Scooters! (Thailand Day 12: Wednesday 4 July 2012)

Wednesday 4 July Independence Day USA

Wake up 09h00
Breakfast 10am to 11am
Pouring rain
30 degrees C
Water polo tournament in Kata Bhuri pool in pouring rain: 11 to noon
Iced coffee in Lobby Bar
Massages in room 2h30 to 3h30
AlgoAFM broadcast from room 3:30 (10h30 in SA) – A happy ending!
Taxi to Kata Beach
Then to shops on way home
Booked for Fantasea show – Friday evening
Hired 2 scooters – Phil and I; Sean and Pera
Back to Katathani
Pre-dinner drinks
Off on scooters to Kata for supper
Pub …. Games … Etc
Back to Katathani
Wimbledon on TV

The Green Green Greener Grass of … Wimbledon

Monday 4 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Game ED

Happy 235th Birthday United States of America from your proud Honorary Oklahoman and African American son!

Thirty five years ago, in 1975 / 1976, I had just finished my schooling in the USA when she was celebrating her 200th birthday! Upon returning to South Africa in January 1976, I found something here that was not here before and had never been here before I left.

A television set now graced our lounge at home!

Every night, just before six, the family closed the curtains and waited for the orange, white and blue TV logo (to us it looked like a toilet seat) to appear on the 51cm colour PAL TV set. Then came the Bible reading and prayer, the kiddies’ programmes, the magazine programme, the sport show, the 8 o’clock news bulletin, the adventure programme and the serial. At 11pm, the orange, white and blue (old) South African flag fluttered in the breeze while the symphony orchestra played the (old) National Anthem, the Call of South Africa.  Thereafter, the test pattern would grace the screen until six pm the following night, when the whole process would repeat itself.

With one difference!

On Monday night, the programme would commence in English and remain in English until after the News at 8:30pm. Then the language would swap over to Afrikaans until the test pattern appeared at 11:00pm. Tuesday night would start in Afrikaans and change over to English at 8:30pm.

Strictly two and a half hours of each language every night. We were, after all, a bilingual nation of 3 million white people and, in those days, we chose to forget about the 30 million black Xhosas, Zulus, Ndebeles, Sotho’s , …!  All that was about to start changing when Hector Pieterson and the children of SOWETO started the Soweto Riots on 16 June 1976 (which we commemorated two weeks ago on what we now call Youth Day) and which would alter the history of this country forever.

TV programmes such as Haas Das, Wielie Walie, Dallas, Longstreet, The World at War, High Chapperal, Bonanza, The Avengers became household names in a nation that had never experienced television before.

And on Saturday afternoons (and never on Sundays, because God said that mankind should rest on the Sabbath!) we watched strictly bilingual sport, too. There was tennis from Tarkastad, bowls from Benoni, darts from Durban, jukskei vanaf  Johannesburgbrug  vanaf Bloemfontein, cricket from Cape Town, chess from Carnarvon, netball vanaf Nelspruit and rugby van Reg oor die Land.

Maar niks van die buiteland nie! (“But nothing from overseas!”)  

Because of our apartheid policies, we were the skunks of the world and banned from international sport – participation therein and watching thereof!

Banned from everything – all, except for whatever reason I can’t remember, the Wimbledon tennis championships.

So, our annual dose of international sport became the All Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships held each year in June and July. Armed with champagne and strawberries and cream, we would curl up in our winter woollies watching, on Sunday afternoon, televised directly and live from that favourite city of mine, LONDRES, the men’s final match of the tournament.

And then on Sunday 7 July 1985, I was in England with the sanctions-busting Grey Touring Cricket team, and we eagerly watched the final at Seaford College in Petworth, West Sussex. South African born (and just two-month then naturalised American citizen) Kevin Curren took on the 17-year old unseeded German Boris Becker in the final. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the Germans, he would become the youngest and first German and unseeded player to win at Wimbledon and it would be the first of Boris’s 3 Wimbledon championship titles.

In 1999, Pera and I were in Wimbledon, staying with John (an ex-teaching colleague) and Sue Galloway at King’s College. John dropped us off at the tennis grounds, and we watched, with thousands of others, the final on the big screen attached to the outside of centre court from the Terraces which we had seen so often on TV! We rubbed shoulders with Ernie Els and ate our strawberries and cream and Magnums.

And, after Pete Sampras had beaten Andre Agassi in the All-American final, exactly 12 years ago to the day on Sunday 4 July 1999 (6 – 3, 6 – 4, 7 – 5 ) , we walked back in the bright evening English sunshine to the Galloway’s house, across the Wimbledon Common and past the pubs, the Crooked Billet and the Hand in Hand, where we had spent the previous evening, sitting outside drinking our ales in the fading sunlight at 10pm!


