Punters

Sorry Ma, I’m working late again today.

The boys are lined up outside the tote on the roof of our shopping centre. There’s horseracing at Kenilworth and they have a sure thing running and they can’t miss this opportunity to make an investment and win big and be able to treat the family. Maybe to a treat like getting home early?

Every day there’s races. If not at Kenilworth then at Greyville, Scottsville, Turffontein, The Vaal and elsewhere. Also overseas. In fact there’s hardly an hour when some horse isn’t pointlessly beating another horse somewhere in the world, so there’s always a good reason to be on top of the roof in Montclair rather than at home with all the kak you get that side. At home you say something and they tell you don’t talk kak. Here you say something and the boys say ‘Really!? You Swear!? Don’t choon me man, that’s kif!’ then they have their turn to tell a lie.

There’s a bar in the tote but hey man, bar prices are a squeeze man, also they charge you just for a single and what good’s a single I ask you? So there’s constant movement in and out of the tote to the cars parked just outside with their boots open. Small drinks are bought now and then and fortified with dop from the bottle in the boot. Polystyrene cups if you’re avoiding the bar altogether.

Then disaster strikes! The tote closes down! What to do now? Still they meet and still they drink and still they talk. But its not the same and it starts dwindling. Fewer and fewer cars arrive until its only the real stalwarts, the die-hards. The ous who will listen to your stories as long as you listen to theirs.

Maybe also the ous who never really were betting on the horses anyway?

Genetics

Hereditary traits can be passed on so strongly. And then sometimes not at all.
Take my daughter Jessie. In some ways she’s the spitting image of her Dear Dad: She’s kind, she’s funny, she’s thoughtful, she can crack me up with some of her observations on life. I love the way she teases me – gentle and just a few repeated themes which are well-known, thoroughly old and reduce us both to weak laughter. She especially loves the ones that sometimes catch me off-guard and get a rise out of me. ‘Dad, can we get a kitten?’ occasionally elicits my knee-jerk response Never Jess. They Eat My Birds! instead of the correct response Sure My Love, But You have To Get Six Of Them, Otherwise They Get Lonely.

But in other ways I don’t know WHERE she gets things from.

Like tonight she came to me and said ‘Dad, getting drunk is such fun!’
I mean, from where . . . I almost gave her a lecture but I was too busy hosing meself. So much so that she said ‘Dad! What’s so funny!?’

Sane Dad & Mad Daughter

I reminded her about the time – not so long ago – when she asked the out-of-the-blue curveball ‘Dad, Why does tequila make you vomit?’

Drink Up!

Headline News: Drinking Alcohol Doesn’t Actually Kill Brain Cells

Well, there goes that joke about the slow wildebeests (the bewilderbeasts?) being thinned out by the marauding hyenas, thus sharpening up the survivors’ gene pool.

The news:
Scientists once believed that the number of nerve cells you have in your brain, once you reach adulthood, was all you’d ever have. Thus, damaging these cells could be extremely detrimental to the individual. However, this isn’t correct.

Ha! New neurons are created all the time in the adult brain, in a process that is called neurogenesis, or more technically, imbibing wisdom. I knew it!

Yay! Neurogenesis! I just made a few new brain cells to host this new info. The picture above is a snapshot of me while that process was happening. Voila!

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Remember how alcohol works to make you invincible?

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The alcohol you people drink is called ethanol. C2H5OH. This is a molecule that, in highly technical chemistry terms, looks like a hound dog with its leg cocked. Two carbon atoms (black) are stuck together to support an oxygen head (red). Six hydrogen atoms (white) spread out over the molecule to give each of the carbon atoms two feet, the oxygen atom a nose, and the rear carbon atom a tail. Ethanol is small, mobile, water and lipid soluble, so like a dog it can get into all sorts of places that maybe it shouldn’t. Like a dog it can also (sort of) head butt you in the crotch while sniffing to find out, or let others know, where you’ve been.

Ethanol Doggie

And where do you people want your ethanol? Why, in your brains, of course. That’s the point, innit? You might bulldust that you drink for your nose, or your palate, or your stomach or your blood. Rubbish. You drink to get that stuff in your brain. Once in the brain, alcohol acts on the nucleus accumbens. This area is a midpoint between the reward centre of a brain and the parts that make associations and memories. Ah, those memories, right? The good ones that you remember. And then there are those that your “friends” always insist on reminding you about!

Now everyone knows that too much alcohol at once can kill you, but how? It depresses nerve function, makes you sleep and suppresses the gag reflex, so people who are passed out can choke on their own vomit, like rock stars. So if you’re a wannabe rock star but can’t sing, can’t play, can’t grow your hair – there’s always that. The brain also controls things like breathing and heart rate, and enough alcohol can shut down those parts of the brain too. People pass out and their brains simply forget to breathe.

BUT: Alcohol also has its good side, don’t forget! Scientifically, its a solution, and according to Homer Simpson, the solution to all life problems.

