I need some help here, Hatpeople. Something has bubbled up in my line of vision this morning that has seriously harshed my Stanford mellow.
I mean, here I am bound by the almost indescribable beauty of the natural world and basking in my pantheist’s paradise. And then this horror show, packaged and marketed in the name of art, nogal, crawls in to contaminate my karma.
Brace all of your your sensibilities, my Hatties, and get a load of this…
That, dear and undoubtedly devastated readers, is a buck. A South African buck. A blesbok if I’m not an ignoramus. Dead. Brown bread. Killed. Murdered. Shot. By that there sweetie-pie girly on that thar hoss. Nice, hey? Nice picture, hey? Yes. It’s called art.
And so artistic is deemed this sweet little snap that it has earned a bloke called David Chancellor top spot in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Go on, click on that last link and check out what the once highly esteemed British Journal of Photography has to say about Chancellor’s winning picture. And then, if you feel strong enough, scroll down a bit and have a butchers at what won second prize.
Tasty, hey? I mean, tasteful, hey? Yes, some oke’s wife spreading her pins for an upskirt shot. That’s art, Hatpeople. Art. Not porn. Not at all. And I’ll tell you why. Because that there pussypic, which I won’t publish on this blog, was snapped not by some dodgy character called Elmer P. Gobspittle with a Burt Reynolds ‘tache and a massive gold medallion nestling in the old chest-jersey, but by An Artist.
Someone who has minced around the art world long enough, clinking glasses with the people who nod their approval of certain artworld mincers, and ingratiated himself into their artworld good books. And will willingly produce the schlock horror allegedly de rigeur to draw attention to their absurd art prize competitions. I blame that arty-farty toerag Damien Hirst for starting this.
So, what else do the two top entries in the precious Taylor Wessing competition tell us? That it’s absolutely whizzo to photograph murderous Alabama teenagers and assorted other plonkers on wildlife massacres in Third World countries, especially if you have a posh name like Chancellor, and it’s divine, darling, to show the world your wife’s vagina as long as it’s not on www.mymissuseshairyguava.com.
But, hey, perhaps I’ve lost the plot and I am the total doos in all of this?
Wonderful news. It now emerges that I needn’t have plugged Maths in matric after all.
All I had to do to improve on the 16 per cent I scraped together after spending two hours playing noughts-and-crosses on my Maths paper was to get my Dad to rig up a battery-powered electrical current and fit a couple of electrodes to my bonce.
Then, when the adjudicator, in a voice not dissimilar to the bloke who does the punts for movies and says “Coming to a cinema near you… The Revenge Of The Malevolent Mathematical Under-Achievers..”, sounding like a mongrelly cross-breed of Tom Waits and Benito Mussolini, pronounced “Pupils, you may now pick up your pens and commence”, I would have simply switched on and come over all Einstein in an instant. Instead of staring at him blankly and musing over whether Miss van Straaten, my dead-sexy Afrikaans teacher, was wearing a mini that day.
No formula or equation would have been beyond me. Trigonometry would have proved a piece of piss. I would have nailed Pythagoras’s poncy theorem quicker than you can say “Hatman’s a genius” – even if you hired one of those chicks who reveal the specials on Vim over the PA system in supermarkets to make the announcement.
But, no, they’ve typically left me to wallow in decades of guilt before announcing that running a slight current of electricity from one side of your brain to the other is a cure for something termed “dyscalculia” which, like my Attention Deficit Disorder, neanderthalitis, hypertrichosis (excessive growth of hairs in ears) and dofclobberitis (the inability to look anywhere remotely near fashionable), has only been dropped on me in an advanced stage of my life.
Nice. A classic piece of scientific discovery. The boffins emerge from sterile-white labs and wave around a piece of paper which makes absolute sense of something disastrous that happened to you about 54 years ago. Helpful.
But I mustn’t be so self-indulgent. If fitting a pantechnicon battery into a South African child’s “Ek hart Wayne Rooney” rucksack and releasing a few thousand volts through the cerebral deserts where grey matter is as rare as a Bafana victory helps to send our Matric pass rate soaring, I’m all for it.
