Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cricket and pyjama cricket

FASCINATING research figures the International Cricket Council has come up with. The game has more than a billion fans, world-wide.

What are they going to do with this information? Seventy percent of respondents support Test cricket (86% in England and Wales). South Africans show 86% interest in the one-day format; Pakistanis support T20 96%.

Bearing in mind the board game analogy – Test cricket is chess, one-day is draughts and T20 snakes and ladders – the ICC need to be very careful not to chase the numbers (and the money) at the expense of real cricket. The current controversy in England over attempts to introduce a dumbed-down format called "The Hundred" is cause for concern. There's even talk that it could supplant the current county championship.

Play pyjama cricket with a white ball by all means. Have fun! But keep a balance. There's nothing more thrilling and beguiling than Test cricket. Besides, it confuses the hell out of the Americans. That's always a plus.

Game's on

SO IT'S back to Kings Park and Super Rugby tomorrow. It's the auld enemy, the Lions.

Our fellows were so well represented in the Bok camp for the Tests against England that in theory we should be a formidable combination.

But rugby is not about theory, it's about 80 minutes on the field, seizing every opportunity, staying wide awake, tackling, tackling, tackling. Anything can happen.

We need the points. They need the points. The play-offs beckon. This is certain to be a humdinger. Cossack dancing in the Duikers' Club?

Ole, ole, ole!

Bus dispute

AN ACCOUNT comes this way of a bus driver with the wisdom of Solomon.

Two women were fighting over the last vacant seat on the bus. The conductor tried to intervene but was told to get lost.

The driver: "Get a grip, will you! Let the ugly one take the seat!"

The scrap subsided. Both women stood for the rest of the journey.

Yes, the wisdom of Solomon.

Tick, tick …

THE  clock ticks for Brexit. The say an exit deal has to be nailed down by October, otherwise it's too late to meet the deadline. They're nowhere near a deal.

They have to work out how the "soft" border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can be retained with the UK out of the customs union.

Airbus says it will relocate from Britain if nothing is worked out. That's 14 000 highly skilled jobs and another 130 000 in supply operations.

Er, could all the details not have been worked out before Article 50 – the divorce process – was triggered?

A cliff-edge Brexit? Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

Flying flamingo

NEXT time flamingos put in an appearance at Blue Lagoon or in the harbour, keep an eye open for No 492. He's a flamingo with such a taste for travel that anything is possible.

No 492 – that's the number on a ring on his leg – was spotted a week or so ago flying among seagulls at Lavaca Bay, in Texas, according to Huffington Post. He's also been seen flying in the company of a Caribbean flamingo, who might be his mate.

No 492 started out in Tasmania, then spent some time in South Africa (though it's not explained exactly how this happened). Then he was among 40 flamingos that were captured and sent to a Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, in the US.

The zoo people put the 492 ring on his leg, but next thing he escaped one stormy night of high winds. This was 10 years ago and he's been at large ever since, being spotted at various locations in America. He is believed to be about 22 years old.

"It's a testament to the adaptability of these animals," says Scott Newland, curator of birds at Sedgwick County Zoo, from which 492 escaped.

"The zoo has never tried to recapture the bird because it began its life in the wild and is naturally wary of being approached by people."



CUSTOMER in a bar: "I'd like something tall, icy and full of gin."

Barman (over his shoulder into the kitchen): "Oi, Doris! Someone to see ya."

Last word

Political advertising ought to be stopped. It's the only really dishonest kind of advertising that's left.

David M. Ogilvy

The Idler, Thursday, June 28, 2018

That stirring speech

A SIGNIFICANT anniversary passed almost unnoticed this week. Fifty-five years ago on Tuesday, US president John F Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech (I am a Berliner).
He was speaking to huge crowds at the infamous Berlin Wall that separated West from East Berlin, West Berlin being an enclave in communist East Germany, controlled by the US, Britain and France, part of the unfinished business of World War II.
West Berlin was a place of freedom, Kennedy declared. People around the world who believed in freedom were all of them citizens of Berlin.
"Ich bin ein Berliner!"
Heady stuff! Right under the noses of the commies. 
One problem though. In the local idiom, a "Berliner" is a jam doughnut. So Kennedy was saying: "I am a jam doughnut!"
It took 26 years, but eventually the values of the jam doughnut prevailed over the iron-hard authoritarianism of the Soviet Union and its satellites. The Berlin Wall came down. 
Is this a metaphor?
And what of other walls? Donald Trump's Great Wall of Mexico? Will a jam doughnut emerge to frustrate that plan?

