Monday, 30 December 2013

So what will you do in 2014 to change your life?

2013…What a year…

If you had said to me this time last year that I'd be writing from South Africa next year, I would have choked on my chips!

The year started well, I was finishing what was a fairly quiet year at Uni and Beverley had just sailed through her first Christmas at Thursby School, thinking she had the best job in the world! January to June became increasingly very hard work, but I got a zero PSA result in May and when we couldn't have asked for more, Beverley had an epiphany.

As the summer flowed through, it looked more and more likely that we would be joining Julie and Allan in Johannesburg, which we eventually did in November. Just before leaving I got another zero PSA (the 3 year all clear) which was just wonderful, though I had so many vaccinations I think I'm safe to sleep with wild animals and drink from drains now.

Sadly my Mum died on my birthday, 3rd December, and as it turned out, so did my relationship with Paul, Jacqueline and Andre, my siblings. I'd agreed with Mum not to go back to the UK for the funeral, but they couldn't come to terms with that. To make it worse, Mum appointed Paul and I as joint executors and we couldn't agree on anything…I think our Mum would have laughed herself to death; maybe that's why she did it.  

Happy New Year to everyone, especially the people of Penrith who we miss (sometimes :-) and the wonderful parents and children of Thursby Primary School, who still keep in touch. To our friends and families, we look forward to seeing as many of you who can make it down here in 2014. 
OK the flights cost a lot, but when else are you going to get free food and hotel in South Africa?

Don't call me at midnight tomorrow because it will be 2am here!!!

New Years Resolutions? Live every moment as though it's your last! 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

What is 'Wild'?

Mum looks on as her chicks take a dust bath, who cares where….

I wasn't interested in getting any closer……

Wild Dogs take lunch….

White Lions….

and Wild Boar...

'Zoo' is not 'Wild', I think we can agree on that. 
What about Game reserve, Safari Park or even National park, some of which are larger than countries? 
Has 'wild' gone forever, now just a place where humans allow other animals to roam free within boundaries?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Day 2014, Northcliff, Johannesburg….

Freedom and Allan

Beverley, Julie, Allan, Freedom, Sylvia and I had a perfect Christmas Day
lunch, thanks to Beverley's cooking, mine and Allen's washing up, and the great company around the table outside as the warm rain sparkled down on a summers day. Only those present could possibly comprehend the discussions that took place and the plans that were made. 

Daniel and Freedom

Daniel, Julie and Allan

Freedom and Sylvia

Julie, Beverley and Allan

Beverley, before dinner!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

"Coz 94 changed fokol!"

Outside the African Art Museum

I've noticed this slogan posted on buildings and walls all over Johannesburg, this one outside the African Art Museum. I decided to do some research...Translated it means 'Wake up black person'. I think the article below throws a very interesting light on the underlying feelings of this nation as we move past Mandela's death and into a new year….

