Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Conference at Sun City

After counting all the sleeps till the conference, the day had finally arrived - though it didnt seem like it. It was still pitch dark when I got up. 5am, ugh. I had only had about 4 hours sleep, having almost frozen to death at the drive-in the previous night. But nothing could damper my mood. This was my first time at the annual conference for the bank and from what I had heard from previous attendees, this was a must for all who love to party and get to know people from the other divisions.

So I dragged my sorry ass to the bath and finished packing before my two colleagues arrived at my house. They arrived early, so I had to rush out, and in my madness, I forgot to pack enough jerseys (hence me sick with flu right now). After 2 hours on the road, we got there just after 8:30am and went for breakfast at Wimpy since the conference only started at 10.
When we were done we had more coffee and pastries in the ballroom next to the Superbowl (well, the boys did, the thought of more food made me nauseous) and then collected our name tags outside the Superbowl. By the time we entered most of the tables at the back were taken so we had to settle for the ones right in front (so no chance of me catching a few zzzz's!).
The bank's choir kicked off the proceedings with their rendition of "You're the Voice". It was so moving I was almost in tears, thank goodness it was dark. The MC was our economist who kept us highly entertained with his witty remarks. Its customary for all newbies to stand up and be noticed, so yours truly had to stand up together with roughly 100 more people. Nice to know that I wasnt alone. Then each division got their chance on stage to present their achievements.
I was literally blown away by the talents that some of our colleagues possess. Most divisions, instead of doing a live performance on stage, filmed a short video about their business which was shown on the big screens. Some did both, which also really worked well. It made me regret not having taken part in these performances when asked for volunteers about a month ago. Note to self: take part next year! Some of the most memorable shows were: a radio show with Darren "Wackhead Simpson" (yes, we get to hire actors and celebrities too), a talk show with Johan van der Walt (hilarious! I almost pissed myself laughing!), our division did a "Mythbusters" episode (really impressive, one of our bosses looked almost like one of them!) and the best one - a short skit of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (kinky, sexy, very very professional!).

And there were lots more, plus with several awards being given out to the dealmakers of the year, this took us to almost 18:00. What a long day! Of course, we had two breaks in between, one for lunch and one for tea, during which we caught up with old friends, posed for pics, ate, got lozenges (for me, flu was already on the way), sorted out roomates since word on the street was that I was sleeping alone in the palace (not to worry, I managed to avoid roomates, heheheh).
As soon as it was over, I raced to the palace bus stop since it was too far to walk there. It seemed like forever, but eventually the bus arrived. The drive there seemed just as long, I think the driver took us on a tour of the whole of Sun City. By the time we got to the palace it was pitch dark. We all checked in and went to our respective rooms. I felt like I was living in a dream. The palace is really gorgeous, and if I had had more time, I would have walked around a bit more. As I got to my room, the maid was still busy there so I waited outside and made a couple of phone calls. I was definitely not sharing with anyone, since my bed was a huge king-size bed, unless, of course, he was male and gorgeous, hahaha!

I only had about 2 hours to get ready so I rushed and sulked a bit cause I couldnt really enjoy the room for a bit longer. A nap before the party would have been pure bliss. Just before 8, I ran out the room and prayed that there was still a bus there to take me back to the Superbowl. Just as I got outside, a very full bus was leaving. Damn. Luckily I wasnt the only one left behind , some of my colleagues were late too, and we were promised that another bus would come. And sure enough, not even 5 minutes later another bus drove up and took us to our destination.

I dont know why I rushed, because we were made to wait over 20 minutes outside the Superbowl while they got everything ready inside. I was miffed but soon got over it as we were led inside and sat at our respective tables. Drinking soon got under way, but I made damn sure not to get too pissed so as not to make my name gat at this prestigious event. Unfortunately, after half a bottle of wine, I had a heart to heart with my boss, and told him that I feel neglected by him. LOL! Of course, he thinks its funny, and is still teasing me about it. He will never forget.

