October 13, 2009


Being sick is crap.

Yes, I know this is bad language – sorry mom – but I’m not feeling so good and it’s true! Here I am, in bed, feeling awful and nothing to show for it apart from a rising temperature and a microscopic Kamakazi corrupting the system. I have gone through much worse and not felt half as bad.

Had I a gaping hole from a bullet I could say: OK, I feel bad because half my colon is hanging out. Or if my leg was broken I could say: ouch, have to watch my step when I tango this weekend…

Now, now, before you get upset about how insensitive I am, know this: I have severed a nerve in my left foot that makes most of it about as insensitive as you think I am right now. I’ve been shot and almost lost an eye, came within inches of losing a leg, fractured a wrist and had an ectopic dingleberry moved, subluxated a shoulder, tore some ligaments, spent about 6 months of my short and eventful life on crutches, and had a head swollen like a soccer ball from removing some intelligent teeth.

I’ve been there. And during these challenging, often heart breaking times, my very impressionable mind would wonder: why? Why me? And now I know – so I can write this letter and not be sued for being insensitive. Karma is cool!

But I’m flat on my back, with a head that feels as though it would fit better on a rock, a nose dripping constantly like a kitchen tap, and eyes watering enough to dent the water crises in the Karoo. Every time I sneeze my body reminds me that I tried to tackle the entire Blue Bulls rugby team – or it feels like it anyway – and listening makes me tired. I phoned the office to let them know I wasn’t coming in to work, but somehow I don’t think the message got through. Our receptionist said something like: “we’re not buying anything from “Feeding Sink” and please don’t call me Pedal” (her name’s Beryl, but you try saying that with a blocked nose and a migraine).

And you look stupid – red eyes, red nose, fluffy hair and pale, pasty cheeks, flappy ears… although, I have to admit judogirl didn’t seem to notice my affliction... strange that. Everything feels odd and doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Waking up I felt that annoying and constant tickle in the nose, the drip in the throat, the swollen eyes, the annoying gimp playing bongo-drums on my brain and the pain in the joints – nothing strange there then (hey, I’m over thirty) – but when my tongue tickled my toes and my lungs wheezed like a punctured accordion from walking halfway to the loo, I knew something was wrong. By the time I made it back to the bed, my morning wee abandoned in the name of self preservation, I was exhausted. Ten meters shouldn’t do that to a man.

So there I lay feeling miserable, nauseous and sorry for myself, drooling gently on the pillow, minding my own business. And I was doing quite well I thought – keeping myself in a slightly comatose state trying to sidestep the inevitable onslaught of symptoms that is, the Flu. Until the nose broke rank and started an annoying and unwanted drip, that is – just because it felt left out. And oh, don’t think there’s anything you can do about it – it’ll drip away at its own pace, with its own agenda, with total disregard for its future coexistence with the rest of the body. It drips and you can’t do anything about it – it knows it.

Don’t fight it. Don’t sniffle, don’t sniff – just let it trickle. Put a towel on your pillow and hope to heck you don’t roll over in your sleep…

Blow? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Seems like the most appropriate next step. I thought so too. But just like me, you haven’t thought this through. If this gets too graphic, it’s your fault. Lemme explain “The Blow”:

Most people blow. It goes something like: pffft-pffft, wiggle-wiggle, snif – done. It’s very civilized and these people use Kleenex.

I use Carlton kitchen towels – preferably the industrial strength, super absorbent ones with “lockaway gel” (patent pending). The ones that can suck a dam dry. Because when I blow, dogs run! It’s a PFFRRRROOAAARRTTT, PORP, porp… PPPFFFFRRRTTTTT – much like an elephant stampede. I’m not proud of it, but hey, it’s always been like that and it clears the sinuses… and a room.

To put it all in perspective: judogirl unwittingly bought the household variety the other day – it had pretty pictures on. So when I opened my eyes after the first trumpeted evacuation of pollen season, I stood there with the disintegrated remnants of a tattered towel, a light dusting of Carlton snowflakes drifting around the room and the very unfortunate evidence indicating that yes indeed, the sinuses were now clear...

OK, now that you have the picture, we can continue. We’re back at the nose and its annoying trickle. I felt it – it registered about halfway down its path. The body shouted: TISSUES! (just because most people don’t respond to a shout of “industrial strength Carlton!”). However, nobody can hear the body unless the mouth, lungs and vocal chords cooperate in a coordinated fashion. And even if they did, nobody would hear them, because nobody’s here – they’re at work, where I’m supposed to be, with Pedal and her colleagues!

While trudging blindly through the house, trying to find the paper towels by memory (looking through these eyes would’ve made them water even more), the trickle turned to a drip which had the beginnings of a torrent. I found the towels in the nick of time, quickly wrapped a handful over the nose and “Thoomp!”

That’s what it sounds like when you try to blow a nose and it backfires – Thoomp. Well, that’s what you hear in your head. What comes after that is something totally different. You see, to blow a nose you first need to take in two lungs-full of air, lock off all possible routes of escape, compress the air with the luckless diaphragm (who at this stage feels as though it’s been trampelled by said elephant), quickly open the nasal passages to forcefully evict the slimy lodgers into the waiting kitchen towel, with lockaway gel (patent pending).

However, when the flu has decided that no air shall pass this way, six litres of compressed air is deflected through the sinuses, hits the back of your skull, making your teeth rattle and your knees buckle as it tries to find the shortest route of escape, which is not always through the throat and mouth I might add. If you’re thinking ears – bless you, but no. If the nose is shut off, good chance the ears are too... Let’s just say the dog gave me the most disgusted look I have ever seen on a canine. So as per usual, a little bit of advice: a blow that backfires could have some embarrassing consequence – choose your company carefully before trying that one again.

