Friday, February 28, 2014

Off the side of my head

Feeling surprisingly mellow today.   I had a lot of ideas on my mind yesterday that I considered worthy of a good internet Rant but they seem to have slunk off into a dark corner somewhere.  Last night I lay in bed with my lickle Asus watching YouTube and  British comedians taking the piss out of religion ... I ended up having nightmares.  First I was trying to get across a very wide river that had burst its banks, holding onto the grandkids; only to feel one of them slipping away into the water and I couldn't swim fast enough to catch onto the disappearing hand.   Woke up almost crying.  Then I went back to sleep, eventually, and ended up dreaming that my eldest son was being gang-raped by a bunch of children from Ewan's school ... huh?   Jesus!   No really, Jesus ... I'm so sorry I won't watch anything about atheism again, promise.  

It's overcast today, chance of meatballs, although I just had curly fries and a 'southern fried chicken drumstick' from the Co-Op and I think it's given me heartburn and am sure it was cooked round about 13BC.  

It's the weekend!
Be nice to each other. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back ...

from outer space.

It's great to go away and see family, catch a few rays, spend money like water. But it's always better to get home and we have all realised, after this trip to SA, that home is Norfolk.   It was so cool to see Heathrow, drive up through the countryside and not see any wogs, rubbish, hawkers, vagrants hanging around at robots, security fencing, razor wire ...

Gauteng is a shit hole of note, definitely not worth going to on holiday.  It's one big concrete block, there are no recreational places, or areas where you can just go and walk around without getting harrassed, mugged or worse. Where we were living before (in Greenstone Hill, Edenvale), they've put up ANOTHER shopping mall;  more blocks of 'apartments' - a euphemism for slums of the future; two more office parks (because most businesses have to hide inside gated complexes from the criminals).   We were told by our Indian friend, Vinesh, when we went out to dinner at Spur (yum, we missed Spur, can you believe it) that in the next two years they are going to put up a casino complex at Modderfontein (opposite where we stayed in Greenstone Hill), as well as another 10 malls - these have all been put through planning and being developed by Chinese business people.   So we are doubly glad to be out of there and living in the Norfolk countryside.   Pollution in the Kempton Park area is quite bad, we all noticed it driving around.    

It's so expensive in SA - and now that the toll roads are 'working' (har har* see below), the costs are going to rocket even further.   Everywhere we went we were quite alarmed at how much things cost - and when you consider that the exchange rate was definitely in our favour (20 Rand almost to 1 pound), we shouldn't have noticed but we did.  We brought home local newpapers with the consumer retail pull outs that show the costs of groceries etc., so that our UK family (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) can have a read.  

South African retail service at most supermarkets is still non-existent.  I almost came to fisty cuffs a couple of times in Checkers and then again in Pick n Pay.  The only good things about SA, in my opinion, are family-styled restaurants where you get served by a waiter and don't have to carry tons of crap to your table by yourself; and maybe the sunshine (not the sun or the heat).   It was unbearably hot one day when we went through to Pretoria to see the old folks, so muggy-hot sitting in the lounge of their little retirement cottage, I felt as though I would faint or just fall asleep. I do not miss the heat at all.  It was nice to swim in a glittery, crystal blue pool and lounge about in my son's house but next time we go on holiday, we're looking at camping in the wilds of Scotland.  If we go back to SA for a holiday, it will be to the coast (where my son is going to be living), and as far away from shopping malls as we can get. 

* The first group of toll roads that we went through was +- R6 for a couple of hundred metres. The ones on the way to Pretoria, where some of our family live, are over R8 a pop and the gantries are spaced at regular intervals all along the highway, so you are constantly hearing the sensor beep (we were in a hired car with pre-fitted e-tag).  The system is forcing a lot of people to use the old roads, which are, of course, pot-holed and in really bad condition, plus they are dangerous to drive along at night or early morning. 

We understand that the toll fees going down to Durban are in the region of R250 one way. This is what my son said and he went down to Durban from Johannesburg last Sunday to start working at his new job.   That's very similar to what it was a year or so ago ... still ridiculous but bearable.  The expensive tolls are in Gauteng, catching all the commuters.  

The laugh is many people are just not paying e-tolls!  Most folks just have not registered and obtained e-tags for their cars for tolling and many of the private individuals that do have the e-tags in their cars are refusing to pay.  We know of four people in our immediate family circle who have been sent fone sms (texts) demands (illegal, people) for amounts in excess of R1,000 each.   You are given 7 DAYS to pay the amount of the toll from when you go through the gantry.  You don't receive an invoice.  You don't receive a statement. It's a complete scam, so of course nobody is paying.  We were told that Taxis don't pay but the woman who works for my son said that they do have to pay but they are also refusing to pay.  We believe that the only people who might be paying are trucking/hauliage/courier companies and car hire companies.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Off the side of my head - last Friday rant for a couple of weeks (maybe)

Russell Brand - Russell Brand Wants Help For Justin Bieber After Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death

Jumping on the bandwagon
With reference to the above article (you need to read it first, sorry) - I have to posit the unthinkable and say why do drug addicts and alcoholics insist that they are suffering from a 'disease'.   They didn't have this problem when they were children.  Addictions are not diseases; they are life choices gone wrong. And further more ...

