Peace on Earth…

We are here in merry olde England for the holidays with our son Scott, his wife, Dionne and their two boys Aiden(12) and Jack (10).
They live in Wimbeldon which aside from its tennis fame is a suburb about 5 miles from Central London. The flight from Denver on British Airways was 8 hours which seemed like a ride around the block after our South African jaunt.

We of course had many questions about how the Brits and Europe as a whole viewed terrorist activities after Paris. Our driver appeared well dressed and wearing a turban. Welcome to multiculturalism. Walking through the airport we quickly woke up to the fact there were people of every sort from Indian to Muslim to African. How did they let this happen? You only had to think back to the former British Empire which contained some 50+ countries of all nationalities and sizes. London was home plate and presto a melting pot that has been centuries in the making.

People are aware of the possibilities of attack but they seem to take it in stride. Maybe nightly fire bombing by the Germans in WWII inured them to the concept. Even more meaningful is their attitude towards political correctness. It started in Denver as we boarded our flight. A very pleasant woman took our ticket and wished us a Merry Christmas. Wow! I said thank you for saying it and she smiled gratefully.

It was not a single occurrence. Throughout London it has been repeated constantly. There are carolers at the Tube station. Yes, there is a Church of England but it goes beyond that. There are only about 55% of the population that consider themselves religious but that does not hold them back. My daughter in law says she receives greetings from all regardless of age,creed or nationality. Rather than get bent out of shape as to whether or not you are going to be offended, people use the opportunity to carry on a wonderful tradition. Refreshing.

We went to the Orangery at Kensington Palace yesterday. Very elegant and festooned with ornamental beauty that can only be described as neat not gaudy. You had your choice of tea or luncheon served in a quiet but stately fashion. Everything seems more subtle here. Yes, people are shopping of a sort but it just doesn’t feel over the top. Maybe it is because we are on city streets and not mammoth mall parking lots? Perchance it is due to the fact that most ride public transportation and you can only haul so much that you keep it sweet and simple.

You are struck by the minimalistic everywhere. Of course there are McMansions but for the average Londoner space is at a premium and very expensive. Rooms are multifunctional but charming. Everyone shows their Xmas trees in windows but they are not the big fat ones we are used to. They’re just fine. Beyond that, cars are small not only because to the price of gas but they are easier to find parking spaces for. Buses are double decker not for the view but because you can get more people on in a limited space. Lorries are snub nosed to get around tight corners. Their fire engines even seem more compact. Why didn’t we think of that?

The locals do put me off a bit. They avoid eye contact walking down the street or on trains. Even when you buy a cafe`and scone. But there is an interesting phenomena. If you do somehow engage them, they light up and become more than friendly to the point of almost seeming to be bubbly. Now you know TTG is always going to try to make them smile. As I engage this one or that of course my grandsons duck for cover in embarrassment Hey, it’s what I do.
We went to see Star Wars VII in 3D no less. I wanted to wear a Darth Vader mask but was voted down. It was quite a show. Harrison Ford didn’t look too bad but Princess Leiah and Luke Skywalker certainly had put a lot of miles on those bodies. I kept wondering if I showed that much age. As I watched the First Order try to subdue the Resistance and crazy weaponry galore I had to begrudgingly realize that this is probably the way the world is supposed to be. You have got a lot and I want it. There is never enough to go around. It is that simple. C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

Kath and I took a long walk this morning. It is a treat to see grass flourishing in December. The trees are bare but the holly and evergreen bushes abound. People walk dogs and kids ride bikes. Couples loll over coffee in the local tea room. By jove, there is even a Starbucks here and there. The tree lined streets could be anywhere in the states. We really have so much in common.

Going back to British Empire, it once held over 20% of the world’s population and a higher proportion of its wealth. It started as a collection of trading posts and colonies. It had the largest navy of the world in the 1800’s. It was not only the world’s greatest power but by default the globe’s policeman. One by one members gained independence and became significant in their own right. Even in a Commonwealth they became desirous of stature. Most times the way that was exhibited was by war or economic dominance.

It makes one wonder if forms of governance are fleeting as we seek the perfect method. Monarchies, totalitarian states, democracies, theocracies, oligarchies all rise and fall. Maybe we just keep tinkering. I love what we have but will we too change as democracy outlives its usefulness? Who knows? I hope not. I am continually impressed by the universality of this place. Christmas is Christmas. No more . No less For now, our very best wishes to all far and wide. Life is good.

As always
Ted The Great


Multiculturalism can be viewed as a strength or a plague. People must be assimilated and a common language is foremost especially as the nation becomes larger. At the same time new settlers bring new ideas and customs. It is a balancing act.

The British Empire had areas as diverse as India, Australia, Canada, Ghana. Nassau,Botswana and Afghanistan.By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world’s population at the time. The empire covered more than 13,000,000 sq mi (33,670,000 km2), almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area.

High tea which is usually served at 4:00 PM became popular by royalty. In Victorian times there were only two meals,breakfast and a formal dinner which was usually served at a late hour. Towards mid afternoon the queen was getting hungry and started having tea and sandwiches sent to her quarters. And so it began.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas It was named in olden days for when the employers gave their staff boxes of goodies.

Chilling in Cape Town…..

Posted from Cape Town, South Africa.