After dinner and a few speeches, we were entertained by one of our opera singers (lots of talent here in the bank!) and then the highlight of the evening: Mr Johnny Clegg! I was really impressed by his performance. Just about every person, black, white, Indian, coloured, female, male, boss, CEO, plebs, was on the dancefloor jamming to the music. Amazing culture!
Then it was the DJ's turn. Since I wasnt too drunk to not care what music was being played, I danced to a few songs, showed my moves then mingled with my colleagues and accompanied them for several smoke breaks. I wish I had taken my jacket when I was outside, because Im really paying dearly for it now!
Eventually I decided that I wanted to enjoy the benefit of staying at the palace (I doubt I will get another chance anytime soon) so I sneaked out without anyone noticing and caught a ride to the palace. After a calming bath, I lay on the luxurious bed and fell asleep. Only to wake up a few minutes later shivering like crazy. I had forgotten to take out the duvet from the wardrobe. But I couldnt force myself to get out of bed. I'd rather just lie there and freeze - another dumbass reason for me being sick today.
Before I knew it my alarm went off and so it was time to get ready to leave. I showered, packed and raced to breakfast. Unfortunately, after a heavy night, breakfast is far from my mind so I ate as much as I could force myself to eat. I didnt have much time to waffle so after a few bites I got my stuff from my room, checked out and was picked up by my "drivers". We left at 9am as scheduled and got home just after 11. I was tired, damn tired. I must have gotten a total of 5 hours sleep that whole weekend, but I wasnt able to catch up on some sleep that Sunday.
After a braai at my aunts, Weasel and I caught up with Ferdi, Shawn and Basti in Sandton to see the Renault F1 cars. Wow, those cars can really make a noise! Sandton was freezing, full of people and it was uncomfortable to stand against a fence, but it was all worth it to see these cars speed on our roads. And what a hot stuk Giancarlo Fisichella is!! Yum!!!
So I was buggered, really buggered yesterday morning, and things are not looking up today either. But it was all really really worth it. I cant wait for the conference next year!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick round-up of the rest of my holidays

Before I get into reviewing one of the best weekends I had, let me give you a quick summary of the rest of the events that took place while I was on leave. After the two back-to-back Tempos gigs, I woke up on Sunday feeling groggy from all the late nights. But I had to get up eventually to celebrate my uncle's birthday next door. Nothing eventful, just lunch with the family and close friends. I ducked sooner than later cause chatting with the old folk drives me dilly. That evening I convinced Ferdi to drive me to the airport to see my bestest friend Wendy who was here for the weekend. Unfortunately it was a short trip and she was on her way back to London but it was nice to catch up with her after all these years. Last time I saw her was at her wedding about 4 years ago! And looks like we will be seeing each other again very soon...more on that later.

My week was very laid-back, as was intended. Waking up late and not having to bother even to get dressed was pure bliss. I spent my days watching movies, reading books and occassionally logging on the internet world to see whats cracking (I just cant get away). The highlight was going to the movies with Ferdi to see the new Harry Potter film - Im such an addict! I was hardly disappointed though it would have been nice if they could have included more of the book - though its not always possible. I waited in antici...pation for the final book to arrive as well.

Then weekend was here quicker than ever, and time to party. Friday night we celebrated Sonja's 21st birthday (again) and decided to have one of our wild Girls' Night Out at our local hangout, the Blue Goose. It was still too cold to sit outside so we went in and got a good table in front of the band - yes, they had a band. Brace yourselves. After ordering a round of Purple Rains (which turned out to be blue because they ran out of purple colouring) the giggling and cackling began. The band started soon after and sang all the good oldies. Confidence kicked in and so Berny and I started to dance. Ingrid, Sonja and Uli took turns to join us. Some even indulged in some sokkie and twists and turns with some strange looking men. Need I say who? Hahaha
It was so much fun that we didnt notice the time. There was so much loving going round that table, cocktails, shooters, laughter, a really good time was had by all. Sonja was even asked to come up and down her drink while we sang happy birthday to her. It was sad to leave but most of us need our beauty sleep. I was promised by the band that next time I can sing "I touch myself" with them, hehehehhh.

