We like it when the little guy comes out on top, don’t we? The underdog. Winning against all the odds. Like when my Jack Russell chased that Great Dane the length of Camps Bay beach. Actually, bad example. Because The Scrapster sees herself as very much The Overdog.
OK. Like when Samson pinged Goliath. That’s better. Or when Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the 1989 FA Cup final. What am I talking about? I’m a Liverpool supporter. Or sufferer. So forget that.
Got it. Like this…
How was that?! Yowzers! You’re a penguin. You’re being chased around by about four ravenous killer whales keen to have you for a starter before the main course. You’re getting a little fatigued and your frantic little flippers are slowing down a tad. You spot a boat with a bunch of boring Norwegians on it…
You’re going to take your chances, aren’t you? You’re jumping straight on that boat and hope like hell that those fjordspeople aren’t going to bore you witless with their talk about, well, fjords, fjords and more fjords. Beats being scrunched up in a whale’s digestive system, doesn’t it? OK. Only just.
Still, a victory for the little guy there. Reminds me of the time old Nel, one of diminutive twins, got called out at big break by Buster Chadwick, the school’s 1st XV lock, and felled him with one almighty blow to the side of the head. It probably helped that his twin brother jumped on Chadwick’s back at just the right time and stuck his fingers in his eyes.
That little penguin didn’t have any twin brother doing him any favours out there in the big, bad ocean, did he? So, a very happy result. Glad you enjoyed that, Hatpeople. Always support the underdog is the moral of the story, isn’t it?
* And you can do that right now by clicking on that big banner thing up there on the top right of this page and nominating me in the South African Blog Awards. “Best New Blog” category, if you please. Only two days left before nominations close. Remember to enter your e-mail address, wait for the e-mail asking you to confirm your nomination for Fred “Little Guy” Hatman (http://www.fredhatman.co.za) and then sit back and sigh to yourself “job well done”. Because it will be. You might just have helped me get one over all those big, blubbery killer bloggers chasing me around the murky waters of the blogosphere and trying to gobble me up. Go on. Save a little penguin blogger today!
Five days. We have five days before The Heartman and I (and new Heart & Sole recruit and documentary film-maker Simon) roll out of Durban in the general direction of Cape Town.
Monday can’t come quickly enough. We’re done with the talking. We want to do the unicycling. And back-up driving. And blogging. And tweeting. And facebooking. And filming. And photographing. And everything else that we’ll find we will do. We just want to do.
The Heartman and I are grouchy. We’re restless. We’re expectant. And we are totally amped to do this Heart & Sole baby. It’s weird. We’re in this kind of compression chamber. A bubble. We’re irritating each other. The media have now got on to us. We’re being phoned for interviews. And we tell them more or less the same thing. The thing is we don’t know. We know that sometime in February – our choice would be Valentine’s Day – we want to roll into Cape Town.
We just don’t have a clue as to what will happen between Monday and then. No, we don’t know where we will sleep, although there will be some foam rubber in the back of the small bakkie that is to be our back-up vehicle. We have a feeling that the generosity of people we have yet to meet will mean that we will find beds, hot showers and some good food along the way. Don’t know where, don’t know when. We don’t know how often.
I expect to be seeing some of this...
We know that we are going to have a jol. Our minds are made up about that. Anyway, we are wired like that. We are both ADD. We get distracted. It will be hot. Very hot. So dams and rivers will distract us. We both love the ocean. I am writing this with the most constant sound of my life crashing in my ears… the waves. So our route will hug the coastline between Durban and Cape Town. This is why, instead of turning inland from Port Shepstone on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast and going via Kokstad, we will head for Port St Johns and the phenomenalness of the sparsely populated Wild Coast.
