Close The Door (They’re Coming In The Window)


Some of my readers may remember this crazy 1955 hit song by Jim Low. The lyrics make no sense whatsoever, but no matter, there was a jolly, sing-along tune. This was back in the Olden Days, you understand, when you could hear the words and sing-along.
The reason the song came to mind was when I was sorting out my pics on my PC and I found the following pics, taken in 2017, whilst on a visit to my Durban family.
Let me introduce you to Scooby. He’s annexed the Boss’ Lazy-boy, master of all he surveys.

 

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Sometime Scooby gets locked out. Oh the injustice!

 

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But Scooby has a plan. Not worry. Where there’s a window, there’s a way.

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Scooby surveying his outdoor kingdom, being watched by his junior apprentice , Cooper. Cooper has also mastered the art of window-entry.

 

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Like I said: Close the door, they’re coming in the windows!

 

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REMEMBERING ANTHONY BOURDAIN


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The following post appeared on this blog in September 2012, and today it seems fitting to re-post it. I suspect my readership has done a 360° turnaround since I posted it. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve read it before or not. I’m posting it in memory of Anthony Bourdain who has entertained me for years, and I’m truly sad to learn of his suicide in France, on Friday 8 June, 2018. He was a one-off, an original. I’m a fan, and always will be . I enjoyed his zest for life and food. I shall miss him.

 

 

MEDIUM RAW by Anthony Bourdain is sub-titled “a Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook” .I’m pretty sure if the Publishers felt they might get away with it the sub-title would have read “A F—-ing Valentine etc” because the F-word is Bourdain’s favourite word, he uses it in almost every paragraph, he uses it adverbially, he uses it adjectivally, he uses it as a verb. He has even invented a collective noun ‘clusterf…’ to describe gatherings of hungry journos and industry peeps. This is not a book to tuck into your maiden aunt’s Christmas stocking. But if you love food, cooking and eating then open the book and prepare to be entertained, astonished and illuminated.
Anthony Bourdain was the Bad Boy of New York chefdom, some years ago, and hit the headlines with his first culinary exposé “Kitchen Confidential”, which was a riveting account of cheffing, boozing, drugging, oh – and cooking. Some twelve years later he’s calmed down quite a bit (he recently married and now has a baby daughter with whom he is besotted); he wrote more books, got onto TV as a hit show host (No Reservations – Around the world on an empty Stomach) and he writes foodie columns for top-end magazines & newspapers in the US.
Now he’s laying into the food industry with his customary verve – he must have as many – if not more – enemies than friends. There’s a chapter in Medium Raw titled ‘Heroes & Villains’ in which he names names and plunges in with gusto. He’s opinionated, outrageous, opinionated, funny, opinionated, philosophical, opinionated and passionate and loves nothing more than a good rant. You should read his indictment of the beef industry in the US and what goes into a hamburger. You will never eat another hamburger that you have not personally prepared, this I promise you.
For all his fearless bravado, it has to be said that when it comes to food, the man writes like a dream. There’s a chapter appropriately titled ‘Lust’ where he describes dishes he’s eaten all over the world – Borneo, Singapore, Italy – never mind the location; when I’d finished reading that chapter the pagers were covered in drool …. he describes this type of writing as ‘food porn’. He’s not wrong – I nearly had an orgasm.
I’m a great Bourdain fan, but I’m glad he’s not mine. He may be long, lean and devilishly good-looking, but Mrs B is welcome to him. I reckon she’s got her hands full!

 

 

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MEMOIR : LIFE MAGAZINE & LEON TROTSKY –by A M Smith ©


 

