Monday, November 1, 2010
Later in the day I needed to grab some cleaning poisons for the maid (no I don't mind saying Sylvia is the maid at all ... I see these days some get touchy about the word maid and at first sign of their derision I start busting it into as many sentences as possible) so I decided to check in on the local Pick n' Pay ... to see if it was still standing or if the mob and there scribbled messages of discontent had managed to bring down the house.
I made it through the toi toi'ing, singing employees, who seemed incredibly happy to be out of the 'office', and not all that perturbed about what the unions had informed them was all awry; and found my way safely to the ground floor of the Gardens Centre. A quick collection of Handy Andy, Domestos wadda wadda wadda and I had worked up a decent hunger so I hit the chicken isle.
Here the blood pressure rises and the reason for this particular blog. Pick n' Pay you mother fuckers. Let me just clue you in that I, like an incredibly impressive and ever increasing large amount of chicken buyers, have been favouring the Elgin Free Range variety as my first, and in fact only choice. I have watched this rather small company from over the Hottentots Holland Mountain Range grow from strength to strength. I even once had the occasion to visit the chickens when mountain biking in the area and met the family responsible for this chicken that is the least like plastic and silicone and a lot more like real chicken than any other on the shelf.
It really has been a success story and an honest one at that which is rather rare.
So I get to the isle as I mentioned and there it was right there in front of me like a bad joke. A joke that starts off badly and as realisation sets in it turns out the joke was actually about my mother and the sickness sets in. You see, what Pick n' Pay his done is as evil as it gets. The punks have taken the exact branding the Elgin chicken is packaged put their crap in it and placed it basically on top off and all around the Elgin chicken. No Pick n' Pay red white and blue, but rather the exact pantones from the little guy. What a bunch of ball busters. Bullying is pure evil. Ray and Jono Ackers better sort this shit out or they gonna get whats coming to them ... no doubt.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
In 1990 when I was in standard 8 at Wynberg Boys High School I heard, to my astonishment, that the First rugby team would be making a trip to the UK for an unprecedented rugby tour of Scotland, England and Wales.
It was almost too good to be true. With South African rugby blood running thick in my veins, I had 16 years of dreaming of just such a tour (well that’s if I started dreaming about it from day one on this planet which is very likely if born in our rugby loving country, so I am not writing that off!) and the fact that this was now going to be taking place was almost too exciting for me to actually believe. You must remember that in 1990 there was not a single schools team from South Africa that had been on a school rugby tour to the UK and the approval of this tour was something incredibly exotic and original. Bishops and Woodridge were also breaking new ground in taking their 1st team over at the end of 1992.
At that stage though, the 1st team looked a long way away for me personally as, although I knew I had the talent and abilities to make the team, there were quite a few guys ahead of me that were in greater favour. I had 18 months to turn this situation around. It would be against the odds though and I knew I would have to set the goal and working really hard towards making that tour. I still had my std 9 year in 1991 to gain some favour and then with some momentum gained in that first year of open rugby I was hopeful to make the first team in my last year which would secure me a spot on the tour team.
So as a 16 year old in 1991 I began training as hard and as committed as I could imagine, about 2 months before the trials for the coming season. As a std 9 pupil with a lot of older guys ahead of me and in a school where 1st team Rugby is the be all and end all for so many of the boys, I had a huge mountain to climb, so that is what I decided to do, climb that mountain. You see in Hout Bay where my parents lived (I was in the boarding school) there were some huge sand dunes on the slopes of one of the surrounding mountains. Every weekend I would take to these dunes and go through a self imposed training regime that would make me sick with effort. I did this alone and used what felt like an almost unattainable goal as a form of inspiration and a catalyst for the production of some serious positive energy, rather then sit back and submit the the reality of my position at the time and the many older players ahead of me.
Trials day came and I blew the whole thing apart. Without doubt I was the first name on the team sheet with a fitness and intensity level streaks ahead of players previously perceived and shoe in’s for the 1991 first team. In that year and only in std 9 I played every single game in the 1st team (23 games as this included Cape Schools Week) and by the time 1992 and the tour to the UK came along I was the most capped player in the team going to the UK
It was some inspirational stuff to me personally and not a huge thing outside of my own personal world except for one young guy who played a year behind me and was also looking for a place in the tourside. He had noticed my situation somehow and at the beggining of 1992, the year of the tour when I was a automatic choice for the team, little Jake Boer came to me in the summer before rugby season and asked “Scotty, how am I going to make this team man. I got to go on the tour!”
