Friday, April 17, 2015

And I said to myself... what a

Was working from home when load shedding (i.e. the electricity across a large swathe of the city was turned off; long story) hit at 12pm; put on shorts, lightened my backpack (i.e removed all work-related stuff,  like laptops etc.) packed a novel, three boiled eggs and jumped on to a train to Simonstown (one of the last outposts of the British empire despite colonial statues falling at a rate of knots in South Africa). 

Right now: Quaffing white wine and devouring fresh and sumptuous  West Coast mussels (post red tide, that is) and wish you were here. 

Happy sunny Friday autumnal afternoon in a beautiful world (when you squint your eyes a bit and block your ears).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Litres and kilograms of words

The Mountain again. In my face. Rock solid. As I think about the week behind me.

Monday, unexpectedly, this plate-sized flower stared me down from a shrub disconcertingly taller than me. 

I was in a hurry like all the other scurrying city roaches. 

So off-guard I was and looking inwards that it surprised me straight back into The Present; I stopped to smell the roses. 

Those 30 in-the-moment seconds have stood me in good stead right up until now.
I've drawn upon that instance and have smiled satisfyingly about it, at least 15 times already. 

On Tuesday, I wore a jersey for the first time since getting back from Prague in early November, but took it off later. 

In my day-long to-ing and fro-ing, I breathed in deeply wood smoke from only one homely hearth.

That November weekend there was much more rain in Cape Town than there had been for a whole week in wintry Europe. 

Log fires were still burning in my favourite city bowl restaurants and coffee shops as I hesitantly came down from the dizzy high of my travels, and work. 

It was the beginning of summer.

Yesterday I wore a jersey for the entire day. And in my meanderings there was much more aromatic wood smoke from homely hearths to gulp in deeply.

Best of all, the moody day began with the slashing of rain against the windows.

As the seasons clash-and-shift-and-argue I hunker down and gratefully cocoon into my heart of hearts, as litres-and-kilograms-of-words wash-over-and-through me.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Moody blue and running over

Beautiful Monday night that feels like a Sunday, but thank goodness it's not. 

Just in the door, as usual I'm smacked hard by the view (of Lion's Head and Cape Town city centre in the far distance) that, this time, I can see from my bedroom window that snatches my mobile from my back pocket, thrusts open the aluminium window and - please, please don't drop it, it's only six floors down to splinters - and then shutter-clicks away while holding my hand as steady as possible against a feisty breeze reeking of the Atlantic (a favourite reek, mind you) that makes it difficult, very.

Tomorrow back to work. It's been an awesome week off, in terms of both productivity and ample rest. Lots of both. Lots, too, of hardly leaving my apartment, of reading books and drinking wine, listening to music live-streamed from all over the planet, making decisions about sex and friends, showering not so often, of also soaking for hours and deep in the bath, time alone and naked. 

Except for last weekend when I made it up a short drive up the West Coast with friends to Jakob's Baai, again reading, wine and braaing, soaking in the bath, collecting shells, taking pics, grateful to be at the ocean's edge with a notebook and pen. Conversation and laughter with people I love who love me enough to give me my space and I in return theirs.

Today late morning the bug hit me and the isolation got to me, a tad; tired, slightly, of my own company and the same view of the hollow walls of my mind. A late-autumn day. Felt restless to leave and walk the streets of the city, but to do so quietly and calmly. Also, soon the rain and grey and cold - please hurry - will be coming and I'll most likely look back, slightly longingly at times, on these days.

Easter Monday but a Sunday: Inside of me I'm at peace and in quiet, still and centered. Something changed in me this long weekend. A demure day, low-energy and in-between the seasons, much closer now to winter than the summer we've almost left behind. Even the city and it's people are low-energy, transitioning from the fast-paced and long days of summer into a hand-braked hibernation.

Today I loved and danced around my apartment to 'A time for Us' (from "Romeo and Juliet") by Nino Rota and 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini'. This week I'm reading The Guardian UK, Elizabeth Hawes' 'Camus, A Romance' and Patrick Leigh Fermor's 'A Time of Gifts'.

