Your Hippocampus Shall Set You Free

I mean, just saying “dentate gyrus – a part of the hippocampus” makes me think of dancing while grinning drunkenly next to my tent on a riverbank in a game reserve.
Not an unfamiliar scenario to many of our talented generation, I’m sure. That’s probably what has kept us young and our hippos still producing new babies. Or new neurons. The dancing and the alcohol. I remember one night in Sabi Sabi . . . . moving on . .

So there, I’m pleased to have brought you this good news: No alzheimers for us.

What was I saying again . . ? Oh, you can read the boring detail here:


Cheat notes cos I know that’s too long for you: Researchers analyzed tissue samples from 58 participants and found that, although age does slow development, adults continue to develop new neurons – called adult neurogenesis – in in our dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus in the human brain, until at least our 90s.

Africa, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles

Poephol 2 (updated)

It’s true I have been a poephol in the past. But that was behind me. I now knew more. I was wiser. So when I got to the toll booth at Marianhill and reached for my bag on the front seat next to me I thought it must have slipped off. I pulled over. And I searched. And searched again.

So now my recent past flashed before my very eyes. I had parked my sleek white Ranger 4X2 3litre diesel – turbodiesel actually – bakkie on the pavement outside the old man’s place and left my bag on the front seat. I now remembered thinking I shouldn’t really do that but it’s fine and I won’t be long. After that I had driven to Azania to visit Mom, also parking outside on the pavement. The bag may or may not still have been next to me – I don’t know. I didn’t need my wallet, ID card, drivers licence or credit cards to visit my folks. Nor did I need my Petzl head torch or my new tiny Canon camera.

Nor . . MY ZEISS BINNIES!! Oh shit! NOW this was a disaster! The other stuff I could do without, but I cannot live without my binoculars! DAMN!!


It’s three days later. I’ve been to the traffic department. The lady fetched me out of the queue and took me to the front along with some old people. I think it had to do with handsomeness. The clipboard she gave me said this:

I’ve been to the police station – very helpful; they took my case in Montclair Durban, even though ‘the incident’ happened in Pietermaritzburg. They sent me my case number for insurance the same day via sms. Tomorrow I go to Home Affairs. The bank is sending new cards. Insurance has emailed me – they’ll pay R20k towards new binocs. This is almost behind me again. I now know more. I am wiser.

Oh, and at the toll? One of the guys who works there said can you send me ewallet? I said Good Idea! Instead of a huge backtracking detour he paid R12 for me and I sent R50 to his ewallet. Win-Win.


poephol – South African – The anus; (derogatory: a stupid or unpleasant person). Origin: 1960s. From Afrikaans poephol from poep + hol – literally shit hole; arsehole, asshole.


The Montclair police captain said he’d forward the docket to PMB. I thought, All I Want Is A Case Number, and wondered if there was any point. Next day I got a call from Alexander Road police station: Where is Lincoln Park? I explained exactly and she was puzzled: Is it a gated estate? she asked. Then I clicked! It’s Lincoln Meade, not Lincoln Park, sorry! Oh, OK, now she knows where it is. The next day another call: Any chance of a surveillance camera at the scene of the incident? he asked. I said No. What else was in the bag? A little Canon camera. What make were the binoculars? Zeiss. OK, we’ll do our best, sir, he said. I’m ashamed to say I thought they’d do nothing. But they did follow up. Well done, guys!


postscript: It gets worse! Sheila found my bag with everything still intact inside it in the old man’s lounge, where I must have carefully placed it, proving I am actually very organised – I hadn’t left it in my car after all! ** sigh! ** Tomorrow, exactly one week after first reporting it missing I will be phoning the insurance company and the police in PMB to cancel – false alarm!

I admit to being rather delighted! I get an uninsured camera back; my head torch back; my binocs back without having to pay extra to get new ones; and my ID card back without having to queue; It feels like I just played a Country and Western song backwards.


Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Life

She’s Ninety One Today; She’s Ninety One . .

‘She’s got the key of the door; Never been ninety one before . .’