So, fire up your synapses the best you can and zoom over to the BBC\’s health news site to be further stimulated. And, please, don’t buy into all that politically correct “don’t try this at home” codswallop. You want to pass Maths, right? Right.
Well, just get the old man to rehabilitate an old battery and attach to the parietal lobe around the back of your head somewhere. I suggest you have a word with your Biology teacher about this first. You don’t want to stick the electrodes on the wrong lobe and sardenly fand yu karnt spel.
When I reached out into the early light,
Smelled the beautiful story of our night.
There was only a bare white sheet,
With no words left for me to read.
Her place was still warm to my touch,
But it was only the new sun that shone.
She was gone. Gone, gone, gone.
Eureka! That’s a nice name for a girl, isn’t it? And a natural progression, methinks, on all these Storms and Summers gaily trotting around clutching Daddy’s cycle-gloved hand in breakfast places on a Sunday morning. If you have been hanging out under Julius Malema’s bar of soap and not paying the slightest bit of attention, I am dead keen to become a father. And should the old chromos produces a girl child, I shall call her Eureka.
Not because I don’t like the name Jane. Or because I absolutely dig the way “Eureka Hatman” scans… but because, should Eureka get lost while my gaze is disturbingly locked on making sure my bike doesn’t get nicked while having a Full House at some trendy breakfast place on a Sunday morning, and I go into an entertaining panic and shout out her name, all of the other breakfasting cyclist daddies might come running over to see what it is I’ve discovered. I always wanted to be an inventor.
I hit the dirt road to Baardskeerdersbos yesterday to experience the much-raved-about Art Route for the first time.
Pleasure unconfined. Overberg artists’ works hanging in the voorkamers of homes, wine glasses draining as quickly as the levels of bonhomie soared. It was beautiful.
This is a community vibe at its most soul-enriching best. “Kom kuier,” they said… and we kuiered until we could kuier no more. We got wet, we got cold and we got our hearts warmed wherever we went.
Unicycling. Interesting concept. A year ago, my experience of unicycles – like most of you, I suspect – was limited to watching Tickey the Clown, all whitefaced with big, fat, red lips and atop a little contraption with just the one wheel, whir his little legs through the sawdust at Boswell Wilkie Circus.
Then, out of nowhere, this happened. Hmmm. OK. That won’t happen again. Not on your nelly. Think again, Hatman. Turns out that, when it comes to driving back-up to nutters on unicyclists and blogging about the craziness, I’m the go-to guy. Go-to guy and sucker for punishment. And total plonker.
So, this little fandango will be kicking off in November. Yes. Three nutters. One wheel. Well, make that one wheel each. Two thousand five hundred kilometres. Umhlanga Lighthouse to Mouille Point Lighthouse. Er, that pretty much means Durban to Cape Town. Again. Except, this time, the ride is going off-road. All the way. Yes, that’s OFF-ROAD. Correctomundo, as I seem to recall Henry Winkler saying in Happy Days.
Another small difference is that, this time, I will know how to ride a unicycle. So that, when a bunch of kids appear out of the bush and say “Hey, uncle, please show us how you ride that bike that’s lost a wheel” (or the equivalent in Zulu, Sotho, Afrikaans and Xhosa), I’ll be suitably trained to reduce them to tears of laughter and disbelief.
To this end, while I’ve been in Cape Town this past week, having meetings with the CounterBalance crew and writing guff for our our rather tasty little website, I’ve been spending a half-an-hour every morning making a complete toss of myself.
And it’s looked like this…
And, erm, this…
That there little scratch, I am told by seasoned unicyclists, is called “pedal bite”. It’s what happens when you fall off and a pedal gnashes into your calf. I’ve fallen off more than a few times. But, and best you steady yourself for this, I’m getting the bloody hang of this lark.
Just this morning, in just my fourth half-hour training session, I managed to pedal no fewer than three full wheel revolutions without grabbing hold of the wall – or a gate or a tree or a passing pedestrian or a small mountain range.
