Life can be pretty funny- although sometimes you have to dig deep to find the humour. Often, people donít get it. Have you ever been asked ďWhy are men like that?Ē as if you should know the answer? Why does my family laugh if I injure myself? Why should a man never be trusted to shop for clothes on his own? From the dawn of civilization, we have pondered these mysteries: Could a being as uncomplicated as a husband have found the key? Nah, but he has fun tryingÖ
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Dunno where you live but apparently, in my neighbourhood, it is tradition to interfere with the exhaust of your motor vehicle, do something horrific to it with a welding torch and a lack of conscience.
Then you take a look at your dash, and find something lacking. That something turns out to be a GIANT SOUND SYSTEM THAT GOES BOOOOF BOOF BOOOOFFFFFF.
Then, because you are a well-rounded personality, and your abominable blue-collar job somehow gives you these hours to drive around, you choose to do do-nuts outside my house.
All I ask, is that after Iíve spent an hour crooning a Noddy book to my two-year-old, and chanting as though itís a newly discovered spiritual discipline, Ďgo to sleeeeep, now, go to sleeeeepí, you control your desire to leave tyre tread in my driveway.
And you can add to that the ungodly hour of four am.
BECAUSE IF YOU DONíT IíM GOING TO COMMIT CAR-O-CIDE.
Thanks for listening. Iím off to distribute some more baby-valium: that is, sing the Barney anthem, ĎI LOVE YOUUUUí until my head explodes.
Posted at 08:21 pm by SGDBlog
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Over the Wild, wild Ocean
You can imagine the chaos- the unraveling of the house, the slow collapse of all that is recognizably human. In a few short days I have gone from being the person I was- just the normal guy sitting next to you on the train- to being unhinged- like Kurtz in Apocalypse now, or some other equally deranged person.
See, Neen is away. For ten weeks.
Iím like a mad grown-up version of McCauley Caulkin in Home Alone, except for one thing: Iím not alone.
I have the three children.
At least, they were children. Now they are like feral creatures circling the outskirts of the forest, looking for a vulnerable place to attack. Iím onto their little games, I can read their menacing tactics, and outsmart them in an instant. I know how to suppress the fear of their sharp little teeth (ok, so maybe I forgot to order them to brush their teeth once or four times- so shoot me), their beady little eyes (ok, so maybe I have asked uncle TV to baby-sit while I ascend the Himalayas of ironing) and their wicked claws (No shame here- I have a thing about cutting their nails- Neen has always done it- Iím terrified of lopping off a tiny digit instead of an over-long talon).
By the time she returns weíll have devolved into hairy swamp creatures living off the green stuff in the sink and the back of the fridge.
I crave adult company, but because of the constant effort of speaking in a Barney the Dinosaur voice, I am unable to converse with people who are larger than hobbits. I nearly got arrested for trying to hug the postman the other day. Ok, so thatís a lie, but he did say Ďhelloí in a way that seemed to invite a bigger response than Ďhií.
Somehow the house has managed to rival the Cape Town landfill- I expect to find surgical waste and seagulls squabbling over chunks of decaying flesh in the lounge.
So, theyíll find me, holding a home-made club fashioned from the decapitated torso of a Barbie doll, and signing my name in blood in the endless homework books. The children will be wearing crowns fashioned from take-out containers, and bickering over the borders to their kingdoms.
This parenting thing aint as easy as it looks.
Posted at 06:44 pm by SGDBlog
Sunday, February 22, 2009
You see, this thing won't die! Damned stubborn blog has been told to expire repeatedly, and yet seems to cling to life...
Well, it's my prerogative to keep it going, and I have decided not to keep the DNR sign up anymore.
I want to put up a PLEASE RESUSCITATE sign.
And if you don't like it, nurse Ratchett, you can lump it.
Posted at 08:13 pm by SGDBlog
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Posted at 03:47 pm by SGDBlog
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
I feel bad. I left you in the lurch. I ran and hid. I tried to stay as still as possible so that no-one would see me. I guess I owe you an apology.
If anybody still reads this- we've had some great times over the years.
