As I’ve admitted before, I don’t know much about art but I know what I like. And I like it meaningful and not necessarily so pretentious that it disappears up the artist’s ass.
I’ve applied this criteria ever since Diane Gilson, the pig-tailed spotty-face who sat next to me in Class 2, drew a spurious picture of me during a particularly boring Arithmetic class. I applied it so assertively that I landed up standing outside the classroom door, not an uncommon position for me to take up. As I recall, I was on first-name terms with the pigeons nesting in the gutter outside 2B.
And I applied it even more furiously when a total nincompoop indulging in some performance art (by a long way not my fave artistic genre) at the notoriously left-field Bean Bag Bohemia in Durban snatched a smoke out of my hand while clearly experiencing an extremely avant-retard moment. I won’t tell you how that ended. Horribly. For him.
So let’s have a look at some art. I think they (the in-the-know “they”) call this conceptual art. I think you’ll like this…
Mmmm. I love it. Artistic expression with a functionality. To house birds. In London. Birds, as resourceful as they might be, have a pretty rough time of it in inner-city London so, on the face of it, this is eco-friendly art.
We should all be quite pleased with what’s been done here. But there’s a problem. Can you spot it? Have a close look. Feel free to use your binocs if you need to. Yes? Anybody detected the terrible oversight on the part of the smart-ass artists who dreamt up this little, er, lark?
OK. Have a closer look…
No? OK. The thing about birds, as grateful as they may be towards people who help them out with a spot in which to rest, nest and possibly even breed, is that they like a twig or something similar to perch on before they enter the nest. That helps them to locate any predators or other dodginesses before entering the nest. Or, perhaps, if it’s been a long flight home, to stop off for a crafty fag before facing the missus and the kids.
No perches. On those arty-farty nesting-boxes. And not much chance of them attracting any birds, unless they are DIY types like those hamerkops which might produce a nail from under a wing and make their own plan.
So, as the art critic I undoubtedly am, I must suggest that the London Fieldworks artists who produced this uber-pretentiously titled “Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven” artwork might want to nip out to The DIY Guy, buy up all stocks of dowel rod and start chopping up bits of perch for the nonplussed birds flying around their installations in parks in Chelsea and Islington.
* To be fair, and I really want to be, you could do a lot worse than flit over to the very interesting Inhabitat eco-arty website to see what other far more environmentally considerate art is being created.
* 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!
Because everything about this first African World Cup is beautifully brand-new, I want a Holland v Spain final on Sunday. Yes, that way we’ll be assured of a new winner of the world’s most desirable football trophy.
Removing three-times winners Germany from the equation is just a bonus. But, first, Spain need to do the business under the soaring arch of Durban’s glorious Moses Mabhida Stadium tonight. And they will need their ace ball-distributor Xavi Hernandez to be at his very best to ensure that David Villa and Fernando Torres get to bang the ball in the old onion bag.
Let’s hope Xavi will be more on song with the ball than he is with the vuvuzela. Not that his sumptuous lifestyle at his ridiculously luxurious villa at home – and the repayments on his tennis court-sized Jacuzzi – will be threatened by his inability to blow the vuvu. But please put on your granny’s corset – to stop your sides from splitting – and check this out…
Heavens to dear old Anabella, that’s even worse than I blow it. Purse your lips, Xavi, and put them inside the mouth of El Trumpeto, amigo!
Here, let a little South African girl show you how it’s done…
There. How was that? Sweet, hey? Got it? What? Lips inside the vuvu, bru! Nort, man. If you’re going to win the World Cup here in South Africa, you must practise your parping, my china. We need you to give old Sepp Blatter a lekker blast in his earhole when you go to accept your medal!
I’ve always been an “SA-positive” South African. Especially since 1994 and that small matter of us becoming a democracy. But this most stunningly beautiful of all World Cups has the bell at the top of my Positiv-o-meter clanging like Oprah Winfrey running wild and loose in the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra’s brass section.
I want to have a word in the shell-like (ear) of the editor of London’s Daily Star, a rag for which South Africa as host country of the world’s premier football competition was total anathema. A gutter-press tabloid which trotted out every potential disaster it could think of as reason why a World Cup in our chaotic, useless cadaver of a country at the southern tip of parlous Africa would fail.
Then I would take him into a padded cell, truss him up in some seriously heavy-duty rope, hold a blowtorch close to his left big toe and firmly tweak his lying nose every time he blinked. No, I’m not all that happy with him.
