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#TwoBits: 5 packs of ciggies for a Rand

I know if I tell you that in my first year of working, 1970, I could buy a packet of cigarettes and a beer for less than 50 cents you won't believe me. But trust me, I'm a journalist.

It’s felt hotter than ever this February, hasn’t it! Perhaps it’s the heavy rains we’ve had, combined with the normal heat, so the humidity has been off the scale.

Of course that makes everything grow great, which should make the farmers happy, but for the rest of us we have to spend double time cutting back the trees and bushes in our gardens.

The extra growth has been evident along the streets, with trees hanging heavy over the roads.

The rain has contributed mightily to the hundreds of potholes that have sprung up everywhere and the municipal pruners and road repair gangs have been hard-pressed to keep up, given the pace at which they work and that there seem to be more supervisors than workers at any given time . . .

Residents are rightfully fed up with the state of the roads and those who’ve rolled up their sleeves and become part of the solution instead of just complaining, are to be congratulated.

Yes, it’s a pain and yes we’re already paying rates, but the sad reality is that if you want something done right, too often you have to do it yourself.

The shock news that Eskom is going to be raising its prices by more than 15% later this year is going to have a ripple effect on the economy.

It reinforces my decision to install a solar system. In the recent past the conventional wisdom was that it would take 20 years to pay off a solar system, but the way Eskom is going I think the future is going to arrive a lot sooner than anybody planned.

C’est la vie, guys, c’est la vie!

The Rand celebrated its 60th birthday last week and the effects of inflation since 1961 are mind-boggling.

I know if I tell you that in my first year of working, 1970, I could buy a packet of cigarettes and a beer for less than 50 cents you won’t believe me. But trust me, I’m a journalist.

One rand could buy you 10 loaves of bread at 9c each, 6 pints of beer at 16 cents (less 2 cents on the bottle refund) and 5 packets of 20 cigarettes at 19 cents each. Current price is around R43.

Consumer prices have increased 97 times, so a trolley today that costs R1 000 would have cost R9.70 then!

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I didn’t make these up or rely on my shaky memory – they come direct from Statistics SA.

You might think oh my word, this is too terrible, but the whole world has been suffering under runaway inflation.

I ran into a former Ballito resident, now on contract in Switzerland, who confessed that if she had a choice, she would move back here tomorrow.

“South Africans always think the grass is greener elsewhere. Well it isn’t. There are a lot of downsides to living in Europe. And people often say to me ‘Oh wouldn’t it be nice to live where everybody obeyed the rules’.

“My reply to them is, if you’re so keen on rules, how come you don’t even obey the rules here? Most South Africans break the rules all the time, then point fingers at others and say ‘Well if they don’t obey the rules, why should I?'” She has a point.

I took my dog down to the beach the other evening, and just as I’d been saying that we never see our esteemed community police around, one came trudging over the sand to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to have a dog on the beach!

I was about to snap back that there were no signs and I’d been walking on that beach for 16 years without a problem and why didn’t he go and catch someone drinking and littering, then I bit my tongue and realised that okay, if it was illegal I should obey the law.

Nevertheless, I’m going to follow this up.

I have seen the by-law, which says that animals aren’t allowed in public areas and notices must be displayed at entrances.

But it doesn’t specify beaches as public amenity areas and there are no signs at Catfish saying no dogs, so I don’t believe anyone can be prosecuted for having a dog on the beach.

I have asked the municipality for clarity and will report back when I hear from them.

What is more, if the municipality is going to get picky about this, then I believe they must designate “dog beaches” where we can walk our dogs legally.

Plenty of other municipalities follow this practice.

 
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