December Road Trip

It’s time to hit the road. Tomorrow we embark on an epic South African road trip.
Johannesburg – Graaff-Reinet – Plettenberg Bay – Cape Town – Colesberg – Bloemfontein – Durban – Johannesburg
A total of 3886km, excluding the local trips in each destination. That takes care of nearly the whole of December.
And so I got to go pack and catch some zzzzzz’s…

The Viking’s A Beatles Fan

Just got back from my mid-year break in Durban and one of the highlights was the opportunity to hang out with my cousin’s two year-old son, Erik.

Erik’s father hails from Denmark, and it’s something of a family jest to refer to him as a little Viking. Long before he’d turned two, he had an affinity for music. Initially he developed a liking for Pink Floyd as I remember, probably because his dad has a pretty decent collection of vinyl’s. Back then Erik had already started showing interest in The Beatles, and would demand that everyone played “The Beats” for him. He’s now able to choose the records he likes by identifying the album sleeves, and has picked up a line or two of some of the songs.

He’s currently fixated with Hey Jude, but is always talking about Lady Madonna, another Beatles hit. According to Erik, Lady Madonna is Hey Jude’s sister. But his taste for music is phenomenal for someone so young. He’s into Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Michael Jackson too.

I got him a half-sized guitar and was lucky to catch him playing on one of my visits.

I’m hoping his parents encourages him to learn to play the guitar as soon as possible. The prospect of an amusing and entertaining visit in the not too distant future is worth savouring.

Off to the coast

It’s time to take a mid-year break and so I’m off to the coast again. First stop this year is the Durban July Handicap at Greyville Racecourse. The Durban July is South Africa’s premier thoroughbred horseracing event and has been held in the first week of July since 1897.

I haven’t been to a racecourse in over ten years, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Off course horseflesh is not the only thing that will be on show. The Durban July is famous for its over the top apparel and other divine err… attractions.

Horseracing used to be a big thing at one point in my life, but that was a long time ago. Being a skeptic now, gambling doesn’t feature in my list of pastimes. I’ve placed the odd bet on horses over the years, and haven’t won a cent since I stopped gambling. I’m just keen to soak up the atmosphere at a great sporting event, and place an odd bet just for laughs.

Jet Explorer

Jet Explorer

My money’s (not much) on Jet Explorer, a snazzy 4-year gelding which is being ridden by champion jockey Anthony Delpech. Delpech has won four previous July’s and if he does it again, will the only jockey to have won five times.

Hopefully I’ll get my two-week break off to a winning start.

Infantile ANC

Angry_manIt’s been a while since my last political rant, but a number of incidents this week involving South Africa’s ruling party the ANC, has left me shaking my head in dismay… yet again.

Earlier this week, the ANC called for a boycott of MTN, a cellular service provider, after the opposition DA used airtime vouchers printed by a third-party (not MTN) to advertise a pre-election campaign message. The second incident also involves the opposition DA, but this time President Obama was drawn into the mix as well. Pending President Obama’s first visit to the country, the DA has invited him to accept the freedom of the city of Cape Town and address parliament.

Inexplicably an ANC spokesperson has condemned the invitation, calling it a publicity stunt. Both actions by the DA are for all intents and purposes totally above-board. These actions are simple politics, opportunistic though they may be. The childish reaction from the ANC tempts one to conclude that they’re kicking up a hissy fit simply because their propaganda machine did not think of it first.

The third incident which was literally crappy, involved the youth wing of the ANC, otherwise known as the ANCYL (ANC Youth League). While the ANCYL has a long history of perpetrating the most vile acts of anti-social behaviour, this latest incident is particularly nasty. Members of the ANCYL resorted to dumping human faeces collected from portable toilets, on the steps of the Provincial Legislature building in Cape Town, and then a day or so later, hurled more of the stuff at a bus carrying the DA party leader, Helen Zille.

The ANC have publicly distanced themselves from these latter two despicable incidents, But I can imagine them secretly laughing behind closed doors, such is the mentality prevalent in this rotten organization which has the morals and ethics of a squashed cockroach fermenting in a jar of horse piss.

With the recent diarrhoea outbreak in the coastal city of Durban, one wonders if the ANCYL will be in attendance, collecting more ammunition for their future protests.

These are by no means isolated incidences of madness on the part of the ANC. They perpetrate gross acts of misconduct, indulge in scandalous behaviour and petty squabbles and bully critics, on a daily basis. Their one major accomplishment is managing to convince the majority of the people of South Africa to keep them in power for so long, despite their many alarming acts of depravity.

Freshly Played #17: Leonard Cohen

I played Hallelujah for a friend of mine on road trip to Durban a couple of weeks ago, and he thought it was some sort of Christian gospel song. “Can’t be,” I said, “Cohen is Jewish.”

Leonard Cohen, a Canadian, has sung a few songs with Christian religious references in them, but I don’t think he’s praising the Christ figure in any of them. He’s a poet after all, and they’re notoriously ambiguous, nay metaphorical in anything they say. I’ll leave the lyrics further below, so you can make up your own mind. At 78 years of age, he’s still touring and singing. Simply amazing.

There are far too many Cohen songs that I like, but I guess this has to be my favorite.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen


I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Point and shoot

My Nikon DSLR camera got to become a little cumbersome to lug around when travelling. It’s fine when all I’m doing is observing and taking pictures, but you need something smaller and lighter, especially when participating in certain outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking etcetera, when it can easily be slipped into a pocket.