Deep divisions

KENNEDY, a Democrat, took over from Eisenhower, a Republican. The transition was seamless. That was a feature of the American system in those days.
People fought an election, called each all kinds of uncomplimentary things, then accepted the outcome. Everyone closed ranks for a few years.
Today? A year into Trump's presidency the place is still riddled with unpleasantness, a country deeply divided.
Take this business of the three pastors, two rabbis and two retired judges who are trying to revoke the liquor licence of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Local by-laws require that only a person "of good character" can hold a liquor licence. The group have approached the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board asking for the licence to be revoked due to Trump's "egregious conduct", according to the BBC.
This attempt surely cannot have a snowball's hope. It can be seen as astonishingly petty. But does it not indicate a degree of desperation in a divided America? One gets a sense of social unravelling. 
'Tis as sad as it's alarming.

Rupee rat

A RAT got into an ATM in India and ate rupees worth R260 000. But rats and rupees don't go well together. When bank employees opened the ATM, they found a lot of chewed banknotes and a dead rat, according to The Huffington Post.
It happened in the town of Tinsukia. The rat seems to have got into the ATM through a gap for cables.


WHO would take a trip down the sewers of London? Not too many, one imagines. 
Yet they're flocking to the Museum of London to look at a piece of a "fatberg", according to Sky News.
What is a fatberg? No, it's got nothing to do with the damsels of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, it's a lump of congealed fat, oil and wet wipes that gathers in the sewers.
The piece on display in 
the Museum of London was taken from a "monster fatberg" that was found under the streets of Whitechapel. It was 250m in length and weighed 130 tons.
People have been flocking into the museum to view the mini-fatberg, so much so that the curators are looking to a way to preserve it for future viewers.
Nowt so queer as folk.


A POLISH woman is having her eyes tested. The optician shows her a chart with the letters CKOPVWXCZY.
"Can you read this?"
"Sure I can read it. But how did you know my maiden name?"

Last word

I'm not concerned about all hell breaking loose, but that a PART of hell will break loose… it'll be much harder to detect. – George Carlin

The Idler, Wednesday, June 27

Plastic, plastic everywhere …

NOW it's official. Micro-plastics have contaminated every part of the world's oceans, including the remote Southern Ocean. They are affecting not just the whales, the penguins and other marine life, they've entered the food chain and are slowly killing off the human race.

When you look at what the human race gets up to, some might say that's no bad thing, but let's get real – this is no time for abstract philosophy. We have to do something about it. Three generations down the line the position will be critical, according to Sky News, which is itself campaigning against plastics pollution.

The information comes from seawater samples collected on the 45 000-mile Volvo Ocean Race. Micro-plastics are everywhere.

Dr Luiza Mirpuri, medical adviser to a Portuguese foundation that is also campaigning against plastic in the oceans, describes the findings as "catastrophic". Plastic, she says, is "slowly killing the human race."

Fortunately, the remedy is pretty straightforward. Just stop using plastics for food wrappings, containers, straws and bottles – revert to paper, cardboard and glass, the way we did it right up until relatively recently.

Recycling of plastic, and deposits on plastic bottles, can be only a partial solution. Go back to paper/cardboard wrappings and you kill the problem stone dead.

Let's face it, we have a throwaway culture worldwide. But paper bags and straws biodegrade fast as they are washed down our drains into our rivers and towards the sea. Any glass bottles that find their way into the sea grind down into granules that become part of the seasand.

The switch would be inconvenient, of course. An oil by-product would become redundant. But the alternative technology is there and merely needs to be boosted.

