Arising out of my article on Customs targeting me as the worlds biggest “something-or-other” was an interesting comment that I received while at the barbecue that took place at Denise's house recently.
“That's because you look like a bad ass who bites the heads off chickens”
This elicited some discussion, which inevitably led to a poll amongst those in the vicinity as to whether I did in fact resemble said BAWBTHOC.
Consensus being that I did, I was suitably chastened and, having the typical Mensan ego, suitably abashed at the discovery that what I had once thought was a passable visible presentation had been fooling me for life.
The term Neanderthal having been added to the mix during this discussion didn't much assuage my feelings either. It did however mean that I have now been misinterpreted more often by the “intelligent” side of the community than by the “Jock” side which given the normal trend in society is interesting. And probably makes the point about me being a BAWBTHOC very neatly.
Mensans being clever enough to assess the situation they wouldn't make that comment unless they were fairly sure that I wasn't going to bite the head off them, never mind a chicken, while the Average Joe out there would only assess the situation based on looks and size and decide that they were indeed chicken.
Unless they were BAWBTHOC themselves in which case no doubt all the chickens would tremble.
Interestingly about the only person I know, or, more accurately, know of, that has bitten the head off a chicken was Alice Cooper and I am in two minds as to whether a comparison to a man with a woman's name is all that flattering. Personally I think I would look awful in a boustier and blood even though I already have the black rings under my eyes naturally.
Perhaps Ozzy may be more appropriate but he only did bats and doves ( heads - the biting off of) and this appeared to be as a result of sticking every known chemical to man into every available orifice at every available opportunity.
Something I have yet to attempt.
It would appear that comparing my looks to rock and roll singers of repute has been an ongoing pastime amongst acquaintances.
Meatloaf being the major person that I resemble. According to many sources so far, both in this country and elsewhere.
In one particularly inspired moment I even signed an autograph as Chuck and told the bewildered recipient that it was a meat cut and I was incognito. Neither of which they seemed to understand. Lets see them try to pass that off on E-Bay.
Still as the recipient of a countenance that closely resembles that of a person who has chased too many parked cars in his life I must now accept that I need to add the appellation BAWBTHOC to the long list of reasons why when I look in the mirror in the morning I have to keep telling myself to smile.
Or maybe I should just accept fate, get more visible tattoos and play the part to the hilt.
I prefer chicken wings though.
I have discovered that Customs and myself have a problem.
Canadian Customs specifically.
Having just done a 1600km road trip through Eastern Ontario, Quebec and New York about the only negative experience I had was crossing the border at Cornwall where I was detained and had my car and possessions searched.
Apparently no one has informed the Customs there that it is OK for single males to cross over into the States for shorter periods than a week. In addition my stated objective of going to Clayton in the 1000 Islands district to buy hats and t-shirts with my name emblazoned on them seems to have annoyed the little troll on duty.
That anyone would buy a few baseball caps with their name on it stretched her imagination beyond the single brain cell that she had borrowed. That I was a Canadian citizen infuriated her more
OK so I have an ego but come on, if you could find stuff with your name printed on it wouldn't you also be tempted?
Doing it by visiting a town which bears your name is far more fun, and educational at the same time. Heck. Aside from the scenery, Antique Boat Museum (which is well worth a visit by the way) and an Opera House (thereby proving that some Claytons have culture) they even have a motel named Captain Clayton. Which given my recent promotion in the Canadian Coast Guard Aux. was most amusing.
Although given its dilapidated state, and my age, perhaps that was irony.
So I had to wait around for an hour while they went through everything I owned with a fine toothcomb. Including the pictures on my camera and all my toiletries. The interesting thing about the photos is that I had some photos on there which, if I was a terrorist, would have been very telling.
However HM's Customs (CA) are more interested in…well I haven't a clue what they are interested in but single African males who have an ego are apparently at least one of the flagged items to scrutinize.
Last time I was stopped I was wearing a T-shirt that said :
“Homeland Defence. Fighting terrorism since 1492”, with a picture of four armed Sioux on it.
This caused another loss of humour in the representative of HM Customs and before that it was a bunch of match booklets that were confiscated. The ones packed on the right side of my case. The ones on the left were ignored. Which I took to be indicative of the political feelings in Canada.
Of course if every time I have been stopped they increase my dossier by now I will have muddled their perceptions totally. Maybe that is why they keep doing that. To see what I come up with next.
While waiting for the other troll to complete his demolition I read my map and plotted a new destination when I noticed something about the Ontario area I was now headed to.
Which I must add I took great glee in pointing out to him when he said I could go.
“By the way did you know there is a Clayton in Ontario?”
“Shame” crossed my mind as I looked at a truly bewildered face in my mirror as I drove off.
I have the strange feeling that the little troll who sent me over in the first place may just have got an earful later.
I meanwhile continue my search for towns named Clayton. I have an ego to stoke.
