Not much has changed

The boy will be learning about South African history in his… er… History lessons for the rest of the year. Which means that I will also be learning about South African history, not just so I can help him out, but also using it as an opportunity to fill in some gaps in my knowledge.

I didn’t learn about SA history at school (mainly because a lot of it was still happening, I suppose). I have been to Port Elizabeth though…

This is from a book on the 1820 Settlers’ stories. And this is the first reaction of the English families upon seeing their new home in PE:

Widespread gloom was reflected in every face, while some shed silent tears of disappointment at what they saw.

199 years on, this exactly matches my experience on the descent into PE.

Not much has changed.

Dr Doolittle

You know what? I’ve always wondered what would happen:

If I conferred with our furry friends, man to animal
Think of the amazing repartee.
If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals
And they could talk to meeeeeeeeee…… [Jazz Hands to fade]

But look no further, young Padawan, because now there’s a animal communication course that you can do. It’s in Port Elizabeth, so enough said really, but then there’s a redeeming feature in that the Facebook ad has a Boston Terrier and a telephone receiver on it, so it must be good, right?

Hopefully the animals are going to put some effort into studying too though, because that’s not how you use a phone, is it?

Enough of my questions though, because the course organisers have a couple of their own:

Have you ever considered the possibility that you and your animal have spiritual agreements to assist each other?

I’m sorry, what?

No. No, I haven’t considered that possibility. Primarily, I feel, because an agreement, you see, is something that both parties have to… er… agree to, and I’m pretty sure that I’d remember entering into some sort of mystical, mutually beneficial pact with the beagle. So no, it’s not a possibility that I have ever considered. Next question please.

Could it be that your animal has valuable information for you and because you have never thought about it, you haven’t spent much effort learning how to communicate more effectively with him or her?

To be honest, there are only a few pieces of valuable information that I’d really require. The winner of the 2:30 on Saturday at Turffontein would be good, a medium to long-term outlook on the currency markets would be even better, and the GPS coordinates for the well that little Tommy has fallen down would certainly assist the people currently out searching for little Tommy.

I digress… I find it highly unlikely that the beagle, an animal so thick that it can’t even recognise its own reflection, would be able to furnish me with any of these important details. Look, it’s very good at knowing where the kitchen is when I’m cooking or making the kids’ packed lunches, so if I ever need to know where the kitchen is, I’m sorted. But to be honest, I’m yet to find any other use for it, and it’s been three years now.
And anyway, it can already communicate: it scratches on the back door when it wants to go outside, and it scratches on the other side of the back door when it wants to come back in. It’s not exactly high level communication, but since we have no spiritual agreement to assist each other in place, it’s about as good as things are ever going to get.

Can this course teach me more? Of course it can.

Learn how you can learn to directly communicate with animals. All living creatures have the ability to think, feel, and communicate although most people have forgotten this. This course teaches how to open up to the messages that animals around us are sending all the time.

This makes your household pet sound like a spy. If the beagle is sending messages all the time, to whom is it sending them? And what do they say? And how is it sending them? And why do the recipients want to know? All of these questions will obviously be answered on the course, but if I were to learn how to tune in or intercept these messages that the beagle is allegedly sending all the time, then at best, I would feel that I was eavesdropping or intruding upon its privacy, and at worse, I would probably want to strangle the treacherous little sod.

It all depends on what it’s been saying. But either way, I see no benefit for anyone here.

In this one day course you will learn inter species communicate with each other and how you can effectively send messages to animals and hear their answers.

I can’t help that if someone is running a course on any sort of communication, they should be able to write in sentences which make sense. This one doesn’t, but what it lacks in basic English, it makes up for by promising some incredible things. Not the “effectively sending messages to animals” bit – that’s not tough to do if you’ve got a shoe on your foot some tasty tidbits to reward their good behaviour with. They soon learn what you’re telling them.

No, but hearing their answers would be amazing. Well, I say that, but the beagle is notoriously good at ignoring any command you give it, so do I really want to hear what it has to say?

Me: Hey, beagle, come here!
Beagle: [looks up, ignores instruction]

After ‘Beginner animal communication course’:
Me: Hey, beagle, come here!
Beagle: [looks up, ignores instruction] Fuck off.

Again, I see no advantage for myself or the beagle here.

The individual who can like to be presenting this course goes by the stage name ‘Animal Benefits’, and a quick look at their Facebook page yields (along with lonely dogs and depressed horses), this gem from last month:

This smacks of the nonsense spouted during the search for Vienna. And you’re going to pay money to sit in a room with this [           ]* for a whole day? Ugh. You’re the one who’s atrocious.

