You are here

Jonathan Hitchcock's blog

SA Bloggies

The South African blogosphere was a little unhappy that the Bloggies (public awards for good blogs) lump Africa and the Middle-East together in one category. As a result, CherryFlava is putting together the South African blog awards. Stroll over there and contribute!


Why do I think that PostSecret is amazing, yet I can't stand Group Hug ?

Maybe it's because it's supposed to be Art

CC Short Story, Windows DRM For Idiots, What If

An interesting short story, licensed under the Creative Commons: Start the Clock

If anybody is still under the impression that DRM is a good idea: The Internet Seat

An incredible look at the course somebody's life might have taken had various things not happened: What If?

Christmas Squabble


Christmas Squabble is the classic game of family domination for all ages.


Each player struggles for world domination while obstructing his fellow competitors from achieving their objectives at every turn. Play takes place in the house, divided into LOUNGE, KITCHEN, and BEDROOMS (where contestants are permitted to play their SOB CARDS). The defence of these territories must be planned carefully, or victory may soon be turned to defeat. Heavy casualties may result in the loss of CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE.


Each player starts the game with the following: Two Chips (shoulder), Six Petty Grievances, Three Sour Grapes, Four Major resentments, Two Annoying Habits.

IMPORTANT: All MAJOR RESENTMENTS must remain unspoken until the final round, just when things seem to be settling down. The first player to produce them from his sleeve at this crucial juncture will thus gain TEMPORARY SUPREMACY.

TIP FOR PLAY: Take care to NURSE your SIX PETTY GRIEVANCES throughout CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE, so that they are fighting fit when you find yourself in a position to reveal them.


Before the commencement of CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE, all dice should be declared lost. The third player then repeats the following phrase: "Why is it always me who has to look for everything?" four times before play commences. Six months after close of play, the dice may be found EITHER under the sofa OR in the drawer full of keys/plugs/used batteries/screwdrivers/used glue tubes etc in the kitchen corner next to the cooker.

Preparing to play

Before the game commences, each player elects him/herself The General. The General is in charge of everyone else, and must control the other contestants at all times. WARNING: Having elected yourself The General, be careful not to inform anyone else too soon, or they may immediately bring into play one of their MAJOR RESENTMENTS. Remove all jokers. Now shuffle all the queens and make sure any pairs are separated.

Setting up forces

Each player of CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE enters the game having first formed a SECRET ALLIANCE. A Secret Alliance is formed either by whispering EITHER "Well, someone had to tell her" OR "Frankly, I don?t blame you one little bit" OR "He told me not to tell anyone else, but ...".

These alliances may be broken at any time during the game by repeating the words, "That's the last time I tell you a secret".

Claiming the higher ground

KITCHEN (SINK SIDE): Any player found in the kitchen (sink side) may be tackled by The General with the words "You couldn't be a dear and ...". He or she will then suffer the forfeit of being given EITHER a bag of Brussels sprouts and a blunt knife OR five dirty pans and the scrappy remains of a Brillo pad.

KITCHEN (SETTEE SIDE): Players taking refuge on the kitchen settee must repeat the phrase: "You'll have to turn over - it's the EastEnders Christmas Omnibus." This allows other players to FLOUNCE OUT and claim one new PETTY GRIEVANCE per player.

BEDROOM: Any player FLOUNCING OUT must immediately retreat to their bedroom and slam the door. On hearing an upstairs bedroom door slammed, any player remaining in the KITCHEN must sigh: "I turn my back for five minutes and ..." thereby CLAIMING THE HIGHER GROUND.

NEW HALL/UTILITY ROOM/GARAGE: These will be included in later editions of CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE.


Combat commences at the stroke of 11 o'clock on Christmas morning. Player One passes the first present to Player Two on his left. Player Two opens it, finds it is a SHREDDER, and attempts to STIFLE HIS DISAPPOINTMENT. Player One says: "You can always change it if you don't like it." Player Two replies "I didn't say I didn't like it." Player Three can now step in and say: "Well, you don't sound very grateful!" To beat Player Two, Player Three must give Player Two a box of chocolate nut and raisins (with the nuts taken out) and something slightly lavendary. Player Three now awaits his response. If Player Two is unable to smile and say thank you, he must retire from the game of CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE.


