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X factor will blow your mind all over the wall!

The arts

I’m not a big reality show person, in fact when I saw South African Idols was coming back I held a night vigil outside parliament to intervene (I almost got as many people as JuJu’s night vigil) but when I do get into one, like So you think you can dance, I get into it properly!

I was VERY skeptical about the new X factor. I mean if you put up $5mill as a prize, of course you are going to have a million audition-ers and of course you will, just by playing the odds, get some good ones and some very good ones. Then you add Simon Cowell, Paul Abdul who lets be fair do this kind of thing in their sleep (at this point we were just and American Idol carbon copy with more prize money) but then they added the delicious Nicole Sherzinger and possibly the coolest man alive LA Reid – so now we were getting somewhere.

They took a slightly different view by making categories rather than one straight road (Over 30s, Groups, Boys, Girls)and make no mistake this was not so you could jam to a bunch of different people, it was so they could sell more records to multiple target markets, that Simon is a smarty pants isn’t he?

Finally they gave each category to a judge to mentor – so now we have something unique in terms of show. The set looks like it cost more than the U2 360 tour set and the production value makes every other competition show like this, seem like it has been held in someone’s mother’s basement!

The question I still kept asking was why the hell must I watch a new group of people who will be as good / average as the last 5000 seasons of idols? So, I resigned myself to watching the auditions. If there was nothing that was blow-your-brain-all-over-the-wall-amazing I could end it before I got sucked in and still save some dignity!

Here’s what I found! (If you don’t want to watch them all WHICH YOU SHOULD! Then watch Drew – even though the first 30secs will kill you keep watching she is a musical GENIUS! Watch Melanie – she auditions a Beyonce song and sounds better than Beyonce & finally watch Brian Bradley WHO WILL become a hip hop giant!)

Now tell me those don’t blow away, trash, kick the living shit out of any other FIRST auditions on any show you’ve EVER seen (well except maybe target=”_blank”>Paul Potts but that’s just the ‘life-time achievement award’ of first time auditioning! I just watched it again and started crying and got goose bumps – fuck I’m pathetic sometimes!)

This is probably the most diverse crowd of talent, outside of that fuckwit Piers Morgans America’s-got-freaks-but-we-already-knew-that-so-why-put-them-on-tv show, and has some of the most special musical abilities I have ever seen. In fact watching it last night I said I wanted the competition to stop and I chose three or four of them and said I’d be happy if no one in the world ever made music again except these people (maybe I got a little excited)

The fact remains that every.single.one.of.them is not good, not great but sublime! If you are not watching this show you are going to miss some of the greatest amateur performances of your life.

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Hold fast to small victories South Africa . . .

Local is / is not lekker, The arts

South Africa is a tough place to live, if you are honest.

Don’t get me wrong, we love it and the lifestyles great but the truth is there are so many problems in this place that unless you try and block it out you tend to want to slash your wrists most of the time. I mean as I type this there are 10 000 unemployed youths following a dictator in training, down the streets of Joburg for a cause most of them can’t even spell (it’s for ‘economic freedom’) let alone try implement.

Now, if there are that many problems in that ONE sentence imagine the rest of it all.

I’m not writing this to make you cry in the fetal position in the shower but I find as a South African you need to cling to small victories because they give us hope, they make us feel happy even if just for a fleeting moment. Most of all they turn us into, a word that’s seldom used in this part of the world, PATRIOTS!

That’s why we smile when they mention our country in a random TV series, or the fact that the bad guy in the movie is from Joburg. That’s why we need Charlize to take over Hollywood . . .

. . . and when we see moments like this our hearts jump and our eyes fill with tears!

That’s why we hold onto victories for generations . . .

. . . because sadly we don’t get to be proud of our nation as often as we want!

Last night I had one of these small victories.

In the finale of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, two of the finalist got, what we affectionately refer to, as a gumboot dance (they seem to think it’s called STEPPIN – damn yanks!)

I thought for a moment we would get screwed as we normally do (cue Bryce Lawrence / target=”_blank”>Alan Donald run-out / target=”_blank”> Stephen Larkam drop goal etc) but the intro from the choreographer was absolutely spot on crediting the South African gold miners for inventing this style of dance!