Now, with the advent of the New South Africa, we are back on the world stage. In a world moved on from restful God-forsaken Sundays and a one-channel SABC TV (Thank God!) to digital and satellite technology, tennis barely competes with the international rugby, cricket, athletics and football.

But, yesterday, in a cold and rainy Port Elizabeth, we watched, sans champagne, strawberries and cream, as Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal  4 sets to 1 to become the newest Wimbledon champion.

Ironically, the 2011 Grey Touring Cricket team was playing against an Old Grey side at King’s College in Wimbledon at the same time!  And in a new South Africa, Wimbledon and Raynes Park in London have become the home to so many South Africans who have emigrated to the United Kingdom in search of that greener grass.

But, the grand slam of life is like tennis: it’s not always strawberries and cream, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. People move from one side to the other in search of the perfect sweet spot.

And It it’s not always love all. There are good serves and there are bad. There are many break points. And one often has to come from behind to beat the challenges. We win some and we lose some. We take the game but lose the set, or lose the game and win the set. Sometimes, we do get the break.

As the world watches your every move, sometimes you are wide off the mark. Sometimes it’s a let; sometimes you are out and sometimes in; sometimes you make forced errors and sometimes unforced errors; sometimes you are in the net! You make good shots and you make poor shots. Sometimes it’s your advantage, sometimes it’s theirs.

There are times, when the tension builds, that you need the “Quiet Please”!

The bounce is not always to your advantage and when the rains come, you need to be inventive: adapt and build your roofs to avoid delays. You need a team effort.

But we also have our faults. We may think “it’s just a lot of balls” and a “pain in the bum”! We let ourselves go. We don’t always know where the lines are; we grunt and we groan.

All the time, we need our dream to win; and we need to live our dream. We have to concentrate. We must control our mind. We must keep our eye on the ball We need to say “What a shot!”

In the rallies of Life, we have to make sacrifices to get to the top. To be a Champion, we also sometimes need to stop and smell the roses, and, like Djokovic, taste the grass.

Yes, for all of us, there comes the call of the Great Umpire: “Time!” And this life is not a practice or the test pattern – it’s the real thing and the only one we will ever have!





Love All!

Tuesday 1 March 2011: 4 years  6 months on …ADVANTAGE ED

I have been blessed with many talents. But when it comes to sporting talents, I must have been at the back of the queue when those were dished out.

I have only ever played one game of rugby (when I was a student) –  nogal on the main field at UCT (University of Cape Town) when I played on the wing for Maties versus Ikeys. Not in the Varsity Cup competition, but when our Stellenbosch University Intervarsity Committee played our UCT counterparts in a “curtain raiser” to the main game at Newlands (which Stellenbosch won, of course!)

I was told sometime in the mid-eighties that I play the worst golf ever seen played in the preceding twenty eight years!

I can manage a bat on the cricket pitch with a little bit more expertise, but bowling leaves me spinning at a pace! And, as for fielding, my mind wanders too much to stand there all day waiting for a ball that may possibly come my way – when (and if) it does, I will simply not see it, let alone catch it!

When I studied in Oklahoma I played Basketball for the Sulphur Bulldogs and managed to get my “Basketball Letter”. That’s an embroidered red ‘B’ on a white background that is handed to all ball team players. I think mine was an honorary award!

As for American Football – well, I was simply a non-starter (and I still don’t know if I understand all that happens there!)

In 1999, I started road-running and managed reasonably well with the least amount of training. A large number of medals hang in my study – for 5km races where I started, then 10km, 15 km and eventually the Knysna Half Marathon (21km) which I ran for the first time in 2000 with Lindsay Brown. I completed three of those before I became ill. In 2009, I planned to walk the route but gout set in just a few days before the race and I had to withdraw. Maybe, sometime I will still be able to walk that again! It’s a very special race through the forests of Knysna, and those who have completed it will understand what I am talking about. It has a vibe that is very hard to beat.

I enjoy the vibe and the social activity that accompanies most sporting events. I often think that is the reason why so many people support and attend sporting activities around the world. And I guess I could be shot for this, but sometimes I simply cannot understand why human beings can get so worked up about boys and girls at school and grown men and women who chase varying sized and shaped balls around varying sized and coloured fields of varying textures. I think the problem sets in at school level where schools now even advertise how many Springboks they produce but never a mention of how many doctors or engineers or successful entrepreneurs.

That passion for sport seems to disappear into the apathy towards most other civic duties required of John Citizen!