But we didnt go home just yet. Sonja and Berny decided to go with me to Exclusive Books at Cresta so I could get my pre-ordered Harry Potter book. One look at the hellishly long queue discouraged me completely. Im a fanatic, but Im not crazy. So we went home and I got the book at a more appropriate time, like 2 that afternoon!

Saturday I got a lift from Wesley from Torment to go see them and other kickass bands like Falling Short, Inersha, Chromium, Hikatori, Namuh and many more at Foundry Fly Lounge in Pretoria. The event was called The Rock Opera which was organised by Bianca as well as Reinard from Falling Short. I was chuffed that they made me a VIP guest but all those perks had its disadvantages - never give me free booze if you want me to stay alive and well enough to see the bands. But from what I did get to watch was damn fan-rocking-tastic. Torment - you guys will go places!!!
After waking up with a serious hangover on Sunday and trying to recover and remember...before I knew it I was back at work. Not as well-rested as I would have wanted to, but at least I got some much needed R&R in between all the partying. Now Im planning my next holiday!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Im off to Sun City tomorrow

For the first time ever, I am attending our annual work conference in Sun City so Im extremely excited about it! I cant wait, though many tell me that most of the day is pretty boring having to sit through a whole day of boring speeches and presentations as each division takes a turn on stage. That doesnt really concern me (Im counting on catching a few zzzz's when the lights go out) what Im really looking forward to is what comes after - THE PARTY!

Dont worry, I will behave, or try, or NOT! Im just going to have a good time. We are being entertained this year by Johnny Clegg, not too bad, it could have been worse. And I actually emjoy his music. And who can forget the day he walked past me when we were at the Cape Town airport recently!

The most exciting part about this weekend, I left for last. Yours truly, by some wonderful twist of events, is staying at the PALACE! Yes, the palace. Im still pinching myself. I won the lucky draw. Only a handful of us will be staying in these luxurious rooms while the rest stay in the Cabanas, Cascades and the main hotel. Im trying to keep it under a low profile here in the office as I dont want unexpected guests, but word is already travelling fast. At least they dont know my room number yet!

I promise to give a full report when I get back, but not before I finish recounting my tales of last week. So stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Friday the 13th Fest II and Crossing Point

After the UJfm hijacking saga, we went home and found that the rest of the family had already started eating pizza. So we dug in and considered our options as to where to go next. Martin was definitely going home (wuss) and Weasel was tired, so that just left Ferdi and me. Baaah.

He wanted to go to Bohemians to see Crossing Point but I convinced him instead to go to Tempos to see Aion Truth and co, for the Friday the 13th Fest II. I don’t know how I succeeded, but 30 minutes later, we were on the road again. It was damn cold and I wasn’t really in the mood to party, but I wanted to surprise Dylan, Amy and the rest by showing up unexpectedly, since they thought we weren’t going to make it.

I was surprised to see that the parking lot wasn’t too full. But I guess with the cold weather, it wasn’t too much of a shock. We were met with hugs and happy smiles and caught up with the gang. Libido has just finished, and next up was Is that Blood? with a lead singer sick with flu. They still sounded amazing. I really love this band.

Then it was Aion Truth’s turn. They were on form as always and managed to catch the attention of a very drunk girl who insisted on doing some back-up screaming vocals for the band. Dylan was not so keen on giving up his mic, but she was too much for Johan. She took the mic and gave us a few squeaky screams. Amy was standing at the entrance and thought that it was Dylan who had suddenly lost his voice! Haha. Luckily she gave the mic back immediately and order was restored.

Knave and Chromium followed and kicked ass! I made several trips to the bar in between songs to get…WATER! Yes, water. I just wasn’t in the mood to drink, but guess what, still had a damn good time. I did oblige to having a tequila with Morgan, what a cool chick.