You may think it’s silly or small minded but for the two minutes that these guys danced on a stage watched by millions of people, all over the world, it made me remember that feeling of pride, that feeling of the world’s eyes on us as their mouths start to crinkle up in a smile. It’s one of the greatest feelings you can have, so hold onto small victories South Africa, enjoy the moments of pride when we get them because sadly they come far more seldom than we would wish!

Here you go :)

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How do you make opera interesting?

The arts

I don’t like Opera, well to be fair, I haven’t really given it a chance but the fact that my most vivid opera memory is waking up in the middle of Aida and looking left to see my father and two brother fast asleep (I remember this but don’t remember the story line?)

The reason I guess is I’m part of a generation that needs to be entertained – don’t blame us – the world made us into this! So when we go to a show, a movie, a play or even watch TV we need to be entertained! This doesn’t mean it needs sex, violence or mad action scenes (although these help) it means that we need to be encompassed by what we are watching. We need effort to be put into costumes, set, creativity in characters and plot. We need it to poke and prod at our senses, our minds and our subconscious all at the same time!

I digress slightly.

The reason I fear that I’ve hardly started to appreciate live opera is that it generally, in this country, is a little half ass. I don’t mean to mock but when I see things like this it makes me realize just how powerful shows out there are and I wonder if I were confronted with design and creativity like these – would I be engaged and would I be enthralled enough to grow to love it?

After you’ve seen a few of these you start to realize why I love, and write about, So you think you can dance. The reason is it combines music, song, setting, the body’s movement as well as storyline to give us a most entertaining chunk of creativity – mind blowingly so most of the time, tantalizing and delighting every part of our brains!. I think if I were to be confronted with a set and costumes like these I would be able to get into live opera a bit better!

 

 From HERE!

 

So you think you’ll never watch? (@DSTV)

The arts

To say that its the first thing i play on my PVR when i get back from a long week of travelling is a little over the top but i must say after being dragged through a few episodes ive started to become a proper fan!

Ive started to realise that dance is very much like music because when people ask me what music i like i battle to explain because it depends on the song itself rather than the genre. To give you an example i like bits and pieces of metal / rap / R&B / drum & Base / Rave / Classical etc etc and the list goes on because if a song grabs me than it doesnt matter where it came from!

Now if you had said to me a while ago do you like contemporary dance or ballet chances are i would have said absolutely not in fact it makes me wanna take a drill bit to the temple – but know ive come to see that like music it depends rather on the variables making it up (dancers / music / costume etc) than the specific type of dance!

I have tried to find some of the brilliance i have seen over the past seasons sporadically but unfortunately there doesnt seem to be much out there – here are a couple and you just have to think to yourself how is it possible that someone can create movement like this (much as i admire song writers and composers for being able to do what they do)!

I must say that the people who choreograph and those that bring the steps to life are of true genius and they deserve to be watched, praised and saluted for their talents!

Plus for those of you who are loyal STMers you will know that we have a soft soft spot for hot female bodys in minimal clothing and believe me there is no shortage of them here :)

But seriously sit back and watch just a tiny spec of what i could find and then tune in . . .

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE on a TUESDAY NIGHT on MNET SERIES CHANNEL 110 as 8:30!

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Do something fun this weekend!

High Flying!

If you are thinking of hitting it hard this weekend – try do something fun – a little trip to London is good. Friday night flight – be there Sat morning for a little

sushi and smoothie – as you can see the weather is above average for London!!

Have a little stroll around kensington high street – little bit of H&M shopping maybe Virgin megastore then back to the hotel for a little rest before hitting one of the below!!

London Private Clubs

No.8 - No. 5 Cavendish Square

Member type: Party boys (and girls)
Set in a stunning Georgian townhouse in, obviously, Cavendish Square, No. 5 Cavendish Square includes three bars, a gorgeous restaurant with space for 80 diners complete with private dining rooms, a members-only nightclub, a library, and a spacious roof terrace overlooking London. Those who drink too much can enjoy a stay in one of the eight opulent boudoir-style suites, which all come with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and Italian fabrics. Near Oxford Street, it’s the perfect place to come and relax after a hard day’s retail therapy.

