Monday, November 30, 2015

Blur urbane

When it's hot and humid like this the first sign of my body's reaction is the slime of sweat between my bottom lip and just above the stubbled cleft hacked into my chin.

Here, in the shop window, like a trapped fly, I started a blog post. Didn't save. Lost it. Must be disciplined and start again. Must write, or die. Die in the throes of my self-inflicted complacency, remain then, there, for the rest of my life, the living fucking dead. This very thought turns my stomach, revolts me. 

Sometimes, only sometimes, I experience guilt about the money I spend on food when I'm out. I remind myself that's it's my one great pleasure, passion. I hardly spend on alcohol and never on drugs. And it's my best friend; I spend a lot of time alone in coffee shops and restaurants. Hello Sailor, Observatory, I love this place. 

Guilt? Yes. Why don't you try and live, without conscience, in one of earth's most unequal societies. I am privileged. It's obvious: I'm white. My every step taken in my skin (you can try get out of yours) is a blatant advertisement of my privilege. I had to do nothing but be conceived and born to wear this mantle.

I especially love Observatory on this busy Sunday night after a hellish day while sweltering alone in my apartment.  Now I'm sweltering here in the alone window seat right in and against the window on Lower Main street. Here I'm comforted by the steady stream of mostly unpretentious and artistic-leaning life. Unlike swathes of uptight central Cape Town. 

Alone but not alone at all. So grateful for the inconspicuous, anonymous company. Thronging with life.

Four middle aged gay guys at a table outside; three of them just arrived on bicycles. One of the cyclists with an intricate tattoo splayed across his slender calf is bearded, blonde and I don't think from here. Maybe staying at a backpackers? The fourth, bearded and bald, was also scribbling at a table in the window table opposite mine; his is a full black beard sprayed with silver beneath a friendly, open face and intelligent black eyes. 

Two Dutch girls, beautiful and sun tanned, smoking, sit outside on the smoker's bench on the pavement. They're enthralled by a smooth-talking and handsome black man also, judging by his features, not from here. Their body language is fascinating to observe. 

Feels like the summer holidays, which numbs SA, started tonight. It's a sexually-charged night, not for me. A toad-like older man tortoises past just two steps behind his tall slender-legged and proud model-like partner: I've seen the combo way too often not to know she's a prostitute. He's a wealthy-on-the-appalling-exchange-rate foreigner, Greek or Italian, maybe Croat. I crinkle my nose at the thought of him on top of her later, as I attempt to put myself in her shoes. 

This section of the street is, as always, literally a red light district because it's tinged by the surreal bright blood neon hue of the Stones' signage. It's the pool bar that spreads across the entire top floor of this chocolate box of an Edwardian building at the top end of the street. 

I often end up here drunk. Or to get drunk and temporarily wash away my stresses. Ihe only one upright on a bar stool Unlike the many asses mostly bent over green baize, white and coloured billiard balls, I'm the only one upright on a bar stool, not playing. This while cheap diesel-like brandy and vodka with coke is pedaled to, among others, the beautiful but threadbare youths, students, junior lecturers. 

Plump green olives, poison-green pesto, hummus like thick paint, flat white bread, a side order of grilled veg, a glass of chilled chardonnay. Should've worn shorts but I didn't; it's damn hard to predict the weather from my crow's nest, especially when it's wind battered. 

Some nights are a happy blur.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Playground ants and cracks

A peaceful Sunday. I've much marking to do. At five I'm going to Nic and Mike for dinner. With wine. In their construction site of a house; they've been renovating for as long as I've wonderfully known them.

No music playing, my flat is silent. I'm alone with myself and the low-level shred and tear of the wind as it grows in forcefulness; judging by the hefty table cloth being thrown over Table Mountain it's most likely to develop into a full-force south-easter before long. I care not.

A distant siren, a not so distant train hurtling past in a low shriek-and-swoosh of sound. Many distant voices on the street; African voices in languages I don't recognise, Central African voices I'm sure. Also taxi hooters and, specifically, horns. Traffic sounds too. But distant and welcome. I'm alone but not lonely in a multicultural community that is, mostly, at rest today.

There're four vehicles in various stages of dilapidation with their hoods up and in a shaky line on the pavement alongside but not part of a (closed on Sunday) second-hand car dealership. They, and a group of smiling, talkative men are overseen by a socialising mechanic: a gleaming ebony skin and bulging biceps, baggy oil-smeared grey pants and a faded blue but sleeveless T-shirt.

This regular gathering takes place just off Lower Main. It's in direct line of sight of my reading and mountain-viewing chair at my floor to ceiling window. It's a vast flatscreen TV on my immediate world that, as it's central structure (of my life too) has the ever-changing flat-topped granite seventh natural wonder of the world. This phase of my life, in stark contrast to that which lies before it, is - relatively speaking of course - epitomised by solidity.

There's also clumps of sedate and well-dressed family members, all black, heading off to the ample churches in the mix-match of buildings along both Main and Lower Main streets that, like two fat and juicy veins, run parallel through Woodstock and Salt River, never joining. Bibled and with gleaming shoes they stroll confidently pious towards worldly destinations but with their eyes set on  heaven, wherever the hell that might be.

I feel like a cool and disinterested god watching erratic ants on a playground-sized slab of cracked cement.

As we've all had driven home the last few months, weeks, nothing's solid; heaven's in the now. Right now. Neither past nor future counts for anything.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Teary-eyed and toxic

Rain-spattered glass as I spend my day of rest between reading in bed, now writing in the bath. Both steeped in strong Arabica coffee and dunked with rusks, interspersed with buttered toast, two soft-boiled eggs.

Was at a wedding yesterday, Caledon, the service held in a forest. Cool. Very. Except it was a forest of toxic black wattle, exotic extraordinaire, pollinating us with mustard flowers plops instead of rain, although was threatening. As is everything else. Threatening.

A shallow and pure-white wedding completely out of touch with the reality of living in this touchstone country with its raw and bleeding nerve ends. No thought to inequality and #feesmustfall and hunger-bloated bellies as they married in the toxic forest isolated from reality: superficial and skin deep, sermon jokes about one or two holiday homes (what is your family's is now my family's), a Landrover in the drive, brats and lives most likely to re-perpetuate unsustaining white privilege. But I've no doubt they're in love, blessed them nonetheless. 

Then, just before the cloying reception, we snuck away for dinner in Stellenbosch. Me to make notes about my conflicting self as the other and outsider-observer, who'll most likely end up, happily though, living and thirsting on a desert's knife edge far from the broiling sea of my failed species.

Neither cynical nor without hope I'm currently sloughing another life-skin as I painfully grow into a new life role that I'm loathe as yet to percolate into public words, here.

On the note of aloneness, not loneliness, I'd be happy to walk next to someone for the next while, even though I may be blind with teary-eyedness.

Hope is a thing with feathers.