Um. Where was I? Oh, yes. I was at the Fifa Fan Fest on Durban’s beachfront for Brazil vs Portugal last Friday afternoon. I want to run you through that a bit, if I may.
First, the huge area cordoned off for fans to watch the match on a ginormous screen happened to be almost entirely comprised of warm, golden sand. Beach bliss. The weather, as is typical of Durban in mid-winter, was warm, even sultry. Everything was fantastically well organised and I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on a boerie roll (boerewors roll, a kind of hotdog but only way better).
Most people wore shorts with their vuvuzelas and were impeccably behaved despite many drinking vast quantities of beer. It was a blast and only Brazil v Portugal, neither having to try too hard to qualify for the final round, let the side down.
Oh, I’ve got a couple of pics to portray the general vibe of the elated throng enjoying the beach party while watching a bit of World Cup football. Here we go…
Thousands had a jol (party) as the match played out on the giant screen. Nice.
And nobody enjoyed it more than The Popsicle, who made sure she had the best view of all the action
It's not all bad watching World Cup football on warm sand just a handful of metres from the Indian Ocean
I made a new friend in Luyanda (2) who was dead cool in his outsized spectacles. All pix: Marcelle Delew-Kappen
All in all, not an entirely shabby afternoon/evening. I thought I coped quite well with it. No problems, a beautiful vibe. South African ubuntu (togetherness) at its very best. Well done to Durban’s Fan Fest. Wait. I’ll go further than that. Well done, South Africa. And I mean all of you. All of you “SA-positive” people who have embraced this World Cup and offered the traditional warm hand of friendship to our foreign guests.
You are all beautiful. So wonderful that I’m going to give you the rest of the week off work. Just tell your boss that I said so. Just do it. He’ll understand. You deserve it.
Right. In about 96 hours time, 94,700 crazy people will be frenzying around inside the illuminated calabash that is Johannesburg’s Soccer City as South Africa and Mexico light the wick of the fizz-pop fandango that is to be the 2010 World Cup.
And stretching across every country on our globe, billions will crane their necks to get the best view possible of the opening match. They will see many things on Saturday night… and one view may be this visual treat…
Jo'burg's Soccer City: not an altogether shabby football ground, is it?
No, we quite like it. Not as aesthetically gorgeous as Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, perhaps, but it’ll do. Fine. So the globe is going to get to see a lot of Jo’burg, Durbs and Cape Town. And maybe a bit more of Bloemfontein and Rustenburg than they would bargain for. But what of South Africa’s small towns, verdant-valleyed villages and rusty-hued hamlets, secreted away behind mountains and filed away, collecting dust, in corners of deserts?
Well, what of them? Are there flags flying in their rutted main roads? Are there rainbow-razzmatazz mirror socks being worn by their donkey-carts? Well? I think, if you wandered into the Karoo today, you’d get a big surprise. And I have another surprise for you.
If you drove out of Cape Town on the R43 tomorrow, bounced over Sir Lowry’s Pass and snaked past the whale-watchers’ paradise of Hermanus, you would – after two hours or so – come across a sumptuous Overberg village that goes by the name of Stanford. You would have to look out for it because you could easily miss it. As many poor, unsuspecting travellers do. But if you catch sight of the Sir Robert Stanford wine estate and you started to slow down next to the Syringa Kennels, you would notice the entrance to the town.
Continue for 250 metres or so down Queen Victoria Street, the main drag, and you will stumble upon this…
Stanford Village Green: not quite Soccer City... but it's ours Pic: Hatman
Yes, that’s our green (well, it’ll be greener after the winter rains). A lot of things happen on this village green. Cricket, horse races, sunset markets, biggest pumpkin competitions… but mostly ladies walking their dogs after a satisfactory afternoon tea. And, I have discovered, it’s a great place to lie on one’s back and stargaze after a hefty night down the pub.
Unlike those crammed into Soccer City this weekend, we won’t be seeing any stars on the field. But we’re doing the best we can. Folks, roll up… roll up to the Overstrand Rainbow Five-a-side Soccer Extravaganza. Our village green will be transformed into a mini-football fest with local teams puffing about, trying to settle old scores, market stalls, coaching clinics… and probably one or two ladies pretending not to notice while walking the dog after yet another highly satisfactory cream tea.