Many years ago, probably too many to admit too, I was a young Mensan who was full of vim vigour and vitality.
And other stuff too, I suppose I will admit with hindsight and some maturity.
At the ripe old age of 24 I became President of Mensa Cape Town and a year or so later was on the newly formed and elected board of Mensa Natal.
At that stage I remember vividly the person who became Chairman of the Natal branch making a comment to the effect that I was too young and inexperienced to fulfill the position when he made his speech as to why he should be elected.
It made no difference that I had already been the Chair of the Cape Branch, nor a committee member of the Johannesburg branch either.
Age was the parameter that I needed to be judged by.
And the clique of old ladies knitting by the guillotine cackled as the blade fell.
Well not quite.
The upshot though was that I was patted on the head, told to come back in…Oh.. Twenty years?…and the old fart became the numero uno head honcho in Natal.
Oddly enough, and thanks to his Donald Trump School of Mismanagement style, I was elected after two years to see whether I could mess up as well as he could.
Mensa Natal being of the belief that if the Chair ordained many barbeques and cheese and wine parties he was “all right” and should be supported I stayed there for a while.
Over the next decade or so there was a ding dong battle between him and myself with some side relief provided by an earnest sideline knitter of note who wanted to assert her newly awakened feminist beliefs.
Incidentally she was forever being defeated by the rest of the females in the group and I think her only support came from the one or two males who had a heavy guilt stricken conscience about some or other perceived past slight to females. Or maybe they were just terrified of her. I know I was.
By the time I left Natal I was ahead on years served, had changed his beloved newsletter title to something more ethnically appropriate to the Province (“The TiMes” indeed. How bloody pretentious. “iMpi” was so much more vigorous) and caused enough mayhem to last a long time.
Why am I telling you this?
Because, given the above, I find the current contretemps within the ranks of the younger Mensa Canada members to be quite amusing. If they hadn't termed me an “elder” and pointed out with some degree of unconscious awareness that I am not of the age group necessary to party hearty and if I was back in the old heady days of windmill tilting I suppose I would be in the thick of the fray lashing out at all and sundry.
As it is I merely watch with interest the to and fro posturing taking place over the issue of the web meeting place and ask myself a simple question.
Was that old fart perhaps a little right in his comments on me?
I fervently believe that the survival of any organization is the way the younger members conduct their take over the organization. How they implement their ideas and forge the future is what longevity is created form.
The internal disagreements and clashes make any organization stronger. So long as they are controlled and not allowed to create a schism.
Meanwhile I am surprised and not a little eager to see myself in my new role as tribal elder. I wonder if that means I need to be dignified now?
I was at a friends 50th birthday party the other night. Like me, and roughly 90% of the rest of the guests, an immigrant.
Along with copious quantities of food and liquor there was a general relaxing of the sometimes staid atmosphere that we very often have to adopt in order fit in with the terribly PC attitudes that abound here.
Which meant that by the time the birthday boy had to stand up and make a speech it was a convivial atmosphere to say the least. Nothing like a bunch of raucous, rowdy ex-pats to drown out any attempt to say the litany of thanks he had prepared.
And then at the end of his interrupted speech he ask our indulgence and proceeded to play a series of clips from old radio shows that were popular during his youth.
Which is when I noticed the nostalgia really set in amongst the older members of the audience and the total bewilderment setting in on the faces of the younger group.
Well that and embarrassment, as their parents began to hum, sing and, in the odd case, bellow along with the tunes.
Most of us over the age of 40 never had TV when we grew up. It was only introduced in 1976. The reason for this late arrival being something to do with the Devil, Mini-skirts and the drought as far as I can remember.
So as children, once we had finished playing outside we were allowed to listen to the radio. As you became a teenager it moved from all the comedy and drama to the local rock stations. Our particular favourite being LM radio from Mocambique. This was where we learnt all the new tunes and songs and were introduced to bands that were to become firm favourites overseas. I still have a love of The Doors and Jimi Hendrix thanks to this station.
What did make me think though, was what would happen in a few decades time when the youth of today get to that age.
Will they remember the program tunes from nowadays? Are there any tunes from now that are even worth remembering? I am talking about TV jingles now because it appears that talk radio nowadays is the repository of mere gutter trash talk and, unless I am missing something, there are no more programs worth waiting for.
Which is sad in a way.
I was astonished to find that when it came to playing Trivial Pursuit with Mensans they could rattle off the most amazing arcane trivia about shows from the 60's and 70's but not many could remember with such clarity other events from the same years. No! We are not talking about inhaling here either.
Yet when it came to many of the local youngsters around, including the Mensans, up to the minute jingles also seemed to have been forgotten. Actually most of them seemed to remember the shows from the 60`s as well, which opens up a whole new can of worms. Just who was torturing the youth of Canada with reruns of “I Love Lucy” and “Little House oh so Dreary”?
