Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yes, I'm calling you liars!

Parenting is the inversion of physics. The warping of chemistry. The undoing of scientific knowledge. The refutation of logic.

Laughable concepts: The nuclear family (word association takes me directly to Hiroshima-styled mental images of devastation). Solo-parenting: I see a half-crazed person balancing on the wing of a bi-plane. In fact, when you talk about parenting and family life, I don’t get some warm smile-crowded Norman Rockwell painting in my head, I get images of a ransacked house, burgled and emptied of all valuables. Physically and emotionally.

That’s where I am right now. You may be post, pre, not interested in or trying to be a parent- those things are all fine for you, collect your goody bag on the way out- I’m just talking about my own expectation versus experience.

I don’t blame them- the three people whose presence and demands give me the role and name of parent. They didn’t ask to be born, and particularly not to this household. There’s more to having them than scrutinizing their facial features for echoes of my own. They need feeding and clothing and stimulation. Very selfish of them.

We’re pretty much out of the being stopped in the malls to be told ‘Your babies are so sweet’. We now get double-takes: What the hell made you do THAT? Am I transferring?

I have read so many Daddy blogs, in which the fathers refer to Thinglet one and two, and how their amusing japes fill the family with endless joy, but rarely a complaining one. I read many Mommy blogs where the moms are collapsing in a state of near-hysteria, ragged and at the ends of their tethers. I’m somewhere in between. There are days when I go to bed smiling and full of pride (as if I somehow shaped their willful personalities into something approaching decency), and others when I lie in bed thinking, damn, this is hard, and feeling slightly stunned- as if I no longer trust myself to say ‘This is who I am’.

I know this is all seasonal, temporary, a fugue state- but it has to make you think about your own parents, perhaps especially your mother (often the more engaged parent in our/my generation), and shake your head in awe.

This isn’t a complaint, just a passing thought, one which will be replaced with elation, excitement, maybe satisfaction during the passing of the day. You could comment here, and say that I’m a great Dad, but you don’t really know that. I could portray myself as that, but it will only ever really mean that if it comes out of three specific mouths.

I love them, they stretch me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Good Clean Adult Fun

Good parents always try to find amusing things for their children to do, things not involving visits to emergency rooms. I know people with special annexes built onto their houses full of toys and crafts. I know them, but I don’t have the urge to emulate them.

We’re going to a wine farm on Saturday. Best place to take the children. They have a play area, so it’s ok. You can do almost any adult activity, and drag the children along, as long as there’s a crappy jungle gym, or a small fenced-off area with a depressed rabbit and a skittish goat. I should sell that idea to nightclubs and cocktail lounges.

Since becoming a father I’ve spent many early evenings grimacing in dreadful family restaurants with play areas. Grimacing as the children run around without their shoes(sorry, kid’s feet stink, too), and ignoring their food. Grimacing as they systematically break every promised answer to the veiled threat that they must be on their best behaviour…. Or else…

Which is why it’s always great to discover somewhere you can go and be an adult- you know- talk in moderated tones and make inappropriate jokes, somewhere with a place for the children to practice their torturously repetitive brand of sibling rivalry out of earshot.

When you have one reasonably compliant child you don’t mind dragging them everywhere, even though people are offering to babysit. When you have three energetic kids with the attention span of social networking addicts, those babysitting offers dry up, and you have to improvise. You can’t aim for a complete balance, because of all the variables involved:

Good Venue+2x Whining Children= 20% fun
Bad Venue+3x Reasonably Behaved Children= 20% fun
Expensive Venue+3x “Those Are YOUR Genes” Children= 100% hell
Cheap Venue+3x Perfect Angels= 100% heaven*

*This is just to taunt you: This last scenario does not exist outside of blogs belonging to pathological liars.
You can drive yourself mad trying to weigh up the best combinations, so I won’t bother. Tomorrow it’s going to be:

Wine+Who Cares About the Children?= Near Perfection.

I never claimed to be a good father, but wine helps.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My other, better half

I am convinced I was once a conjoined twin. I have evidence. A scar, about the size needed to share a portion of liver and maybe a hemisphere of brain tissue is on my arm.

I’m just waiting for the medical archive records to be comprehensively available online: I’ll be there- Baby XYZ, and his sibling, ABC.

The scar is there, but also the emotional evidence. My mother always claimed that the middle child (I am allegedly the middle of three boys) misses out on things, herself being used as an example. So I got encouraged in all sorts of unhealthy activities. I’m sure these were to attempt to distract me from my sense of loss- where did my twin go?

She did tire of me approaching her with a magnifying glass to ask her to explain each blemish on my damaged flesh, and managed to hold the secret to the grave. My dad just has no idea, and would happily admit that he had seen me vacuumed up into the mother-ship to be probed nightly for two years, if he thought it would shut me up.

I think it’s time for the other guy to come forward. You’ve clearly taken more than your fair share of lung, judging by my excessive coughing, and you also took the part of my head where self-confidence and general joy live.

Are you out there? Imposter? A parallel me with opposite scars? Do you think it’s funny that my one leg is about .5mm shorter than the other? (I measure it daily, to remind myself of what I have lost). Did you get to become a famous explorer and heir to millions? Did you get to have a pet dog that wasn’t taken to the pound within three days and euthanized? Did you have to cannibalize me, did you?

I know you had no say in this, but now is your chance. You can come forward, hell, take over from me if you want. I’m tired. I need someone just like me, only better, to come and fill in for a while. Dear twin, please come. But stay the heck away from Neen. We may be ex-conjoined twins, but we’re not that close.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Burlap Sack Threat Continues

I should have thought this cat thing out more carefully. She’s starting to take over the house. Everything is hers. I’ve tried staring purposefully into her eyes and intoning ‘I am the bosssss’, but I suspect that only works with ill-bred dogs and chimpanzees with low self-esteem. You only need to get mounted and beaten once by a silverback gorilla to learn that eye contact is a bad concept.

I thought I could handle cats- having once lived in a commune with a bondage-obsessed filmmaker and his varying felines. One cat in particular seemed to like to claim the telephone handset as hers, as she frequently marked it with urine. One, I’m almost certain, was a lynx posing as a housecat, and had a growl deeper than Amy Winehouse after a rough night.

But Dizzy is not playing the game. She needs to get out, kill things. It’s just not relaxing to sit rewatching the Godfather, and have a cat silently leap onto your groin with claws extended. That little trick wears very thin, very fast. The children have taken to standing still in the hope that they won’t be attacked, although James claims he has been attacked 107 times (as of this morning). Hannah refuses to get dressed in the same room as the cat, and Jonah has gone from happily kicking the tiny kitten, to having his feet mauled while he sleeps.