It will be beautiful. We will be beautiful. It will be dangerous. We don’t know the exact nature of the risks we will have to take. We don’t know what might confront us. But we have worked through the fear. Because the only fear we can have is our fear of something we do not yet know. There is no point to it. We have both been through military training, in my case a long time ago. This will help. We are both a bit crazy. This will help even more. And we both believe, in somewhat different ways, in the higher energy source which surrounds us. This will help us the most. We will meditate. We will love. We will sing. We will argue. We will be scared. We will appreciate. We will understand. We will grow. We will change. And, flip, we will unicycle and drive and laugh and cry and live.
... and quite a bit of this...
We instinctively know that to schedule stops and goals and deadlines is to be disappointed. We will go as far as our bodies and minds and moods take us each day. And as far as the weather and the heat and the wind and the terrain allow us. If we cover 50km in a day, great. If we go 10km in a day, equally great. One kilometre is a gain. There will be rest days. There will be nightmare days. But every day will be a fun day.
We look forward to meeting the various characters that only South Africa is capable of producing, especially in the no-horse towns in the middle of nowhere. Extraordinary people. People in rural areas with very little but the shirts on their backs and the wealth of living a life extraordinarily lived. Stories. Anecdotes. We will photograph them. And we will laugh with them. And Geoff will probably try to teach them to stay on a unicycle for longer than two seconds, something I can’t do. Funninesses.
... and, yaaawwwn, a hell of a lot of this. Pix: Hatman
We want to publish a book of the experience with which we are about to be blessed. The Heartman is a freelance photographer. I am a writer. I think that it will be a wondrous story of the Great South African Experience. Lives and tales of lives less experienced. South Africans forgotten about. Real South African stories. Real people. Realities. Folklore. Myths. The truth. And of many people becoming aware of the people who cannot walk to the river to wash their clothes without fear of losing a limb. Landmines are unnecessary. A curse that is only real for the people left behind after wars with land that cannot be used to grow food. That cannot be walked upon. Because the people who planted their evil ordnance went to fight other battles and left the locals to live in terror. A terror that stops them from moving, from planting, from living. From bettering their lives.
This must be stopped. And, in order for that to happen, we won’t be stopped.
Look. I might be new to blogging (just 14 weeks in the game). And I might be a total stranger to the intricacies of the internet. Indeed, I’m still trying to work out what pingbacks, analytics and plug-ins are. No pork. I’m groping around in a worldwidewebbed wonderland here. And having too much of fun.
But here’s a thing. This blog’s Google Analytics, whatever they are, show that the searchwords that bring the seventh highest number of visitors to South Africa’s only “medically diagnosed SA-positive” website are, cough, splutter, “Genevieve Morton naked”. Are you with me here? Yes. After, quite understandably, “Fred Hatman”, “proudly South African”, “Umdloti”, “world’s best blogger”, “unicycle” and, er, “world’s biggest liar about being the world’s best blogger” comes “Genevieve Morton naked”. What’s that all about?
OK, so I’ve mentioned Gen on my blog a few times. I would. She’s a close friend and confidante. And she raises even Umdloti’s temperature when she takes her permanently reserved suite at Hatman Mansions and lies around my rimpool in that white bikini she likes to wear. And my staff very much like her to wear.
But have I posted any naked pictures of her on this blog? No. This is, to all intents and purposes, a family blog. Even if I do have naked photographs, and I do, I wouldn’t share them with the world, would I? No. That’s quite correct. I wouldn’t. So stop searching for pictures of Gen naked on here, OK? It’s not nice.
I know that The Heartman, our intrepid Durban to Cape Town unicyclist, is a strong oke. I know that he is mega-determined to do the Heart & Sole Tour. I know that he will. I know that, if he could, he would leave tomorrow.
I also know that he is hard in training. That he has a huge heart. And I know, without a shadow of doubt, that is completely off his rocker.
But what I didn’t know is that he so damn good at marketing!
The Heart & Sole is accumulating a nice collection of sponsors for the big roadtrip by unicycle. We hope to leave Durban sometime late in November. We will set the departure date when we are ready to announce The Heart & Sole’s complete list of sponsors and when the two specialist touring unicycles have arrived in Umdloti.
