22 January 2012

Richard French's ipad

A pretty quick window into local, life happenings and culture is to grab the daily morning paper on the way in from the airport. So it is in Cape Town where this morning's Cape Times reports a galaxy of wondrous happenings, news that is hard to come by in other climes. Sadly the Cape Times, that one-time bastion of apartheid resistance, the then newsrooms staffed by Verwoerd, Vorster and Botha's jailed editors, many of whom opted for running blank spaces where the censors scissors had been busy, has been dumbed down more than most. It is, of course, hard to blame the management in these times where, globally, electronic media is calling all the shots. In South Africa, this situation is exacerbated as editors try and try to attract the huge new and expanding, if still less educated, black readership. However this should not spoil our fun.
Here's a choice selection of stories and headlines that add a frisson of excitement to the reading of this morning's paper.
- South Africa's lone Winter Olympic skier and his coach travelled economy to wherever it was whilst five Olympic Committee officials travelled up front. The competitor came last. The officials did not ski.
- Mountain rescue vehicles turned back on the famous Chapman's Peak toll road because the driver had no coin for the toll.
- A Table Mountain bird man base-jumper to be charged because he had no licence to fly - in spite of the fact that he nearly killed himself on the way down.
- Australia approves the launch of a new confectionery bar romantically named Nucking Futs - on the grounds that the word Fucking is a part of modern Australian language. Mind you, the bar is not to be marketed to kids. As if.
- Dung Beatles Dirty Dancing helps them to Have a Ball. Apparently said beetles roll elephant wet dung into a ball before proceeding to their nest with the booty.
Can't wait for tomorrow's paper.

20 January 2012


Spend a few January hours in a Perigueux Gallery, L’App Art, 10 rue Arago.  Easy to find and easy to find a park, Xavier Boisserie is exhibiting his delicate photos of water, leaves, sand flowers – all making their intricate individual patterns.
The exhibition is open until 28 January (ed).


I find myself at the mercy of technology and big brother today.
Zak loves watching Ethiopian music videos which I look at on youtube. I listened to one I really liked once and then was never able to find it again. Sooo, today when I heard one I really liked I tried to set up my own play list to save it to. It asked me for a new username, so I thought I would put it in Zak's name. It then asked for a date of birth, so I put in Zak's date of birth. Suddenly it said I wasn't old enough and that my gmail account has been locked and will be wiped permanently in 28 days if I don't prove my age is over 13 years old.
Ok. So I go to the ‘fix this’ sort of page and it gives me choices and one of them is to do a credit card transaction of thirty U|S cents and then all will be ok.
NOT. Tried that and when getting to the check out page it sends me to the sign in to google page and then I try and sign in and then it tells me my account is blocked - square one! Tried this many times. So finally gave in to the next option, scan in a government issued id, driving licence, then send that on.
Scanned ok. Saved the scan to my computer. Try to send it and ‘Sorry, an error occurred while uploading the web form.’
Tried a few times. Same.
What the hell. First of all, I had no idea that watching youtube somehow connected me with google or gmail.
Secondly, couldn't it have warned me that the birth date was too young.
Thirdly, couldn't it have calculated that the birthdate I put in puts this person at one year of age! Hello.
Fourthly - biggest web organisation in the world, can't they make it easy to follow their own protocol?
I hate technology.
Next day: I still haven't managed to get my gmail account back but have 27 days left before it is wiped. They do have one other suggestion how to fix the problem....open a new account with different user name. Derrrrr!!! That is my work email address and I want and need the same email address, thanks. Tried to phone them, if.... push one, if .... push two etc etc, get through a couple of menus and then "We are sorry that we do not have "human beings" sic, to answer the telephone, please refer to our website.... Well, HELLO, I think I tried that, which didn't work, hence why I am trying to phone you….
Oh well.
Daren Blake


Dinna Greet, emigrate

At St Monans in Fife
where the gossip is rife
Euphemia falls hard
for a Catholic Irishman
sister Kitty runs off
becomes a Gaiety Girl
marries Wally Levine,
buys a Park Lane hotel
bitter news for the boat
building brothers back home
Bob and the young Andy;
Local friends give advice
“dinna greet, emigrate”.
They sail to New Zealand
reasoning that far-flung
Dunedin needs strong boats.

Settled, the brothers built
a yard at Careys Bay
near the harbour entrance
where Chinese prospectors
in gold rush days strapped
stone slabs to their bodies
to line the deep channel.
If unlucky, they died.
If lucky they untied
the slab, swam back before
their lungs ran out of air.

The Miller brothers built
tugs, boats for the South Pole
fitted out Shackleton
 “Dinna greet” wailed the waves
as homesick Scots sought sleep
twelve thousand miles away
yearning life left behind
seeking fame, escaping
shame or trying to make
a hame for bonnie bairns.
“Dinna greet little sweet
let’s find a mermaid to
kiss your feet, stroke your hand,
warm the curves of your heart.”

Only Scottish blood fills
my veins except Grandad
Duffy from County Clare
who Euphemia Miller
fell for - brother Andy
(disgusted,  adventurous
or disappointed, I’ll
never know –kids didn’t
talk much with Great Uncles)
persuaded us to come
to the sea, wind, waves
of St Leonards, gave us
the strange sensation of
no longer
to anywhere …

At dawn on the Captain
Cook between deep ocean,
wide sky I danced mad
wild innocence twirling,
whirling Highland fling, big
ship slow moving to the
plaintive sound of bagpipes.

We shifted to Roslyn
(unlike the chapel with
stone corn cobs carved before
America was known.)
What were those Kiwis like?
I couldn’t get a part
in the school production
of Macbeth they said my
accent was so strong no
one would understand me.
So with teenage mates I
lay on white sand beaches,
drank Lebanese coffee
ate mutton birds at our
student flat behind Knox
Church, Moray Place Library
my surrogate parent;
struggled with a howling
gale on my wedding night,
sailed to the Kaik, the
night before our son was
born, later, in the dark
we heard the dawn chorus.

The first Englishman I
met was in Dunedin,
selling encyclopaedias,
wearing a suit, the same
white shirt for three months then
he left to try Central.

First day at St Leonards
a boy asked me for a shag
I went to a new school
where the train kids teased me
until I threw a flask
of hot Scotch broth at them.
Every day the teacher
biffed me out to stand bored,
baffled in the corridor
(Stirling High teacher
laughed at my jokes because
I got top in maths. Always.)
I am still friends with a
boy from St Leonards (and a girl) and if I could
have a boat now I would.
Joselyn Duffy Morton©
(In celebration of Robert Burns’day, 25 January)