Thursday, 28 May 2009

My friends: ‘teenagers of all ages’

I found a sweatshirt with a hood (a ‘hoodie’, I believe it’s called these days) slung over one of my living-room chairs yesterday, and immediately used it as evidence to accuse my teenage daughter of having had an illicit party last weekend while I was away overnight in the city.

‘That’s been there since last Saturday morning, Mom,’ my daughter sniffed. ‘You went to Cape Town on Saturday afternoon. So even if I did have a party – which I didn’t – it couldn’t belong to one of my friends.’

My memory is dodgy at the best of times, so there I was, scratching around in my brain to try to work out if she was feeding me a line or actually telling me like it is, when my housemate Dean piped up. ‘That’s Ronaldo’s,’ he said.

I held it up and looked more carefully at it. Now, I am no sartorial master (in fact, my dress sense is bizarre even when I really try to make it not so), but this particular garment seemed very much to me to have been made for a teenager. I mean, hello, it is a hoodie – and it’s got ‘Reg-07’ stitched on it in bright red. What adult wears something like that?

But because I am, you know, a sensible grownup, I SMSd Ronaldo to ask him if he’d left his hoodie here. And, indeed, he had.

I was doing my usual ‘well, this is just ridiculous’ shpiel to anyone who would listen (mainly the dogs) when my daughter said, with a great big eye-roll, ‘I don’t know why you’re going on and on like that. Your friends are just teenagers of all ages.’

Which did kind of stop me in my tracks. To put some perspective on this, Ronaldo is definitely my friend who is most like a teenager – in all respects. He’s still got that physical wiriness that most adults lose practically the minute they turn 20, and he stays up all night with unsuitable people, and he drinks irresponsible amounts, and he has a hormonally addled eye for the grrrls. And he wears hoodies with ‘Reg-07’ stitched on the front.

Ronaldo is, in fact, the teenager I would be most careful about keeping my own teenagers away from: he is a Bad Influence. Once, we were still dancing in my kitchen and opening yet another bottle of red when my son, then about 13, came through from his bedroom, knotting the tie on his school uniform. ‘What are you doing up?’ Ronaldo asked him. ‘Go back to bed! It’s the middle of the night!’

My son gave us both a withering look. ‘It’s 6am and I’m getting ready for school,’ he said.

And, going back to the hoodie, it must be said that Ronaldo was here on Friday night. Until 3am.

Pics, from the top:
Teenagers of all ages:
Dancing in my living room, these pics include my sister and her husband (43 and 50, respectively), L (early 20s), my Dad (who turns 75 in a week) and me (45); and S (early 30s) and Wren (late 40s). Not pictured but also present at this party and joining in the dancing were my own two children – the only genuine teenagers.
Ronaldo turns 19 (again): here are Johann, me and Ronaldo at his 50th birthday party. (Note Ronaldo's SWAT peak and Che Guevara T.)
Ronaldo revealed: He washes dishes like a Renaissance Man, but his inner teenager just can’t help creeping out (of his pants).
Ronaldo keeps us up all night, and then…: Like any teenager worth his salt, Ronaldo will crash anywhere.

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Tony Park talks sex

Two years ago I posted a little rant about the gratuitousness of literary sex scenes, and in it I fingered (sorry) Australian best-selling author Tony Park for the ghastliness of his in his then-latest book, Zambezi.

I’m glad I did, because Tony and I have ended up very good friends; but I’ll never stop being sorry for the mean-spiritedness of my post – mainly because Tony turned out to be one of the hardest-working, humblest authors I’ve ever met (humility is an extremely uncommon trait among writers). This is a man who takes criticism with an almost eerie cheeriness and whose gigantic success as an author hasn’t changed the fact that he’s a self-deprecating and very funny guy.

He’s now doing a series of podcasts (or ‘Parkcasts’, as he calls them), talking about his books and writing, and in his latest one, ‘The Rude Bits’, I get an honorary mention for my scathing review, and he even punts Open, the South African anthology of erotica I contributed to.

What a mensch.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

BBC programming on DSTV: over, and over, and over again. With repeats.