London Private Clubs

No.6 - Eight

Member type: City boys
Eight is a stylish, spacious hangout for stressed-out city-workers looking for a little respite. Hidden at the end of a long, dark alley behind an imposing black door, members swipe their ultra-exclusive cards across a biometric reader to be permitted access. It’s all very James Bond, which is why we love it. Inside, members are treated to a sumptuous interior set across two floors, with six private entertaining rooms, a cinema, dance floor and two well-stocked bars. All this is topped off with a selection of boys’ toys, such as Brunswick pool tables, a 60-inch plasma screen, poker tables and a punching bag.

GO SEE THE OTHER FUN ONES TO HIT!

Animation . . .

The arts

So I don’t profess to be a dancer, know anything about dance, understand the moves or in fact get how any person can move their body in time to the music as well as these people do, but maybe it’s just cause I’m white?

I’ve written about So you Think You Can Dance Before, and while tracking back through my posts to find it I realized I have been sucked into a few reality shows along the way, however I haven’t stuck with any except this one!

Now I know this article is a little late, but I suppose you could think of it being very early for  the new season, and if you are only hearing about it for the first time you are about 9 seasons too late!

Now I know very season they have to bring a new ‘thing’ into it, a better, soppier story, a tighter race, more drama, it is a reality show after all, but this season there was a guy called Cyrus who was an animator?! If you’re first thought is WTF, then you would be in the same place I was a few months ago.

Here’s a taste . . .

In all seriousness, like I said in the beginning, I’m no dance expert but sometimes there are things in the world that are movingly beautiful and I find more of them on this show than I have on pretty any other much. The combination of magical choreography with perfect dance execution, judges that aren’t narcissistic self-righteous assholes (Gareth Cliff take note) and a host who is fun, smart and seriously hot, plus the best variety and quality of music around, all of this has got to add up to something outstanding . . . and it does.

If however you are not sold on the artistic and creative genius of this show then perhaps the allure of half-naked women with outrageously good bodies dancing is a better sales pitch? That, they have in magical abundance too!

These are just two routines of the animator Cyrus which blew my mind but I suggest you head over to YouTube and go have a look at the madness of talent . . . this is SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!

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Hold fast to small victories . . .

High Flying!

As you are aware I have moved to Shanghai recently (if you are not click the link) and while getting used to a new city that operates in a language that sounds mostly like klingon is a little difficult, I have started to navigate the city and so I decided to put on my big boy pants and walk home.

Now if you are South African this concept will be rather foreign to you but never the less, I put my iPhone in, put on target=”_blank”>NERD- Hot n Fun (if you don’t know this song – YOU REALLY SHOULD) walked the total of 25 minutes to my front door on a warm spring evening. If you live in a city (I mean a real city) you will probably think I am quite pathetic and cant work out what all the fuss is about but the truth is I have never, ever walked home.

The small sense of pride I got when I arrived home has seldom been better and I started to wonder why we seem to let these small moments of joy pass us by.

You see for me I have always tried to behave far senior to my years and perhaps this has always stopped me from enjoying small moments that could be perceive as trivial – things like getting my first assistant, my first office, my first apartment etc

I’ve been so hell bent on acting above my age that sometimes I tend to forget the smallest joys in life which are so often the most important ones. Moving to a new country all these tiny victories seem to become magnanimous and rightly so. From now on I’m going to try and enjoy these a lot more – like setting up two outside chairs from IKEA (even though there are step by step instructions and a 4 year old could do it)

The moral of the story is quite simple – enjoy the little things. They are the things above all else that are most important! No victory is to small and no victory is not worth celebrating whether it be with a jeroboam of champagne or a small silent victory dance in the middle of the street. Life is there to be enjoyed and if you cannot do that even for the smallest of moment then you have a serious problem!

In the words of Johnny Drama ‘VICTORY!’

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Life is not fair!

The arts

I spent last week in Mumbai visiting a business we have there. It’s the first time I’ve been to India at all and without question was one of the most humbling and inspiring four days of my life. I left India with a renewed energy that can only be given by a place that shows you just how hard you need to fight if you want to make something of yourself in this world.

