I need some help here, Hatpeople. Something has bubbled up in my line of vision this morning that has seriously harshed my Stanford mellow.
I mean, here I am bound by the almost indescribable beauty of the natural world and basking in my pantheist’s paradise. And then this horror show, packaged and marketed in the name of art, nogal, crawls in to contaminate my karma.
Brace all of your your sensibilities, my Hatties, and get a load of this…
A nice young woman sitting on a very nice horse in a nice bit of South African countryside... with, er, what the hell is that?!
That, dear and undoubtedly devastated readers, is a buck. A South African buck. A blesbok if I’m not an ignoramus. Dead. Brown bread. Killed. Murdered. Shot. By that there sweetie-pie girly on that thar hoss. Nice, hey? Nice picture, hey? Yes. It’s called art.
And so artistic is deemed this sweet little snap that it has earned a bloke called David Chancellor top spot in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Go on, click on that last link and check out what the once highly esteemed British Journal of Photography has to say about Chancellor’s winning picture. And then, if you feel strong enough, scroll down a bit and have a butchers at what won second prize.
Tasty, hey? I mean, tasteful, hey? Yes, some oke’s wife spreading her pins for an upskirt shot. That’s art, Hatpeople. Art. Not porn. Not at all. And I’ll tell you why. Because that there pussypic, which I won’t publish on this blog, was snapped not by some dodgy character called Elmer P. Gobspittle with a Burt Reynolds ‘tache and a massive gold medallion nestling in the old chest-jersey, but by An Artist.
Someone who has minced around the art world long enough, clinking glasses with the people who nod their approval of certain artworld mincers, and ingratiated himself into their artworld good books. And will willingly produce the schlock horror allegedly de rigeur to draw attention to their absurd art prize competitions. I blame that arty-farty toerag Damien Hirst for starting this.
So, what else do the two top entries in the precious Taylor Wessing competition tell us? That it’s absolutely whizzo to photograph murderous Alabama teenagers and assorted other plonkers on wildlife massacres in Third World countries, especially if you have a posh name like Chancellor, and it’s divine, darling, to show the world your wife’s vagina as long as it’s not on www.mymissuseshairyguava.com.
But, hey, perhaps I’ve lost the plot and I am the total doos in all of this?
There are, of course, many distinctions to be drawn between people who somehow exist in the city and those who live the life of Reilly in the countryside.
I lived in inner-city London for 13 years. I loved it. Then. I have now lived in Stanford for the past six months. Stanford? It’s OK. Reasonable question. Twenty-three kilometres the other side of Hermanus, Hatpeople. If you’re coming from Cape Town. Which you will be. Unless you live in Vermaklikheid of iets. Which you don’t. So don’t argue with me. Because I’m irritable.
I’m touchy because I’ve been looking after a friend’s house in Cape Town (while she swans about the shifting sands of the Namib with her man) for the past week. It’s noisy. It’s over-populated. It’s discombobulated. It’s nincompoopulated. It’s smelly. Too many cars. Far too many people. Too many airs and disgraces. Not enough air and graciousness. Too many millions of refrigerators humming around my eardrum. It’s kak.
Everybody knows that I love dogs. What’s not to love? They never dig holes. They don’t even think about burying bones. They never bark at shadows. And they’re not at all obsessed about balls being thrown for them. Especially not my two Jack Russells, the Scrapster and Dodney Doodlebug. Very low maintenance.
Unlike cats. Don’t trust them. Sneaky sorts. Kill birds. And like to stick their derrieres in your face to prove some stupid point about them once being idolised by the ancient Egyptians. Those Egyptians may have been quite handy at building pointy-topped buildings but they have a lot to answer for. No, cats are for lonely spinsters of a certain age and certainly not for me.
OK. So that was a preamble. Or, in the case of cats, a premince. What I am trying to get around to showing you is this…
Everybody say "Aaaaah"... and I'll say that dogs are in a different class. Sorry.
