A February admin post

Look at the title: This is an admin post. No – I don’t like them either, but they are necessary evils to keep you informed and to remind me what I did and why I did it. Keep reading – you might learn something.

Without wanting to give too much away (just in case the Overlords are reading), despite my physical geographical location being 33°54’44″S 18°29’19″E (ish) as I write this, it is becoming evident that my emotional geographical location is much more 53°23’09″N 1°28’10″W.

I’m missing the snow and the warm beer. All we have here is soaring temperatures, hot winds and runaway veld fires. I’m missing the decent football, although last night’s Merseyside derby cup replay didn’t do much to promote the beautiful (English) game. As one correspondent to the blog remarked: “What a complete waste of nearly 3 hours of potential sleep time.”

And he was right.

But no-one likes a morose blogger, so keeping my mind busy with other things is what’s required. Thus, it’s spring-cleaning time at 6000 miles….
Out go a couple of redundant blogs from the blogroll, in comes heavyweight English comedian Stephen Fry and his unsurprisingly chatty personal offerings.
The RSS feed has been updated too. Following a myriad of pleading emails, it’s now full text. See? I listen!
I have been signed up by GlobalPost.com and will now be telling the truth about South Africa to people even more globally than before – if that’s possible.

Additionally, I’m now on twitter. Not for any other reason than everyone else seemed to be doing it and it looked a bit of fun. You can look in the sidebar for my latest status, or if you follow me @6000, it’ll even keep you in the know about updates on here.

Finally, I’m attempting a post a day in February. This is day five of February and this is my fifth post. So all in all, it seems to be going quite well. And your response has been wonderful too – visitors are up almost 300% on this time last year. Thanks. And tell your friends to come and have a look too.

There. All done, I think. Like a uneventful visit to the dentist – not as bad as you thought, was it?
Although you haven’t got my bill yet.

Malema speaks sense

Surely some mistake?

But no. After the latest in the Jacob Zuma trial, as the case was put back (again) to August 2009 – significantly on the other side of the general election –  our friend Julius said:  

When Zuma comes back to court in August he will come back as the president of this country and the judges will have to address him as the president.
I just want to ask those who are behind this case if they would be proud to prosecute their own president, and embarrass their own country.

Well, when it comes to embarrassing the country, Julius – you’re the expert.
Anyway, “Mr President” only has one more syllable than “Mr Zuma”. I’m sure m’learned friends will er… Cope.

So it looks like we’re all going to have red faces, then. Unless, of course, you’re right with this bit:

When we campaign we must campaign as if there are no charges against Zuma.
We must undermine these charges because they think that they will stop us.

In which case, with Zuma as President, “they” will have failed to stop “you” and will probably just give up. Probably.

Chappies to open for Argus?

I’m not a big fan of cyclists, generally. They clog up the local roads, ignore red traffic signals, weave and wobble all over the place and then moan when you hit them. Yes, some of my best friends are cyclists, but we know that if civilities are to be maintained during a braai or social curry, then the subject of cycling is best avoided.

It doesn’t help living in Cape Town, where the Cape Argus Cycle Tour – the largest timed cycling event in the world – takes place each autumn. Sure, it’s “just a day”, but there’s all the road closures, detours and damn lycra everywhere. And all the parlance in all the local pubs is about “going sub-three” and stuff. (I was hugely disappointed when I found out that this was time to do the race and not metres underwater.)

But now, taking over the entire peninsular for a weekend and more is not enough. They want Chapman’s Peak Drive reopened for them for the day. “Because they’re special”…

photo: Hubert January on Flickr.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, ruining a mountain recently.

I should explain. Chapman’s Peak Drive or “Chappies” is a stunning road cut into the cliffs between Hout Bay and Noordhoek with some of the most amazing views in the world (personally, I prefer the R44 south out of Gordon’s Bay, but anyway…). But with cliff cuttage comes rock fallage. Fortunately, the (allegedly corrupt) Entilini company who built and now operate the toll road knew about this and put big nets up to catch the rocks which would otherwise squash the cars. These are called catchfences (the biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore) and they don’t work. That’s why Chappies has been closed since heavy winter rains last year made it too dangerous for cars and buses and lorries and people to go along the 9km route.

But not for 35,000 cyclists in March, apparently. No. They are invincible (except when in contact with motor vehicles) and thus, falling rocks pose absolutely no danger to them at all. And so they want Chapman’s Peak reopened for them. For the day.

Never mind the poor souls who live in Noordhoek and Kommetjie who have had to add an extra 40kms onto their journeys into Cape Town for the past 6 months. Entilini (who helpfully get paid by the Province whether they are collecting tolls or not) have consistently ignored their desperate pleas to reopen the road. “No,” say Entilini, “it’s unsafe! Rocks and stuff. Gravity. Squashed car. Lawsuit. See?”
But it looks like they’re going to open it up just so the visiting Jo’burg lycra brigade can have their jollies on March 8th. If I lived in Noordhoek, I’d picket, toyi-toyi and block the road*.