Jake was the most tenacious player who would not back down for anyone, but he was really small in his std9 year still and to make the team he needed to add something special. I advised to hit the trials stronger and fitter than the others with his pre-season effort and he worked just like I had and made the team with ease.
Jake grew in his last year of school and became one of the best players the English Premiership league of rugby has every seen. Player of the year twice at London Irish and the Captain for a few seasons for the Cherry Reds of Gloucester Rugby club – as tough as they come.
We toured the UK together (sadly without our great fly-half Jacques Kallis who had to stay and play nuffield cricket) as proud players of the Wynberg Boys High School and smashed all but one school (Cheltenham College) before us. The newspapers called us the Junior Boks and I met Gavin and Scott Hastings as well as Craig Chalmers who were all playing for Scotland at the time and were amazed at the South African schools talents and strength. It was a dream come true and came from a place that at one stage seemed very far off … until the belief was instilled and the journey of overcoming the challenge was taken on with real belief and passion.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
“You enjoy a beer or two right?” my brother told me more than asked me. Of course he was right. Doesn’t he know people only run so they can balance the intake of the delicious amber nectar? “Off course I do” I replied, “why you buying?”
“Not today, but check it out, if you run the Two Oceans Half Marathon dressed as Vanilla Ice you can win Castle Light for a year. Geeez I wonder how much you could drink in a year.” he dreamt as his mind wafted into a happier place which most likely had something to do with swimming in a pool of beer. I thought to myself: well, beer for a year would mean I would have to run a whole lot more and that seems like a fair trade for me. I am good at both those two past-times so it’s a win-win situation. I grabbed the flyer to see how I could get involved and next thing you know I am on the back of a scooter at 5:30am on Sat morning, weaving my way through traffic to get to the start of the half marathon … you guessed it, dressed as the 1990’s rapper with attitude – Vanilla Ice!
The competition was to be best dressed Vanilla Ice for a cash prize and/or the first one home to win Beer for a year. I had decided to give it a bash. After all I was running with a dude who was getting married that afternoon and whose ‘Best man’ had planned to stick him in a wedding dress. I would be in good company then. People would be more interested in the runaway bride than the lyrical-master-on- the-mic. On the morning of the race though, two things put paid to that theory. Firstly, my chains of bling were so excruciatingly noisy; they would have drawn attention away from Julias Malema running in a safari suit. And secondly, the ‘Best man’ never did manage to get a wedding dress for his buddy to run in (brides are so funny about lending out their white dresses like that? Go figure) so I stood out like a sore thumb. The pink parachute type jacket I was wearing would have been particularly fetching to Cindy Lapa, the massive double layered basketball pants would have done Michael Jordan proud and the finishing touches of bling, hat perched sideways on head and some old Oakley M-Frames had the crowd of 11 000 runners parting like the red sea in shock, horror and perhaps a little fear, as I moved forward to group A. A good thing too as we were trying to join the race from the back and the National Anthem was already playing while we were still ‘scuse me’ing’ our way through D group.
As I pulled into the gate of my group just in time, I caught the eye of the race MC who almost interrupted the hallowed Anthem to ask me what on Earth I was doing dressed as a rapper in group A of the Two Oceans half. I could see he thought better of it though as he pulled the microphone protectively to the far side of his body to make sure I never made a grab for it busting out with “Rollin, in my 5.0 with my rag top down so my hair can blow…” Before I could make a move for the mic though, the countdown was on and then we were away. My running partners sans wedding dress handicap were clearly still going to head out at sub 90min pace. This could well be a painful hour and a half of running that lay ahead.
