The romance of steam

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We live in an ugly age. Almost everything is cheap and plastic and disposable. And we are cheap and plastic too. Don’t be fooled by the glossy pages of the fashion magazines. If you want to experience the true aesthetic of our time, take a stroll through a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon. It’s not pretty.

I don’t know why. Back in the day, they used to do this properly. They had style. Ladies and gentlemen dressed for dinner. If a gentleman popped out for a stroll on a Saturday afternoon, he wore a high collared suit and a top hat. Continue reading

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Learning to read

Lyle Krahn is an awesome wildlife photographer. He is not, however, a very sensible man. How do I know this? Well, the other day he set off into the frozen Canadian wilderness, on his own, on foot, to follow the trails of some animals because I told him it would be easy.

Lyle Krahn following some bad advice

Lyle Krahn off to follow some bad advice

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That’s just not what we mean.

Elton John wrote a song called “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. He wouldn’t fit in around here. I wrote a post the other day about apologies, and a rather curious thing started to happen. People commenting on the post began claiming to be geographically sorry. Canada is a little remorseful. Australia is quite embarrassed and promises never to do it again. But the champions are the English. They are completely mortified and will do whatever they can to make it up to you.

The bulldog is the national dog of England. And it is very, very sorry.

The bulldog is the national dog of England. And it is very, very sorry.

Continue reading

Gourmet Cooking With 23thorns

I must confess to being a little taken aback. In my last post, I mentioned two minute noodles. Without any explanation. Sorry.

I try to be careful about this. If I am using words or concepts that I know are uniquely South African, I try my best to translate or explain. If that’s too tricky, I just avoid them.

This is why you will never read my absolutely fantastic post about the time I took 2kg of kudu biltong to a friend’s braai by mistake. He had asked me to bring the wors, and thinking he meant droewors, I decided to go for biltong instead. He actually meant boerewors. It was hilarious. We still laugh about it today. Luckily his wife had made enough sosaties to sink a battleship, and there was pap, so the braai turned out OK. Continue reading

Gulag Zen

My wife has a bit of a flair for the dramatic. Years of chronic drug abuse have left her emotionally unbalanced. This morning, I woke to find her standing fully clothed at the foot of the bed.

“I”, she said, fixing me with an unnervingly level stare, “am going out!”

“What’s up? Have we run out of milk?”

“No. I am going out. For the day. Alone.”

“But what abou….”

“I”, she cut in, “am going now.”

“Are you taking the ki…”

“ALONE!” her voice cracked like a whip and she was gone. Continue reading

Crashing back down to Earth.

Today started out very well indeed. I had posted on my blog just before going to bed, and checked my stats first thing in the morning. I thought WordPress was broken, because I had over a hundred views. It turns out that I had been Freshly Pressed by the happiness engineers.

For those of you I have just lost, the happiness engineers are the shadowy, sinister organisation that controls the blogging world. Think of them as a slightly more cheerful version of the thought police from George Orwell’s 1984. If your blog is not quite positive enough, they might just pay you a little visit.Freshly Pressed is a page where they put up the very best blog posts in each category. The categories today included neuroscience, books, fatherhood and civil liberties. Mine was the very best in the shoplifting category. The other three shoplifting posts were just not up to scratch. Continue reading

Forgive those who trespass against us.

It’s finally happened. My home is a haven of criminality. I live surrounded by thieves, anarchists and drug abusers, but up until now, I have managed to remain a beacon of honesty and integrity, a light in the darkness, a paragon of virtue. And then I got caught shoplifting on Friday. This came as as much of a surprise to me as it does to you. Not because I didn’t expect to get caught, but because I didn’t know I was doing it at the time.

I was caught by the man (who in this case was a short, round little woman) taking a pie out of the Pick ‘n Pay without paying for it. As I always say, go large or go home!

Me last Friday.

Let me lay out my defence. Firstly, I was not feeling very alert. This was not my fault. My son, a lord of chaos masquerading as a sweet, sensitive boy, had decided to investigate the alarm clock in our bathroom. Naturally, he had set it for 2:30 am. As one does. South Africa is not the sort of place where one gets woken by strange noises in the middle of the night and takes it lightly. I lurched out of bed armed with a set of dangerous catch-phrases (“I’ll kick your arse so hard your dog will bleed!”) before realising that it was just a clock. Then I had to find it. Drunk with sleep and blind without my glasses, I lurched around for five minutes before finding it on top of the toilet cistern. Obviously. The rest of the family, shagged out after a heavy day of bringing civilisation to its knees, slept on oblivious, but that was it for my night. Continue reading

Ah. Sex.

My wife has a blog of her own (http://tracyloveshistory.wordpress.com/). Instead of dealing with the broad sweeps of history, like the world wars, or colonialism, she tends to focus on little details that bring history alive, like what underwear the Victorians wore, or what a filthy old pervert Samuel Pepys was.

Lock up your daughters. Seriously.

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Crime wave

I wrote a post the other day about how my daughter had stolen my wallet, and hidden it (https://23thorns.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/every-story-needs-an-antagonist/).  Don’t worry, my daughter isn’t a crack addict. At least not that I know of. She’s three. I did sit her down to find out why she had done such a naughty thing, and she came up with a perfectly rational explanation. It was because she wanted to. Continue reading

This is the third part of what was supposed to be a quick post on the creepy crawlies of the lowveld in South Africa. I need to create an ecosystem for a book I am writing, and in the absence of any genuine creative talent, I’m plagiarising one that I already know. In my first two posts, I covered the “cute and cuddly” (https://23thorns.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/226/) and the “terrifying but harmless” (https://23thorns.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/this-is-the-sec-9/) categories. Now we can move on to the really fun stuff; the tiny little creatures that can hurt or even kill you. Continue reading

It’s the small things that count (part 3)