Smoking gets a bad press. England footballer Wayne Rooney gets a bad press. Put the two together and what do you get? You get the sickeningly sanctimonious London Daily Mail, desperate to flog more papers, frothing righteously around its grubby mouth.
Somebody saw Rooney smoking and, allegedly, urinating in public while on a night out with wife Coleen McLaughlin and, bang, our whole world has come crashing down around us. Never mind oil spills, earthquakes, floods and general pestilence around the world, a Manchester United striker’s slightly indecorous behaviour is the headline act.
“While the rest drank £250 bottles of vodka, Rooney disappeared out of a back door with some of his friends to smoke rolled-up cigarettes [sounds like a lekker doob to me - FH] in the street. Hardly the way a Premier League player who will shortly become United’s highest earner on £130,000 a week should be preparing for the new season. He was even pictured relieving himself against a wall behind a bottle bank when, one would hope, his aim was considerably better than in South Africa where he failed to score a single goal.” huffs and puffs the Daily Mail.
I’m a Liverpool supporter and therefore not Rooney’s greatest fan but I’m fast warming to him. Despite the best efforts of the hypocritical and morally bankrupt British press and his hardcore coaches, Capello and Ferguson, the lad keeps showing us he’s human. Nice.
So he took a swazz in the street. No problemo. We South Africans do that all the time. What, he’s smoked a few fags during the off-season? So what? The legendary French fullback Serge Blanco got through 30 Gitanes a day and he out-ran everybody in the international rugby arena. Legend has it old Serge used to enjoy a good gasper at half-time.
And here’s further proof that “Roo” is in good company…
Dimitar Berbatov may be a completely crap footballer but he looked pretty cool in that, didn’t he. Like a modern-day James Dean. OK. So the video ran out of footballing Italians and South Americans, virtually brought up to smoke, to show and had to fill in with various coaches and old Maradona’s love for a good cigar… but it makes its point. Some footballers smoke.
Big deal. I have a friend who insists on smoking while doing yoga. She calls it “smoga”. I got roped into a five-a-side on Stanford’s village green recently and enjoyed a puff out on the left wing. “Smoccer.” Who says playing sport shouldn’t be fun?
But the Daily Mail got itself into a right tizz over a normal oke doing what comes normally to an oke. Like losing his rag at the England fans who booed his team for playing like a bunch of wet lettuces during the 2010 World Cup (remember that video I gave you here).
Leave the oke alone. He might be just a Manchester United footballer… but he also has a right to live.
* 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!
In really boring and over-regulated countries, such as Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain which ceased to exist decades ago), Germany and many others (but not including those where they drink a lot of really strong coffee like Greece, Italy and Turkey), people drive very well. As in responsibly.
We don’t have that problem here in South Africa.
It is an indisputable fact that, in Durban, everybody drives very slowly and badly, except for those spiky-haired boys who wear Ferrari jackets over their Manchester United jerseys and drive black VW Golfs. With tinted windows. They drive really fast. and very, very badly.
In Cape Town, everybody stares zennishly at The Mountain while they drive, even when they are pointed away from The Mountain. Enough said.
In Jo’burg, people take South African driving to another level altogether.
1. Indicators will give away your next move. A real Jozi motorist never uses them.
2. On average, at least three cars can still get through an intersection after the robot (traffic light) has turned red. It’s the people who don’t adhere to this basic principle who cause traffic jams.
3. Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and you’ll get bashed into from behind.
4. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front. That space will be filled by two Golfs (driven by spiky-haired boys from Durban), a BMW and a minibus taxi, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.
5. The faster you drive through a red light, the less chance you have of getting hit.
PS: When a new, and as yet untrashed, car is bought in South Africa, the owner automatically assumes the right to be king of the road and is justified in expecting that every other driver will be so impressed that they will hang back and admire the shiny, new vehicle, thereby giving the proud new owner absolute right of way…
Beautiful. Follow those basic rules and you’ll be just fine. And nobody can accuse you of being as boring as the Brits.
So you’re slumped over your desk, waving a tear-stained segment of ultra-soft double-ply at the imaginary Uruguayan who has conducted a ghost-like coup of Thandi’s workstation opposite you? And his sneer is doing a damn good job of imitating that of Diego bloody Forlan standing over yet another free-kick?
