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.
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.
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!
In the sixth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in and around the idyllic seaside town of Umdloti on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast, I asked the Big Five questions of Adapt IT internet boffin (and developer of Durban’s official World Cup 2010 website), Richard McLennan…
FH: You are known as the man behind Adapt IT’s development of Durban’s World Cup 2010 website. How did you get started in internet technology and how did you get to here?
RM: Firstly, I have a very good team of people I work with on The Durban Host City Website, I am just one of the cogs in the machine so to speak. In terms of how I got here, it’s a fairly long story so I’ll keep it short and in point form:
· Raised here on the North Coast in the sunny hamlet of Umhlanga Rocks. After school spent 2 years in the SA Navy as a diver.
· Three years crewing on ‘Superyachts’ in the Med and Caribbean, before returning to SA, completed my Dive Instructor as well as Commercial Diver certifications. Taught Commercial Diving for a year at Durban’s PDI, great job, crap money. Moved on to IMMAC shipping for 6 months as Dive Supervisor, good money, crap job
· After a number of close underwater calls decided enough was enough and thought a career in the IT world looked far more promising… honestly, what’s the worst that can happen when you drive a PC for a living? Completed a Diploma in Visual Basic 5 whilst working as a diver
* Landed a web developer role for a very funky new media agency in London called Wheel where I ran a Development Team, jumped ship to a customer, the wonderful Marks & Spencer. Had an awesome couple of years at M&S helping build their very successful –ecommerce business.
· Headhunted by Monsoon Accessorise to setup their e-commerce business which I ran for 2 years
· After Sarah and I had son Connor in October 2006, we decided in early 2007 it was time to return to SA, work/life balance had become a lot more important to me…
· Three weeks after arriving back in SA, I joined a secret Old Mutual initiative building a new direct insurance and home loan business. Unfortunately, 12 months later we pulled the plug due to the global credit crisis and recession, a real pity as the products would have been groundbreaking for the SA market
· Approached by Adapt IT in Jan 2009 to programme manage the Durban 2010 web project
FH: OK. Straight into the question everybody wants answered! Adapt IT took a lot of flak for the 2010 website which, some said, did not give value for the amount of Durban ratepayers’ money spent on the project… how would you counter that assertion?
RM: It’s funny, everyone has heard of Adapt IT and the Durban 2010 Website, “oh ja, the R6.5 million website, what’s up with that?”
I’m a great fan of architecture and Buddhism so it’s a rare and total coolness when these two passions are unified as one.
I love the diversity of the many unique figures of Buddha. And, apart from the sumptuous Chrysler building in New York, I’m mostly underwhelmed by skyscraper structures.
So it was with much fervour that I fell upon a website featuring the tallest Buddhas on our planet. This is overwhelmedness on a stratospheric scale.
Cast your gaze on the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China – at 428 feet (128m) the tallest Buddha built anywhere in the world…
Mmmmmmmmm. So this is the biggest Buddha but it's not my fave. I think that the Chinese, if they were going to that much trouble and expense, could have got a tad more creative with this baby...
Still, it’s fairly large, isn’t it? It’s only 104 feet taller than New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty. Breathe deeply and drink that in. And a whopping 290 feet taller than Rio’s Christo Redentor statue. To put this into context for my Pretoria viewers, the Spring Temple Buddha is 413 feet and three inches taller than Bulls and Springbok lock Bakkies Botha. Bliksemness, it would be pretty handy to have in a lineout, wouldn’t it? Ja, it would. But I don’t scheme the Chinese would accept a transfer offer, hey.
Just when you thought this story couldn’t get any taller, it does. Work is under way to erect a Buddha that, and best you adopt the lotus position, close your eyes and clear your mind for this one, will be 500 feet (152m) tall. Yowzerness, i hear you say? Well you might. India is plotting this one, to be named Maitreya Buddha and constructed at Uttar Pradesh.
