb-making expertise. Probably.
It’s insult to injury, it’s salt in the wound, it’s a kick in the balls. None of which are particularly pleasant.
One could draw some interesting parallels to the bunch of merchant bankers in the UK getting bonuses for being rubbish at the jobs.