Viva Vuvu! I got my first taste of a crowd vibe at Durban’s uber-glorious Moses Mabhida Stadium at yesterday’s opening match and I was totally blown away.
Blown away by the sheer beauty of being in the shiny-new stadium along with about 22,000 fans… and blown away by about half of them blowing their vuvuzelas like their granny’s life depended on it.
If this is what the atmosphere is like with not even half of the full house that will grace the World Cup 2010 matches, then I’m going to ask to be allowed to flog earplugs outside the ground for our foreign fans unused to the ear-splitting explosion of exuberance that is so part of the South African football experience.
Look. I love football. I love Durban. I love our World Cup 2010 stadium. And I love the pure joy for the beautiful game expressed through a vuvu by our fans. So this post is a celebration of all those. I have got a nit or two to pick with the service offered yesterday… but I’ll set those out later for the authorities to note.
Before I illustrate “The Beautiful Noise”, let us kick off on a quiet note. Looky here…
This little chap turned up with Dad's red vuvu and also clutching a mini version which was being blown lustily by the little people yesterday. With a whole new generation being tutored in the, er, art of one note being performed very loudly and for long periods of time, methinks the vuvu ain't going to be easily banned by Fifa. Sorrrrry for yoooo, Mr Blatter! All pics: Hatman
And these mamas lifted their spirits in the rain by sharing around a vuvu which was parped with mucho enthusiasmness. Nice one, ladies!
This little guy was sat behind me and what he lacked in vuvu verve was overwhelmed (as was I) by his capacity to give it large lungfuls without stopping for breath...
Ooh, what have we here? What we have is a Kaizer Chiefs fan who, despite his team not playing, came along anyway to give his new-fangled and rather more genteel "kuduzela" an airing...
OK. Let’s bring down the decibels a tad. Here’s my summary of how debut day went down at the MMS (Moses Mabhida Stadium). All staff on duty at the stadium were efficient, courteous and very friendly – as you would expect of South Africans – but I have a couple of gripes. Not because I’m the archetypal “Disgruntled of Umdloti” but because, dear People In Charge, if you’re going to have a world-class stadium to show off to the world, then everything about it should be world-class.
Why, then, don’t all the refreshment bars serve all the same food and drinks? Why did I go to one to order coffee to be told that’s it’s only available at the next one? Never mind that I get to “the next one” to be told that there’s no milk. “Not a good start,” I pointed out to the assistant. “Do you think you’ll have milk in time for the World Cup?” She went off and came back with “We’ve only got cold milk, not hot milk.” “Cold milk will be very cool,” I replied. “Could I have a hotdog,” I asked. “No, hotdogs are at the next shop,” she said. I went off in search of the next shop and found en route that my coffee was, in fact, black.”
Now, listen up All Ye In Charge. South Africans are easy come, easy go and pretty much accept what comes their way. Not so many of the foreign fans who will be asking for milk in their coffee and a hotdog to go with it come June 2010. When I finally bought a hotdog it was cold. Please know that in the United States and Germany, they have large government departments dedicated to The Temperature Control of Hotdogs Sold At Football Stadiums. Teams of little men in white coats stick thermometers into hotdogs and anything warmed up to less than 32 deg C leads to shop assistant’s heads being used as spare footballs. OK. Exaggeration overload. But big room for improvement, guys!
Now, let’s wind down with a fun game. The following photograph shows an AmaZulu player swinging a freekick over towards the Maritzburg United goalmouth. But where’s the ball? Ja, this is just like those old “Spot-the-Ball” competitions the newspapers used to run. It took me 37 seconds to find it. Can you beat that? If you can, mail me using the “Contact button on this page” and tell me where the ball is. The person who gets it in the fastest time (use the honesty box for this, please!) wins, er, wins… let me see… OK, they win my vuvuzela!
Coolness. Here you go…
Can you spot that ball? Not that easy, huh? No. Best you be putting on your specs, uncle. Or ask your daughter to help you! Good luck!