Sneezing however follows different rules altogether. It seems that cousin Influenza and sister Sneeze are somehow related… Immediately after the backfire I felt, with dread, a sneeze come on. The dog must’ve noticed this too because he started flinching. However, the sneeze twins (Aaah and Tishoo) were allowed to pass straight through – no questions asked. You should see my pc screen… or maybe not. I feel much better though, thanks.

What irks me most about all of this is that we can put a man on the moon with big black helmet and a laser gun (or was that Darth Vader?) and we heat our muffins in an overdeveloped radio with a funky bell, but we can’t rid the world of this microscopic little sonovablighter – that astounds me.

The wife’s been brilliant though: she’s come back early from work and I have already had two slices of toast, water and meds. She’s bought me a chocolate and made me some hot soup. She’s fluffed my pillows, rubbed my back and done all my chores. I suppose it’s because she knows that man gets hit harder by this thing than woman. She was feeling a bit fluish the other day, running a slight temperature of about 41’C, coughing up phlegm and hugging a warm water bottle. However, she coped easily. While I was out golfing she dragged herself out of bed, bathed the wee man, fed him, put him to bed, cooked my dinner… no probs.

Eish, it’s tough being a man.

October 05, 2009

Change is a holiday

One thing I can really do without is a red-hot poker up my bum.

Of course there are other things I can do without too: being trapped in the Arctic in the company of a hungry Polar bear named Sid; or being mobbed by a school of canned tuna. I would really like to avoid the Fruit-n-Veg City when it’s attacked by a swarm of flying pigs with scurvy, or having to support Blue Bulls rugby. But the red-hot-poker-up-the-bum-thing really has to rate as the one I try avoid the most.



You might read this feeling bright and perky, wondering what this is all about…, well lucky you. At two o’clock in the morning on the 274th consecutive night without sufficient sleep, the mind tends to wander… and you wonder… and yes, it doesn’t make sense, but no, it does, doesn’t it? These thoughts seemed like the most natural events I could expect on any given day. At two o’clock in the morning on the 274th night without sufficient sleep NOTHING seems impossible and reality kinda gets muddled in there with episode 13 of Star Trek, Ba-Ba-Black Sheep and peanut butter.

And it is my fault – it usually is.

You see, one day I decided it didn’t seem too bad an idea to start a family. Or rather, I was coaxed into it unwittingly and totally unresisting: what with judogirl and her wondrous frilly lacy bits and those boots – I never stood a chance!

Before that fateful day I had spent a considerable portion of my eventful life conjuring ways of avoiding the responsibility. I had international guru status when it came to thinking of reasons – judogirl and her girlfriends like to refer to these as “excuses” – why not to procreate. I even had subscribers requesting my intervention and assistance on the matter. However, and I know this may come as a shock to most of you, I am only human.

And with this, we come to the gist of the letter… yes, strange enough there actually IS a point to this:

To all you wonderful people, friends and family alike, who said a baby would change my life, count yourselves lucky. If this were 1939 and I was a short despot with half a moustache running a global powerhouse invading one country after another, I would have you all shot!

That includes you Mom. With your “change is as good as a holiday” adage (her favourite I might add, right after “you’re not too old for a smack young man” and “because I’m your mother and I said so!” – if she were Hitler’s mother, the history books today would read: “1939-1945: nothing much happened”). Think well upon this one Mom, ponder it at your leisure, then try and explain the logic.

A change would be taking a brunette to the movies instead of a blonde, trying new toothpaste, parting your hair the other way (not really an option for me), or going veggie. Having a baby is a conscious decision to forego and forever relinquish any pleasures or rewards the world has to offer in order to sacrifice yourself completely and utterly for the benefit and comfort of another person… a very small one that poops in his pants!

There it is! And don’t try and turn it into anything different.

To all the childless beings contemplating bringing forth offspring because it is “a wonderful and fulfilling experience completing our togetherness and symbolizing the love we share…” stop watching soaps, get a grip and read the above paragraph. Read it again. And again. Print it bold and stick it on your wall. Make it your personal mantra. Now mantra it as often as you can for as long as you can.

If after doing this for several months you still believe that a little person wearing your face is what you really want… good luck and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To my hapless brothers-in-law and half-brothers-in-writing upon whom this condition has recently befallen: my deepest and sincerest apologies. I will forever feel the guilt that I never gave you the benefit of this letter at an earlier stage. I was busy.

Two quick notes here: I will never feel bad enough to babysit – so don’t ask! And the above is a brilliant example of when to use “whom” in stead of “who” – go teach your kids.

You see, your life doesn’t so much change – it ends completely!

Today you might know the batting averages of most domestic and international cricket players, and the results of rugby matches played since 1990. You can still catch a fish, swing a golf club and drink beer with the best of them – remember these days fondly.

In my day I knew the difference between a demi-cup, a push-up, and a balconette. I met Kylie Minogue, visited Venice and the Pyramids of Giza. I could mix 25 different cocktails and knew how to fly a plane. I don’t know that stuff anymore... well, the bra one I try and stay abreast of – I suppose that’s half the reason I am in this predicament.

I do however know that gripe water relieves cramps and gripes, Telament is for colic and wind. Ashton & Parsons are probably two of baby’s favourite uncles when it comes to an upset tummy, and the pink bottle helps for mild to moderate pain (how the heck I’m supposed to know when his pain is mild to moderate is still beyond me – at this stage I dose according to volume). Here’s a tip for teething – Andolex. Phenomenal. The wee man’s nine months old now – he sports eight teeth and is currently working on two more. If it wasn’t for Andolex, I surely would have exhausted my entire Discovery mental health benefit three months ago.

I might not know who Hannah Montana is or how to operate an ipod, but I DO know more variations of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” than a capacity crowd at Twickenham and the difference between babygrows with, and those without poppers. I can change the wee man before your 2-minute noodles are in the “leave to simmer” stage – that includes nappy change and new (matching) outfit. And I have mastered the mystical power of exorcising a burp from the twisted depths that is an infant’s insides – at three in the morning, without beer!

