Beer shortage hits home

I have decided to give up drinking beer.
Apparently, anyway.

Yes, in some moment of weakness, probably after a bang on the head or something, any ongoing prevarication on the beer imbibage issue was ended and the big decision made.

I can’t recall exactly when that moment was. Neither, perhaps more importantly, can I remember what exactly prompted me to make sure a foolish decision, although I’m tempted to blame Eskom. Right now, everything in South Africa can be blamed on Eskom. Eskom then blame Thabo Mbeki, Mbeki blames Jacob Zuma and then everyone’s happy. Apart from the ANC Youth League. But no-one listens to them anymore anyway.

The only thing which served as reminder to this heinous decision were the barren, empty shelves of my beer fridge when I popped in to pick up a cold one on Saturday afternoon. There was barely even a trace of Castle Milk Stout. It was a crippling blow. Heartbreaking, even. I can safely say this as I found myself both crippled and heartbroken.

I would never normally have allowed such a situation to arise and was instantly suspicious of the wife. She’s long been of the opinion that if I drank less, I’d be fitter, happier, more productive. And she’s probably right.
With the exception of the happier bit, obviously.

Alternatively, it could be the “if I can’t drink then neither should he” approach. An approach with which I would wholeheartedly agree were it not for the fact that it would prevent me drinking. Marriage and pregnancy are all about sharing, you see: while she is eating for two, I’m doing the decent thing and drinking for two. Or at least I would be if the damn fridge wasn’t looking so bare.

Given that it’s now Thursday and I have endured successfully completed 5 beer free days, I feel that I should be noticing the benefits of my new healthier lifestyle.
Well, it’s not happening.

And so, this lunchtime, I will be heading to Ultra Liquors on Somerset Road to replenish my supplies of Milk Stout. And this evening, with the missus up in Jo’burg, I will be revisiting the combination of Milk Stout and Debonairs Pizza while she’s not looking.

Upon her return, I will feign complete and utter surprise at the newly stocked fridge and claim that the beer fairies must have visited while I was drunk asleep. 

I will then duck and roll and head for the tent I have already erected in the back garden for such emergencies. It is ready prepared with everything I need to spent the night outside: a sleeping bag, mosquito repellent, a good book, a torch and – most importantly – a cool box full of beer.

Jacob Maroga saved my hearing

Coming hot on the heels of my (as yet unpublished) Jacob Zuma Ate My Hamster post comes some unexpected praise for those masters of the dark arts – Jacob Maroga and Eskom.
For those who aren’t in the SA loop, Jacob Maroga is the CEO of Eskom and Eskom is the company which provides South Africa with electricity.

Sometimes, anyway.

We simply don’t have enough power to go around. I told you about this last week. Then they went and stranded the cable car on Table Mountain – a story which the BBC chose to illustrate with a picture of City Hall taken in 1968.  
Anyway, although I’m pretty sure that the CEOs of major SA industry don’t read this site*, it seems that this week, they have taken my advice and are getting down to the business of dealing with the power outages, rather than moaning about them. Good for you guys.

Anyway, back to my praise of Jacob and Eskom. Why? Because load-shedding has its benefits too.
Obviously, these don’t include the my safety cabinets losing power and MDR-TB starting to drift throughout the lab. That’s not particularly beneficial to anyone, although the shrieks of glee of the recently-freed airborne bacteria was heart-warming to hear.

No. I refer to a particularly ironic and comedic incident as I headed down to the Waterfront for lunch today. Crossing Dock Road, I could hear the sounds of the minstrel jazz band playing along to some cheesy backing track for a crowd of tourists.
Picture the scene. It’s a wonderful atmosphere – the sun is shining, there’s a light breeze and a happy vibe. A backing track plays through a tinny amp while the band – none of them a day under 70, I swear – sit under the trees in the dappled shade; one on bongos, one on a Hammond organ (or similar), one on oil-can guitar and another who occasionally shakes a tambourine, blows a trumpet or sings.

Improvisation is the name of their jazz game. The cerebral musicality of jazz mixed with the visceral groove of funk. 
And their repertoire…? Extensive.
Stretching today to a bloody awful instrumental version of the 1987 Starship hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Except that then, Maroga and his Eskom boys stepped in, load-shod – and promptly stopped them.

The irony was lost on the tourists, many of whom were only continuing to endure the overly cheesy soft rock hit while trying to work out if the keyboard player was in fact dead or just asleep.
The guitarist spat on the floor, shook his head in disgust and took out a cigarette. For the next two hours, the Waterfront would be listening to the Sounds of Silence…

* They will when I publish details of the ANC President and his rodent-munching antics – senior management loves JZ gossip.

New dawn for SA?

As the morning mist cleared over the city of Cape Town this morning, slowly giving way to the African heat, I was driving into work, listening to soundbites of Jacob Zuma’s inaugural address as ANC President yesterday and thinking that the whole mist thing would make a really cheesy start to this “new dawn” post.