But I think I'm moving on.
Here's how it goes.
On South African TV news (and probably in news segments worldwide) there is a phenomenon. The news, on any given evening, will be 30 seconds each given to a massive natural disaster and some political blowhard telling lies. This is followed by a few minutes of stock markets crashing and then twenty minutes of sports 'personalities' saying inane things like 'You know, at the end of the day, you win some, and lose some'.
After all this is over, the news presenter clears his throat, fixes his biggest toothiest smile on his face, and says:
"And in arbsville, California, locals are amazed at the antics of this man and his Jack Russell terrier, Frisket, who has learned to surf" [cut to image of amazed locals watching a dog quivering in the waves on a large surfboard]
I hate those 'news' items. They trivialise the global pain, suffering and struggles of us all. They are a poor anaesthetic designed to numb us to reality.
I don't want to leave you with one of those. As I end this blog, I want you to know the truth: The world is hurting. The world is full of sadness. I must contradict the whole purpose of this blog: Not everything is funny.
Having said that, I have so enjoyed having you round to play. I've shared some amazing things with you- You've allowed me into your lives, and I hope that you have enjoyed some of the rubbish I have put up for all to see.
Maybe I'll return with a different blog, another time. I'll be sure to let you all know.
Posted at 08:46 am by SGDBlog
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Shortest Posts Say the Longest Things
My mum died.
Rosemary Anne Dunlop
26-07-1946 - 15-08-2008
You were the best.
Posted at 05:19 pm by SGDBlog
Friday, July 18, 2008
Itís your birthday. Not only that, but is a real milestone. You are only sixty-five onceÖ Itís even more special, because it looks like this could be your ultimate birthday. You wonít celebrate this one, because of the Alzheimerís, but weíll all be thinking of you. I wish we could be throwing you the huge party you deserve, but you donít need that to feel loved.
I remember your 60th birthday party, and how all your friends around town came out to celebrate. All sorts of people, many of whom Iíd never met. Thatís a reflection of the person youíve been: In all your homes, whether in Scotland, Canada, England and South Africa, youíve had large circles of friends. Youíve impacted many, many people, and shared some wonderful times. They all know you as a woman with a great sense of compassion and humour. A cultured person with a massive intelligence, but the kind of intelligence that can be translated practically into helping others. You didnít become a PHD in some esoteric subject, although you could have pretty much chosen any field.
You have taken on huge challenges for yourself, and succeeded. You have remained curious and adventurous and willing to learn. That is a great gift to me. Your faith in recent years has stirred me, and brought out a tender part of your personality.
I guess that all three of us, your sons, have felt like we were your favourites. You managed to take an interest in all of us, and make all of us feel special. Having three sons is enough of a challenge, but John, Mark and I have pushed that challenge to the limits. But you never stopped supporting us. I could have told you that I wanted to be a professional human cannon ball, and you would have paid for my studies, and eagerly scanned the press for news of my career. You rigorously defended us throughout our lives as we were growing up, and were not afraid of confrontation.
Itís amazing, really. You came from a very conservative Scottish family, with strict parents, yet you were naturally able to adapt to a more modern culture of personal involvement. You didnít have to read pop culture books about parenthood, you just poured your love into your children.
I know that you went through some baptisms of fire. I know that you wept oceans of tears of frustration, anger and hurt over us. I am both ashamed and deeply touched. Weíve worked through a lot of that hurt, and I am privileged to have spent time as an adult with you, getting to know you as a personality. Iím glad that we had that opportunity. Iím glad that you loved my wife, and treated her like a daughter, not just in words, but with genuine inclusion in your family.
You jumped at the role of grandmother. Has any grandchild been more loved than James? I know that if you hadnít been undermined by this disease that Hannah and Jonah would have shared that love, too. They still love to be with you.
You have been a perfect wife for Dad. You have followed him around the globe, uprooting yourself and supporting him in all sorts of ways. You have always maintained an immaculate home, and provided thousands of meals. In a society where divorce is an Ďoptioní, you have stuck by him for forty-two years. Amazing.