You think Jacki Chan can move – big deal! I can dodge porridge and yoghurt flying at me at 200mph from six inches away. If you don’t know what six inches are – shame, hee-hee, and it’s not very far.

Anyhoo (Mom hates it when I do that), my life definitely didn’t change. It ended. But this new life is so much better. I love it, I live it, and there’s nothing I’d rather do. Judogirl, where your boots?

I’ll sleep again when he’s 36 – at least there’s that.

August 10, 2009

There's always something

We’re human – well, most of us – which means there’s always going to be something.

We have minds, thoughts, likes and dislikes. We have differing opinions – something somewhat life threatening if you’re Bosnian – different approaches and ways of thinking. Civilization came about through asking questions (do I really want to knock my wife over the head with a heavy wooden club and dr… bad example, but you get the idea). Science, a cornerstone of civilization came about trying to answer these questions (try this new graphite composite: better clubhead speed, less strain on your wrist and a bigger sweet-spot – your wife still won’t know what hit her, but she’ll have less of a headache in the morning).

Building a sustainable society comes about through trying to manage these differing opinions into an accepted set of guidelines we can all abide by for the wellbeing and preservation of the whole. We might not always agree. We could have seemingly better ideas and concepts and systems to manage the machine more efficiently, but on the whole we can overcome the insurmountable through debate, compromise, acceptance and forgiveness – on Tuesdays. There’s always going to be something – that’s democracy. I get it.

What I don’t get is bum-fluff.

I also don’t get bubble-gum milkshake, blue lipstick, ‘80’s fashion, and Pop Idols, but I ignore or avoid those. Bum-fluff kinda follows me wherever I go.

But (no pun intended) I have a theory.

Yes, you can say I’m a bit of a phyl… a philo… filos… Yes, you can say I’m a big thinker in my spare time (it’s Saturday – spell checker has the day off), and one day an eccentric scientist or bored Buddhist monk will read this letter and ponder my theorem over a tub of ageing yoghurt. So will start an evolution of a concept so great it will spark research grants, debate, possibly even war, and eventually the world will have a revolutionary treatment combating hair-loss in men.

Remember, you saw it here first!

The theory is based on the following fact, realised (and closely monitored) by yours truly over more than a decade. When my research started I had a full head of hair – no bum-fluff. This has changed – on both counts. I can therefore deduct that I do not suffer from hair-loss, but rather from hair-migration!

This theory is further supported by the fact that over these years rogue hairs have started appearing in various other places previously looked down on, deemed uninhabitable: at first the eyebrows peculiarly start expanding, then they appear in the nose, the ears, back – jeesh, hairs everywhere except where they should be. Some mornings I’m too scared to see my teeth for fear of an expeditionary force having colonised my mouth overnight! I know they try because I’ve seen their fallen comrades on my pillow in the morning.

OK, that’s the theory and I graciously accept your applause. Thank you.

My wife was the first to hear the “waynnesworld theorem on hair-migration” and I’m sure she loved it. When I told her it was a no-brainer, she agreed, adding that it had to be, coming from me. That’s good, right?

Anyway, not being one to offer up problems, I do believe I might have yet another theory - my mind’s been working overtime (theoretically speaking) – on a possible solution. Therefore, in assisting the yoghurt-sucking guru that’ll eventually crack the code, I postulate the following: a hair will only migrate should conditions for safe and prosperous co-existence (or rewards) diminish below previously determined levels in relation to the exterior influences and threats determining the future ability to exist as part of society (or risks) as perceived by said individual hair, or collective clump. It’s in thair nature.

So, my dear sir, if you can sort out their nits, untangle a few knots, tie up a few split ends, sort out the neighbouring follicle’s late night partying and trim out the radicals – hey presto, no more hair-migration.

Another thing: isn’t it strange – more like bloody obvious – that it’s only males who lose their manes. I smell a global conspiracy… or it could be cabbage (my sinusitis is clearing).

I put this to my wife, but from the way she rolled her eyes and walked out the room without so much as a breath wasted, I knew I was onto something.

So Yoda, when you’re reading this – check out the women.

… although, I have to admit I don’t wash / rinse / condition / repeat my hair with “An essence born in the glacier of a Tibetan peak” making my hair feel stronger and fuller, smelling of a spring meadow… maybe I should. However, I’ve seen what a Tibetan Yak does in a Tibetan spring meadow! I’ll stick with my Body-on-Tap thank you very much. Guaranteed to give me a great body – says so right there on the bottle – and it’s made with beer! I like beer.

But what if hairs migrate because of beer? I could start drinking wine! Then I can also chat with my friends about the nuances of asparagus, green peppers and berries with the lingering aftertaste of guava leaving my palate wanting for more…

Problem is, I don’t like asparagus.

However, I breathe between sentences and blink my eyes every now and then. I signal before turning and don’t make decisions involving mauve (a colour apparently). Could that be what makes my hair migrate? Maybe that’s the little something that makes a strand turn to his mate and say: “That’s it – I can’t stand this scalp any longer. All that breathing and blinking! There’s no mindless chatter and not enough noise inside this skull – it’s just not safe for the kids. We’re moving. I’ve heard the bum offers great atmosphere. Let’s check it out!”

Could it be that?

August 07, 2009

Little voices

We’ve all heard it at some stage in our lives: those little voices in the back of the mind, about three quarters back and to the left. Some hear it more often than others, although I wouldn’t recommend admitting that to anyone – longest three months of my life (here’s a tip: they let you go when you say there’s only one left).

Whether it’s the voice of reason, a higher power, an ancestral spirit offering guidance, or the neighbour’s African Grey, I don’t know, I don’t care. Some hear it, others deny it (wise choice), but I do believe it has a part to play. Whether you choose to listen or not, that is where reason and belief comes in… (eish, for me that was quite deep – I’m sure I felt a chill).