The lovely ladies at Azania gave Mom a special cake and a rousing song.

Maybe due to austerity measures each candle used has to represent thutty years. Also due to fire regulations, maybe? And ‘part thereof’ probably doesn’t count: you have to turn 120 before you get a fourth candle.

Africa, Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles


Some sappy soul sent me this:

I thought ya, ya, sure, that’s true.

Tonight I was parked right outside the entrance to the Playhouse theatre in downtown Durban, opposite the City Hall, waiting to fetch Jess and Fatima after the show Shall We Dance? when out of the corner of my eye I saw cars taking big evasive action. A bakkie zoomed from the far-side lane at breakneck speed right across towards my side of the road and smashed into the little silver car parked right in front of me. BANG! People standing under the No Stopping sign scattered, leaping every-which-way.

Silence. Then much Hey! Hey! and running. I couldn’t see, too many people, but ‘my’ carguard told me the driver had made a run for it and citizens had chased after him. I though Uh Oh! and phoned 10111. Listen, you’d better send your people here pronto. I’m afraid the citizens may rough up the perpetrator, I said to the operator. I’ll send the police there right away, she said.

To their credit, the Playhouse security people stepped in and took the perp, who my informant confidently assured me was inebriated, marched him back to his car and put him back in the drivers seat to safely await the cops.

Two tow trucks arrived. An ambulance arrived and took the driver into their vehicle. The cops arrived and took over. The middle-aged couple who were sitting in the little silver car when it was hit – and like me had been waiting to fetch concert-goers after the show – were amazingly calm. They took photos and told their story, filled in forms, no panic, even though their car was badly damaged.

In the whole pantomime there were only two poephols – the drunk driver and a prick in a Merc SUV who drove up and hooted for the ambulance, the tow trucks and the crashed cars to magically get out of his way, he was important. A family member (I assume – probably a son) who had arrived to join the ‘victim’ couple went up to him, gave him a withering look and waved him around the scene.

When the dust had settled I finally thought of taking a picture. Then the girls arrived at last – they’d been waiting to have their pics taken with stars from the show! – and hopped in. As I was leaving my man came and spoke to me firmly: Mkhulu, my parking fee is R20; I looked after you well and I have to feed my family. I agreed with him, borrowed R20 from Fatima and paid him! He was chuffed and stopped traffic in the main street – old Smith Street – to let me out!

Africa, Life

Recycling Toilet Water

Durban is finally waking up and planning to start recycling waste water. When? Who knows.

Most people will be pleased and see the common sense; A few will be saying Ew! We’re gonna be drinking toilet water?!

On the facebook group Durban’s Dogs the repeated question has been So What’s The Big Deal, Man? Arf! We’ve Been Doing It For Years . .

Life, Uncategorized

Post Mortem

After vrek-ification

I hate the idea of using fossil fuel to pollute the air to cremate me. What a waste and how harmful! Our effing grandkids are going to shake their heads in amazement at how dumb-destructive we were.

Don’t want to be buried either – the embalming and other crap is very destructive and then there’s the waste of land.

My best would be for the old carcass to be placed kaalgat and willy-up in a wild, open, unoccupied place where flies, worms, vultures & hyenas could access it. But I guess that ain’t gonna happen easily.

Better-sounding options are Natural Burial where the ground above you is just returned to normal use; or Human Composting. Some good souls are trying to gain acceptance for more sane policies. Hope they can succeed.


NATURAL BURIAL – A return to simple ways, no embalming, no concrete, no artificial stuff. Bodies are wrapped in a bio-degradable shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket, the idea being that they will decompose naturally.

An all-natural cemetery opened in 1998 in the Ramsey Creek preserve in Westminster, South Carolina. Mark Harris, author of “Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial” (Scribner, 2007) told LiveScience, there are at least fifty natural cemeteries in the USA, and “scores more” regular cemeteries with sections for natural graves.

“Most people, when they find out what happens in the embalming room, they’re pretty horrified,” said Harris, who blogs at “They can’t believe the cost, which is
outrageous, and then there is this growing concern about the environmental effects of all of these procedures and of all of the goods and resources devoted to this modern method.”

