Memories of 2003

While I’m reading papers detailing the genotypic make-up of quinolone resistant and hypersusceptible clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (it’s all in the DNA gyrase* genes, you know), I tend to listen to my rattly iPod. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

Today, I have been mostly listening to Radiohead, which has been bringing back amazing memories of their performance at Glastonbury in 2003. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you can actually see me on this YouTube offering of Karma Police (bottom of the screen at 1:34, next to the waving bloke with some red thing over his shoulder).

You can also hear me singing along later in the song, but I’m a little drowned out by several thousand others; which is sad after I’d made the effort.
Wow. As the song says: “For a minute there, I lost myself”. Lump in the throat, tears in the eyes, shivers down the spine, goosebumps all over. Well, nearly all over anyway.
That said, I thought the Manic Street Preachers were better, to the disbelief of my companions.
Dusk, the big raindrops falling from the moody, grey sky illuminated by the brilliant white lights and James Dean Bradfield giving it some welly on that big guitar just a few metres away.

Ah yes – that’s completed the goosebump coverage nicely.And then it’s back to the here and now. And a particularly worrying story from the front page of today’s Cape Times:

The severe cold, wet and windy conditions expected to spread eastwards across the Western and Northern Cape provinces this weekend could be fatal for livestock and dangerous for humans, the Cape Town Weather Office warned yesterday.
Forecaster Carlton Fillis said rainfall of up to 50mm, combined with gale-force winds and temperatures of below 15C**, was especially dangerous for livestock such as goats. People should also be careful.

So there you have it. Conclusive proof that when it comes to South African livestock, your average goat is the least hardy species around.
Sheep? – sorted. Cows? – no problemo. But goats? – dead.
Carlton says so and who are we to question his judgement?

So tomorrow, it looks like I have have every excuse to cook a big pot of soup and hide under a duvet watching the football and the rugby while knocking back coffee and hot chocolate. And beer, obviously.

Enjoy your weekend. And take good care of your goats.

 

* It should be noted that DNA gyrase is an enzyme, not a dance.
** Er…yeah. That’s what they call cold here. Hmm.

SA sporting success. Yes – really!

Great news!
With both of the South African Super 14 teams winning their semi finals, we have an all South African final to look forward to. This is big news for the whole of South Africa and a cause for great national celebration. Everyone has forgotten about the horrendous crime statistics. Everyone is overlooking the corruption and nepotism rife in government. The millions who are living in shacks with no electricity, heat or running water are out dancing in the streets. Even HIV has decided to take the week off and enjoy the run up to the game in Durban on Saturday.

Well no, not quite. But that’s what the newspapers would have you believe.
So, who will you support on Saturday – Sharks or Bulls? That’s the 64 million Rand (US$9,195,402.30) question and fortunately, we’re here to give you the background on the teams and their fans so that you can make an informed choice. As if you care.

The Bulls are the Manchester United of South African rugby. Successful, but disliked by the masses. They are rather like a large political party. Based in Pretoria, their fans tend to be white, Afrikaans, loud-mouthed and have disastrous taste in home furnishings. They all drive double-cab bakkies and have never cooked a meal indoors, preferring instead braaikos (literally “BBQ food”) prepared oor die kole. And that braaikos consists of red meat. Just red meat. Huge great chunks of red meat. Washed down with beer. And some red meat. No true Bulls supporter (male or female) weighs less than 120kg.
Yes, they have that arrogant, superior streak which no-one really likes, but it is almost justified: like it or not, they support a pretty good team.

And then The Sharks. If The Bulls are like a political party, The Sharks are more like a cult. In order to join the cult, you need to have some connection with Durban. Maybe you live there, maybe you were born there, perhaps you once visited. Possibly you share a letter in your name with one in the word “Durban” – it really doesn’t matter – you can still be a Sharks fan.
Everyone likes The Sharks, not just because they’re the coolest team to support, but perhaps because previous to this season – and despite their name – they have been no real threat to any other team. The Sharks’ fans live all over South Africa – seemingly with the exception of Durban – and they have the coolest badge to stick on your car. I know these two facts because I see 74 of them on my way into work each day.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m bothering with all this analysis. For the neutral rugby fan, it simply all comes down to who has better cheerleaders. So here’s three reasons why the Sharks would be getting my support this Saturday if I wasn’t watching the disappointingly cheerleader-free FA Cup final. 

Give me an H!  Ohhhh K!  Give me an S!

Now all I have to do is explain to my wife how I managed to upload pics of some scantily clad girlies, but not those of our only son’s first birthday.
If I don’t post again for a while, at least you’ll know why.

On how life is right now…

So ends another mammoth gap in the annals of 6000 miles…. It’s really been a question of time and inclination. I’ve had both, but never at the same moment. I’m not about to disappoint my readership (or what’s left of it) with disappointingly poor social commentary, tired jokes and space fillers.

Neither of you would appreciate that.

Anyway: Yes, as widely predicted on this website, South Africa were humbled by Australia in the cricket, but that’s all well behind us now. New national pride is being sought through the Super 14 rugby and the progression of two South African teams through to the semi finals of that competition. I was fortunate enough to be at Newlands for the match between the Stormers and the Sharks last Saturday and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The canapés were delightful and the spring rolls a joy. Also, there was free beer. We watched some of the rugby too, which was OK.

My dear little son has turned one year old. No-one is more surprised than us that he’s made it this far with our previous parenting experience; i.e. none. I guess it just goes to show how resilient the little fellow is. I will, of course, have some birthday photos up on the 6000 miles flickr site in the very near future. I’m in trouble at home for not having uploaded them already, which I guess is fair enough.

