My House: Fort Knox

If you didn’t already know, crime is a serious problem within South Africa and many houses within the country have burglar bars fitted on opening windows to keep skellums out and your valuable stuff safely inside. If you’ve ever tried to fit a flat-screen TV through a set of these, you’ll understand why they’re there.

Eskom's take on romance

Here’s my problem with burglar bars though. The country, thanks largely to the help of Eskom, suffers from impromptu power cuts. Timetabled load-shedding, especially around dinnertime when you want to relax and watch TV, is becoming less widespread due largely to the fact that Zuma’s army of wives is no longer allowed to cook for him all at once. Ad hoc power failures still have a nasty habit of turning up at the most inopportune moments. Take for example my friend’s birthday party just last weekend; the power went off soon after we’d arrived. With no music and no lights, everyone beat a quick retreat after wolfing down the free food and drinks by candlelight. Continue reading

Fly Me To The Moon

The domestic flight market within South Africa is big business and there is much home-grown airline talent who will try to entice the moths out of your wallet with their services to and from the major (and some not so major) hubs across the country. A couple of these carriers are sea dogs of the game so to speak – the likes of British Airways (formerly Comair) and the various guises of SAA, whether it be Express or Airlink. They get the job done, with a meal included.

New kids on the block are the low-cost carriers consisting of 1Time, Mango, Velvet Sky and my personal favourite budget airline Kulula.com (said with much background fanfare). The marketing genius of this airline alone should be enough to put bums on seats (more on this shortly). In fact, I used Kulula just this morning on a business trip between Lanseria and Durban, which prompted me to write a post about my airline experience.

When rolling oneself out of bed at 4am to get to the airport in time to catch the first flight of the day, it takes considerable effort to coax a smile to my face, especially considering how full Lanseria’s parking lot was at 5am. People – get a life! This is not to say that I can’t be pleasant to others before the sun has poked itself above the horizon, but for those of you who believe the myth that it takes less facial muscles to smile than not, this only ever works past 8am.
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Tsk Tsk Tshwane

Yesterday was one of those days where I started off on a mission to change the world, or at very least, a local government’s slight billing oversight (saving myself some hard-earned Rands). Our August bill from Tshwane Municipality had failed to arrive on time and I naturally assumed that the postman was running late with our mail – on African time so to speak. This is very similar in nature to the ‘mañana mindset’ exhibited by the Spanish, however our delay was more than likely due to the postman fondling the bill letter in order to establish if there was anything inside worth stealing. The postal service here is much hit and miss. Continue reading

Swimming with Jaws

Mental Patient Goes AWOL

In my mind, all things ‘Shark’ are cool. I loved the Jaws movies growing up, even though I had to watch most of the scary bits through my fingers. I even jumped in my seat when on the Universal Studios Jaws ride….at the age of 23. How my sub-consciousness could be fooled into thinking that a mechanical rubber shark would try and eat me is best left unexplained.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Sharks are fascinating creatures, my favourites being the big ones – Great Whites, Tigers….the man-eating variety. These two cronies could easily be viewed as ugly but on the flip-side something classifies them as almost beautiful creatures – a mouth full of huge teeth, heavily scarred bodies from numerous run-ins with other sharks, and the fact that they are super efficient killing/eating machines with hunting skills honed from years of evolutionary ‘practice’. Shark Week on the Discovery Channel always makes great viewing, even though I may have already seen the episode several times. I’ve also seen Damien Hurst’s formaldehyde-preserved Tiger shark exhibit, ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ whilst on display at the Saatchi gallery in London. Stood at the front of the murky tank exhibit in which the shark is suspended, it is easy to imagine being underwater with this thing heading straight towards you. There are two things which I believe would happen in this instance. 1) You would probably lose all manner of bowel control whilst literally staring death in the face, and 2) your hands would unknowingly float into a raised “ok you got me” surrender pose. If you’ve ever watched the movie Deep Blue Sea, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Unlike a lily-livered works supervisor, they mean business when experiencing hunger pains. Continue reading

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, A Hunting We Will Go

South African men (most of them anyway) love guns. Guns are used for numerous things in the country, from game and sports hunting, to illegal poaching; from self defence to car-jackings, cash van heists, general robbery and then by the police in the ‘dropping’ of crime perpetrators. Let’s stay on the right side of the law for the remainder of this post.

One of my friends recently purchased a handgun, adding to his growing arsenal, which he proudly showcases in its leatherette (or perhaps leather?) holster attached to the belt on his jeans. It goes everywhere with him and is clearly visible (is this a rule?). Now the weird thing is that his new accessory has an accompanying cowboy-come-Chuck Norris style swagger attached to it, and when not swaggering, a thumbs-through-belt-loop control of his hands. Got the picture? It’s like the BMW car effect of the gun world. Perhaps if I owned a handgun I would also be….possessed?
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“BO” the Classic Fragrance from Sweaty Betty

Having lived and worked in London, I have frequently been exposed to the ‘joys’ of the business commute. This is especially momentous during summer months when rush-hour masses are packed into claustrophobic, non air-conditioned tube train and whisked to their respective destinations. There is always one soap dodger who inevitably ends up in your train car and then decides that he would like everyone to know that HE (and it was usually always a male) was the one who neglected to take a shower that particular morning. I’m sure that these people purposefully stand with their arms raised to grip a handhold next to an open window, at just the right angle so that the draft dissipates the horrors within their armpit(s) throughout the entire shared air bubble.

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“Hello?” The Rubbing Together of Two Sticks

I have great respect for customer service agents (and by this I’m talking about those agents who refer to a call centre as their place of work). Call centres are such hectic and noisy open-plan environments to work in (unless you are managing a knitting pattern hot-line or a ‘compliment me on my driving’ service for truck drivers). You are assigned to a tiny cubical, where you barely have space to squeeze in your morning coffee mug, let alone a portable framed picture of your loved one, girlfriend, children, pet etc. and no privacy. Continue reading