Many natural cemeteries double as nature preserves, and many people like the idea of contributing to the ecosystem after death. “You’re actually benefiting the environment,” he said. “You’re allowing the body to rejoin the cycle of life” – and you’re freeing up some natural land.


HUMAN COMPOSTING – or ‘Natural organic reduction,’ may become available some time. The technique accelerates the decomposition process, turning bodies into soil within 4 to 7 weeks. Its supporters say natural organic reduction has a smaller carbon footprint than cremation or burial. Recomposition uses about an eighth of the energy of cremation, and also has a significant carbon reduction thanks to carbon sequestration when you return your carbon to the ground.

Maybe a good idea right now would be to simply add to our last will: Please get rid of the old carcass in the least environmentally-destructive way available at present.


Stephen Reed wrote: Ja. Topical subject. I have been listening to radio talks about options for carcass disposal, doing away with embalming etc

A coffee and Bagel shop in Hobart is called ‘Bury Me Standing’ – which is a good space saving idea, huh?

Natural burials on donated farmland – each body would fertilise about an acre …

Our local hood has quite a large cemetery – part of an occasional walking route along the Brisbane river, and across the river from the university. We were just walking through there there a month or so back. A good place to visit if contemplating mortality is your thing. Also a good reminder that in times gone by you would more than likely be gone by 55 years old.


Me: This is encouraging. Hopefully we’ll move to parks instead of cemeteries. I’d much rather that wildlife is gamboling about, poo’ing on the ground above me, than people in black tip-toe’ing around on wasted land with pebble paths and concrete slabs with lies engraved in them.

If they’d Bury Me Standing with head n shoulders sticking above ground, you could balance a coffee cup on me nut. A donut on one shoulder. Might be a nice idea for outdoor coffee shop décor . .

My suggestion along the parkland lines would be to also have – at each lovely indigenous park – an app. You key in a name on your phone and it leads you to where Wally is buried; or you key in ‘random’ and it takes you on a walk telling you about Joe here, Sally here and so voorts, complete with a brief CV. Maybe you could even key in ‘criminal’ and it shows all the crims who chose this spot as their last pozzie. An additional carbon saving is Aunt Matilda wouldn’t have to fly in from Scotland to put flowers on your grave. She could zoom in and check you out online.

We could © and TM this virtual grave app as ‘The Last Thing You Need’ ©


Africa, Canoe & Kayak, Life

Time Shuffles On – Cataracts Tumble On

Looking at the 2016 Dusi results I see the first finisher who, if I bumped into him, would say ‘Howzit Swanie’ or ‘Howzit Pete’ came in 93rd !!

Getting old! Gone are the days when I knew most of the top ten!

Another observation – 13 of the top 20 had African surnames. Wonder how the anti-Affirmative-Action boys would explain that away? I would bet good money if they (we!) were asked beforehand ‘What sports are Africans likely to do well in if given a chance?’ few would have suggested Dusi paddling!

Also: The first lady finisher came in 30th! Shades of Frith vd Merwe in the Comrades! And in both those events we used to ban them from even participating – ‘to protect them’ – to protect ourselves from getting our arses whipped, it turns out!


Yesterday a past Dusi and Umko winner phoned me about his eyes. I asked him if he was planning to do anything stupid in March.

He is. He is about to do his 51st consecutive Umko canoe marathon, the most exciting of all the river marathons! The reason? He has done 50 but he has only finished 49. He broke his boat back in 1970 and didn’t finish that one.

Fukkit!! So he wants to do his 50th finish.

He said to me ‘You should do it too, you know’. I said no ways, I’m too slow. He said ‘We paddle quite slowly these days you know’ (he won the very first Umko back in 1966).

I said you don’t understand. My slow includes frequent stops, and a lot of resting on my paddle and checking the scenery. He understood that was slower even than him and other 70yr-olds.

He’s going off to have his intra-ocular lens implants laser-‘polished’. All the better to read the rapids. Those Umko Cataracts need clear Ocular Cataracts.