Yes, that’s how we roll in quaint, beautiful Stanford, one of the finest preserved Victorian villages in the fairest Cape. But roll we do. The media will be there to document the festivities. Not Sky Sports or the London Guardian or ESPN or the New York Times. But the Stanford River Talk, the Hermanus Times, Whale Talk Magazine, Whale Coast 96.5fm, the Fasttrax Marine film company and the Fijn Bush Telegraph will be reporting on our main World Cup event, so that people tending to their farms in even more isolated parts of our little piece of the world will learn of it.
Here is the authentic heartbeat of our great country, tiny specks on the map which will not see the likes of Messi, Rooney and Kaka in the flesh. But we will have fun anyway. And the proceeds of our fun will go to the Hermanus Trust, a local educational and social NGO, and the benefits will be felt long after the last ball is kicked.
Local businesses taking part are, among others, La Finestra Restaurant, Stanford Hills Estate, Pam Golding (Stanford), Stanford River Talk, Gypseys Restaurant and Birkenhead Brewery. the first match kicks off at 9am on Friday, June 11 with the final being played on Saturday, June 12. A floating trophy will be presented to the winning team.
So to those fortunate enough to watch Steven Pienaar split the Mexican defence with an inch-perfect pass for Katlego Mphela on Saturday, we Stanfordians say: “Give them horns, guys!” And, we solemnly promise, if we spot a new Steven Pienaar in the making on our village green this weekend, we’ll start grooming him for the 2018 World Cup. Ayoba!
Football has been my life. Through my ADD-addled school years, my advent into journalism through the Durban Daily News sports department, my London life (1984-1997, RIP) and the ensuing topsy-turvy years, of marriage, divorce and loss, soccer has been the one constant. That and my addiction to Five Roses tea.
For as long as I can remember, I have slept, eaten and breathed soccer. I should have married it. I was quite handy at it, too, benefiting from being the only kid with a good enough left peg to raise an eyebrow on our phlegmatic Sports Master, old Jim Wright. So I got stuck out on the left wing, pumped crosses over to the 4ft 5″ centre-forward in our Pietermaritzburg Pirates under-14A team and slipped effortlessly into the role of deadball specialist.
I got the job of taking free-kicks, corners and penalties because, from the time I was two bricks and a tickey high, I practised with a tennis ball against the garden wall for every daylight hour God sent me that I didn’t have to be bored witless by some teacher with cornflakes in his beard droning on about Pythagoras’s Theorem, porto, portamus, portat and the dates and locations of Anglo-Boer War contretemps.
Then there was post-school practice sessions with Pelham Primary under-10 A, “pick-from-whoever-turned-up” games at the sports field at the end of Kinnoull Road using bricks and somebody’s little sister as the goalposts and highly competitive one-on-one games with neighbour Georges du Tertre in my backyard.
When the other boys in the neighbourhood were doing homework or otherwise inexplicably detained, I would go solo, holding mock FA Cup competitions, comprising 164 English clubs and held over several afternoons until I contrived to advance two teams, providing my own commentary as I played against myself, through to the final, usually Liverpool vs Manchester United. Liverpool FC, the club with which I have been obsessed since I was seven, always won.
Liverpool's Kevin Keegan, pretending to be me, rises fairly majestically to head the ball, watched by Terry McDermott Pic: Daily Mail
And my script required that Kevin Keegan would somehow levitate majestically above Martin Buchan to nod a Steve Heighway cross past a flailing Alex Stepney. Pretending, of course, that I was KK (well, I was), I would celebrate my winner for the Mighty Reds by hurtling through my mum’s rockery of cactuses (ow!) and other succulents, arms raised aloft, and slide across the lawn on my knees while making enough noise to mimic the roar of 30,000 crazed Scousers.
But let’s fast-forward, shall we, to yesterday afternoon. Ah, yesterday afternoon. A gloriously warm winter’s day in my newly-adopted village of Stanford, quaintly concealed in the Overberg mountains of the Western Cape. I walked a friend’s daughters Ruby (9) and Sarah (8), around to their friends to collect takkies (tennis shoes) and then, with Indica, Tayana and Dylan in tow, did my Pied Piper impression while marching them up the hill to the rugby field.
But there was no rugby to be watched. This, as is the case every Sunday, was “Soccer Day”. And once organiser Jan Troost had appointed two captains, teams were selected in the time-honoured method, the skippers taking turns to pick the best players available. I, roughly 86 years older than everybody else – and ostensibly there to watch, shout encouragement and provide some tactical tips, was shocked to be the first to be called out.