How’s that little Rottie on the far side? How cute is that, hey? He’ll have a sore neck after that “Don’t Dig” class is done. I know. Because I was always told to sit in the front row of desks at school where the teacher could keep an eye on me. Actually, I had my own spot directly under the blackboard. It was called “being put in isolation”. My neck’s never been the same since. Thanks a lot, Miss van Rooyen. Silly old bint. Wow. I do feel a lot better after getting that out.
Anyway, you don’t have to fear that this blog might turn into one of those sites that only post naff pics of animals doing cutesy-wutesy stuff. They may get an insanely massive amount of hits but I won’t resort to that to raise my views. No, I won’t. Definitely not. Unless you want me to, of course. Because as you well know, my dear Hatpeople, I’ll do anything for you. Just like my dogs do for me.
And, if I find a pic of a whole bunch of cats paying rapt attention in a “Don’t Kill Birds” class, I’ll definitely post that here for your delectation. Bird murderers! All of them. Off with their heads, I say!
Forgive me, dear and possibly forgiving Hatpeople, if I have a little rant today. I have just this morning received an e-mail which has precipitated this uncharacteristic behaviour. I mean, I remain totally committed to giving you all the “SA-positivity” you can bear, but I am human.
And I do have a name. It’s Fred. My name is Fred. It’s not There. So, if you know my name and you e-mail me or phone me, it’s “Hi, Fred”. If you don’t know my name, of have forgotten it, a simple “Hi, who am I talking to?” will do very nicely, thank you.
Do not address me with a “Hi, there”. It’s just rude. It’s like those nameless, faceless, brainless people who call to sell you something. You pick up the phone and say “Hi, Fred speaking”. To which they reply, “Hello, how are you”. To which I say, “My name is not Howareyou, my name is Fred. What is your name?”
Go right ahead and address this geezer with a "Hi, there"... but don't try it on me!
What happened to the common decency of “Hello, my name is Jane from the Tryingtoflogyousomething Marketing company, how do I address you, Sir?” or, if that sounds a bit too like it belongs to a more civilised age, then “Hello, to whom am I speaking, please?”
Is that asking too much? Is that asking too much of somebody whose sole purpose in calling you – or e-mailing you – is to try to manipulate you into buying or doing something that you are not necessarily predisposed towards buying or doing? No, I will not even want to hear about what it is you want me to buy or do if you call me “There” or “Howareyou”.
Do you feel the same about this? Or is it just me? Oh, you do. Then I wonder how many calls and e-mails are being wasted by countless companies which don’t bother to train their cold-callers to try to find out our names before they ask how we are? Because I now put the phone down on them. Every time. I might be missing out on free round-the-world cruises but I don’t care. No name, or no enquiry for a name, and it’s phone call over.
But, for me, it gets even worse. I have people to whom I have been introduced who, when I next see them, say “Hi, there”. OK, so nobody is more capable than me when it comes to forgetting names. I can be introduced to somebody and my pea-brain is so inundated with messages about what this person’s eyes are telling me, what their body language is saying and assessing whether the fact that their eyebrows meet in the middle means I should turn and run for it that, by the time I’ve looked at their shoes for confirmation and looked up again, I’ve forgotten their name.
I know. It’s poor form. I’m terrible like that. It is absolutely stunning how quickly Tamsin becomes Tarryn, Tamlyn becomes Tamsyn or, to be completely truthful, Tarryn somehow morphs into Hortensia. It’s abysmal. But, when I next speak to that person, I will apologise for the misfiring of my synapses and ask them to remind me of their name. No problemo.
But what I will not accept is my name being changed to “There”. It’s just not on. So there.
I’ve been asked to pay the hosting fees to renew the fredhatman.co.za blog with Hetzner, who have looked after me extremely well for the first year of my blogging life.
Wowness. A whole year! Now, usually at this point, people like to look back and review the past year, pinpointing their highs and lows and generally boring me to within an inch of my life with what has gone before.
I’m not a fan of looking back. Give me today. Carpe diem. And then let’s grab hold of the future. So, what does the future hold for your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog? You’ve got me there, Hatpeople. You don’t mind me calling you Hatpeople, do you? Good.