Does humankind have it in its genes to rescue itself?


AT FIRST glance this seemed like a mugshot of one of the habitues of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties. But it turns out it's an English bulldog called Zsa Zsa that has won this year's World's Ugliest Dog contest.

It's the underbite, the excessively long tongue and the slobbering that suggested the Street Shelter late at night.

The dog's owner, Megan Brainard, of Anoka, Minnesota, in the US, gets a prize of $1 500 (R20 350) from the contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair at Petulma, near San Franciso. The annual event is in aid of the adoption of dogs that have lost their homes.




THERE'S been the dickens of a row over England footballer Raheem Sterling having an M16 assault rifle tattooed on his leg. Now an American with a handgun tattooed on his forehead has been arrested.

But the arrest was not because of the tattoo. Michael Vines, 24, is prohibited from carrying a firearm, because he has a rap sheet that includes multiple narcotics convictions, according to Huffington Post.

When he crashed his car into an electricity pole the other night, at Greenville, South Carolina, in the US, firefighters saw him toss a handgun into the grass. It turned out to be a fully loaded Smith & Wesson .38.

Vines seems a charming character. It's not actually illegal to have a gun tattooed on your forehead (or on your leg if you're a footballer) but it's surely so offensive it ought to be.

High flier

THE English county of Derbyshire has launched its own space programme. Last week the pupils of St Anselm's Preparatory School launched into the stratosphere a homemade pudding tart known as a "bakewell".

But they didn't use a rocket. They used a high altitude balloon with tracking devices attached, according to Sky News. Its position can be tracked on a computer and it has been traced to a position high over Lincolnshire, way out of sight.

The school science project hopes it will reach an altitude of 350km.

Nobody knows whether the balloon will eventually return to earth, nor if so where. But if it should land somewhere – yum yum! - the tart is likely to need defrosting. It's currently at a temperature of minus 46 degrees centigrade.



THIS fellow is in a bookstore. He asks a woman behind the counter: "Do you keep stationery?"

"No, usually I wriggle a bit."


Last word

One man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven't and don't.

George Bernard Shaw




The Idler, Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Ah so – bird droppings!

CANNABIS plants have been found growing in the grounds of a Japanese parliamentary building in Tokyo, according to the BBC.

It's embarrassing because Japan has a strict no-tolerance policy towards drugs and possession of even a small amount of cannabis carries a jail term of up to five years.

A parliamentary official said cannabis seeds could be carried by the wind or in bird droppings.

Yeah, that's a good one to tell the beak. Hmmm. The work gang who fixed my roof some years ago surely couldn't have relocated to Japan?

A week or two after they left, a cluster of dagga plants . sprang up where they took tea breaks in the shade. My already highly-strung Irish terrier chewed on a couple of the leaves and then tore about the yard screaming and doing somersaults.

Bird droppings of course.

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener covers some ground in his latest grumpy newsletter. He skips from the proposed national health service to a new Madiba T-shirt to the Football World Cup.

On Dr Aaron Motsoaledi's proposed national health service: "Is it boring to note that getting to that nirvana must begin from the current system of which he is already in charge and which doesn't do a very good job?

"Aside from the tired old mantra that 'the rich will pay for the poor' he needs to show us his workings on the numbers of qualified specialists, doctors, nurses and other industry workers that the dream entails, where they will be trained and what they will be paid.

"These figures will undoubtedly show that despite appearances, the rich are woefully incapable of funding such a grandiose dream. Far richer nations than ours are grappling with this sort of problem. It doesn't help that here our population growth far outstrips our economic one."

Then there's the odd story about the T-shirt we are expected to buy to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday.

"This apparently simple fund-raising project looks like a rat's nest of broken pledges and hypocritical deal-making. The T-shirt which carries an unfamiliar portrait of a smiling Madiba also carries the words 'Embedded in the African DNA'.

"This meaningless scientific jargon helps to divert attention from the news that the cloth on which it is printed is cotton that was grown, spun, woven and dyed all in Mauritius, which is deemed to be African on those occasions when it is useful.