Suddenly, it seems that now the public have heard JZ speak about his thoughts and plans for the ANC party (and therefore theoretically for the country), rather than the media’s somewhat one-sided interpretations of the man, they actually quite like him. Certainly, that was the impression of many (mainly white) callers who got in touch with the radio station this morning, expressing their shock that he had some good ideas, some supportable policies and wasn’t intending to kill off all the white people by 2010*.

There were some on the BBC website (as there always are), however, that continued with my favourite “We’re going to be another Zimbabwe theme”. Specifically logicman from Stevenage:

It all depends on what the people of South Africa want? If Jacob Zuma gets into power the country will go the same way that Zimbabwe has. Do they want that? If he takes control then he will probably jail, or murder, all those who oppose him.

Yes. Jail or murder. Probably.

Of course, Stevenage isn’t in South Africa, so logicman fortunately doesn’t get a say in things. He’s still wondering where the World Cup 2010 is going to be, since he knows that the whities won’t allow “that dark sport” into their beloved South Africa.

There is of course, one spanner in the works. The corruption charges against JZ which seem set to lead to a court case sometime in 2008. While all the evidence (as helpfully provided by that balanced media I mentioned earlier) points to his absolute guilt, JZ still protests his innocence and welcomes the opportunity to have his day in court to prove it.

All in all, despite the doom and gloom merchants continuing to be doomy and gloomy – mostly from lands far, far away from here – there are others who this week have seen a new side to Zuma and are cautiously optimistic about moving on from an Mbeki-led ANC to a ruling party run by a charismatic, “people’s person” with radically different ideas on big issues like crime and HIV.

Only time will tell of course, but is this a new dawn for SA? Well, the mood seems generally positive. The booming economy and those who run it are happy that JZ seems to have adopted a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach; the whities are very glad that he used the words “crime” and “zero tolerance” in the same breath, while those at the other end of the scale are encouraged with his plans for land redistribution, poverty alleviation and aggressive approach towards the HIV/AIDS problem.

So – new dawn out of the way and I think it’s time for breakfast. Thabo on toast, anyone?

* Well, he didn’t say he would, anyway…

Return of the Mac

Remember Guy MacLeod of Plumstead? Of course you do. He was the guy that wrote to the local paper comparing Jacob Zuma with Princess Di. I did take the mickey a bit, but in one way (most especially the comparison that he made, rather than the ones I suggested), Guy was right. They both appeal to the public (known locally as the masses) and it makes them both very popular figures with every chance of taking on the ANC Presidency and presumably therefore being President of South Africa in 2009.

Well, JZ anyway – Di is dead like Elvis.

If you read the post, you’ll see that Guy dragged me out of a period of not writing. Perhaps I did the same to him. After he commented on my infamous Big South African Crime Post, he appears to have been inspired. Another letter to the Argus and it appears that Guy thinks that criminals have had their day!

Imagine if anyone (including a burglar or hijacker) placed his/her hand on a “technologically treated” door handle on which you have a chemical/electrical imprint indiscernibly placed but which lasts for days or weeks and is satellite-trackable? Criminals will be unable to hide!

This isn’t actually so far away, I guess. We already have datadot which is the vehicular equivalent and which seems to be having an effect, despite not really catching on just yet. But hang on. There’s more…

Better still is the next generation development where an individual’s criminal thoughts can be identified by a remote control “intelligence base” – well before the criminal act is implemented, so that counter measures can be taken.

Hmm. These “counter measures” worry me. I hope they’re not monitoring what I’m thinking right now… But wait, there’s… even more!

And a later development that enables the central intelligence base, at the touch of a button, to trigger an instantly disabling electrical charge that also also serves as an effective remote-controlled punishment for premeditated serious crime.

Argh. Mnnurgh Mnuff.

Mnnnnnnn. Mn.

Sorry – I’m back. Not sure what happened there. Or how I ended up twisted on the floor like John Travola gone wrong. It also appears that I have a slight nosebleed.

Sadly, I think these wonderful ideas from the realms of Fortress and Demolition Man (both of which were on the TV last night – hmm) are about as fanciful as Superman coming to save the earth next Tuesday (Monday is a public holiday) or me getting this blog sorted out by February.

February 2009.

Meanwhile, according to K Dawson (also of Plumstead) there are more pressing matters to be attended to. “K” – if that is its real name – has noticed at the turnstiles at Cape Town Station:

… you are met by only two people manning two turnstiles at rush-hour, with a no-care attitude. And I have noticed that people of a certain race are left to go through without their tickets being verified properly.

Well K, if they singled you out for being white(?) then it sounds like they are at least paying some attention. But well done for getting this out in the open now. 50 years down the line, you’d be writhing on your carpet just for thinking about writing something like that.