So we’re not ready to reveal the names of our sponsors quite yet. But I must make an exception in the case of Glaceau Vitmainwater, which will be providing us with many cases of their delicious, nourishing and rehydrating drink for the 1,700km ride.
Why? Because they gave us so much of fun this week. The Heartman (Geoff Brink) was about to unicycle down the hill for his daily surf – that’s how he rolls – when the Glaceau marketing bus arrived to hand over a few cases of their magic liquid for training purposes.
Their marketing team, Christine, Kelly and Ashton, suggested we put on a unicycling display right in front of the Umdloti Centre on the beachfront… and The Heartman jumped at the chance to show off his skills. What a show-off! What a schmarketer! What a nutter! What a total jol!
This is how it looked…
Marketable or what? the Heartman thirsts for the elixir which will carry him through to Cape Town...
Then he gets a little kiddo to go Glaceau while he chats up the parents...
The Heartman gets totally confuzzed by a little game sprung on him by Glaceau marketing angel Kelly...
… and then, and I suggest you take a deep breath and sit down somewhere safely for this one, wait for this….
Old Heartie throws us a trick on top of a mate's Landie!
Yowzerness! Cheap schmarketing stunt or what? Actually, no. This is just how he is. Umstoppable. Let’s just hope he’s unstoppable on his AmaOneTyre all the way to Kaapschstad! And I, as his publicity guru (I just point him towards a moment of madness, he does the rest) and back-up man (er, that’s driving the back-up vehicle while blogging, photographing, tweeting, facebooking, e-mailing, phoning ahead, changing the tunes, picking him up and sticking Mickey Mouse plasters on his cuts and scratches), firmly believe that if anybody on this planet can cover the 1,700km on one wheel, it’s my top mate Geoff “Heartman” Brink!
I rather enjoyed writing that headline. I don’t know why. I just think it has a nice ring to it. Especially for my South African readers. Go on, read it aloud. To your man who’s probably slaving over a hot hob or, if you have followed my vibe and lead an eminently more sensible lifestyle, to one of your cats. Go on. “… Welcome to my Poesy bed”, as loud as you like.
Sounds good, hey? I could put one of those winky faces here – you know, like – but I won’t. Most unbecoming of a high-end blog such as this.
Which leads me on to my new bed. Now those who have intimate knowledge of The Hatman know that I’m not a flash guy, I mean in the way Seth Rotherham of 2oceansvibe fame is. I mean, did you read the latest YOU mag? I’m not at all happy about this. Our fave gossip glossy devoted two pages to the golden boy of South African blogging… and placed it AFTER the crosswords page. Pages 130 and 131. That’s even after the Photo Blockbuster feature. It’s disrespect, pure and simple. Here we have the dashing doyen of the local blogosphere, a young blade making an absolute fortune out of our humble trade, a veritable “sex symbol” with his own suite at the Cape Royale Hotel, and he gets treated like that. It’s not right.
Right. Back to bed. My new bed. Without any further fanfare, here it is…
Freshly installed centre-stage in the main suite at Hatman Mansions, almost as exclusively appointed as the Cape Royale , my new LED-lit Poesy bed
How much of divineness is that, might I ask? I love the way photographer Gerda Genis has portrayed close friend Genevieve Morton (we’re very close, I’m sorry, just deal with it) and I in such a sensitive, subtle way. I’m a tad disappointed Gerda insisted I remove my red hat for the shoot but I’m nothing if not easy to work with. Ask Yanick. Ask James. Ask Genevieve.
Anyway, now that I’ve answered the most FAQ I receive in mail and revealed to breathless readers the Hatman sleeping arrangements, allow me to link you to the critical data, with a tip of the hat to Luxuo, of my Poesy bed.
A “poem to modern living”. I like that. It suits my Umdloti vibe. Needless to say, I have the remote control for lighting colour set on “Red”. It suits my mood when Gen and I retire for the night. Just so you know.