We have just arrived in Cape Town, the last stop on our whirlwind tour. We have probably covered over two thousand miles as we have wound our way from the top to the bottom of this wildly diverse country. The parched and drought ridden landscape of the north gave way to spectacular vistas of wheat fields, vineyards and the Indian Ocean coastline. You could feel the bustle come out of the air as the sea seems to round off rough edges. Of course my water fix is a remedy for all that ails.

This country continues to amaze me. In one or two weeks I have walked with a lion and petted elephants if that is something you can really do. We have come upon white lions no more than ten feet from our jeeps. Thereafter we had an exquisite formal lunch prepared by a young black man of 22 years and he has already been at his trade for three of them. In Durban we lunched in a burger shack on the beach and the boardwalk revealed only one or two whites among a large throng of black bathers. It was uncomfortable being a minority and the experience was more than unsettling.

We stayed two nights in a picture postcard seaside colony named Knyzna (Nizena) where one night we did a cocktail cruise on a boat shucking oysters and drinking champagne. How decadent! What country are we in? That day we were escorted around the cliffside nature preserve by a young gal from the UK by the name of Allie. We descended from high up on a steep rocky trail leading to the landing. On the way down we chatted and she said was engaged to the young lad that tended to the boats and Unimog that had hauled us up the hill. She was uncertain of the date of the vow taking in as much as they had to save 40,000 rand which is about $3,000US. We suddenly came back to reality.

There is the black and white thing in this place and it is still pervasive.It is not an annoyance but rather a problem that has to be faced. They have such vast riches but are embroiled as to who gets what and a lot of things go undone. The ANC which is de facto black, rules the roost right now. They are the children of a sort of Nelson Mandela. He became a symbol of the plight of blacks as he sat rotting in a cell on Robben Island. Please understand this country is 80% black,10% whites and 10% others known as coloreds. Mandela forgave his captors and truly believed all he wanted was for the blacks to be on an equal playing field. Nice thought but much more difficult in application. His political descendants liked the whole idea of power. They fed upon the feast of corruption because it felt good and properly used it could keep them in power. They gave everything from housing to schooling at no cost. We all know that when we don’t have to earn things they somehow become an entitlement. But then coffers run dry and people begin to turn.

This is taking place all over the continent. Enter the super power and in this case China. The despots are open for business. The nations are laden with all manner of energy and ore of strange names and many utilizations. The voracious monster needs these and trades that for infrastructure of all sorts from new airports to railways to roads to nowhere. This is right up the alley of the war lords because infrastructure proves they are doing a good job and an obvious need for reelection. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven but somehow the people are catching on.Wonder if we in the US ever will?

Here in Capetown they actually have. The West Cape province is running like a decently oiled machine. The streets are clean which is unusual for SA. There are construction cranes everywhere. The townships aka slums are being transformed slowly. The sheer irony is that after 1992 the cheapest housing which some middle to upper class blacks were finally allowed to buy were in the working neighborhoods. These were the “Joe six packs” who were the most conservative apartheid loving dudes in the country. But somehow they have made it work.

Over the centuries Capetown has been an amalgam of peoples. Whites. Blacks, Dutch, English, Malays, you name it. There are vested interests but they seem more muted. Walking on the oceanfront promenade you see mixed couples of all sorts and yes on our walk yesterday we saw a black and white lesbian couple. C’est la vie. I think the city’s relative sophistication makes it more open to political concepts and God forbid cooperation. One can say they are an aberration but maybe they are a true hope for the future.

We have seen abject poverty on our little adventure. Hovels made of scraps of tin and cardboard. The people in these townships think trash is a sign of affluence. You actually have something to throw away. All of this is affectionately called “poverty porn.” Humorous in a perverse way but incredibly sad. The problem is enormous as there is over 25% unemployment here. Even worse among them 50% of the population is under 24. That literally have nothing to do.The townships are homes to millions. It would be easy to throw up one’s hands and move on.Or if we were the Donald we could just ship 10 or 15 million somewhere else.

If I have even figured out 1/10 of this country I wouldn’t have even put a dent into the entire continent. It is the second largest geographically as well population wise being home to well over a billion people. 
There are 55 countries and it almost impossible to believe we are in the same location as Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Nairobi. There is so much promise and at the same time problems of astronomical proportions.

There is one thing I have learned. Polar opposites don’t attract and they get nothing done. You may have proved whatever extreme you purport to believe in but the overall and by that I can only mean the common good is left to flounder.They came incredibly close to civil war here in the mid 90’s. We can’t give without responsibility and requiring personal accountability. In the same breath we can’t keep padding our personal vaults and think the rest will somehow make it.We are in this together and I think we have to get our act in some sort of unified fashion. No man is an island was never more true.

As always
Ted The Great

City Populations in SA:
Johannesburg 15 millón
Cape Town 5 million
Durban 3.5 million

Nelson Mandela remained in prison for 26 years. He worked in a limestone quarry 365 days a year.With other inmates he taught the illiterate members of the chain gang as they worked and several received degrees from their work. They were allowed two letters out (no more than 500 words) and two letters in per year. They were only allowed to wear shorts and short sleeved shirts regardless of the weather.

In South Africa if someone puts any sort of a permanent building on a site for 48 hours they are considered to have squatter’s rights.

The flip side. Trevor Manuel as the Finance Minister of South Africa has been recognized worldwide as a leading banker and financial expert. He was overlooked in lieu of Christine Legard as the new head of the IMF. The unofficial reason was that he was black and the free world could not have that.

Sorry to be so long but I could continue on this whole topic for hours if not days.