Monday, March 23, 2009

This is just not cricket

These series of photos were taken ca 1985 in Botswana. I was with a group staying at a Safari lodge just outside the Chobe National Park.

It was run by a bunch of very prissy South Africans who had thought it amusing to announce on our arrival that the fridge was broken and therefore they could only offer warm beers. I thought this was as funny as someone with kidney failure turning up for dialysis, and being told the machine had been swopped for new iPods for all the staff.

During breakfast we watched as the lodge’s band of mongooses (not mongeese), wandered through looking for scraps. We were told not to feed them as they would become pests and would, just like Trafalgar Squire’s pigeons, be terminated.

I gather mongooses make great pets. However, I would recommend that they are kept out the bedroom. Men would be highly embarrassed turning up at casualty with an excited Mongoose attached just behind the head of their one eyed trouser snake. Or should they go to the vets?

As we were about to climb into the Landcruiser for the ‘tourist go look at the wild animals’ trip, I spotted one of these fellows start frantically digging. The spot was on the front ‘lawn’ which was really a shallow surface of top soil on soft sandy earth. The grass was kept green with constant watering.

The speed of this fellow digging was awesome. He would have made the perfect inmate for any inmate. I started shooting. The furry digger went down almost his body length and then popped up with this.

It was a cricket. Trying to find out exactly what type etc, was extremely difficult. You try and type in Southern African Cricket into Google. Once I found the required information, I discovered some interesting facts.

Now, this hideous thing the mongoose drags out is a Giant African Ground Cricket (Acanthoplus discoidalis). Now there are lots of different looking crickets. The Chinese have little black ones, teach them Kung-Fu and place bets on their favourites in fights. Then there is the one in the film Walli and it’s ort of cute-ish, and then there is most famous one of all – Jiminy Cricket.

But this thing is just disgusting. It must have been almost three inches long. I have seen lions eating a still alive ‘kill’ with no bother, but this! And the sounds that were made as it was crunched up. The legs were still wriggling as mongoose here noshes on a massive fresh breakfast. Taking these pics nearly brought mine up. Yuck. Along with giant locusts, it ranks as one of vilest looking insects. I know that some people consider them a delicacy and full of protein. You put one of those on my plate I will definitely vomit.

Crickets chirp, rather a lot, and very noisily, whilst rubbing their thighs together. Oddly, unlike humans, only the males do it. This fact thus resulted in men uttering the immortal words to their female partner, whom, after several glasses of wine starts babbling incoherently to all and sundry; chirps up – ‘Oh I say, this just isn’t cricket – so shut the fuck-up!’

In the brilliant film Crocodile Dumkopf and the Aussie Cricketers of Doom, a scene takes place where he calculates the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps. His female companion, some ex-stripper from Poland says

‘Eet iz velly hoot. What hoot you think it eez?’

Crocodile Dumkopf rapidly counts on his fingers and toes each chirp in one minute and adds 40 to the total and announces, ‘78.5 degrees Celsius, Sheila.’

She replies ‘I am Kowlowski with a ‘C’.’ But surly zee cricket would be baked at such hoot?’

Just at that moment the cricket stops chirping and Crocodile Dumkopf grins and announces ‘Dinner is served.’

This business about working out the temperature this way is apparently true.

You can even buy one on Ebay. I think I would rather have my grandmother’s stuffed tits hanging on the wall before one of these things.

This last picture is from the web. If Sir David Attenborough did a film of their sex lives, it would be the most disgusting porn in the animal kingdom.

For camera buffs: I was using a first generation auto-focus Minolta 9000. Expensive kit in those days. The lens would have been either a Sigma or Tokina. My guess a 70-210 mm. Max aperture – about f 5.6. The motor wind would have been a ‘el-cheepo’, two frames a second, emitting as much noise as the crunched cricket. Film would have been my favourite at the time because of its intense colour – Fuji Color (slides) ASA 100.

The slides were scanned recently on a Canon home scanner with a very good psi for the price.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

We Were Men of Men - Rhodesian Roulette

Lake McIlwaine Spillway, Rhodesia, ca 1973.

Extract from a piece I am presently writing. Unfortunately I have no pictures.

It was here on Lake Mac (as it was known), that one of the speedboat petrol-heads invented Rhodesian Roulette. In this version, the player also needed to be intoxicated enough to have a death wish, but unlike the Russian version, the weapon of choice was a speedboat.

Inebriated nerves played a small role, but the player’s life hung on the fine tuning of a couple of powerful outboard motors. The game was simple. Let the speedboat drift, with idling engines, as close as possible to the point where the Lake vomits forcefully out of its bonds and down the spillway.

