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The Flying Kangaroo, Qantas, has always had an ‘interesting’ labour relations scene. If it’s not the hosties throwing their toys around and threatening strikes, it’s the ground crew who refuse to unload baggage.

Only this month, dear Aunt Pam was manhandled in her wheel chair by an unsympathetic ground staff operator, opening and closing doors, bumping her through and then nearly allowing her to miss her plane. All very traumatic.

It appears that the relationship between pilots and ground/maintenance engineers is also different. Remember, it takes a college degree to fly a plane but only a high school diploma to fix one. After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a ‘Gripe Sheet’ which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft..

The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form,
and then pilots review the Gripe Sheets before the next flight. Without calling the monkey, Qantas is the only airline never to have had a major accident.

Here’s some repartee between them: (P=pilot; S=service personnel)

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute
descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last………………

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget
pounding
on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

[thanks John]

In contrast to the Northern Winter, the Cape has been shimmering in the heat and a tornado-strength South-Easter. We watched the apartments in front of us losing a satellite dish which turned into a deadly frisbee.

The week has been a blur of consultancy, movement and ‘getting things done’. We saw a great movie – Bright Star – about Jon Keats the poet which is to be recommended.

Activity really stepped up a gear by Friday evening. Judy had lectured us on ‘getting out’ – the result The Grand Restaurant fiasco (see post here).

Then, Saturday dawned, car loaded, new TV for the Mother, off to Stanford. It was hot, very hot.

Lunch at Mariana’s – surprise, surprise. Vicky and extended ‘family’:

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[a quiet 34C in the shade]

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[yak, yak, yak. Marc in full flight]

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[the two-pie option has grown legs – a Springbok pie, a Chicken pie, atchar and now diced tomatoes]

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[a picture worthy of a caption writing competition]

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[this is one way to get Mariana to part with a recipe – Marc’s restraining hand. No doubt a version will feature on Barbarella’s menu in Constantia]

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[Marc, Mariana and Jacque relax after lunch. Don’t get too used to this pic, it’s not often you see Mariana with a glass of water in her hand]

We stumbled down the hill to the Mother and enjoyed a large B-B-Q with Penny, Davis, Mother and Thor (plus Judi, the yorkie).

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[beware, fierce Yorkie]

Sunday we went to Heaven restaurant with Mother and Thor. Heaven is a great little bistro high up in he Hemel-en-Aarde valley. B of B’s Grill (a legend in Hermanus) has opened this bistro on the Newton-Johnson wine estate with one of his chef prodigies. Not your usual steak house fare although Thor found the whole Red Stumpnose fish a little on the bony side.

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[a dish for a hungry boy – pork trio – kassler. fillet, belly]

A week to go!

Tot later – Lovonne and Simon xx

We’re still in love with Megeve.

Jean-Pierre and Genevieve have just spent another week there with their family. Can you be so lucky?

JP sent us these pics:

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Fairly beautiful, you would agree.

On returning to Montpellier they celebrated with ‘coucous a la Tunisie’ – in JP’s words it was ‘garganteuse’.

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A last smile from our friend – the Genius. Robert is bottom right.

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[merci bien JP and G xx]

The Real World Economics Blog reports:

Alan Greenspan has been judged the economist most responsible for causing the Global Financial Crisis. He and 2nd and 3rd place finishers Milton Friedman and Larry Summers, have won the first–and hopefully last—Dynamite Prize in Economics.

They have been judged to be the three economists most responsible for the Global Financial Crisis. More figuratively, they are the three economists most responsible for blowing up the global economy.

Most than 7,500 people voted—most of whom were economists themselves from the 11,000 subscribers to the real-world economics review. With a maximum of three votes per voter, a total of 18,531 votes were cast.

Dynamite Prize Citations

Alan Greenspan (5,061 votes): As Chairman of the Federal Reserve System from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan both led the over expansion of money and credit that created the bubble that burst and aggressively promoted the view that financial markets are naturally efficient and in no need of regulation.

Milton Friedman (3,349 votes): Friedman propagated the delusion, through his misunderstanding of the scientific method, that an economy can be accurately modeled using counterfactual propositions about its nature. This, together with his simplistic model of money, encouraged the development of fantasy-based theories of economics and finance that facilitated the Global Financial Collapse.

Larry Summers (3,023 votes): As US Secretary of the Treasury (formerly an economist at Harvard and the World Bank), Summers worked successfully for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which since the Great Crash of 1929 had kept deposit banking separate from casino banking. He also helped Greenspan and Wall Street torpedo efforts to regulate derivatives.

Well done, guys. Now go and enjoy your hard-earned gazillions.