"Apparently this offshore production is OK, because the factory on that island is owned by the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union. Workers there are reportedly paid by output and not by hours worked, a system not encouraged by that union in South Africa. It is uncertain if they are members of their employer's union."

On the Football World Cup: "The back to back immediacy of the tournament, which is now at the stage where favourites are being ejected, is almost exciting. Also, it's fascinating to witness how players are able to inflict life-threatening injury on each other with the lightest of touches. Fortunately, most of the victims do also have miraculous powers of recovery soon after they find out that no one, especially the referee, cares very much."


DURBAN poet Sarita Mathur has discovered a new religious sect.

Everywhere I go,

I see people

With heads bowed low,

Walking as if in prayer.

Or sitting in restaurants

Not eating

Or talking to friends

Or family at the table,

Just heads bowed low,

Looking at their cellphone.

Laughing at it,

Smiling at it.


Snubbing the people

They are with:

In favour of those

not present with them.

Yes, it's actually a real word.

This I learnt,

Coined in 2018.

All over I see people

Heads bowed as if in prayer

Talking , tapping

On their cellphone .

The virtual world 🌎

Is taking over,

And we aren't even taking


We're slaves to technology.

Soon we will be lacking in humanity.

Everywhere I go I see people,

With heads bowed low,

As if in prayer,

Talking on their cellphone.






PADDY and Mick are shocked to find three hand grenades in a field they are ploughing.

"We better take dem to de Garda," says Paddy. "Put dem in de boot of de car."

"What if one of dem blows up?"

"Den we tell dem we found just two."


Last word


Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein




The Idler, Thuirsday, June 21, 2018

Stadiums of the future

RUSSIA has built some splendid stadiums for the current Football World Cup. State of the art sports architecture. But what will they use them for when it's over?

Every few years it happens. Huge, unaffordable stadiums are built in various countries. There's fun and games for a few weeks, then the hangover. What do you do with these massifs?

One hears that in South America at least one has been converted into a jail. Others have become shelters for the homeless. Is this really what the host countries had in mind?

Take our Moses Mabhida stadium which today languishes at enormous cost as a venue for club soccer and little else. The playing field is too small even for T20 cricket and it's totally unsuitable for rugby because the oval seating makes it impossible to discern the gain line.

It could become a mother ship to flying saucers, but so far nothing has come of the city's marketing attempts in that direction.

And every time there's another Football World Cup, somewhere the cycle of futility is repeated. The host country revels in its moment of braggadocio, then spends decades picking up the tab and trying to find a use for its silent, empty stadiums.

This was a topic of conversation the other evening in a hostelry in Florida Road when – bingo! – a shaft of genius from a certain individual.

Why not build portable football stadiums, he said. Make a rubber replica of Moses Mabhida, say, pump it full of compressed air and – voila! – you've got a stadium. Then when the tournament is over, you let out the air, pack the rubber into a trailer and tow it to the next big event.

It's an idea that is breathtaking in its scope. Portable football stadiums for South America, Europe – wherever the World Cup beckons.

Stand by for Florida Road Air Stadiums Inc. And remember where you read it first.


MEANWHILE, football fans in Mexico set off a minor earth tremor as they jumped up and down in excitement as their team beat Germany in the World Cup match in Russia.

Thousands had gathered to watch a giant TV screen in Mexico City. As Hirving Lozano scored the winning goal, a seismic monitoring agency pickerd up the tremor.Simmsa.

"The earthquake detected in Mexico City originated artificially," the agency, Simmsa, said. "Possibly by massive jumps during the goal of Mexico in the World Cup."

At least two sensors detected the tremor.


Pence offer

DONALD Trump's meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un continues to yield results.

According to the New Yorker, Trump has unilaterally offered to let Kim have Vice-President Mike Pence as his personal manservant.

The offer reportedly came after Kim spoke glowingly to Trump about the Vice-President's obsequiousness.

"Even by North Korean standards, Pence puts my toadies to shame," Kim reportedly said.