A kitty meowing is very cute, once or twice, but not constantly for up to five hours. She loves to do leg-slalom while I am carrying coffee, and has let to learn that humans do not share food off their plates with cats. (Apart from sick humans, who die alone in houses piled high with old newspapers and happy meal toys).

Our security company is charging nearly four hundred rand ($50) to adjust the alarm system so that the cat won’t set it off. Surely it could have been set like that initially? How many cats –despite the reputation- do actually burgle? What would they steal? Cushions with tuna appliqués?

But I’m not giving up. I will not hand over my crown just yet. (Note: Neen actually keeps the crown, but she allows me to play dress-up and pretend sometimes). I will master this kitten, domesticate her. She’ll be my tiny furry slave. Or know my wrath. I’m terrible at wrath- not such a good look on me. Ire is better.

Take two after meals, forever...

Imagine if the pharmaceutical companies all stopped manufacturing anti-depressants this afternoon at two pm. We’d be ok for maybe a month, and then all hell would break loose. It seems to me that most of the people I meet are medicated. I don’t mean that critically- just an observation. I get it. I live in constant anxiety and swinging moods. I don’t take pills, yet.

But, I can understand why: We have to have these jobs, these houses, these bills. We have to answer emails, generate emails and keep up with everyone else. I don’t mean the Jones’s- who can do that anymore? The Jones’s have a different phone every day, and 10 000 friends on facebook and twitter, and are linkd in to every damn social network you could care to name.

The Jones’s have a mansion which is paid off, ten children with even tempers and suspiciously good manners. Mrs Jones doesn’t work. She doesn’t need to. They are happy… too happy. They go on holidays together, and never use bad language. They lack for nothing, and are generous to charities.

I don’t know anyone like that. My friends, online and otherwise, spend their days with the rats of debt gnawing at their hems, wondering just how long they can keep their children from becoming a sordid newspaper headline, or, wondering if they’ll ever be able to conceive. They can’t get relationships off the ground, or, if they are off the ground, keep them in the air. They know babies are cute, but sleeplessness and added pressures of looking after another human when they feel so out of control causes even more anxiety. The cooking and cleaning never stops, and entertainment is just more pressure to perform in front of people who seem to have it all. They harbour fantasies of living in huts in the semi-desert, growing cabbage to eat, and working online without having to deal with colleagues and bosses.

If the pills stopped, where would we be? Would we be opting out, heading for the nearest cliff like suburban lemmings? Would we be weeping and gnashing our teeth, attacking each other? If the pills stopped, there would be infanticide, patricide, fratricide, suicide, general, er, cide. Or maybe not.

Think you have what it takes to survive a pill-free future- or does the thought of that make you shiver in fear?

My own take on pills: If they can help you to function, then why not take them? I don’t judge people who take anti-depressants, although I have met people who think they are in some way shameful. People not unlike the Jones’s. I want you to be happy, as happy as you can possibly be. I like happy people. Anxiety, depression, fear, hopelessness, sadness, nothingness: If those things can be controlled by pills, then pop away.

I could care less if you think me irresponsible for saying that, or for not mentioning ‘under the supervision of a mental health professional’. We’re not stupid, just depressed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parties, pills, puking and parenting

Feels like I’ve gone to the lab at the university where undergraduates get to create new hallucinogenic drugs to sell to their buddies, and, as part-time work, stick samples of rampant super-viruses in test tubes, and watch them turn different colours.

The hell that is a nuclear family in winter is this: Somebody on the ground floor of the building coughs, and microscopic spores are sucked into the vents. In what would be an amazingly short amount of time, if it wasn’t so lethal, they arrive on my upper lip, jostling for space amongst the random grey hairs which appear to grow hydroponically these days in my nostrils.

Having been inhaled, they go straight to my throat and chest, and hold little gossip-sessions in my joints. I feel bad. I go home, crash, and go back to work within a few hours.

The problem is this: One child will spontaneously, and colourfully, sneeze the contents of their head all over their breakfast. Their temperature will shoot up to something our crappy flawed thermometer fails to register. Their eyeballs will roll around in their heads like an exorcist extra, and they will slump to the floor.

At which point Neen and I will have to negotiate who has the least amount of hell to mine at work, or else drag the father-in-law out of bed, so that the sickly kid isn’t left to chew their fingers down to the knuckles, or develop a weird fetish such as ingesting their own hair.

By the end of the day, they’ll be fine, but then it will be child number two’s turn. You get the picture. Any of these kinds of illnesses work like this- a family of five can be out of commission for a month. And Neen and I end up taking leave from work to sit around watching daytime TV.

These colds and things are dreadful, but one step down from the entire family having a stomach bug, simultaneously. We have one toilet. You can boil your hands in oil, but if one of us gets sick, we all will.

By the time we are more or less healthy, we have so much washing to catch up with, that we don’t leave the house. We don’t visit other families for fear of passing on the viruses and plagues. We live alone, encrusted in our snot, our skin covered in sores, our house a place of quarantine marked with a biohazard symbol.

I guess now would be a bad time to suggest a wild Cape Town blogging-community party? It seems the Joburgers have a regular thing going on, but we in Cape Town have only our mountain to brag of, and that gets a bit anti-social after a while. “Suuuure, we have no life, no friends- but check out that mountain!”

Any takers?

Monday, May 25, 2009


My brother told about something that happened to him last year which kinda sums up the way I am with money:

He lives in London, and decided that it would be a good idea to get a scooter to zip around the city on. So, the best place to look for a scooter is the internet, right. Nothing extravagant, just a good used scooter to get from A to the nearest Bar. So surfing, surfing surfing- he sees a scooter, but you know how the internet works: There’s always something else on the page… A slightly bigger, better bike. So he’s getting into this- why should he ride a little scooter, when a big bike is that much safer, and really not that much more expensive. Surfsurfsurf. Perhaps a really good bike, in case he wants to do holidays in Europe- cheaper than hotels- in fact, he’s be saving… Surfsurfsurf… Eventually, he finds himself on the phone to a guy named Zeke in Arizona, haggling over the price of a giant mother-of-all-motorbikes, chopped-down, souped up, airbrushed, low-rider. Zeke’s got the bike ready to go, all John needs to do is ship it to the UK. At which point he realises what’s happened: He’s gone from wanting a little scooter, to lusting after the baddest hog on the planet, all by clicking a few internet links. He never did get a motorbike.

But I do that, too. Start by saying, oh, self, you deserve a treat, maybe a magazine, you know, something small. And then window shop until I’ve convinced myself that I deserve seven books, five CDs and maybe a new phone. Just before I spend all that money, I realise I’m way over what some people naively call a budget, and can safely pare down to double what I’d originally intended to spend. (Usually qualifying expenses by saying that they were on sale- as if this somehow nullifies the actual money spent on them).

