As you may well know, there are myriad top-notch brands that are just gagging to be associated with the fredhatman.co.za success story.
Every morning I wake up to an inbox chock-a-block with offers of free suites at premier hotels, free dinners at top-rated restaurants, free round-the-world cruises, free clothing, free wine, free i-Pads, free tickets to absolutely everything, including VIP invites to glamorous international parties jampacked with supermodels, and the occasional offer of a free smack about the head from somebody very upset about something I’ve written.
These super-brands want “visibility in the most desirable market segment”, the exposure that will “fit their profile”, indeed the “insane coolness” that would come with being associated with South Africa’s only “diagnosed SA-positive” blogger.
But I don’t roll like that. I’m a country blogger. I get the shakes when I leave Stanford for longer than two hours (to go shopping in Hermanus). So when I received an offer to engage freely in some “land art” here in Stanford, I jumped at it.
I went down to the river to meet Leli Hoch and Andrée Bonthuys, who run these “art in nature” sessions, and local artist Sanette du Toit Upton, whose work I have admired at the Stanford Galleries Art Cafe.
We were told to “try to get as one with nature, see everything as a piece of art and collect things to make something that will express whatever it is you want to express”.
With the issue of our press freedom being under threat gnawing at my mind, I was immediately drawn to the piece of a Cape Times’ front page I found littering the wandelpad. Then I saw a piece of red plastic cable that seemed almost to form part of a plant with red flowers.
Ah, I could make a noose from which I could “hang” the Cape Times, I mused. Symbolic of a possible execution of a free South African press.
I found a clearing partially surrounded by bush – a “village square” – and got to work. I’ll show you what I made.
Hardly a work of art, you may say... but it speaks to me Pic: Hatman
OK. So that may be seen as an interpretation of what might happen to our press freedom if the government’s Protection of Information Bill is not resisted with our every ounce of strength.
But, while I was creating my little masterpiece, I felt something else bubble up within me. My motive for wanting to create a symbol of the public hanging of South Africa’s press began to shift. It became – and it was deeply emotional for me – also a need to bury my past, my 25-year career in newspaper journalism.
Attaching a piece of newspaper to a noose and hanging it from a branch stuck in the earth stirred up feelings, old resentments, and I found myself stabbing small “bullet-holes” in the paper, burning the edges of the Cape Times front page and tying a length of blue twine I had found earlier tightly around the body of my soon-to-be-lifeless newspaper career.
Whoo! This exercise had taken on a whole new meaning for me. I was putting to rest two and a half decades of my life in the world of newspapers. I felt no anger, just a calm determination to finish what I had started. And then I felt relief, an inner peace, a release from the weariness of battles fought with editors more enamoured with indulging the wishes of advertisers and politicians than with meeting the needs of readers and the public interest.
But my work was not complete. I went in search of flowers and the material with which to make a rudimentary cross. I wanted to pay my respects to the corpse of my newspaper career. It seemed like the right thing to do. Once this was done, I felt a huge sense of release.
The others found me in deep contemplation and speculated on the intensity of what I had made. And then we walked back up the river to examine their work.
Sanette du Toit Upton's beautiful artwork Pic: Hatman
The afternoon had been a wonderful exercise in how to create something beautiful and meaningful from what is available to us in nature. And I was very moved by what “land art” had given me, an opportunity to express and release something that I didn’t realise was impacting so profoundly on my life.
* Leli Hoch (of Stanford Valley Farm) and Andrée Bonthuys (of Baardskeerdersbos) give half day, full day or weekend land art workshops. They offer sessions on demand along the Klein Rivier in Stanford and along the cliff path in Hermanus. For more details, and to book, contact: email@example.com / 072 622 3456 or firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com / 082 350 0253
* 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 three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (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!
I like what these guys are doing with leadsa.co.za. I like it a lot. It’s the right message. At just the right time. Stand up for South Africa. And stand up for yourself. Stop sitting on your hands. And stand up. And be counted.
