We are all connected

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Imagine an orchard. And all the fruits on your tree are your soul mates. Your loved ones, your children, your friends. And then imagine the roots of your tree spreading to the next tree, and connecting to it. You may not know the fruits on the next tree, but you are connected by the roots of the two trees. And so those roots connect with all the other trees. That’s how we are all connected. That’s why, no matter what, we should always treat each other with kindness, love and compassion. No matter how much someone irritates us – or even if we don’t like them – we are connected. It’s as simple as that.

Ann Warsop
19th August 2014

The Blood Runner

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The Oscar Pistorius Trial has our full attention.  Every South African has become an expert advocate on the matter.  We sit glued to our televisions, intrigued and watching the dedicated 199 Carte Blanche channel.

We debate everything, informed by the latest evidence – balancing and swaying like children on a seesaw.

We are emotionally invested and involved. One minute we are arguing with each other that perhaps Oscar deserves a second chance, and in the next breath we are crying because Reeva will never ever have her wedding or a child.

Over the weekend we feel at a loss, because there is no court.  And when Monday comes we rush to switch on the television, in the hope that we get closer to the truth.

By now we feel as if Roux and Nel are a familiar addition to our expert panel. We shout and wave our fists at the television and threaten to put duct tape on Barry Roux’s mouth as he chips away at the credibility of the witness statements.

Even our men take turns in screaming like women, so that we can make a call as to whether we believe that Oscar can, in fact, scream like a woman.

We are in a constant frenzy, checking our social media feeds on our cell phones.  We comment on twitter several times a day.

We, as South African citizens are the jury.

At the end of it all, Judge Mapisa (formally referred to as “My Lady”) will bring down her hammer like the final gun shot ringing out across a sleepy suburb in Pretoria and proclaim the final verdict. The Blood Runner may never run again.

And we will talk about it for years to come with our grandchildren and they with theirs.

Ann Warsop 11 March 2014

The Boss is in (Cape) Town

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It’s Cape Town.  It’s a balmy, lazy Sunday evening.  And we are on our way to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band.

The vibe in the stadium is really chilled.  We make our way to our seats and observe how the stadium fills up.  I notice a sign that reads:  Born in the RSA.  I have to give it to South Africans.  We are really festive and get into the spirit when we need to.

An hour later, when the lights are dimmed and the band comes onto stage, I am on the edge of my seat, eager to catch a glimpse of the man who up until now, I have never seen performing – I have just listened to his songs over and over again, especially when I was a teenager and my brother used to dance in his pajamas with a broomstick (guitar) to “Dancing in the Dark”.

The first thing I notice is that Bruce Springsteen looks much younger than his 64 years.  Yes, his temples are gracefully sprinkled with grey, but his face is so youthful and his smile…well that’s a whole different story.  Too charming for words.

But what really intrigues me is his stamina and passion for what he does.  He simply moves from one song to the next, swopping his guitar every two songs or so.  He is absolutely awesome. He LOVES the audience.  He runs along the ramp and slides to a halt on his knees.  The audience goes CRAZY!  Even girls that are young enough to be his daughter are desperate to touch him.  He guzzles down a beer that’s handed to him by a fan, he throws himself on his back into the audience and then they carry him on their hands back to stage.  He kisses a girl and I wonder what Patsy will think – but secretly if I were 10 years younger, I probably would have wished it were me!

Three hours later, at the end of the evening and after a non-stop performance, I have fallen in love.  The man is a legend.

A few days later, I see a pic of him jogging on the beach in Cape Town and I am even more impressed.  He is lean and toned.  No paunch belly, no fat rolls.  Just pure, lean muscle. And when I do research, I find out that he is very particular about staying in shape and being healthy for his concerts.  It is said that he never, ever did drugs, he just ran on the treadmill and did weight training for the last thirty years.

“Think of it this way”, he is recorded to have said: “Performing is like sprinting while screaming for three, or four minutes”.  And then you do it again and again.  And then you walk a little, shouting the whole time.  And so on.  Your adrenaline quickly overwhelms your conditioning”.

Bruce Springsteen, please sprint your way back to Cape Town again and again.  We love you.

False Alarm

It never would have occurred to me that I would be running across the lawn of a five star holiday resort in Mauritius in a dressing gown at 3am in the morning, responding to a Tsunami Alarm Siren.

At the time, I was vaguely aware of the insistent ringing in my ears which I thought was a dream so I tried to fob it off and go back to sleep, but it kept on and on – until eventually I realised it was coming from outside so I jumped up and opened our room door to see what was going on.