Look, even this light-hearted, so-called example of alleged animal communication is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to justify eating more chocolate:

[delicate female voice] “Oh, but I cannot feed it to my dog, because chocolate is bad for dogs, so I will just have to have it for myself, no matter if he thinks I am being ‘atrocious’ (yes, he used that word, ‘atrocious’)! OMNOMNOMNOM! Ha ha ha!”

To be fair, I have tried the same thing with the beagle and brandy, but at least I don’t charge idiots a fat fee to come and listen how to I do it.

If you willingly choose to pay real money to go on this course, you’re on your own. There are a million better things that you could do with your hard-earned cash and precious time.

If she locks the door once you’ve sat down, it’s been nice knowing you.

Don’t go near any wells.



* redacted for legal reasons

At an Airport

The Airport Lounge Scene

[Boldly and theatrically] “Ah. The wonder of travel! The thrill of flying! Destination: UNKNOWN!”

“We’re going to Port Elizabeth.”


“Port Elizabeth. We’re flying to PE.”

“Oh. Right… Thanks.”


Yep. I have mastered the basic vowel sounds in order to communicate with the locals, and I Googled “donkey driving skills” for the cart we have hired.

We’ll be fine.


Loadshedding Schedules – November 2014

Latest information and schedules for:

Areas directly supplied by Eskom  

Cape Town Loadshedding Region Map
Cape Town Loadshedding Schedule (from November 2014)

Ekurheleni Metro

Ethekwini Metro

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro


Jasmine the Dog

As you may or may not know, we’ve recently been joined Chez 6000 by Colin the Dog. You can see my views about this development on this post. And yes. the puppy is very cute, but it’s a dog. Just a dog.

Same could be said for Jasmine Terry. Jasmine is also a dog. Just a dog.

The major difference between Jasmine and Colin (who, in a confusing development, isn’t actually called Colin) is that Colin doesn’t have her own Facebook page. But then Colin isn’t from Port Elizabeth and as we’ve discussed before, things are often a little weird that far along the south coast. (I fully recognise that for some of you, the bigger shock here will not be the dog with its own Facebook page, but rather the revelation that PE appears to have somehow developed internet access.)

I’m not sure how Jasmine set up her own Facebook page, although looking through the pages and pages of rules and regulations, at no point does it actually state that you have to be human. You do have to be 13 years old to use Facebook though, but I guess if you’re a dog, that’s only about 22 months.

Jasmine’s grasp of the English language is pretty good and, despite having paws instead of hands (this is just a dog, after all), her typing is nothing short of excellent, with only occasional lapses into Dog, such as at the end of this update:

Sorry peeps I have not been on FB much as my mom & dad are so busy working. However we are going away this weekend to Hogsback so I will post lots of pics. Cannot wait. I really hope it snows. Luckily my mom found pet friendly Accomodation so I get to go with. Woof!

Incredible. In fact, this dog is either the most talented canine out there or some human is pretending that the dog is writing the page. But can this really be the case, because that would be rather sad, wouldn’t it? Writing in the third person. Third dog, rather. Pretending to be a dog. Like something you’d do at junior school. Not an adult thing.

But then look at the adults that have sent Jasmine messages.
Here’s a screenshot of three of them.


Let’s start at the bottom:
Heather Coyle-Downing is an adult human (according to her profile picture, at least) and she is addressing Jasmine like it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing. Jasmine, lest we forget, is a dog. Yes, a dog with a Facebook page and an uncanny knack of typing fairly decent English, but still a dog.

Working our way up:
I’m desperately trying to overlook the fact that Luke Harold appears to be a cat. If I choose not to ignore that, then everything falls apart, because Luke Harold – ostensibly a cat – has left a message on a Facebook page administered by a dog.
But still, despite the extremely dodgy relationship twixt cat and dog throughout history, Luke is wishing Jasmine well. That’s nice to see. Israel and Palestine could learn from this magnanimous behaviour. Unless of course “Mew meow” turns out to be Cat for “F*** You!”, in which case Luke Harold is a very naughty cat indeed.

We continue to Mark Mans’ contribution. Mark is a human. An adult human.
Mark is an adult human and yet he appears to have ventured onto the Facebook page of a dog, clicked the “Message” button, typed a series of potentially dog-related noises into the window that opened and then, presumably having carefully considered and approved his contribution, hit the “Send” button.
I find it unlikely that this was a series of accidental occurrences.
I think that he actually meant to do this.

What is wrong with these people (save for the fact that they all appear to be from PE)?

Because, let’s face it, there’s a huge difference between telling your Facebook friends that you’re enjoying your holiday and that your dog seems to be having a great time too, and setting up a page for your dog and writing it as if you were actually your dog. The former is, these days at least, considered perfectly reasonable behaviour.
The latter, however, suggests to me that you should urgently be seeking some sort of psychiatric therapy.

If this is you, talk to your vet immediately.

Thanks Jonathan