Just as I don’t analyse the past, so I don’t like to try to prescribe the future. That’s never worked for me. Visualise a best-case scenario, yes, make decisions around it, no. What will happen will happen. What’s the point of planning for the unknown? “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. He was sharp, was John. So all I can say is, that for as long as I write this blog, its central theme will be one that is “SA-positive”.
It’s the way I’m wired. To be positive about my beloved country. South Africa. It’s purely instinctive, my great love affair and affinity with my country. And I instinctively write with passion about the things that make South Africa the best country in the world in which to live.
Wave the flag, wave the flag...
So, if it’s all the same to you, that is how we will continue on this blog. What I am doing, however, is bringing a bit of structure (did I hear cheering at the back?) to how I deliver to you my blogposts. Yes. I need to do that.
It’s been a bit all over the place, hasn’t it? Loyal followers of fredhatman.co.za (and I thank both of you for lasting a full year) have never know when to expect to find some freshly-laid waffle to read. There have been days I have kept you waiting. There have been days, especially during this post-World Cup cold turkey slump, when I gave you diddly-squat. I’m sorry. No, really. I am.
So, today’s previous post will give you a hint of what you can expect to find on any weekday. First up, in the morning, a fascinating fact about South Africa, delivered with a Hatmanesque twist. You’ve told me you like it. So I’m sticking with it. This start-your-day factoid is called “Know The Beloved Country”.
Then, later in the day, you’ll be getting something – it could be anything – which generally will show off our uniquely beautiful and intriguing country in an “SA-positive” light. You know where to go to read the bad news. And you know to come here for the good stuff.
Cool. You’ll get that before home-time. Unless, of course, you’re skiving off early for a bit of how’s-your-daddy. And that’s fine by me. You’re probably over 16. You have choices. Far be it for me to judge. Good golly, no.
OK. So you should, by now, know that not only am I lucky enough to live in South Africa, I’m seriously blessed to live in a particularly gorgeous part of it. Stanford. Third best-preserved Victorian village in the Western Cape. In the Overberg region. Twenty-three kilometres on the R43 beyond Hermanus going towards Gansbaai, to be precise.
Yes, we’re sandwiched between South Africa’s “whale-watching capital” and our “shark cage-diving hotspot”. Lucky fish. That’s us. It’s a largely undiscovered rural gem, is Stanford. And a village that has a vibe that is impossible to describe. “Hugely spiritual” will have to do.
Stanford: a spiritual experience
I’m going to be doing some writing about what it’s like to live here in Stanford. The amazing people it continues to attract. The strange goings-on. The headless horse which gallops through the roads of Die Skema by night. The seven leylines which run across our land. The annual far-too-hotly-contested giant pumpkin-growing competition. Weird stuff.
And I’ll also be updating you on the exciting campaign to position Stanford as the gateway to the fast-developing biosphere that is blossoming around the Agulhas National Park, right here on our doorstep. How we are growing towards becoming a hugely attractive nature-based tourism destination. But more, much more, on that later.
You might remember The Heart and Sole Tour, a crazy 2,000km unicycle jaunt from Durban to Cape Town earlier this year? Well, there is to be another unicycle marathon starting in November… and this time three unicyclist friends of mine will ride off-road (almost all the way) from Umhlanga lighthouse to Mouille Point lighthouse to raise awareness of a an excellent cause that is close to all of our hearts.
This mammoth undertaking is still in the planning stages but I will be writing a great deal about this as it unfolds. Prepare yourself. It’s going to be another rollercoaster adventure, babies.
What else? Oh, ja. You’ll want to read something after you’ve got home. Once you’ve put the TV to bed and before you slump on to the sofa to watch the children. Something like that. So I’ll be posting a wee taster about how it feels to me to spend another day in paradise. A rumination about life in a small country village in South Africa. Stanford. I might call it “By A Country Smile”. We’ll know by tonight.
And, if you’re really unlucky, I might start posting reports of my “Weekends with The Beast”, adventures down the dirt roads which lead in every direction out of Stanford and into the magnificent Overberg. But that’s only if you dare to visit me on a Monday…
How beautiful is The Beast?