Ah, but my captain had a cunning plan. Stick the big, balding ballie (old guy) in goal and he’d fill up most of it, denying the opposition the opportunity to score. This worked a treat. Until I had a rush of blood to the head, regressed to 1977 and thinking I was Kevin Keegan and, abandoning my goal area, bulleted down the right in search of glory. It all came rushing back, my beer boep (paunch) jellying as I danced past the demonic tackles of 10-year-olds, ignored the cries of “Pass!” from my pre-pubescent team-mates, executed a Jonah Lomu run-over of a hapless defender in pink bowtied pigtails and unleashed a bazooka-like shot high into the top corner. “Goal!” “Laduuuuuma!”. Both teams stared at me in equal measures of disbelief and disgust and shrieked “You’re supposed to be the goalie!”
Ruby Walne (9) is about to boot the ball upfield while boys prostrate themselves before her in yesterday's game at Stanford's rugby field. This wouldn't have happened in my day!
I wisely chose not to re-enact my “sliding-knees-on-Wembley-turf” celebrations of my golden years, covered my face with my hands and loped ashamedly back to my goals. I had to resign myself to getting my bulbous bulk in the way of almost every shot nine-year-old Tayana Dorland, the opposition’s hotshot striker and a girl to boot, bulleted my way. To the point where the young prodigy strode up to me, slapped me on the boep and muttered: “I’m getting sick of you always getting in the way of my goals!”
It was so much fun. These kids, the beautiful and free-spirited children of Stanford, are infected with World Cup fever. And I, just an overgrown kid among them, am no different. Yes, I am literally spilling out of my skin for this, South Africa’s, World Cup. Yes, there will be challenges and there will be difficulties. But I believe that I speak for most South Africans when I say that I regard the 2010 World Cup as a humungous opportunity to show the world what we are truly made of. We are humbled by this gift. I have no doubt that we will give our planet the friendliest, happiest, most human-spirited World Cup.
Back in the day when I was playing at being Kevin Keegan and Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben island and our South Africa was horribly skewed in hatred and pain, I never believed that the younger generation of British footballers I so adored would play on the same soil as our national team.
But it is here. It is real. And it is ours. Let us dedicate it to our children who tonight will dream of rising effortlessly above John Terry to nod the ball past David James for Bafana Bafana’s winner in the World Cup final. I did say “dream”!
My hands are up. I confess. I’ve had more than a few unkind words to say about Cape Town on this blog.
But that was then. When I was living 40 metres from the golden sands of Umdloti Beach north of Durban and was transfixed by the stunningness of the majestic arch over Moses Mabhida Stadium.
And this is now. I still prefer Durban’s World Cup stadium to Cape Town’s but, given that I have moved Hatman Mansions to a glorious village just two hours out of Cape Town and am trying to make new friends there, it’s time I sucked up to Cape Town a bit. Bloggers are allowed to change their minds, aren’t they? What’s that? Oh.
Moving swiftly on, and in the true South African spirit of ubuntu (togetherness), I have had a strict word with myself and am now happy to endorse Cape Town as a World Cup destination of no little charm.
And the ensuing video suggests that I might not be wrong. For those Korea Dictatorial Republic fans who haven’t ever visited the Mother City, you may now drop your jaws at this…
Not altogether shabby, is it? No. Better than what you’ve got at home, perhaps? Ignore that. Unfair question. So have yourselves a ball in Cape Town, my foreign friends, and thank Peter Greenwall for sending me his cinematic take on what goes on under and around Table Mountain.
And – I’ve got to slip this in – if the stratospheric levels of hedonism get too much for you, hire a car and drive for a couple of hours up the R43 past Hermanus to my home village of Stanford. Here you’ll find a ridiculously friendly welcome at the third best-preserved Victorian village in the Western Cape. And the first best-rehabilitative oasis on the entire planet! I know. I live here and I’m super-chilled. So chilled that I’ve even begun to like Capetonians!
I’m sure all of this has got you gagging to get on that plane out of Pyongyang, hey?
Only now am I able to deliver the Last Post on The Heart and Sole Tour saga.
And it is delivered in pretty much the same key as Peter Sellers used to such diabolical effect in the opening scenes of The Party.
I hope that you, dear Hatpeople, will find this as funny. But I doubt it.
Because it’s not. It has taken me damn nigh a week to even begin to drain the porridge from my stultified brain and start to order some thought process about the rather epic two-month unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town, which ended in dramatic fashion at The V&A Waterfront last Friday.