Now to bed with both books and up at 05h30 and into my work routine. 

I'm happy, I'm rested, I'm content and enormously grateful for my simple and streamlined life. I feel rich, extremely. My cup is running over.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Yesterday, just before the noon-day gun and despite my claustrophobia, I took a walk around the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. At most it's 200 metres from where I live.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


'Gentrinaaiers': Graffiti that I first noticed had been appearing on buildings and walls around the Old Biscuit Mill from earlier in the year. I walk this route daily from the bus stop, or after taking a minibus taxi. I keep looking later to see whether they're disappeared in time for the cash cow visitors flocking into the area for their weekly safari, who are definitely not here to notice nor give a damn about how the other side lives.
A 'direct' translation, I guess, of gentrinaaiers would be 'gentri-fuckers', which is both a clever and powerful play on gentrifiers
It fascinates me that the graffiti (above) is in the official logo colours of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014. This makes a statement about who exactly did benefit from the millions of rands pumped into WDCC2014. 
Then, the cockroach. And the barbed wire. In the stencilled graffiti.
I had no doubt that the graffiti was by the anonymous tokolos-stencils, which I first read about in the Mail & Guardian's Tokolos Stencil Collective: 'Crap' art designed to unsettle article from last year November. Then I found their Tumblr blog, which features photos of their graffiti at Salt River Circle and at the Old Biscuit Mill in Lower Main road, Woodstock. There I found explanations: 
"Aluta Continua... The Struggle did not end in 1994. The fight against gentrification is but one aspect of the struggle for a different world."
"On Tuesday evening, some TOKOLOSNAAIERS took a trip around the back-alleys of the Woodstock Improvement District. They discovered a community that was no longer a community as its residents of decades have been displaced by the winds of change. In its place, are the well-to-do who go to and from their work, spend money at overpriced restaurants but do not know their neighbours as they, unlike their predecessors, are too afraid to sit on the stoop. This landed gentry have been aided and abetted by what can only be described as gentrinaaiers - property developers, real estate agents, restaurant entrepreneurs, hipster creatives, and of course, the Old Biscuit Mill.The GENTRINAAIERS of Woodstock is an unstoppable tsunami of urban renewal destroying any semblance of vibrancy and authenticity in its path - unstoppable that is unless the community fights back." - From a February 12, 2015 post on their website. 
It's also possible to download many of their stencils.
[He knows that the very fact he’s got a birds eye view of lower Woodstock means he’s part of the gentrification process. That because he’s been without a car - by choice - for 13 months now and is wonderfully on foot, he’s come to largely empathise with the folk living these streets, for decades now, who really have nowhere else to go as they are increasingly pressured out.]
[On foot: the blood, the piss, the shit, the whores and drugs on the streets. Also the beauty, kindness and compassion of strangers, many of whose tooth-gapped smiles brighten his day and melt his heart.]
Empathy = the ability to put oneself in others’ shoes. If they have shoes.

Bromwell street, which runs behind the Old Biscuit Mill.

On another note, not completely unrelated, yesterday I began reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life. In the introduction, she wrote about her father, also a writer, and about an article he wrote before he died of brain cancer:

"Then a strange thing happened. My father wrote an article for a magazine, called "A Lousy Place to Raise Kids," and it was about Marin County and specifically the community where we lived, which is as beautiful a place as one can imagine. Yet the people on our peninsula were second only to the Native Americans in the slums of Oakland in the rate of alcoholism, and the drug abuse among teenagers was, as my father wrote, soul chilling, and there was rampant divorce and mental breakdown and wayward sexual behavior. My father wrote disparagingly about the men in the community, their values and materialistic frenzy, and about their wives, "these estimable women, the wives of doctors, architects, and lawyers, in tennis dresses and cotton frocks, tanned and well preserved, wandering the aisles of our supermarkets with glints of madness in their eyes." No one in our town came off looking great. "This is the great tragedy of California," he wrote in the last paragraph, "for a life oriented to leisure is in the end a life oriented to death—the greatest leisure of all."

Glints of madness: Inside of the very high walls surrounding, not unlike a prison, the Old Biscuit Mill this morning.