I always thought a higher power would have a smooth, bold baritone voice – a voice like maple syrup running over polished marble pebbles in a pine forest on a hot day. A voice that could command respectful action from anyone, no matter how comfortable the couch was. A voice that would say stuff like: “Your actions today will determine the path you’re destiny chooses – therefore, go forth wisely, tread softly, live truly”, or “Beware thy pony’s scornful kick to thy head – it could serve thee well in the long run” – something inspiring, something worthwhile, something you can pick up chicks with…

I’m getting a raspy little hag going: “…told you so!”

The thing about these higher voices: you can ignore them… it! You can ignore IT – if you want, but you do so at your peril.

This all dawned on me on the way down…

This realisation was not the product of a late night debate, or the result of a mushroom induced epiphany. Strangely enough, this all came to the fore on a bicycle… well, above a bicycle actually. Above a bicycle, in mid-air, twisting slightly, immediately after that raspy voice said: “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”.

OK, quick update on who I am and what I enjoy: I hate running!

So when you have a dog who loves it and needs at least two manic and slobbering inducing runs per day just to keep him from attacking the living room sofa, you buy a bike.

Quick update on the dog: he goes “boing” all the time – bounces like a rubber ball – and eats Eveready bunnies for breakfast. His favourite party trick is to bob around unsuspecting visitors’ ankles, wagging his tail and twisting from side to side with a big stupid grin on his face. This lasts exactly as long as you, unsuspecting visitor, pay him sufficient attention and tell him what a cute dog he is. When he believes his initial impression is fading, and precisely when you expect it the least: “BOING” – he bounces to eye level (yours), looks you straight in the eye, and before you’re brain has time to register “big brown dog, foaming at the mouth, in my face!” his eyes say “Howzit, remember me?” a split second before “SLOSH” – a wet, sloppy-slobber lick in the face! By the time you register what just happened he’s already sitting three meters away looking coy, going “wasn’t me.” And he’s good – people believe him! They keep their distance from me though. Stupid dog. His name’s MacGregor – he’ll want you to remember that… and bring a tennis ball.

Because of his boundless energy I have to ride that bike hard. If I don’t, he runs up to the bike and tries to snap my ankles… (no smartypants, there’s no grammatical error there: he won’t snap AT them, he’ll snap them right off! He’s nuts!)

Try imagine the following (my neighbours don’t have to): hairy, bandy-legged creature with flappy ears and foam at the mouth, going a 100 miles an hour through town, tongue hanging out and lungs wheezing for air. His little feet a blur as they whizz around in circles, pedaling for all his worth. In his shadow a beast, foaming at the mouth, resembling a rabid dog from the netherworlds; its eyes trained intently on the ankles its trying to sink its canines into – the very ankles of the hand that feeds it… every day… sometimes twice! I’ve been told it’s quite a sight.

And I was rescued once! A lady came across this scene and managed, Schumi-like, to maneuver her car at full speed between the dog and me – bless her! She thought I was being attacked (and who could blame her?). I abused her good nature to catch my breath while she valiantly fought off “the vicious canine” with her brolly. Of course MacGregor thought it was a wonderful game and chased her around the car a few times – the foam around the mouth really does the trick. When I saw her breathing harder than me, I managed to coax the dog away with a bare ankle, and then tried to explain to her that he really wasn’t all that aggressive. To prove it, Mac treated her to one of his “o-so-innocent” smiles, pottering around her ankles like a mother hen around her chicks, wagging his tail, smiling his head off – all fluff, innocence and cuteness rolled into one. Shame, she never saw it coming: BOING –“Howzit!”–SLOSH and off to one side to view her reaction: a frightfully uncoordinated retreat, brolly flying over the car as her arms windmilled backwards. It was a mere mercy that her car’s front seat stopped her fall. I didn’t need a higher power’s voice to tell me we needed to get out of there quickly, so I shut her door, flashed her the brightest, widest smile I could manage, and waved her off with a “thanks again, and drive safe now!” MacGregor was doing the same, which bought us the second we needed to escape before reality hit her (and a lawsuit hit us).

In that situation a higher power has no say – nobody (divine or not) has any idea, at any point in time, what that dog will do next. So I don’t blame the raspy hag for that one.

However, when one is sitting on an elevated starting mound of a BMX track, surveying the track below, thinking along the lines of “stupid kids on stupid little bikes do this every day, how hard could it be?” – at exactly this point I believe the voice could come in handy. This is the ideal opportunity for her to make an entrance – impart some wisdom, make a point, even nag a little – but she doesn’t! At this pivotal point in one’s day, a simple “let’s think about this” could make a huge difference in one’s life – the one being mine. But nothing – not even a “psst”.

The only little voice I heard that day was from the dog’s brown eyes looking up at me, almost amused. There was no sound but the message was clear… But who listens to a dog?

I am man, I have bike, I will conquer track! Stupid dog should’ve bitten me right there.

The decision was mine: “Here I gooo….ooaaahhhhHH!!!

I had no idea that mound was so high and that things could get away from me so quickly. I should’ve known this was not such a good idea when I immediately struggled to find the pedal… or rather, some silly little high-pitched voice should’ve told me.

However, I was lucky and managed to find the pedal just before I hit the first ramp (she must’ve known I would). I don’t remember much about being airborne but know I wouldn’t have scored any points for execution or artistic impression. Beyond this ramp the first burm awaited. For anyone who doesn’t know what a burm is: it’s a very sharp turn and they build a wall on the outside so you don’t fall out. What you also wouldn’t know is that you have to go into a burm slanted at an angle to avoid being shot out over the wall and into orbit. Unfortunately a small rock before the burm threw me off balance.

I say unfortunately, because at this point I still had a chance. However, losing my balance put me in exactly the right angle for that burm, which in turn whipped me around 180 degrees faster than I could blink. This is where I noticed the dog again – right in front of me, in the middle of the track – and he was smiling. I missed him by inches, but didn’t manage to miss the ramp that immediately followed. By the time I realised I had hit it, it was already too late – I was in the air, both feet off the pedals, with the horrific realisation of testicular consequence to follow.

