Friday, October 30, 2009

Apples and Pears

Here it says that pearshaped women (large hips and thighs) and appleshaped men (larger bellies) are more at risk of DVT. Illustrated by a back view of two very very large ladies.

But....it goes on to say that, in the case of women, even if they have the ideal weight they are more at risk of this.

So what, pray, are people supposed to do with this information? Hunger themselves down until they are well below the ideal weight? Sounds like a recipe for anorexia....

Sometimes there are things one really does not want to know.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Children's Book

Picked up A S Byatt's latest book, 'The Children's Book' a week ago at the local bookstore. I was quite surprised that they had one of hers, but it's not a bad place ('Exclusive Books', in Riverwalk, Gabarone, a South African chain; has the most choice). I did not really mean to buy more books, have quite enough to last me for the moment, but could not resist. I think it may have been listed for the Booker prize.

In some ways, Byatt always writes the same books; complex arty and often left-wing families, who always seem to be putting on Shakespeare dramas in amateur performances. This one was a bit different, being set at the turn of the 19th/20th century until the end of WWI (my heart sank when I noticed that), and for my liking it contained far too much history - I hate that stuff. It contains a wide mixture of real and imaginary people, and probably real quotes. All sorts of left wingers, from the Webbs to the Pankhursts and so on. Particularly near the end the characters almost disappear under the weight of history. Ok, so it was a horrible time, even before WW1, and the struggle of the suffragettes was quite horrific (just had conversations about women's votes this week on the eve of the Botswana election tomorrow), but I am really not into history.

Apart from that, it was a jolly romp, though also including some deeply disturbed families (my diagnosis - bipolar depression in one person, unipolar depression in at least one other), emotional abandonment and so on. All upper middle class stuff, apart from the working class folk, who somehow fitted in, more or less, on sufferance. Some characters always remained on the edge of things, colourless - one never got an idea of what went on in their heads.

It was a nice read, it's just that I found it much of a muchness for A S Byatt (bit like Isabel Allende, who always writes the same book), and I could not abide all that historical stuff. But maybe that was a new challenge for her.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Opera in the Bush!

I've never had an experience like this! Cycling out to Kgale Sidings (distinctly dodgy given that outside the town I could barely see the difference between the road and the rubble beside it; someone gave me a lift back into town with their bakkie) I found the 'opera house' all lit up and the audience milling around, having drinks and chatting. Found a few friends there which was really nice.

The opera house is a converted garage, with about 100 seats (seemed fairly sold out) crammed in a very steeply sloping auditorium. The stage is tiny, and the garage doors at the back of the stage were open to the African night - awesome!

The opera was 'Okavango Macbeth', with words by Alexander McCall Smith, and music by Tom Cunningham. (Okavango is a delta in the north of Botswana famed for its wildlife). Have to say that the music was very, very easy on the ear - he describes himself on his website as a New Age composer, and there were hints of that in the piano accompaniment (there is no orchestra and there is no space for one anyway). One of the songs repeated three times in the 75-minute opera (could call it leitmotiv, but wonder if it was a bit of lazy composing), and much of the other harmonies and accompaniments seemed very easy to write - I could have done those. But no matter. David Slater, seemingly the only capable pianist in town (I've heard 3) and 'Mr Music', did a great job managing the 'orchestral' part.

The story was of Macbeth among baboons, watched by a group of scientists. It started with a chorus of animals singing about peace, but then all hell had broken loose and it was the fault of the baboons. The animal acting was fabulous - the actors had got the behaviour and the movements so well! Some were better as baboons than others, but overall it was stunning. I do wonder though about the wisdom of McCall Smith writing an opera about monkeys using black actors; one of the many racist comments about black people in Europe are in the form of monkey noises, or throwing them bananas.....

Unsurprisingly, the story was very compressed, given that it was not only Macbeth, but also the scientists who had troubles between them - so some story lines started and were then left in the air....

Visually it was stunning, funny, unexpected, and much of the singing was very nice indeed. Lady Macbeth played by a young woman from the Sedibeng Choir who I think studies singing in France was amazing, especially in her acting. What a sly bitch! The guys had wonderful voices, and this was one of the few opera performances where one could actually understand the words (in English).

Rumour has it that they might take it to the Edinburgh festival (McCall Smith probably has connections). It's length and need for only a tiny stage would make it perfect for the Fringe! As long as they can all get visas.....


Friday, October 09, 2009

Bicycle spares

A few weeks back I had enough trouble finding a bikeshop, but eventually got my bike. By the time I had had it for 10 days I had a small puncture; fixed it after a fashion but not perfectly, then I had another puncture, and decided to get new inner tubes; two, just in case.

Gabarone has 3 bicycle shops that I know, and I have heard of a fourth one, but don't know where it is. One of these three only does bikes, the others do all sorts of other things, too. Went to the first one, nearest to work - had none and did not know when to get them in. Went to another one, a B&Q type of place; did not have the right size. Went to the place where I bought the bike; had possibly the right size, but the wrong valve for the pump they sold me! Aaarrrggghh!

So tootled home in the taxi with a mad taxi driver (was he on drugs? he seemed to be very angry with a lot of people; he seemed to be looking for a room but not with me, honey) and repaired my punctures. Have realised why the last one, and many others I have repaired in the past, did not hold well - I always repaired them with some air in the tyre; this time I let all the air out - so far (14 hours later) they seem to be holding.

Gaborone is not a 'green' place!

Off to the opera tonight; in the bush along unlit roads - hope I don't get a puncture there!