Once he has completed all his attacks, a player may conduct ONE manoeuvre. Each player may move from room to room, but only:

  1. to avoid another player or players,
  2. to exchange PETTY GRIEVANCES, or
  3. to take it out on Kitten.


The winner is the player left in the behind in the LOUNGE with the TV remote control, and who has not gone off in the huff. He declares his victory by shouting "AND ANOTHER THING!" before slumping into a prolonged doze.

We have to decide if we play ordinary CHRISTMAS SQUABBLE or another version. It is also available in an EXECUTIVE EDITION, including disappointing Christmas crackers, presquashed satsumas, a whoopee cushion and five paper crowns which have come apart at the seam.

Or maybe we should splash out on the LUXURY DELUXE EDITION, which includes all the above, plus an oven roasted turkey, still frozen towards the centre

Die Taal


Dire Straits - In die Kak
Bananarama - Piesangmargarine
Joan Armatrading - Johanna Wapenhandelaar
Johnny Rotten & the Sex Pistols - Jannie Vrot en die Pomp Rewolwers
Iron Maiden - Yster Sussie
Ladysmith Black Mambaso - Mevrou Smit se Swart Mambas
Four Jacks & A Jill - Vier Latte en 'n Platte
Queen - Moffie
Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Frikkie gaan fliek toe
Ace of Base - Baas se As
Meatloaf - Vleisrol
Spice Girls - Aromat Slette
Simple Minds - Dofkoppe
Bruce Hornsby & the Range - Barend Horing en die hele reeks
Hootie & the Blowfish - Tietie en die Blaasoppies
Hughie Lewis & the News - Louis Luyt in die nuus
Mariah Carey - Meraai se Kerrie
Smashing Pumpkins - Platgemoerde Pampoene
Limp Bizkit - Pap Koekie


Grahamstown is coming alive again. It's the Fisher King[1], dude. The arcane rituals needed to cure the king and return the land to life from the barren Wasteland to the living thing that it should be...

Anyway, yes. It's coming back alive. Dom arrived back today, and we all had a braai at Russell's house, which was very cool. After that we went out, and people were there. Like, real people. It was good.

[1]This article sucks. I have so much more to say about the Fisher King, and Arthurian Legend, and the Wasteland, and all that. It's the one thing I really go moggy for. If you give a damn at all, Google for it and find out the amazingness that is the Fisher King myth.



Halfway down the stairs

By A. A. Milne

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit:
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top:
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up, and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town:
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere! It's somewhere else instead!"

PSA Wannabe

Dominic wrote an excellent blog entry on being a young white South African, and the strange position such a person finds himself in. Darb wrote a rather thoughtful reply, and I've been meaning to put my thoughts down as well.

I'm not South African. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, as a Zimbabwean. My mother managed to obtain British passports for the whole family, but I've never thought of myself as British. Seven years ago, I came to South Africa to study at Rhodes University, and I'm still here. I'm finishing up at Rhodes, and I am then going to work at Adept in Stellenbosch (a town near Cape Town, in South Africa).

I'm not South African, but I really wish I was. I am applying for my citizenship, although I haven't heard back from them yet. My perspective, therefore is different from Dominic's and Darb's. They were born and bred in this country, they have always known who Madiba is, and so on.

However, for all that, I really love this country. It drives me mad when people talk about South Africa "going downhill", and how they're so glad they can "get out" - by which they mean they get to go to the crowded, stressful, expensive nightmare that is "the first world". As far as I'm concerned, South Africa couldn't be better. I'm not an economist, but from what I can pick up, the currency is more or less where it should be - strong enough for prosperity, but weak enough to allow decent exports. There's crime and all, but ye gods, this place has a tenth of the danger of Britain or America. Plus, as far as the computer world goes (important to me, since that's What I Do), South Africa is perched on the very cusp of everything - I wouldn't go anywhere else. Our very own Ubuntu Linux won both the distribution of the year and the community of the year. We have just produced an Open Source TV Show, and VoIP is about to take off. Heck, we're even safe from natural disasters!