It has been heartbreaking to watch, over the past four years, your decline in health. How cruel that your powerful mind should be depleted bit by bit. I think that in the beginning you knew something was wrong, and you tried to keep it at bay for as long as possible, but in the end, it has removed most of you. Iím grateful that you have remained cheerful and affectionate. I still expect you to say something ĎMummishí, with your constant humour. You donít laugh any more. You just manage to remember who I am, but it is difficult having you here physically but not mentally.
I was devastated to see you in hospital, frail and confused after the burns. I wanted to pick you up and make everything ok. That role is just another reversal. You would have sat by my hospital bed, done anything in your power to make everything right. I am accepting that you may not have long to live, but it is hard to grieve while you are still alive. I think about the things we did together, the movies and music you enjoyed, and silly things, like your obsession with Mount Everest. In a perfect world, you would have lived to go hiking in those Nepalese foothills, able to gaze on that magnificent creation in reality.
You loved books. Thanks for that, Mum. Your love for reading has absolutely transformed my life. How my world-view has been altered by reading is all due to you. You recognized that literature is a gateway to other places, physically and mentally. You have recommended some life-changing books to me, and willingly read some of my more Ďout-thereí favourites.
You taught me to sew. You didnít question me when I asked to be shown, but happily let me loose on your sewing machine. You taught me to cook and bake, but those things I have adapted as necessaryÖ!
In fact, you encouraged me in the following crazes, passions, and sometimes ill-fated interests: swimming, trumpet, clarinet, piano, rats, fish, mice, hamsters, cats, a dog, poetry, drawing, church, girlfriends, marriage, children, writing, studying, running, the art of cappuccino drinking, working with clay, wire jewellery making, collecting stickers, yo-yos and whatever else, in fact, there is a lifetime of interests, too many to recollect. Not once did you try to discourage me.
Ok, so we had disagreements about fashion, hair and substance abuse, but in retrospect, you were right about many of those things, and I respect that you were there to protect me. Even when I was getting into trouble with the police, you would have supported me, if I had involved you. I think that it is the high moral standard that you and Dad gave me that brought me through those times. Thank you.
Only sixty-five years? Seems like such a short time. I donít know what to wish for: Do I say I want you to live another ten years? I donít think you would want that. Now that you are bed-ridden and mentally disengaged, I guess you would want to leave this life, if you had a choice. I can see your body failing, which is very tough to watch. Maybe the best thing to hope for is that you are comfortable, and that you know lots of love during your last time here on earth. You may not be able to reciprocate, but I know you love to be loved.
I couldnít have wished for a better mother, Mum, and I hope you hear me whispering that I love you in your ear, and that a brief moment of clarity will allow you to know that that is the truth.
Posted at 10:14 am by SGDBlog
Thursday, June 19, 2008
They Call Me Mellow Yellow
You think Robert De Niro prepares for his roles? Apparently Iíve spent 37 years preparing to take on the role ofÖ Homer Simpson.
While I have a weakness for a cold beer OCCASIONALLY, and I do find myself doing that thousand-yard fridge stare of the terminally peckish, I have not got luminous yellow skin.
I have less hair than Homer, which proves that I am not trying to be him, unless you are one of those insane and deluded people who throw around the meaningless adage Ďless is moreí. Er, no, less IS less.
My son is not a pint-sized anarchist, nor my daughter a pointy-headed dweeb. I admit that they can make our house appear like a re-enactment of the sacking of Constantinople, but they do eventually respond to threats.
Actually, although we are a Christian family, interestingly our family resembles more the Simpson clan than the Robo-Stepford family next door, the Flanders. We donít do pointless copy-cat Christianity, which is rightfully mockable as being insincere and unbiblical. Maybe Iím overcompensating just because if I drop something on my toe, thereís a good chance I wonít say ĎGoodness!Ē or even ĎDíoh!!!í but possibly something that even the Fox Producers would edit out of the scriptÖ
Amusingly, I think/choose to interpret it that way, I took a stupid ĎWhich Simpsonís character are you?í test on the net. Apparently, Iím MargeÖ Suuuure, because I always mutter sensible things, and have a towering confection of blue hair??