[news source – The Real World Economics]

Reading the newspapers here in Africa can often uncover some really interesting stuff. Stuff one would hazard a guess would not feature in any newspaper other than in Africa (OK, maybe The Sun’s Bizarre).

Let’s try Cape Town’s Cape Times – it’s a poke at Johannesburg, but that’s totally natural:

“I have promised to keep his identity confidential,’ said Jack Maxim, a spokeswoman for the Sandton Sun Hotel, Johannesburg , “but I can confirm that he is no longer in our employment.

We asked him to clean the lifts and he spent four days on the job. When I asked him why, he replied: ‘Well, there are forty of them, two on each floor, and sometimes some of them aren’t there’. Eventually, we realised that he thought each floor had a different lift, and he’d cleaned the same two twelve times. “We had to let him go. It seemed best all round. I understand he is now working for ‘GE’ Lighting.”

 

Moving further north to Zim:

While transporting mental patients from Harare to Bulawayo , the bus Driver stopped at a roadside shebeen (beerhall) for a few beers. When he got back to his vehicle, he found it empty, with the 20 patients nowhere to be seen. Realizing the trouble he was in if the truth were uncovered, he halted his bus at the next bus stop and offered lifts to those in the queue. Letting 20 people board, he then shut the doors and drove straight to the Bulawayo mental hospital, where he hastily handed over his ‘charges’, warning the nurses that they were particularly excitable. Staff removed the furious passengers; it was three days later that suspicions were roused by the consistency of stories from the 20. As for the real patients: nothing more has been heard of them and they have apparently blended comfortably back into Zimbabwean society.

[The Zimbabwe Herald]

And, on the east coast we find Kenya’s august journal The Standard:

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What is all the fuss about?” Weseka Sambu asked a hastily convened news conference at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport . “A technical hitch like this could have happened anywhere in the world. You people are not patriots. You just want to cause trouble.” Sambu, a spokesman for Kenya Airways, was speaking after the cancellation of a through flight from Kisumu, via Jomo Kenyatta, to Berlin . “The forty-two passengers had boarded the plane ready for take-off, when the pilot noticed one of the tyres was flat. Kenya Airways did not possess a spare tyre, and unfortunately the airport nitrogen canister was empty. A passenger suggested taking the tyre to a petrol station for inflation, but unluckily the jack had gone missing so we couldn’t get the wheel off. Our engineers tried heroically to re-inflate the tyre with a bicycle pump, but had no luck, and the pilot even blew into the valve with his mouth, but he passed out. “When I announced that the flight had to be abandoned, one of the passengers, Mr Mutu, suddenly struck me about the face with a life-jacket whistle and said we were a national disgrace. I told him he was being ridiculous, and that there was to be another flight in a fortnight. And, in the meantime, he would be able to enjoy the scenery around Kisumu, albeit at his own expense.”

[thanks, Major General]

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Stellenbosch, Paarl & Franschhoek vintners in the Cape area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic.
It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.

The new wine will be marketed as

PINO MORE

[thanks Lxx]

The Camps Bay, Cape Town, strip is often referred to as South Africa’s ‘Riviera’. A small version of Les Promenade des Anglais in Nice – without the huge hotels.

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[Camps Bay from the webcam in the teeth of a Cape South-Easter. It’s an Ill wind that blows no good ….. of a time to come?]

Admonished by our friend Judy that we needed to ‘get out more’, we decided to treat ourselves to a return visit (the last was in July 2009) to The Grand – an imposing looking restaurant, but definitely one to be seen in and to commemorate the occasion of ‘getting out’.

A booking was duly made (you don’t just pitch up!) and we were notified that the Grand could accept us at 9pm on Friday evening. We arrived – drenched in aftershave and perfume, neatly attired and ready for a repeat of the fabulous peri-peri baby chicken.

Our table for two was not quite ready and we were shown to the bar. After a rather perplexed look, the barman poured a house rose (with ice) and informed us that they had two draught beers – Peroni and Jack Black. Loyal to the end, I ordered Jack Black. “Ah!”, exclaimed our barman, “we’ve run out”. Peroni it was.

We repaired to our now ready table, laid for four. A friendly chap came up and announced that although he was not our waiter, here were our menus. A quick skim. No peri-peri chicken! Horror! “All is not lost” said the man who was not our waiter. “I’ll see if the kitchen can cook one for you.”

Alas, he returned with a negative. No problem – Avocado Ritz (R75) on the menu. An old favourite.

“We’ll have one”, I asked. “No, sorry sir” said the man who was not our waiter, “we have no avocados tonight.”