Understandable. But wait, bru. All is not lost. Listen up. Hope springs eternal… and here it is: Tonight, Mexico holds France to a draw; then while Uruguay are thrashing Mexico, Bafana Bafana produce the performance of their lives to beat an unhappy French team beset by internal wrangling and characteristic petulance.
Result? We go through to the next round with – I struggle to even type out their name – Uruguay. See? How are you feeling now? That this is delusional? Fair cop.
But I remind you that this is football. Unscripted drama. The Spanish don’t need reminding of this. Ranked second in the world, they contrived to be beaten yesterday by Switzerland, ranked 24th by Fifa. Anything can happen in a high-intensity football match… and usually does.
Oscar-winning stuff: Uruguay cheat Suarez swan-lakes it to terra firma after trailing his left foot to catch Itumeleng Khune's outstretched leg and sneak the penalty which devastated the hopes of the South African nation. Infidel!
So, last night we were beaten by a national team that Fifa rank 67 places above South Africa. Where is the shame in that? I’ll tell you where the shame lay. Who were the so-called Bafana Bafana fans who packed up their shiny-new vuvuzelas and traipsed out of Loftus before the match had ended? Shame on them. Fairweather supporters! Scoundrels!
Do they have any idea how that feels to a Bafana Bafana team which has laid its collective body on the line for our nation? I hope that a thousand sharp-clawed tokoloshes visited their anatomical extremities as they lay treasonably under their duvets while the rest of us clutched our heads into the wee hours!
OK. So let’s hold a short post-mortem on what happened last night. It all looked quite pretty in the beginning, our boys pushing the ball around as choreographed by coach Carlos Alberto Perreira. Uruguay hung back, got men behind the ball, got themselves quickly to the man on the ball and gradually got the better of Bafana Bafana.
Our cohesiveness dissipated as Uruguay found their stride, denied us space in which to work the ball forward and generally harried our men into making ill-judged passes. There would be a neat one-two – or even a one-two-three – and the move would founder against our opponents’ rush defence.
We weren’t allowed to make use of our wings and got squeezed into the middle until we were dispossessed, allowing the combative Uruguayans to launch fast and fluid counter-attacks. Aaron Mokoena, who has been a tower of strength and stability, was reduced to the shakiness so apparent among his fellow defenders and it was only desperate tackling which denied early goals.
Then Forlan decides to do something never witnessed by the Manchester United fans he frustrated for so long. He scored what might be remembered as the goal of the tournament, helped by the ear of Mokoena pinballing his super-strike over and behind Itumeleng Khune and into the net. You cannot defend a goal like that. There is no legislating for such a marvellous thing. They just happen. And it happened to us.
What also happened to us is some dodgy refereeing. Mixed with a big drop of dodgy deception from Suarez who, I believe, trailed his foot over Khune’s lunge so that limbs were allowed to collide. Suarez swan-laked it to the ground and, of course, referee Massimo Busacca fell for it too. Like a Busacca potatoes. Penalty. Bang. Game over. End of story.
Until the next match. Yes, we need other results to go our way but, believe me, there will be many twists and turns to come. That is the beauty of football. and this is the beauty of our World Cup Wonderland. Feel it. It is here to bless our lives in more ways than you can imagine. Whether Bafana Bafana, who are punching above their weight at this tournament, progress or not… this World Cup represents so much more for our nation.
We are blessed to have this wondrous thing in our midst in our lifetimes. Continue to embrace it, my fellow South Africans. Be “SA-positive”. Lift yourself from your eye-moistened desk, look at your Uruguayan tormentor in the eye and gee vir hom ‘n moerse klap. Oops! I meant to say, “smile and wave”! Now get out there and show the world what we are made of. Gees. And ask of our beloved Bafana Bafana to show the same against France. They won’t let us down.
And, those of you who dumped your “SA-positivity” in the seat you prematurely abandoned last night… South Africans don’t do that. Keep it real. I’m watching you!
* I have joined the London Guardian’s phenomenal World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. If you would like to read what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and get tongue-in-cheek tweeted updates during the matches, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts.
Right. Nobody is more “SA-positive” than me about our increasingly beautiful World Cup.
And I am loving the football fans who have come to experience the first African staging of our planet’s premier football tournament.
Especially the ones who have chosen to embrace the South Africanness of this World Cup. And most especially the ones who have entered into the uniquely beautiful human spirit of our party and parp vuvuzelas in their nation’s colours.