At some point when I can collect my thoughts I will write about it.

One thing stands out in my mind and here’s why.

It started by hearing a song in the hotel car. Now when you stay at the Taj palace the driver wears a suit and white gloves. He has a set of ten disks in his car – one for every perceivable foreign speaking person that may be in his car. I happened to be English and so one of the songs on the disk was the song below. If you listen to the song as I did I tried to recall where I had heard it and I’m pretty sure it was SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE went to go find the link afterwards) and i found the song harrowing. Ive spoken about the combination of music, dance and emotion before on this show as it seems to introduce me to musical genres i would otherwise never make a connection.

As I lay back in the car listening to this harrowing song having just left the brand new AER Bar at the Four Seasons Mumbai where like a socialite glutton (at the time I must confess I loved it) drank Grey Goose vodka on the 45 floor overlooking Mumbai feeling like an international rock star.

The problem however is as I sank back into the chair and glanced outside I realised we were driving through a slum. Now the slums of Mumbai make those in South Africa look like the Four Seasons I had just left and it became more and more clear how sad and unfair life is. Here I was being chauffeured drunk on Grey Goose through Mumbai back to my exceptional hotel while these millions of people slept with no lights, no water and no form of civilization I could see or think of.

Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t the first time I’ve seen poverty nor the first time I’ve felt sympathy but the combination of alcohol buzz and the words and melody of this song conjured the most powerful of experiences and I realised why I have to remind myself everyday of just how lucky I actually am.

Close your eyes one night and listen to this song in the quiet darkness of your home and imagine the life both better and worse that you could have had . . .

There was a Tiger in the bathroom . . . .

Drink cool be cool!

I must just start off by again apologizing for the lateness of another piece, but to be completely honest the Smirnoff boys and girls threw such a monster weekend that we have barely recovered – if you compound the nights (and sunrises) with the lunches that had to follow for a few days, a stint in the Stellenbosch health hydro was the only thing stopping us from certain death (we just escaped – those bastards don’t let you drink???)!

When we interviewed Markus Schulz the day before the party we could see in his eyes that he was about to do something special! Sometimes people who are the best at what they do know it and want you to know it. Markus was like the genius who just wanted to play – to make people come alive and make the party epic – he is without question one DJ we are going to follow half way around the world to be a part of again! You don’t ‘see’ this dude play – you live it, and sitting in a boardroom listening to him say his influences range from Pink Floyd, Rock n Roll, dance right through to electro we began to realise what an epic evening lay ahead!

When his set came on late into the evening it all finally came alive for me!

All the containers of culture, lifestyle and music that had crossed paths through the sky to various places around the world finally sunk in. He conducted the mood of the crowd like a master and I remembered what it was like to be a part of a truly amazing party when the DJ, venue, crowd and all the elements come together! You put your arms in the air and feel time slow to a standstill as you dance through the perfection that takes control of you!

At the press conference the day before (yes we were media – god helps us all) someone said this is bigger than a party, this is about the globe sharing a night together and at the moment when the confetti boomed out of canons onto the floor, that’s exactly what I felt.

Twelve countries around the world were sharing a moment of pure Nirvana through music (and to be fair a large amount of Smirnoff).

What I always find amazing though is how those nights somehow disappear into mornings of absolute pain! I think I could actually hear my kidneys screaming like those weird things in Harry Potter that scream when you pull them out the ground!

If you know that beautiful scene from the Hangover when they find the Tiger you will realize the state we were in come Sunday. . .

Fortunately nothing that a little bash at the Company of Wine People DUCK POND, 350 of our closest friends (and clients) and 10 Lambs who laid down their lives to slowly rotate over hot coals to save my hangover, couldn’t fix!

Thank you to the stellar ladies from FD who got us on tour – we hope we didn’t let the side down and to Baglett for keeping the competition winner entertained at dinner (with limited success ;) ) and us as well (with great success)!

Jack Spanish on the STM Tour – Part VI

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So I left Holland and flew to Egypt to go diving on a dive boat, with a brother of mine (from another mother) and his dive crew. There were 18 of us that set out from Sharm El Sheik, at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Sinai is that place Moses received the Ten Commandments. The Red Sea is the place he parted to allow him and his people to escape.