I enjoyed that. Ending this off with a little teaser. Oh, in case you missed it, local favourites AmaZulu were beaten 1-0 by Maritzburg United after Byron Hendricks scrambled the ball over the line to score the first goal ever at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He then kissed the lush green turf to signal this feat but I think we’ll be seeing a truckload of far better goals next June and July. I cannot wait.
* An overhead scissors-doff of the red hat to Karen Lotter of ethekwiniweb.co.za for sorting me out with tickets. Paaaarrrrp!
In another of my weekly interviews with interesting folk who live in my beautiful seaside hometown of Umdloti in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, I popped in to visit the lovely and effervescent Michelle Robb at her rather tasty little sex shop in Glenashley…
FH: You run an adult shop. How does a woman such as you break into what is seen as a man’s business? And how did you get to do it?
MR: Initially I was going to open a digital printing business as I have worked in the advertising field before. One of my clients was a large adult shop and whenever they needed advertising done I was called into the shop. My first visit will be forever etched in my brain! There was nowhere to look that didn’t have something scary beaming back at me. All the customers in the shop turned to stare and I have never felt so uncomfortable before. But after going in there week after week I eventually got used to it. My friends would ask me to do their naughty shopping for them while I was there and it always amazed me that the assistants didn’t know much about their products. Anyway, when I told my mother about my new printing business venture, she said that it was silly to start a business with so much competition and that I should open up my own upmarket adult shop! She was so right! There are no other shops close to me and I have been in business for two years now.The shops in town offer viewing booths (nasty places!) which is why they are operated by men.
FH:Pleasures is a welcome alternative to the more seamy and grubby “sex outlets” like the ones you’ve just mentioned. What does your shop offer that makes shopping for one’s essential sex toys a more pleasurable affair?
MR: I have a very small shop and its decorated nicely. It is very discreet and welcoming as most people are shy and I am the only person that you will have to deal with. Not much shocks me and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have. I am a woman so I know what we like! And I have a good idea of what men like too!
FH:Would men feel comfortable bringing their girlfriends or wives to your shop? And, vice-versa?
MR: My customer base is 70% men and 30% women. I do have a lot of men that are sent in by their wives/girlfriends to check out the place and then are happy to bring them in.
FH: Which items on your shelves (or under your cashier’s desk!) are the bestsellers?
MR: Ooooh, my bestsellers? Jumping Jack Vibrators. Real Feel Vibrators and Super Powerful Men’s Tablets (these last up to three days and my male friends are constantly asking me for them!)
FH:You’re another lucky fish who lives in our seaside idyll called Umdloti. What is it about ‘Hloti that you most love and how do you use it, apart from the occasional little drinkie-poo at the Bush Tavern?
MR: Yes, lots of drinkie-poos at the Bush. And I always seem to bump into you there, Mr Hatman! When I met my partner Dave, he was living in Umdloti. Slowly it grew on me and the next thing I had sold my flat and moved here. My son, Bradley, followed and we now call ‘Hloti home. We have amazing seaviews from our place and Dave has actually done the most wonderful oil paintings that have real Umdloti beach sand in them! I have only lived here for two years but it would be hard to picture myself living anywhere else. It is a very special little place with a wonderful sense of community and I have made a lot of fantastic friends here. Oh Fred, before you run away, would you like one of my Super Powerful Mens Tablets to try out?
Er ja, that’s very good of you, Michelle. Any chance you could donate me two? Double the pleasureness. Thanks!
* You can run an eye over Michelle’s wares by popping into her website.
How do you like that, hey? I can take you into the magnificent football arena that is Durban’s new World Cup 2010 stadium, without you having to even avert your gaze from your computer!
I know. It’s called epic kiffness, bru. And I bring it to you as just the first instalment of my public service campaign to enable you to enjoy the best of what the world has to offer… with no effort required from you, dear Hatpeople, to stray far from your coffee machine or even begin to think about enduring separation anxiety involving your cat, your goldfish, your guinea-pig, your Boa constrictor or whatever it is in the petworld which gives you warm fuzziness.