Now, here’s a succinct and simple message to the rest: “Don’t you dare touch us on our vuvuzelas.” And stop trying to impose your social mores on we South Africans.
We have been very nice to you so far, going out of our way to welcome you to our warm-hearted country and making every effort to help you feel at home. So don’t think you can come here (or sit in your faraway lounges) and colonise the way we celebrate soccer!
How rude. How patronising. We blow vuvuzelas at South African PSL (Premier Soccer League) matches weekend in, weekend out. And we’re not going to stop just because you prefer to sing songs – often obscene and abusive towards your opponents – and make provocative gestures at people wearing different colours on the other side of the stadium.
We South Africans prefer to celebrate the beautiful game by parping on vuvuzelas rather than chanting obcenities at opposing fans
I was at Italia 90. I’ve stood with the Liverpool away support and had coins thrown at me by Manchester United’s Stretford End. I’ve been chased by Leeds United hooligans through their city after a match at Elland Road. I’ve stood next to shaven-headed thugs at The Den while Millwall’s filthiest directed monkey chants at John Barnes and threw bananas at him. I’ve experienced the hate of the Ultras at Serie A matches in Italy. I’ve been caught up in scuffles and nearly run over by a Metropolitan police horse outside West Ham United’s Upton Park.
I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. There are many societal issues that need fixing in my country… but football hooliganism isn’t one of them. We South Africans know all about racial abuse. it is well documented. I don’t need to attempt to describe what South Africa has been through. We are doing what we can to build a nation. The vibe around this World Cup is taking us forward in mighty leaps and bounds. Vuvuzelas, makarapas, giant sunglasses, diski dancing and our inclination to express ourselves in a overwhelming generosity of spirit is, I believe, without parallel in world football.
This is how we blow in South Africa. Get over it!
Do not tell us how we should enjoy ourselves at our World Cup, even if we have extended to you the most magnanimous of invitations. How dare you? How dare you tell us to stop making a noise so that your cheapshot chants and silly songs can be heard? We have grovelled, we have scraped and we have apologised non-stop for 16 years for the horror that was apartheid. Enough is enough. We will not tolerate being told by sanctimonious twerps with superiority complexes living in boring and over-regulated countries how we should run our World Cup. And we will no longer stand for the fatuous trash spewed out about our nation by the British tabloid gutter press. As John Major didn’t quite say, put up AND shut up!
Africa may seem a somewhat chaotic continent to you with your over-polite, mannered and absurdly “politically correct” social regimes but we actually like living a bit on the edge. We thrive on adventure, a bit of danger and the constant frisson of excitement that comes with living alongside unpredictability and more than a tad disorganisation. That’s how we roll in Africa.
So I’ll say it once and once only: Buy, borrow or steal some earplugs and dare to join the greatest party on earth… or stay at home, switch off the telly and stick to trimming your hedges.
* I have joined the London Guardian’s World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. It is a phenomenal concept, one which uses Twitter to bring the voices (or tweets) of fans from all 32 competing countries together on one forum for the tournament. If you would like to see what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and the impact on South Africa of the biggest sporting event to ever be staged in our beloved country, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts… which are not only about the World Cup!
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”!
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.
OK. So we’re all getting a tad excited about tonight’s draw to see which country’s teams will be playing where.
Even Capetonians are shedding their usual hoity-toityness and warming slightly to the idea that The Big Draw is happening right there in their own city, at their International Convention Centre, at 7pm (SA time).
Before we celebrate this fact with some song, dance and, of course, some Durban-style vuvu-blowing, let’s have a butchers at those countries who have made it into the draw:
Pot 1 (Host and Top Seven Seeds): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England.
Pot 2 (Asia, North America and Oceania): Australia, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic, Honduras, Mexico, United States, New Zealand.
Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Algeria, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay.
Pot 4 (Europe): Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland.
Right. There it is. So which nations (or, rather, their fans) do we want playing here in my home city of Durban? Which countries most deserve to be blessed by the unparalleled beauty (anywhere) of our Moses Mabhida Stadium. Well, if it were left to me – and I cannot honestly understand why Fifa haven’t left it entirely to me to choose – the four countries to play their group games here would be (cue very loud parp of a million vuvus): Netherlands (due entirely to the video I’m about to show you); Australia (so we can tease them rotten about their rubbish rugby team); Cameroun (because they dance so beautifully to the very cool indigenous tunes their musicians produce and will bring another stunning African vibe to our city); and Portugal (so we can jeer Cristiano Ronaldo for being such a ponce when he played for Manchester United).