Me and my brother from another mother as camp killing machines

Me and my brother from another mother as camp killing machines

The Red Sea is too blue to give credibility in words. On either side it is flanked by the mystery of Desert Mountains. It is hot – always. It is magic above the water but below it is something from a dream. I saw great walls of coral stretching down to depths that made me think of two things – my own insignificance and the power of the ocean.

Pictures cant explain the colour of the sea

Pictures cant explain the colour of the sea

I saw coral gardens of rainbow like colours, where schools of orange goldfish danced beneath rays of the afternoon sun.  I dived through the deep blue and it felt like I was flying in space no bottom below and no shore in sight. I dived over forests of coral in the early morning light, just floating, flying, and drifting with the affectedly light current. The Ras Muhammad National Park (below the sea) is one of the most mind-blowing places I have seen on earth. I saw a turtle. I saw little Nemos being tickled by anemones. I saw angelfish (not just a clever name), butterfly fish, and parrot fish, blue spotted rays, Barracuda’s and great big snapping Moray Eels. I saw fish hunt by the light of my torch at night – I dived at night too – f*cking brave hey. I saw crocodile fish, and stone fish. I dived a ship wreck from World War II – again for the drama (whisper it this time) - I dived a wreck from World War II. The Thistlegorm was bombed by German bombers out looking for the Queen Elizabeth passenger ship one morning in 1942. It sank in the Red Sea carrying some of its sailors. Those things of war it was carrying, motor cycles, rifles, tanks, and ammunition sank with it. They are still there, at the bottom of the ocean. The Thistlegorm comes out at you like a ghost ship as you descend. It took me a while to descend – I am prone to the occasional panic attack when diving. That thing about very deep water and breathing under it makes my mind think some crazy sh*t.  We swam through the various compartments of the ship – using our torches to spot cannons, and trains, trucks, but no mice. It was awesome. It was scary. It was a dark and lonely place.

Some French dude designed a thingamajig with a can of air that enables you to breathe underwater – it enables you to fly – to experience weightlessness – to see a world only those from Atlantis knew.

We have touched the bottom of the ocean in our usual way – fishing lines – bottles – sunken steel. There are too many boats diving each day – too many footsteps on the coral it might seem. The Red Sea seems to treat our deposits with disdain. It has seen some sh*t – the sea that is. Although we might touch it, with wrecks of steel, and barrels of oil, and some toilets too, the sea and its life just grows through and over, with the wild abandon of one of its 300 metre long drop off coral walls.

Each night I slept outdoors – on the deck – the stars speckling – the satellites moving – the moon bright. I am a little claustro and when you are diving through wrecks sometimes you feel that the open air when you sleep might be better for your mind. Cabins on dive boats are not that big. Sometimes I had to dive to one side to rescue my pillow which was taken away by the wind but I was happy – grateful to be alive. Each morning I was greeted with the red glow of the rising sun.

Sleeping quarters at sunrise

Sleeping quarters at sunrise

Each morning we laughed and joked over breakfast, and lunch, and before dives, and after dives, and at night – when I was not too tired to talk. My brother’s dive crew took me in as if I was one of their own. I was a beginner and had to lie about my experience and my insurance just to go on the boat – no one minded. They didn’t spare the horses, mind you, they dived and dived and dived and dived. Four dives a day – one at 6:30 – one at about 12 – one at about 3 – and then a night dive at about 7. They only stopped in order to fill the tanks for another dive and have a smoke. There is of course a ‘how big is your cock contest’ in diving – even the women can play. Those who consume more air are not as comfortable under the water (i.e. scared and breath too fast) as those who consume less. It is weird having a ‘how big is my cock contest’ over who consumes less – this would not go down well in Pretoria. I am ashamed to say that I am small. I ate air underwater as if it were pies on Graeme Smith’s Sunday lunch table. It was that breathing underwater thing that seemed unbelievable to me. In 6 days on a dive boat there was not one fight amongst the 18 people on board and 8 strong crew. We lived in each other’s spaces, and stared into each other’s eyes, all day and all night. That’s the kind of people divers are - just cool. They understand that the answers to the secrets of the universe might just lie beneath the sea.