In addition to Alex’s birthday, my wife and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary (do the anniversary/birthday maths – it’s all completely legal), which came as shock to no-one – we were always meant to be.

But while there have been some variable sporting results and impressive bar snacks, baby’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries and partially-justifiable husband chastising, one thing is overshadowing my life at the moment. Sit, dear reader, for this is a biggie. This may foretell of a catastrophe of epic proportions.
My iPod has developed a rattle. This is, undeniably, a “bad thing”.
It is widely accepted that iPods should not rattle.

So far, there has been no further problem with the device, but I fear that it is only a matter of time.
And while it may be a couple of years old and well-used, I would hate to be prevented from enjoying the great sounds of Favourite Worst Nightmare by the Arctic Monkeys and Peace Breaker by the interestingly named local band, Springbok Nude Girls, (careful with the title of the page on that one if you’re at work), both of which I would highly recommend.

I showed my wife the iPod. I explained my concerns and then, with all else quiet, I shook it and demonstrated its terrifying death rattle. I explained that I would need a new, improved 60GB model with funky colour screen.
She seemed unimpressed.
“That’s easy to sort out,” she told me, lifting my forlorn hopes, “Don’t shake it.”

Readers, sometimes there is just no arguing with female logic.

Cricket and this country

The Cricket World Cup is on at the moment. Anyone reading in countries that don’t play cricket (Denmark, USA, England etc.) may have missed this fact, but here in South Africa, no-one will talk about anything but “that match” tomorrow. “That match” is the eagerly awaited semi-final between everyone’s long-standing tournament favourites, Australia and South Africa’s tournament favourites… er… South Africa.

The rivalry in this particular game has been upped somewhat by South Africa’s audacious snatching of the world number one spot from the Aussies just before the tournament started (although they have since relented and given it back by losing to… er… Australia). That and the still-fresh memories of the “greatest game ever” in Jo’burg in 2006, when Australia smashed 434 – a new world record score – only for South Africa to come out (not like that) (well, maybe Andre Nel) and score 438; beating them with one wicket and 1 ball remaining. That’s gotta hurt.

It’s difficult to desribe the hype surrounding the game here, which even the most hardened South African fans are admitting Australia should win. Think of England in the (Football) World Cup final or the USA actually winning the war in Iraq.
There are South African flags everywhere – some of them even being flown the correct way up*. The back page of the local newspaper was filled entirely with SMS’s of support for the team, which they’ll never read as they’re playing cricket over in the Caribbean. My football team is annoyed to have to be taking time out from the big game to play some poxy soccer match. Strange behaviour indeed.

This, of course is a far cry from the dark old days of South African cricket. Back then, when a stuttering South Africa side lost by 67 runs to minnows Bangladesh, things were very different. In those days, newspapers slated the team’s terrible performance, radio DJ’s declared themselves “ashamed to be South African” and the locals wanted the head of the captain, the coach and the selectors removed and publicly displayed next the the Ben Schoeman highway in Gauteng.

What a difference two weeks can make, huh?

* That’s with the blue at the bottom, in case you’re struggling.

Why has no one asked the obvious question?

The world news this week has been dominated by the shootings at Virginia Tech. I know most of you have now stopped reading already. You’re thinking (as you click onto something infinitely more exciting): “What can this intelligent, good-looking, informed and amusing writer tell us that we haven’t already heard?”
Well, only that everyone has missed the single most important question about this whole incident, that’s what.

Of course, “tragic” though they are, these sort of shootings are manna from heaven for the rolling news channels. Reporters are live from here, there, everywhere.
Every word of every press conference is replayed time and time again. Everything is analysed by so-called experts. Were there warning signs? Could this have been prevented? Was George W Bush to blame? What brand of soap did the killer use?
Thus far, I think it’s more than fair to say that the picture painted by the media and the authorities shows that Cho Seung-hui was an obviously disturbed individual.
I could have told them that three years ago – because no-one has asked the blindingly obvious question:

Why would any sane and rational person choose to study English in the USA?

Let’s be frank, that’s like studying capitalism in North Korea: “Sorry Mr Jong-il, how did you say the free market economy worked again?”.
The Americans have done more to bastardise the English language than any other nation.
Except maybe the Australians.
If they’re not talking about “Toe-May-Toes” and “sidewalks”, then it’s that dreadful ESPN football commentary where new words are invented at a rate of about three per sentence, leaving the typical English football fan who’s been following the beautiful game all his life, completely bewildered as to exactly what just happened.

A zip-two shutout for Meelan saw Bayern bested and team Italy elevated to four-left status at soccer’s Euro Tournament Wednesday. A Clarence Seedorf 40-yard speed-play upfielded for Filippo Inzaghi to put through the scorebag with a score-shot – equalling jubilation in the Meelan locker-room. Dida’s blanking left Bayern facing a negative score-stat scenario and brought Meelan to a 8-4-5 close-out on the road. Dida performed big when Bayern’s offensive hitman van Bommel had a net-shot opportunity late in the third quarter.

Hmm. I seem to have strayed from the point somewhat. How unusual.

I guess what I’m saying is that with everyone asking the same questions repeatedly, there’s not real opportunity for objective insight to events such as those at Virginia Tech.


Producers at BBC News 24, Fox, Sky News et al may wish to know that I am available to provide exclusive expert analysis on anything you care to throw at me, from school shootings through to the Iranian nuclear standoff (I can even pronounce Ahmadinejad correctly). My fees are very reasonable.