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Monday 11 April 4 years 7 months on … ADVANTAGE CBD

A month ago today, Friday 11 March 2011, Japan was hit by its strongest earthquake ever, followed by a devastating tsunami and then a nuclear disaster. Thousands of people were killed and many more missing – also presumed to have died.

 Today, it was struck by yet another large earthquake and a tsunami. In the interim there have been numerous other after-shocks.

And all this time, I have not written anything.

 The reason for this is quite simple: My hands are becoming more difficult to hold up, my fingers becoming more rigid, sitting for periods of time becoming very uncomfortable (my left bum is numb most of the time!) and my mind becoming cloudier and overcast. It’s not exactly the best recipe for writing!

Added to this, are the ongoing normal daily domestic, home and family issues that have to be attended to, and are sometimes more taxing than dealing with the CBD.

The fact that Japan has had one major disaster does not preclude it from being subjected to many more. The fact that I have CBD does not preclude me from having to face many other of life’s challenges as well.

And so, the last few weeks have been particularly taxing and draining. I grow tireder and wearier – some I guess from the life issues and some from the disease itself.

Yesterday, Sean and I went down to the beachfront to watch the Iron Man contest. I recall being one of a small group of people watching from Hobie Pier the swim commence in the very first Nelson Mandela Spec-Savers Iron Man contest seven years ago. The contest has subsequently grown tremendously and improved significantly.  

Thousands of people now line the route and get involved in the festivities of the day. As in life, there are those who make use of the opportunities that come their way, those who do not get involved at all and those who find fault in every prospect. Despite the economic benefits for our City and the plain and simple entertainment value of the occasion, there are those who will complain about the road closures and the traffic jams!

For the 1745 athletes themselves, there is the challenge of their personal triumph over time, distance and their own bodies as they take on a 3,8km swim, a 180km cycle and then a full marathon of 42,2 km!  

We watched as local athletes Tissink took the gold (8 hours 5 minutes) and Cunnama the bronze, with German Bocherer taking the silver – all three breaking the previous record time of 8 hours and 17 minutes!

The athletes looked tired and weary as they crossed the winning line one after the other – from 15h00 onwards until the cut-off time at midnight, 17 hours after the start at 07h00!

For a moment, I thought of my own race that I run – my body becoming wearier with each additional step that I take. How many more laps do I have to run? How much more time do I have? When will that finishing line appear in front of me and what will be the numerals on that overhead digital clock that constantly counts the time.  Some days, I look so forward to seeing that finishing line.

But then there are the times when you feel like you can and want to do yet another marathon and a few more laps!  Times like Friday night’s Neil Diamond show at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.

Way back in October last year, it was announced that 70 year old Mr Diamond would be singing in Port Elizabeth. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to hear the person that I used to listen to on Springbok Radio singing live in “PE” (as he announced his welcome to the 22 000 strong audience!)

It brought back memories of Friday night’s Springbok Radio Top 20 and my little brown leather-cased transistor radio with earphone that I used to listen to in bed in darkened bedroom between 10h30 and midnight. There were all those other radio programmes too – Squad Cars, Pick a Box, Mark Saxon – No Place to Hide, Consider Your Verdict, Creaking Door. The list is endless.

Those were the pre-TV days and besides my brown Hitachi transistor radio there was the “wireless” in the lounge – the radiogramme with a few orange-lit valves in the back and a green eye in the front that had to light up before it was warm enough to make any sounds!

Besides the radio and Springbok’s Top 20, there was the record player that played those heavy black His Master’s Voice records at 70rpm, the 7-singles at 45rpm and the LP’s at 33 and a third RPM – that included my LP of Neil Diamond Hot August Night!

You put the record on the silver centre spindle (spindle through hole in centre of record), moved the swing arm to steady the record on top of it, and then pressed the start button. The LP dropped onto the turntable, the arm with the stylus moved over the edge of the record, then descended onto the outer grooves and – voila! – Mr Diamond would start singing in mono sound out of the speaker at the bottom of the ‘gram! 

When it was announced that Neil Diamond would be singing here in PE, I invited AlgoaFM listeners to apply for two tickets that I sponsored. Their stories are blogged previously.

I awarded the tickets to sixteen year old George Marriott of Queenstown, a pupil at Queens’ College. He has an illness called spino cerebellar degeneration and is largely confined to a wheelchair. His parents and sister joined him for the concert, and it was an absolute pleasure meeting them at the concert and getting to know them better at breakfast.