* If you wish to receive updates of all of my blogposts, please join the Fred Hatman group on facebook or follow fredhatman on Twitter. Should you want to be updated only on Stanford-related posts, join the Stanford Alive! group on facebook. For updates on posts about the “mammoth off-road unicycle ride”, join The CounterBalance Project facebook group. Whatever you do, stay SA-positive!
I’m always blown away by the many, many clever things South Africans have invented. I’ll let you in on most of them as we go along but, this morning, here are two for the price of one: the Disa push-button telephone… no, not the template for the ubiquitous cellphone but still the first push-button telephone in the world; and, very handy given our track record in surveillance, the “Colindictor”, the first machine in the world to allow recording of a telephone conversation. Trust a bloke named Colin to invent this… wait, I’m putting you on hold while I Google this…
Nah, no luck. You know when you Google something and you get a gazillion pages all saying the same thing (and some flashing that you are the “millionth visitor” and you’ll win a prize – yeah right!) but omitting to tell you the important stuff, like who actually invented the Colindictor? I can’t be doing with that… so that’s it for this first instalment of Know The Beloved Country, Hatpeople!
* Original material sourced from the awesome Derryn Campbell’s very awesome Awesome SA website and, yes, that phenomenally awesome book she produced, which looks like this…
OK. You Hatpeople brave enough to regularly enter this blogspace know that my mission in life is to enrich yours. That’s what I do. I can’t help it. I was put on this planet to make you feel better.
To help you rise above the drudgery of your daily lives in South Africa, a country painted by London tabloid newspapers as being more barren of pleasure than the Siberian hamlet of Hellonearthagrad, a South African nation on the brink of civil war and facing certain episodes of earthquake, volcanic eruption, drought, floods, terrorist attacks, general pestilence and regular outbreaks of typhoid, scurvy and the particularly nasty Malemaria. All of this during the four weeks of the World Cup.
Oh, and yellow fever… which a medical expert at Groote Schuur Hospital tells me has no cure and involves millions of free radicals moving around the body of South Africa wearing yellow jerseys, blowing vuvuzelas and doing the Diski Dance. In which case I’m already infected and about to die and go to heaven. Boo-hoo.
But, of course, I have digressed. Where was I? Oh, yes, I was about to lift you out of your British tabloid-blighted lives and put an “SA-positive” smile on your dial.
No problemo, babies. Fix yourselves a drink to suit the time of day (it may just be your personal time for Happy Hour?), flop back into your Laziman recliner, light something (I’m not encouraging you to break any laws, OK?) and try not to touch yourself while you watch this beautiful scenario unfold… (I suggest you click on “Full Screen” at top right to soak it all up in full Sensaround)
Wow. How was that for you. You feel like lighting up now, don’t you? Because the earth moved for you didn’t it? That’s cool. I felt like that too.
This 360 degree virtual tour malarkey was produced by John Gore and his very clever camera which is certainly a step up from the Kodak Instamatic I point at cute kids and puppies. Lekker, hey? And that was just Cape Town Stadium which, as my Cape Town readers are fond of pointing out, I didn’t like nearly as much as the stunning Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durbs or Soccer City in Jozi.
Never mind. No city can have the world’s most photographed mountain AND the best stadium. And, as soon as my mate John has got his 360 degree angles working around Moses Mabhida and Soccer City, I’ll take you on a tour of those too.
Because, as I keep saying, I only exist to give you good reason to want to keep on living in the most sublime country in the world. The one that is about to stage the most beautiful World Cup the planet has ever seen. In roughly 192 hours from now. Ye Gods, I’m spilling out of my skin here at that thought!
We can be as “SA-positive” as a life-sized biltong replica of Table Mountain, dear Hatpeople, but if some English footy fans want to get trashed and start rorting (fighting) with nationals from every country with which Britain has ever been at war (including, I suppose, the Zulu and Boer tribes), then our World Cup cops will have their work cut out.