Homer alcohol

It causes a bunch of dopamine to be released, hot-wiring your brain-ular system.  It makes you feel confident and talkative, because it depresses some Shut Up! brain functions and deadens the Be Discreet centre. It also makes you feel good, dunnit? And invincible, right? Erudite, and a very good dancer and singer. Remember Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl?

So alcohol is brilliant and worth investing in. Also, depending on what research you choose to believe, a glass of wine per day can either not do any harm, prevent heart attacks, or make you functionally immortal. I believe the latter. Does that make me a Latter Day Saint? Long after you finally die, they’ll have to beat your liver to death with a stick. Or transplant it into some lucky recipient who can wake up in the operating theatre pre-pickled.

It’s kind of nice to know that – sometimes – relaxation, cheer, wittiness and immortality can literally be bottled. All that’s needed is to take care just how much alcohol you let into your brain at any one time.

Cheers!!

– – Paraphrased from a lovely article by Esther Inglis-Arkell. It’s worth a visit! It showcases Doug Adams’ cocktail, the ‘Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster’ from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and shows you how to set fire to grog in spectacular fashion. Marvelous stuff!

Blithe Spirits

Durban ca 1980 – I’ve been sent here by the army; I know very little about this Last Outpost of the British Empire, but my friend Steve Reed has been here a year so he knows everything. And he knows some girls.

Some comet was due to approach Earth and (we extrapolated) threaten our way of life, our partying, our poison of choice (alcohol) and perhaps even kill us.

We determined to protect ourselves and our beloved planet from this unwelcome alien intruder.  Steve hired a beach cottage at Blythedale Beach on the Natal north coast and we repaired there with a bunch of female friends and adequate stocks of various powerful potions and elixirs to be taken internally. We also bought tinfoil.

In the self-catering kitchen we found plenty with which to arm and armour ourselves: Spatulas, colanders, pots and pans made good headgear. Braai forks, braai tongs and wooden spoons made anti-galactic weapons. We warmed up our IQ’s by imbibing aplenty and so started a rip-roaring Defend the Planet Party which ended successfully in the wee hours on the beach.

Was it perhaps Comet Aarseth-Brewington? Well, we made it saweth its arseth by our brewing and distilling.

Actually, it was more likely Comet Tuttle. There it is. It came back in 2007 but it knew better than to approach too close:

Comet_8PTuttle.JPG

Only after recovering from my hangover did I realise another of the planned missions had once again been a complete failure: Snaring any girls. As so often, the booze had won.

Ah, well! Hail to thee blithe spirit!

Pic by Robogun - http://www.vcastro.com/contact.htm, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3308145

Under a Dodgy Influence

Terry, the good wife:

Screenshot_2015-11-06-06-36-39

Brauer left a bottle of Jagermeister here. Tom and his mates found it. Luckily only quarter-full. And we all know Jagermeister! Here it is, honestly labelled:

honest-liquor-bottle-labels-41

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Background:

BrauerMeister (2)

My wife, the good wife and the culprit:

Aitch & The Warblers
Brauer dressed for an ‘Out Of Africa’ theme

 

Chernobyl Gas Leakage

April         1986: Disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine.
September 1986: Disaster in the Gillmer’s old kombi near Cradock en route to the Fish.

The trouble started with Black Label beer and Ship Sherry. I had wanted to buy a bottle of Old Brown, but I had fallen amongst thieves and my chairman was in the bottle store with me. “No man Swanie”, said Allie Peter, “Buy Ship Sherry. Then you can get TWO bottles”. Who was I to argue? He was a Kingfisher heavy, he was a Eesin Kayp local and I was blissfully unaware that this decision would not turn out to be in my medium-term best interests.

The night at Gattie’s place was a lot of fun and I clearly remember that clever feeling as I decanted more Ship Sherry into my bottle of Black Label. There was an aura of invincibility at one stage, but eventually – as happened too often in my youth – I looked around mid-sentence and found I was lonely. There was no-one else still vertical. I had no more friends. I dutifully (why does one DO this!?) downed the last of my blend and found a floor to lie down on.

Very soon after this I heard a loud noise. It sounded like someone was slitting the throat of Gattie’s prize bull. I knew vaguely that it was actually me and the loudness was due to the porcelain bowl echoing my distress. Gattie came to check, but seeing that it wasn’t one of his bulls protesting lustily, went back to bed.

Very soon after this it was morning. I was fine, but on the way to the race in the light blue Gillmer bus there was a low rumbling and some inner turmoil and I considerately thought to warn the inhabitants of the kombi of the pending gaseous pollutant. “Open the windows! There’s been a Chernobyl-like disaster” I shouted. They looked at me uncomprehendingly for half a second. And then the green cloud hit their nostrils, and they understood.

The hardest part of the Fish River canoe marathon – by far – was keeping my upchuck behind my tonsils on the dam we were cruelly forced to navigate before we were allowed to start the real paddling. Once on the river all was hunky dory and I ambled downstream in my white Sabre at my usual blistering pace (equal to the current) with frequent stops to stretch my legs or tie my shoelaces.

That night I ignored Allie’s advice and stuck to plain Black Label. Much safer.