But apart from being a great place (in my opinion, etc) to live, there's something more about South Africa. Dom and Darb both focussed on the cultural side of things, and there is definitely something special about South Africa in that regard. Even though I can't claim to be a part of it, I really get the feeling that there is something there, and it's brilliant. Take music. South Africa has invented so much of its own, from Kwaito to the weird blend of hip-hop, jazz, and... well, everything else... that we get from African Dope Records.

Thus I find myself in the very strange position of wanting to be a part of a group that is itself trying to work out of what it is a part. I want to be a young white South African, but the young white South African doesn't know what he or she is. Should we feel guilty? Should we be exasperated with those that keep laying the political and historical overtones onto everything? Where do we stand?

My sister recently gave a presentation on Zimbabwe to her classmates at the International University of Bremen. She is in a bit of a strange position, too: a white Zimbabwean with a British passport does not get a lot of credibility among the international students there. She read this poem out during the presentation:


by Michelle Frost

Within my soul, within my mind,
There lies a place I cannot find.
Home of my heart. Land of my birth.
Smoke-coloured stone and flame-coloured earth.
Electric skies. Shivering heat.
Blood-red clay beneath my feet.

At night when finally alone,
I close my eyes - and I am home.
I kneel and touch the blood-warm sand
And feel the pulse beneath my hand
Of an ancient life too old to name,
In an ancient land too wild to tame.

How can I show you what I feel?
How can I make this essence real?
I search for words in dumb frustration
To try and form some explanation,
But how can heart and soul be caught
In one-dimensional written thought?

If love and longing are a "fire"
And man "consumed" by his desire,
Then this love is no simple flame
That mortal thought can hold or tame.
As deep within the earth's own core
The love of home burns evermore.

But what is home? I hear them say,
This never was yours anyway.
You have no birthright to this place,
Descendant from another race.
An immigrant? A pioneer?
You are no longer welcome here.

Whoever said that love made sense?
"I love" is an "imperfect" tense.
To love in vain has been man's fate
From history to present date.
I have no grounds for dispensation,
I know I have no home or nation.

For just one moment in the night
I am complete, my soul takes flight.
For just one moment.... then it's gone
and I am once again undone.
Never complete. Never whole.
White Skin and an African soul.

In my (upper-middle class, privileged, educated, white) opinion, we should stop messing around with guilt and righting-past-wrongs and all that. I'm so excited about the future of this country, I don't want to have to mess around with the things that were bad in its past. But I am well aware that the wrongs of the past are slightly more important to those on whom they were inflicted.

Looking back on what I've written in this post, I haven't really said an awful lot. I've definitely given the impression that I'm almost irrationally in love with the country, and I've posited that we poor over-privileged white people endure terrible hardship and have a terrible time, because our identity is so ambiguous. I think my real point is simply that I, like Dom and Darb, really want to push things forward, and it has to start with us.

Update: Neil has written about how feels as a slightly older white South African.


We made poitjie up at cliff's house at Stoneshill yesterday - was very successful. We made two huge poitjies, one chicken and one beef, and even for all the people that were there, we didn't manage to finish them. We started at about four in the afternoon, and gave the food a good long to get good and poit'ed.

I'd very much like to get me one of those poitjie-pots and do this more often - it's an excellent way to eat food.

The rest of the night was great - after everybody else went out, we sat and listened to Insane Clown Posse and Fatboy Slim and drank piet-piet-piet-and-jaco (a.k.a. Four Cousins) wine. A good evening.

We got some videos (Jackie Brown, and Cruel Intentions, again) to watch, but didn't get around to it, so we're going to go up and watch them now.


Subscribe to RSS - Jonathan Hitchcock's blog