The announcement was promised last night and, because it’s being made by the Province, will actually be made this afternoon. And if it’s a yes, it will be a big two fingers up to the local residents, at which point, maybe we should be asking what Entilini stand to gain from the deal. Because otherwise – why would they open an unsafe road for 35,000 potential targets?

EDIT: And, as widely predicted on this blog, they have opened Chappies for the Argus. Shock.

What a disgrace. As Kaiser Chiefs once said: I predict a riot. Although knowing the gentle folk of Noordhoek, perhaps it will just be a stern letter to whoever will listen.
Presumably, on Monday 9th March, it will suddenly become “too dangerous” again and be closed for another 6 months.

* This is what I would do if I lived in Noordhoek and does not amount to incitement to violence.

No alarms and no surprises

…please.

Living in a fairly affluent suburb of Cape Town and with the perception of crime being so very high, especially amongst those who live in fairly affluent suburbs of Cape Town, we are surrounded by houses with a range of high-tech security systems, many of which regularly remind us of their existence for no reason whatsoever. This is not a solely South African phenomenon, but South African burglar alarms are the only ones I can hear from my house. Because my house is in South Africa, you see?
False alarms aren’t just very, very annoying; they also reduce the efficacy of everyone else’s alarm systems – including mine. My first instinct when I hear a burglar alarm sounding now is “grr”, rather than “oh, someone is being burgled, I wonder if I can help them*” and I would imagine that I am far from alone in that approach. Rather than being concerned at the potential predicament of my neighbour, I try and blot the noise out as soon as possible and get on with my life.

Fortunately, alarms sounding during the night are pretty few and far between. The majority of them are in the early morning, as people get up and wander, bleary-eyed downstairs into the path of the sentinel PIR in the hallway or – as I have previously mentioned – on sunny weekend afternoons when I want to braai and play in the pool in peace.

Compare and contrast this with dogs, nature’s own useless burglar alarms, which are liberally spread around gardens in the neighbourhood. Unlike electronic security systems, dogs tend to sound at all hours of the day and night and, in an additional poke in the ear for anyone trying to do anything so silly as sleep during the night, set off a canine chain reaction. Inconsiderate dog owners will claim that Biggles the beagle will let them know if there’s someone in their yard. And they’re probably correct. However, Biggles will also inform them if a car drives past their front gate, a rat runs through their shrubbery or if there is a breeze which makes the tree across the road move – all through the power of the bark. In addition, Biggles is acutely tuned to bark loudly should he hear any other dog bark loudly. And so it goes.

My reaction to hearing the alarmed barking of a neighbour’s dog is subtly different to hearing a burglar alarm sound. When I hear a dog barking, I actually find myself hoping that there is an intruder on those premises and he is going to steal the dog. And quickly.

We are forever getting communications from the security company that monitor our alarm, asking us to please avoid false alarms: it wastes their time, their time is their money, and their money comes from us**. But it seems that, despite the hysteria and the drama over crime in South Africa, I’m the only one that reads such communications.
Ironically, if our alarm does go off, the security company staff refuse to come onto the premises until they are told that we don’t have a dog. Biggles evidently has a reputation for chewing patrolmen.

I’m tempted to suggest that people think there is a sort of herd immunity here. Everyone has an alarm, but no-one take any notice when an alarm goes off. Some people have a dog, but no-one takes any notice when a dog barks. 
Sadly, the burglars are rather more adept (in most cases) than your average virus and they are also aware of this.
And so, thank to the false alarms and Biggles et al, we’ll keep on paying. 

* The house owners, rather than the burglars.
** In fact, looking at it another way, we’re already being robbed by them.

Parlotones at Kirstenbosch

As promised (although I’m not sure by whom, to whom), we headed out into the blisteringly hot February sunshine to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to see the ever-popular and completely sold-out Parlotones.

I was disappointed. They weren’t up to their usual standard and they were much, much smaller than I remember them. This could have been because we were sat so far back with a million* people and a small forest between us and them. Or it could have been because they had shrunk and weren’t as good as before.
Thanks to several beers and a mild case of heatstroke, the  jury is still out on that one. 

Thankfully, as ever, it was less about the music and more about the idle chatter, the free-flowing alcohol and the people watching. And so we chatted, drank and people watched, including Faceless pandas, Camps Bay queens, Posing dudes and Schalk Burger and Andries Bekker.
And I couldn’t resist one more quick shot for my Sunsets and Skyscapes set.

  
  
More pictures in the Parlotones – Feb 09 flickr set.

 Next week, Arno Carstens. Bigger, better and something else beginning with B.

 * teeny exaggeration.