"At least Trump didn't give away much this time," one diplomat said of the deal.

Yes, this is that scamp satirist Andy Borowitz at it again. It's difficult these days for satirists to stay ahead of what's actually happening.


A ROUTINE traffic stop in New Jersey, in the US, turned into an extraordinary reunion.


New Jersey State Trooper Michael Patterson stopped Matthew Bailly in Kingwood Township for having tinted windows.

Bailly told Patterson he himself was retired from the Piscataway police force. That piqued Patterson's interest since Piscatawy is his home town. They got chatting

When Patterson mentioned the street he grew up on, Bailly remembered delivering a baby there as a rookie cop 27 years ago and remembered the style of the house and that the baby was named Michael.

Then Patterson extended his hand and introduced himself formally. "My name is Michael Patterson, sir," he told Bailly. "Thank you for delivering me."

The two took a photo together at the scene of the traffic stop. Patterson later brought his mother to Bailly's home, where the two cops took another photo. Both pictures, along with the story, were posted on Facebook by the New Jersey State Police.

They let Bailly off on the tinted windows rap, telling him to get new, clear glass.



SHE was complaining the other night that I never listen to her. Or something like that...


Last word

The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.

Peter Ustinov




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Idler, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kick of destiny

FREE State stadium stood in a moment's silence last weekend to mark the death, aged 76, of Syd Nomis, the brilliantly mercurial Springbok and Transvaal threequarter – he played centre and wing – who scored six tries in 25 Tests in the late 60s and early 70s (a time when Test matches were few and far between).

A YouTube video now recalls Nomis's first try for the Boks, at Ellis Park. It was from a diagonal punt which fell magically into his arms as he ran full-tilt for a sensational try.

What made the try especially unusual was that the diagonal kick came not from the flyhalf but from the hooker. Also that the hooker, Gys Pitzer, was actually trying to kick for touch the other side of the field, but the ball came off the wrong side of his boot, providing Nomis the wonderful diagonal punt.

This was confirmed by Nomis in the same video. When he thanked Pitzer for the superb kick that brought him his first Springbok try, he replied: "Don't be silly, I tried to kick it into touch the other way."

A hooker upstages his flyhalf with a kick for touch that comes off the wrong side of his boot to create the perfect diagonal punt for the wing to score. This story has the absolute ring of truth.



NIGGLE, niggle. A lot of our sportswriters and rugby commentators describe the diagonal punt for the winger – used a lot these days - as a "crosskick".

That's just wrong. A crosskick is when the winger, hemmed in against the touchline, kicks infield to his forwards for them to collect and make for the posts.

It's not used that often these days, but could be worth trying again because it has the cover defence rushing in exactly the opposite direction.

Also, these guys keep describing the loose forwards as the "back row". That might have been accurate when the eighth man and the flanks bound together and pushed against the locks in the 3-2-3 scrum but that ended when – was it the 1920s? – today's 3-4-1 formation was adopted.

A back row of one man is not much of a row.

Here endeth the niggles.




FATHER'S Day story. Curtis May's daughter and granddaughter took him out to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, in New York, for a Father's Day lunch last weekend.

Curtis ordered a burger, asking that cheddar cheese and mayonnaise be added to it.

He enjoyed his burger but, according to Huffington Post, when the bill came, the girls noticed that the cheese and mayo request had been added to the slip, followed by the words: "Please spit in it too!"

"I ate my burger already. I felt like I was gonna throw up," Curtis told a local TV station.

The waitress denied having anything to do with it. Management said it was highly unlikely that any cook would spit in a meal, but it refunded the daughter and granddaughter. Curtis is still queasy.

These Bohemians! Anything goes!

The finger

THE sheriff's men in Covington, Louisiana, in the US, are throwing all resources into solving the mystery of a fresh human index finger found in the stomach of a turtle.

The finger was found by a fisherman who was cleaning the turtle in preparation for cooking it.


"He was cleaning it for a meal, at which time he found it inside of the turtle and we were contacted," St Tammany Parish Sheriff's Captain Scott Lee told the Huffington Post.

