Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #3: Thanks a lot, Eastwoods Entertainment Lounge and Willowbridge Dros Barman.

Continued from the second instalment

So, quite a bit of time has elapsed – almost a month and a half, in fact. The final of Euro2008 has come and gone (my team won, of course, at last), and I really want to blog about other things now; but I can’t very well leave the story hanging in mid-rant, can I?

So, here’s a quick run-down of what transpired after we left Tygervalley Centre on that fateful night in June: First we drove up the road to Eastwoods. Eastwoods is a sports bar and restaurant. Eastwoods was closed. It’s a sports bar. But it was closed. Are you seeing the problem yet, or should I repeat that again? Apparently the oddity of this situation was entirely lost on the manager(s), because exactly one week later, on the night of the final, they were closed too. That’s right. The biggest sports bar in the area failed to open on the night of the final of Euro2008. (And people wonder why I’m not always brimming with enthusiasm about living in the northern suburbs…)

So in a greater huff than I’d been in at Tygervalley, I persuaded Paul to go back down the road to the Willowbridge Dros.

We arrived at the Dros, pleased to see that there were still a few cars outside, and a couple of people in the restaurant. We rushed up to the big wooden doors, and found them… locked. Not to be deterred, we rushed around to the glass doors in front. These too were closed. I gestured to the barman that we’d like to come in and watch the rest of the football, but he shook his head and mouthed what I initially took to be “Weird clothes.” I thought that was a bit of an odd thing to say, since I was wearing jeans and a fairly ordinary long-sleeved top, but then Paul pointed out that it was actually even weirder that that: apparently the barman was saying, “We’re closed.” Totally bizarre, I know.

By this time I was ready to break down his flimsy-looking glass doors, but fortunately good sense prevailed. Also fortunately, there was actually a TV outside the restaurant, showing the football, with the sound turned up nice and loud. So we made ourselves sort of comfortable and watched the rest of extra time as well as the nailbiting penalty shoot-out (I do mean that literally – I chew my fingers during penalty shoot-outs and games in which the Proteas have to score 435 runs to win) outside the Dros. It was very kind of them to let us watch their TV, without expecting us to buy anything. That barman ought to have the price of my potential double-whiskey and Paul’s potential beer docked from his pay, though. I mean, would it have been such a big deal for him to come out to us and say, “Hey, we’re actually closed, but if you guys just want to have a couple of drinks and stay till the end of the football, we’re fine with that, since we’ll BE HERE ANYWAY”?

Anyway, I got to see the game, my team beat the Italians, and it all turned out okay. I watched the semi-final with a real flesh-and-blood Spaniard (at Beleza – leaving nothing to chance), and then we returned to the place of our former rejection, the Dros at Willowbridge, for the final. This time they actually let us sit inside, which was nice. We had to buy drinks though. ;-)

Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #2: Thanks a lot, Tygervalley Big-screen Operator.

Continued from the first instalment

Paul and I grabbed our laptops (like the nerds we are) and headed down to the Keg at Glen Garry centre (the closest restaurant with TV screens). There were three other people there, not counting the waiters – so not really much of an atmosphere, but not to worry, they had the soccer playing at least (with French commentary, but that was fine). We ordered coffee and politely asked the waiter what time they were closing. “10 o’clock…” he said – somewhat sadly I thought.

Some quick kindergarten maths told me that we’d best finish our coffee and find a new spot during half-time. Which we duly did. After considering our options (all three of them), we decided to just go and grab a table at Tygervalley’s promotions court area and watch the soccer on the big-screen there. The sound isn’t usually that clear, but I thought it would be good enough. When we arrived there, we discovered that the soccer was only showing on the small TVs dotted around the area, and the big-screen was playing the IRB Junior World Championship instead. Okay, fair enough, rugby, northern suburbs, I get it.

I figured that as soon as the rugby was finished they’d switch the big-screen to the soccer too, and then we’d have commentary (because there was no sound whatsoever coming from the small TVs). Gosh. Was I ever disappointed. The rugby finished, eventually the post-match celebration and awards ceremony finished too, then a few ads played (while I was biting my nails to the quick, watching the clock ticking and thinking, “It’s going to penalties, it’s going to penalties, and they’re going to switch these TVs off at 11pm, they are, they are…”).

