In the ninth of my weekly interviews with interesting people in Umdloti, I asked the Big Five questions of German and honorary Umdlotian Tom Striebl. And got just one answer back. This is a guy who has taken the “Live The Holiday” vibe to a whole new stratosphere and was clearly so busy living it up at his “office” (The Bush Tavern) that he wasn’t bothered to answer each specific question! Serves me right to have stereotyped Germans as an orderly lot. Vorsprung etc…
Never mind. Let’s take a look at the man who totally owns the lifestyle the rest of us only dream of…
Tom and friends Jozie, Bianca and Felicity. Mmmm. Pic: Hatman
1. So, Tom, you’re a German who spends half the year at home in Germany and the other half “at home” here in Umdloti. And you don’t work. At all. You are “Living the Holiday” in the extreme. How did you manage this?
2. Tell us about your dodgy heart and your “defibrillator”. How does it work and does it get in the way of your “Living the Holiday” vibe? As in drinking, smoking and any other recreational activities that you may or may not indulge in…
3. Tell us about your life in Bavaria. What do you enjoy about living there that you can’t do here? And vice-versa…
4. Tell us about the first day that you discovered Umdloti. And any other funny stories that you have about our crazy little seaside resort and the people who live here (and, like you, have an “office” at the Bush Tavern)!
5. OK. Last question. What do you do with your time in Umdloti, where are your favourite places to go in Umdloti and around Durban in general? And what do you tell your friends back home in Germany about South Africa as a tourist destination?
Each year I’m coming south with the swallows to the summer. Its cheaper that way. Cheap cheap!
The doctor says my heart condition is 30% pump power and so I must not work. And so they pay “retired money”. The doctor says I must have “Nada de stress”.
The lump in my chest is actually a defibrillator (some people think its a pacemaker). If my heart stops then it gives me a shock of 300 volts. Its not lekker but gives me a jump start. Then I can carry on drinking beer!
The smoking of different types of “spicy” tobacco is good for keeping the stress down. I cannot swim in the sea, anyway it’s a septic tank.
I take eight different tablets that keeps the blood pressure down and keeps the fluid amount low in my lungs and… and… and down in my lungs.
In Bavaria I can speak Bavarian with friends and drink my German beer with friends and hang out in 32 degree heat when its cold in SA. Bavarian girls are very different.
In South Africa I can hang out in the warm weather while the Bavarians freeze their balls off. It keeps the blood thin and easier to pump. In SA I can watch the sea with the big waves that they don’t have in Bavaria. And I have all my Umdloti girlfriends!
I was living in Umhlanga and I was pissed off with the place. One day I took a six pack in my bag and started walking along the beach north. When the six-pack was finished I found myself in Umdloti… and I thought that this is going to be my place where I stay. Paradise… “Umhlanga sucks – Umdloti Rocks!!!!!”
Every day I go to my “office” at the Bush Tavern and meet and know many people who are at the same level as me… goofed! For a change of view I like to go to Tasca Pizza to see Marco or next door at “Gay Island” (Beanbag Bahia). There is a different vibe and view. My other favourite place is Zinkwazi at the skiboat club and forest camping. In Zinkwazi I do some fishing.
I tell the Germans that in South Africa there are elephants walking down the street and people get attacked by green mambas and bees on the beach. But it’s its not so bad… I like the adventure!
I have to go now because Happy Hour is coming up in my “office”.
FH: Riiiight. I see. OK. Thanks for that, Tom. You’ve completely blown my definition of Germans as a hard-working, diligent, slightly boring bunch out of the water. I like that. And I’m sorry if I cramped your style at the office for the five minutes it clearly took to answer my FIVE questions. Have a long and lekker life. Don’t worry about us!
In yet another of my weekly interviews with interesting Umdlotians, I asked the Big Five questions of film-maker Jimmy Reynolds who, probably due to the fact that he sent back his answers on his iPhone from the legendary Bush Tavern after several gin and tonics, only answered four. But this a completely democratic process. So I’m totally fine with that.
Let’s first have a look at the young legend-in-the-making…
Nice. Pic: www.tyronebradley.co.za
FH:Jimmy, your game seems to be all about making extreme films of extreme sports to thrill, in the main, internet users. How did you get into all that… film, extreme sports etc?
