Tuesday, 27 January 2009

There was a Kugel, a Vaalie, and Van de Merwe...

The common or garden potato squid.

I think British people are easy to take the mickey out of. There are many eccentricisms and twee things going on on this island. But any immigrants be warned. Within about two years, the things that struck you as a bit nuts will start to make a lot more sense... you will see.

Personally I think the BFG has become more British than British people. He plots trends of the weather over 5 minute periods, gets incensed when people jump queues, finds it enthralling when a shop closes down and a new one moves in, and goes climbing alone at night, on self belay, in winter. In Leicestershire. He attaches bicycle lights to his legs in order to see. In a word, bonkers.

But South Africans are funny too (I am referring to people other than the BFG here, he is in a category of his own), although I find them more sensitive than Brits, on the whole. We have taken ourselves very seriously for too long. It is time to poke fun at ourselves:

  • All my white Saffa friends in the UK live in absolute pigsties. First time away from the maid is a traumatic time indeed. They either live with the mess or resort to a Polish cleaning lady.

  • We have no idea how to cope with cold weather. Today BFG said to me, "gloves are so cool. Why have I never worn them before?" This after being here 5 years. He still wears shorts and strops until he gets chilblains.

  • We will reason that although South Africa has terrible social, economic and crime problems, the weather is great, and the country is beautiful and so it is all good. And somehow this makes absolute sense.

  • We have no idea how to operate petrol pumps.

  • We love to think that people are ignorant about Africa and get very excited when people show their ignorance. We live off these stories for years.

  • We love to say, "but that is the way it is in Africa. You have to be tough to survive." I don't know. I managed to be a woessy little girl and survive for 23 years. Maybe the 24th is the clincher.

  • We know who Steve Hofmeyer is and can still sleep at night.

  • White people always think the maid is stealing stuff from them. "I am sure there is less air in this room since Patricia cleaned..."

  • We eat pieces of raw deer like they are manna from heaven.

  • We still think Leon Schuster humour is the peak of comedy genius.

We are nutters too, we have to admit it. I reckon non-South Africans could do a better job at laughing at us than me. But we should laugh along with them, because well, we can be lekker snaaks sometimes, nĂȘ?


SA Expats said...

Lol! Cool blog.

I'm making a list of SA Expat blogs. I added you. If you wish to be removed, please let me know.

It is free advertising after all.

Being Brazen said...

HA HA HA HA - you are so right i have NO idea how to use a petrol pump - they scare me....

LadyFi said...

Hilarious post!!

It seems to me that you South Africans are just as weird as we Brits! Welcome to the club...

Champagne Heathen said...

I love your list!! I'll try be creative & think up some more. I couldn't agree more, that we need to remember to laugh AT ourselves... rather than getting tense too often. Me especially!

6000 said...

Conversely, I find South Africans very difficult to poke fun at.

No... wait...

MidniteGem said...

LOL - so funny !!

I SO dont know how to operate a petrol pump - my colleges find this SO weird.

Yeah also trying to learn to clean house still - thanks to a lifetime of maids!! luckily i have a very patient bf.

Do you guys ever get out to real rock once it warms up...and isnt night !!??

po said...

sa expats: thanks for the add, it sounds great, I will check it out.

BB: me niether. But then I don't even drive.

Ladyfi: we are, but in different ways!

Champagne heathen: please tell me if you come up with any, I was racking mmy brain but the rest seemed quite lame. I could add them to the list.

6000: I think i need to reread your blog for inspiration for wittier Saffa fun-poking than I am capable of.

po said...

Midnite gem: well I have been injured so long I have done nothing. but the bf climbs real rock once every weekend, no matter the temperature. Personally I am waiting til summer! If my arm holds out that long

Medio Pomelo said...

When my Saffa bf showed me this Harry Enfield video was when I started to really appreciate South Africans. Till that moment they seemed to be a loud, drunken bunch with a terrible dress sense.... (sorryyyyy!!!)

After the video I could see you had a great sense of humour too!! :)) (just do something about your clothes for God's sakes!;)

Miss Definitely Maybe said...

ha ha ha
Im so suspicious of the hired help
the Brits call it the hired help
i find that hilarious too

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

And us Brit's retain those charming quirks even after years away. I still plot the weather every 5 mins (but then so do most Okies), get excited about new stores and furious with queue jumpers (much to the Hubsters embarrassment!)

po said...

Medio Pomelo: harry enfield, I have never heard of him! I will watch the video and report back.

I think if you see our tv adverts you will see what a whacked out quirky sense of humour we can have. But for a lot of people, toilet humour is still IT.

miss definitely maybe: oops I think "maid" is not politically correct any more! I think it should be domestic worker.

But yeah, when something goes missing, the poor maid is the first person you think of :(

Brit gal Sarah: awesome, I am so glad! you should never lose those quirks. I love them.

You don't go in for the solitary climbing on winter nights then?

Miss T said...

I love it!briliant post...and oh so true..hihi

I'm still coming to terms with the petrol pump but I still smile nicely to get someone else to pump my tires ;)

Medio Pomelo said...

Ps: just for the record, Harry Enfield is British who takes the mickey out of Saffas living in the UK. I just really liked the fact that Saffa boyfriend could actually laugh at it instead of getting offended.

po said...

miss T: my bf is a pro, but me... not so much.

Medio pomelo: oh yeah, i figured it out with the accent. And he said "text" instead of sms.

But there are many Saffas who would freak out at seeing that. Man of us suffer from sense of humour failure.

Personally I think the coolest thing ever is this song: "Iv'e never met a nice South African"


mylifescape said...

hahaahaa... cool post!!! the jozi weather makes me feel like i'm in London today! :( urgh!

Goblin said...


Shame, having to resort to Polish cleaning ladies. That's terrible :(

The Spear said...

I'm with you here, except for the Leon Schuster part.

po said...

Spear: what, you mean endless crap jokes (in more ways than one) are not your thing? "I told you to go down but you did not listen".

I was subjected to that crap on a Greyhound bus one time. I may never recover.

po said...

Goblin: I know. They usually have PhD's, the Polish cleaning ladies, so you can get your socks sorted according to fibre composition.

Jeanne said...

Good post :) And I had to laugh - after Christmas we were walking through the Hyde Park German Christmas Market and it was fooking freezing - and there was this guy in shorts and flipflops. And as we drew level with him, he was gooing the tall like nobody's business, and hubby and I just exchanged knowing looks - Our People.

As for petrol pumps, I repeatedly tell hubby that one of the main reasons I married him was so that I never have to deal with a petrol pump in person. I'm sure I can't be trusted with such a high-tech piece of kit ;-)

po said...

Jeanne: I had a similar experience just a few days ago: some guy in an SA rugby shirt, of course, and well, nothing else (on the top half), no jersey or coat or anything.