Then, after the ads, another programme came on. Now I didn’t actually know (and call me ignorant here, by all means) that India and Pakistan played rugby. Yes, rugby. Well, apparently they do, and to prove it, we were treated to a wonderful showcase of their skills on the big-screen. Just to give you an idea of how riveting this might have been, Wikipedia tells me that India is currently ranked 84th in the world (out of 95 teams) – they tried to qualify for a spot in the 2007 World Cup, but their 22-36 loss to Kazakhstan put paid to that dream. And this powerhouse Indian team (whose captain is none other than Nasser Hussain, apparently – talk about being an all-rounder, gosh) beat the Pakistanis 56-3 last time they met. But I digress.

The India-Pakistan festival of rugby was followed by a lengthy insert on women’s skateboarding. Seriously. I could not make this stuff up. After that (and at this point I couldn’t take it anymore, so we left, but more of that later) there was a stunning and fascinating documentary on Men Walking Across Rocks In Hiking Boots.

The problem with this (apart from the glaringly obvious fact that they were not actually showing the quarter-final of a major international sporting tournament), was that the sound from the big-screen was turned up really loud. So I was watching a teensy game of soccer, accompanied by loud Pakistani rugby players, loud women skateboarders, and loud men Walking on Rocks, in turn. If you’ve ever tried to watch something with a totally incongruous soundtrack – burly black gumboot dancers with the theme song from the Sound of Music, for example – then you’ll understand that this was somewhat messing with my concentration.

So, in a fit of pique, as soon as the game had gone to full-time, I said to Paul, “We’re going to Eastwoods,” and stormed off to the car. And in the next instalment you can find out why that didn’t work out too well either…

Euro2008 Spain vs Italy #1: Thanks a lot, SABC.

I’d been looking forward to last night’s Euro2008 match between Spain and Italy all week. Spain has been my team since the 2002 World Cup, and Italy is always my second team (because, seriously, no-one in their right mind actually expects Spain to progress past the quarter-finals of any tournament, so it seems prudent to have another team to support in the latter stages). My heart is entirely with Spain though, and of course I wanted to see them break the June 22 QF curse last night.

Now I should point out right upfront that we don’t have DSTV. I know… how can one be a sports supporter without it? Well, it’s really difficult, to be honest. I don’t get to watch F1, I miss all the overseas cricket and most of the rugby, and I’ll tell you that I don’t get to see a curling match very often either.

Anyhow, this was not supposed to be a problem last night, because SABC3 was showing all the Euro2008 QF games… or so I thought. But, in a masterful repeat of the Rugby World Cup debacle, when they decided that it was not entirely necessary to show that silly, pointless other semi-final after all (despite having listed it on their schedule), they failed to broadcast last night’s game. Yes, despite having listed it on their schedule.

Apparently what had happened was that they weren’t going to be showing Saturday’s game, until all of South Africa complained (because all of South Africa – except me – was supporting the Netherlands); so they decided at the last minute to show the Netherlands/Russia game, and instead not to broadcast last night’s Spain/Italy game. Without changing their schedule.

(An aside: Dear SABC, the nice thing about having one of these new-fangled “internet-sites”, presumably, is that you can change things in real-time. Could you get someone to look into this, just on the off-chance that there are more like me who actually believe the things you put on there? Thanks.)

I only found this out at 20h30, when I switched the TV on and discovered that a movie was starting. My mother tells me that she realised something was up when she heard the continuity announcer warning that there would be “violence, language and nudity” in the next show. Plenty of violence in soccer of course, if the contorted, pained facial expressions of the Azzurris are to be taken seriously; and with Marco Materazzi playing, I suppose bad language is a fair likelihood too. But nudity?! No, I think I would have noticed. So… not soccer then.

So Paul and I grabbed our laptops (like the nerds we are) and headed down to the Keg at Glen Garry centre (the closest restaurant with TV screens). Aaaand… you’ll have to wait for the second instalment to find out what happened next.

Sisyphus at the movies

So we finally went to watch Iron Man at the Tyger Valley Ster-Kinekor on Saturday evening (late adopters, I know). I’d been assured by a few people that I would in fact enjoy it, despite my misgivings… and it turns out they were right.