Here's a fiendish challenge for you. Put yourself in the shiny brown shoes of a BBC programming director. Your job is to decide which BBC documentaries, sitcoms and dramas you will offer those eager TV viewers of South Africa who pay a handsome monthly sum to local satellite-TV company DSTV to view the very best that the British Broadcasting Corporation has to offer.

You may choose from a vast library of excellent television material, stretching back for, say, 50 years.

Please bear in mind that the average South African TV viewer is a hopeless retard has a short attention span, and is too thick to notice repeats appreciates frequent repeats of programmes.

You have three options. Circle the one that seems most appropriate:

1. I'll choose the best eight programmes ever made by the BBC, ever, and I'll repeat them two to three hundred times a year. Those South Africans just crack up when they watch Mr Bean, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, My Family, Father Ted and all the other programmes we made about 500 years ago. Believe me, those tossers just can't get enough of them. For the Lifestyle and Knowledge channels, let's just chuck in old Masterchef and Top Gear re-runs. Oh, and throw those old Jamies, Nigellas and Great British Menus at them too. You never know, they might actually learn something if we repeat these often enough.

2. I think South African audiences have an under-developed sense of humour. How about we help them hone their funny bones by giving four and five hundred repeats per month of Mr Bean, Fawlty Towers, My Family and Father Ted? A light dose, three times a day, of Blackadder will be a real tonic for those boors! On the documentary front, have any of them seen Top Gear? I know this is daring, but could we consider chucking in the 1916 series of Masterchef Goes Large? Also, any thoughts about The Weakest Link? I think we might be able to sell this to viewers, with subtitles. Also, are South Africans ready for Nigella? Or for Ray Mears?

3. Have South African audiences heard of John Cleese? Or Rowan Atkinson? If they haven't, why not? Let's not be judgmental here: it's not their fault they're so geographically isolated! I know I'm pushing the envelope here, but I think you might consider going out on a limb and offering them a little taste - say, three or four hundred re-runs per month, as a starter - of those brilliant BBC classics Blackadder, Mr Bean and Father Ted. To cater for the more cerebral viewer - and please, let's avoid the suggestion that that every South African TV viewer is a knuckle-dragger - how about a couple of hundred re-runs of Masterchef and Great British Menu? PS, I almost forgot Supernanny and jolly old Ray Mears. Goodness knows those Saffers are ready for a good dose of the stiff upper lip!


1. The job is yours.

2. Hey! Welcome to the BBC, dude!

3. Would you like a new Mercedes Benz and a couple of heads of cattle?

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Monday, 11 May 2009

Urban vandals in high heels and track suits

Ugly scrawled graffiti tags are the work of disaffected young hooligans, right? Wrong. Last week, my husband, on a light scamper through the suburbs, came across a well-dressed woman who was supervising a worker on Jan Smuts avenue, close to the Johannesburg Zoo. The worker had a large can of fluorescent spray paint, and was busy spraying big pink marker arrows on the road, close to the yellow line alongside the kerb.

'A little urban graffitti, I see,' quipped my husband.

'It's not!' bristled the woman, directing a laser glare at my husband. 'It's for the runners! There's a training run coming through here soon!'

Oh, so that makes it okay, does it? It's perfectly acceptable for a private individual to buy a can of spray paint and deface a public road?

What's the difference between a lout, let's call him Mr Whateva, who rolls around Johannesburg late at night, in a chemical haze, defacing walls with his spray can, and Mrs Tracksuit, Chairlady of the Road-Marking Committee of the Training Run, directing her minion with his spray can?

You might say, 'Well, there's no difference'.

But there is one important distinguishing characteristic that sets Mrs Tracksuit aside from Mr Whateva. And here it is: you will never, never, hear Mr W calling in to a radio station to complain about litter, taxi-drivers, pot-holes or uncollected rubbish in the city of Johannesburg.

He might be a thick-as-a-brick antisocial misfit, who is still sponging off his parents and driving his relatives wild. He's pond scum. But at least he's consistent about it.