And, yes, dear Hatpeople, I have procured for you the artists impression of what this will look like. Meditate on this…
The biggest it will be but, and I don't mean to be less than magnanimous here, it's a right shocker, isn't it? Not the best...
No, it isn’t. Biggest always isn’t best. Bit too much Bollywood bling going on for me. OK. Before I ruin any good karma, let’s move swiftly on to my favourite of the tallest Buddhas of the world. At a mere 233 feet, the Leshan Giant Buddha in China doesn’t quite stand up to its billing and only weighs in at No 11 among the biggest of the world’s Buddhas. No worries, mate. I love it. Living in bliss as I do in the dense coastal bush of Umdloti, South Africa, I have developed quite a rustic vibe, a bit agricultural even. So this baby is right up my ravine. And he is. Right up a ravine. Check him out…
See what I mean? Right up a ravine. And rustic. And rough-hewn. Just how I like my Buddhas to be. High, handsome and, well, a figure one can look up to. With me?
Of course you are. I’m calling him Rocky. A rocky Buddha gathers much moss. I dig that. Do you? And I love his rustic energy. I want to go to visit Rocky and sit before him and just meditate for ever. And then come home to Umdloti, campaign to become mayor and decree that a Buddha just like Rocky and at least equally as big be carved into the hill overlooking our spirited, if not all that spiritual, little idyll on the Indian Ocean. This would put ‘Hloti well on the map. And give us an icon far more iconic than that flat-topped hill over which my beloved Capetonian brothers and sisters get so spiritual. Not that I’m into oneupmanship. That wouldn’t be at all Buddhist, would it?
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.
Now all those lucky enough to see me striding in stellar sartoriality around Umdloti will eagerly testify to my indisputable credentials as an arbiter on all things fashion. Should you need reminding of this, allow your eyeballs to caress this unspeakably stylish image of me in a previous post.
Right. Now, contrary to what Capetonians might think, I don’t enjoy pointing to the fact that they are insufferably smug about themselves and the city in which they wetly exist. Really. I don’t. I would rather ignore the pretentious poseurs in that pseudo-Mediterreanean territory down in the sodden south-east and get on with living in Africa. And keeping it real.
But then worrying little snippets sneak in through the back door of Hatman Mansions and it becomes beholden on me, as a SA-positive blogger, to fearlessly expose the Smother City citizens for the frauds they are.
Take fashion. Everybody knows that almost all of South Africa’s fashion designers worth their seams come out of Durban. We know who they are. Monk-Klijnstra, Kidger, Immerman, Bray, The Holmes Bros, the seamster in the backroom at Casanova, and so on. Enriched as we are by their know-no-bounds creativity, Durbanites sashay a lone furrow in pursuit of the Holy Grail of South African haute couture.
So, to tug ever so gently at the labelled lapel of the ginormous brouhaha created by the kind of uber-hype only Capetonians can invent over their fashion week, could I ask you to take a deep breath and witness this little gem…
Oh. MY. God. What did you make of that? Everybody head-to-toe in Mr Price. I know, I know. Agony.
How was the beauty therapist at the beginning banging on about how she is a one-woman celebration of colour and then looking like she was filmed in sepia? And Michaela, looking like she had hurtled out of her front door 10 minutes after her alarm went off? Wait. She admitted to it. Kept it fairly real. She might be from Durban. Mishkah is a bit of a honey and we Durbanites can relate to the dude with the surfing/skateboarding vibe, even if his hoody is a bit off. And Stefan! Isn’t he just divine. And soooo Cape Town. As were those faux accents. Sounding like that cheesey Top Billing oke, Michael Mols, but on low speed.
I think we have to blame that flat-topped hill for a great deal of Cape Town’s ills. That karma stuff they go on about. They just take it too seriously. And themselves. Too much of uptight. A little less organic everything and a bit of old-fashioned roughage in their diet might help to relax them.
Cape Town, I must beg you again to keep it real. I’m watching you. And my eyes are hurting.