In South Africa a radical black youth movement is gaining ground. Blackwash addresses the ruling African National Congress’s failure to improve the condition of black people in South Africa. “Coz ’94 changed fokol!”
By Lindy Mtongana, Johannesburg
Dressed in a pair of jeans and a jersey, a backpack slung over his shoulders, Lubabalo Mgwili doesn’t particularly stand out at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Matrix Centre in Johannesburg. In this busy hub where black, Indian, coloured and white students mingle about, buy food and pause to watch the cricket from blaring television screens, Mgwili is just like any other student. The only difference is that to Mgwili this idyllic picture in which scholars of all races mix happily together is all a lie. “There is nothing to celebrate in this new democracy”.
Mgwili is a proud member and campus organiser for Blackwash, a radical, black consciousness youth movement that defines itself as being by blacks, about blacks and for blacks only. Founded in 2009, the movement addresses the ruling African National Congress’s failure to improve the condition of black people in South Africa. “For me the biggest problem was them accepting the 1994 settlement and the constitution that came with it,” says the 20 year old accounting student. “In truth, there is nothing to celebrate post 1994.”
White country
Ncebekazi Manzi, a founding member of Blackwash, says the ANC largely failed to transform the South African society for the benefit of the country’s black majority. “Our assessment is that black people have accepted that this is a white country,” she says.
“They have accepted that they must live in filth and squalor and yet if they walk just for ten minutes they will arrive in Sandton, the richest suburb on the continent. Blackwash is about the historical advantage that white people have accrued for themselves through violence. And how, in protecting the interests of white people, the ANC allows for this quiet violence to continue.”
Blacks only
Mgwili, like other Blackwash members, bears the responsibility of educating fellow students on campus by showing them the fallacies in the promises made by the ANC government in 1994, while preparing them for the revolution that will one day bring about true change. But this obligation does not extend to the white people of South Africa. “Blackwash is a blacks only movement. We are not interested in organising with whites. They should organise themselves."
The main reason for this, Mgwili explains, is because of the black people’s shared history of suffering. “White people’s suffering, whether it is homophobia or whatever, calls for a crisis, but the suffering of black people has been normalised and that is why black people have to organise on their own. The one thing that black people share, that white people can never have, is their black skin, which has become a cause for their oppression.”
The majority rules
Blackwash’s ultimate goal is to achieve what Manzi refers to as a dictatorship of the masses, in which the people make the decisions through processes of direct democracy and the wealth is transferred to the people. As for white people in this future South Africa, Lubabalo says they would be welcome, but would have to comply with the terms of the new state. “We seek to oppress no-one. So white people would fit in, but since it is going to be a dictatorship of the people, and black people are the majority, they are going to have to go with what the majority says.”
Extreme right wing sentiment
The sentiments expressed by Blackwash resonate with a growing number of black people, as evidenced by frequent service delivery protests throughout the country. Lucy Holborn from the South African Institute of Race Relations says, “They are certainly tapping into that group of disenfranchised young South Africans who are mostly black, unemployed and have been largely let down by government.”
But she adds that the racial ideology is “just as dangerous as extreme right wing sentiment and is based on racial stereotypes that are becoming increasingly irrelevant as racial integration and mixing increases around the world.”
Ready for the revolution
In spite of whatever may be happening in the country as far as racial unity is concerned, Blackwash is beginning to occupy an increasingly relevant space in political and racial discourse in South Africa. What started as a conversation between like-minded and equally frustrated friends is gaining momentum.
The movement is active in four major cities and is represented by student groups throughout the country. Their national meeting last year attracted 400 people; this is expected to double in 2011. Before their Facebook group was shut down, Blackwash had over 2000 members. And after one of their most prominent members, Andile Mngxitama, was interviewed on a national radio station, Blackwash administrators were bombarded with 300 emails within an hour.
Blackwash members say that the moment of change in South Africa could arise at any time. And therefore it is key that the revolutionaries are ready. To this end, Blackwash continues to actively awake the consciousness of young black people in the country with their simple slogan, “Vuka darkie (wake up, black person), coz ’94 changed fokol!”

Could it be 50,000 hits on Christmas Day?

50,000 hits for a blog that's been going 3 years is not bad. Thank you to all who drop in either daily, or just from time to time. Happy Christmas to you all.

Are you going out to lunch tomorrow?  Christmas Day should be the one day in the year that you stay at home. Why? Because if you go out and expect others to do all the cooking and serving, then you're being plain selfish, don't you think? What about their Christmas? Do you care?

I know the excuses you'll give yourself…
They get extra pay, we pay a high enough price, I cook every day so why can't I have a day off, they advertise…you'll justify it in any way you can!

Let me tell you, nobody likes to work Christmas day, and if they say they do, they are either lying or haven't got a life. I worked Christmas Day for Whitbread for 20 years. At first it was treble time and time off in lieu, which was an incentive! Eventually, there were never enough people who wanted to work Christmas Day and it was only by veiled threats and blackmail that you could get anyone to show up. Being mainly young, they invariably went out and got pissed on Christmas Eve, which didn't make for a cheery person the next morning. However, as a customer who had paid £40 a head, you would expect some cheerful reception and some bloody good food and service on that day. 
As a manager, to make the day profitable you had to do as many sittings as possible, literally pulling customers from their seats to fit the next ones in as soon as you could. The turkey slices were so thin you'd think they come out of the fax machine and anyone who complained, you just gave them a free voucher for January.  

Well that was true of most managers, but not at my place! I did one sitting, but pretended to head office that I was doing three by simply staggering the one sitting into three half hour sittings. Our portions were great, the customers were delighted and I had so many staff on that service was amazing. Once the customers had gone, I then allowed any staff who wanted to have a free dinner to stay, and they also had a 'free bar' where we had a very popular, 'bollocks to head office' toast! They were always the most important people to me because we were living our lives together. 'The nice customer is always right', was the way we operated and that brought trade in because we wouldn't tolerate unpleasant people.