By all that is holy I hit the ground on two wheels – one millisecond after my feet hit the pedals – and was hurtling at breakneck speed and uncontrollably into the next burm. This one threw me out centrifugally with what I will always swear was a “whoopeeee” (although the local newspaper later reported of a wild banshee).

Miraculously still on both wheels, this is where the dog and my paths crossed again: me wide-eyed and shouting because everything was happening too fast (I was also trying my best to sit on the seat, not be impaled by it) and him running along, slobbering happily going: “woof, woof, watch out, woof”

Watch out?

Burm three was the mother of all burms – I suppose she had to be: I was going downhill, at speed, with absolutely no control and no hope in hell – orbit didn’t seem such a bad option at this point. I hit that burm with my brain still suffering from synapses-overload from burm two – got whipped around 180 degrees (again) and was spit out the other side. It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing a helmet – if I had I’m sure my face would’ve been stuck to the back of it.

I made it through somehow – I shouldn’t have (on various occasions). I had managed it however by pure dumb luck – the screams were for effect. The final hurdle was a mere bump… and the reason why I risked one quick pedal just before the ramp – to get some air, end off on a high…

And there was the raspy little voice: “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

No bells, no whistles, no flutes or ukuleles… just one phrase one half-second too late.

The bike went up, I went up higher. The bike twisted slightly in mid-air, so did I. And here things changed. I came down – and realised how useless this higher voice of mine really was – and the bike came down too. I hit the ground, shoulder first, head second, hip and thigh tied for third, followed by (in no specific order) the rest of my rapidly untangling anatomy. The earth very quickly reduced my velocity to zero which unfortunately made me the perfect target for the bike – it was still up there but quickly succumbing to that evil bitch we call gravity.

I don’t know how he knew it, but through it all, that dog didn’t move an inch. When I hit the ramp he was already standing there – at exactly the spot where my dusty slither would eventually meet with the bike’s pivotal arch, where it all came crashing together in a crumpled heap of bruised bones and twisted metal.

And as the dust started to settle, the voice commented: “…told you so!”

I’m done with these voices – from now on I’m taking charge of my life, my destiny is my own...

I think I’ll start listening to the dog!

July 31, 2009


I’m all for name change – definitely, 100%. Let’s do it NOW.

But not the complicated ones like Pretoria, a.k.a Tswane, where history, prejudice and general intolerance will have the politicians deliberating until pigs fly… By the way, they said that would happen the day the USA got a black president, and presto – pig’s flu!

No, let’s start with the obvious one – let’s start with Africa’s powerhouse. The continent’s financial and industrial hub. Let’s start with Johannesburg! Also fondly known as Jozi, or Jo’burg, Egoli, and I’ve even heard murmurs of Azania... all rubbish names! All flat and pathetic.

I spent the past week there and I think it’s unfair that Superman has Metropolis, Batman has Gotham City, Chuck Norris has the entire state of Texas, and a population of superheroes up there have to be content with “Jozi”… it’s just not right.

To understand a wee bit about Jo’burg, and therefore my quest, you have to see where I come from: a quaint little village where people start their day when they feel like it, wave to their neighbours in the street if they can muster the energy, and anything – like a bird farting – can easily be construed as an event worthy of celebrating with a glass of wine. People call each other ‘bru’, ‘my friend’, or ‘dude’ and there’s a general consensus that nothing is important enough that it can’t wait till tomorrow. Life has a certain pace: languid.

But the name is apt: Hermanus… say it twice and you’re asleep.

Jozi’s different! Jozi’s frickin’ frenetic: zoom-zoom-swish-peep-crash-boom-oops-sorry-*&#**@-bang-bang-ahhh…. and that’s a typical day before breakfast… for a toddler!

People call each other by cool superhero names like Boytjie, China, Siyaya-Sam, Cousin, Amakosi and Leonard!

They don’t drive – they fly! Mazda can’t sell one single car in Jozi because “zoom-zoom” just don’t cut it here. If you can’t go zip-zip-zip-swoooosh, you’re doomed.

You’ve heard of the fast lane? These guys have three!

We wear sunglasses. A true Jozi superhero wears a windscreen – big, bold, black visors that not only block out harmful rays that other alien planets can launch at them, but also allows a clear (and possibly X-ray) view of the road ahead – which, of course, is always cluttered with useless drivers from Boksburg. They live on cigarette smoke – and don’t care (because only poefs from Durban get lung cancer). You can’t blame them – cigarette smoke is the constant. If they didn’t have that, they would be overwhelmed by the nuances that is Jo’burg’s atmosphere – the breathable one. And which superhero today has time for that?

It’s the only place I know where I could actually see and taste what I was breathing – a fascinating experience. Where I come from air is boring: it’s invisible and always seems to carry a bit of ocean breeze. Smells slightly of olive trees. When I get too much of it my head starts to spin – and that can’t be good. Who needs that anyway when in Jo’burg a new experience is just a breath away? What Paris is to the palate, Jo’burg is definitely to the lungs – an overwhelming experience with every breath!

Seriously, these people are fantastic… not in a “hey dude, you’re a wonderful guy”-kinda way. Hell no, more like the “Spiderman-Captain America-and-Wolverine-rolled-into-one”-way complete with spandex and bright underpants.

Why Egoli? Why Jozi? Let’s call the place Ama-Vezuvius, Nieu-Sparta, or Nova Galactica – something fierce and friendly, worthy of these super-beings.

I grew up here, but must admit I have neglected and eventually forgotten most of the customs and traditions that makes one truly Jozi. Like their overwhelming friendliness that welcomes any newcomer to their city. In 3 days I was fortunate enough to spend half my time among other motorists on the extensive network of roadways, highways and byways – some under construction of which Carmen the Garmin (my GPS) had absolutely no prior knowledge. But it was good, it was fun, it was Jozi in all its glory!