In the case of our phenomenally gutsy unicyclist, Geoff Brink, it was utter physical exhaustion which enveloped him once the adrenaline began to ebb from his body at the end of his record 2,000km one-wheeled feat. But it was the mental pressure required of us to focus on finishing our cavalier mission, amid some distracting sideshows, which led to us spectacularly falling out at the finish line.
Kim, Geoff's fiancee, joins the Heart and Sole Tour at Peregrine's Farm Stall near Grabouw on the penultimate day of the crazy ride
And only now can this story be told.
Please know that we were always mindful of the fact that the Heart and Sole Tour was about raising awareness of the awful devastation that landmines continue to wreak on the lives of innocent civilians around the world. And, of course, it should always have been about that alone. But Geoff Brink and I are only human. And very fallible humans at that. So it was that, early in the tour, when pressure was brought to bear on us from back home, that the ugly spectre of the male ego leapt to the fore. The jostling for position in the Heart & Sole roadside pod of the alpha male instinct began to permeate the high-spirited vibe of our beautiful roadtrip.
Don’t get me wrong. There were bucketfuls of banter, a chuckling stream of laughs and a camaraderie that one comes to expect of two friends combining to achieve something both mad and magnificent. In fact, many of you might question whether the flipside of our tour should be told at all. The Heart & Sole Tour undoubtedly achieved its objective and what purpose is there in hanging out the stinky unwashed laundry for all to sniff at? What goes on tour stays on tour and all that crap.
Geoff "Heartman" Brink negotiates the downhill treachery of Sir Lowry's Pass. A moment of respectfulness, please!
I’ll answer that. I have mulled over this for nearly a week. I am fascinated by the human condition. That is why I chose journalism as a career. I am equally captivated by the human spirit. And this piece of introspection – should that be “retrospection”? – is about wanting to understand how Geoff and I managed to complete our trip despite our differences as much as because of the unity we displayed when it really mattered.
I have talked with people about this since I emerged blinking into the bright Cape Town sunlight from the highly buffered bubble that was our “hard shoulder crawl” across our great country. Some have drawn comparisons with “The Long Way Down”, Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s motorcycle jaunt from Britain through Europe and down to the foot of Africa.
I must confess that I have yet to watch the whole movie. Geoff and I began to watch it as an entertaining aside to our minimal preparation for the Heart and Sole Tour but, dismayed by the showiness, grandstanding and, quite frankly, over-indulgence displayed over what amounted to a pretty easy ride, fell asleep.
I don’t see the similarities. Yes, Geoff’s fiancee, Kim Millar joined us towards the end of our ride, a development that, for me, was both unexpected and temporarily gripped me with trepidation… but, such was my determined hyperfocus on getting our unicyclist safely to the Mother City that her presence in the back-up truck proved to matter not a jot. And I know that Geoff was greatly motivated by his sweetheart to bravely finish what he had started.
Mmmm. "Cape Town, 40km"? Take that!
What caused our “Skirmish at The Clock Tower” was the result of two very tired minds and one exhausted body melting down after 58 days of intense concentration and unbelievable strain. So what happened, you may ask? OK. Fair question. But I’m not saying. I have too much respect for what Geoff achieved and, yes, for what we as a team did for people who deserve a better life than to tarnish in detail the magnificent outcome of the Heart and Sole Tour.
Never mind the bollards which prohibited myself and the back-up truck from following our unicyclist – and our final-day amaonetya.co.za escort of unicyclists Alan van Heerden and Johnny Cronje down to the Clock Tower. After watching Geoff’s back for 58 days and nigh on 2,000km, a row of concrete bollards stopped me from seeing the boys home. Emotions spilled over. There were harsh words. It was unsavoury. It was, after what we had been through, almost inevitable. It happened. It is over. It’s gone. Gone, gone, gone. No regrets. We move on. We have learned lessons.
Johnny (left) and Alan (right) of amaonetya.co.za and OddWheel Unicycles escort Geoff into Cape Town and safely down to the V & A Waterfront. Awesomeness, guys!
Before we set out on December 28, 2009 on a mission which many called impossible, both Geoff and I knew that there would be challenges for which we could not prepare, that lessons would be taught that might make better people of us. And so it proved. And I am massively thankful for this gift. I remain privileged to have had the experience of supporting Geoff Brink on his incredible journey.
Crikey, what a ripper, Nige! You are a total mensch.
All pix (apart from this one): Hatman
* I will be working with Kai von Pannier of The Sole of Africa to draw up a full list of individuals, companies and establishments which should be acknowledged for the part they played in helping The Heart and Sole Tour to achieve its objective.
