George Bush is Dead

Well – not really.
But if you were watching the pisspoor South African Sky-wannabe eTV News (or more especially, their annoying little rolling banner thing across the bottom of the screen) then you would have seen those exact words on your TV.

The “misbroadcast” happened when a technician pressed the “broadcast live for transmission” button instead of the one for a test-run.

“The technical director pressed the wrong button, it took a second for the words to appear and then the words were on screen for only three seconds before they were taken off,” said spokesman Vasili Vass.

The station said test banners would now be done in “gobbledegook”.

Given the general standard spelling on their rolling banner, quite how they are going to separate the gobbledegook from the real stuff is a complete mystery to me and their other viewer.

The mistake was first reported on by the Afrikaans language newspaper Beeld, and on the media group’s website,
“Its unfortunate, because we never comment on their mistakes,” said Mr Vass.  

Well, of course not. You’re only a 24 hour news channel.
Take on that sort of onerous responsibility and you’d never have time to tell us about ex-world leaders popping their clogs. Or not.

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.

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 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.

National pride

The Six Nations rugby tournament kicked off yesterday, with England beating Italy 36-11 and Ireland beating France 30-21. I’m not a big fan of rugby, which is one reason I will probably never be allowed to become a South African citizen. While England top the table after their triumph, the performance was apparently nothing to write home about, according to those in the know; which will save on stamps, if nothing else.
I just found out that the Irish coach is called Declan Kidney. What an amusing name. There’s a gag about taking the p*ss in there somewhere, but I’m too hot to find it right now.  

Interestingly, the tournament sponsor, RBS, has made the weekend news for all the wrong reasons, after it emerged that they intend using £1bn of the £20bn that the UK taxpayers gave them, to pay some bonuses. I wonder how much they are paying for the Six Nations sponsorship rights? If it’s true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then maybe the rugby money was wasted. Just give your staff some bailout cash and you name will be all over the newspapers. The cost to you? Nowt.

Meanwhile, on the less snowy side of the Atlantic, the England cricket team were also playing. In a remarkable feat, everyone on the England team managed a half century. In total.
Fortunately, I’m not a great follower of cricket either (more negative marks on the citizenship form) so I’m not as hurt as some people may have been.

We’re off to see (and hopefully hear) Arno Carstens at Kirstenbosch later this afternoon. It’s dangerously hot in the shade, even hotter in the sun and yesterday evening’s welcome, if rather short-lived, torrential downpour is just a memory. Cape Town’s Facebook and Twitter were ablaze (not literally) with comments about heat and storms last night, in an attempt to emulate their UK counterparts’ recent fixation with all things snow. Honestly, you’d think that these people had never seen weather before.
Anyway, having carefully considered all the options, I think that cold beer is probably the best means of assisting my ailing homeostatic functions. And in a effort to avoid drunk blogging this evening, I’m going to hide the keyboard as soon as I have finished this post.

(Note to sober self: the keyboard is behind the sofa).

Saturday night’s all right

After three of the hottest days that Cape Town has seen in February 2009, the weather has, as they say, “broken”. Some would argue that it was pretty much broken all ready – either that or someone had set the thermostat stupidly high. But no – after thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening my son), we had a Jo’burgesque downpour as dusk fell. So Jo’burg’esque in fact, that I find myself concerned that come first light we will find mine dumps, hijackers and really odd accents on our doorstep. Yikes.
Once again, I was reminded of my homeland. Braai’ing in the rain (chops and porkies, rather than last night’s exotic, if disappointingly fishy, pelican) was something that we had to get used to quite regularly over there.

I’m not sure what the neighbours are thinking after a succession of young women arrived at our house throughout the day. Nothing untoward – actually, we were interviewing for an au pair – but we’ll probably be raided as some sort of drug den or brothel tonight. Again. Although, because the police won’t want to get themselves wet, we might be safe if the rain keeps up.
The rate at which crimes are solved by the police force in Cape Town is almost entirely dependent on the season: 3% in the wet winters, 4% in the hot dry summers. Of that winter 3%, closer inspection will reveal them all to be entirely indoor-based crimes (white collar stuff: fraud etc). Conversely, the 4% in the summer are all somehow beach-related (unlicensed bucket and spade, old bloke wearing a Speedo etc).
Call me naïve if you wish, but I’ve never really worked out why.

The au pair thing went quite well. Everyone had a say in the matter. In a positive indication of his favourite candidates, 2¾ year old Alex hugged only two of the applicants, while his 7 month old sister chose a rather more negative – if equally obvious – method of indicating her opinion by vomiting on 3 of the girls. Between them, they cut the field down quite nicely.

OK. The rain has eased off quite nicely, so I’m off for a late night swim before the SAPS arrive. Apparently, there is a swimming pool in Pollsmoor, but the entrance fee tastes horrible.
Might as well get one last dip in before they take me away.