Take a look…
Be “SA-positive”. Amen.
* If you look 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 three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in the category you think best fits this blog. In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
What do Hollywood, USA, and Stanford, SA, have in common? No, hills is not the right answer. Stanford has mountains. And, no, not good-looking people and money, either. We’re far better-looking.
The correct answer is, cue much-missed paaarps of a small orchestra of vuvuzelas, celebrities.
Yes, celebs. Don’t act surprised. You knew this. But, should further proof be needed, here it is. I have two huge celebrities for you, snapped on a sunny winter’s day in Stanford yesterday. Seth Rotherham of 2oceansvibe blogging fame and Mariana Esterhuyzen of Marianas cooking legend. And me.
This how I roll in Stanford... hanging out with celebs such as Seth and Mariana Pic: Perez Hilton
That is all. Oh, apart from wishing Mariana and Pieter Esterhuyzen a very restful annual holiday. Don’t even try to book a table until mid-September. Mariana will be teaching and passing on her unmatched culinary expertise. Pieter will be refining his vast repertoire of jokes, no doubt.
Lucky fish. Bloggers aren’t allowed to do holidays!
PS: During my previous life in London, I was lucky enough to eat at places such as The River Cafe and The Ivy. Top-notch restaurants. Marianas is in the same league. Only with a far superior view. And vibe. If you would like to enjoy a food experience second to none, write down this number and keep it safe: 028-341 0272. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, only after mid-September.
We are blessed with some stunning proverbs in South Africa. And I’ll stun you with some of them as we walk this Know The Beloved Country path.
“Ngwana a ka feta gare ga molete wa tau.”
No, this does not translate to “Darling, would you mind hoiking the feta out of the fridge, please?”
It’s a northern Sotho proverb which means… “A child can go through the hole of a lion.”
Yes. I was also left wondering whether this was a misprint and they meant “whole” rather than “hole”. Kids do tend to eat a lot these days.
But, if you’ll allow me to get to the nub of all this, this quaint proverb suggests that adults should be open to what children say.
Now I’m a great fan of this thinking. Have been ever since my Dad got into the habit, at the dinner table, of barking at my sister and I: “Only open your mouth to put food in it.” And we were already in our 20s! Only joking.
But, seriously, I think we adults would do very, very well to really listen to what children say. Perhaps then we might shift a lot of the absolute rubbish we carry around in our heads all day, every day, and begin to appreciate once more the joy to be had around us.
You know, those small and seemingly insignificant things that we either take for granted or completely ignore because there’s a a job to be done, money to be made, neighbours to be upstaged and grudges to be settled.
When last did you really share in a child’s elation at an earthworm presented in muddy little fingers? Did you hold the earthworm, admire it and Google all the facts about Lumbricus terrestris? Or did you tell him or her to put it back immediately and go and wash those filthy hands? Just asking.
I think that we have a lot to learn from children. Perhaps everything. How did we forget it all?
I never thought anything said by Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts would talk to my soul.
But I was wrong. This does…
“The bushveld is a place where the human element indeed shrinks into utter insignificance, and grips you and subdues you and makes you one with yourself.” – J. C. Smuts, South African Prime Minister (1870-1950).
Er, those dates don’t indicate the time Smuts ruled our country but the length of time he spent on earth. And he clearly spent a great deal of that time close to Mother Nature to reach a place in which he could release that pearl of wisdom.
The longer I live in our great country and the more I gravitate away from the city to the wide expanses of natural magnificence that dominate South Africa, the more Smuts’ words resonate with me.
I have this hunger for my authenticity and I increasingly know that it can only be attained by making myself small and surrendering to the power of the natural world, away from the myriad distractions of the urban conurbation with its noise and self-importance and false illuminations.
Look. There are times when I feel like I’m groping in the dark on this blog. And this is definitely one of them.