In the meantime, I would like to thank these people for the enormous help – and inspiration – they gave Geoff and I: John Fogarty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kim Millar, Olivia “OJ” Symcox, Rox-ann Govender, Kai and Cindy von Pannier, Mike Kendrick, Toni Rowland, Dilana, Sir Richard Branson, John L. Evans, Alan van Heerden, Johnny Cronje, Sharon Heger Basel, Steve Connor, Jimmy Reynolds, Andre Cronje, Rob Gower, Rich and Sarah McLennan, Neil and Hayley Millar, Kathy Reay, Dennis Theron, Pierre and Elise Brink, Jonny and Jane Roberts, Keith Chapman, Vaughan Raw, Warren Bartram, Donatella Pontesilli, Doc and Maggie Mears, Mama Cordelia, Martin Schroder, Toni Brodelle, Emily Shayler, Paul Chew, Janet Marshall, Marc Forrest, Mike Adams, Mandy Morgan, Fred and Yolandi Roed, Mike Perk, Clayton and Paula Whitaker, Father Matthias, Mama Zondeka, Nic Nel, Marcelle Delew-Kappen, Andreas Kappen, Brett Horner, Julie Davies, Seth Rotherham, Mike Kuttner, Jacqui Daniels, Riaan Manser, Bob Skinstad, Claire Alexander, Dave Duarte, Chris Rawlinson, Mike Saxby, Ken Taytasac, Penny Sandham, Carol-Anne Stephenson, Craig Bettridge, Vicky Nardell, Annette Oberholster, Helen Walne, Brandon McGugan, Martina Gilli, Michelle Solomon, Krista (New York), Neal Collins, Chris Whitfield, Lesley Byram, Marilyn Bernard, Wendy Landau, Dhashen Moodley. If anybody feels left out, it’s because you will be thanked in the full list to appear on both The Sole Of Africa website and this blog.
* One last thing. Both Geoff and I exhausted our savings on The Heart & Sole Tour. He’s a freelance photographer and a very good one at that. We both need to find paid work, he to finance his forthcoming wedding, I to pay the rent for a ramshackle dwelling down near the river. Should you have some paid work to slide our way, that would be completely cool. Ta!
Yes. It’s time to remember… what the Heart & Sole Tour has been all about.
So, as Geoff “Heartman” Brink and I (oh, and Kim, Geoff’s fiancee, who has joined me in the back-up truck) roll into Cape Town today (The Clock Tower, V&A Waterfront, 2pm) to complete our beautiful unicycling adventure, we would like to remind everybody of just why we set out from Durban two months ago.
I don’t know the name of the young girl in the above photograph. I only see, as you do, that she has just one leg. And I know that this is so because a landmine blew off the other one.
Isn’t it one crying and intolerable shame that, 16 years, after the civil war ended in Mozambique, children are still having legs blown to smithereens by unexploded ordnance left behind by those who engage in war?
It’s a simple extrapolation: because political groupings cannot agree on how to share the responsibility of representing the people of their country, they fight over who gets to hold absolute power… and the very people who have every right to expect their leaders to govern are then made to suffer.
It’s bloody diabolical.
And, to me, it is a complete craziness that, many long years after political stability has been returned, the people are still being attacked… by evil weapons of war which lurk in subterrannean subterfuge under the ground that they walk on. And that land is left unploughed, unplanted and unharvested because of the climate of fear that exists around it.
It is unacceptable that thousands of children such as the little girl in the photograph, too young to have known war, must hop around on a pole. Or drag themselves around on a trolley. Something must be done to help. The Sole of Africa, an anti-landmines campaign administered by The Mineseeker Foundation is doing what it can.
But they need help. Your help. Please go to their websites and sign up for membership or simply to receive their newsletter. That simple action will give the child amputees of Mozambique, Angola and elsewhere some hope. Hope that they may receive prosthetic limbs. Hope that, one day, their land will be cleared of the evil of landmines so that they may grow their own food. And move around in safety.
That is why Geoff Brink, our incredibly brave unicyclist, and myself have covered the 2,000 or so kilometres from Durban to Cape Town. Because we want to help. Because we can. And because… not once on this wondrous journey of ours, did it occur to us that we might have our legs blown off by a landmine.