But it’s easy to escalate. Start off the evening by saying you’ll just have a wee glass of wine to relax, and end up by showing off your breakdancing moves to your dismayed friends. That’s just an example not in any way based on fact. Ok? I’m not very good at restraint. I don’t have a poker face or a poker wallet- I’m more of a yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Let’s gooooooooooooo! Type. And then a Noooooooooooo!!!! What have I dooooooooooone! Type, when the thrill is gone, or the bank account is as empty as a beauty queen’s commitment to saving the world.

I’m not too unhappy with myself for this- I know that I miss out on the sober joy of saving up for things and enjoying the sense of self-discipline. I’m prone to making an idiot of myself in public, but rather that than being so self-controlled that life becomes an endless procession of predictabilities. Having a wife does help to put a catch in my thought processes, so I can’t go completely nuts, which is good, but it’s also fun to do crazy stuff once in a while. Just don’t give me a challenge- I’m too competitive for that.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You never know how it will turn out

Pleasant middle-aged evening: We’re at the stage when we no longer get invited to weddings (the next generation is waiting in the wings to do that), and few of our friends are giving birth (except, rather publically, Tertia) but quite a few are having their marriages implode, explode or just erode.

So we spent last night with three fifths of a family we used to be incredibly close to. It was still great- he’s a lovely guy to chat to, and his children get on with ours- they’ve grown up together.

We’re in the difficult position of not wanting to appear too partisan in our friendship- we are Switzerland, in a sense, although his wife pretty much left him for reasons we completely disagree with. It’s nasty when that happens- we have to renegotiate the friendships, and try not to act as intermediaries for any personal stuff.

There are a couple of situations like that happening around us, and it is depressing to watch these families sub-dividing, becoming single-parent structures. Knowing that their finances are going pear-shaped, and that they are also going through hell personally.

Before you think I’m acting incredibly proud, Neen and I have had our share of challenges. You get married saying pointless things like “Divorce is not an option”, and picture dying simultaneously while holding hands (polite way of putting it) at the age of 95. We’ve been through some crappy times, but we are committed to making it work, so I hope we manage to navigate our way through all the pressure and stress ahead.

I can’t imagine trying to break up the jigsaw that is our marriage, figure out which of us gets to take which pieces. They are all linked, and meaningless on their own.

As it is, most of our friends are virtual- so we’d have to divide our followers and blogrolls, add bypass links and password protected posts. Seems like too much work…

Making light of it: Broken relationships are dreadful, and I salute any of you who are single parents, divorced parents, or just newly single or divorced without children. Or married, and clocking in to a marriage which is difficult to define, as it revolves around tidying, parenting and work. The grass aint greener, I’m sure.

So: If you read this blog, and you fantasize that I have a perfect marriage, or that our children are like a feel-good TV commercial- it isn’t so, but we do have a good thing. We just need reminding sometimes.

(Neen- You are a great mother to the pitbulls, and a great wife to me, despite me challenging you, all the time… xxx)
(**Photo circa 1989- 20 years under our belts, hey, Neen!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Exploring the World of the Nipular

It’s quite chilly here these days- you can never be sure how to dress. Get to work, do the onion thing, peel off the layers. The natural progression in thought is: Why do men have nipples?

The second thought is: Can the people opposite me see me trying to photograph mine?*

The third is: I hope those aren’t stored on the harddrive somewhere.

But really, why? I do recall sleepy babies in the summer months not opening their eyes, and trying to feed from me, but soon giving up.

I remember the more vindictive children at school twisting them as a ‘joke’. (I mean, not just mine, it was a phase they went through). Ha ha. Not.

I’m not a runner, but I’ve heard that male runners have to put tape over them to stop chafing.

I have watched bullies mock fat men about man-boobs.

I’ve seen them drawn on superhero costumes, and cast in bronze on the finest statuary. Lovingly painted in oils by Old Masters.

Yet no-one seems to know what they are for. Apparently, in the womb, by the time the male hormones kick in, the nipples are already formed. That sounds a bit like back-up-boobies to me.

It just comes as a surprise to notice them sometimes. There I am shaving my chin, and I’ll suddenly see them, just chilling in their nipply way. Hmm, I’ll think, there they are, my pointless nipples.

Given that there are people out there attracted to all sorts of deviancies, I have no doubt that there are individuals with some kind of male nipple thing going on, but I am not one.

They completely ruin a t-shirt on a cold day. Maybe there really could be a market for male stikinis- to smooth down unwanted erectile tissue? Anybody biting on that idea?

Didn’t think so.

I think it’s time we all got back on the bus and drove away from this part of the package tour to the body, wouldn’t you agree?

*Note: No nipple photographs will appear here, ever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Which nose would you pick?

If you’d prefer not to partake in some oversharing (little too late, but anyway), then click on that little red ‘x’ to the top right of your screen.

I pick my nose. Not for entertainment, in the same way that some people on the train do, or to pass the time, the way some people do while paused at traffic lights; I pick out of necessity.

I’m sure you’d rather I did that, discreetly, than be forced to watch a greenish chunk whiffling around in a nostril-breeze. Nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who doesn’t know (or-perish the thought-care) that they have the entire contents of their sinuses pretending that it’s Christmas Eve and their nose is being entered in a most-decorated competition.

What do you say to people like that? Do you just get out a tissue and slide it across to them while using body language to point out the offending article? Or do you just reach over and wipe?

Having lived with three seeping faces for years now, I can safely attest that children have no sense of shame when it comes to bogies. Giant walrus fangs of snot go unnoticed. But they also tend to end up on the sides of chairs, trouser legs and brand new furniture throws.

I do get snotty. I have allergies *coughs, geekily*, and I have made the move from tissues to handkerchiefs. Or bogey-collection rags. Whatever- they do the job. Tissues just end up spangling the washing when they get left in pockets. Nothing worse than kissing your wife, and your nose starts running- having to try and inhale constantly to reverse the, er, tide…

But the point is this: Everybody considers it poor form to pick your nose, but really, it is so much better than just allowing a crust the size of the Swiss Alps to form on your upper lip. As long as you do it in private- which is pretty much the rule for most bodily functions. Or at least make sure your webcam is turned off, first.

Dedicated to ExMi and Neen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sensual Side

Time and place are very important. In order to fully experience life, you have to engage sensually, all five, maybe six senses. But there are right times to do that, and, well, less right times.

Love the sound of gravel crunching under my feet, but not when those feet are naked, and I’m trying to have a shower: Cat litter trays do not belong in the bathroom. Likewise, the piney fresh spray being issued every thirty seconds does not quite mask the scent of kitty faeces.

It’s great to have the feeling of sand between your toes, but not when you’re in bed, trying to undo three days of sleepless nights. Thank you, son number three, for taking off your shoes on my side of the bed.