On the upside the staff stayed longer with me than anywhere else, the customers were so delighted with Christmas that it became a loss leader for the rest of the year and head office had other things to worry about once the accountants thought they could run pubs; and the decline continues.

How did I do it? 
I just took a massive bollocking every January for having poor food stock results, diabolical drink margins and a wage bill that could have funded a lunar landing. Funny thing was, the person bollocking me, and the person telling them to bollock me, always had two weeks off for Christmas! My results for the year were always great so that kept my job, but I'd have been sacked every year just for Christmas!

So unless you can convince me otherwise, you are being very selfish if you expect someone else to give up their Christmas Day tomorrow just so you can indulge yourself. 

This year is the first year since 1955 that I've spent Christmas outside the UK. 
I had four Christmases in Ireland before that, which sadly I don't remember. I haven't sent any cards and not recieved any, though Sasha said she sent one. Like everything, the post moves slowly down here.

Monday, 23 December 2013

How fast can you take your trousers off?

I found out tonight! Can't remember why I went to the bedroom, but there on the floor near the patio door, a lizard lay as if waiting for someone to open the door. I obliged thinking it would shoot straight out into the moist garden. No, it ran back into the room! I blocked it's run with my foot, thinking, that should be big enough to scare it. I've no idea what the lizard was thinking, but I think it saw my trouser leg as a safe dark tunnel to hide in.

I'm describing mili-seconds now… 

I could feel it's little legs scrambling up my leg, inside my trousers, but at the same speed I was pulling my pants off. I had nothing of value inside there but at the top lay some precious items that I wasn't going to risk to this unknown species. The trousers flew in the air, by luck I landed on the bed and somehow the lizard stuck to the wall where we both eyeballed each other with matching heartbeats. 

I put some shorts on and left the room, I wasn't going to play games with this fast mover. Later I saw him on the bathroom window, and as I opened it, I closed my mouth, just in case, but he happily jumped into the wide open outside. I need a better plan next time!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

We met Sol Rachilo in Downtown Johannesburg...

 I was trying to decide between a plate of wild african mushrooms covered in cheese or a bowl full of Mopane Worms simmered in garlic, when we were interrupted by such a cheerful chap. Sol Rachilo introduced himself, a local poet but one of international acclaim, he went on to tell us all about his work. He left us with one of his poems, 'Marikana Massacre' which also appears in his latest book, 'Home at last in Soweto; has the dust settled?' You can buy this on Amazon and also at The Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Memorial Soweto Theatre Foyer and Solrhabooks in Newtwon.

It was a pleasure to take a photo of the man himself here on the right accompanied by a close friend of his and in the background on the wall his work is advertised.
He made his name as a TV actor and did some radio but increasingly found himself  an 'Arts Activist', portraying amongst other things the terrible times suffered by the students of Soweto in the 1976 uprising. "We shall overcome", was their defiant cry, but only without great loss until aparthied was eventually overturned in 1994. A true pleasure to meet such a prominent Sophiatown gentleman and an incredible feeling that we live in Northcliff, right next to the district of Soweto.

You guessed, I went for the mushrooms, maybe the worms another time after a few more drinks...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Monkey WHAT sauce?

It's been one of those strange days! The news this morning told of how gays in Utah were celebrating the right to get married while at the same time in Uganda, either being a gay or knowingly hiding the fact that someone else was gay, carried a life sentance. On the bright side, it used to be death by firing squad! Canada has just relaxed it's prostitution laws while Spain has tightened up it's abortion legislation. The same day in Nigeria, a 'baby for sale' factory was uncovered containing 19 women all about to 'pop one out' within the next 2 months. Then, I'm informed on the Prostate Cancer charity site that oral hygiene could contribute to the disease! If I'd known, I'd have used more floss!
So why should it come as a surprise that Beverley found 'Monkey Gland' sauce at the local supermarket? It just had to happen!

Throw away the broken glass….

I've walked around many European art galleries and in some (not all!) I've carried a piece of broken glass in my hand, just to squeeze when I became drowsy. Today's experience was very different…

Ben Nsusha's work attacks you as you walk in, each piece demanding your attention and still looking on at you as you move through the exhibition at Johannesburg's Museum of African Art. Julie is trying to engineer a trip to London for Ben and his amazing work; here's just a taste….

