Mark Radcliffe described this song as “incredibly euphoric”, when he played it yesterday morning.

Which, for a song which contains the line:

Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?

in its first verse, seems quite a stretch.

But it surely is the one of the most positive, thought-provoking songs ever written. Sure, there’s the nod to our unavoidable individual mortalities, but rather than dwelling on them, we’re told to fill the intervening period – however long that may be – with optimism, happiness and love.

It’s a fantastic idea that virtually no-one has adopted, perhaps for the convenient  reason that you’d look really rather weird being cheerful given the current state of the country and the world in general.

But then, maybe the state of the country and the world in general could be positively affected by people being… well… more positive.
Maybe it’s worth giving it a try.


No. You first.

Team talk

We lost our 5-a-side football match last night. These things happen. It’s never great when they do, but there’s more to life than winning.
There was a cricket match on at Newlands and we were a bit short on players. No-one is saying that those two things were connected, but it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that suspicions were voiced.

Anyway, at half time, there was only one goal in it and there was, as they say, all to play for.
We huddled as the coach called us in for the rousing half time team talk.

He began:

Listen, guys.
We’re a goal behind.
They are younger, fitter and faster than us.
We are older, fatter and slower than them.
They have four substitutes.
We only have one.

It made for difficult listening. Not least because it was all true.
We knew that we were up against it.
But here came the motivational bit, the clarion call to action, the stirring, inspiring conclusion to the monologue. The words which would carry us triumphantly through the trials and tribulations of the upcoming twenty minutes:

Except… that was it. There was no more. At that point, he wandered off the field, Heineken in hand.

Funny thing is, it didn’t really sink in at the time. It was only in the post-mortem after the game that we realised just how lacking in encouragement the team talk had been. That said, in no way am I blaming the lack of half time positivity for the disappointing result.

But I have to say that it certainly didn’t help.

There’s talk of emigration in the air

Remember when we used to hear that at all the dinner parties, the braais, on the television and in the papers?
The ZumaRumas™. The dangers of another ANC government. Chasing the whites out of the country. Murdered in our beds. How South Africa was going to become “another Zimbabwe”.
I never did get a firm date for any of those unfounded scare-mongering stories.
When I asked, I usually just got a hard stare over my wors and some mumbled excuse about needing another Castle Lite.

Sure, South Africa does have its problems. Many of them, in fact. Which is surely all the more reason for not adding more silly ones that you made up on the way to the party.
But why the exceptionalism? Because nowhere is perfect and everywhere you go, you’re going to face challenges. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. And if it is, it’s probably because of all the s**t that’s around over there.

So – back to the talk of emigration in the air:

There’s talk of emigration in the air. It’s everywhere I go. Parties. Work. In the supermarket.

That’s Jeremy Clarkson in this week’s Sunday Times. He’s fed up with the UK – particularly the way it’s being run – and he wants out:

It’s a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained, Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral, trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual, mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set up shop somewhere else.

The rest of the piece is a wonderful rant about the amount of control and red tape that is exerted over those in the developed world. And a highly amusing list of the problems with each individual country that he considers emigrating to. And – while it is, of course, written with tongue firmly in cheek – at least Clarkson acknowledges that it doesn’t matter where you go, things won’t ever be perfect. Because that’s really not how life works.

I often think that immigrants to a country are better at seeing the good in it. I certainly think that I have a much more positive opinion of South Africa than many of those who have lived here all their lives. And that goes for a lot of the other ex-pats I’ve met here, too.
I’ve done my best to educate myself on the substance behind the stories, taking opinion from all sides – like The Political Analyst and The Guru amongst others – and I’m finding it easier and easier to recognise nonsense emails and stories earlier and earlier, because – like all lies – they really don’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny. I now regularly have friends emailing me with stories of crime and politics and the ANC, with online petitions and the like, asking me if they are true.
And they never are.

And while I’m happy to set records straight, I find it sad that people still willingly believe all that they read in their inboxes and in the newspapers. And sadder still that there are individuals who will prey on this gullibility to push their agenda across. Thabo Mbeki did some things right and he did some things wrong (and this really isn’t a post about that), but he hit the nail on the head with this line:

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Ironically, it now seems that he was behind some of the propagation of those deliberate falsehoods, no matter how unacceptable he found the practice. But it’s still a great quote.

What I’m saying here is that you can’t allow yourself to be dragged down by only seeing the negative side of things and you have to make the best of what you’ve got.
Because you’re never going to have it all.
A lot of people in South Africa fall into that negativity trap and their lives, their outlook and the mood of whole country in general are detrimentally affected because of it.
Positivity costs nothing and it makes you feel a whole lot better.

As for Clarkson – his column has now been removed from the Sunday Times website – probably something to do with his plan to strap Peter Mandelson “to the front of a van and drive round the country until he isn’t alive any more”.
Fortunately, I got there first and have a nice small (35kb) PDF of it for you to read. Enjoy!