Thursday, May 21, 2015

Winter night's content

Arrived early for a book launch (Memory Against Forgetting), of a collection of photographs ("a photographic journey through both sides of South Africa’s history"), at The District Six Museum in Buitenkant street.

Photographer Ranjith Kally joined Jim Bailey's
iconic Drum Magazine in 1956
I'm the second person to arrive, the photographer (Ranjith Kally), in his nineties, sits quietly in the front row with an intriguing copper walking stick. He's immaculately dressed and his solid black shoes are polished.

It's the first time, surprisingly, that I've been here; I savour the smell of old wood and old building and I'm grateful to be visiting and ecstatic to have made the effort to leave the flat despite the moodiness and early arrival of the winter night.

I lift my glass of Leopard's Leap Sauvignon Blanc to the artist, also to my creative, artistic city that for centuries was - mostly - known as the tavern of the seas. I also raise it to the ghosts fluttering amongst us... the marvelous space is filling up.

The shame; lest we South Africans ever forget! This old sign is on a wall at the
District Six Museum: "By Order Provincial Secretary".
The book's apt title was inspired by Czech writer, Milan Kundera, who wrote in his The Book of Laughter and Forgetting that “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.

A ('my brillaint career') lifetime of 5 days

I'm hungry, but not enough to attempt a meal from the meagre provisions in my cupboards. They are, almost, bare. I'm also not yet hungry enough to shower, dress and leave the apartment so as to negotiate Sunday people, aisles. 

Birdsong. Of a single bird. Through the bathroom window. Made more lucid, clear and piercingly straight into the heart-of-my-mind because of the winter morning cold. Also because birds and birdsong, except for seagulls and pigeons, are a rarity in Woodstock. As are trees. I push my pause button to listen and savour. Turns out it's a starling. That it's shat all over the passageway; not a bad price to pay I say.

I regularly starve myself. Yet I'm never without good food 'events' (I call them) and my life has always been like that. Not unlike the Khoi San, the original folk of this blood-soaked land, who I allowed to wonderfully colonise my young mind (mostly via the white lies of the so-called 'white bushman' Laurens van der Post, whose books enthralled me. Soo much so that I did a mecca to his southern Free State Philippolis home over a decade ago), I happily feast when the harvest is good, then starve and appropriately shrink in lean times.

I'm wearing his made-in-Sweden long johns (Storlek L / Bambu 93%). They're black and tight with a green thread where it counts. My long and slender deer legs (yeah, yeah, that's what I said whe they were called that) look tight and good in these. I'm also wearing his black long-sleeve shirt (large) - because the winter thrashed in on Thursday, cold and rain, all good. I found it, crumpled, behind the couch not long after he hugged me hard, long before bending into the cab at 06h19 on Tuesday morning to leave for the airport. And on to the summery Scandinavian far north, via Joburg, Addis.

Even before nuzzling my nose into its armpits, desperate for his smell, and with my nerve-ends raw and jangling from the departure (two root balls rapidly, tightly grown into each other, in just 5-days, then against all nature being torn apart), I smelt the aromatic fire smoke woven into and around the finely-woven black thread count.

Happy May Day long weekend: At the last possible minute on that Saturday we took a hire car on a road trip around the peninsula, via Chapman's. It was only on approaching Scarborough, at the end of a sunny and warm winter's afternoon as the ozone-heavy sea mist whispered up the ragged-tooth landmass that we saw The Moon. Jaw droppingly full in the dusk-sky / falling even more in love, in the surreal life-light / eerily in contrast to the icy, plankton-rich Atlantic.  

Following it slowly from there, along the deserted countryside roads that remind me of elsewhere, anything but what I would expect this African fang thrust sharply into the ocean, pointing to Antarctica, to look like. Un-wild. Bathed in moon wash is how we wound our way to Kalk Bay.

Fate thank you for the perfectly only available two-seater - by the log fire - of the bustling Cape to Cuba restaurant. There we hatched more plans for the night while thriving on the shine in each other's eyes as the world, nay universe, immaculately and purely distilled into a single shining drop that contained just the two of us, two comfy chairs, a table and checked cloth, a fire, Viking eyes and accent. That is why the fire reek in the black fibres packed a powerful punch to the solar plexus.

Copyright: Salmon Becker

Did I say I'm hungry?

This very morning my digital friend (we've not 'met' yet), Salmon, sent me two photos he'd taken some 144 km away, where he lives just off the Southern Cape coast.The vineyard of rust-coloured autumn leaves is an imprint of my soul's colour this week and today.

Earlier, scrunched in bed, was reading WG Sebald in Granta 68 - 'In Vienna I visited none of the sights and spoke not a word to a soul' - and I knew that those words matched Salmon's photos soul-encapsulating photos.

In a mere 5 days geographical boundaries (read limitations) disappeared for me; I'm one of the freest people I know, I am a citizen of 'the world', from my glass writing table on the world I can, I do create my realities. I am shaken freer now post this Richter-rich life quake. Shaken but intact / inextricably and wonderfully altered / never again the same / a sharp sliver of my heart-and-soul glides-and-dips-and-soars over Stockholm's waterways and islands and the Laplands to its north.

The dehydrated purple condom I found only last night, the black shirt I'm wearing (a white fleck of dried toothpaste, his or mine, on its left shoulder) hid it, held it tight. It's not all I have left.

Skin-on-skin. Mind-on-mind. Soul-intertwined-with-soul.

My beard's 5 days old now; in the cleft on my chin I notice that there's more grey: once I was Peter Pan, now I admire the spider leg-thick hairs and savour even more my life progression. Most idiots call it an ageing process. Vehemently I disagree. Instead, I savour my living process... and if those 5-days are nothing more than a crack-and-a-bang on my Richter scale, I'm then again aware of how deeply and passionately and in-the-moment I am capable of living. I am un-complacent.

Skin-on-skin. Mind-on-mind. Soul-intertwined-with-soul.

Life seasons: some call it an ageing process, I call it the living process.
I am not dying... ever. None of us are. Copyright: Salmon Becker

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Winter of my content

The merry seagulls with their birdseye view; The Mountain disappeared into a woolly mammoth; longing for coffee and, today, to be in foreign places far away, perhaps to the north but no problem with the south.

Sounds like anywhere doesn't it. East or west too; the longing for noses and faces and hair and hues I don't know. Food and voices too. Colours of eye that look me back to Vikings and Celts and boglands of green and below elephant-grey.

Low-slung with pregnant primeval skies.

All of this from my glass table on the world, the workshop where the dream cells are impregnated with desperate spunks at shutterspeed.

The days are short; the light is less, the sun's infused with milk; the kids in the streets below wear jerseys, are much quieter much earlier.

I pull the duvet much closer now, pad me in and around, probably have to get a blanket now that this winter sees I'm alone. Alone, but looking forward to to a winter-long healing of hibernation.

Last night the first cheery log fire of my winter-content. In a, quiet, restaurant as I dined and wined and read and wrote alone far from the crowd.

Tonight, despite the deepening gloom, quite welcome, my mind's to anonymous company at a bar, where I can pretend to not be my mind. A mind made fuzzy and freiendly with wine.

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.