The earthy smell of potatoes can evoke sprawling fields of brown and green under azure skies, but a sack of potatoes left in the back of the cupboard until liquefied smells like something John Wayne Gacy would have left in a crawlspace under his house.

You’ve just realised your baby is going to vomit, so you go up close to lift them up and carry them to the bathroom. Never look up with your mouth open while you carry them over your head as they release their stomach contents. Just don’t.

What moves us to look at things like crime scenes and car wrecks? Would you rather: A) Watch a tulip unfurling in the neonate wards of spring, or B) See what appears to be an ex-human disturbingly without a head?

And the sixth sense is most worrying of all: I can’t be alone in saying phrases like ‘But I thought you wanted to…’ or ‘I just got the wrong idea’, or ‘You seemed to be the kind of person who would appreciate that sort of humour’.

I’m terrible at projecting thoughts into other people’s minds. You wouldn’t believe how wrong I can get it: Look- I’ll try and read yours…. You are thinking about…. Wait…. It’s coming to me… I have absolutely NO idea.
I’d say, a penny for your thoughts, but, A) What the hell good is a penny, and B) If you are reading this, your thoughts can’t be too deep, anyway.

In cyberspace, no-one can hear you burp

Sometimes physical contact is good. Not just sumo wrestling with a preferred partner in private, but just the added warmth of being able to shake someone’s hand, look at their facial expressions.

My colleague is away at the moment; in fact, he has been travelling for about three out of the last four months, and won’t come back until June. It’s just us in the office, so, I come in to the office in the morning, sit at my desk, and then go home at the end of the day. Sometimes I get to speak to people on the phone, but some days… nothing.

While Neen was away it was very odd. I’d be alone all day, then go home to the children, who are not great conversationalists, and then go to bed, not having spoken a single word to another adult (apart from a brief ‘hello’ to the caregiver at handover time).

I can email, tweet, chat and skype people, but it is never the same. This virtual world, where you can converse with someone in Germany in real time with a video link is still a lonely place.

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer solitude. But clearly (telling you this being evidence), it is good to have contact with other humans. Loners in species designed to be pack animals never do very well.

It’s great that people can reach out to you over the internet, tell you they care, or are thinking about you, but it’s very hard to download a casserole, or smell a virtual flower sent by a loved one.

I hope I’m not losing the ability to make small talk, or gaining the ability to inappropriately emote when I meet people. I’m not quite at the point of retraining myself from hugging the newspaper guy, or weeping on the shoulders of the office doorman, but I do miss people. I can almost imagine what it must be like to live in some remote desert, or tucked into a bat-infested cave.

That said, I enjoy hearing you, meeting you, reading you, watching you in a perfectly legal way, although there is an element of voyeurism in the virtual world. (No, man, not sites with strange rubber suits and credit card facilities- I mean, just picking up on how and why people live their lives). There's a whole crowd of you out there, and it's fun picking out your faces sometimes.

I enjoy the children, mostly, and Neen is back, so we can also chat like adults in the evenings. The sumo stuff remains private. Don’t you hate it when your sumo sash gives you a wedgie? Ok, see, that’s one of the dangers- giving out Too Much Information, or learning it, on the internet. You should keep your friends close, and your virtual friends… maybe not so close.

Is there a distinction between real and virtual friendship? Maybe I should post my address, and you can all send me gifts, and then we’ll all be real friends. In the meantime, here’s a virtual high-five, and an air-kiss for you all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mmmm, cockroach by-products on toast

Often in life, it comes down to PR. All over the news, we’re hearing about a global bee tragedy. The theory that when bees disappear, the world is doomed is clearly causing no small amount of anxiety.

But they’ve had a good run, bees. Yes, they make honey and wax, and make cute motifs on baby blankets, but they are just insects. Insects with stings. Insects that swarm and can kill people. All the toast smeared with golden honey in the world is not going to save me from hating the pants off them if I collapse in a suffusion of pustulating flesh after a bee attack.

Ever heard of people being chased and killed by cockroaches? Exactly. While Baby Gap are unlikely to use roach-themed fabric for their summer range, there’s a lot to be said for these resilient little bugs.

One of the few facts I remember from high school biology (apart from the birds and the OTHER bees), is that cockroaches can dorsiventrally flatten themselves. So they can squeeeeze into very compact places. Wouldn’t you like to be able to do that? Much more interesting than dancing in figure-eights and filling up my knees with pollen. Also, cockroaches can apparently survive for years just eating the glue off postage stamps. Bees? not so much.

Apparently there is a plague of bed bugs in the US at the moment. According to National Geographic specials, as far as I can remember, they live in every bed, anyway. It’s not like you can autocratically decide to rename them curtain bugs, and force them to leave. They like beds! Imagine if you were summarily executed for just living where you’ve always lived. Maybe we should look at buying more beds to accommodate them. Bunk up, guys!

I know I’m not winning you over- most of you have seen the Bee Movie, and are suckers for the stripy-jacketed thugs, and that’s ok. Just remember, in literature, there is an historical precedent for human beings getting it wrong:

Boo Radley, in To Kill a Mockingbird is not a psychopathic killer.
But, how many books have you read where the killer is just the ordinary guy-next-door?

Time will prove me right. (And, hopefully, roaches will acquire the ability to read, and I shall be King Roach, master prophet of all things which live under the bed).

Thanks, Brandy101 for the heads up on bed bugs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This came from 99% perspiration

What was that Paul Young song in the 80’s? Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you? It’s inevitable, really. There can’t help but be transfer of trace elements- There’d be no CSI series without that fact. Fibres, dust, tiny particles of skin and hair, and, of course, sweat.

You may call it perspiration, in the spirit of my mother, who used to say that a ‘lady doesn’t sweat, she glows’. Well, I, for one, glow like a pig. The biggest fear for me in interviews is not what I will or won’t say, but will my hands be clammy? The more I try to will myself not to, the more anxious I get, and the more I sweat.

So, you interview me, you’d better want a piece of me, because you are going to get one (or some fluid ounces, anyway).

Imagine how much sweat is left in places like examination rooms, dentist’s waiting rooms, on the arms of one-armed-bandits in casinos, inside motorbike helmets, on tools and handles of every description, and on the small of a dance-partner’s back. On a tight-rope walker’s wire, in a ballerina’s shoes, on steering wheels, in hospital beds, in jail cells and on witness stands. In stadium change-rooms, in restaurant kitchens, on keyboards and the computer mouse, on bunches of keys, on new girlfriend or boyfriend’s hands, on cinema seat armrests, on banisters and elevator buttons.

It’s a wonder we aren’t all drowning in the stuff.

