Rule 1

There's one rule in the Western Cape - yes, only one. If you want to achieve something, do it on Wednesday.

The Cape tends to be a seriously laid-back place. In a normal working week, you don't try to reach anyone on a Monday or a Friday - they're either recovering from the weekend or gearing up for it. Don't try too hard on a Tuesday, as Monday's backlog will have hit. And Thursday is out too - because Friday is semi-weekend, everyone's rushing through the last to-do's so Friday can be a go-slow.

Which leaves Wednesday as the only day you can really get anything done in Cape Town. Unless you include beach, shopping, chatting, surfing, winetasting or road trips in the all-encompassing "anything" - and if Wednesday's a good day you'll find a lot of sick-leavers clocking in with unexpected flu bouts.

Well today was Monday. Tomorrow is a holiday. And it's been one of those days. I'd hoped to fly in the face of Rule 1 and get a few things done. Granted, the day started out profitably enough with those I caught off-guard and still half-alseep. But two hours into it and everything unravelled. Of the 5 appointments I had in the Big City, only two worked out - one of which was merely picking up something ordered and paid for online last night. The other one was a random call to someone on the to-do list for later in the week, with a surprise drop-in. Everything else was a disaster. Fortunately I wasn't in the mood to get flustered. I merely went with the flow and turned homeward before it could deteriorate any further. Thanks to Capetonian's habits, the roads were empty enough to navigate without hassle.

That's the way it goes sometimes. It can be frustrating if you're used to the 5-day work week and businesses not run on skeleton staff. Equally so if you plan every minute for maximum use and expect things to be done on time to a high standard. There are some who love the Cape - there are some who think it's plain nuts and can't survive here. The long lunches, absent-mindedness and let-it-slide attitude drive them to the nearest mental institution.

So, should you ever invest, move to, or work in Cape Town please bear in mind Rule 1. Don't try to get anything done except on a Wednesday. Weather-permitting, of course.