The Mrs Tracksuits of this city, on the other hand, have values that are slightly more nuanced. They loathe taxi drivers who break every rule of the road, but think nothing of wittering on their cellphones while they careen through the suburbs in their Pajeros. They condemn child neglect 'in the townships' but allow their own small children to stand between the front seats of the Paj, unencumbered by any sort of seatbelt, while Mum ramps the speed bumps. They complain about affirmative action 'fat cats' (ie, rich black people) not caring about the poor and downtrodden, and yet live their lives like latter-day Marie Antoinettes.

Sies tog.

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Saturday, 9 May 2009

Who is your role model? (No, really.)

Answer these five questions.

1) Pick your Favourite number between 1- 9

2) Multiply by 3

3) Add 3, then again multiply by 3 (I'll wait while you get the calculator....)

4) You'll get a 2 or 3 digit number....

5) Add the digits together

And your role model is...

1. Einstein

2. Nelson Mandela

3. Jacob Zuma

4. Madonna

5. Bill Gates

6. Gandhi

7. Evita Bezuidenhout

8. Charles Manson

9. Johann Human

10. Barack Obama

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For all us old people

Thanks to T for this.

AAADD: Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the verandah table that I brought in from the mailbox earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, if I'm going through my mail anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my chequebook off the table, and see that there is only one cheque left.
My new chequebook is in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye - they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realise that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:
the car isn't washed
the bills aren't paid
there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter
the flowers don't have enough water,
there is still only one cheque in my chequebook,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,
I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day and I'm really tired.

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For pet lovers

Thanks to Michele for this:

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door

Dear Dogs and Cats:
The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. However, dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximise space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. (Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.)

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't. (2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture. (3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people. (4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they (1) eat less, (2) don't ask for money all the time, (3) are easier to train, (4) normally come when called, (5) never ask to drive the car, (6) don't hang out with drug-using people; (7) don't smoke or drink, (8) don't want to wear your clothes, (9) don't have to buy the latest fashions, (10) don't need a gazillion bucks for college and (11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children

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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Olive Festival’s over for another year

This year my Olive Festival was quieter than previous ones, mainly because financial embarrassment rendered me unable to have my customary Friday Night Olive Festival Kickoff Dinner. Instead, my housemate and winemaker Dean, our friend T (Max's mom) and I spent an evening in kitchen-industry, labelling his wine for sale the next morning. Here they are, hard at work. T was responsible for capping and drying the bottles, Dean did the main labelling, and I did some minor labelling (which was all, apparently, my shaky hands and less-than-eagle-eyes could be trusted with).

And here is our friend Johann, who became very weary after he’d watched us for an hour or so (and it was also tiring for him pointing out all the times Dean put his labels on slightly skew), and had to lie down for a while. That’s Dean’s wine, beautifully labelled and cased and ready to be had for a modest price by discerning drinkers.

The Olive Festival attracts a different crowd each year, and there’s never any telling what that crowd will be. Last year’s, for instance, was a bit yobbish, and there were several instances of fisticuffs and arguments.

This year’s, however, seemed a slightly more salubrious bunch, and although restaurants and bars were very busy and sometimes packed to and beyond capacity, people were good about waiting patiently and being understanding and not moaning when they didn’t get exactly what they wanted at the very instant they wanted it. (Three friends and I waited for two hours to get into Bar Bar Black Sheep, my favourite restaurant in the world – but since I pulled a ‘local’ card and only booked that morning for lunch, the fact that they were able to seat us at all says mountains for how they look after their loyal supporters.)

I was particularly proud of my two children and two of their friends, who worked the three days of the festival. These four teenagers left the house early each morning looking smart and gorgeous, worked their butts off all day, came back for dinner, went out jolling, got to bed at a reasonable hour, and were up early the next morning to repeat the process. Not only did I receive endless compliments on their great intelligence, beauty, charm and the like, but they took to heart my reminder that my house is not a hotel, and left each morning after having made beds and generally cleaned up after themselves. They earned good money, and they deserved every penny of it.

And here is Dean, in after-fiesta-siesta mode (with The Wobbly Dog and Monster Baby in close attendance as usual). This pic was taken at 2am on Monday morning, after we’d done our community duty by attending the village’s wind-down party at a local pub. Much fun was had by all.

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