The Sea grows over the Thistlegorm Shipwreck
The Sea grows over the Thistlegorm Shipwreck
WW II Bike!

WW II Bike!

We spent two nights at Sharm El Sheik decomposing or something or other which basically means you cannot fly for a while after you dive or you will explode. While I am not prone to mecas of materialism, Sharm is worth a visit for those of you who spend your times on a European summer vacation. It is as good a party beach destination as I have seen, a city of blinding lights at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula and just a short pop into diving the red sea and the deep blue that lies beyond. You might as well spend your money in Africa.

If you want to go diving the Red Sea or if you just want to learn to dive – speak to Craig at Aqua ventures (South Africa)  - if you are lucky you might land up on a dive boat on the Red Sea for a couple of days. If you are even luckier my brother (from another mother) and his dive crew might be on it too.

I saw the pyramids of Giza, and walked into one of its tombs. I saw the majestic Sphinx – it was smaller than I imagined but much more beautiful. It was just a day trip to the Pyramids. Somehow I felt a little robbed. It seems like you should come across the pyramids in the middle of a desert somewhere, in the afternoon sun, after riding a camel for a while, rather than taking a bus, on a tarred road, and buying a ticket. They are mighty though – f*cking mighty.

I went to Alexandria to see the city that Alexander founded in about 115BC give or take a couple of years. It is everything you would expect of a city named after Alexander.

I then made my way in a bus across the desert for 8 hours to get to the Siwa Oasis, which is in West Egypt, close to the Lebanon border. The Siwa Oasis is where the Oracle of Delphi lived and is where I am now. It is a 3 kilometre wide, two kilometre wide oasis in the middle of 8 hours of sand in all directions. I will tell you about it next time.

I wish you would come out on the road with me, that I could show you the places I’ve seen – miracles and marvels that pass our understanding.

PS: The Boks did it – I want another two tri-nations and one world cup from this team. They can do it mind you, if you all just believe.

Look after yourselves out there

Jack Spanish on the STM Tour Part IV

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A Beautiful Day

So lets just take it back a little. Things have changed. I am in Amsterdam at the moment – in VondelPark to be perfect.

Yes I know what you are thinking, but it is not that; or maybe it is. Things just happen on the road.

One day you are in Essaouria (Morocco) watching the earth and the seagulls play, about to set off to spend time meditating in the Sahara desert, as close to God as you can be and the next second you find yourself in VondelPark in Amsterdam – having spent a weekend in Dublin – U2 at Croke Park in Dublin is as close to God as anything.

I stayed in Essaouria about a month. I moved to a stylish residence: a two bed apartment on the front corner of the Medina with a roof terrace overlooking back over the Medina, and forward over the Atlantic ocean. I would like to explain to you what the view was like but I can’t. It was an amazing place and one where I spent a lot of time, watching the sunset, drinking Rose, doing yoga, meditating, reading, and talking to friends. It sounds gay – but it wasn’t – but it still sounds gay. The apartment cost about USD30 per day. I say dollars although who knows with that thing: it is as bouncy as I am. The cool thing about staying for longer anywhere is that you don’t end up in the boutique hotel. The boutique hotel works, if you are a tourist intent on ticking boxes in your guidebook of ‘must see’ places, and are still into Elton John. I paid for a month in Essaouria what I would pay for about 3 nights in any 3 star in any large city in Europe.

I can’t take all the credit for finding the apartment, Hamid who I mentioned last time (telephone number 0614887066) found it for me.

So what did I do? It depends how you look at it.

I spent time with Gudu, who looked half Indian, half Maori, maybe some bushman (but larger). Gudu’s a Berber – one of the desert people (the original Moroccans). You forget sometimes in Africa about the first great colonisations: Romans, Greeks, and Persians. The Persians stayed in Morocco pushing Islam like good Christians. Gudu thinks I should spend some time without money in his town in the Sahara desert. We spent a whole day on the edge of the beach listening to the sea. “It speaks,” Gudu said. It sounds cheesy if you are with a ‘self help’ guru; but it is different when you are with a 27 year old Berber who seems to be able to hear something. 