You HAVE to make friends in traffic – it’s pure logic: in Jozi, to get to work on time, you have to leave your house at a specific time (usually before the cock crows), fly a specific route, at a specific speed, for a set time, to the exact same place you work at, every day. And back.

So does any other superhero strong enough to call this place home.

Therefore, logic dictates that you will meet the same heroes, at the same times, on the exact same spots and intersections, on a daily basis – you’re gonna make friends! I saw it – on three different days, at exactly the same time, in three different places, but it was all the same: they knew each other’s lives intimately. They knew families and relatives – they would blow their horns while shouting comments about each others mothers and sisters, generally accompanied by what I assume to be some sort of secret-superhero-salute: a raised fist with a single digit pointing straight at the heavens and a courteous (what sounded like) “thank you”.

I was so fortunate to be part of this experience, the camaraderie – a oneness we would never fathom in the sleepy little fishing village I call home. Not wanting to miss out on this singular opportunity, I couldn’t help but be swept away in the euphoria of acceptance. I started hooting along, saluting everyone in sight: hoot-salute-“thank you!” hoot-salute-“thank you!” and so on. To anyone in sight, especially those who I thought could do with a little extra cheer. It was wonderful! They must’ve known I was from another world because everyone – every single one – reciprocated with a hoot-salute-“thank you too!”

At one point it got so exciting that this one guy got out of his car and rushed over to salute me – it was great: me inside the car saluting and him outside where everyone could see him saluting his head off – his face turning red with the exertion of trying to string all those “thank you’s” together. I suppose he was so excited about meeting a real live Capie that he ran back to his car, whipped out his new cricket bat, and ran back to show me – he must’ve been a sporting hero. Unfortunately the light had turned green and I had to shoot off before he got back – afraid of annoying any of my new friends.

Super people – I love them, I love Jozi!

It was during these special hours that I realized I was a mere mortal among a race of superheroes. Among beings that never conformed, who lived by their own rules, creating them as they went along – a people who laugh in the face of Death... who now has a security escort when visiting Jozi (two of his previous chariots were hijacked and are currently operating a taxi route between Benoni and Springs – very popular! You’d think it would feel weird riding around in that, but when you’re from Jo’burg you brush your teeth with fire and brimstone, so riding around in a chariot made of the stuff is just a bonus).

I digress – again. I seem to have a knack for doing that – going off on a tangent when I’m right in the middle of something else. I’ve always done it. My mother says it’s from when…d*mmit! Let’s get back.

Growing up, we all learn a rime about the traffic light, and the lesson is universal: Green light says GO.
Amber light says BE AWARE.
Red light says STOP, STOP, STOP or you will be a tjop, chop-chop!

In Jo’burg they teach the same rime, but with a slightly different slant. It goes something like:
Green light says GO.
Amber says GO LIKE CRAZY.

I saw it not once, not twice, but several times in the space of every ten minutes. Like riding a wave, the lights would turn red and stupid ol’ me would step on the breaks, only to be swept up – time and time again – by a surge of vehicles coming through en mass picking me up, dragging me through the cross traffic and safely dropping me on the other side of the intersection on a road I had no intention of being on, going in a direction that totally confused Carmen (“recalculating – recalculating – where are you going stupid human?”). This was inconsequential. What mattered was that I crossed the abyss safely (heaven only knows how) and was dropped in the middle of a new crowd who immediately (super-senses) knew I was not from here and enthusiastically started greeting me with the whole hoot-salute-thank you-thing.

I realised they had other super-powers: they were all crash-, crush-, and crumple-proof! With so many millions of them on the roads, flying the way they do, they have to have special powers to stave them from horrible consequence on a daily basis!

Therefore, whenever the news tells of an accident on the R25, you can be sure it was a motorist from Nigel who hit a pedestrian from Umlazi. It couldn’t be a Boytjie from Jo’burg – it’s astro-physically impossible.

Super-heroes – one and all!

No tights, no masks – superheroes acting like normal people in a fantastic city called Jozi – a place full of things you cannot imagine (you’ll have nightmares if you try).

How then can a place like this have a name that sounds like a tea cosy, or your uncle’s cousin twice removed?

Any suggestions?

July 08, 2009

SASI Swimsuit edition

January 29, 2008

Eish SI, I find myself in a puddle of murky fire-engine water. With the next Swimsuit Edition another 8 months away, my predicament has me at your mercy: As a fastidious collector and avid follower of said publication I am proud to say that I haven’t missed a copy since 1998 thanks to steely discipline and a collector’s intuition for intrinsic worth. A collection, I may add, crowned by the addition of the recent 10th Anniversary: Best of Swimwear Edition, reviewing some of the most artfully composed photographs of the past decade. Photography, of course, being the principle motivation for this worthwhile pursuit.

Due to some unforeseen Act of God, as the insurer put it, my valuable and much appreciated collection was recently offered unto the gods along with my house and the rest of my worldly possessions – raised to the ground by fire (front page Cape Times, Wednesday January 16, 2008 – yes, that was mine).

Worldly possessions can be replaced, and countless memories of youth, first love and world travel remain well documented somewhere in the mind. This collection however was unfortunately too valuable for even our intrepid insurer to cover. In correspondence received from their head office, the company believed that it was not within their means to determine a replacement value for such a collection – a sentiment I completely appreciate: I do not suspect it is within anyone’s means to replace an asset that even in today’s volatile stock market environment constantly appreciates, unlike other commodities.

I digress.

Upon an initial partial payment from said friends at the insurer’s office, instinct (and common sense) determined what basic necessities life would require. My wife, bless her, opted for food and clothing. My instincts (somewhat less developed some may argue) drew me along similar lines, wholly focused though on the needs of my mate. Summer was in bloom and with my recent loss fresh in the mind, my focus was on bikinis: I was not about to let Mother Nature score another hit and negate all the hard work my lady put in to shape ‘The Bod’. And what better point of reference than a SI Swimsuit Edition? A hurried visit to the local (and the not-so-local) newsagent, major retailer, corner shop and doctors waiting room proved unsuccessful (for far too obvious reasons). No publications exist in circulation – anywhere!