I thought that after Chromium, we’d go home as Ferdi had that look on his face that said “I want to go home”. So I was quite surprised when he said that we were staying to watch the next and last band, Death By Monkeys. And I am so glad we did! I got a fright when I walked to the stage and saw three guys there with gas masks on and getting ready to play. Quite scary, lol! There was no drummer, just a guitarist, bassist and a (now I don’t know what you would call him) a dude with a computer. The lead singer had the mic attached to his mask, it was hilarious! And their music! I loved it! Most of their songs began with a cute circus type of jingle and then broke into hardcore lyrics. I must say I was impressed and would love to see them again!

Saturday we were back at Tempos, to see Crossing Point (since Ferdi didn’t get to see them the previous night). They are a band from Durban that was touring Gauteng that weekend. The gig began sometime early that afternoon and we almost didn’t make it due to some miscommunication between Martin and Ferdi. Nevertheless we made it just after 7 in time to see Crossing Point. I have never heard their music before but I soon got into it. Unfortunately, just as we were all warming up, one of their guitars malfunctioned or whatever and had to bring their short performance to a stop. We were all disappointed but at least we got to see them for a bit.

After purchasing CDs and getting them signed, we watched Unlisted, and then we went home! I have never stayed a gig for such a short time, it was crazy! But we were all hungry and tired, so after a very quick stop at McD’s (where Weasel and Ferdi practically forced me to wolf down my McMeal) we got home and went off to bed for an early night. What a weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How we hijacked UJfm

OK, so this is the first instalment of a series of events that took place the moment I stepped out of work on Friday the 13th and commenced my much deserved week's leave. I will gradually relate everything, but give me time, cause as you all know by now, Im lazy (plus I have been busy with Harry Potter - the book, not the boy, you pervs - and catching up with work).

So, anyway, since it was Ferdi's birthday on the 6th, he proclaimed it jubilee month, all by himself, which meant we had to celebrate the hellish day he stepped on earth and damned us all to hell, the whole bloody month. As if one day isnt enough! That Friday the 13th we had several options as to what we were gonna do to carry on with the celebrations, but were waiting for Mr Martin to arrive at our place that afternoon so we could decide and make plans. On our way home from work, while listening to DJ Russell on Ujfm, Martin sms'd Ferdi and said that he would come to our place for a bit and then go home because he was tired. So no celebrations, again, since Martin wasnt here for the 6th either.

Ferdi was upset that his friend was dropping him once more and decided that he was breaking up with him. So he asked Russell to please play Cindy Lauper's "Time after Time". Yes, I know what you are thinking - why the hell is Mr "I listen to hardcore music" Ferdi requesting such a naff song to be played on air? Is he mental? Maybe. But anyone who is a big fan of "My Name is Earl" would know that that is Randy's (Ferdi look-alike to the tee!) break up song. Hence the request. Now everyone, breathe.

Russell refused to play it, and Ferdi kept on bugging him to play it. Eventually we arrived at home and moments later so did Martin. He thought that song should be played too, so he phoned Russell and insisted he play it otherwise we would go there to the studio and beat him up. Russell said: I DARE YOU.

Well, that settled it. Ferdi came up to my room and asked if I wanted to go to the UJfm studios to beat Russell up. He quickly updated me on why we were going there and didnt hesitate to join them in this little rendezvous. After we parked at UJ and walked forever to get to E-Ring and figure out how to get in to the mighty UJfm fortress, Ferdi found a loophole and got us into the lifts near the auditorium. We soon found ourselves outside the tiny fishbowl studio, and waved at a perplexed Russell from outside the window.