Anyone else want to go and wash their hands? Just watch out for that tap.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Husbands Symphony: First Movement

Perfect people don’t go to the toilet. Hollywood proves it. Disney confirms it. Think back to the movies: If, and that’s a rare occurrence- probably some ‘out there’ art-house-independent film company, you see a toilet in a movie, it’s because there’s a body next to it. You may, if you are into that kind of film, see a man relieving himself on a tree or in an alleyway (also next to a corpse), but not in a toilet.

Mafia movies: The focus is never on the urinal, but the bloody showdown about to take place. Likewise, action movies: there’s a drug deal about to take place, or a line about to get snorted.

Ever seen a Disney animal crouching on the lawn to have a bowel movement, or a human walking around with a poop scoop? I’m no David Attenborough, but I have seen plenty of wild animals, and they seem to have an endless supply. They seem to save it up for my visits to the zoo, or leave it on the leafy paths in the local forest. The zoo does not smell like roses, that’s for sure. Farms? A visit to the farm is accompanied by scraping green and brown stuff out of the tread of your shoes.

But that’s ok: just part of experiencing nature.

All you have to do is see the flat-eared look a cat gets in the litter box to know that it’s a natural desire for us to be out of the sphere of attention when we go to the loo. I, personally, can attest to the feeling of protestation when you discover that a parent can no longer be guaranteed a few minutes of alone time. Despite knowing that your children need constant attention, you still desire those few minutes to let your body work.

I can vividly remember the first uncomfortable weeks of marriage- living in a small space. No longer able to hold it in, knowing that you will have to make a trip at some point. Trying to encourage your new spouse to take a walk. Waiting for a noisy commercial break on TV, or running a bath to conceal the noises.

Some couples, and we are NOT one of them, are happy to have an ‘open-door’ policy when it comes to abluting. I don’t get it. To me, nothing quite kills the tiny hint of mystery I like to cling to, than knowing that a person is about to go to the toilet, or worse, what they have done there. Not Neen. She never goes to the toilet.

I think I’ll install a Do Not Disturb widget on this page. You can let me know when you need to be alone, and I won’t disturb you. I’ll do it later, though. Right now, there’s something I need to do. Brb.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It was the best of times, and the worst...

We live in a schizophrenic society in South Africa. Maybe that sounds harsh, or negative. There is a dichotomy that exists that is, on the one hand incredibly beautiful, and on the other deeply tragic.

Much of it comes from the hangovers of the past, for which there has been no instant-bloody-mary cure. No hair of the dog. No breakfast beer. The hangover just mutates and never seems to shake the tremors and anxieties and paranoia of the night before.

It’s too much to give all the credit for the best in South Africa to Nelson Mandela: The sense of community has always been there, and will remain here, and he tapped into that as the country tentatively went on those getting-to-know-you dates in the early 90’s.

But here we are: Facing horrific poverty, crime, drug abuse, gender violence and child abuse. Murder. Rape. And yet we stay here. We choose to. I hope that we can remain optimists, rather than survivors. That when we celebrate, and the world wonders why, they will see that we are a nation joined by tragedy and hope.

Here’s the reason for this reflection:

Yesterday, friend Tertia (famous blogger) gave birth to her son, Max, that in itself part of an ongoing miracle for her. And the sense of community is so great that the communal celebration pushed it into the top three Twitter trends in the world. #MaxDay was, for me, what represents the best in South Africa- a people who are capable of empathy and joy, and who show no reserve in that.
See the articles and links for more information:

And the worst of South Africa? Also picked up on Twitter- a blogging friend sent a message saying her friend’s father had gone missing. That his car had turned up. Could we help find him? And today she tells us that his body was found. This may be conjecture, but it is conjecture based on wide experience: I’m almost certain he was killed in a hijack/murder. I’ll of course retract that if it isn’t true, but it happens, hmm, every week? Day? People die for cellphones, cars, cigarettes, ten bucks, a pair of shoes... Certainly, South Africa has the highest per capita rape rate in the world- The Guinness Book says so. To our shame. And those are reported rapes, not the ones concealed for reasons of embarrassment, fear or shame.

Yet we can celebrate together, sometimes. We like it when our sports teams win. But that isn’t enough. Sport dominates the headlines in a way that dishonours the people of this country, that almost undermines our corporate mourning.

The sun rises over Africa, and shines on the South, and sometimes it is eclipsed by what can only be described as evil. But we know it will not set beyond the horizon never to rise again. We will wait for the morning with hope in our hearts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cold Brown Sea

There’s a storm coming this weekend. Love those. There can’t be a better feeling than sitting in a car in Sea Point watching the waves defeat the sea wall. You have to be able to run for cover, though. Storms are crappy for at least two million Capetonians.

Still, to be on the rocks, or huddled away at Kalk Bay sipping coffee while the elements do their dawn of creation thing is pretty impressive.

Nothing better than walking on the beach in winter, feeling the wind on your head/in your hair. I’ve never really ‘got’ that poem, footprints, though. I’d feel more than slightly disturbed if phantom footprints appeared next to mine. I like my beaches predictable: The soft crunch of the wet sand, the plosive suction of the barely-concealed dog poo.

City beaches aren’t great for beachcombing. I look for shells, or interesting pieces of wood I want to pretend are sculptures, but really they are just useless chunks of wood that end up on the braai, but invariably find less interesting (apart from their potential lethality) objects, like syringes, broken bottles and sagging remnants of frantic family planning.

I’ll avoid Kalk Bay this weekend: apparently the sewer is leaking raw sewage in to the sea next to the Brass Bell (is cooked sewage any better? Mental note- never find out).

(apologies to John Masefield and Spike Milligan):
I must go down to the sea again
The lonely sea and the sky
There’s a hillock of stinking faeces there
Nearly three feet high.

Am I the only person in the world for whom the movie Jaws tainted beaches forever? Nothing will stop me from being convinced that I’m going to be the idiot unlucky enough to stumble across body parts nestling at the water’s edge.

But that’s all part of the thrill, right?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Doubleyou-oh-em-ay-en. Beeyatches rawk!

I’d love to be a woman. There. I’ve said it. *What a release!* Women are cool. Yaaaaay women! Call me your male cheerleader. I’m hoping that I get to be invited to join the sorority someday. You know- in the same way that middle-aged rockstars get asked to receive honorary doctorates from the universities in their home towns, for no better reason than some column inches in the local freesheet.

I can be a feminist, can’t I? Compare, briefly, if you will:
Would you rather: get to chat to all your friends in the public loos at the mall, or
Be cottaged (ref: George Michael/al fresco urinals) by complete strangers?
Talk about the gameplays in the latest tournament of whatever whogivesastuff sport using limited vocabulary, or use your own invented words?
On that note: It irks me that, as a man, I can’t use words like ‘Meh’, Wah’ or ‘Mwah’- which is oddly not a combination of both. Very envious about that.
So, to continue: Dads get to do horsey rides, make body noise jokes and impress by making fires, but Moms get to form lifelong bonds which reach down to a child’s inner core, and somehow involving breasts to achieve that. My breasts are strictly decorative.
Women get to bond on a visceral level- it may have something to do with the trials of menses, but maybe not- Men aren’t invited to discuss that. Men bond on beer and, well, more beer.