OK, so picking the Netherlands ahead of Brazil means that I won’t get to party with their unbelievable fans in the way I so memorably did (it was completely sexual, my babies) after Brazil played Scotland in Turin during the 1990 World Cup in Italy but I based my decision solely on the evidence in this little vid…
Hellness, I enjoyed that. That I want to see a lot of in the stands at Moses Mabhida after June 11 next year. The Dutch always add value (and a big splash of orange) to a World Cup. And I like the way they’ve embraced our vuvuzela instead of rejecting it as too painful to sensitive ears – as did the snivelling Japanese and (it pains me to say) that former Liverpool player Xabi Alonso, who will be wearing specially-made earplugs the entire time he mooches around our country while complaining about our vuvus.
So Cape Town are welcome to host wussy Spain and Japan. We’ll have the vuvu-loving Dutch and, anyway, there’s a lot of blue in the stands at Moses Mabhida and the colour co-ordination will work much better with the orange well bumped up. And, did I mention that I have a massive erogenous zone for tall blonde women. I didn’t? How negligent of me.
Moving swiftly on. OK. I accept that Mr Sepp Blatter, and not me, has the final say on all things World Cup and tonight his minions will pull balls out of pots and announce who is to play where. We wait with bated breath and the champers well chilled. I’ll be thumping out some words about this momentous event right here on your “Diagnosed SA-positive” blog the minute all the excitement is over. Please join me for a tongue-in-cheek summary of which lucky fans get to party big-time with we Durbanites next June… right here on your fave blog at about 9pm tonight. Check you later, Hatpeople!
Here in Umdloti we are very accustomed to dealing with cheeky monkeys.
There’s Julius Malema, the loudmouthed oke from the ANC Youth League who uses any media forum available to tell all South Africans what to do and not to do, there’s the Manchester United chop at the Bush Tavern who never fails to get on my case when Liverpool FC lose (currently every time they play) and then there’s the local troop of vervet monkeys (see one of them below) which use Hatman Mansions as their local supermarket (well, they would if The Scrapster and Doodlebug, my Jack Russells, weren’t constantly barking up their blue arses).
Yes, the southern African vervet monkey (male gender) have bright blue arses and, wait for it, crimson-red penises. They are colourful characters and I apprehended three in my bedroom the other day just as one was about to chomp into the Hatman Mansions copy of Kama Sutra 365 (Dorling Kindersley, R106).
This is what Juli, I mean the southern African vervet monkey looks like (when it’s not making inroads into my bedtime reading)…
A vervet monkey, not in a book-eating frame of mind
Apologies for not showing you the blue derriere and red “tummy banana” but this is a family blog, OK?
OK. So then there’s something else completely. A monkey that takes taking things to a new level altogether. Allow me to introduce you to, at first glance, a rather charming little monkeyette (a Tamarind I believe, and not indigenous to South Africa) which I stumbled upon on Umdloti beach while cowrie-collecting with The Darj. It managed to nick her ear-ring and, as swift as a Julius Malema insult, deposited it in her pram from whence it never returned.
That’s right. I said “pram”. Patience, please. Watch this most heinous of South African crime stories unfold before your astonished eyes…
Tammy, dressed for the beach in her best pink frock, sucks up to me (and my leg) in order to strike up an instant camaraderie. Please note the ring on her finger... this will become important as we go on...
Tammy, by frolicking in a most appealing manner on the arm of The Darj, shrewdly engages with her sweet nature and lulls her into a sense of false security...
All the fun under the sun turns into felony as, suddenly, snatch-bang-wallop, The Darj's right earring disappears into Tam's little pink frock...
Quick as a thief, Tam's back in her pram, the earring is secreted away deep in her stash and she's already scanning the beach for her next victim...
No pork. This is actually what happened. What do you think of that? I’ll tell you what I think of it. The couple who were sitting next to the pram and to whom Tam intermittently jumped to and fro from her pram, probably receiving logistical instructions, remained silent and stared out to sea while all this was going on. When The Darj exclaimed “Hey, it’s taken my earring” – to which I responded with a loud “What? The monkey STOLE your earring?!” – the couple turned and looked northwards down the beach with deadpan faces.