The silly bugger let us in. If I had been him, I wouldnt have let us in. So its his fault. We sat on the couches next to him and tortured him for the rest of his show, one and a half hours to be exact. Well, the boys tortured him, I sat back and giggled and occassionally tried to get my voice on the airwaves. We told him which songs to play (no Cindy Lauper unfortunately on the playlist) and Martin tickled him while he read the news. I was quite impressed that he managed to read it without giggling, though he was suffering, I could see.

Occassionally, he would throw a scared look my way and I almost pitied him. But I think he did alright and managed to survive Ferdi and Martin's stinky smells and all. When he was done, the next DJ was ordered to play "Sexyback" for the boys. Im not sure if she did, cause we took a while to get to the parking lot and took forever to say goodbye to Russ.

He must have been traumatised, because the following week he visited while Nick was doing his show and warned him about certain visitors that crop up unexpectedly - Nick is scared too now. Hahaha.

I wonder if they have now barricated our secret entrance...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rock Opera

I know I know I have been waaaay too lazy to write anything lately. I even took this week off to catch up on things but mostly I have just been relaxing, though I have to admit, its been one hell of a rollercoaster this week! Got lots to report on, and I will, once I get my ducks in a row. In the meantime, have a look at this flyer, its taking place tomorrow. I cant wait!!!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Jugendtag 2007

Thankfully, I survived the weekend without getting any serious injuries this time, except for a swollen, sprained finger. This youth day felt strange and out of sorts compared to previous years, and I suppose that had a lot to do with the fact that this year it took place closer to home instead of the "farmlands". For that reason, I only took part in the festivities from Saturday morning onwards, instead of Friday night. I had the option to join just about everyone for a pre-party in Hatfield, but chose to have an early nigth in instead. I did regret it a bit since I hate to miss a party and catch up with old friends, but at least I was fresh and well-rested on Saturday for the long day ahead. Blegh.

We missed the opening church service, having strolled in to the Pretoria Deutsche Schule just after 9 in the morning. Considering I was wide awake, I was jolted out of my daydream in the carpark when someone called out my name from a passing car. I couldnt see who it was but waved anyway, only to find out later that it was Andre. There was a huge tent pitched outside where most of the people were already settled in. We waited outside for Ingrid and Rudi to arrive with our new blue team rugby shirts. I was quite impressed with our new gear, the blue really made us stand out in the crowd (though we did get a bit of confused with the Kirchdorf youth, who had lighter blue tops).

After the service ended, we quickly gathered the troops for a quick song practice during the tea and cake break. First two attempts of our song "Mutig und Stark" sounded somewhat awful (and my voice sounded croaky - oh dear) but eventually we got it right and were ready to rock despite our jitters. Sonja and I made one quick run to the cake and tea stands before we lined up to sing; I was starving since I hadnt eaten much that day.

Our turn was finally up and we entered the tent with some cheers from our JHB crowd. I was trembling with fear but managed to control my stage fright and sang to the best of my ability. We all did. I think we sounded quite good actually. I thought it was quite funny that one of the other youths sang "Ablaze" for which we got rave reviews last year. So I wonder if anyone else will sing "Mutig and Stark" next year. We seem to set the precedent.

While we waited for the rest of the youths to finish their songs and the rest of the folk songs, we caught up with random friends until the next break. Lunch consisted of deformed wors, potato salad and string beans. Not too bad a meal (all of it is provided free by the host congregation), but unfortunately, when I got back to our table, I realised my beans were frozen and starting to melt on my plate. I wonder if the mothers had noticed that they were dishing out frozen beans. I pushed them to one side and ate the rest of my food as fast as possible before it drowned in defrosting beans. I had a good laugh when I looked up and saw a man that looked exactly like Mick Jagger, sans the lips. Looks like we have all sorts of weird characters around here.

After lunch we all assembled in the sports fields and got ready for the Polonaize. There were so many of us and it was nice to see a huge support crowd of parents and other relatives. Since Ingrid had gone to the car to fetch some stuff, I danced with Rudi and almost got my arms pulled from its sockets by Matt and Rudi as they dragged me across the field. It was good fun though, doing the formations on the field. To my relief, we did not have to do the volkdans after that as the brass band didnt have the sheet music for it. Phew!