The elderly German lady (who is normally dressed for dinner with pearls around her neck) is standing at her door in a see-through nightie shouting to me “Can you hear zee smoke alarm in my ggroom?”.  To which I reply:  “Yes but I think it’s coming from outside”. And she shouts again “Yes eet’s coming from my grroom – can you hear it?”.

At that point her husband runs out with his walking stick to see what is going on and dashes past me.

So I try and get my husband to climb out of bed, but he’s not very keen and I eventually snap at him: “All men are running to reception.  Don’t you think you had better go and see if it’s a false alarm?”.  I stare in disbelief as he stretches and yawns and then casually climbs out of bed, puts long trousers over his boxers, gets a crisp white long sleeved collared shirt out of the cupboard, buttons it up slowly, tucks it into his trousers neatly, fastens his leather belt, finds his nice shoes, washes his face, brushes his teeth and then strolls out of the room.

I try calling reception in the meantime, but no answer.  Concierge.  No answer.  House Keeping.  No answer.  Room Service. No answer.  Kiddies Club.  No answer.

Within two minutes he is back.  “I think we should all go together”.  I give him one of those deadly unimpressed stares.

By this stage I have already flung on an oversized hotel dressing gown (the thick terry-toweling type that I have to roll up at the sleeves because I have a small frame and which make me look like Liberace in concert) and I am already thinking about how to wrap our passports and credit cards in plastic to make them water tight.  But because panic is creeping in, I grab my toddlers Thomas the Tank Engine bag and shove everything in there.

And then it’s a case of what shoes to wear, because my flip-flops will be too slippery and my high heals are clearly not going to allow me to sprint as fast as I can to get to higher ground.  But the only option is the flip-flops, which I slip on and then grab Noa, my little 3 year old toddler and we rush out towards reception.

On the way, we bump into everyone we see around the resort.  Some guests are in their boxer shorts and t-shirts, others are dressed perfectly in their designer jeans and Christian Louboutins– and me…. well I am the only one in my dressing gown.  And the funny thing is – regardless of what we are wearing and what language we speak – we are all in exactly the same boat!  We are all panicking, (without trying to show it), we are all walking quickly but secretly wanting to run – and none of us knows what is going on!

One of the snobby gentlemen that is usually dressed like Jay Gatsby and who won’t make eye contact with anyone runs up to me (this time in his pyjamas) and shouts something to me in French.  And I look at him and don’t know whether to laugh or cry – but I shake my head and shout back “I don’t know what’s going on”. And he looks at me in anguish and runs away.

At reception, there is one uniformed receptionist talking on the telephone.  Several guests are outside chain-smoking and several are shouting at the receptionist to get off the phone.  Eventually, the receptionist tells me that he thinks the humidity set off the alarm, but he can’t be sure and he is waiting for the maintenance guy to get back to him.  So I ask him if we should be climbing to higher ground in the meantime, just to be safe – and he stares at me blankly as if I have lost the plot.

By now, everyone is shouting and talking all at once.  Some of the guests have started crying and some of the others are laughing at the ones crying.

Not one staff member is in site to help calm the situation down.

Half an hour later, (which felt like days), we are assured it’s a false alarm and everyone starts making thier way back to their rooms.  But I am having none of it.  “Are you SURE?” I say to the receptionist.  “Yes Madam” he says.  “But how do you know for SURE?”.  He rolls his eyes and stares at my thickly rolled up dressing gown sleeves.  “Because my manager tells me IT EES SO” he says.  “But MAYBE he is wrong – phone him AGAIN”, I insist.

My husband grabs me by the arm, mumbles an apology and we walk away from reception.  (I am still looking toward the sea expecting the water to retreat and then a large wave to hit us at any time).

Back in the room, we read through the hotel catalogue and find the emergency evacuation procedure in the event of a Tsunami. We were supposed to gather on the sports field.  “And then what?” I say to hubby.  “Who was going to show us what to do next, because I didn’t see one staff member on duty”.  He doesn’t make eye contact, for fear that I will insist we move to the sports field and he can’t get back into bed.

When I did eventually calm down, I could not stop giggling, because I kept on thinking about the German lady who thought her smoke alarm had gone off in her room.

I was even more intrigued to see how everyone would behave towards each other at breakfast.

The South Africans sheepishly smiled at each other and started chatting.  The snobby Frenchman pretended not to recognize me and carried on as if nothing had ever happened.