You don't pick up alcoholism or drug addiction from unsanitary water, or close contact with other human beings. Alcoholism and drug addiction are not filtered into your life via polluted air, bad eating habits, genetic disorders.   Maybe people who are alcoholics and drug addicts (no, I will not say 'sufferers' either, because that's another politically incorrect euphemism) have become that way (shock, horror!) through their own choices.  Could it be that maybe they need to start taking ownership of their 'problems' and stop bothering the rest of us, who are trying to get through this life WITHOUT resorting to substance abuse.   Maybe the media should start doing massive PR driven stories about people who are actually surviving in Urban Twenty-First Century Life completely drug/alcohol free! What an amazing achievement? How did they do it?!  

Someone like Justin Beiber does not need HELP, he needs a good clap to the side of his head, followed by a stiff dose of cold turkey.  That goes for all other privileged, spoilt-brat, super-wealthy people who choose to off themselves or dangerously mess about with drugs or alcohol.   They should send JB to the army - maybe a couple of years in Syria, Afghanistan - (insert current fucked up country here) - might bring his drug 'problem' into perspective. 

Russel Brand's shares, in my book, have just plummeted a few hundred basis points. He should know better than to pander to this Hollywood bollox.

up the revolution. 
Pass me that spliff.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quantum mechanics 101

"Nana", my four year old grandson says yesterday morning in the car, whilst playing with his Fireman Sam action figures, "Why does the moon not have any gravity?"

Crikey, when I was four I could barely get my head around the concept of Father Christmas. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

4 more sleeps

So the bloody property management chap, Nige (he's a fuckin' legend) didn't come around yesterday because he's poorly.  They are sending his side-kick, Mike, on Thursday and I'm now actually dreading that because this chap will be out to prove he's doing his job properly. Oh well. (As Fleetwood Mac would say) back to the buckets and scrubbing brushes. But first a crispy mini-pork pie and coffee.

Yay!   Four more sleeps until we head off to the Southern hemisphere for some fun in the sun, dodging wayward taxi drivers, the occasional stray bullet, trolley guards, packers at the tills, beggars on the side of the road, window washers at the robots ... can't wait, to be honest.   I'll try and do a few blog posts on me tablet when I'm over there ...' try' being the operative word here.

Faye said the other day when I was helping Ewan get sorted out with one of his super-hero costumes that she thinks I will be ignoring him when we are in SA and slobbering all over Daniel the whole time.  Whilst I am really looking forward to zerberting my new baby grandson on his tummy, kissing him to death and having a play/getting to know him a bit bonding session or two ... no-one can hold a candle to Ewan, he has stolen my heart.  He knows it as well.
He has a habit of coming up to me and saying things out of the blue, that either take my breath away or make me go all warm and fuzzy inside.  I can't remember my sons ever being as sensitive/golden hearted when they were his age.  For example, this morning when we were getting ready to go to school, he says to me in the bedroom, 'Nana I cwied when you wasn't here.'  I said to him, 'What, when I went to Scotland?'.  He says, 'Yes, when you was wiff Auntie Jean and I wasn't wiff you and you was far away and I came to my bed and I cwied.'
Who's going to top that? Huh?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Char for the course

So I took a call from our friendly property manager this morning, politely informing me that he's due for the annual 'house contents/condition' check and more especially so, seeing as we're going to SA for a couple of weeks this coming Sunday evening.*

When we arrived at the house on December 7th (I think it was) 2012, we had to wait around a bit for Nige (he's a fuckin' legend**) to pitch up in his Bentley/Rolls/Merc (Insert up-market car of choice here, can't remember other than it was uber-larney).   He was ever so nice, we all liked him from the start - a short round faced little man with glasses, fat fingers and immaculate dress sense, his long winkel-picker type shoes shone (for Chrissake who's shoes shine these days?!?).   He looked like he'd been scrubbed, dressed, pressed and laundered.    Then he proceeded to walk us through the house with his clipboard and tons of papers that had to be signed in each room.  We had to check EVERYTHING ... and I mean the entire contents of each bare room.    This exercise might not sound like much but when you have to tick off the condition of window sills, window latches, windows, blinds, blind mechanisms, paint surface, radiators, flooring, skirting boards, light fittings, electrical points, cupboard doors, shelving in cupboards and eventually the keys PER ROOM  ... it can get a bit exhausting.  And consider that we'd arrived in the early hours of that morning at Heathrow, had a hell of a time of it trying to get to the hire car depot in the freezing weather, lugging piles of suitcases around and crying children.   We were hungry, tired, wanted KFC/MickyD/whatever takeaway we could find, our blow up mattresses, sleeping bags and doo-doo (in that order).    But we bit our lips, kiddies didn't make too much noise exploring their new surroundings and soon enough, we bid farewell to Nige (he's a fuckin' legend) and we got on with life in Ye Old Blightey. 

He's coming back here tomorrow morning, after I've dropped the kiddies off at school.  So of course, I now have to run around like ... eish, the ousie ... and deep clean the house, cos I don't really know where our Nige (he's a fuckin' legend) is going to poke his nose and clipboard, do I? Innit. 

*  Yep folks ... we leave the United Kingdom on Sunday 9th February via British Airways and arrive in the always tourist-friendly climes of OR Tambo Airport the following morning.   (Just two weeks away, unfortunately).
** Courtesy/Copyright maybe even of Kevin Bloody Wilson