I watched the old men dressed in klu klux clan like robes, but not white – the men nor the robes. They live with nothing but the cloth on their back and that which they can scrape together on the streets that day. They are beggars, or kings. They were hunched over, gravity dragging them back. Their eyes showed wizardry: eyeballs shrunken back from seemingly knife-wounded faces. I watched one of the tourists; with a big red face and a big expensive camera wave her hand at one of these men sending him away. “There are so many of them. I won’t give anything because they are encouraged not to get a real job.” You probably should you colonialist pig, I wanted to tell her – but what right do I have.

I met local surfers who took me to a bar – a local bar. The bar was ill decorated – people there took drinking seriously. I had been to the tourist bar, which was next door, the day before. The décor in the tourist bar was far more pleasing. The service and price in the local bar was better. 

I played drums with Zachary, who taught me a thing or two about drumming. We smoked kif before playing. I play better that way. Zachary also thinks so. Zachary rents a little shop in the streets of Essaouria he has called the Happy Shop, where he cooks sardines on a braai on the floor, and drinks a little bit too much with his friends. I was with Zachary one hungover morning when his landlord came to the door demanding money. Zachary gave him what was left in his pocket – probably the only money he had for the day. “These rich people,” he said, “that guy has so much money, but he takes whatever he can from me.” I am sure Zachary is not the world’s greatest tenant, but maybe sometimes a man who owns a number of shops could look favourably on another who is bringing music to the world.

Everyone in Essaouira plays an instrument of some kind (some good and some not). On the beach there are guitars and drums and people dancing. In the restaurant, and internet cafes there is always someone drumming. There is something in the music, which makes them calm. It might have a little to do with hash; the calmness, but who am I to judge – the world needs a little bit more calm.

I ate omelette every morning. The breakfast menu is a little bit sparse. Sometimes you get mushrooms on the omelette – but not always. Everything else you eat is excellent. The tagine (famous) is served steaming in those little clay dishes with hot flat bread used for dipping and scraping. Food is not so important to me though; since I became a fish and omelette-eating vegetarian (with the occasional burger king). I watched a movie called Earthlings. Watch it and you probably will not eat that much meat again either.

I gave cigarettes to everyone who walked past. It seemed to be the local tax. In the end there was one old man who pushed a cart around all day, waiting for me, and a cigarette – every morning. 

I spent one day learning to walk again. Too many days trying to look busy in the corporate world have given me a hunched over path viewing fast walk. With a little help from a friend – I am now the kind of person who walks as if his purpose is watching the horizon rather than just looking busy.

I sat and watched a young man in a wheel chair in the surprisingly untouristy tourist area as he painted postcards, with a paintbrush in his mouth – his only able movement. It is a weird thing destiny. Not so sure I agree with the common thought that destiny is in our own hands.

“You can’t always do what you want to,” I said to Margaret from Belgium. “But there’s always a way,” she replied, with a laugh that was half devil. She thought it was strange that I would sell everything and travel the world. “I am a writer.” I was not hesitant to remind her.

I noticed how tanned my hands and feet had become.

Trust was something that I learnt. My initial reaction to the world is a lawyer’s tinged scepticism along with an in built insecurity that everyone is out to get me. It changed in Essaouria I drank more mint tea with various shop owners than anything. Each of them wanted to tell me a story about this or that. I was a friend of theirs you see: I was not just in and out I had stayed.

I sat indoors sometimes and wondered how loose my grip on reality had gotten. Hanging around in life, doing something: working on yourself is the ultimate in selfish acts. We are supposed to contribute. “Was I supposed to work in a bank? Would that be adding something to society?” I suppose no one else is really asking me this – it is I asking myself.

I listened to a friend of mine playing guitar in her white tank top and short blue shorts: the first couple of strains to ‘more than words’ over and over again. She, like me, thinks that playing the guitar is as grand a purpose as any.

It’s as good a place to be if you don’t know where you’re going – Essaouria – Morocco – and call Hamid for a place to stay. He is an honest man – you can trust me on that. I still need to spend some time in the desert. That was the point previously – but points change.