I’ve been linked on to the London Guardian’s fantastic World Cup fans’ network for this football fandango, the best thing that’s happened to South Africa since the invention of Marmite, and I’ve been tweeting out comments on the matches for the past three weeks.
Tweets often pop up from women, proclaiming one or other player as somebody so hot that they would consider giving up their paradisical South African lifestyle to become part of that player’s concubine in a mansion outside Madrid or Manchester or Milan or Minsk or wherever.
It’s no good us just going on about a footballer’s ability to slip the offside trap or whether their somersault with triple pike in the penalty box scores a perfect 10. These women, clearly knickers-a-knotted and panting over the PVR, need to be heard. I couldn’t help them. Not until a reader, responding to my pic of that plonker Cristiano Ronaldo in his jocks sent in her personal Top Ten of Hottest Players at this World Cup.
Ready? Right. And off she goes (very breathlessly)…
OK. Thanks, Fred. So, you definitely can’t string a proper football team together with this lot but who cares? We just want to look at them, really. I don’t need to say much about them, the pictures will do the talking…
Carlos Bocanegra - USA
Super, super dark and dreamy hottie! I would omit vowels for him any day.
Lucas Neill - Australia
Aussie who will need to be consoled as his national side is continuously embarrassed. They can stick to cricket, and he can stick to bowling maidens over.
Yoann Gourcuff - France
Frenchman with dark hair and such striking oceanic eyes. Romance of love, Allez Les Bleus!
Cesc Fabregas - Spain
Spanish and Arsenal hottie. Yum.
Wesley Sneijder - Holland
The wild card of the lot. Dutch player who kind of looks a bit geeky. Like he played a lot of Diablo and now made it big and is giving the finger to all of those haters.
Itumeleng Khune - South Africa
The nation’s spiderkid. He’s been warming our hearts since his acrobatic performances in the Confed Cup last year. How cute is he? Marry me, Khune!
Carlos Vela - Mexico
Mexican hottie who also plays for Arsenal and, the best part, he is still soooo young. So he can be trained, with ease.
Alex Song - Cameroon
Another Arsenal boy who plays for Cameroon. Cheeky smile with his bushy hair and abs to drool over. (I am not biased because I am an Arsenal fan, promise).
Lukas Podolski - Germany
German jock with arms that make you want to pretend like you are falling over. Very much the preppie girl’s man.
Iker Casillas - Spain
Spanish captain and keeper. Estoy loco por ti!
* And just for good measure: Stevie G – Liverpool and England captain. He might be a barfighting chav who looks confused most of the time but I would, yes, I would…
Steven Gerrard - England. Whaaaat?!
What? You would… what? Look. As somebody who has bled Liverpool Red from age seven, Stevie G is my hero. I cherish his commitment to Liverpool FC and our club would not be the same without him. I love the way he puts his body on the line for the Mighty Reds’ cause week in and week out and he is a supremely gifted midfielder with an instinctive ability to blast goals from all over the pitch. He’s a hot footballer… but a hot guy? Surely not!
But what do I know? And what I know is this. How can Arsenal – you’re not biased? Yeah, right! – dominate this Hottielist when my club has Spaniard Fernando Torres striking a massively athletic pose up front. Why is “El Nino” not in this list? Why is he not top of this list? Is it because he is blond? Or was blond? I detect some prejudice towards dark-haired guys in this list. Surely some mistake!
So, I’ll play out with Liverpool goalscoring icon, Mr Torres…
Here's our boy. Fernando Torres - Liverpool and Spain. So, what's wrong with him, then? Hey?
Am I missing something? Maybe it’s just that, as a guy with only Liverpool on my mind, I think Fernando Torres is seriously hot. In front of goal!
What do you think? Ladies?
* This list of “hotties” was compiled by a blogging colleague. You can find her floundering in an ocean of oestrogen over at Paddlesweep where, when the football World Cup isn’t on, she usually gets her knickers in a twist over, er, cricket.