I have even found myself describing models and poses, patterns and colors, even page numbers of specific issues to wide-eyed surf shop assistants, only to be asked to leave their premises quietly, or be escorted…

My appeal SI, nay quest therefore: to find a supplier somewhere in my world with a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, even if it’s only the Special 10year Edition. Please, my wife’s got money to spend – help me spend it wisely!

Yours sincerely,


Question answered

Yesterday was one of those days! You know the ones where something you’ve always wondered about, pondered endlessly, asked questions about life and the meaning of our menial existence, all of a sudden made sense – in a flash everything came together – a big boom!

Yesterday was one of those days!

Some of you may know me better than others so the above will mean more to others than to you, or not. The following may help.

Yesterday morning in the recesses and cobwebs that once was my mind, lingered a conundrum that happily wrangled its tentacles through the levels of sanity that drove my existence – for years, nay decades... decade and a half… plus three… you get the idea – it was a long time. A question that would wake me in the middle of the night screaming like a bunch of 4 year olds at a Christmas party, while on other days it would mingle unobtrusively in a tub of beer with the other important or otherwise menial questions that define my personality, plotting its next vengeful freakish attack.

Well, today I know the answer to one of those questions. Today a burden that was, is no more. Today is a good day, because today I know why I went to University!

Every single one of you now has a question, an answer or a statement in your head: well done, I’m happy for you, print it on a T-shirt. To me it was a revelation.

Throughout my school career I really had no idea what to do with my life and this remained a mystery until I eventually hurdled the final jaw clenching panic station the national education system could throw at me: the Matric farewell! After that I still had no idea what to do with my life, but it didn’t seem such a big problem anymore because I had new purpose, new focus. Puberty had progressed to a point where now I had to shave once a week… well ‘had to’ is probably exaggerating slightly, but hey, I did.

And then I went to university.

And to this day it doesn’t make sense… well no, until yesterday it didn’t make sense – today it does, otherwise there’d be no sense to this letter, and that would just be silly. Today it’s as clear as the view across Walker Bay after a night of the South Easter trying valiantly to lift our roof – clear as crystal.

I was off to varsity because, of course, it was the natural thing to do: I did well at school, had a lovely smile, played various sports, did the cultural thing, was popular with the other kids and teachers (especially this one lovely lady who………eish, different letter), and I had a future shining bright on the horison. When you have all that going for you, you ask no questions – varsity, here I come!

The next seven years of my life was the most wonderful, frustrating, confusing, liberating, disappointing, fulfilling, freedom-loving years of my life! Hey, I met many of you there (into which category above you actually fit will blissfully remain a mystery forever). I learnt a lot about life, love, and I believe my appreciation of beer had its roots firmly planted in this time. I learnt a lot about the world out there, people and myself. And then there were the actual classes. Classes were different. For seven years I had to bend my mind to dead peoples’ teachings, imprint schematics, complex drawings and charts to memory. For hours had to commit precious time to ideas and concepts I didn’t enjoy and was sure I’d never use for the rest of my sane, adult life. Frustrations beyond belief, emotional strain beyond compare, for hours, weeks months and semesters on end. Why, I ask you, in heaven’s name, why?

To fit a baby seat.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you need a degree to install a baby’s car seat, but for me personally, it helped. Had I not gone to university, struggled through years of agony and mental strain, meticulously honing my ability to get to grips with gut-wrenching frustration and incomprehensible schematic impossibilities (called probabilities in text books), conditioning the mind not to explode (or implode outwardly) when challenged by what seemed so logical, but wasn’t. Trained to accept disappointment when success was ever so close… because the math didn’t work.

Had I not gone through that for seven years, seven very formative years, I would surely have broken that bl**dy thing in half, kicked huge dents in every panel of the car I love so much, slashed those Pirellis – with my teeth – and strapped the dog to the roof-rack with the little baby-seatbelts (if only I could figure out how to get those little blighters from that fricken contraption thingy, that is!). Stupid dog staring at me with those big brown puppy eyes where I lay contorted under the front seat, fingers in various little notches – all which were never designed for moisturised hands (yes, I do), the seatbelt neatly tucking my left cheek, right ankle and entire chest securely to the contraption, which didn’t fit as the picture suggested. It would’ve made a chiropractor’s eyes water.

I would probably have taken the kitchen knife to that leather seat I cherish, that seat I polish every month, that leather seat not even my wife is allowed to sit on, because I’m a man and my baby’s seat must fit – somehow! Had I not gone to university, that would’ve been my fate.

But I went there, I did my time and I installed that seat – I tasted victory.

The wee man traveled in that seat today – he went to class and came back. And the seat is still there, where I left it yesterday, in the exact same spot – seven years and not a second wasted!

How simple everything seems today. How clear it all is. There is meaning to everything that happens in this world after all.

May 28, 2009


Friends. You gotta have ‘em.

I have a few, not many, but I know the ones I have are that special breed of person that’ll be there for me at the drop of a hat… if they can hear the hat fall and get a flight from moerengone where they might be at the time, that is. Thanks guys.

As friends do, we’re there with advice, support, a shoulder to cry on. We too appreciate the advice and support we get. It’s a give and take thing.

I gave a while back. A very good friend got married not so long ago and I chose to bestow onto him a little gem of wisdom I gained from being the “married for ages best friend”. Whether he wanted it or not, it was imperative that my innocent friend had the benefit of my worldly wisdom. I knew he would do the same for me one day – and I wasn’t disappointed. This letter then is about how he, let’s call him Nesbit (just because I recently got my poetic license), repaid my unselfish gesture.