Love my dysfunctional family. Neen, representing my as-yet clueless children bought me a gift for Fatherís Day. The Simpsons Movie on DVD. And she hates the Simpsons, which makes it all the more special.
Good kids- you can hereby continue to co-exist in my house with me.
Posted at 08:08 pm by SGDBlog
Saturday, June 14, 2008
An update: So the refugee crisis (xenophobic attacks) seems a little more under control. Many have returned to work, some to their old houses. Still, there are thousands more living in tents in the middle of winter. Babies have been born in tents.
Part of what I have been doing as a volunteer was filling in around the control office: generally helping to take some of the pressure off the people trying to lobby government, the UN and any local NGOís. They are presenting legal letters of demand, and trying to force an active response. Itís been three weeks in Cape Town, and the response has been slow in coming. The various groups that should have stepped in to take control of a humanitarian crisis have been involved in a petty squabble amongst themselves.
This has created a situation which is likely to take a couple of months to resolve. The chairperson called me at home the other day. He has asked me to help out doing press statements, emailing of interested groups and handling communication. He offered to pay me, too, which has come as a great relief!
So on Monday I start as a full-time relief worker, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I donít know where it will lead in the long term, but my contract at the university finished on Friday, so I will be free for as long as it takes.
Having spent years wishing that I had been more involved in eradicating Apartheid, I now have the opportunity of being involved in destroying racism on a different level.
A couple of months ago, I asked God, as you do, to give me a job that I enjoy. Seeing as I was speaking to the God of the universe, I told Him that I really wanted to work for an NGO, but that I didnít have the usual cv to get in (Social work, political studies etc). But I reminded Him that I can write, so I would love to do that.
How amazing has that response been? At the time, there was no way I could have envisaged this, and indeed, while I was volunteering, I didnít ask for work. But He told the guy running the whole show to phone me (that is my take on it, anyway).
Which once again proves to me that He is able to do anything, and that He cares about our dysfunctional little personalities. Thanks, God. Iíll try not to mess it up!
Posted at 01:58 pm by SGDBlog
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
You have to wonder about Disney. All those movies where the princess/parlour maid etc meets the handsome prince, and then they dance around with birds and mice and so forth, their unbelievably large eys glistening, until they waltz off into the sunset, happily ever after.
Sure, to a single babe like Cinderella, staying up to the wee hours and frolicking with princes was her lifestyle. I can only imagine that glass slippers were incredibly uncomfortable, and of no practical use other than as a receptacle for champagne. Did she ever sit down, years later, her prince now lazy and fat, her five children nagging and crying, and the mice leaving droppings all over the mantelpiece and wonder if being a princess was as useful as, well, a glass slipper?
Iím also pretty certain that after she married the prince, Snow White would have grown apart from the seven dwarfs. Between all the cooking, cleaning and ironing, there just isnít time to patronize seven little people, and to dance around with baby deer.
Did Beauty ever wish that her nerdy prince husband was just a little bit beastly? Didnít she pine for the days when he was hyped up on testosterone, prowling and growling on the castle walls? Was he reduced to playing Scrabble and filling cracks in the plaster?
Even Ratatouille. At the end of the movie, the rat is set up in his own restaurant, but I know from painful personal experience that rats live for between two and three years, so the restaurant would have had a limited future.
I think that the most realistic kidís movie recently was Babe, because the guys making the movie made no bones about the fact that several piglets had been used in the filming, and that they had been summarily dispatched to the butcher afterwards. Now that is a reality show. They should do that with all difficult actors: Whaddya mean ya didnít have mineral water in your trailer? To the executioner with you!
There should be more kidís movies based on reality: Life is nasty, brutish and short.
(You may be detecting that I am a bit depressed- I have cabin fever- I have been in the house for four days now with a cold.)
I have recently been hired as an editor for Dadosphere, an internet magazine that is there to help/inform/amuse dads. Itís not quite the same as a blog, but most of the Dads involved are long-time bloggers. If you are a dad, have a dad, or know a dad, check it out!
Posted at 04:36 pm by SGDBlog