Oh well! It was interesting to watch the men of my age getting nostalgic when they played the Forces Favourites jingle. Most of us having waited out in the bush for the news from home remember that well, but the one that everyone perked up to was the following:
“Braaivleis, Rugby, Sunny Skies and Chevrolet”
We had cigarettes called “Life” as well by the way. I don't know why I added that.
Maybe to help you wrack your mind for odd memories. Happy Hunting!
I have a bust of Nelson Mandela on my fridge.
A fridge magnet if you will. In a “speaks” bubble attached to the bust, there is the slogan “Things like this build character”!
Which is a long involved aspect of part of my life story and involves my parents and sundry other people who have found it necessary to try to shape me in one form or the other.
I was looking at this the other day as I set up my life once again in my new premises out in Milton.
I sometimes wonder when in fact my character will be fully built. If ever! And if it will never be fully built can I at least have a small holiday from all the damn hammering that keeps echoing in my head? It is becoming overwhelming of late and I think that a bit of peace and quiet will do fine when it comes to the savage breast.
Actually if I was about twenty years younger I would relish the adventures I keep having at the moment but I have already had many adventures twenty years ago. Ten years ago as well for that matter. And quite cheerfully I am tired of the continuous hurly burly that characterizes my existence. What I want to do is shout” I am a character dammit” and hope that the Gods leave me alone but I strongly suspect that they rather enjoy that I am a character and want to see me suffer some more.
After all try to reconcile the following.
I come to Canada as a single parent with three children to start a new life. By the way if you wish to see bigotry in full action the attitudes of people in this country toward single MALE parents is very interesting.
After a year or so I sponsor my estranged wife to join us in our new life. This has more to do with honour, duty and, I guess, love than any sense of logic. During the next few years I attempt to keep a family afloat and even help her get accredited and on her feet job wise. In fact the job is an excellent one working for the Ontario Government within healthcare.
Meanwhile I struggle to get a job and finally wind up on EI. Even better is when I get a position with Wally-Market at a salary lower than the EI I am getting. Or, rather, was getting.
At which stage I am politely informed that my presence is no longer needed and would I remove myself from the family unit I helped to keep together for all those years. I am no longer needed and the children will be able to get their shelter from elsewhere.
Hence my trek out to Milton.
Well myself, all those damn books I have never been able to get rid of, and a whole new collection of music to add to the others I keep with me as well.
Oh. And the fridge magnet as well.
I found a whole host of long forgotten memories while moving. Things I had forgotten I owned. Reminders of places and people that I cherished. I tend not to think of them as pleasant memories as I fervently believe that I have many years to make more memories as well.
The problem is. I am rapidly running out of space for all my damn memories and if I intend to make more I need to either condense them or at least find a bigger place. Of course I could win the 649 but let's be realistic for a change.
In the meantime and to quote one of my Countries more famous Statesmen:
“Free at Last”!
This has been one of those years that have gone past in the blink of an eye.
When I was younger I had heard about them but never really believed in them. Time had the ability to speed up and slow down at will.
Mostly slow down I noted.
Especially during those later months in the year when summer break and Christmas were just around the corner and being inside in a schoolroom was akin to Chinese water torture. Each second passing with an audible click of the clock up on the wall above the blackboard. Seeing as I was one of the “back row boys” it was indeed something to be able to hear that over the nasal somnambulant drone of the master trying to explain the finer points of Latin declension to us.
As an astonishing aside here, my son went to the same boarding school and was taught Latin by the same master! Without the same result though. I was under the impression when he was teaching me that the Old Fogey had learnt it first hand, so heck alone knows how many centuries he had reached by the time my son reminded him of the lineage. Apparently, according to my son at least, with an audible sigh!
In the present though I am starting to understand how he did it. Time, I believe, becomes relative as you get older and as such hours become minutes, minutes seconds and so on. Which explains the speed with which this year passed.
Suddenly the retail stores were blaring out Jingle Bells and other jolly happy joy-joy songs destined to make us remember that `tis the season to give our money to numerous others, most notably every greedy bastard with his hand out hoping that we will be imbued with the feeling of guilt that requires us to buy inane trinkets for every person within memory who can be classified as friend or family. Sometimes even foe.
Bah bloody Humbug indeed!
“What happened?” I asked myself. “Where in fact had the last 300 days disappeared? What the heck had I done? Hello is there anyone sane out there?”
Which is when I remembered that I came to Canada last century. Doesn't that sound immensely grand? Sometime in the future when they come to write of my exploits someone will put that in. “He arrived in Canada just before the turn of the century” Sounds so posh when you think about it.
I have now been here six years. Six very interesting years. Six extremely interesting-in-the-Chinese-curse way years.
I wonder though whether this year and the hectic, frenetic pace that it appears to have passed in, isn't perhaps a turning point in all facets, for my future here.
I hope so.
I have so much left to do and see in Canada in this century still. I would prefer to do it at a leisurely pace though.
So to all of you:
May you have a happy, prosperous and normal time New Year.