It was still dark at the start so I got little encouragement as the cries of “Go Maties!” and “Come on Fishoek, just 20km to go” were directed to those around me. So I settled into a chaotic rhythm as we strung out pretty quickly in the front which tends to happen at 4:05/km. Another thing that happens at that brisk pace, is that XL basketball shorts flap about like Shoshaloza’s spinnaker sail in a squall. A bad time to decide I should have worn some tighter briefs too! About 8km’s into the race though the light exposed the crazy runner in the pink top and the chirps started flying from the sidelines which were hugely encouraging and made the decision of dressing up like a fool sort of worthwhile. Some of the younger lot got it all wrong by yelling out: “Go Ali G!” much to the mirth of my two running buddies who had not relented on the pace at all and were still busting out splits just over 4min/km.
Half way in the pink marquee I was wearing turned into a homemade Humidity Chamber and my temperature regulating mechanism was thrown into total disarray as the liquids streamed from my body making the attire that much heavier and uncomfortable to deal with. The groom has a worrying look at the cherry face lurching next to him. They carry on a little ahead as I shuffle up the long hill of Southern Cross Drive.
Close to the finish now and I see the running buddies have slowed up to wait for me so they can have their pic taken with ‘Ice’. It’s a taste of fame which I am comfortable with as I pull a gangster rapper pose for the lenses. Done with the picture they dump me again “time to go solo”.
All the hard effort in the early stages of the race has paid off and Vanilla Ice crosses the line in 1:27min. The announcer gives me a big shout out and notices the smile on my face which he explains must be for finishing such a beautiful race. What he doesn’t know is for the next year beers are on me. Cheers!
Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby
Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Tomorrow is the big 42km and 24km race up the slopes of Mont Ventoux which is crazy hard stuff and a big race in these parts. In fact people come to watch from all over. A precursor to the fun is a 10km run today so I decided to do that although will prob run the 24km tomorrow as well. Its all straight up hill running over gnarly rocks and then down over more precarious terrain and a little fast trail stuff through the pines. I am not actually eligible to enter as you need to be licensed. So I snuck in to the middle of the pack just 100m after the start. I was quickly out in the front top 10 even though the guys went out like whippets. When the climbing started I went to the front and kept it to the top of the 3km climb of over 300m = killer!
So now I am in the front and loving the feeling of being overseas and kicking French but. They are hunting me through the descent though so I got to take risks and I start thinking of taking line honours. Out of the mountains and at the bottom of the decent is a water table which I am confused about as surely its been close to 10k's already? I ask the dude how many k's and he shouts out "numf ... eh eh ...nine nine nine" That makes sense as 1km to go is fine but then why the first water table I think to myself? Skip the opportunity and bolt through the tree's. Now there are pockets of supporters in the forest and they are shouting "Allez Allez" which is awesome. I ask them all how much farther as I am dying out here now and surely its been 10k's. When they hear the English accent the enthusiasm diminishes and they stare on a little aggrieved. This energises me immensely and more determined than ever to make it home first. I can hear the supporters encouraging the runners behind me to chase the leader. Shit I am now way over 10k's and I know it, but have no idea where I am nor how long this race actually is. I try ask some spectators but they are having none of it.
I got to push on and I know Hedgie will be on the finish line so that is incentive to make it home before anyone else to show some solidarity to our fatherland!
A couple more tough sharp climbs which test every fibre of the muscles and many of the will too ... but then I pop out onto a little country road and see all the cars at the finish. Its in the bag. I am not an official runner though and have no number on my chest. I am hitting it hard to get home now though and the spectators can see I am first dude home and shout out "Allez ..Premier ...Premier ..Allez!" best to keep my mouth shut so I do. Busting up the home straight to the blow up archway finish but I an not officially entered so I pull to the left and leave the tape unbroken. Everyone looks at me with surprise and there is other runner in site. I just shrug my shoulders and say ... I won but I was not aloud to enter as I have no license. They watch me walk away and pretend I never even ran the distance. Hedgie wasn't even there! The punk was flirting with the cute barmaid ...fair enough I suppose. The next runners are home 5 min after me so I actually had a decent cushion. The guy who 'took us out' on the quad bike then recognises me from the early front running and tells some of the relevant officials who are keen to actually include me in the mix. "You are Premier" they explain. "Correct" I agree.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Its a relaxed vibe and something very different to the conference type scenario's I have experienced before. Here everyone is basically left to organise their own vibe based around a schedule that has been created back in Salomon HQ a few weeks ago. No babysitting or loud mouthed punks to tell you what to do, when to do it and all that crap. Its more my style and together with running phenomenon Ryan Sandes we are having a very cool time just letting it flow.