JR: Well Hatters, I learnt to ride a bike like any regular kid and just never stopped. When all my friends got into drugs and girls and all that stuff I just kept on riding bmx and ended up travelling all over for about five years. During that time my good friend and partner in crime www.tyronebradley.co.za and I started making bmx videos about all our adventures and that just took off and I got more into shooting than riding. And I guess that’s where I’m at right now.
FH:From what I’ve seen, your style of film-making is a touch on the rad side. Tell us about your camera technique, how you do it… and who your influences are…
JR: … “Hey, Ty, get me another G&T, dude!”… *?*
FH:Your dad was the top camera kahuna (director of photography) for Jamie Uys’s classic South African movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”? What do you think of that? What impact did that – and your old man – have on you?
JR: I think I must have got some natural talent from him, but I was away so much when I started that it was more constructive criticism that I got from him than help with shooting. So he played a big part in my learning to shoot. I never studied it or anything like that. So I guess his amazing stuff that he shot has just inspired me to make stuff look as good as possible while shooting, which is quite hard while making the trick look as badass as possible. But I definitely want to make riding and other subject matters look as good as possible.
FH: Are you crazy? OK. I understand. So share with us your major malfunction…
JR: Crazy question, dude! I don’t think so. I consider myself the most normal person around and I’m not even slightly eccentric or anything. I just shoot, surf and hang out at the Bush Tavern. The only thing non mainstream about me is my love for old hair metal…
FH:You’re a cool dude-about-town in this epically kiff ocean-hugging town we call Umdloti. Reveal to us what you love about ‘Hloti, how you use it… and feel free to reveal any secrets about the “dark underbelly” of this crazy place of which I might, as a relative newcomer and somebody on the right side of 30, not be aware…
JR: This town fucking rocks!!! I’ve travelled to every corner of this country and have never found a place like it. I’ve always wanted to live in a place where when I have kids they can play in the street and this is it. Plus the Bush Tavern is epic! Pizza and beer specials rock. We have a warm ocean and pretty good waves here so it’s a treat to be able to look off my verandah and decide where to go surf whenever it’s good. I’ve only been living here since March but meeting all the locals has been a treat! G man, Piggy, Liz, Capo, Simmo, the Redmans and all the other 568 kids are so rad and we’ve had so many damn good times here. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave. Rad!
Total radness overload, Jimmy. Thanks for dropping in at the last minute to do this interview (because the bloke who works on projects in Waterloo township for Tongaat Hulett, despite committing to do so, wasn’t bothered to reply to my questions – or my voicemail messages to remind him to do so) and I thus owe you some serious gin-and-tonicness.
* Oh, do yourselves a favour and check out http://www.theriot.co.za/
In another of my weekly interviews with interesting folk who live in my beautiful seaside hometown of Umdloti in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, I popped in to visit the lovely and effervescent Michelle Robb at her rather tasty little sex shop in Glenashley…
FH: You run an adult shop. How does a woman such as you break into what is seen as a man’s business? And how did you get to do it?
MR: Initially I was going to open a digital printing business as I have worked in the advertising field before. One of my clients was a large adult shop and whenever they needed advertising done I was called into the shop. My first visit will be forever etched in my brain! There was nowhere to look that didn’t have something scary beaming back at me. All the customers in the shop turned to stare and I have never felt so uncomfortable before. But after going in there week after week I eventually got used to it. My friends would ask me to do their naughty shopping for them while I was there and it always amazed me that the assistants didn’t know much about their products. Anyway, when I told my mother about my new printing business venture, she said that it was silly to start a business with so much competition and that I should open up my own upmarket adult shop! She was so right! There are no other shops close to me and I have been in business for two years now.The shops in town offer viewing booths (nasty places!) which is why they are operated by men.
FH:Pleasures is a welcome alternative to the more seamy and grubby “sex outlets” like the ones you’ve just mentioned. What does your shop offer that makes shopping for one’s essential sex toys a more pleasurable affair?
MR: I have a very small shop and its decorated nicely. It is very discreet and welcoming as most people are shy and I am the only person that you will have to deal with. Not much shocks me and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have. I am a woman so I know what we like! And I have a good idea of what men like too!
