PS! It’s Raining Potholes and Snow

Thursday 28 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … AdvantageCBD

I started blogging in October 2009, three years after I first became aware that something was wrong with my left hand.

It was also at that time that Port Elizabeth and surrounds were placed on water restrictions. Our supply dams were emptying fast and we were not getting any rain. And as we have seen in the international, national, business and private economies over the similar period, using more than you have, leads to putting everything in a precarious position. Hence, the biggest world recession since the last Great Depression, and, as I write, we wait expectantly to see what will happen in the United States this weekend, as they battle to balance the budget.

But back to the rain – like money, when you have no inflow, you have to limit the outflow. Hence the restrictions that were imposed: no hoses, no watering of gardens, no filling of pools, a limit of 15KL of water per month per household, etc.

For the last two years, whilst I have been blogging, I have often written about the lack of rainfall in our area. It has been a pleasure travelling to other areas of the country where water has been plentiful and where one did not feel guilty having an extra-long shower or even a luxury of a bath!

All that is over now! For the last three months, we have had rain, rain and more rain!

And as the water has fallen, we have had flooding and all the consequential damage. St Francis Bay has twice been cut off from the rest of the country by its only access road being washed away at the Sand River bridge. Homes have been flooded, roads and bridges washed away, the potholes have become even more and even bigger (is that possible?), our roads look like patchwork quilts with all the potholes and our supply dams have all filled to overflowing.

But the authorities have been slow in reacting, and the restrictions have remained in place. Only last week, were they partially lifted. It has been a case of “water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink!”

And so much for global warming! We have experienced cold weather such as I can’t remember ever having had in Port Elizabeth. Even I, who does not feel the cold because of my illness having damaged my “thermometer”, have been getting cold hands and cold feet. I have resorted to thick socks, woolly sheepskin slippers and “hand jeans” – gloves with the tips cut off!

This week, the heavy snowfalls in Africa have brought South Africa to a standstill! Major national roads have been closed. Even radio transmission has been halted in the Queenstown area where the transmitter generator has run out of fuel, and it can’t be accessed because of the snow. The Abrahamsons on the Karoo farm, Kaalplaas, where we spent last weekend in Somerset East (see picture in 2B or not 2B), also woke up to a white winter wonderland!

Ironically, Chile is experiencing similar biting cold weather and snow, and the United States is having severe heat waves! Whoever’s in charge of the weather seems to be messing it up all over the world.

Just as the government is messing up!

Over the last number of years, maintenance has not been a priority of our government. Everything has gone into a state of decay: education, healthcare, public broadcasting, airlines, roads, bridges, railways …

Four years ago, just after I had been diagnosed with CBD, I arranged a parents’ train to Bloemfontein when Grey PE played its traditional fixture against brother school Grey Bloem.  For years, the schools have been travelling by train on a home and away basis. Then, I had battled to get a train, but eventually managed to pull it off. Two hundred and thirty of us travelled to Bloemfontein, and we experienced a very cold night too when we had, what was then, the heaviest Karoo snowfall in living memory (and a train with no heating and delayed by 6 hours!) What fun!

Two years ago, after even more struggling, I managed to organise the Grey-V train 2 to Bloemfontein! That time we went prepared with sleeping bags, had no snow (but lots of rain in Bloemfontein), we were warmer and only arrived a half hour late. Even more fun!

This weekend, the PE school travels to Bloemfontein again. I have had so many people asking me to arrange another train. However, after giving it some thought, I regretfully came to the conclusion that my health has deteriorated to such an extent that I would not be able to do so.

Having said that, I think my health is still in a better condition than our ailing rail system. News is that SHOSHOLOZA (the SA mainline rail company) is unable to provide any trains at all this year. (Recently, all passenger trains in the entire country were cancelled for a month!)

Even the 600 school boys will be travelling by bus this year, and, so, yet another of our traditions is thrown out the window!  Future Grey boys will not experience the excitement of travelling to Bloem by train – in fact, many will now never ever experience train travel.

The chances of winning in Bloemfontein are limited (to say the least!), but travel safe, play hard, enjoy, and keep warm and dry because:

There’s more to come, they say – starting tonight: more rain, more cold, more snow!

Yes, we live in a topsy-turvy world.

Last weekend, we witnessed the awful killing by Anders Behring Breivik of seventy plus people (mainly children) in Oslo and on Utoeya Island – in the name of “saving Europe from Muslim takover”. We also saw the death of the notorious troubled and tragic singer (with the biggest hit REHAB), alcohol and drug abuser Amy Whitehouse, at the age of just twenty seven!

Last weekend, we also had the pleasure of visitors from The Strand: my niece Michelle, her husband Sebastian and their nine-month old daughter Hannah. Looking at Hannah at a place where she is just about to start crawling, I thought of this world a few times and wondered whether it was fair to bring children into and up in such a messed-up place. The answer came soon:

On Saturday, the rain let up and we headed off to the Addo National Elephant Park with its new entrance just 40 km from the City Centre at Colchester.

Away from the “messed-upness” of the world and in the quietness of nature, we experienced the beauty of our earthly home that hurtles through Space and from which we launch rockets to explore that Space (and maybe mess that up, too?) – read my previous blog.

Just a half hour from the hustle of the City, we experienced the joy and wellness of living – elephant, lion, kudu, zebra, buffalo, … all in the now lush green, over – watered African terrain of our planet Earth.

What a privilege and a pleasure to share in God’s creation!

Sky News reported yesterday that the British government had spent £2 million to research what made the British people happy. They found the following (and does this surprise you?):

The following, in order of importance, contributes to the happiness and well-being of the British people:

1.       Health

2.       Relationships with family and friends

3.       Relationships with spouse

4.       Economic well-being and job satisfaction

5.       The current and future state of our environment

I wonder where South Africans would place safety and security, and service delivery on this list.