Ryan is fresh off an incredible performance in the Atacama Desert in Chile where he won all 6 stages on offer while totally obliterating any opposition. The dude is really an incredible athlete and even amongst the elite performers that have arrived in Bedoin in the South of France for the conference, I suspect Ryan is at the top of that Pile too ... together with Kiwi Jonathan Wyatt and the strange little 22 year old spanish oakie Kilian who is also some kind of unique specimen (a specimen that Ryan has in his sites I can assure you and can't wait to have a crack at in the near future).
So they chuck all these skinny people together, thread some incredibly technical gear on them and strap some bright red trail shoes to their hooves; then tell them to get running and to take note on how they are feeling about the gear while cruising the trails. Well for the most part I think the 'taking note of how the gear feels' is something that the athletes do while walking around the hotel lobby as once they all get running together they can't help themselves, but to race the shit out each other.
What is realy intereting to me; besides the gear that is astoundingly specific and technically suited to trail running, is how 12 different nations that are represented actually fit so snugly into the stereotypes that have been created around certain countries.
Lets have a look at them:
We have the hometown Frenchies. Aloof, apparently ambivalent and very competative.
The Spanish very layed back, short and tanned even at the end of winter and absent after lunch for what is probably a 3 hour siesta.
Zee Germans and Swiss always wondering why there is no punishment for those not stciking to the already loose schedule and quing at the door of the restaurant with maximum discomfort if 2 min past 1pm sitting.
The Yanks are quite loud of course, think that South Africa is next to Easter Island and mistakingly assume they are the fastest lot here.
Reunion Island locals are I suppose perfectly Reunion Island like ...what would I know right?
Canadian guy is typically always a few steps behind the Americans when ever I see him.
The Kiwi guy and girl are very friendly, have both travelled the world and have no plans of heading back to the Long White Cloud anytime soon. Constantly explaining "no not Australian ... we from Newzilind"
Italians greet each other and others with about 15 "ciao's" a second and have a slick entourage of mafioso looking fella's around most of the time so best I don't say too much about them. I do suspect the guys grandmother is in his hotel room cooking them all pasta and a secret sauce as they have yet to eat in the dinning hall.
Next is the Greeks who are 20 years older than the rest, but must drink litres of Olive Oil daily to remain vigourus.
The Poms ... so white I have not seen much of them against the snowy back drop of the Alps. What I have seen of them has been pretty avg ... I suppose that is true to form then.
The Austrians are a friendly pair and the one dude preaches that Cape Town is without doubt the best city on the Planet. I suspect he is a genius.
And lastly there remains Ryan and Ryan the South African representaivs. We keep to ourselves more than the others (who also seem a bit wary of us) and wonder a bit about why anyone would want to be anything other than a South African. When anyone does show any interest we are patriotic and happy to share our wild stories (backed up by admiring Austrain fella) about snakes and the uniqueness of our country which they listen to incredulously above a dropped jaw. When we are done though it is all just too far away for them to relate to. I'm fine with that.
A great experience so far and as always, the best part of leaving Cape Town is sharpening the hunger for our hometown ... a close 2nd though is the three bite croissants.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
While cruising the Internet I was presented with a picture of a whale swimming in some clear blue water, but although it all looked real, something stood out as not quite right. When I read the caption it revealed itself to be a unique image, shot by photographer Kate Westerway, in that it was printed upside down. She wanted to present the image from the whales perspective.
On New Years Eve I felt a similar feeling when staring up at the sky before going to bed. In the Cape Town city bowl the clouds were covering the sky in little puffs that were packed closely together, but with the full moon behind them, showing the definite spaces between them. I imagined the North Pole and the breaking up of a massive sheet of ice and the Polar Bears moved from small island to small island until they have to swim miles to find some sturdy footing.
This image was also seemed to me to be upside down which made the whole feel extremely surreal and mysterious.