I don’t want to actually want to wear women’s clothes, however, jAdd Imageust have the fringe benefits…

Women Rock!

An Aside:
My virtual buddy Blaine asked me to do a guest post on his satirical co-operative blog, Diary of Fools. He wanted me to introduce the world at large to the vomitorium that is South African politics. In particular the recent elections. I agreed, greedy for attention. Then, as the days wore on, realized I was incapable of writing about a government which is self-satirizing. It would involve some research, which would involve frustration to the point of firing a small handgun into the monitor and burying it in the garden. My government. They claim that crime, AIDS and xenophobia don’t exist. The only laugh that produces in me is the sort that you get when you are burying a family member, and you irrationally think of the way they used to fart after meals.

My public apology, Blaine, for not following through.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I said I want to hear like I could IN the eighties, not in MY eighties

Chiffticcachiffticcachiffticca- Thanks for that, my pre-deaf commuting friend. You may have an ipod, but you will join me with the rest of the post-sony-walkman ‘huh?-ers’ in twenty years time, unless you crank your volume down a few notches. In walkman days (mid-eighties), you had your bootleg tapes in nifty bags strapped to your side, those bite-sized earphones slipping charmlessly off your gelled and bleached flicked fringe, and the tinny reproduction of your records was enough to get you through a long day until Who’s the Boss or The Golden Girls came on.

To this day, there are records which I have never listened to in their entirety. The cassette tapes were always too short- so, being economical, I’d have to leave out a song or two, and fit two almost-albums on one tape. I wonder if they were good songs?

In Cape Town, people carried huge ‘beat-boxes’ around on their shoulders- in the eighties, bigger was better- massive sound systems which nowadays would be used to power triple-storey nightclubs, or a Jonas Brother’s gig.

This was before the widespread health and safety panics of the late eighties- no packaging warnings then. You could crank up the sound in your earphones, and, well, it was taken for granted that if you did that you’d go deaf. Sure, carrying a tape-deck the size of a teenager’s coffin was going to ruin your shoulder ligaments, but it was worth it for the adoring glances of the chick in the fluorescent halter top, or the frightened retreating backs of the 8-track generation.

In those days, you could walk on escalators with sandals, smoke cigarettes with any orifice you chose to, and give a child under the age of five a packet of fireworks and a Swiss Army knife for their birthday.

*TV programmes poked fun at fat people, retarded people, midgets, yellow people, black people... Remember ‘Diff’rent Strokes’? Babes could be happily categorised as male playthings. *(Deliberate use of non-pc words, ok?)

How did any of us survive the eighties? Why am I not being pushed around in a wheelchair, trying to crank up my hearing aid so that I can hear minorities/frequently targeted abusees in any form cry when I hurl abuse at them?

Perhaps I was saved by the politically correct generation. Maybe I just made it. It was a close call, but I know better than to judge my human sidekicks based on skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, or physical challenge of any sort.

If I was more litigious, I’d take the eighties to court, for making me have bad hair, ringing ears and for wearing those little Japanese pumps that were in fashion for a while. But, and this is a lesson we can all learn from, no matter what generation, photographs can be burned, or, even better, nowadays, adjusted to suit a more genteel way of life.

Gnarly, hey?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not a poem by the anagrammatical Toilets.

Anyone know how to sex a kitten? Always wanted to say that in polite company. Sex, sex, sex.

We just acquired the last of Sister-in-laws brood (not her personal brood, but one of her cats- no unmarried-woman-with-cats comments here, hey Bee?)

I forced the children to accept a name other than ‘Brownie’, which is an entirely suitable name for a little girl selling cookies, but not a noble feline. So. Heshe has a name- a good name for a transvestite torch singer: Dizzy.

It’s almost impossible to know whether or not she’s male or female: She doesn’t yet have a hankering for body products or Grey’s Anatomy, nor does he like to make crude jokes about farts at family gatherings. At the moment, heshe likes to cower behind furniture and appliances, making a sound like heshe has just been sat on.

Can’t say I’m ready for this: With a goldfish or a rat (our previous forays into animal keeping), the commitment was temporal. (In the case of fish, it was temporal to the point of lasting less time than it takes for an avocado to go soft). Cats can live for years, and happily shred the furniture and the lining of your nose. Already I have allergies to the point of coughing bloody phlegm, which is nice.

So. Any advice would be good. Guess I’ll be staring at her/his nether regions trying to look for fleshy nubbins of one sort or another. I suspect she is a she: She loves to curl up on the couch and give me a fiendish look: ‘You loooooose, sucker’, and I’m convinced she meowed that she couldn’t possibly have another portion of amusing fish-shaped biscuits, and she is definitely anti-photos.

In Honour of the Underdog of Body Parts

We all have them. Chances are, you are sitting on yours right now. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there. I’m sitting on mine. In fact, that is one of the more useful tasks it performs, apart from making sure my legs are attached by something more substantial to my top parts.

It’s saved me from terrible injuries while ice skating, doing amateur gymnastics and climbing (falling out of) trees. It has required very little maintenance over the years, and adds more comfort to my life than a thousand home-cooked meals.

It’s my bottom/butt/ass/bum.

Different names depending on different company, I guess.

It has very rarely let me down, apart from some unmentionable stuff over the years. Chances are, because you have one too, you’ll know the ways in which a bum can disappoint you, too. Particularly if you’ve ever been pregnant, or eaten dodgy lukewarm food from the local café. (No, those lightbulbs do NOT provide enough heat to prevent tiny organisms multiplying and rebelling against the other contents of my stomach).

It’s supported me through school, movies and jobs, seldom complaining. It’s cushioned me through plays and lectures. It has tolerated bicycles and fences, and withstood being caned by teachers and bitten by dogs. (Yes, plural). It has been in very cold weather, icy seas and also glowing heat. It has been exercised and rested, and has remained roughly the same shape.

I may be short on real friends, but I’ll always have my butt to fall back on. (Hahahaha, I crack myself up).

It’s a source of immense comfort to me (no, mine is average sized, ok), that we all have them. And that they all perform the same tasks for us, as well as the occasional surprise. Captains of industry have them, Nobel Laureates, catwalk princesses and truck drivers. Babies and grannies, girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands, wives, partners and friends. All have them.
We’d look silly without them, tottering along on fleshless hips, sitting at right angles and unable to wear jeans.

It’s time for us to turn around and acknowledge who has carried whom through all these years: Go on, toast your butt! Nothing wrong with appreciating all the hard work.