I realised that a friend of mine from South Africa had booked me tickets to see U2 live at Croke Park in Dublin: Rockstars at a hometown gig. Like most metrosexuals I have always loved U2. I did not know where I was going to be in the world when my friend asked, I always prefer to say ‘I’m in,’ rather than ‘no’. I was happy in Morocco and did not really feel like moving, so I was trying to get rid of the tickets until I had a moment of inspiration which saw me booking tickets to Holland picking up a friend of mine in Amsterdam and flying to Dublin to watch U2. I went to U2 because I thought it would be a cool way to spend a day. You know when U2 is playing Dublin because Dublin is playing U2 – in its bars, and in its hearts. I was not a fan of their new album – I say was because I probably did not understand it, so I was wondering what the concert would be like. The crowd was 80 000 strong. We arrived about a half an hour before U2 arrived, after spending time on the streets, and jagged our way through the crowd to find the friends from South Africa who were there already. There were a few beady eyes as some of those had been waiting. Our friends had been waiting about an hour and a half so had quite a good spot on the field about 30 metres from the massive claw, that is part of the stage for the 360 tour. It is called the 360-degree tour because usually the stage is in the middle of the audience but in Croke Park it was at the front. At about 9:00 PM Larry Mullin started banging away, Edge moved slyly on, Adam Clayton appeared out of nowhere, Bono came forward to greet the crowd – they just started playing, maybe a little shyly – but that existed for a moment. U2 sold out 3 nights in a matter of minutes. Well they sold out all around the Europe in a couple of minutes. They started with some of their new songs, unpretentiously, not trying to push the music – it had received some bad reviews.The sun started setting as they kicked back into their old stuff. Magnificent – was the last of a set off the new album that went like this – Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, and ended with Magnificent – I knew I liked the new album after this set. They then went on with Beautiful Day, Blackbird, Elevation, Desire, Stuck In A Moment, Until the End of the World, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Crazy Tonight – The crowd did not understand it at the beginning but at the end it was pandemonium – have a watch on YouTube – it is worth it – takes a while to heat up but I loved it from the start. It is going to become a big club anthem.

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Stuck in a Moment, With or Without You, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride, MLK, Walk On, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Where the Streets Have No Name, Bad ended it. I have never seen awesome like that before. They moved in and out of songs with the rhythm of perfect s*x. I felt a euphoria that I have not experienced without aid, just 4 guys on a stage (admittedly the most expensive stage that has ever been built – and a mind f*ck all on its own), but I hardly noticed it. I just listened to the music, jumped, danced a little, and sang with everything I had. At times I felt like one of 80 000 or so people at the concert backed by the 4 million or so people in Dublin when Bono spoke about Hill 16. Ireland is a land that has fought for its freedom and values its people. There is nothing like a hometown hero come home in Ireland. My friend turned to me midway through, and said, “It’s great to be alive.” It is a bit foolish to talk about God and a rock band but musicians might be the voices of God. It felt like that to me on a Friday night in Dublin.

I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy

I watched the rugby South Africa vs. New Zealand first tri-nations test in an Irish pub and was surprised to hear some of the South African’s around me tell me that it is not such a great team This is the same team that won the World Cup, it has won (well most of it) two super 14’s, it beat the lions badly in the first test, and had one of the greatest comebacks I have seen to win the second test and the series and it will be a real surprise if we don’t win this tri-nations – not because we ought to but because we deserve to. Let me say something for those of you South African’s who are still a little bit in doubt – this team is the best team in the world – they might be rivalling for one of the best teams of all time. The bench might be a little soft, but there is not one player in the starting line up that I would trade with any other player in the world. You might want O’Driscoll or a fit Daniel Carter; but that’s about it. I think sometimes the results of sport and stuff like that is made up of the energy that comes from those who support in your own hometown – your own tribe. When watching U2 with a Dublin crowd you realise this.

And then it was to Amsterdam – Amsterdam is Amsterdam. It shows you what you need to know. I have only one warning about Amsterdam – get out after five days. After that if you are a narcissist of any form you will never leave. Set yourself a limit on time and leave or you will be destined to remain – there are worse places to remain by the way.

I am on day 3 in Amsterdam and I find myself in Vondel Park – doing what you think I am – but probably not

Keep it real out there.



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