Category : Constantia Chronicle

Deceptively Clever

As gold hit new highs I was reminded of a lunch back in the mid 90’s, with a stock broker friend. How things have changed, we walked to the restaurant from the JSE, in central Johannesburg and it was a big day as from recollection gold had just gone through the $350 dollars an ounce mark, the sun shone and all seemed right with the world!

At $1900 an ounce gold still does not really thrill me, but then as a dull Lancastrian pommy I have never been part of the love affair that many South African’s share with that beautiful unique metal. At $2500 an ounce I do know a number of guys who will cash in their wedding rings and at $3000 an ounce carjacking in parts of Cape Town will change. Yes, the criminals will be carrying pliers not guns, there is at least an ounce in a gold front tooth!

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The Private Client Diaries

I am from a proud working class background emanating originally from the north of England, a place where the idea of accepting charity is rather a kin to accepting an insult graciously and just as likely to occur!

So at times I must admit that I find it difficult to watch those who not only accept hand outs, but actually expect them. Obviously there are people in all countries who are existing at a level where their basic needs are not met and their government, often rich with tax income, fails them. In their case it is not really charity it is basic subsistence living and no one with a decent heart can resent that.

Yet there is also a national psyche that exists amongst certain countries, where they have seemingly accepted their position as perennial basket cases, or as a poor relative, that requires their sibling nations to support them without question.

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Handymen – Get them while you can!

As we approach the end of the year, in any year, there does seem to be an odd quickening of everything around us.

Time seems to accelerate and a huge magnet, with a fat Father Christmas so on top of it, seems to drag us faster and faster towards that fateful day of turkey and crackers! From the first moment that a tin foil covered Santa chocolate appears in the shop we are doomed. The gun goes off and we hurtle head long towards that date, with our credit card maxed and our nerves a little jangled, actually jingle jangled.

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You need to be in it to win it

For many the end of 2010 and the birth of 2011 was a point of greater than normal celebration. The last year has been a troubled and often a confusing time, with some exceptional highs and lows, perhaps 2011 heralds a period of more stability and normality.

South Africa may have celebrated the FIFA circus, otherwise known as the World Cup, but thousands also lost their jobs and homes. The sickly veneer of soccer democracy, that is Sepp Platter’s road show, brought us some light relief and national pride, but like a brightly coloured foil wrapper on a rotten chocolate the show moved on and we were back dealing with the raw daily realities of life.

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The State of the Nation!

The state of the nation! I have always found it rather strange that a country needs a state of the nation speech, be it in SA, the US or anywhere.

This is the 21st century and we are bombarded by 24 hour news channels, newspapers, magazines, emails, twitters and goodness knows numerous other information channels. The countries budget is splashed over the news, even the “pre” budget now gets huge coverage so what else can we get from what has become more of an extended party political broadcast, clapped at the end of every sentence, by those happy to be closest to the money and the power.

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Viva la Revolution

They are revolting in the souk and disgusted in the casbah. Watching the news at the moment is complicated, as multiple revolutions in numerous Arab and Muslim states have segued into one long stream of sound bites and scenes of cheering people, you need a few moments to establish whether we are looking at Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan or Libya!

One of the profound impacts of this wave of totalitarian rejection, is that we see these people finally for what they are. Not what the US, UK, Israel or any other nation, with a hidden agenda desire. No, we see them in their humanity, they are ordinary individuals and families just like us, although seemingly braver than we would ever be.

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When the tough get going!

As they say democracy is not the easy option, democracy is hard and demands that we never stop working at it to keep it and improve it.

Fascism, communism, one party states, religious dictatorships, fundamentalist states be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish or blind ethnic governments are easy, yes easy!
What is difficult, is listening to people you don’t agree with, tolerating thoughts and ideas you are diametrically opposed to reading articles by those you feel should not be given a platform and having to see people, you feel should be locked up, demonstrate on the streets. That is difficult that is challenging and that is what gives democracy its edge.

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Circle of Life

Twenty years ago I was sat in England and somehow convinced myself that elephants were about to become extinct. That led eventually to me selling up, leaving my job, getting dumped by the then girlfriend and driving out of London, on my “Big Adventure”. This resulted in me eventually arriving, six months later, in Cape Town.

By the time, however, I arrived in Cameroon, by way of France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Niger and Nigeria I was already convinced that the elephant was not in fact anywhere near becoming extinct, but was actually doing rather well. There were some counties south of Cameroon where no doubt animal protection came second to the need for food. Zaire for example, as Congo was at that time, was amazing but there was nothing that didn’t find itself onto a plate.

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Have a Financial Giggle

If you think that you are more miserable than ever and you are in your late thirties then you are probably right!

A recent piece of scientific research has shown some remarkable results into how many times a day we humans laugh, giggle or are genuinely amused and happy. The happiest group were, not surprisingly, kids under ten but what was amazing to me was that these lucky tots laugh and giggle up to 300 times a day.

This happiness barometer then tails off over the years and hits rock bottom in our mid to late thirties.

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The Secret of Success

If at first you don’t succeed, well you must just be like the rest of us mere mortals! But what do we mean by succeed and against what are we judging ourselves and that level of success?

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