It’s fine. It’s what I do. For you. Because I love you. I do. You take the trouble to visit my blog every day and, in return, I show my intense loveness for you by giving you nice surprises. It’s good to give. As the saying that came to me the other day goes: “Give and ye shall receive.” I’m quite pleased with that. Use it. Don’t use it. Entirely up to you.
Coolness. So what have I for the ones what I love today? Ah, this just came in this morning. My highly specialised Internet Brains Trust, working out of the garden shed behind Hatman Mansions, popped something on to my lappy (er. that’s my laptop for those of you naughty ones) which, when you press play, takes you on a guided tour of whatever it is you’d like to be guided around.
Paris, a pile-up on the N2, Brad Pitt’s buns, The Great Undiscovered Catacombs Of Umdloti, whatever. Up to you, babies. The world’s your cloister (another saying I dreamt up on the loo on another epiphanic morning). Right now, because the first football match is being played at our (if you are lucky enough to live in Durban) spanking-new and utterly off-the-hook Moses Mabhida Stadium, I thought I’d give you an insider’s preview. With my Fredsynth Stadium Tour Machine. It’s kiffness on an epic scale.
Glory in this… (oh, ja, you might have to download some software for this but, believe me, it’s totally worth it!)
OK. I’m sorry. I’m off to give the hairdryer treatment to Head Boff Algy. Because I explicitly asked him to include some i-marges of the players’ dressing-rooms and the nincompoop left them out. These techie codey stringy thready geeksters are all severely ADD, I tell you!
But, hey, what did you think of that, apart from the dressing-rooms? Words fail you, yes? Don’t worry. I was speechless for at least six seconds after arriving for my first tour of MMS, as we who are close to The Big Mama of World Cup stadiums now refer to her.
And, be still my thumping-out-of-my-chest heart, I’ve been given VIP access to attend AmaZulu vs Maritzburg United there on Sunday afternoon. I can’t sleep I’m so excited. And, don’t worry my Hatpeople, even if I get stuck nibbling canapes and sushi next to Mr Zuma or Mr Mkhize – or even that nice Mr Sutcliffe – I’m going to be blowing my vuvuzela so hard that you might even see The Arch shake from the Berea. Toodlepip!
* A highly theatrical doff, similar to that of the arch at MMS, of the old red hat to Rich McLennan of the official Durban World Cup 2010 website for sending in the raw material for Algy and his team to fine-tune (up to a point).
You’ll remember, dear Hatpeople, that I told you about that Daily Telegraph travel writer Charlie Starmer-Smith, a plonker of the highest order, who went into a lion’s enclosure for the first time, was spoiling his undies, got a bit reactive and got his leg chomped.
While the vet was stitching him up, Clever Charlie laughed, said “how cool is this?” and added that he couldn’t wait to get back to London to show off his scar to his chums. Epic twitness.
Then I published some photographs of veteran wildlife photographer Daryl Balfour, now officially appointed Wildlife Correspondent for Hatman Mansions, who adopted a live tiger to use as a backpack while snapping away at a new litter of stripey big cats at John Varty’s Tiger Canyons tiger conservation project. Balfour knows what he is doing. I’m more than fine with that.
Then there’s Kevin Richardson. I’m not quite sure how to describe what he does. Best you take a look yourself…
Riiiight. How was that? No scaredycatness there, huh? No. But all of us can see that Kev knows his lions from his, um, y’know the ones that women of a certain age keep lying on top of their sofas at home and call Tweetiepie or Cassandra or whatever.
He’s taken the time to get to know his pride of lions at a safari park near Johannesburg. In return, they have got used to his crazy vibe and have made some allowances for their nutty playmate. They are getting along quite nicely, hey? It’s like the rest of us should take the trouble to get to know members of the opposite gender before letting them move their toothbrush and stuff into our pads. Otherwise we might wake up to a severe mauling. Just ask me. But some other time.