Shell collecting. The most innocent and becalming of pastimes. Fresh sea air. Crashing waves caressing one’s ears. Kids building sandcastles. Seagulls wheeling and whingeing. Dogs with sticks in their mouths shaking saltwater over bodies browning under sun’s grill.
Time was when Mom and Dad would take us down the South Coast for a Sunday of bodysurfing, Coke floats and burgers and Swingball on the beach. We would wade in the rockpools, wonder at crabs and gigglingly stick our stubby little fingers into ever-alert anemone. And pick up, seemingly, huge cowrie shells almost at will.
Many years later, now that I enjoy the “live-the-holiday” luxury of blogging on my Umdloti verandah instead of enduring endless newspaper strategy meetings in drab offices, I have begun to take walks on the beach – just 40 metres away from my front door.
Bliss. It is during my seaside solo sojourns that I feel the eye-crustiness of hours spent hovering over my laptop wash away, cleansed by breezes surfing off the Indian Ocean, my feet cooled by flirtatious tides, the scrunching sand exfoliating my toes.
Umdloti beach: in more chilled times
That was until I rediscovered what I remembered to be the joys of finding the enticingly elusive cowrie shells. Those subtly coloured beetle-body shells of porcelain sheen, with the tiny teeth that once protected the gogga which lived inside. The shells that, centuries ago, were used as currency in much of the world. Eulogised in myth to boost fertility in women whose bodies are adorned with them. Oh, what elation to be had when, among myriad fragments of oystershells, mussels and limpids, I spot a cowrie furtively shooting off a watery wink at the wintery sun.
Shells on the seashore: can you spot the cowrie?
Aaah, got it... did you get it?
But no more. I have stumbled upon a secretive, sophisticated network of local cowrie collectors. And they’re scary. They emerge silently and menacingly at the crack of dawn from their hi-des double-storey homes lining Umdloti South Beach Road, clutching roneo’d copies of tide-tables in one hand and Friendly Store plastic bags in the other.
Wearing crazy-paved, granny-knitted and grotesque jerseys to defeat the early-morning chill, they fan out on the sands with nary a glance at sky or surf. Heads down they plod away, scouring around every granule of sand for any cowrie which may be trying to hide behind a piece of seaweed or Coke bottle-top. Raised glances are reserved for me, an Umdloti newbie, and they wordlessly say: “Hey, out-of-towner, don’t tread on our turf. You’re welcome to surf or build sandcastles but we have sole mining rights for cowries on this beach so naff off.”
I pretend to stare out to sea, waving occasionally at a bloke in a microlight or at a container ship headed for the Far East, all the while poking a toe around in the sand for a shape resembling that of a cowrie shell. It’s not nice.
While we sit behind our lappies, blogging and tweeting, it’s nice to know that there is real life out there. Not just real life but real adventure. Take Mike and James. Two South Africans. They’re flying around the world. So what? Not sitting back, slukking on a Chardonnay, in First Class in an Airbus, people. In a Sling. A “light sport aircraft”.
That means logging into turbulence, not Twitter. That means not being able to do a piddle whenever your bladder takes you (I hope). That means nibbling on an Ouma with one hand on the wheel (I imagine). Think about it. This is Howard Hughes behaviour. I love a tale of derring-do. I sometimes take a walk down to the beach. Fifty metres there. Fifty metres back. I know what it’s all about.
But Mike and James are on a whole new level here. Yes, literally. Over to SA Rocks for the whole story.
Yowzers. I like that. That’s SA-positive for you. And how cool that one of our daredevil pilots is the uncle of fellow blogger Jason Bagley?
Nice. Now, I know you want to keep track of the globe-circumnavigating (doesn’t that sound so dramatique?) progress of Mike and James as they dodge meteors, Airbuses and large flocks of albatrosses par avion to Wisconsin, US of A. While eating only Ouma rusks and not taking a swazz. You can do that right here.