So the South African Police Services have been conducting simulated exercises to deal with any violent situation that might arise during World Cup 2010. They have been spotted giving their assault helicopters a good valet service, polishing millions of hand-grenades and even spring-cleaning their rocket launchers.
But we must get this into perspective. English football “fans” who like nothing more than a post-match skinful of Carlsberg Special lager, a well-dodgy shish kebab and the old “handbags at 10 paces” with supporters of the opposing team have only the British bobby to contend with…
A British bobby on the beat
Fine. The great British bobby is renowned the world over for shepherding blue-rinse grannies over a busy street, patting flaxen-haired children on the head and, after producing a boiled sweet from a large pocket, sending them scurrying home so as not to be late for tea. When they’re not entertaining Japanese tourists by wearing their standard issue tutus.
That’s all very nice. But I’m thinking that, just perhaps, those English “fans” keen on a little hows-your-father after drinking The Biltong and Boerie dry might want to be a tad more prepared for South Africa’s version of Mr Plod.
So, committed as I always am to providing a public service to foreigners trying to find their way around South Africa, here is a quick guide to how to not have to deal with the South African po-lis.
But, first, let’s have a quick peep at some of South Africa’s finest fuzz at work…
South African police deal politely with football fans who appear to have lost their way
So here’s my stagger-by-stagger guide to English supporters wanting to safely find their own beds after any of the forthcoming World Cup matches…
1. Once the final whistle has blown, proceed immediately to the nearest fan supporting the opposition (this includes those of a German, Argentinian and Zulu persuasion, as well as any stray Scots who might have got confused and landed up in the mix), cheerfully shake his or her hand and offer your congratulations for a game jolly well played.
2. After departing the stadium by the nearest exit, fall into single file and make your way home in an orderly fashion past every hostelry which purveys liquor and loose women, stopping only to smile and wave at anybody jeering at you or lobbing sharp objects provocatively from the windows of passing vehicles.
3. Once safely home, prepare for yourself a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and Ovaltine, catch up on all the latest World Cup results and news on the telly, text your Nan back in Old Blighty that you have enjoyed a splendid day out and tuck up with a good John Grisham before lights out at 11pm.
There. That wasn’t very difficult, was it?
Alternatively, you could swarm to the nearest pub, get lashed on Carling Black Label and Jagerbombs, pogo around bellowing “Enger-land, ENGER-land” with your bum-crack showing, suggest to a large Afrikaner’s wife that she spend the night sleeping in your vomit, pick your body up from the carpark and, after returning several limbs, bones and other anatomical appendages to their former place, ricochet off in search of a bucket of KFC and an equally motley crew of Germans with whom to trigger off World War III.
No terribly clever, Nigel. And, I might add, you won’t find a full English Breakfast the next morning in the Rooinek Wing at Rustenburg Prison.
As avid readers of this “SA-positive” blog will freely tell you, I seldom post about glamour. I like to keep it real. OK, so I might make a rare exception when my close friend Genevieve Morton, when she’s not palpitating the hearts of the world’s photographers, pops around. But more of Gen later.
Yes, unlike another good friend Seth Rotherham of 2oceansvibe infamy, I’m not very into glamour. Let’s immediately get down to changing that.
Have you noticed how South Africa’s media are getting just a tad excited about the so-called WAGs (wives and girlfriends for those of you living in Kakamas) of the footballers about to arrive here for THE World Cup of all World Cups? “Football fans will struggle to keep their eyes on the boys,” pants TimesLive, usually a rather sober commentator on all matters South African.
I think not. In fact, sod that, I strongly disagree.
Take two footballers widely exhorted to be the best in the world. Lionel “The Flea” Messi (Barcelona and Argentina) and Wayne “Garden Gnome” Rooney (Manchester United and England). Now neither of them are themselves oil paintings, or even vaguely appealing watercolours you might expect to pick up in the bargain bin at your local arts society fundraiser.
I mean, have a butchers at this…
Lionel Messi: so ugly that I had to publish a flattering cartoon image
I’m sorry. Being unkind is not at all my vibe but… Gerard Depardieu’s ugly little boet or what?