One of the slogans of the Iron Man contest is “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”. This is so true when one sees the hardships that so many people have to face on a daily basis. It gives me strength to face yet another lap!

And for the two hours that Neil Diamond entertained us, there was not a care in the world. The audience was soaked up into the pleasure of his music and the memories of all his old favourites.

Music transports me into another world – it’s almost as if one leaves your own body and enters a realm where the pain and discomfort of the body is felt no more. Those two hours of bliss were no different.

It was a hot April night! PE laid on its best autumn evening with no wind, the stars shone overhead, the music played and the crowd sang, clapped and danced the night away. What a privilege to have such a stadium, what a privilege to have Mr Diamond in the Friendly City, what a pleasure to hear his music first hand – not through the small 2 inch speaker of the transistor radio or the 10 inch radiogramme speaker, but through the most sophisticated of modern-day electronic equipment.

(If I may be realistic for one moment and put my feet back on the ground, then I must voice my concern about the lack of upkeep in the area around the NMB stadium. Less than a year after the euphoria of the FIFA World Cup 2010, the pavements are already broken, the weeds are taking over, the potholes have appeared and many of the lights have gone out. The North End area is looking more tired than many of the Iron Man contestants! What, one wonders, is the future of this magnificent structure in a City fraught with fraud, corruption and non-delivery?)

Neil Lesley Diamond finished off his main programme with a song with which I was not familiar, but, thanks to Briony Sparg and an AlgoaFM listener, I was able to source it the following day. The words of Hell Yeah! Form the album 12 Songs, says it all:

If you’re thinkin’ that my life
Is a hoot and a holler
From the start of the day
To the dark of the night
THAT it’s ringing like a bell
That you only wanna follow
And trust me when I say
I’m just trying to get it right

Still I think about myself
As a lucky old dreamer
If you’re asking me to tell
Is it worth what I paid?
You’re gonna hear me say
Hell yeah it is

And I say it loud
I loved it all
And I’m not too proud
I freed my soul
Just let it fly
Hell yeah this crazy life around me
It confuses and confounds me
But its all the life I’ve got
Until I die
Hell yeah it is

If you’re asking for my time
Isn’t much left to give you
Been around a good long while
So I gotta say it fast
Time is all we’ll ever need
But its gotta have a meaning
Be careful how it’s spent
Because it isn’t gonna last
I hear you wonderin’ out loud
Are you ever gonna make it
Will you ever work it out?
Will you ever take a chance?
Just believe you can
Hell yeah you will

Gonna be okay
You might get lost
But then you’ll find a way
Don’t go alone
Can’t be afraid
Hell yeah this life is here
And it’s made for livin’
And loves a gift that’s made for GIVING
Give it all away and have it still
And hell yeah you will

I’ve been livin’ in a bowl
With a lot of people starin’
With my feet on shaky ground
And my head up in the sky
But it’s where I wanna be
It’s a life that’s made for carin’
Got a song to pass the day
And a girl to share the night

So if they ask you when I’m gone
Was it everything he wanted?
When he had to travel on
Did he know he’d be missed?
You can tell them this
Hell yeah he did

He saw it all
He walked the line
Never had to crawl
He cried a bit
But not for long
Hell yeah he found the life that he was after
Filled it up with love and laughter
Finally got it right and made it fit
Hell yeah he did
Hell yeah he did
Hell yeah he did

To finish off a wonderful weekend, our very own modest 26-year old South African Black Diamond, Charl Schwartzel, put it all together to perfection on Sunday evening. He moved up among the leaders after a long chip-in for birdie at the first and a wedge shot from the fairway that dropped in for an eagle on the third hole. He then clinched his triumph with birdies on the last four holes for the thrill of slipping on the green emerald jacket, after winning the 2011 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA.

“It’s a dream for me,” said Schwartzel. Indeed, it was a dream weekend for many!  Hell Yeah it was!


  Excellent             Ave                 Poor
Memory-Short term * * * * * * * * * * * * * *                      
Executive function * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *                    
Spelling * * * * * * * * * * * * *                        
Figures * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *                    
Left hand/  arm * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *    
Left leg/ foot * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *                
Right hand / arm * * * * * * * * * * * *                          
Right leg / foot * *                                              
Lungs *                                                
Swallow *                                                
Spasms –left * * * * * * * * * * * * * *                      
Spasms –right *                                                

Red stars = Deterioration / Green stars = Improvement from previous week