Surely everybody has a right to expect that?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
* The Heart & Sole Tour would like to thank Penny Sandham of Rotary Somerset West and Joop Weittingh of the beautiful Albourne guesthouse in Somerset West for so hospitably accommodating us on our last night on the road to Cape Town.
Fasten those seatbelts, Heartpeople. I have to issue a health and safety warning here… The following image may bring on feelings of dizziness and acute disorientation. You may experience extreme giddiness and an uncontainable desire to fall to the floor and writhe around in wanton wondrousness.
OK. Ready? Just roll around in the beauty of this little baby…
There. How was that for you? Did the earth move a little bit? I know. Nice, hey? All the work of a clever little clogs called John Gore who tootles around South Africa’s countryside and sets up his equally as clever camera wherever he pleases. Well, I suppose he hasn’t got to use it on Jacob Zuma’s wives’ residences yet. Not all of them anyway. But that is surely just a matter of time.
Never mind. He did capture the utter awesomeness of Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, far and away everybody’s fave World Cup 2010 stadium (unless you are a Capetonian and can’t bear the thought of liking anything that exists in Durban or, for that matter, anything outside of The Republic of Cape Town).
Anyway, if you’re an individual with an open mind, why not prepare a picnic and take a stroll over here, and just chill while wallowing in the Moses Mabhida experience with 360 degree sense-a-round.
Out of this world, isn’t it? No. Wrong. Slap-bang in the middle of Durbs, actually!
Whatever. But what is true is that our Heart & Sole Tour – yes, that unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the evil perpetrated by landmines – is now near George. Near George? Yes. George. Western Cape. Where PW Botha lived. Sorry. I don’t know anything else about it. And I’m not finding out because old Heartie, myself and our German hanger-on (Croc Cologne, the guy who left German about 23 years ago and is still trying to get to Cape Agulhas) are in Calitzdorp. I suggest you get out the old map because it’s beyond me. But it’s very nice and warm up here on the edge of the Karoo desert and we’re visiting The Heartman’s parents who are very accommodating and run a wonderful B&B called Spekboom Cottages.
This translates into “Bacon Tree Cottages” in English and if anybody knows why or has seen trees with strips of streaky rashers hanging off them, please do write in and let us all know. In the meantime, we’re enjoying being thoroughly spoilt and, when we start getting shifty glances from the locals, we’ll head back to George and start riding towards Mossel Bay. We think we’re only about 360km or so from Cape Town but we’re too scared to ask anybody in case we’re not.
This has been one long roadtrip. But we’re loving it and now know why a certified madventurer like Kingsley Holgate doesn’t bother with sitting around on a sofa and catching the 7pm news before retiring with a nice milky cocoa after putting the dogs out. This adventuring lark is seriously addictive!
OK. I’m a blogger in a hurry. Why? I’ve had word this morning that Rotary Umhlanga has donated R5,000 towards keeping Heart & Sole Tour unicyclist Geoff Brink and I on the road to Cape Town!
In a word: Phenomenalness. In another word: Reliefness. And so on. The Heartman and I are chuffed beyond belief. We can’t wait to resume battle with the uphills, the potholes, the trucks and the heat in our little “hard shoulder bubble”. One thousand and one hundred kilometres left to Cape Town? “Pfffft. Bring it on!”
Old Heartie is already on a plane back to East London, I’ve cleaned out the back-up truck, repaired our yellow warning light, stocked up on ice for his creaking knees and Mickey Mouse plasters for assorted cuts and grazes to come and I’m packing to collect him at the airport.
So, you’ll be relieved to read, i don’t have time to waffle on here. Just know that we are uber-grateful to Mike Kuttner and Jacqui Daniel of Rotary in Umhlanga for giving us a new lease of life and we are totally amped to finish this wild adventure we started nearly a month ago.
So here’s a hastily freshened-up press release I’ve just sent to staunch Heart & Sole supporter Olivia “OJ” Symcox to be disseminated to her extensive list of media contacts. It’s been quiet. It’s been frustrating. But we’re about to hit the road again in our quest to raise awareness of the awfulness of landmines and we need the oxygen of publicity to again be pumped into The Heart & Sole Tour. Anything you, dear Heartpeople, can do to spread the word will be ecstatically welcomed by old Heartie and I!
And, yes, if you’ve sorted the bond/rent, car repayments and popped a bit into the piggy bank for that holiday in July, please don’t hesitate to send a few notes our way! Bank details are at the end of this post! Here we go… oh, first a pic to break up this vast tract of grey words!
Oh goshness! I suppose I, as the back-up driver, will be seeing a lot more of this over the next month or so!