What do you think? Have you any contacts who could help?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

They ejected their wings...

I caught an insect in the kitchen tonight, it   looked like a dragon fly when in flight and nearly as big. I opened the window to throw it out and 4 of his mates immediately flew in and a thousand more wanted to follow. I managed to put a glass over the 4 that got in and that's when the amazing thing happened. One by one they just ejected their wings and started running around like wee beetles, their bodies about an inch long. I've since found they are termites and swarm when conditions are right for breeding. Not in my house you don't! 

Security is something I couldn't talk about...

Security is something I couldn't talk about until today, because I didn't want  everyone know that we didn't have any! Northcliffe is one of the nicer areas in Johannesburg with a relatively low crime rate, unlike the very wealthy areas where some houses are like fortresses; security lights and detectors surround the buildings, bars on all windows, electrified razor wire on all fences, big dogs patrolling the inner perimeters and armed guards look after the streets outside. You could never get near those houses, never mind break in!

A little more low key here… You drive up to the automatic gate and check there is nobody hanging around outside and that your car doors are locked. The gate opens, you drive in and close the gate behind you. This is where you disarm the alarm system. You then operate the remote garage door, drive in and bring the garage door down behind you before exiting the car; there's a door from the garage directly into the house. We have no electric fences, dogs or bars on the windows, but we do have an alarm system. When we go out, all alarms are on and if they go off the security company guarantee to have 4 armed guards at the house within 2 minutes, and they phone us. If we are in during the day, there's not much to worry about, and at night we can switch on the outside detectors until bed time before going to bed with the full system on. Either way, if the alarms go off we get immediate attention, and if we need fire, ambulance or police, the alarm company take care of that. If we come home at any time of the day and it looks like we have dodgy people outside, the security guys will come round and see us safely in, so we feel well looked after. Personally I'd feel safer still with a gun in the house but we are told that most robbers are armed and they nearly always operate in gangs. By being unarmed they might still rough you up but usually will not kill you!

Most South African's take 2 to 3 sugars in tea and coffee, I found this out from making a brew for the various visitors we've had this week. I told the security guy that most people in England don't have any in their tea or coffee and he was amazed. "Sugar is natural and gives you energy" he explained. I told him that in the UK people think sugar's bad for you and if they need to sweeten their drinks they prefer to use saccharin, which is a derivative of 'rat poison'. He seemed confused, but I assured him that we had complete faith in our health advisors. 

We now have the internet, no more bloody slow dongles which cost a fortune. So we are streaming our first film tonight and can't wait for the footie on Saturday. Just in time for Christmas too, though even saying that word in the middle of summer here still sounds daft. Where's my snow? Went through Facebook today and cut my friends list from around 300 down to 250. I worry about the 'friends' who are always looking in but never say anything; kind of spooky!

5 Mozza bites yesterday but I think my body's started to get used to them. Nowhere near the reaction I got during my first weeks. The mozza killer is called 'Doom' and I don't like using it but anything that wants to feed on me has to be seen as the enemy. We found a very big 'Violin Spider' in the kitchen last night, twice the size of our cuddly english spiders, it seemed to have muscles. Beverley caught it under a glass and as I tried to put it outside it ran back towards me, can't tell you have fast I can run backwards!

When you park the car at the supermarket, or anywhere else, there's always a guy, who looks after your car. Sometimes it's a homeless person who puts on a high visibility vest to make him more official, but whoever it is, he'll be there when you come back. We give a 3R tip and as part of that service they will guide you out of the parking slot. It's only a matter of time before I crush or kill one of these guys and when reversing, I try and keep track of them in my 3 mirrors as they jump from side to side waving their arms, signalling a code that I've yet to crack! 

Not far off the 50,000 hits on the blog now, never thought it would get that big when it all started 3 years ago. If I get say around 200 or so hits a day, of those, 110 will be UK around 60 USA and the rest dotted around the world in very unexpected places. China, Germany, Philippines, France, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Poland all feature regularly, but I'm told that a lot of the USA one's could be automated drones that drag the internet for information; how frightening is that?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The wake was amazing….

Don't write a blog when you're pissed…. I'm glad I waited a few days because had I published Monday night…. well it just wouldn't have worked…...