Let’s move along very swiftly. Kevin, an animal behaviourist, is, like me, aware of the dangers of going in where most men should fear to play. He says: “If they killed me, it would just be one of those things. If I could come back after dying I’d do it all over again.”
With a vibe as lekker as that, what lion could deny him a little play-play, hey?
Look. I thought that kicking off with a picture of 90s supermodel Helena Christensen wearing only a few watches in my first post on this blog yesterday worked a right treat.
So I’m doing it again…
No, this isn't Helena. And she's not even wearing only watches. This a more beautiful woman. Wearing her heart in the right place. And don't you dig the flowers too? Beautifulnesses.
OK. Let me introduce you to our angel. Annette Oberholster. Netty to her friends. That’s her sitting smiling angelically among those gorgeous flowers above.
So what about her? I’ll tell you what about her. Netty, who gets around our world quite a lot, is currently living in the desert of Qatar while her boyfriend finishes a contract working with a petrochemicals company.
She, being a long-time friend of our Heart & Sole Tour unicyclist Geoff “Heartman” Brink, heard about our little 1,700km jaunt from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the scourge of landmines. And got thinking. About how she could help.
I hope that she won’t mind me doing this but I’m publishing an extract from the e-mail I received from her yesterday:
“hello dear friends,
i have come up with an idea to try and help raise some money for the heart and sole tour, so i am going to run it by you to see if you think it will ‘fly’. i will definitely need your help to pull it off.
in my idleness here in the desert of qatar, i have taught myself how to fold an origami crane. : )
bear with me.
in japanese folklore, if you fold 1000 cranes you get to make a wish. so, i could fold 1000 cranes and my wish would be to enhance the lives of landmine victims … that i would do by selling the cranes and donating the money to the heart and sole tour. the tag line could be this quote: ‘I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.’ - Sadako Sasaki (1943-55).
folding 1000 cranes is a BEEEG job! weeks and weeks and blistered fingers. so, before i begin, i need to know that it is going to work.
the math is simple, sell each crane for R1 each and we make R1000. or better still, sell each crane for R10 each and we make R10 000. but there is a problem, i am going to need your help to sell these guys in south africa.
Apologies if you’ve seen this already but, as today is the 18th anniversary of the death of the inimitable Freddie Mercury, I just have to allow the Muppets to, well, imitate the Moustachioed Hipswiveller.
As only they can. You’re going to love this…
I’m sorry. I’m finished. Hilariousness. And how was Kermit’s comment about the video conferences right at the end there. I nearly hit the floor with that. Did you like that? Just a little bit? You did, didn’t you? I think Freddie would have flashed a toothy grin through all of that. Don’t you?
Helena's got no excuse for being late for our date, has she?
See what I did there? I posted a picture before writing any words. I have no idea why I did that. I just felt like it. That’s what I love about being a lone blogger operating on my Umdloti verandah with only 500 birds, 50 vervet monkeys, two Jack Russells and a nutty unicyclist to deal with in a day.
I can do what I like. No newspaper editor to say: “No, Hatman, you can’t put a picture above the story on that page. Have you gone mad?” Editors are prone to asking stupid questions.
OK. So you’re wondering why a blogger with an impeccable record for not ever gratuitously dropping naked photographs of anybody, let alone 90s supermodels – or even my close friend Genevieve Morton – on my blog is doing posting a picture of uberbeauty Helena Christensen wearing only a small range of wristwatches.
Reasonable question. So I’ll answer it. It’s so I have an excuse to tell you a story about the time I stared into Helena’s eyes. And what eyes! Indescribable. But, of course, I’ll try. The colour of the water immediately below the surface in an isolated cove where nobody has ever gone before somewhere on the remotest island of the Maldives is the closest I can do for you. Hardly Oscar Wilde but it’ll have to do. Aquamarine. Helena’s eyes. With a hint of turquoise gently blended with indigo and offset by a drop of battleship grey. If I remember correctly. And I do. First, before I relate my “I stared into Helena’s eyes” anecdote (no pork content), please run yours over another pic of Hels, this time with friends Claudia and Eva…
Hard to believe Freddie's Angels are now approaching something some people sometimes refer to as middle age, hey?
