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Sunday marked the end of two weeks of leave – the ideal battery charger.
My thanks to all those readers who e-mailed or used our BackChat column to tell me they enjoyed the nostalgia of last week’s column, where I did a walkabout of old haunts near the beachfront, bringing back memories of the 1970s.
I had planned to walk about the town centre last week, but being on leave, I found better things to do… like long breakfasts, long lunches and long dinners.
The week culminated in one of the best nights I have had in a long time – an invitation from Shell to join the celebrations at the Top Gear Festival.
Close to 800 of us packed a smart marquee just outside Moses Mabhida Stadium to pay tribute to former Durban boy, Gordon Murray, the man behind the design of the McLaren F1 car and a person who has enjoyed worldwide success with his innovative automotive design.
Of course that was only part of the evening and for half an hour we had Jeremy Clarkson, wine glass in one hand and microphone in the other, sharing the stage with fellow Top Gear presenters James May and Richard Hammond.
It was a real blast and the chirps and ribald humour were excellent, with Clarkson having a real go at former Idols judge and UK music supremo, Simon Cowell, calling his show one of “talentless fat singers”.
Clarkson was responding to a question about why there has been such a long gap between Top Gear series, and he told us the BBC had pushed the motoring show aside in favour of Cowell’s show. He was clearly not impressed.
Clarkson was in full cry, but it is obvious he loves Durban and the stadium and surrounds, and he made no apology about flying out here in a private jet.
“No British taxpayers money is used on Top Gear. Do you want to know you paid for tonight and this weekend?” he bellowed out to us… “You Mother*******!”
The night was a hoot and I put on my petrolhead cap before the show and visited the pit lane where I saw some amazing vintage cars plus Ferraris and Bentleys.
I then stumbled on a Peugeot cocktail party, which saw the unveiling of the 4008, its first 4x4. Since I own a Peugeot, I didn’t mind gatecrashing and drinking some Moët et Chandon champagne.
l after that late night, it was a jolt to my system when my landlady, former Daily News entertainment editor Sally Scott, phoned me at 7.30am the next day from her half of the huge house we share, to tell me she had woken in the middle of the night to find her bedroom filled with smoke.
Apparently there was a power surge in her part of our mansion, and her hair straightener, which was on a piece of newspaper on the floor of her bedroom, caught alight. As a result, some light switches were still working and others were faulty.
The eThekweni electrical department came along to have a look. They then went down Percy Osborne Road and discovered that the sub station had been broken into and some copper cable had been stolen!
So they switched off everything, leaving me in the dark all day.
It seems amazing that our municipality does not have top-class security at these sub-stations. They have old padlocks which even I could smash, no alarm systems, nothing. No wonder we are losing millions of rand to cable theft.
Why can’t eThekwini get the new, oval-shaped, far more effective padlocks or use iron gates with secret codes?
They are wasting a fortune on antiquated security measures. Rather fork out for an updated system and save money in the long run.
Maybe I should become city manager. I think I would enjoy that.
But I end with good news: in my e-mail on Friday I received the most prized invitation in horse racing.
Yes, despite trashing its marquee, drinking all its wine and demolishing all the prawns and desserts, Sibaya Casino has once again invited me to its very posh marquee for the Vodacom Durban July.
Thanks, Melville. I promise to be on my best behaviour this year.
Well, until about 5pm anyway… and then wait and see what I have in store for your VIP guests. Be afraid… very afraid.