"We notified our coroner's office and they determined it is, in fact, a human finger," Lee said. "This is a very, very odd occurrence here."

Lee described the turtle as "pretty large," and said the fisherman caught it in the Tchefuncte River, north of Lake Pontchartrain.

No missing digits have been reported at the local hospitals, though the authorities believe the victim could have been too embarrassed to seek medical assistance.

Perhaps some clue lies in the name of the turtle species - alligator snapping turtle.

It obviously could not have been part of a dispute with a cricket umpire whose lbw decisions were disputed. Not in good ol' Louisiana?



"Who's there?"

"Yoda lady."

"Yoda lady who?"

"Great yodelling!"

Last word

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, June 20, 2018

Bunting goes on display


BRITISH Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope had an eye-catching array of bunting – women's knickers – strung above the doorway of his constituency office in Christchurch, Dorset, the other day.

According to Sky News, it was a protest against Sir Christopher's action in the House of Commons in blocking the progress of a private member's bill which would have outlawed the practice of "upskirting".

This means taking a photograph up a woman's skirt without her knowledge, something comparatively easy these days with smartphones and things.

The "without her knowledge" bit surely seems superfluous. Does the man exist who would have the temerity to tap a lady on the shoulder in a tube train, say, and ask if she would mind terribly if he photographed her panties?

Of course, upskirting is predatory, deplorable and insulting, highly distressing to the victims. I'm told it has spread from England to Scotland, where it's known as "upkilting" and is causing great distress among regiments such as the Black Watch, which are being preyed upon by lassies with cameras.

The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill, proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse and supported by several members of the cabinet including the prime minister, would have outlawed such activities but Sir Christopher stood up as it was introduced for its second reading in the Commons, saying:" I object!", sending things back to square one.

Does this mean Sir Christopher supports the practice of taking photographs up a woman's skirt? Apparently not. What he objects to is the process. The bill should have been properly discussed in advance, he says. His embarrassed Tory colleagues describe him as a "dinosaur".

Who strung the knickers across his office doorway? It was one of his constituents, Lorna Rees, who says:" No-one should be allowed to photograph my pants unless I want them to."

Again that question of permission. 'Tis weird and the whole thing is totally incomprehensible anyway to habitues of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, where the gals are given to brandishing their knickers, especially on rugby days.


Ancient world


HERE'S a matter of international import, reaching back to the ancient world. Greece and Macedonia have been squabbling for years over the name "Macedonia".

Macedonia was the home turf of Alexander the Great, who went on to conquer Greece, Persia, part of India and Egypt – hence Alexandria. It was the greatest empire the ancient world ever knew.

But things unravelled after Alexander's death. Part of Macedonia went to the Balkans, eventually Yugoslavia. Part went to Greece. When Macedonia emerged as a sovereign state from the break-up of Yugoslavia, it found itself adjoining a Greek province also called Macedonia.

Neither side liked that. But at last Macedonia – the country – has agreed to be known at the UN and elsewhere as North Macedonia.

This sounds like an incomplete solution, like Northern Ireland and Ireland. It also reminds me of a contretemps I encountered in Britain.

Many years ago I applied for a work permit there. It was an exhausting process going from one department to the next, sliding bottoms along benches. The end stage was getting the permit booklet – like a mini-passport – from a kindly police sergeant.

"Son," he said. "It says 'ere you was born in Dundee. If you're born in Dundee you don't need a permit to work 'ere."

"It's a different Dundee, not Scotland."

"Where's this Dundee?"

"Northern Natal."

"'Ow d'you spell that?"


When I looked at the document, part of it read "Nationality: Northern Natal".

'Twas a lonely time being the only Northern Natalian in the world. Maybe I should have applied to join the United Nations.

It's too late now, but imagine a triple alliance of North Macedonia, Northern Ireland and Northern Natal, making itself felt at the UN.


Verra Scots


OUR local Dundee is, of course, very much Scots in origin, peopled originally by coal miners from the Old Country. Not far away is another town named Glencoe.