And it’s not about to get much better. Here’s Rooney…
Wayne Rooney: About to attempt a self-makeover by gouging his own eyes out
Look. That was a bit harsh but you are getting my point, right? Right. But, actually, the fact that both Messi and Rooney look like the back of a vintage Putco bus is not the point at all. The point is, well, their partners.
As a true football fan, the looks of footballers is not at all important. It’s all about the skills, isn’t it? The way Messi can dawdle around the pitch for an hour, lulling the opposing defence into an all-encompassing sense of false security, then latch on to the ball, effortlessly sidle past several players and dink the ball over the goalkeeper for the most sublime of goals. The way Rooney can pinball his gnomish frame around a pitch for every one of 90 minutes, bouncing off any opponent who dares to get in his way, roundly abuse the ref every time the whistle blows and still find time to arse a winner by getting his big bum in the way of a cross. Sorry. I’m a Liverpool supporter.
But you do get my drift. What I don’t get is how, given that these okes earn a few million rand a week and thereby have supermodels salivating over their wallets like flies over a boerie roll, they dare bring fifth-string WAGs to our country.
Our girls at Caprice aren’t exactly going to engage reverse to let this lot through to the loo, are they?
Colleen Rooney: No flies on her... despite eating all the boerie rolls
I’m ashamed of myself. That was just cruel. Let’s see if we can show off Mr and Mrs Rooney in a kinder light…
Wayleen: all dolled up for a braai in Bellville
Aah, that’s better. I’ll stop apologising now. And I make no apologies for introducing you to Antonella Roccuzzo, Messi’s girlfriend…
Leo's choice of chica with childbearing hips is unlikely to have South Africa's top-tier angels staring miserably into their Pinacoladas
Safe to say that, blessed as we are in South Africa with the world’s most outrageously gorgeous women, our men will be totally focused on what’s happening on the pitch. And I suspect the much-trumpeted WAGs will take refuge in their hotel rooms, furiously texting friends back home about how terrified they are to venture out to the bars and clubs. And we, dear Hatpeople, will – nudge, nudge – know the real reason for that…
All South African Gen Morton: just one of the real reasons for that.
Monday morning. Eish! Big weekend? I know, I know. You’re feeling a bit ropey. Maybe a bit like a spat-out Smartie?
Relax, Hatpeople, I’m here to help. Take a look around the office. Colleagues slumped over keyboards wearing a dazed look that says “How am I going to get through this day?”
This is how you’re going to do it. Clear a space. Go on. Move old Sipho’s desk to one side. Kick Belinda’s weekend bag out of the way. OK. You need about five square metres for this. Oh, I see. OK. Invite the boss to join you. Ready?
This little exercise video is going to kick-start your week. No, remain calm. It’s not one of those scary aerobics programmes that every American woman called Cindy in Lycra and big hair put out in the late 80s.
This is Diski, babies. Our South African dance modelled on football moves which is about to take the World Cup by storm.
All lined up? And you’ve pressed the pause button to allow the video to fully buffer up? Cool. You don’t want to be in mid-move with one leg pointing to the ceiling while the vid has to rebuffer, do you? Nah, you’ll see your ass.
OK, class, let’s hit it!
Phew! How are you feeling after that? Panting a bit? Good. Means you did it properly. I loved every second of that. thinking of you prancing around the office while I just watched. Nice. I particularly enjoyed the bit (around 1:13) where the Diski dancers leaned forward, flattened their backs and did the “Table Mountain” move.
Did one of you shout out “Table Mountain” as you practised that? Oh, you all did? Even better. I’m loving the Diski, people. I’m loving this World Cup, now just 38 days away. Can you feel it? Can you feel this World Cup? Can you feel my love for it? Can you feel my love? Feel it. Taste it. Smell it. Love it. And dance it.
Keep practising your Diski moves, Hatpeople. Dance it like a South African. With love. And rhythm. We want to be cutting it up really fine by June 11. So we can show all those foreigners how to throw it around in a truly rhythmic South African way when they arrive. Maggies, there’s gonna be one helluva partytjie in our streets! I can barely contain myself!