I went with Beverley on Monday morning to St Charles Roman Catholic Church, the most beautiful of buildings. After looking around I wanted time to myself, so Beverley drifted off around the outside to explore. I sat at the front near the alter, trying to figure out what I was suppose to be thinking. I'd said all my goodbyes to my Mum, it was as though the funeral had taken place already!   It was nice to have time to reflect on my Mum's life and what she meant to me. Sometimes I smiled to myself, other times were a little sad but reflection was important because some memories I could only share with myself. Like when I was a little boy, about 7 and I went to a public toilet. I heard a hissing sound but having never heard the fuse of a firework burning down, I didn't realise my mum was about to flick a chinese cracker under the door. It shot around the cubicle, each bang propelling it to the next wall, floor or ceiling, each crack echoing louder in the hollowness of the toilet. By the time it'd stopped I'd done my business (everywhere). A person with a weaker heart may have died!
After a while I went and lit a candle for my Mum as I had done in years gone by in many churches around the world. I noticed 14 other candles already lit and wondered what the the stories behind those were. I then left a message in the book of remembrance before meeting Beverley's smiley face in the sunshine outside.

We then met up with Julie and Allan and all went to Gilroy's Irish Bar, where we had the best time imaginable.
Gilroy on the right with Peter

Gilroy himself announced my Mother's wake and everyone in the place, around 300, stood up to toast her passing. Then they dedicated an Irish favourite to my Mum, 'Ellen Laffan', she would have loved that. We drank all afternoon with some of the friendliest people I'd ever met, singing and dancing until we couldn't dance any more. Gilroy was born in Liverpool to an Irish family and moved over here many years ago. He used to have hits in the 60's over in England, I need to research him a bit more, but what a character! All the music was from the 60's, a hell of a mix but the place was jumping and Beverley and I danced until we dropped!

Getting home was fun, our taxi just didn't show up so we ended up in a minibus that picks up mainly black South Africans from the roadsides. It felt safe enough but the young girl in the back convinced me it wasn't our safest option of getting home; but I explained that right now it was our only option, to which she laughed. On the way the driver did a drop off in what was the first real shanty town I'd ever seen. Imagine a large allotment in England, and I mean very large, well the buildings were not as posh as that and they were crammed together, almost as if bulldozed from every side so that the corrugated metal, planks of wood and anything else that could make a wall just seemed to balance. Our taxi driver eventually found us waiting for the next mini bus, which was fortunate as I wouldn't have liked to be where we were after dark.

Julie and Beverley

Sasha called me half way through the wake, which was just great and Chantal and Luci, who went to the service checked in by Skype later. Three of the loveliest kids that anyone could ever wish for. Thanks girls! xxxxxx

Luci took photos of the flowers

So all in all not a bad week and one that has certainly united the Sencier family. From the very first day, just getting those precious phone calls from my brothers and sister saying that Mum had passed away, made me feel as though I was no longer alone. I'd had the honour of supporting both Paul and Andre through some very bad times over recent years, so it was good to see them come to my rescue, which I knew they would. We'd never been that close a family so this was especially nice and Mum would have loved to see this reunification. She named Paul and I as joint executors, this showed she had faith and trust in us both to look after things for her when she had gone. We planned the funeral just as we thought she might have wanted it and it was good that all four of us had input into the order of service and to have chosen the songs and prayers that we all knew our Mum liked so much.
She had left a letter saying she had no favourites which was lovely of her, so it was fitting that we all had a part in the funeral arrangements. Chantal and Luci said that it was a lovely family day both at the church and the crematorium, and everyone was asking for me, which was just great. I must take full responsibility for Chantal's name being spelt wrong on the order of service, I was asked to look it over before it went to print and I just don't know how I missed that! I wonder if Mary and David were there, or Teresa? I know that Paddy, Betty and Maria were, I must have mislaid the guest list amongst the vast amount of other information that I recieved from East Anglia that week. 
I do appreciate all the work they put in on the ground while I was so far away, it can't have been easy, but once again Paul, Andre and Jacqueline thank you so much for everything. Because of your efforts I will always remember Mum's special day knowing that even she would have a chuckle reading this.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Ellen Patricia Laffan, my Mum...

Ellen Patricia Laffan 1929 - 2013

 Irish Prayer    

May those who love us, love us;
and those who don't love us,
may God turn their hearts;
and if He doesn't turn their hearts,
may he turn their ankles
so we'll know them by their limping.

Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again, May God hold
you in the hollow of his hand.

Goodbye Mum….  Daniel xxx

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Eaten by a lion….

When I saw my Mum for the last time a few weeks ago, I told her I was going to Africa. She said, "That's a bit extreme, isn't it?" We joked about me getting eaten by a lion before she died… I haven't been eaten yet Mum, but this one's for you! 
The funeral's tomorrow, I'm going to St Charles Roman Catholic Church followed by Gilroy's Bar for the wake with Beverley, Julie and Allan. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Supermarkets are very different here...

Think Africa, think UK, I bet you think it's a bit backward over here, don't you? How wrong could you be! I can't think of anything in a Johannesburg supermarket that is not way, way ahead of that in the United Kingdom. Why do they call it 'United'?

Let's take it from arriving in the car park… There are attendants everywhere, directing you to a parking place, greeting you and pointing you the right way. Those same people are waiting for you to appear later so they can guide you to your car, help you unload your shopping and then take your trolley away. They then rush back, guide you out of the parking place and we usually give a small tip, 3 Rand (20p) is customary.

Once inside, you are greeted and you soon get used to the vast amount of staff, falling over themselves to help you. You don't have to find someone to help you, just stand there and look puzzled. Within seconds you will be noticed and you will be helped! I was carrying 3 items because Beverley had gone ahead with the trolley (she often does), this was immediately picked up on and a young assistant rushed over and offered to carry the items for me.

The meat section is beyond belief, you can buy anything up to and including a whole sheep, pig or cow, and yes, they wheel those through the check-out! In the UK when you cook the meat, especially bacon, see all that scummy watery stuff that floats out; not here. The chickens in the UK freezers are all the same weight, go check. That's because they are injected with water and other chemicals to become a standard size. Here, all chickens are a different weight, bloody obvious when you think about it! Vegetables and fruit,
I can't keep up with, there's so many I don't even recognise. If you've ever been on holiday to France, you'll know how good the shops are there. Multiply that by 3 and you're somewhere close.

Everything is half price or less than the UK, yes, everything without exception! At the entrance, you scan your loyalty card, a screen comes up with today's promotions on. You see what they are and if you might be going to purchase any of them, you print your money off voucher there and then. Not like in the UK where you forget the vouchers you recieved in the post so they tell you how sorry they are (not) but you should have brought them with you!

At the till, they always pack your bags for you, if you can't manage them they will help you to your car. There are always about 20 to 30 check-outs but only one queue, directed by a single person who tells you which check out is free next, so never a wait.

Get this…Wine is on sale in the supermarket BUT spirits and beer are NOT! They are served in a separate shop beside the supermarket. Why? Wine is considered a civilised dinner accompaniment, even if you drink 12 bottles of it. Beer and spirits are more of a 'rough image' product, you go in those shops at the risk of bumping into people who are more accustomed to the evil drug, that is alcohol!

Wine ranges in price from around £1 a bottle up to the very expensive nearly £6 a bottle.
The barbed wire around this drink is real, what a sales gimmick!
We tend to go for the very acceptable £2.50 range which is top notch. We started buying 5 litre boxes because at £6 you had the wine supply for the week, but then there's the tendency to have 'just another', and after a while we just couldn't cope! A litre bottle of Gordon's Gin cost us £7 today, whilst stocking up for Christmas, and the same with Famous Grouse whiskey. Why don't you riot UK? You are being screwed into the ground! Seriously, how much more will you take of this?

Saw Alison Moyet in concert last night at the 'Emperor's Palace', a fair attempt to copy 'Cesar's Palace' in Las Vegas. She looked better than she did 20 years ago and sang just as well. Beverley and I ended up dancing next to the stage in front of around 10,000 mainly white South Africans. I still don't fully understand the black / white thing yet, I'll try and get a better handle on it and explain with a bit more knowledge later.

Supermarket entrance in Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela's funeral tomorrow and the heavens have opened with a severe thunderstorm over Johannesburg right now. Every shop, supermarket, garage and office seems to have a book of remembrance to sign and flowers and candles surrounding it, with a promise to pass this on to his family; I hope they have a very big warehouse! If there ever was a man on earth who was close to God, it was certainly Madiba, the father of this nation, and I hope they can get by without him.