In the old days the local Zulus spoke English with a strong Scots accent because that was all they heard.


Today the Dundee Diehards are known for their colourful re-enactments of the Battle of Isandlwana, while the Talana museum nearby is a repository of items recalling the nearby first action of the Anglo-Boer War.





WHAT'S furry, has whiskers and catches outlaws?

A posse cat.


Last word


All television is children's television.

Richard P Adler



The Idler, Monday, June 19, 2018

Shadow show drama

A FEATURE of my humble abode is an extra TV screen that appears on the wall of the sitting room during the dark watches of the night.

It is caused by spotlights illuminating the grounds of a church next door. This light comes through a window to create a rectangular patch of light on the opposite wall.

On its way the light encounters various bits of foliage, which creates a moving shadow show of palm fronds and other leaves as they shift in the wind. It's a not unattractive feature.

Then in the early hours the other morning I was startled awake by a sudden sound.  And, among the fronds and foliage of my shadow show, was a human being.

Sure enough, a dude was on my second floor balcony, looking in through the window. Had he climbed up the drainpipe in a fit of absent-mindedness, or was he up to no good?

I'm afraid I rather jumped to conclusions. I yelled at him that I would kill him by shoving my hockey stick up his rectum. I nipped round the corner to fetch the hockey stick, but by the time I got back he'd gone.

The sound that woke me was, I think, his stumbling over my paddleski that is currently stored on the balcony.

Alas, in Cyril Ramaphosa's New Dawn it's still advisable to have a hockey stick to hand.

Ole, ole, ole!

SATURDAY'S game was not as thrilling as the previous week's but it was great, workmanlike Test rugby all the same. It puts the Boks Number 3 in the world rankings and is a great step-up to next year's World Cup.

Duane Vermeulen, Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux – all playing in Europe – were again outstanding. Part of the World Cup build-up ought to be an audit of just what talent the Boks have available from overseas.

Great grumpiness

THE latest newsletter of investment analyst Dr James Greener is positively suffused with grumpiness.

On copper exports:

"Despite not mining very much of this metal, it is reported that South Africa is one of the world's leading exporters of copper. The suggestion is that the supply comes from the large-scale cable theft that plagues the nation, in particular the railways who use miles of wiring to connect their signalling systems.

"If true, this is astonishing and hints that, like so much crime taking place such as cash heists, it is suspected that corrupt and criminal officialdom is playing a role."

On Eskom:

"There isn't a single metric that doesn't confirm that Eskom employees are enormously overpaid and, worse still, that the organisation is massively overstaffed. Reportedly, far too few of these employees have much of a clue about electricity generation and distribution.

"And yet they are on strike in support of a large pay rise. This stayaway has triggered load-shedding, the polite and non-threatening term for power cuts, which happened in parts of the country just as soccer fans opened the first beer and began a month of hurling advice and invective at their TVs. Poor timing if they seek sympathy."

On the Football World Cup:

"Zabivaka is the name of the official Football World Cup mascot. Supposedly a cool and friendly character with 'shades' pushed back onto his head, on inspection he is still a wolf with more than a passing resemblance to President Putin."

On the Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting:

"President Trump's diplomatic dance in Singapore with the bizarrely coiffed top man in North Korea has set off a firestorm of opinion, ridicule and praise. Some are even suggesting a Nobel Peace Prize is in order.

"But the real award should be an Oscar for the choreographer who staged the dramatic peace march of the two peacemakers through matching facing colonnades to the meeting spot. Such theatre!"

More Eskom

A COMMUNIQUE from Eskom is doing the rounds:

"We have good news and bad news.

"The bad news is that the s*** is going to hit the fan.

"The good news is that the fan will not be on because we have load-shedding from 8 to 3."

Is this genuine?


WHY is the ocean restless?

Well, wouldn't you be restless with crabs all over your bottom?

Last word

Interestingly, according to modern astronomers space is finite. This is a very comforting thought – particularly for people who can never remember where they left things. – Woody Allen