The things I particularly liked about it included:

  • The script was not full of cringeworthy lines
  • The Mk II Iron Man suit was very, very shiny and pretty
  • Tony Stark had lots of really sexy cars parked in his warehouse/garage/basement
  • He fell for the clever redhead, not the gorgeous blonde
  • Robert Downey Jr went to gym a few times before making the movie

I recalled someone on Twitter mentioning that you should stay right until the end of the credits for an extra scene, so when the cinema emptied (clearly no-one else there was on Twitter), I nudged Paul and said, “No, we have to stay, someone on Twitter said there’s more.”

So we stayed. Through approximately three hours of credits. After about an hour and a half we started choosing names off the screen at random and saying them aloud, giggling every time we happened to pick the same one. This was mildly entertaining for about an hour. Then we watched the names of all the songs rolling on up the screen, and giggled about that too. Because songs are, you know, funny. Hey, after three hours of credits, anything’s funny.

Just when I was beginning to think I’d been led astray (Paul had harboured this suspicion for some time, it turns out), the credits ended and the Special Scene started playing. Then, after no more that 10 seconds, it stopped dead. I felt somewhat irked, as you can imagine. We’d sat through three hours of credits only to have the very thing we were DYING to see stop after the briefest of intervals!Sisyphus

Paul dutifully went to find a manager to whom he could complain. He returned with tales of her contrition and her promise to make them play it for us again, just as soon as they could fix the tape. We sat around giggling for a while, until eventually the tape started playing again. FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREDITS. What was there to do but start the random-name-selection game all over again?

After a minute or two of that, we heard the cleaning ladies enter the cinema. Paul whispered to me, “They’re going to switch the lights on, aren’t they?” But they didn’t, thankfully. They just stood at the back chatting. After what seemed like another four hours plus two hours of song credits, the Special Scene started playing again. My excitement had reached fever-pitch by this stage, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what Samuel L. Jackson was actually going to say.

But it was not to be. At the precise point at which the tape had stopped the first time around, the sound cut out. Then the screen went blank. Then the picture flickered back for a few brief seconds, sans sound, and then it died. For good. (At this point the cleaning ladies got a bit rude with us, telling us in no uncertain terms that it was now high time for us to leave, because they wanted to clean. I don’t blame them entirely, since I’m sure they were as annoyed as we were, but still, no-one likes to be told off for something that’s not their fault.)

Since we were now late for a birthday party, we dashed out of the cinema, fortuitously encountering the manageress on the way out. We explained that the same thing had happened again. She shook her head sadly, and very kindly offered to try once more, but Paul pointed out that the next screening was starting in about 15 minutes, and there was no way we could fit in four hours of credits plus two hours of song credits in that short time. She promised us that if we’d like to sneak in to another screening at some point, so that we could see the end, we’d be more than welcome.

That’s great and all (and I know she was doing her best – what else could she have really offered us?), but I figure we have a better than average chance of sneaking in, sitting through the credits again, and then finding that the tape is still faulty.

You know what would actually make up for the inconvenience and disappointment? A special delivery of one Iron Man DVD, courtesy of Ster-Kinekor or whoever mangled that tape. That way, presumably I could watch the Special Scene as many times as I liked, without having to giggle through four hours of credits first. For now though, I’ll have to rely on the omniscience of YouTube, or beg Jonathan to tell me what Samuel L. Jackson said.

Beyond Poetry

There is a lot of poetry that I love, but this one, by Shakuntala Hawoldar, may well be my absolute favourite. It touches on the longing that I presume we all have, to be understood, to feel connections with others, to really see them and be seen by them. And if I say any more, I’ll ruin it. Just read.

This is far too rich for poetry
Far too heavy for tears;
What is that thread that binds
My wound to yours,
Till, bleeding, I can scarce recognise
Your dark scars from mine?

You have come a long way
Through the corridors of my mind;
I have travelled too, long distances
In your hazy memory,
And when we meet behind the blur of tears
You know that our meeting
Was not the casual need of a passing hour;

In you I have met men
Carrying banners to the mountains
Dragging their feet upon the stones;
In you I have seen the victor
Smiling at visions of glory;
In you I have also seen the broken
Idol of clay;
You have been my enemy barricaded in
Your silence,
Battering me wordlessly, soundlessly,
While I crumple up before your indifference.

You have been my friend,
When I stood clawing the air
Looking for mental footholds
In the shifting precipices of my mind
And you lifted me gently,
From the deeps of my thoughts,
Smoothened the creases
Upon my brow,
And silenced the queries in my eyes,
And in that moment I believed once again
In illusions of understandings
Beneath mounds of mistrust and hurt.

