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Life can be pretty funny- although sometimes you have to dig deep to find the humour. Often, people don’t get it. Have you ever been asked “Why are men like that?” 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 trying…

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

  1. This is deeeeeelicious! You should make this EVERY day, Daddy.
  2. Mmmmm, this is better than the food at the restaurant.
  3. Yes, I do want more: I'm not full!
  4. I'm fuuuuull (the whining inflection is important, here).
  5. I've always hated pasta.
  6. Ooops! I 'dropped' those boiled potatoes on the floor. Twice.
  7. I didn't eat snacks just before supper. (Conceals orange chip crumbs).
  8. I'm tired/need the toilet/feeling sick…
  9. That black bit looks like a dead fly, I'm not eating, ever again.
  10.  You cook muuuuch better than mommy, daddy (observe the mommy slump a little in her chair and vow never to cook again).



I've had a week so far of feeding them, and they are still more-or-less upright. They've had the occasional snack to distract them, and I'm using paper plates as much as possible to avoid doing too many dishes, but at least I haven't had to call in UNICEF to prance around in white jeeps with inappropriate sources of nutrition.


9 weeks to go until Neen/mommy comes back.

9 weeks!


*makes small calculation*: 9 x 7 days = 63, 63 x 4 people= 252.

252 x 3 meals= 756

756 pizzas@ R50.00 per Pizza= R37 800.00 (not including tips for delivery)- so call it an even R40 000.00

(40000 South African Rand(s) = 4064.01 US Dollar(s)
1 USD = 9.8425 ZAR
1 ZAR = 0.1016 USD)


That's a lot of money.

That's a lot of pizza.


Anyone offering to bake me something? provided the economic expertise; I just sat with a head full of mush after four figures.




Posted at 09:23 pm by SGDBlog
Comment (1)  

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Hush, little V8

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 I’ve spent an hour crooning a Noddy book to my two-year-old, and chanting as though it’s a newly discovered spiritual discipline, ‘go to sleeeeep, now, go to sleeeeep’, you control your desire to leave tyre tread in my driveway.


And you can add to that the ungodly hour of four am.




Thanks for listening. I’m off to distribute some more baby-valium: that is, sing the Barney anthem, ‘I LOVE YOUUUU’ until my head explodes.

Posted at 08:21 pm by SGDBlog
Comments (2)  

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.

I’m like a mad grown-up version of McCauley Caulkin in Home Alone, except for one thing: I’m 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. I’m 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- I’m terrified of lopping off a tiny digit instead of an over-long talon).


By the time she returns we’ll 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 that’s a lie, but he did say ‘hello’ in a way that seemed to invite a bigger response than ‘hi’.


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, they’ll 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
Comments (2)  

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Holdin' a mirror up

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
Comments (3)  

Saturday, November 15, 2008
disappearing act

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Posted at 03:47 pm by SGDBlog
A Tip For The Chef  

Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Surfin' Dog Story

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
Comments (2)  

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
Comments (3)  

Friday, July 18, 2008
Open Letter to My Mother

Dear Mum,


It’s your birthday. Not only that, but is a real milestone. You are only sixty-five once… It’s even more special, because it looks like this could be your ultimate birthday. You won’t celebrate this one, because of the Alzheimer’s, but we’ll all be thinking of you. I wish we could be throwing you the huge party you deserve, but you don’t 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 I’d never met. That’s a reflection of the person you’ve been: In all your homes, whether in Scotland, Canada, England and South Africa, you’ve had large circles of friends. You’ve 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 didn’t 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.


It’s 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 didn’t 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. We’ve 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. I’m glad that we had that opportunity. I’m 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 hadn’t 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 ‘option’, 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. I’m grateful that you have remained cheerful and affectionate. I still expect you to say something ‘Mummish’, with your constant humour. You don’t 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 ‘out-there’ favourites.


You taught me to sew. You didn’t 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 necessary…!


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 don’t know what to wish for: Do I say I want you to live another ten years? I don’t 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 couldn’t 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.


Happy birthday.

Your son



Posted at 10:14 am by SGDBlog
Comments (2)  

Thursday, June 19, 2008
They Call Me Mellow Yellow

You think Robert De Niro prepares for his roles? Apparently I’ve spent 37 years preparing to take on the role of… 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 ‘less is more’. 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 don’t do pointless copy-cat Christianity, which is rightfully mockable as being insincere and unbiblical. Maybe I’m overcompensating just because if I drop something on my toe, there’s a good chance I won’t say ‘Goodness!” or even ‘D’oh!!!’ but possibly something that even the Fox Producers would edit out of the script…


Amusingly, I think/choose to interpret it that way, I took a stupid ‘Which Simpson’s character are you?’ test on the net. Apparently, I’m Marge… 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 Father’s 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
Comments (3)  

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Clooney Schmooney

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 NGO’s. They are presenting legal letters of demand, and trying to force an active response. It’s 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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. I’ll try not to mess it up!

Posted at 01:58 pm by SGDBlog
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