January 25, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
THE Heart and Sole Tour, a unicycle ride of 1,700km from Durban to Cape Town, has been rescued by an injection of new funding and will re-commence from a point 90km outside of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape tomorrow (Tues, Jan 26). Geoff Brink, a freelance photographer based in Umdloti on the north coast of Kwazulu-Natal, has unicycled nearly 600km in intense heat, huge thunderstorms and through treacherous terrain in his courageous effort to raise awareness of the scourge of landmines.
Rotary Umhlanga, led by Jacqui Daniel and Mike Kuttner, has donated R5,000 towards the fuel, food and airtime expenses of The Heart and Sole Tour, enabling Geoff “Heartman” Brink and Howard “Hatman” Donaldson, the tour’s back-up driver and blogger, to continue on their challenging but wonderful coast-to-coast adventure through South Africa.
However, the tour requires further funds to achieve its objective of reaching Cape Town and Kai von Pannier, managing director of Mineseeker SA, responsible for their anti-landmines campaign in Southern Africa, is calling on other Rotary branches and, indeed, corporates and individuals to try to match the R5,000 donation made by Rotary Umhlanga.
Donors may find bank details for The Heart and Sole Tour on the official tour blog, http://www.fredhatman.co.za. Any donations from the public, no matter how small, will be gratefully welcomed by Brink and Donaldson who are utterly determined to roll into Cape Town in late February having raised as much awareness as possible of the largely ignored destruction still caused by landmines left scattered around the world long after wars have ended.
The Heart & Sole Tour has been organised in support of The Sole of Africa, a campaign by the UK-based Mineseeker Foundation dedicated to the removal of landmines in Africa. The Foundation has offices in South Africa and the US.
The Mineseeker Foundation, recruited Nelson Mandela (now retired), Queen Noor and Sir Richard Branson as founder Patrons with Dame Graca Machel, Lord Richard Attenborough, Brad Pitt and John Paul DeJoria. The Sole of Africa campaign is a Mineseeker initiative to support landmine victims. Rock vocalist Toni Rowland, an ambassador for The Sole of Africa along with Oscar Pistorius and Candice Hillebrand, has been appointed Ambassador for The Heart & Sole Tour and her single Put Your Foot Down adopted as the theme song for the unicycle ride.
Geoff, 37, trained for three months on “AmaOneTyre”, his 36-inch wheel specialised unicycle and started his highly strenuous road trip on Monday, December 28. He is accompanied by media director for The Sole of Africa Howard Donaldson, who is responsible for general logistics as well as filming, photographing and blogging (as “SA-positive” blogger Fred Hatman) about the 1,700km expedition.
Sponsors supporting the Heart & Sole Tour include Odd Wheel Unicycles, Glaceau Vitaminwater, Gower Power nutritional supplements, Rotary International, iStore, AromaSoothz, The Corner Cafe, Grand Axe Music and Umdloti’s Bush Tavern.
Further information about the Heart & Sole Tour can be be found on the official tour blog (a light-hearted one!) at http://fredhatman.co.za/ (media organisations are welcome to use information and photographs from the blog) and on The Sole of Africa’s website at http://www.thesoleofafrica.org.za/
Geoff can be made available for interview and photography and press enquiries should be directed towards Howard Donaldson, using the contact details below.
There. All the info you could possibly want, yes? Right. Here are those bank details…
G. M. Brink
Account: 056 706 804
Branch code: 042 626
Nice. Thank you! Or you can help us by purchasing sponsorship units through the Grand Axe Music website and be in line to win a signed copy of Toni Rowland’s new album “Unfolding” each week. Follow these guidelines…
“Sponsorship for the Heart and Sole Tour. These units will go towards sponsoring fuel costs for the support vehicle and also airtime costs so that they can stay in touch with you! These guys are going through Africa and need to use 3G technology to communicate, as internet cafes do not exist (they tend to be trampled or eaten by the wildiife!). For every sponsorship unit received you will be placed in a weekly draw (Every Sunday) and you can win a personalised CD of Toni Rowland’s album “Unfolding” from Toni herself! There are no carry overs to the following week. The winner will be announced every Monday by email and on the Heart and Sole’s Facebook group. Thanks for your support!”
Coolness. Now. I’d like to thank AromaSoothz, one of our official sponsors, for offering to help with airtime so that I may keep you lot updated on this blog on a daily basis. Thanks, Cindy. You’re helping to keep us on the road!