Nesbit has been a true friend for years in every sense of the word – he’s been a better friend than I have been to him. Not that I didn’t try, but when your wife knows judo and says you’re spending time with her, who’s going to argue?

One thing I remember clearly from the first time we met, was how Nesbit steadfastly believed that his perfect mate was out there in the wide open world, roaming the earth aimlessly – waiting for the precise, perfect moment when their paths would cross. I tried the same, but there were so many others trying to cross paths that I got caught up in the confusion…
Nesbit traveled the world trying to find her – she was out there, he knew it, and he was not going to leave any stone unturned till he found her. And he was faithful to her in a way that I have never seen a man be faithful to a woman he’d never met before. It was inspiring… if I could I’d probably aspire to it… wouldn’t last a week.

He found her.

Amazing as it may sound, Nesbit persevered and was blessed with his perfect mate… we’ll call her Rowina (jeez, this license thing works, worth every penny!). And we love her.

I don’t know what it was, but I believe that after all that persevering Nesbit & Rowina knew that the proverbial knot was inevitable. And being the man of the world I am, I offered this little gem to him on the eve of his impending nuptials – I knew he needed it.

“Nesbit my longtime friend, on your wedding night when you arrive at your hotel after it’s all been said and done, and you’re eventually alone with her in the sanctity of marriage, there is a very important thing you have to remember on this holiest of holy nights. Something that’ll serve you for a lifetime to come, because if you screw this up this night, you’ll be screwed for life – and not in a good way.
When alone in your room, do the husbandly thing: make her feel comfortable and at ease. Draw her a warm bath – lots of bubbles. She may want a few minutes alone in the room to freshen up – give her the space she needs: focus on the bath and the bubbles.
And then dude, while she’s freshening up in the room, wip off those boxers, get in the tub, and make sure you don’t sit on the plug. Because if you sit on the plug this night, you’ll be sitting on the plug every night for the rest of your life!”

Sound advice I believe. And it’ll serve Nesbit even better if he ensures Rowina doesn’t read this letter!

Now think back – if you’re thinking about Creation, you’ve gone too far – just to the beginning of this letter: it’s still about the giving and taking thing (although I must admit even I almost got lost, what with all the persevering and criss-crossing of paths and stuff). I gave; Nesbit took (I hope)…

Well, many moons passed and Nesbit & Rowina were blessed with a baby.

And of course, we too were blessed with the wee man not too long ago. He’s doing very well thank you very much – had his first piece of biltong just the other day (yes, that revolting piece of dried meat you foreigners just can’t get your minds around – absolutely loves it). At night I put my ear to him when he sleeps and I’m sure I can actually hear him grow! He also loves his porridge mixed with butternut. Feeding him is a bit of a challenge though. Another friend put it well: feeding a baby is almost as easy as trying to ladle porridge into a suspended and spinning orange with a tennis racket, while standing on one leg with your arm behind your back and the other eye closed. Ronan’s a bit like that – only imagine the orange had four flapping appendages…
It’s true – life changes. I have no more cool t-shirts with logos and stuff. They’re just t-shirts with porridge stains on them.

Anyhoo, after sharing this piece of wonderfully South African news with friend Nesbit, he was happy to reciprocate with advice gained over months of torment and wonder that is a baby. It was short and sweet, to the point, with none of the ambiguous mirth that I may have bestowed upon him given the same opportunity: “Waynne (no, I really have two ‘n’s – nothing poetic about it), whatever you do, wherever you are, when Ronan produces that first nappy… dude, do not be the gentleman. Do not be idle, keep busy and out of sight, and under no circumstance offer to change that nappy.”

He gave; I took. That was it.

I didn’t really think much of it apart from the winter chills getting to him – lack of beer and all that… I’ve changed nappies before you know.

My wife’s a sly fox – she has better friends with superior persuasive powers. When that first nappy arrived she wasn’t even in the house!

Life is filled with experiences – my gosh, that nappy was full of life!

It is incomprehensible that something so foul can emanate from something so sweet. That nappy must’ve weighed almost as much as he did – and it wasn’t wee!

Ronan saw my “excitement” and smiled his little angel smile – he knew he’d done well. Dad looked proud! Bless him – he had a cold, wish I had too. My hands were trying to be everywhere at once, getting the nappy, the wipes, keeping his little feet in the air, my nose wiggling here and there and everywhere (like a champion bloodhound’s) trying to find a pocket of fresh air, clutching to keep his inquisitive little hands away from “that stuff”, fighting off the dog with a leg because he too thought this looked like a fun game – woof, woof – another wipe, head over the shoulder (air in, hold, back to the “business”) – woof, woof, GO AWAY! (air in… damn!) – old nappy, new nappy, old wipe, new wipe, oops….

Here’s another piece of free advice (use it, don’t use it, I don’t care): doesn’t matter how busy you are, never ever forget that you’re forgetting something.

Little angel smiling away at me – gurgle-gargle-goo-goo, weeeeeeeee…..! No, not “weeeeeee, look at me, cute baby watching my dad jump around like a clown”. Weeeeeee, as in all over the front of my t-shirt. It’s not a cool t-shirt anymore. Not at all – the stains have names and it’s starting to smell interesting. Who knows, in about a week I’ll put it on ebay under the modern art section. Woof, Woof…. let go my slipper you stupid dog!

Up to this point, changing nappies was about being a modern man, a metrosexual, an involved dad, mom’s pillar and support…... It’s just become a calling. I’m considering the plight (or flight) of many a successful man: I’m throwing myself into my career…

Nesbit, dear friend, advice like that is like telling me: dude, don’t get onto a landmine. You see Nesbit, getting ON a landmine is not the problem; it’s the getting off that causes the inconvenience.

Mom’s back. Yeah yeah funny ha-ha, whatever judo-girl. I’m off for a beer – yes, in this t-shirt!

Nesbit’s not big on beer… but at least he’s not sitting on the plug tonight!