Soon we kicked off with the sports. I was a bit surprised and a bit nervous to find out that I was in the ball-uebern-struck team as well as volleyball. Im scared of playing the former as I always end up getting hurt, it really is a vicious game. And that's how I hurt my left ring finger, twice. We drew our first match and lost the next two by huge margins - none of us were really concerned about that as we did not want to play any further matches. Yes, we all really hate this game.
This time the boys did quite well in volleyball, having won 2 out of 3 matches. But unfortunately they did not go through to the next round (I still dont understand the point system). Weasel managed to sprain his foot once again. I do not know what is it with that boy and his feet; he has no balance whatsoever. After that, it was time for tautzien (spelling?) aka tug-of-war. I was so proud of the boys as they won their first round and narrowly lost the second round to some dodgy umpire decision - we think they should have won, but we are still proud of them.
Volleyball was next for us, while the boys played touch rugby. We seemed to relaxed and did not win a single match this time - quite disappointing since we were defending champions. But I guess we were just there to have fun. The boys went through to the semis for touch, but after losing several men due to injuries (lol) they lost in the end. No matter, it was a result to be proud of. When the announcer mentioned that us girls made it to the semis for ball-uebern-struck, we all thought it was a sick joke. How could it have been possible? We had drawn one game and lost two??!!! But it was true. We had made it. Our next crisis was to find all our players as three went AWOL. We honestly didnt expect it. So I rounded a few extras and we poached a girl from another youth.
We did not want to go through to the finals (not really, we were tired, sunburnt and hungry) so we tried hard, but definitely not our best. In the end we did alright, yet I managed to hurt my finger once more. We lost, but it we werent disappointed at all. I must say that our support crowd was amazing. Heinz Kruse, one of our congregation member, has been to every single jugendtag for as long as I can remember, and has always cheered us on. He deserves a big thank you.

When that was done, my stomach was already begging for McDonalds, but we waited till Uwe was done with his matches. His team took most honours that day by winning volleyball, ball-uebern-struck and tautzien. I think their girls won too. Impressive results!

Finally we made it to McDs and all gathered about 5 tables together and ate to our hearts' content. Hmmm, it felt so good. After that we went to Rudi's place to bath and get ready for the party, slowly, but surely. How 12 people managed to bath in record time (and with enough water) still amazes me. We were all exhausted, but still had a good time at the party back at the school. Booze was cheap (R6 a drink!), and welcome to block out the cold. For some reason we all assembled outside. Only a few couples were dancing round and round inside. I waited till almost the end and danced with Rudi, the maestro. I was quite tense in the beginning, as always, but managed to loosen up after a few songs. Unfortunately, I did not stick with the bet I made with Sonja (to dance with THE man) : ( Im soooo chicken.

Most of our die-hard party goers from the previous night were ready to pass out, so it was only Sonja, Ferdi, me, Werner and a drunk Matt that went to Herr Gunters in Hatfield after the party ended. There were several other youth members there too, but not enough. We sat and drank for another hour then woke Rudi up at 2am so he could let us in. Hahahaha.

I didnt get much sleep on those inflatable mattrasses (as the night progressed, mine deflated) so I was more than willing to go home immediately when we woke up, rather than go to church for a record long service. After we dropped Matt off there, Ferdi and I went back to JHB. We got home just after 9am. I didnt even bother undressing or unpacking. I climbed into bed and slept well into the afternoon, and woke up to the wonderful smells of Weasel's cooking. He refused to feed me, but eventually coaxed him into sharing with me.
I said that this was definitely my last year in partaking in Jugendtag, but after having so much fun, how can I possibly not return for another round next year??!!! Only time will tell...

Here is one pic, but I will definitely post more during the week. Otherwise check my facebook profile...

Now let me go back to nursing my injuries and cold. Brrrrrrrr.