FH:Would men feel comfortable bringing their girlfriends or wives to your shop? And, vice-versa?
MR: My customer base is 70% men and 30% women. I do have a lot of men that are sent in by their wives/girlfriends to check out the place and then are happy to bring them in.
FH: Which items on your shelves (or under your cashier’s desk!) are the bestsellers?
MR: Ooooh, my bestsellers? Jumping Jack Vibrators. Real Feel Vibrators and Super Powerful Men’s Tablets (these last up to three days and my male friends are constantly asking me for them!)
FH:You’re another lucky fish who lives in our seaside idyll called Umdloti. What is it about ‘Hloti that you most love and how do you use it, apart from the occasional little drinkie-poo at the Bush Tavern?
MR: Yes, lots of drinkie-poos at the Bush. And I always seem to bump into you there, Mr Hatman! When I met my partner Dave, he was living in Umdloti. Slowly it grew on me and the next thing I had sold my flat and moved here. My son, Bradley, followed and we now call ‘Hloti home. We have amazing seaviews from our place and Dave has actually done the most wonderful oil paintings that have real Umdloti beach sand in them! I have only lived here for two years but it would be hard to picture myself living anywhere else. It is a very special little place with a wonderful sense of community and I have made a lot of fantastic friends here. Oh Fred, before you run away, would you like one of my Super Powerful Mens Tablets to try out?
Er ja, that’s very good of you, Michelle. Any chance you could donate me two? Double the pleasureness. Thanks!
* You can run an eye over Michelle’s wares by popping into her website.
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?”
In the fifth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in Umdloti (on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa), I asked the Big Five questions of Germaine Horowitz, tireless founder and co-ordinator of The Kidz Clinic, which reaches out to and counsels children, living in and around Waterloo township, near Umdloti, who have been sexually abused.
FH:Please describe for us how you got into doing the work you are doing for the children of Waterloo township?
GH: Waterloo was once a sugar farm which belonged to the Rey family. I was at school with one of the daughters of the farmer and I had horses at the Ottawa stables. I have great memories as a teenager of my visits and Bob Marley parties at the farm house which is actually today a magnificent but badly neglected registered National Monument now known as Ottawa House. I have held several meetings over the last six years with the eThekwini Mayors Office, the Department of Housing, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Arts and Culture to establish an Arts Community Centre at Ottawa House. So far no signatures but the community continues to manage hosting conferences, various theatrical rehearsals and three weeks ago a radio station playing on FM 94.7 started broadcasting there from 5am to 6am – I did an interview this morning. Now we have the task of raising the funds to have an independent radio station. Where was I? While I was running the Market Theatre Photography School for David Goldblatt in the late 1990s, I met up with people from Women and Men Against Child Abuse whose anti-child abuse demonstrations made great photographic material for our photography students. I eventually started campaigning for them and have remained in contact with them over the years… so when their main supporters Vodacom asked them to go national in 2008 they called me to research and set up a Kidz Clinic in Durban. With the help of Jacki Bruniquel, the fabulous Umdloti artist who you have already interviewed, and two Waterloo artists, Linda and Xolisis, helped me to open a beautiful “clinic” in the Waterloo Community Centre and we had our first case in June of 2008.
In the fourth of my weekly interviews with an interesting resident of Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – the idyllic seaside village in which I am blessed to live – I asked the Big Five questions of Andre Cronje, director of the Wild Touch programme on SABC.
Let’s have a quick look at him, shall we?
FH:You grew up in or near the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, yet knew from a very early age that you wanted to be out in the bush and working with wildlife… how did that come about?
AC: You see, Jozi-city is one of the most hardcore jungles out there. If you look at any aerial shot of the place it’s striking how many trees there are, there are also some crazy animals lurking in the bushes. On a more serious note, most of my ancestors were hunters, farmers and fishermen. I guess a love and understanding for nature is in my blood.
FH:You have been involved with Wild Touch, SABC’s popular wildlife educational programme, since its inception and now direct the series. How did you get involved and what does working with the programme mean to you?
AC: I have been working in the television industry for 11 years now so you naturally get involved with the kind of projects that fits your profile. It’s important for me to believe in what I invest my time and effort in. Series Directing Wild Touch is very rewarding because I know that I’m involved with sharing something beautiful and important with the nation.