I bet you are wondering which body part will deserve a salute next time? You’ll never know, and it is perhaps healthier that way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Something evil lives under the bed

Following on from the previous post:

I am glad we grow up. Although I get wistful sometimes when I think about the 70’s, really, they weren’t that great. Nor the 80’s or 90’s. It was good to have endless summers and no responsibilities, but, really, I prefer being a grown-up.

Life is simpler for a child, you can generally coast by with food and clothes and toys and entertainment in various forms being cast at your feet. Boys usually don’t give a hoot about personal appearance, stains, sticky-up hair… They like to wear their favourite clothes until they are grey in colour and leaving behind a small toxic cloud, but that’s ok, for boys.

I’m sure that Neen is glad that I’m not a combination of boyhood stages, too:
The kid who stashes biodegradable material behind the bed, because he knows he’ll get into trouble if he throws it away. Last time I looked, there were no banana peels or green sandwiches roaming amongst the dust bunnies.

The kid who suffers from chronic allergies *insert weak cough here*, whose nose is constantly outrunning his ability to remember tissues, whose sleeves seem just as functional.

The kid who can eat his way through an entire fridge in one sitting, or guzzle sweets and chips and biscuits, leaving the litter everywhere but in the bin.

The kid who refuses to change his underwear, for some terrible unspoken reason.

The kid who believes what some surfer kid said at school: If you don’t wash your hair, the natural juices will start performing properly again, and clean it for you.

The kid who thinks experimenting smoking his way through his mother’s spice rack is coooool. (Dig those cinnamon sticks, man)

The kid who can’t quite figure out girls, and why they are different, and, anyway, who cares when there are trees to be climbed?

The kid who thinks that eating the mints the crossing guard (lollipop man) gives him at school every day are just as minty and good as brushing teeth, so why do the latter?

I could go on, but I won’t. You’re starting to think my parents didn’t raise me well. They did, and I have no callouses on my knees a la wolfboy to prove it. Thing is, I’m trying to raise my boy properly, and he is doing exactly the same stuff.

But I’m glad that after school, the personal hygiene thing kicked in. Chicks, well, exclusively Neen, dig it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wanted: Professional Ant Wrangler

We are the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” generation (Those of us between 30 and 50). That was the phrase asked of us as children by relatives and teachers. This was asked at an age when we were expected to answer cowboy, nurse, astronaut, doctor, or, if you were precocious like me, paleoanthropologist. I’m not one, in case you are wondering, I just had an advanced reading age…

This was asked of girls in my generation, and, for the first time, they were allowed to say something other than ballerina or princess. But very often, they didn’t. The family is usually so close-knit, that it isn’t unusual for a little girl to say she wants to be a mommy, rather than, say, a business analyst. Who the heck wants to choose something that requires you to wear a suit and a deep frown?

Nope, boys still opt for the edgy thrill-seeking lifestyles, the outdoors, the slightly-dangerous careers. Things intervene, like actual schoolwork, bad eyesight, unexpected pregnancies and marriage, and they may find themselves tucked anonymously behind desks and countertops, tapping away their lives on computer keyboards, but really, that voice never goes way.

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question implying that you have the freedom to choose anything. That the world is your oyster (or rather something really big and open that doesn’t stick in your throat like the slimy phlegmwad which people consider an aphrodisiac). The question says that not only can you choose, but you can also select the time when you have finally grown up.

Men of my generation will be surprised if you haul them away from their TVs and video games, and whisper to them that this is it. You HAVE grown up. Very few of us have the option of loading a knapsack with a trenching tool and a block of magnesium and strolling into the hills. Most of us weigh up the so-called freedom against the mortgages, life insurance premiums and endless responsibilities, and call it a lie. We didn’t get to choose, we were chosen, popped in to place and glued fast.

Women will get frustrated with us: We act like kids sometimes, petulant and demanding, selfish and daft. But perhaps this is an outlet for not getting to choose what we wanted to do. In our heads we are cowboys, spacemen and paleoanthropologists, even if we do have to brush our teeth and smile at PTA meetings. We need to cut loose. We need women to allow us that freedom to be complete idiots, as long as we can snap out of it enough to function as husbands, boyfriends, colleagues and fathers.

This is ill-thought out rubbish I am writing, not based on anything at all, really, other than sometimes wishing I could head for the hills and cook stuff over an open fire for a few days. Then back to my desk, where my butt can atrophy while filling the world with more information.

I can’t really speak with authority for women: The whole mother-working mother- child-free woman- pre, during and post feminism concept is a little risky to deal with unless you have a coterie of voices backing you up. Women/choices? Perhaps even more of a lie than the choices offered to men.
Real men will support women in the choices they make, and not feel threatened. That’s as much as I can say on it without alienating several million people.

But there is a secret to this: You really can choose what you want to be, when you grow up, but you have to work damned hard to get there. They don’t tell you that when you’re small. I’m happy being a husband and father, and, for the first time in nearly forty years (the nearly is a big deal when you are 38, trust me), have a job which is almost designed around me. But in my head, I’ll still see myself making marvellous discoveries as the new Louis/Mary Leakey.
(Note: Mary was actually the one who rewrote history, there, but was eclipsed by our phallocentric society).

What do you want to be when you grow up? Or are you there?

One of my favourite descriptions of human nature is this: The things I don’t want to do, I do, and the things I do want to do, I don’t. It’s paraphrased from the New Testament (Romans 7 v 19), but it could be written here, now. Something that isn’t in the bible, but people probably assume is: The road to hell is paved with wishful thinking. Yup. I wish I hadn’t read that.

Apropos of nothing:
About the worst thing I would consider doing at the moment is mooning the Google Earth Street View car. That way I could be a star- famous in cyberspace, a moon and on the earth at the same time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Insane: the Mundane

A dear friend has made the point that many bloggers tend to classify themselves as ‘crazy’ in their profiles. Words like zany, nuts, lunatic, mad, dippy, and, well, insane, get used as badges of honour.

He was saying (to paraphrase) that a self-proclaimed ‘mad’ blogger does not necessarily write a good blog. Mad is just a word. Like ‘shy’, or ‘introverted’- most of us can nod sagely at those descriptions. If a gypsy in a caravan whose palms we had just crossed with silver said that we are ‘shy and misunderstood, full of potential and quietly gifted’, we’d think it money well spent.

I read an article today in the paper (just follow the link, ok?), which said that geniuses such as Dali, Einstein, and, curiously, Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys, all had madness as a common thread to their creativity.

Yaaaay! Everybody wants to be mad AND creative. Nobody wants to be just plain mad, shoving a junk-laden trolley full of detritus down the sidewalks of life. Mad is only cool if it doesn’t involve physical pain and feral smells. It’s probably quite fun to hear people whispering behind your back that you are quite mad… but a creative genius.

