The Celebrity Silhouette SM cruise ship towers over nearby buildings as it sails in the Venice lagoon. Picture: REUTERS

The inquiry into the Fleet Street phone-hacking scandal runs on so remorselessly that it’s beginning to resemble The Mousetrap – Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play that has been running in the London West End for 60 years – according to British magazine The Spectator.

“The hacking inquiry has become like The Mousetrap: a show that never closes. Unlike The Mousetrap, however, it is showing simultaneously in three different West End theatres: the high court, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Magistrate’s Court.

“The proceedings have grown so far out of proportion to the offence that the Whitehall Theatre might be a better location: it has become a farce… it is not so much an inquiry as a daily revue where the rich and powerful insult and expose each other for the public’s entertainment. Or disgust.”

Yep. Punch and Judy was never like this.

Wild weather

A CABLEWAY in the Drakensberg is being explored as a project by the provincial government. It would change the tourism landscape, delegates to the recent Indaba were told.

Yeah, the way electricity pylons would. Is the development of a cableway compatible with the Drakensberg’s World Heritage Site status? Why not a Disneyland as well? That would draw in tourists of a certain type, by the thousands.

Will it ever happen? Tim Condon, of the Zululand Wilderness Forum, points out that the site under investigation has some of the wildest weather in SA.

“Mother Nature rules these mountains, and the proposed site at the summit of the escarpment is one of the most volatile, unpredictable weather regions in SA, where at 3 300m above sea level it is subject to regular hurricane-force winds, extremely hazardous winter storms and dramatic summer electric thunderstorms with dangerous lightning.”

It doesn’t sound like the greatest place to be sitting in a cablecar.

Back again

EL NIñO is with us again. Thousands of dead seabirds have been washed up on the coast of Chile. It is believed they stayed south longer than usual because the El Niño effect – a warming of the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature – caused an influx of anchovies and sardines from elsewhere. The birds then got caught up in fishermen’s nets. If it’s not the El Niño it’s the La Niña, when what’s known as the Pacific Oscillation works in reverse.

It’s a little confusing, but it does make a change from greenhouse gases.

The Marines

MENTION of the search for a US marine befriended by some young South Africans a long time ago recalls for Tom Dennen – who hails from America – a little-known story from the Pentagon on the dreadful day of 9/11, as told by a marine chaplain.

It happened right after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. A daycare centre there had many children, including infants in heavy cribs.

About 40 marines either grabbed a crib with a child or gathered up the toddlers. They took them all out of the centre to Pentagon park.

There they formed a circle with the cribs – like the covered wagons in the Old West – and put the toddlers inside to keep them from wandering off. Outside this circle were the 40 marines who remained until the parents could be notified to come and get their children.

Tough guys with soft hearts.


THIS fellow comes home from work to find total chaos. The kids are outside, still in their pyjamas playing in the mud and muck. There are empty food boxes and wrappers all around.

Inside he finds an even bigger mess – dishes on the counter, dog food spilt on the floor, a broken glass under the table, and a small pile of sand by the back door.

The family room is strewn with toys and various items of clothing, and a lamp has been knocked over.

He runs upstairs, stepping over toys, to look for his wife. Is she ill? Has she been abducted?

He finds her in the bedroom, still in bed in her pyjamas, reading a book. She looks up at him, smiles and asks how his day went.

“What’s going on? What happened here?

She smiles again. “You know how every day when you come home from work you ask what I did today?”


“Well, today I didn’t do it!”

Last word

I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso. – Rita Rudner