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[an Avocado Ritz – not exactly 3 star Michelin. On the menu but only available to selected patrons]

OK – two mains were ordered – mussels with frites and a Kingklip special. On asking our man who was not our waiter what accompanied the Kingklip, we were informed “you get the fish, lemon butter sauce in a dish and on a saucer”. Right. We order chips (R25) and spinach (R25).

As we waited, chatted and gazed at the avalanche of Botox and face lifts (in my next life I’m going to be Cape Town plastic surgeon). The man who was not our waiter carried starters to the neighbouring table – two avocado ritzes!

We waited politely and stopped him. “We thought there were no avocados”……… “No madam, they’re very small and I didn’t think you would like ones so small”. We laughed and he laughed too.

Another waiter passed – we asked again about the avocados…. “oh, they’ve just arrived” (it was 21h10 on a Friday evening in Cape Town – deliveries? No)

They do not even lie in unison.

Our meal arrived. The Kingklip (R120 plus R50 for the spinach and chips)was good, the sauce was, well, butter and there was a saucer. The mussels numbered 15 for the princely sum of R80. (In the South of France, nogal, you would get a large saucepan of about 40 mussels and frites for 9 euros (approx R100).

Madame had some juice lurking at the bottom of her little pot. We spotted bread rolls on all the other tables we had none. Without further ado, we summoned the man who was not our waiter and asked if there was a reason why we didn’t get rolls (maybe, we thought giving them the benefit of the doubt, it was because we did not order starters).

“Oh”, said the man who was not our waiter, “they were still in the oven but they’re out now”.

He laughed. Our sense of humour was being stretched and then our waiter arrived! He asked if we were ‘ok’ – we asked in reply for the bill.

As we perused the bill (R270), a smart man in a blue shirt passed. Theo Pearson, the manager. We told him the story. He told us that this had never happened before. Period. Over and Out. Roger that. We notified him that one of our party was a journalist from France. He fled – this has not happened before being repeated like a Buddhist chant.

Thoroughly exasperated at this stage we went downstairs to the lower level to pay and saw Theo again. We asked if the very least he could do was not to either say ‘sorry, give us a coffee or horror of horrors ‘comp’ us the meal’.

Theo’s answer? ‘I think you should leave, this has never happened before.’

We left. Never, ever to return again.

Compare this to a great breakfast at the Sandbar, superb service and vibe at Caprice and amazing value and vibe at Bayside Cafe (all on the strip, all competing with one another). In the next issue of Cape Odyssey, I’ll be talking again about two restaurants which have raised the bar in 2010 – Marianas and Heaven.

The Grand? I hear the rustling of feathers as chicken make themselves ready to come home to roost as soon after the World Cup hordes have left.

They will deserve it.

Dear friends and readers – avoid. 7Eleven sandwiches will leave you feeling much happier with life.

And you thought France Telecom, Telstra and Telkom was rude?

New Zealand Telecom is reaching new heights in customer service. A Wanganui woman who rang and complained about delays in her mobile service received this reply:

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[news source – Crikey]

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[the famous shot – now immortalised in a video game. Every day, tourists queue up to have their picture taken in situ]

Reuters and www.2Oceansvibe.com report this morning that the debt-laden EMI Music Group has put the iconic Abbey Road recording studios up for sale.

Abbey Road, which began life as a Georgian town house built in 1831, has an impressive history aside from the Beatles, who recorded most of their 1960s hit singles and albums there under the direction of EMI house producer George Martin.

Its walls have also echoed to music performed by classical composer Edward Elgar, rock bands Pink Floyd and Radiohead, violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin, 1980s bands Spandau Ballet and Simple Minds, as well as Mike Oldfield and Jeff Beck.

It is projected that a sale that, includes the brand (horror!) could raise 25 to 30 million pounds ($39 million to $47 million). Private Equity owners (them folk again) of EMI, Terra Firma recently told investors it needed more than 100 million pounds to stop EMI breaching banking covenants.

We hope no-one buys, or, if they do, maintains the sanctity of Abbey Roadhistory

Too many pictorial memories to include in the main story. Here’s a few more!

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[Marie’s car resembling a local taxi after the towel factory shop]

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[new craft village in Hermanus]

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[John resplendent in his Hepburn Springs hat]

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[Mariana – service with a personal touch]

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[when Peter talks, everyone listens]

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[even Marie]

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[Peter having a good worry about Mariana having a ‘dop’ before the end of desserts]

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[Jen, a penny for your thoughts over those Kama Sutra cookies?]

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[learning to laugh like a true Ululapa veteran]

IMG 7479

[doctor – if your Queen Mary patients could see you now]

IMG 7438

 [let’s close with a nice pork neck ]

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