Then just before the boat and driver joins Davey Crocket, ram the throttle open, and prey to the creator that the recently purchased, sanctions breaking, twin 100 horsepower Mercury engines, don’t decide to cough-up on some dirt in the fuel, and that the immense pulling power promised in the manufacturers manual was true.

If not, one instantly sobered idiot and a couple of hundred thousand dollars of big-boys toys, would be converted into blood, guts, fibreglass and ball bearings. These bits would then be brought just down the road to Warren Hills Cemetery, where his weeping widow would proclaim - ‘He died living the Rhodesian way of life.’

A photo of this stunt appeared on the front page of the Rhodesia Herald. I do not know if any clown ever did land up in the Hunyani river.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The South African Presidential Horse Race

Okay, I am starting to get jealous now. I was sent this as an MP 3. After trying to get my head around hosting it as Pod cast or whatever, I found it on YouTube.

The unknown writer of this short sketch (less than three minutes), had an awesome task. The actual commentator (and maybe also the author), certainly didn’t have the years of experience that professional horse race announcers have, but this is compensated with a delightful accent. The technical difficulties in writing such a piece so that it not only flows, but is also completely understandable as one giant innuendo, have been beautifully created. Whilst some of the more obscure names of South African politicians will be ‘foreign’ to a larger audience, the main ‘contestants’ are well known – so are the horses that they ride.

I had to listen several times to catch all of the satire - it is that good! This is unquestionably one of the best contemporary examples of a politically based double entendre.

Monday, March 02, 2009

ZIMBABWE : Last War Vet Dies.‏

Readers send me stuff that they hope will help me with my blog’s content. This is much appreciated. Keep them coming. I just received this from Australia. There is no clue as to who wrote it. I am slightly hacked off because it isn’t me. If I do find the anonymous writer’s name I will post it with their consent. (So get in touch…)

This is a very clever piece of satire. The manipulation of the facts is hilariously done with that talent for pure black humour. The writer knows his subject very well, keeps the pace and the length of the piece just perfect. Brilliant!

Mugabe to appoint new war veterans as real ones are all dead

HARARE. Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe will confer official war veteran status on 500,000 teenaged boys this week as part of his 85th birthday celebrations, after it emerged that the last genuine veteran of the guerilla war died of cholera this morning.

The new war veterans will be tasked with "rebuilding Zimbabwe by hitting MDC pigs with half-bricks".

The current life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 38, and given that the country's civil war ended in 1980, the only surviving genuine ZANLA veterans would need to have enlisted at the age of 9.

According to the country's national archives, currently housed in an empty Chibuku skud in a field outside Harare, the youngest recruit was Twinkie Matambanadzo, 13, who was sold to the Zanu armed forces by his parents who wanted their son to see the world and thought the militia was a traveling circus.

Matambanadzo reportedly passed away in 2006 after choking on a mouse he had caught and boiled, his first solid food in more than four months.

However other veterans were luckier. Field Marshall Brooklax Chaturanga, who commanded the Light Mounted Zebras between 1978 and 1980, had just celebrated his 104th birthday last month when a family member stepped on his oxygen tube and he passed away.

In a small ceremony, at which packs of feral dogs were shooed from the gravesite and vultures were kept at bay with parasols, well-wishers remembered a hero and patriot who attributed his long life to clean living, dedication to his country, and having all of his medical expenses since 1994 paid by South African taxpayers.

Chaturanga was believed to have been the last surviving genuine veteran, but new evidence emerged this week that Banjo Hungwe, 48, had once mooned a Rhodesian policeman, making him officially the only veteran still alive.

However two days after the discovery, Hungwe contracted cholera and passed away.

A saddened Mugabe said this morning that his veterans would be sorely missed, especially now that he would have to stop eating truffles long enough to go out and find some more people who could hit his opponents with half-bricks.

"The war is over but the battle continues," said Mugabe, dabbing caviar off his chin. "The British homosexuals are everywhere, but we will prevail."

He said he had tasked his aides with finding 500,000 teenaged boys who would be given official war veteran status and who could be "handed the half-brick of destiny, to totally mash up the heads of the imperialist dogs".

However aides who did not wish to be named confirmed this morning that they are struggling to find 500 000 teenaged boys healthy enough to pick up a half-brick.

"All the ones who are strong enough to walk or crawl are in South Africa," said one.

"It's very disappointing that they can't make an effort for the man who has saved Zimbabwe. We just hope it doesn't spoil Comrade Mugabe's birthday.

"People can be so selfish."