FH:We are constantly being alerted to horror stories related to the degradation of our environment. Working so closely with it, what is your experience of human abuse of the environment and what would your message be to the youth who are to inherit it?
AC: You said I must keep my answers short, this question might take days to answer! But I think if we look around us right now, you will see the answer. The abuse that’s visible in the environment is only a mirror of our abuse of ourselves. Just like the orangutang, we are also running out of living space and just like the fish in our rivers the polluted water will also kill us. If there is a message for the youth it would be to start a revolution! Don’t be as ignorant as me, your parents, your teachers or our world governments. Don’t accept the easy way out and do question what is going on around you. To this day we are pretending that we don’t know that we are killing the earth and ourselves.
FH: A group of foreign visitors to South Africa (let’s say, ahem, a gaggle of gorgeous Scandinavian environmental science students, shall we?) arrive on your doorstep and demand to be shown the finest wildlife attractions our country has to offer. Where would you take them? And why?
AC: It depends… the Scandinavian students can hang around my house for a week or so and they’ll get up close with vervet monkeys, various snakes, spiders, amphibians, whales, dolphins and the beautiful birds of prey that hang out here. If it’s a small group I’ll take them on a wilderness walk through the Umfolosi Game reserve. Am I allowed to punt any cool organisations on this blog? Check out www.wildernesstrails.org.za.
FH:Cool. OK. So, you’re often to be seen surfing off and skateboarding around our gem of a seaside village, Umdloti. And I happen to know that you live in a beautiful house hidden deep in the bush on a hill overlooking our bit of the Indian Ocean. How did you get to be such a lucky bugger? And, go on, make us all insanely jealous… please describe your paradisical living-in-Umdloti-vibe!
AC: Jeez, Hatman, you just blew my cover. I was put under a witness protection programme several years ago and they forgot about me. I’ve been trying to get out of this lifestyle for years! Jokes aside, if you let go of your fear, everything else happens naturally. I remember as a kid I dreamed that I was surfing some deserted island. Everyone around me always said that it’s a silly dream because I live in a city 600km away from the sea. So I thought F@*^ you all and I started imagining that my skateboard had no wheels and the concrete was water. The rest is history as I have since spent tmy life living my dreams. I do want to encourage everyone to live their dreams, however far your imagination runs… though it’s crucial that you never forget this: “Concrete is not water” and you will get hurt along the way. So to answer your question about how I got to be such a lucky bugger… “no matter how hard you fall if you get up and try again, you will succeed”. Oh, and by the way this doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt like hell either.
In the third of my interviews (published here every weekend) with interesting people who live in my hometown of Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, I asked the Big Five questions of Vera Hindmarch, a clairvoyant and the source of great spiritual inspiration to many…
FH:At what age did you realise that you had the ability to connect with the spirit world? And how did this come about?
VH: Although I never understood it at the time, my gift of clairvoyance and heightened awareness was strong as a child. Many experiences drove my parents up the wall. “No Dad, take the other road. Something is wrong with this one,” I would say. Of course he would not take heed and we would end up on a long detour or come across an accident. My late grandfather used to visit me and I would tell them that Grandpa said this or that. Right! I think they used to consider putting me in a straitjacket – spiritual awareness was not as known or understood as it is today. My young adult years was when my drama took place. We all go through our life’s lessons. When I came out of the drama period in my early 30s my clairvoyance returned with a greater strength and clarity. Only then did I understand the child in me.
FH:Once you had recognised and accepted that you had this power, how did you go about refining and attuning it so as to start giving people psychic readings?
VH: Meditation is the key to connect to your own soul and the spiritual world/universe. You benefit with an incredible sense of inner peace. Your guides send souls to connect to you and a dear old spiritual man in England (we lived there for a few years) took me under his wing and guided me through the doubtful times. He taught me to believe in my gift. My readings began slowly, with me simply getting messages out of the blue that helped many whose path crossed mine.
FH:I imagine it is sometimes an onerous responsibility to be the channel through which visitors make connections with loved ones who are in spirit. And I suppose that you are sometimes made aware of the prospect of bad news which may befall a visitor. How do you deal with that?
