The Not-So-Ugly Canadian (Looking Back At Geeksville)

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Unlike the little train, the scooter track is no longer there. It fell into ruin after Mr Abel died in his 80s and now the lawns and palms of the Esplanade cover any trace. There are so many places like that in the city I grew up in that endure only in our memories. Some for the better. Rhodes Memorial Zoo, once a showpiece of Empire Victorianism. When I last looked, little more than the lion enclosure remains, surrounded by a fence, ostensibly to stop vagrants it doesn't.

The pharmacy, the butcher. Past the fish shop. Then the last leg homeward, up Breda Street, once the driveway of the Oranjezicht Homestead and then and now, an uphill slog for a cyclist. And the next Sunday, it would all happen again. Now that I've shed the weight, I'm sometimes pressed for pocket space.

So, a few days ago, while leaving a restaurant and climbing into my car, my wallet dropped out and into the street.

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I only realised it about ten minutes later when I stopped outside my home. While I was driving back to the restaurant on the off-chance that someone had found it and handed it in, my wife called me on my mobile phone.

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A woman had just called at 23h00 the home number and asked for me. What really interests me is what goes on in the moral conscience of someone who finds a wallet, pockets the cash, but then still goes to the trouble of tracing the owner and handing the non-monetary contents in at a police station.

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The Shaman. Sometimes Microsoft rocks! Ever since I used two 5. In those days, computer users were even more of a subculture than today, so to get by in Geeksville, you needed to interface using the correct protocols. Admittedly, a lot of it was simple indignation at being so utterly dependent on a supplier there were occasional short-lived and feeble flashes in the pan of competition e. DR-DOS that was fast becoming all-powerful. Also, as Gates was the Grand High Lama, Pontifex Maximus and Jedi Master of Geeks, there were probably also a fair number who envied his pocket-liner even more than his pocketbook.

Even if your installationsinitially validates successfully, Windows re-checks this validation regularly when downloading the important no almost weekly security and software updates that are necessary to keep your PC running smoothly. If in the meantime, Microsoft has discovered that the product key you used was sold illegally, they can block it.

Next time you update, validation fails and get the black screen, and reduced functionality. Problem is that if you happen to buy one of these very professional imitations not to mention the obvious copies you can find on sale the world over , albeit in good faith, it will usually install faultlessly.

The genuine-looking product key on the licence certificate might even pass first validation. But block it they will. By now — you can be sure that you are one of many victims — the seller has been banished from eBay, PayPal etc. After not too long, my call was answered. Now, having trawled various online forums, had read about a system whereby if you have inadvertently bought fake Microsoft software, you could submit it to Microsoft and they would replace it with the real thing.

By now, I was oozing cynicism. You print out the report, you receive a confirmation e-mail immediately bung it in a padded envelope along with the offending software and proof of purchase, and send it off to Ireland. Less than a week later, the first Kit — complete bit and bit genuine DVDs with a genuine legal Microsoft licence arrived. Not likely. I have subsequently had a short correspondence with a service agent that has been an eye-opener.

Accurate, succinct, efficient and keeping me informed at every stage. The second kit arrived two days ago, and the last one is securely in the pipeline. The other side of the coin, to give your critiques and complaints any weight at all, must be to give gold stars where gold stars are due. And when it comes to their Get Genuine Online program — and the superb customer service attached — Microsoft deserve one. So big deal. Now I gave the genuine software I thought I was buying in the first place. That if I buy a Microsoft product in good faith, and it turns out to be a fake, Microsoft is prepared to replace it for free in defence of that brand.

Ok, they can afford to, but on the scale of swings and roundabouts, the strategy rocks. Branders: Look and learn. My illustrious singing career. Then, once my father got home, out came the classics. This left my father and uncle with a keen ear and catholic tastes in classical music.

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By five, it had already been trotted-out if we went anywhere for Shabbat. So in a clear and apparently pitch-perfect boy soprano, I sang Kiddush. The Cantor who had descended from the choir stalls On High to sing the blessing after the token child had recited it was a little taken aback. I was the centre of attention of the entire synagogue. My mother was in her element.

I could do no wrong. Never look behind you. I must have been insufferable. At home, the boundaries were clear. Cross them once and expect an admonition, twice, a stern warning, and the third time the business end of Prussian discipline, enforced sternly but fairly by a cowhide sjambok after being banished to your room to consider your crime. And they knew it. It was the first time I heard the term Jekke.

He promptly booked me into a government school where the regime closer matched his idea of what school discipline should be like. Luckily, there were no Jesuits nearby….

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I flourished. Certainly the happiest of my pre-adolescent years.


Superb teachers in a small, homely school in a leafy middle-class suburb on the slopes of Table Mountain. And there was plenty of singing. Different to the twice-weekly visits to Herzlia by the blind Cantor Immelman, confined to Jewish devotional music. This was a government school in a Protestant Christian country. We were all issued with a hymn book, and part of my Anglo-Saxon education was to be completed. Wonderful school musicals produced by dedicated educators, keen to give every child a part according to their ability.

Then, a culture shock. The small, cosy primary schools of the City Bowl would feed to a few larger High Schools in the area.

Cape Town High was sprawling by comparison and growing. It was a building site, with brand new wings leading off the archetypal Victorian academic edifices that still formed the administrative core. Every day, adolescents streamed in from across the Peninsula. Many familiar faces from primary school, but many more strange ones too, with strange customs learned in tougher neighbourhoods where sweetly singing choirboys were not fashionable.

A veritable jungle after the protected yet not overly candy-coated world of primary school. Initially, everything went smoothly, but then things happened very fast. The apparatus began to whistle and shudder. We fled. In the nick of time.