But the most interesting of them all was the general manager, who laughed in a rather embarrassed manner and clearing his throat assured us that there would never be a Tsunami on our side of the island. “So why is there a Tsunami alarm and an evacuation procedure”? I ask him.

“What alarm and evacuation procedure?” he asks…..

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Let Biebes Be!

Why is everyone so upset that Justin Bieber likes to catch rides on his bodyguards’ shoulders?  I don’t see the harm in it?  If I look at it objectively, his bodyguards don’t seem to mind either.

If I got tired climbing the Great Wall of China, I would also sit on someone’s shoulders.

Besides, a single mother raised Justin Bieber and he didn’t really have a father figure.  So his entourage of male bodyguards and managers etc. interact and bond with him on that level.  You know, boxing and kicking and wrestling and running after him while he skates – that kind of stuff.  Does it make sense?

As a kid, I used to catch a ride on my brother’s shoulders all the time.  And Justin Bieber is just a big kid.  But not just ANY big kid.  He’s a kid that can afford to be obnoxious.

After all, he is the only artist in billboard history who has four singles from a debut album charting in the Top 40 on the Hot 100 before the albums release. Not only that, but he has 40 million followers on twitter.

Any kid that can teach himself to play four instruments and perform with Chris Brown is a hero – in my humble opinion. And…he plays the left-handed guitar.  Genius.

What’s more, that famous hairstyle resulted in millions of fans imitating him.  A bit like Purdy.  Some of you won’t know what I’m referring to – but google it for fun.  P U R D Y hairstyle.  Even I had one. When I was ten. But that was because my mother forced the hairdresser to do it.

And recently everyone was up in arms because Biebes was seen drinking a beer!  Yawn.  Really people, let’s get our priorities straight.  We all know what we were up to in our teens.  And trust me, it wasn’t drinking beer!

And what about the 33 year old loony who spent $100 000-00 on plastic surgery to try and look like Biebes?  That really shows the power of the brand!

At the end of the day, Biebes is just doing what’s normal.  Let’s leave him alone and worry about more positive things like spreading the love right now.

Ann Warsop 2013

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DOCUMENTARY – JUSTIN BIEBER

Love is all that matters

There is something to be said about a King who will give up the throne for love.  A handsome, blond, blue-eyed Edward VIII, who falls hopelessly in love with Mrs Wallace Simpson, a married American socialite, already once divorced.

Wallace and Edward are introduced at a swanky party.  The rest is history because he falls hopelessly in love with her – to such an extent that he is completely distracted from his duties as King – and gives up the throne so that he can marry her. And they live happily ever after – even though they are exiled from England. True story.  No lies.

Abdication Speech      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re6G1hTlrEo

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When it comes to fate, nothing can stand it its way, especially where love is concerned.  When two people are destined to meet – the universe will bring them together.

Take Jay Gatsby, for example (The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald). He meets Daisy Buchanan briefly during the war and never recovers from that meeting. They are separated for five years and even though she marries someone else,  Jay Gatsby is obsessed with becoming rich so that he can provide only the best life for Daisy.  And during all those years, he remains true to her.

When they meet again five years later, Jay Gatsby painstakingly prepares for their reunion.  He is desperate to ensure that everything is perfect and brings in thousands of flowers.  And cake. And tea.  He himself is dressed to perfection.  Not a hair out of place. They don’t eat or drink a thing.  Because they are too busy staring into each other’s eyes.  All the years melt away and time stands still.  It is the coming together of two twin flames.

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Sigh.  I am such a hopeless romantic.  Everyone deserves to love and be loved.

I guess when all is said and done – love is all that matters.

The Human Sculptor

I know a man who reminds me of an angel.  Only this angel has a HUGE set of muscles instead of wings.

His name is Joe Black.  And no, he does not look like Brad Pitt from Meet Joe Black the movie. But he is black and he is my first real “black” friend. Not that colour makes any difference at all, but in my case it is relevant.

What you have to understand is that I come from a very Afrikaans right wing family.  My mother used to keep a cup, plate, knife, fork and spoon under the kitchen sink for our domestic worker.  I always used to cringe with embarrassment that she did not want our crockery and cutlery to be mixed up with our lovely lady’s.  And many a time she used to throw away (with contempt and disgust) hair brushes because she found a single curly hair on them.

So Joe Black (this is his stage name as he is a body builder and personal trainer) started training me a couple of years ago so that I could lose all the weight I had gained from IVF treatments and from my pregnancy.