Nice to see the girls have been keeping fit, isn’t it? Back to my story. OK. So my girlfriend at the time – Kate, London, circa 1994 – had a friend whose boyfriend owned the Brixton Academy. We got VIP passes for every show. The Stones played a warm-up gig for a global tour there one night. It was celeb/supermodel overload. I went to the bar to get in the drinks. Unknowingly got wedged in behind Paula Yates (y’know, Bob Geldof’s late missus) who was waving her hands about while talking to Chris Evans (Google him if you have to). I looked around. Simon and Yasmin le Bon. Linda Evangelista. No Christy Turlington (I don’t think). Dave Stewart had his back to me. Which I thought quite rude at the time. Also present were a small galaxy whose names I won’t bother to drop. Only because I can’t remember.
I don’t know if it’s in the water but Durban – and Umdloti in particular – has sprouted some scary moustaches for Cansa’s “Mo-vember” campaign to raise awareness of those cancers that nibble lethally away at men… prostate, testicular and, yes, breast cancer can pick on men too. You didn’t know that, did you?
So a lot of guys are strolling around South Africa and sporting ‘taches which are terrifying the living daylightsness out of their womenfolk. Hang in there, ladies, you can order him to de-tache in just six days’ time. Meanwhile, an update on the “Great Umdloti vs Camps Bay Mo-off”, a friendly tussle between Heart & Sole marathon unicyclist Geoff “Heartman” Brink and Cape Town’s “sex symbol” blogger Seth Rotherham.
So without further hair-do (OK, so I’ve used that line before but I like it too much, all right?), let’s brace ourselves for the second phase pics of their top-lip turnouts… first up, Seth “I’ve gone for the Porn Star vibe” Rotherham…
Hmmm, I'm not entirely convinced many porn stars are looking over their hairy shoulders in fear at Seth's paltry turnout... but, hey, I don't want to influence the judges' decision here!
Next up, and I suggest you cover your children’s eyes for this one, our nutty Umdloti marathon unicyclist, Geoff “MuthaTrucker” Brink…
Golly gumdropsness! He does look rather terrifying, doesn't he? In a kind of "Umdloti Has A Village Idiot And I'm It" kind of way. Actually, he's quite harmless... without a razor in his mitt!
Well. I’m not sure what to say. Except perhaps Camps Bay’s sexiest blogger might have some catching up to do. Not that I’m taking sides. No. I’ll leave that to the judges. Er, that will be me. And I’ll make my decision next week. End of Movember, right?
Right. Now for a little light relief. If that wasn’t light enough for you. Last time out, my guest Mo Bro was Springbok rugby legend Bob Skinstad. The last I heard, he had taken refuge in a snug in a Dublin pub ahead of the South Africa vs Ireland match and was dyeing his moustache with Guinness. So who to feature this week?
I was summoned at the weekend by The Oyster Box’s Head Honcho to discuss his proposal for my weekend residency at the newly revamped colonial-style hotel, a veritable institution among old Natal hostelries.
Over the finest cream tea to be had anywhere, our residency agreement was speedily finalised. I mean, am I the biggest fan of the Oyster Box or what? I was hugely relieved to note that the recent refurbishment of this grand old lady of South African hotels has not in the slightest bit diminished her haughty yet laidback seaside grandeur.
When Head Honcho put on the table a kind offer for me to stay as their guest (any weekend I like) in a suite which, I imagine, very few other than Nelson Mandela get to see the inside of, it was a firm gentlemen’s handshake, smiles all-round and a stiff gin and tonic and salted peanuts were waiting four-poster-side before Alfred had even dropped off my Vuittons.