SA Blook, Chapter 6: The beauty and grandeur that surrounds us

No matter their political stance, religion, social class or ethnicity, if there is one thing that all South Africans will agree on, it is that we surely live in one of the most diversely beautiful countries in the world.

Time after time this land has entranced me, thrilled me, charmed me, taken my breath away and hypnotised me with its beauty. I have been captivated by its complexities, and challenged by its rugged landscapes.

ProteaI’ve walked through vineyards, forests and rose gardens, and I’ve driven along undulating roads bordered by fields of wheat and bright yellow canola. I’ve bounded through multi-coloured carpets of wild flowers in springtime on the West Coast, and I’ve hiked mountain paths lined with proteas, ericas and indigenous bulbs.

I’ve stood silently on top of Tygerberg Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, marvelling at the glory of the city stretched out before me. I’ve driven through the old Ciskei at night, stopping to hear the awesome silence and gaze at the shining mass of stars in the night-sky.

Llandudno BeachI’ve watched the sun rise over the distant Boland mountains, with their outlines crisp and purple and their tips covered in snow. I’ve watched the sun set over the ocean from Clifton 4th beach, and seen the fire-dancers turn the beach into a wonderland after dark.

I’ve thrown snowballs and made snowmen in the Ceres mountains, and I’ve had my breath whipped away jumping into the icy waters of the dark and brooding, yet oh-so-beautiful, Riviersonderend Canyon.

I’ve sailed along a rope through the forest canopy in the lush, green Karkloof in KwaZulu-Natal, and I’ve jumped from a bridge, watching the dry river-bed of the Gouritz River rush up to meet me.

Goudini MountainsI’ve tasted the sweet, delicious, fresh water of a mountain stream in the Cederberg, and the rich, heady wines of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.

I have quivered just a little whilst sitting on a quadbike, watching a female rhinoceros and her calf grazing a mere 5 metres away. I have seen cheetahs, sharks and seals, and I’ve held monkeys, fed a baby elephant and played with lion cubs.

I’ve watched the lights of Mossel Bay flicker to life as dusk descends, transforming the bay into a glittering panorama, welcoming and cosy. I have seen a herd of wildebeest silhouetted on the crest of a hill, the sun setting behind them, and I’ve watched huge flocks of guinea fowl feeding in my suburban garden each morning.

I’ve watched scores of surfers taking on the waves at Victoria Bay and East London’s Nahoon Beach. I’ve kayaked along the Touws River in the Wilderness, and I’ve paddled quietly across the tranquil Knysna Lagoon in the late afternoon, the sound of waterfowl a perfect accompaniment to the gentle swishing of my oars.

I’ve travelled through the arid Karoo on a sweltering hot day, with only sheep and Karoobossies to break up the vast and strangely beautiful semi-desert landscape, and I’ve smelt the fresh, cool scent of Knysna’s milkwoods in the morning.

I have been on boat trips and helicopter flips, and I’ve travelled the Garden Route on a sturdy old steam train, through charming towns and across a shining lagoon.

Chapman's PeakI’ve said “Oh wow,”, “Isn’t that awesome?”, “Look at that!”, and “I don’t have words to express how beautiful that is,” more times than I can recall.

I have lived in this land all my life. And I have loved this land for as long. And on a perfect winter’s day like today, with blue skies, wispy clouds, crisp air and a crystal-clear mountain in front of me, I have a strong feeling that this love is not unrequited.

This post is a chapter of the SA Blook: A Piece of Significance, an online book written by a diverse group of writers with strong views of our country and the reality we find ourselves living in. The other chapters in the Blook are here:

Introduction
1. The new South Africa – is it real?
2. Is SA rich or poor?
3. What the world thinks of South Africa and what our global opportunities are
4. The importance of each individual’s contribution collectively
5. SA Inc and the business of doing business in SA
6. The beauty and grandeur that surrounds us
7. The importance of technology in SA’s global emergence
8. Building brand South Africa
9. Making the most of SA’s creative talents and abilities
10. Innovate for a better South Africa
11. The role of the younger generation in SA, and what we need to do to support them
12. Connecting South Africa – Communities that transcend technology
13. We are African – the role of collaboration in South Africa’s growth

Copyright Kerry-Anne Gilowey 2008. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No-derivatives 2.5 ZA licence.