And I was privileged to get to know a gentle, softly spoken, intelligent side of him that you would never guess existed under all those tons of muscles.

He explained to me his passion for “sculpting the human body”.  And suddenly he opened my eyes to a world of training and competitive body building that I had no idea even existed.  Where I thought this sport was rife with steroids and growth hormones and creatine – he showed me a healthy, more softer side to it.

A side that includes eating correctly, drinking lots of water and vitamins and supplements and training – all in moderation and combining everything together to create a sexy, toned, attractive body.  Gone was my perception of “if you lift heavy weights you will start to build muscle”.

I learned that here in Cape Town, especially the Western Cape, a huge percentage of body builders are black or coloured and that this form of sport is a blessing in disguise for gang infested areas of the townships and informal settlements.  These young men get involved with training from a young age and become top athletes that represent South Africa internationally.

So two years on, I still encounter aggressive, moody body builders (that puff out like one of those swollen frogs) in the gym.  But I ignore them because they are just a minority of the amazing body building athletes that do South Africa proud.

Please click on the link below.  It is a tribute to Joe Koffman, my trainer, who continues to inspire and make a difference in so many lives every day. Written and Directed by Morgan, my 21 year-old son.

I hope it will change your perception of body building forever.

https://vimeo.com/66749259#at=0

Joe Koffman

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Gold or Gums

I was thinking the other day about the gold/platinum encrusted teeth guards that celebrities are showing off lately.  How does 55 year-old Madonna get away with proudly flashing her “grilz” at the world?  I thought these types of ridiculous accessories were only for hard-core rappers or hip-hop artists?  Apparently they are hugely expensive and can cost up to US100 000-00!

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I remember when I was a little girl and I used to watch my mother soak her false teeth in that special steri-tab solution.  (This I tell you shyly with my hands over my eyes). And then she used to polish (with good old Brasso) the gold initials AA (for her name and surname) and tell me that if I got good marks at school she might consider letting me have some gold in my teeth.  (No wonder I ran away from home at 18!).

But those were the days before crowns and veneers – when it was fashionable and more cost effective to have a set of false teeth made up.  And for those who were a little mad and eccentric – you could even gold initial them!

Which brings me to the other extreme called the “Passion Gap”.

This is a tradition going back 60 years here in the Cape Flats of the Mother City Cape Town.  It’s when the coloured folk remove four of their front teeth (dental mutilation).  Some say it’s because of peer pressure.  Others say it makes them kiss better and perform better during oral sex.  One local fisherman says it makes him whistle louder.

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According to research, the Cape Coloureds were actually ahead of the latest trend of “Celebrity Grilz” at least a decade ago, when it was considered to elevate your status if you had gold removal caps or plates put in to cover the gap in the front.  “Peers would respect you more” said one youngster.  “But if you were in a gang they would remove your gold teeth so as to take away a bit of your wealth”.

Well there you have it.  From my perspective, whether it is part of a culture or heritage or whether it’s Beyonce or Miley Cyrus flashing their sets of vampire fangs, I am most happy with my plain ordinary teeth and I have no desire to flash a golden smile at anyone.

Toxic Mould

Yesterday I stumbled upon some shocking news.

Actress Brittany Murphy, who died in December 2009 at the age of 29  (supposedly from a drug related or eating disorder) actually passed away from pneumonia – brought on by toxic mould found in her LA mansion. Britney’s husband Simon Monjack passed away five months later reportedly also from the same thing. Apparently they had a persistent water leak in their home, which lead to the formation of toxic mould.

So yesterday, I was turning my bedroom upside-down because we too, have a serious mould problem in our apartment.  This is what persistent rain and leaks can do to homes in Cape Town. South Africans are not well educated on the health hazards of mould – yet many live with it for years without doing anything about it. These mould spores can be released into the air that we inhale.  Young children and people with immune deficiencies become seriously ill.  Over time, a perfectly healthy person will develop upper respiratory conditions such as sinusitis and bronchitis.  Other symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes and coughing.

When these mould spores attach themselves to our lungs, the result can be fatal. The best thing to do is to make sure waterproofing is carried out on the outside of the building where the leak is, and then to wait for the wall to dry out – and then tackle waterproofing the inside of the house.  When you see black mould, wear a mask and gloves – and scrub with Sterri-Nappy or Bleach diluted in water.  And most importantly, use an Ozone machine to neutralize the spores if you are ripping up mouldy carpets or wallpaper, as the spores are released into the air the minute you start moving things around.

Actress Brittany Murphy

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