When I sat at St George’s Park on Friday night watching the Warriors beat the Dolphins in an exciting finish, I wondered how many of the people were there to actually see the cricket, and how many people were there simply to be seen (or to feel the vibe or simply to get paralytic drunk at one of the many bars that service that ground, and all sporting grounds, for that matter!)

The same thought crossed my mind when I watched Sean play his first game of rugby for Old Grey against Police on Wednesday evening. The Klippies and Kastles flowed, and the fists flew, and the “friendly” game was called short some ten minutes into the second half – luckily with Old Grey in the lead at that time!

Don’t get me wrong! I do enjoy watching sport and I can admire the athletic ability of those who were fortunate to be in the front of the queue when those talents were handed out. I can see the life lessons that we can learn on the sports fields. If only we could translate that into life!

I also marvel, as when I watched the opening ceremony of the ICC World Cup in Bangladesh earlier last week (and for that matter when we hosted the Football World Cup last year) at the ability of sport to bring the people of the world together. Despite our differences that lead to so many clashes in the world, there is so much in these sporting gatherings and opening / closing ceremonies that unite the nations of our earth. Whether it’s the alcohol, or the song and dance and flags and laser lights and fireworks, for a few hours, the right chemicals flow in our bodies and we seem to forget our problems and be a happy world! Of course, the cynics would say that the money spent on these shows could be put to better use elsewhere.

(The same goes for music concerts. The hype that surrounds these mega-shows is unbelievable – like U2 in Cape Town on the previous Friday night. I must have been one of the few not there, but I did manage to sit in my study, open a beer and listen to the streamed show on the internet. I only later discovered that you could listen to the show on DSTV as well!)

It would appear that sportsmen and showmen have the ability to “heal the world”. If only we could translate those experiences into the so many areas of need in our ordinary everyday lives.

I played tennisette (tennis with a hard wooden bat on a small tennis court) – I’m not sure if they even do that today! – in Primary School and tennis in High School. At university we often whiled away spare time (did we have that?) on the tennis courts between my residence Helshoogte and the ladies’ res Sonop. (Not on Sundays, though, because in those days it was considered sinful in Stellenbosch and elsewhere in South Africa to play sport on Sundays, which were made by God strictly for rest!)

One of my erstwhile tennis partners/opponents, Gretel du Toit (now Wust), still laughs to this day at my tennis prowess on the Matie courts!  

Tennis was, for a long while, just about the only international sport we saw on TV after it was introduced in this country in 1976. The highlight of the year was the Wimbledon Tournament in July. Many a year would see us sit down in the lounge with our strawberries and cream, and spend a good Sunday afternoon watching the men’s final (seemingly then it was no longer sinful to watch/play sport on a Sunday!)

Pera and I were fortunate to be at Wimbledon in 1999 and we ate our strawberries and cream on the terrace as we watched the 113th men’s final on the big screen on the side of Centre Court. It was the 4th of July, American Independence Day and Sampras beat Aggassi  6-3, 6-4,7-5 in an all-American final.

It wasn’t the longest game of professional tennis. That was reserved for Wimbledon 2010 when the longest professional tennis match, in terms of both time and total games, was the first-round match between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner on 22, 23, and 24 June 2010. It was the

  • Longest match by time and games: It took 11 hours and 5 minutes of playing time, and required 183 games.
  • Longest set by time and games: The 5th set took 8 hours and 11 minutes of playing timeand required 138 games
  • Longest play in a single day: The first 118 games of the fifth set, played on 23 June 2010, lasted 7 hours and 6 minutes.
  • Most games in a single day: 118, on the 23 June.

Isner eventually defeated Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7((7), 7-6(3), 70 -68!

And so, where does all this bring me? Sometimes, I think that having a terminal illness is like playing that long game of tennis. Sometimes you’re beating the illness, sometimes you’re just on even terms, and sometimes, the illness has the better of you.

How long will it last? No-one knows. Who will win the match? In the final analysis, the disease wins. Up until then, it’s one game at a time.

In my titanic encounter (now 4 years 6 months), ED v CBD, for a long while up until Christmas last year, it’s been ADVANTAGE ED.

Then, we went back to DEUCE. And, for most of January and February, it was ADVANTAGE CBD.

Then, we got the pills right, and we went back to DEUCE.

For the last week, and at the moment, we are back to ADVANTAGE ED!


Cognitive Excellent===================Average============================Poor
Memory (Short) *********************************************
Executive function *******************************************
Spelling *****************************
Figures ****************************************
Left hand/arm *******************************************************
Left leg/foot *******************************************
Right hand/arm **********************************
Right leg/foot *
Lungs *******
Swallowing *
Spasms –left side *************************************
Spasms –right side *

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