Thursday, May 28, 2015

To the lighthouse

Slangkop lighthouse is, maybe, 1000m away down a pebble and wild flower strewn coastal path just below a tumultuous and elephant grey winter's sky. At last the winter rains are slashing Cape Town and the Peninsula. Not for nothing is it known as the Cape of storms.
My joie de vivre, my creativity and inspiration, my desire to live even more intensely, and other passions, surge in this weather, which should - plus minus - hold until late November. Not for nothing is it also known as the Cape of good hope.
Kommetjie. The Lighthouse pub and grill. My notebook open on the table. Heading from here, in the mist and rain, to Cape Point, Simonstown, then to Kalk Bay for dinner with good wine from the Cape's finest vineyards.
Life's too short, I'll sleep when I'm dead, I heard him mutter.
Castle Milk Stout, which is apparently excellent for lactating women. A meal on its own: puts to shame the grilled squid heads and calamari strips, the local mussels. And the company of my sister.
Now on to Scarborough.
I salute Virginia Wolf. And,  for the hell of it, James Joyce.
And, for that matter, the portrait of a young man as an artist.

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