Coolness. I was left to wander around the old girl, a hotel where my parents used to take me as a snotty-nosed sapling for a Coke Float and Chocnut Sundae way back in the day. So I swooned over the way Red Carnation Hotels have expertly blended in the new with the old, maintaining the dignity and character of Old Lady Oyster Box, and wielded the Canon 50D with no little relish.
OK. So I got a tad fixated on the old lighthouse, an Umhlanga icon situated directly in front of the hotel and a humungous source of wonderment to me as a child. This is how it all turned out…
I'm fine with that. The view from where I scoffed my cream scones on the Indian Ocean-adoring verandah. The view from the newly-named Hatman Suite which larges it up on the top floor is not too shabby either...
Post-cream tea deliciousness, I was tempted to plunge into my new rimpool but decided not to disturb the reflection of my lighthouse and spoil it for the other patrons. That's how I roll. Decorously.
So I got creative instead and paid homage (that's ho-marge, as in French) to My Lighthouse with some crafty compositionness. Hope you like this...
And, not being one to leave it there, I thought I'd capture another angle, knowing all the while that these vignettes (vin-yets in the French) from my new weekend residence might serve to cheer all of you up this Monday... anything for my Hatpeople.
Cool. I’ll leave it there. Perhaps, if you all behave really well, I’ll release i-marges of the Oyster Box’s magnificent new decor d’ interieur, pardon my Franglais, in a later post. Let’s just say that I’m not at all displeased with the totally sick suite Head Honcho has thrown my way. Catch you in the Lighthouse Bar on Friday evening, Honch. I trust you’ll have those G&Ts lined up on that bar of great splendidness. There’s a good chap!
* Please feel free to help yourself to more info on the sumptuousness of the new Oyster Box by checking in here and/or here. Tell them Fred sent you.
In the sixth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in and around the idyllic seaside town of Umdloti on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast, I asked the Big Five questions of Adapt IT internet boffin (and developer of Durban’s official World Cup 2010 website), Richard McLennan…
FH: You are known as the man behind Adapt IT’s development of Durban’s World Cup 2010 website. How did you get started in internet technology and how did you get to here?
RM: Firstly, I have a very good team of people I work with on The Durban Host City Website, I am just one of the cogs in the machine so to speak. In terms of how I got here, it’s a fairly long story so I’ll keep it short and in point form:
· Raised here on the North Coast in the sunny hamlet of Umhlanga Rocks. After school spent 2 years in the SA Navy as a diver.
· Three years crewing on ‘Superyachts’ in the Med and Caribbean, before returning to SA, completed my Dive Instructor as well as Commercial Diver certifications. Taught Commercial Diving for a year at Durban’s PDI, great job, crap money. Moved on to IMMAC shipping for 6 months as Dive Supervisor, good money, crap job
· After a number of close underwater calls decided enough was enough and thought a career in the IT world looked far more promising… honestly, what’s the worst that can happen when you drive a PC for a living? Completed a Diploma in Visual Basic 5 whilst working as a diver
* Landed a web developer role for a very funky new media agency in London called Wheel where I ran a Development Team, jumped ship to a customer, the wonderful Marks & Spencer. Had an awesome couple of years at M&S helping build their very successful –ecommerce business.
· Headhunted by Monsoon Accessorise to setup their e-commerce business which I ran for 2 years
· After Sarah and I had son Connor in October 2006, we decided in early 2007 it was time to return to SA, work/life balance had become a lot more important to me…
· Three weeks after arriving back in SA, I joined a secret Old Mutual initiative building a new direct insurance and home loan business. Unfortunately, 12 months later we pulled the plug due to the global credit crisis and recession, a real pity as the products would have been groundbreaking for the SA market
· Approached by Adapt IT in Jan 2009 to programme manage the Durban 2010 web project
FH: OK. Straight into the question everybody wants answered! Adapt IT took a lot of flak for the 2010 website which, some said, did not give value for the amount of Durban ratepayers’ money spent on the project… how would you counter that assertion?
RM: It’s funny, everyone has heard of Adapt IT and the Durban 2010 Website, “oh ja, the R6.5 million website, what’s up with that?”