We South Africans are in no hurry to forgive the London tabloids for the trash they have spewed out about our beautiful country and equally sublime World Cup.
In fact, I have a good mind to approach those copies of the Daily Mirror (they have had the audacity to publish their tripe in South Africa during this World Cup) piled up at the Stanford Spar and do something unmentionable to their front page. But, since I have signed the Fifa pledge to be nice to all foreigners except Cristiano Ronaldo for the next month, I won’t.
Thank goodness, then, for the Great British Sense Of Humour. As displayed by these two wags (not WAGs) who produced a quite stunning poster during the Brazil vs North Korea game last night.
Please, Hatpeople, allow your mince pies (eyes) to feast on this thing of knee-whacking humour…
Nice one, lads! Pic: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian
I do like that. A lot. And there’s no way the DKR (Dictatorial Republic of Korea) fans were going to get away with waving that baby around, what with The Great Leader probably watching on his mammoth flat-screen in his palace back in Pyongyang.
* Thanks for use of this pic to The London Guardian which is providing extensive and very balanced coverage – unlike their tabloid brethren – of our World Cup. In fact, I have joined the London Guardian’s phenomenal World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. If you would like to read what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and get tongue-in-cheek tweeted updates during the matches, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts.
Over at my mate\’s blog he features a little something every Tuesday which he calls Tuesday Tabs. It involves a gratuitous peep at some or other rather well-known female not altogether clothed and it usually meets with my private approval.
Now, this is not quite the thing in which your “SA-positive” blogger indulges but since there’s a World Cup going on and my Google Analytics stats indicate a surprisingly high number of female visitors to fredhatman.co.za, why would I turn a vuvu-deaf ear to your increasingly hysterical demands…
There. Are we all happy? Divine. Can we go back to watching the football now?
Everybody who knows me knows that I am so excited about this African World Cup that I could remove my clothes, sprint up the main street of Stanford on to the R43 and do a handstand on the dotted line while shouting “Laduuuuma” and blowing my vuvuzela all at the same time.
Well, I would if I had any sort of confidence that I could still do a handstand.
But you know what? As much as the anticipation of watching Messi, Kaka, Torres, Gerrard et al performing in our phenomenal new stadia gets me salivating like a dog in a butchery, there is another dimension to this beautiful event that blows my mind even more.
It is this. I know that there is a boy in some isolated village somewhere in Africa for whom watching, say, Didier Drogba drag the ball away from a defender, sprint past another and unleash a curving thunderbolt into the top corner will soar beyond excitement. It will take him into another world where, in his mind, the opportunity to do the same in 16 years’ time will become his dream.
This dream and the possibility to realise it will fill his every waking moment – and probably the sleeping ones too – and it will inspire him further to refine his soccer skills while kicking around any manner of ball on a dusty field long after the sun has set.
Yes, this World Cup will inspire an entire generation of kids to believe that anything is possible, that they too might ignite a World Cup finals with their sublime talent sometime in the years to come.
And, to celebrate the firing of the imaginations of boys in every corner of our continent, I would like to dedicate the following photography exhibition to them. Please join me in revelling in the beauty and the hope – and the dreams – expressed in these images…
He has the whole world in his hands.
Yes. I don’t know how you are feeling but I thought that this series of pictures was beautiful. And moving. Very moving.
I know that the true legacy of our African World Cup will lie not in how much money was made but in how many dreams were stoked in the minds of children across our vast, magical and endlessly fascinating continent. How many of our little people who will begin to believe that there is a possibility that their lives may be transformed by what we call The Beautiful Game.
I believe that this is why the World Cup has been sent to South Africa. Why this is the right time for football’s premier showcase event to be staged right here in Africa.
May World Cup 2010 bless these African children.
* I would like to thank Take Five and Yasha and all of the others involved with the stunning Football Made In Africa website for the use of the above images. Football Made In Africa represents the rich diversity of Africa – and Africa’s love affair with football – in the most beautiful way. Merci beaucoup!