When I moved in front of them and said, far too politely, “Excuse me, your monkey appears to…” the guy looked at me, smiled and shrugged his shoulders. At the sight of me starting to suck in my stomach so as to increase the size of my chest, The Darj said “Hey, Hatman, they’re cheap earrings, just forget about it.” I stared at the guy and he gave me the laziest of eyes, as if he were from Kakkiesfontein and didn’t understand English.
We continued our search for the ever-elusive cowrie shells while I toyed with various guesstimates of how much jewelry was hidden under “baby” Tam’s pillow in that ridiculous pram.
Yowzerness. Given the tough economic climate and all that, I reckon that couple are on to something there. Catching a tan on the sun-drenched sands while putting your pet Tamarind monkey to work on innocent beachgoers is taking “Living The Holiday” to another stratosphere, isn’t it?
Umdlotian Darren Aiken is a sculptor of international repute. He lives in a beautiful home which seems to tumble down a hill on different levels until it lands almost on Umdloti’s north beach. He shares a home and studio space with wife Audrey Rudnick, also an internationally acclaimed artist.
In this, the first of a series of interviews with some of a whole bunch of amazing people who help to make Umdloti the idyllic South African seaside village that it is, Darren spoke to fredhatman.co.za…
Darren Aiken... with some of his miniature sculptures. That's Archbishop Desmond Tutu listening in awe to Metallica guitarist James Hetfield... with Springbok rugby star Schalk Burger looking on Pic: Hatman
FH: What was your early inspiration to take an interest in art?
DA: My first introduction to plasticine, at four years old. My inspiration for it to become all-consuming was the 1978 World Cup soccer in West Germany. My dad was there on business, I collected the Tiger comic weekly (a sports action boys comic book) and I sculpted each player from West Germany, Brazil and England 4cm high, with pin pricks for eyes and a cut for the mouth and a blob or spike which suited the shape of the nose, complete with hairstyle and “sidies” of the time, full colour clothes, numbers and bootlaces and stripes. These players I used as working toys, physically striking the ball to each other (with my help of course) and at goal on a green painted field with lines on a wooden board – it was my favourite game or toy of my youth.
Right. I know I’ve had a pop at Cape Town’s WC2010 stadium and likened it to a “half-sucked Polo mint” but then, to be even-handed about it, I gracefully accepted that Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium does look a bit like Paris Hilton dropped her handbag in the middle of Durbs.
Fair’s fair, yes? But, no, the Cape Town vs Durban conflict has now gone to a new level since Cape Town’s Amanda Sevasti lambasted food writer Anne Stevens of Durban for her stinging attack on the Mother City.
Yowzers. This is nastiness. Bitterness. Dare I say it, hatefulness. This makes Man United vs Liverpool, Bush vs Osama, Australia vs England, Everybody vs Australia look like a Rotarians’ tea party in a sun-dappled meadow. Next to a gurgling stream. Instead of the gentle thwack of willow against leather, I hear the mega-thwack of a Louis Vuitton handbag against meaty temple.
I say we should get this internecine goading out of the way before our nice foreign soccer fans arrive for the World Cup. We need to work together, guys. Yes? Quite right. So allow me to present the original anti-Cape town article, as written by La Stevens… and then the robust riposte as published by La Sevasti. and then, dear and peaceable Hatpeople, we can put this spat to the vote and put this whole malarkey to bed. OK?
OK. Here is Anne’s anti-Cape Town tirade, as published in the Sunday Tribune (it follows a nice scene-setting pic of Durbs-by-the-Sea, complete with Paris’s lost handbag)…
In the north-east corner... Durbs Pic courtesy of http://allanphoto.wordpress.com/
Cape Town, you can keep your mountain
By Anne Stevens
October 13 2009, Sunday Tribune
“Cape Town sucks.
This may be a harsh judgment of the bedrock of South African history, but with one reluctant foot on the tip of
the continent, its extremities in the water and heart yearning for Europe, this is hardly an African city.
Fuelled by tourist dollars, pounds and euros, it sets itself apart from the rest of the country with a hauteur that is
infuriating. “Oh, but we’ve got The Mountain,” a Capetonian remarked recently when mildly reminded that Durban has good beaches and warmer water. That’s part of the trouble. The bloody mountain is whichever way you turn, making a crow’s flight trip from Rondebosch to Hout Bay resemble the Great Trek.