But most of us aren’t. Most of us are neither classifiably insane, nor recognized geniuses. That’s fine. We can have lots of fun just pushing the boundaries a little, without having them push back. To be helplessly mad must be a terrible thing- wandering bewildered, not understanding how people live together without curling up into the foetal position, or wielding Samurai swords at social gatherings.

I disagree with my friend… I think there is an element of madness that bulges with tension at our tops, like a meniscus of the psyche. I think bloggers are thinkers, and hopers, and recorders, and that all of us are trying to gather the disparate threads of society into a fabric of which we can make sense… (What the heck is a good metaphor of you can’t mix it, hey?)

A slightly mad sense of humour will help you to be a better parent, wife, husband, son, daughter, partner and friend. If we were all identical, then sure, you could apply one set of socially acceptable rules, but we aren’t. We are a bubbling cauldron of moods and neuroses, shapes and sizes, joys and despairs.

I’m not mad.
I’m not crazy.
But I love bumping into the entire kaleidoscope of human experience that turns up here. I’m maybe just one twinkling shard reflecting off those mirrors, but together we make up our own world, and it is much brighter for it.
Neen got the hat for me in San Francisco. Apparently, if you see a hat like that, it makes you want to buy it for a husband like me. I’d like to think she was making a little joke…

Monday, May 4, 2009

Last 'they make me puke, get a room already' post

Pepper and salt
Socks and shoes
Bathwater and soap
Alcohol and a furry tongue
Pasta and red-checked tablecloths
Babies and bottles
Politicians and hot air
Work and fatigue
Inspiration and creativity
Pointy tables and shins
Books and knowledge
Exploration and experience
Compromise and mug-shots
Birth and death
Laughter and tears
Pain and relief
Wet grass and cold butts
Addictive personalities and broken moral compasses
Bouquets of flowers and first kisses
Self-centeredness and goodbyes
Dodgy tex-mex food and toilet bowls
Sit-coms and intellectual vacuums
Nicholas Cage and disappointing box-office figures
Blisteringly hot new talents and tacky headlines
Indulged children and ungrateful teenagers
Long baths and prune-toes
Being reunited and breathless hugs
Fame and wide-eyed adopted children
Newly washed cars and incontinent pigeons
New black jeans and Kleenex left in the pockets on laundry day…

Neen is back.
We go together well.
Care to contribute a ‘goes together like…’ of your own?
I'll stop the sentimental stuff now...
Back to spittle and dung, as per usual.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And My Arms Are Really Tired!

I’m still not convinced that airplanes actually fly. Let’s think about it logically: They are really, really heavy (ever dropped one on your toe?) They don’t flap their wings, like birds, or have thin membranous wings like bats.
So. What really happens when you go to the ‘air’port?
Do you just go on some simulated flight to another part of the runway? Climb out into a movie-set? A few props- postcards, bad clothes, and some actors with silly accents, and you could be anywhere.
These aren’t the kinds of thoughts you want to have while hurtling through the air… The Crash Analysis people always come up with some dumb excuse- a faulty rivet? Metal fatigue? Sure, the metal gets fatigued from pretending to ‘fly’.
I’m not at all nervous about Neen hurtling through the air over the treacherous mountains and desert wastelands of South Africa right now…
Can’t wait to give Neen a gold old high five. (Still not elucidating). She’ll be back from her epic voyage in about one hour. No Golden fleece, or Cyclops scalp, just a superior knowledge of digitization in academic libraries.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier, or, Give a Polar Bear a Platonic Kiss

You know those little toys: The ones that appear to be made only in China, where health and safety regulations are more suggestions than legislation? The toys which, when soaked in water, increase to 600% of their original size? I’d love to see that factory- either it’s a massive sprawling warehouse, or a really tiny, well-waterproofed one.

What if all those toys worldwide suddenly came into contact with water? All very well, Great Britain-sized ice shelves detaching from continental Antarctica, but how real is the risk of flooding? I hereby propose to the United Nations that all toyshops and markets stocking those toys be relocated to mountaintops. I, for one, do not wish to be smothered by a giant rubber dinosaur.

And the same goes for instant food: Food that comes desiccated in boxes: Just add water and boil. Warning, Food keeps on expanding after removed from heat.
Hmm. And for just how long does it keep on expanding? They could at least add a clause that says ‘until 17.00 on Wednesday’. What if all dried food suddenly got rehydrated?

And self-inflatable life-rafts and jackets. What if, for some hitherto undiscovered reason, these all inflated?

As much as I love polar bears (who hasn’t succumbed to a little bear fantasy occasionally?), the real worry for me about global warming is products designed to expand when they come into contact with water. I’m no Al Gore, but I think we should all drive our hybrid cars down to the seaside and ponder this.

If, and this is not really an if, but a WHEN, the tidal surge comes, you’ll find me rafting down a slick of chicken-noodle-bolognaise, because I, for one, am prepared.

What to do when your wife returns after 10 weeks

Things you shouldn’t do:

  1. Have party guests still asleep on the floor in the lounge

  2. Only have leftover cocktail ingredients in the fridge

  3. Take it as an opportunity to leave the washing/ironing/cleaning

  4. Clear the bank account as a reward to self

  5. Tell the children as a joke that Mommy is gone forever, but she’s ‘in a better place’

  6. Rely on said children to tidy up

  7. Make a special ‘welcome home’ sign out of all the discarded pizza boxes

  8. Move house or change the locks

    But you probably should:

  1. Get rid of any evidence of temporary bachelorhood (No, not that, I mean fast food containers, disproportionately large empty alcohol containers, rancid clothes)

  2. Get the children to make crafty projects, so that all evidence of extended DVD viewing is erased

  3. Replenish the cupboards and fridge with healthy food, and her favourite snacks

  4. Hose down the walls, bleach the bloodstains, make sure that the children’s advanced scurvy has cleared up

  5. Purchase Velcro PJ’s. I. Will. Say. Nothing. Further. On. This. Matter.

  6. Reintroduce simple personal hygiene: Brushing teeth, saying pardon when stuff happens, closing the toilet door, bathing regularly

  7. Wipe at least the top layer of grease off the bathroom and kitchen surfaces, taking care to use economy-sized bottle of Domestos

  8. Exercise atrophied limbs, get rid of computer-chair-shape flat butt

  9. Practice speaking in normal tones, using adult language in the lost art of conversation

  10. Slay the fattened calf, but remember to try to avoid getting bloodstains on the paving. Again.

  11. Not Tweet, until you have something innocuous and impersonal to say…

    Hey, you think this is a bad list, you should see THIS GUY, he does ‘em badder, and better every day, the master of lists.

Neen returns Sunday evening.