The Third World as Seen from the Saddle – 25 October 2020


Because of unrequited love, I have not had much sleep of late, and have been able to reminisce on my music career highs instead. Which didn’t take long. I started as a background vocalist but because I have a crap voice, ended up playing the electrical triangle instead. One of the rock bands I was briefly in was called Frank and the Junta. I say briefly, because the band was quickly disbanded when our fan base, a.k.a. Frank’s mom, refused to listen to us, because she thought the name Junta to be oppressive, and also because we sounded crap. We tried to win her back as an audience by changing our name to Frank and the Democrats, but she said they also sounded crap. Alas.


Fast forward a lifetime and here I am living under a military Junta. And Frank’s Mom was right. Last week Vice President Mohadi confirmed our Junta status for all the world to hear and said Zimbabwe would remain under military rule for a long time, because civilians had no capacity. He said the Junta would not be dislodged by “dogs barking at the rising moon”, referencing the media and opposition parties, hell bent on exposing the Zanu PF government’s inadequacies. Mohadi made the comments whilst touring one of those exact inadequacies; the Beitbridge to Harare Highway project, launched by President Mugabe in May 2017. Well actually the project was launched in 2011, but the first 6 years were spent in consultations and negotiations, as one does when resurfacing 500 km of roads. From what I can make out, so far, they’ve completed 32 km but are expecting to hurry up from here on, so they can finish on time in 2022. They need to hurry up, not least of all because of the massive convoys of World Food Program trucks that need to use that road to ferry food aid to the 8.5 million people in Zimbabwe a.k.a. half the population requiring food aid, a very harsh net result of another inadequacy. Alas.


Juntas are normally frowned upon by neighbours and the world at large, but from what I’ve seen on late-night news, the Zimbabwe Junta is flying under the radar, I’m guessing because of more pressing problems elsewhere.
For example, every remaining Christopher Columbus statue in the world hunkered down this week, expecting more Black Lives Matter backlash, after cops in Nigeria shot and killed 12 black demonstrators. But so far, nothing, not even a murmur on Lewis Hamilton’s tee-shirt. Black Lives might Matter, but only when taken by white cops.
In a timeout from Covid, the European Parliament ruled that vegetable burgers and vegan sausages can appear on restaurant menus, after they rejected proposals from farmer groups to ban plant-based products from using descriptions like steak, sausage and burger. Meaty stuff. Small wonder Boris wants to exit Brussels.


More unrequited love played out in the reality show that is US politics when Borat caught Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani almost red handed and with both hands thrust down the front of his trousers whilst reclining on the bed in Borat’s daughter’s hotel room. Spoiler alert. Borat saves the day, and his daughter’s virtue, by bursting into the room, shouting at Rudy ‘My daughter is 15, she is too old for you!!’
But I digress, back to the unrequited love that has kept me awake all night. My granddaughter Jocelyn has a dog called Gonzo. Gonzo is a girl. Gonzo and Joce live in their house on the farm about 500 m from our house. Currently Gonzo is in season and has fallen head over heels in lust with our dog Chuck and keeps breaking out of her garden, and into ours, to have her wanton way with Chuck. It is a match so not made in heaven. Unfortunately for her, being a Chihuahua cross, Gonzo is aptly named. Chuck on the other hand is a Great Dane cross Horse. Hence the unrequited love. But Chuck is that stupid, he doesn’t even know how to sit, let along get to grips with the physics involved, and has proceeded to try his best, manfully, all night long, serenading Gonzo and the moon mournfully, and non-stop. And loudly. Apologies to the other residents of Mt Hampden for Chuck’s howling, and the residents of Marlborough, and Bluff Hill, and bloody Banket when the wind is right. Strewth but Chuck sure can howl loud.


But wait, it gets worse. We’re dealing with a love triangle. Wallace the Scotty is also in lust with Gonzo and is stupidly going forth on the premise that it is the size of the fight in the dog that counts, and not the dog in the fight. Oh, what fun we are having. Hence my insomnia, and hence my reminiscing, and hence my late-night news channel binging, etc, etc.
Because my eye surgeon has grounded me at least until November 5, I remain trapped on my stationary bike in front of the television. Thankfully some live sport has survived the Coronavirus crisis. I watched and enjoyed the first 2 games of rugby’s Bledisloe cup and was happy to see the new-look Aussies almost beat the All Blacks in the first game, but also think that appointing a New Zealand coach is border line sandpapering your balls. Jenny has complained that three weeks of Giro d’Italia is more excessive than Gordon Ramsey cooking broccoli seventeen ways, so instead we’re watching the Vuelta a España. Alas that Chris Froome showed up, but his legs didn’t. Luckily, I had a fall-back hero in the form of Primoz Roglic, who bombed out on Stage 6, leaving me scrambling for a new hero.


In another cycling news, after 7224 km of training and a massive 90,323 metres of climbing, CJ Bradshaw had to pull out of the South African edition of the Old Legs Lockdown Tour with just a week before the start, after being grounded by his oncologist, following surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. Dave Simpson will take over as ride captain when he, Dierdre and Bruce Fivaz pedal out of Hillcrest, KZN on the 2nd of November. CJ says it will break his heart to watch his team pedal off in the direction of Lambert’s Bay without him. God speed Dave, Dierdre, Bruce and Ryan, and strength to your legs. With 2500 km in front of you, you’ll need it.
God speed also to CJ who has the tougher road in front of him. But CJ wrote the book on tough, and I have no doubt he will overcome the challenges in front of him to take up his place in next year’s Old Legs Peloton. Please include him in your prayers. And please also support the South African Old Legs Tour on the road, on Facebook and on http://www.oldlegstour.co.zw


In Harare please be invited to the Tin Roof on Wednesday the 4th of November for the final wrap of the Zimbabwe edition of the Lockdown Tour, plus the world premiere of the Lockdown Movie. You’ll be able to meet the Old Legs Team, ask them questions, but not about when the toilet tent blew away in the Sengwa River. It is a fund raiser and Mark Pozzo will be off auctioning Lockdown Tour memorabilia including a Ride Jersey, plus some fabulous free weekends away, plus an incredible Gift Hamper that unfortunately, I’ve already won.

Bummer for you guys. Jenny has pressured me to do a book signing afterwards, this in a valiant attempt to avoid receiving copies of Running Dogs and Rose’s Children and/ or Cape Town to Kilimanjaro for her Birthday and for Christmas and for Mother’s Day for the next 11 years,


In closing, lots of appeals.
Please support Sally and Allana all the way across in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia in their Samoosa and 2021 Calendar Fundraiser for Zim Pensioners. Because I won’t be able to make it, I’ve asked Gordon Kent to eat a lot for me.


Please also support our ongoing ‘Don’t Let Them Forget Christmas’ appeal. We’d like your second hand, pre-loved reading glasses, hearing aids, Kindles, tablets, audio books, etc, etc. With regards collection point near you in Australia, South Africa, the UK and the USA, please see below, or contact me via Facebook or What’s App.


Also please also have a sneak preview of the Old Legs Lockdown Tour 2021 Calendars on Facebook. If 2021 is half as good as the calendar, it will be a stellar year, best ever. To avoid disappointment, get your orders in now.


Plus, meet Chuck and Gonzo, a match not made in heaven.
Until my next blog, survive the howling, and enjoy if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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