Nice. I’m loving it. I started out adopting a totally, like, y’know, fully organic and holistic Zen-like approach. “Lower your full weight on to the saddle,” I’d whisper to myself. “Stabilise.” “Balance.” “Feel as one with the unicycle.” “Become as one with it.” “You are as one with it.” “This thing is now part of my body.” “Good lord, it is my body.” “OK.” “Cool.” “Now lean forward a bit, my son.” “Nice.” “Now, just one revolution…” “OK.” “Push off… here we go…” Kerrrrash! Eina.
That was then, this is now. Now I’d love to know what the neighbours here in leafy Claremont are saying over their infused-with-a-droplet-of-salamander-tears Chai tea of an elevenses.
“Merde!” “Vafancule!” “Come on, you bastardo!” “Get up, idiota!” “You can do this!” “Try again!” “Bring it on!” “Come effing on!” “Let’s nail this baby!” “Go on, my son!” “Yes, yes, yesssss! Aaarrr, yeah!”
Not pretty. Rather unedifying. Positively neanderthal. But it’s working. It’s happening. I’ll show those kids in the villages of our South African hinterland how to ride a “wielie-one”.
Tickey the Clown is back in town.
There are, of course, many distinctions to be drawn between people who somehow exist in the city and those who live the life of Reilly in the countryside.
I lived in inner-city London for 13 years. I loved it. Then. I have now lived in Stanford for the past six months. Stanford? It’s OK. Reasonable question. Twenty-three kilometres the other side of Hermanus, Hatpeople. If you’re coming from Cape Town. Which you will be. Unless you live in Vermaklikheid of iets. Which you don’t. So don’t argue with me. Because I’m irritable.
I’m touchy because I’ve been looking after a friend’s house in Cape Town (while she swans about the shifting sands of the Namib with her man) for the past week. It’s noisy. It’s over-populated. It’s discombobulated. It’s nincompoopulated. It’s smelly. Too many cars. Far too many people. Too many airs and disgraces. Not enough air and graciousness. Too many millions of refrigerators humming around my eardrum. It’s kak.
So, here we are on another Moanday (sic), sitting in a post-weekend stupor in offices all over the globe. Same grumpy old boss. Same boring old meetings. Same rubbish coffee. Same old grubby work colleague sitting nearby with sticky tape holding together his glasses, picking his nose and droning on about his weekend spent trying to coax some love out of a Russian instant wives website.
I think that this might help you…
Wow. Nice. That certainly reminded me of the really important things in life.
So I’m going back to bed.
* Thanks to Eric Alan for the heads-up on this very sweet little vid. Oh, in case you’re wondering, the vid is called The Meaning of Life, produced by “Santé et beauté pour tous!!”, whatever that is, and that stunning soundtrack was “Cuore Di Sabbia” (Sand Heart) by Pasquale Catalano. Mooi, ne?
Inspiration. I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough of it.
And it doesn’t come much better than in the form of Liu Wei of Beijing.
As he says, “who said piano has to be played with your hands?”…
I kept getting that cold, shivery feeling which starts at the nape of my neck and my forehead and simultaneously snakes over my head and down my back. How did it feel for you?
And have you ever tried to pick up a small stone with your toes?
I love Liu Wei. As I have loved Nick Vujicic who has no arms, no legs, just a voracious appetite for living life. Just as I loved Kseniya Simonova and her extraordinary ability to create something so beautiful with sand. But Kseniya has hands.
I liked that line used by one of the “China’s Got Talent” judges after Wei’s incredible performance. “Live like wonderful.”
Let us all live like wonderful this weekend. And we might as well continue with that maxim for the rest of our lives. Because who said life can’t be lived like wonderful?
* A valiant if vain attempt at an awe-inspiring doff of the old red hat to Guy Kawasaki for giving me the heads-up on Liu Wei.
* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into the “Best New Blog” category. I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit mortified if you were to click on that there badge and nominate http://www.fredhatman.co.za in that category (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!