VH: God is loving and kind. Very seldom do I receive extreme negative messages – rather warnings so that a negative experience may be avoided. Although I do somethimes get bad “feelings”, I use my discretion and gently pass the message along. Why would God tell you that you are going to have an accident or worse? How would your life proceed after that other than in great fear. If a clairvoyant works in God’s light the guidance messages will be healing and helpful rather than negative.
FH: Please, Verna, if you will, share with us the most profound experience that you have had as a psychic or spiritualist, either personal or on behalf of somebody else…
VH: Here I could write a book! Let me tell you a personal story (although there are some really funny ones). While living in England, my Dad was in South Africa and was ill with cancer. It was suggested I fly home. I sent him a telegram reading “hang in there Dad, I am on my way!” (yes, there were such things as telegrams in those days!) and a red rose. The morning before my flight I awoke at 5am with my dad standing next to my bed holding in his hand a red rose. I knew he was now in spirit. My stepmother phoned. Dad had passed away just before 5am. He did receive my telegram but not the red rose. His soul knew I had sent the rose – it was in the universe! He explained that my mother, who had died many years ago, had come to his bedside and asked him go with her. He said it was the most amazing feeling as he walked away with her to spirit. He came to say his goodbyes. My mother was standing next to him.
FH:You too are blessed to live in our wonderful seaside village of Umdloti, on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast. What does Umdloti mean to you, what do you most love about living here… and does it hold a special spiritual energy for you?
VH: From my balcony I have the most incredible view of the ocean. I am so grateful for this! Yes, Umdloti has spiritual and creative energies, but most places have if communities make it so. Most of all I love the mixture of people who live here. Small places teach you to accept people for who and what they are and remove any judgment you may have of them. The beauty of Umdloti as one walks along the beach is heavenly. The energy filled with peace and the likelihood of always bumping into someone you know and receiving that warm smile greeting. It is also that touch of mischief!
* To make an appointment for a reading, phone Verna on 084-556 2887. Verna’s book about spiritual awareness and understanding at a higher level, “Harmony”, can be bought at R130 incl postage by e-mailing her at email@example.com
This weekend, in the second of my series of interviews with interesting Umdlotians, I ask the Big Five Questions of art photographer Jacki Bruniquel…
Jacki Bruniquel draws on a spiritual connection with the natural environment for her artworks Pic: Hatman
FH:What sparked your interest in art/photography? And how did your work first manifest itself?
JB: I have always been interested in art, some of my first memories involve drawing Enid Blyton characters on the great big faraway fig tree at the bottom of our garden. Perhaps it was something i was born with … it was also something that was also always encouraged by my parents. My interest in photography started when I began my fine art degree at Michaelis (Cape Town). On our first day we were told to make a pinhole camera from a box, a tin, some photographic paper and a piece of Prestik. I began a love affair with the dark room right there and then and found it much more enjoyable then sketching the crusty naked hobo types they got in for life drawing classes. From a pinhole camera i went on to a Pentax and then a Hasselblad. These days I have gone digital (and really really really regret selling the Hasselblad so I could buy a ticket to London!)
You know those promo things they put on television? Where they promote a programme that is to be aired in about two weeks’ time?
What do you call it? A blurb? A flighter? A puff? A promo? A pain in the arse? I call them “a pain in the arse” because the telly channels seem to fill every available gap with them, even after the actual programme has come and gone, and by the time you’ve seen the chuffing thing 937 times you’ve pretty much vowed to yourself not to watch the prog. Out of principle. And because you feel you know the programme better than you know your mum.
So I’ve got no excuse to do the same myself. But I will. To blurb the second in my new series of “The Umdloti Interview” (chats with some of the nutty creative types who live in my hometown of Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal north coast, South Africa) I bring you a piece of work by art photographer Jacki Bruniquel, who lives around the corner from Hatman Mansions and diagonally opposite another close mate of mine, Gen Morton.
Check this out…
A Jacki Bruniquel i-marge of Esjay Jones, lead singer of South African band Stealing Love Jones
Coolness, hey? OK, so full interview with Jax on here on Saturday. It rocks. Don’t even think about missing it. This was just one of those blurby promo things. I won’t do it again… this week. Promise.
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.