I recently purchased a Canon point-and-shoot camera which fits the bill for portability perfectly, has all the usual compact camera features and more, and does allow for quite a bit of manual control. It also has a nifty GPS built-in which allows you to track exactly where the photos were taken. It has a 12-Megapixel sensor and an effective 25-500mm optical zoom lens.

I tried it out while fishing, on a trip last week to the coastal city of Durban. Here are some results in the fully automatic mode. I have yet to experiment further with the manual settings.

I reckon I could take some pretty good photos with this little baby once I get the hang of using it. It’s therefore going with me everywhere from now on.

Holidays FTW

I’ve been away on holiday and just got back a few hours ago. For the first time – at least the only time I can remember – I came back feeling truly rested.

Every other time – at least as far as I can remember – I returned from a holiday, whether locally or overseas, feeling very tired and wishing I could go back on holiday again.

I guess the reason for this happy turn of events is that, while away I did pretty much nothing. Nada! Zip! Zero! Or at least as close to nothing as you could possibly do. And if nothing excludes sitting on my fat ass [yes I’ve noticed it has gotten fatter] watching television and videos, eating, drinking, talking to friends and family [when I felt I had to say something], and a little reading, a little facebooking, a little blogging.

I was in Durban, mere kilometers from the beach, but I couldn’t bother going. I did visit a cousin, and I sat on my fat ass and ate good food, and drank wine, and talked and drank more wine and some Aquavit too. I visited another cousin and did more of the same, but this time whisky was our drink of choice.

My camera and camcorder stayed put in the boot of my car – the whole time I was there. I did not even bother to remove them while unpacking. So no photos this time; just vivid memories of lazing.

While there, I had a birthday and turned 47, but had to be reminded by family that I had only turned 46. That’s kind of disturbing because I’d spent a whole year telling everyone I was 46; even filled out some forms stating that as my age. Boy, was this holiday needed?

I’m going to make a point of doing more nothing on future holidays… if my friends and family will oblige. Thank you very much!

Anyway, I’m back and all ready to get fatigued again. C’mon world, give me your best shot!

Not the fireworks again!

While I was on holiday down in Durban at the end of the year, I made an effort to read a

Fireworks #1

Image by Camera Slayer via Flickr

particular local daily newspaper, in which I followed what is probably a seasonal debate about fireworks.

Yeah! Yeah! You’ve followed some of those debates too, right? And it was about the same old thing – the environmentalist/animal welfare freaks versus the religious nutters, with the in-betweener’s trying desperately to find merit on both sides, but failing to make any great impression. Yep!

So I thought I might as well give you my few crackers worth too…

A well-organized pyrotechnics display, preferably away from urban areas, once, maybe twice a year, is a wonderful spectacle and pleasing to the senses.

The excessively loud bangs associated with modern fireworks set off in urban areas is extremely irritating and not at all pleasant to the ear; mine at least. What’s more it drives dogs insane and causes them to bark furiously. Furiously barking dogs drive me insane and is also highly irritating to my ears. If it has the same effects on you, then you’re normal too.

So, for the benefit of you curry-munchers in Durban, The Festival of Lights is about lights [the myth anyway]; it’s not about loud bangs. Gott it! The same goes for non-curry-munchers and inebriated assholes who let off loud fireworks for laughs. Get your kicks elsewhere. Try letting out the air on the tyres of every parked mini-bus taxi you see. That could be fun too, and daring.

If you’re a psychotic moron and absolutely have to do it, go out-of-town someplace where you won’t bother anyone. Blow yourself up too while you’re at it. That would create a pleasant balance to all those slave-workers who die every year in Chinese death traps factories making these things.

I don’t give a fucking hoot about your culture, your religion, your fantasies and your need to have some fun, through letting off of fireworks. I DO CARE about my precious ears and the fact that sudden loud sounds irritates me.

Home for the holidays…

One more fitful sleep (yup, it’s really hot, even up here on the Highveld) and I’ll be undertaking my annual road trip down to Durban for the holidays. Hometown!

Before I leave though, I’d like to wish you all happy holidays too, no matter how you prefer to commemorate it. All I ask is that you be good for goodness sake, and hope that you enjoy my favorite rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Andrea Bocelli.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town

Remember now, it is possible to be good for goodness sake only…

Shaik rattled, rolled back to sing-sing

M&G, March 15, 2011

Convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, released prematurely from prison on a highly dubious terminal illness ruling, has been rounded up and taken back to prison.

Apparently this scumbag, far from being terminally ill, has been walking around with great gusto and aggression, beating people up.

But in yet another travesty of justice and what can only be described as an act of incredible disdain for the public, the South African Department of Correctional Services has incarcerated him in an isolated section of the hospital wing of the Westville Prison in the city of Durban, rather than in a cell where he belongs. He might as well have been ensconced in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton.

One can only speculate that his political connections and wealth that were probably instrumental in getting him a “get out of jail free” card, has once again resulted in him being treated with this much deference.

Nearly everyone I know, or have spoken to would just like this piece of garbage locked up for good, preferably with someone called Bubba for companionship.

But the reality is that he may once again use his influence and wealth to escape justice. Heaven knows, there is no shortage of shady Indian doctors, corrupt state officials and dirty drooling politicians waiting for a bit more palm grease.