Browsing through Old Friends from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, sparked several thoughts in me. While eating my breakfast this morning I was reflecting how, when you’re a kid, you seldom understand the context of events. And when I was young nobody ever explained context to us – we were supposed to be seen and not heard, and constant questions were not welcomed or tolerated.
Continuing this train of thought I remember reading LIFE magazine and an article on the death of Leon Trotsky. Somehow the blurry black and white photos remain a fading memory to this day. Quite why the article made such an impression on me, I can’t explain. Perhaps because the man was murdered, and my Dad’s murder mysteries were my reading resource.
Considering I lived in a remote backwater of the dying British Empire, it was a miracle I even had a copy of LIFE magazine in my hands at all. There were no bookstores in the country. Granted, the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland had bookstores, but they stocked only religious or educational materials.
The expat community subscribed to a wide range of British and American magazines , which trundled slowly over the ocean, via the post, and fell into our eager hands many months after publication. The magazines were greedily consumed and then circulated around the district on a rota. Each magazine had a list pinned to the cover, with the names of the recipients. You were honour bound to read the magazine quickly, and then send it on to the next name, perhaps with a few magazines from your own hoard. If the next recipient lived fairly close by, you sent your gardener with the precious bundle – on his bicycle if he owned such a luxury, or on his feet if he didn’t.
But if the next recipient lived on a far distant tea estate, you would take your bundle up to the Sports Club on your weekly visit, and pass it over to the next person. Or ask another member to do you a favour and act as go-between and postman. Everybody obliged. The magazines were a link to the outside world, to civilization, to HOME. That mythical , longed-for Paradise, over the ocean. Far, far away from Nyasaland*, in tropical Africa.
So: when I read about the death of Leon Trotsky in Mexico all those years ago, the news was not by any means fresh, given the magazine circulation system. Our family didn’t subscribe to LIFE, we were merely on the rota. I had absolutely no idea who Leon Trotsky was, or his political importance. I probably knew where Mexico was, because I collected stamps and often used my small atlas to locate mysterious, faraway countries.
I’ve resisted Googling the death of Leon Trotsky, because I want this to be a memoir. One detail I do recall: he was stabbed to death with an ice-pick. Of course, I’d never seen such an item. It wasn’t common in tropical Africa. Ice cubes – yes, we had those. But ice-picks? No.
Neither was Communism – in the early 1950s which was when I probably read the article, mentioned in colonial Africa. Adults in my tiny world generally didn’t talk about world politics and events. Cut-off as we were from the rest of the world, our only source of news was the crackly, wavering broadcast news from the BBC in London, which tended to focus on the Home Counties plus a little international news. Most of which I ignored anyway. Assuming I could hear anything at all. The radio reception varied from poor to terrible.
I grew up in a vacuum so far as news and culture was concerned. Boarding school didn’t help much in this regard either. Sequestered as we were, and listening to our portable radios being (a) strictly controlled and (b) tuned to the Hit Parade from Lourenco Marques Radio in Portuguese East Africa*, I was a complete ignoramus. Youngsters today have an enormous exposure to global events and global culture. When I think how little I knew about anything as a young adult, it’s amazing I have survived this long, from such a scanty launch pad.
Yet here I am, in my senescence, surrounded by the digital, electronic world. It’s nothing short of astounding how much the world has changed in sixty five years in terms of communications and life-style. And you know what? I love living in the early 21st century!

  • renamed Malawi
  • renamed Mozambique

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THAT MARKLE SPARKLE !


 

 

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Like many of my friends I have been enjoying the splendid spectacle of the Royal Wedding. Brilliant sunshine, pomp, ceremony, glamour, the rich and famous, and of course, a genuine love story. How refreshing to be witness (even if only via the medium of the TV screen) to a heart warming, joyful event.

 
And yet there are the naysayers: the nasty comments on social media about the relevance of the monarchy, the racial aspect, etc. etc. Really people! Can’t we just for one brief day focus on a bright, happy celebration and wish the couple well for the future?
Daily we face an onslaught of political and economic woes, globally and nationally. Our local news has been detailing the judgement in a particularly horrific family murder case. So gruesome that I don’t want to say anything more about it.
Just for a couple of days can’t we chorus: Don’t worry, be happy! Sounds good to me!

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MEANINGS AND MEMORIES


Very occasionally I share my creative writing on my blog. Here is a short piece on the theme of STORM .

STORM (n) – violent weather with wind, rain or snow.

STORM (vb) –  attack or capture (a place) suddenly

STORMING (adj)  – characterised by or displaying dynamism, speed or energy

STORMY (adj) – characterised by storms  *

 

I remember words have  an abundance of  variations .

I remember  storms in teacups.

I remember storms of outrage.

I remember storms of criticism.

I remember  stormy emotions.

I remember stormy tears.

I remember dust storms.

I remember  hail storms.

I remember Highveld summer storms.

I remember Cape winter storms.

I remember storming  winds.

I remember storms of laughter.

I remember storms of applause.

I remember storming  passion.

I remember I’ve forgotten hundreds of other storms over the legion of years that march towards the end  of my long life.

I remember I’ve now forgotten more than I am able to remember.

 

* Source – Collins SCRABBLE Dictionary

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Filed under FLASH FICTION, SHORT-SHORT's, WRITING

I WANT ONE OF THOSE !


 

 

 

20180503_150433-2.jpgDon’t ask me why, but South Africa is obsessed with white cars. I would go so far as to say that seven out of ten cars that pass you on the roads will be white.

 

So when I saw the wonderfully bright pink sporty little number at Seaside Village, I was amazed. Isn’t it a zooty little number? Don’t you love that bright pink? Is it petunia pink? Or maybe bubblegum pink? Either way: its great. I prowled round it, phone at the ready to catch a few pics, and expected to find a commercial branding logo plastered on the side, but no. Glorious pink all round. I’d love to know who drives it.

 

And, P.S. I’d love a bright pink little roadster!

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR

THE ORAL BIOGRAPHER


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I was in the copy shop, waiting for the copier to spit out my papers, when I became aware of a persistent monologue to my right. The backview of the speaker showed a short woman, dark blonde hair in a ponytail, long sleeved white sweatshirt, blue & red floral leggings . Probably middle-aged, judging from the backview and timbre of her voice. Visually, nothing extraordinary. But the soundtrack? Golly-gosh-wow! Delivered in a normal speaking voice, not overly loud, but perfectly audible from the one metre between us. She was addressing the hapless young clerk behind the counter, whose face I could see. The clerk’s face  showed polite attention.
The monologue went this way – snatches of it, anyway:
He murdered her, but its still not come to court …. High court ….I don’t know why it takes such a long time …. I had to wait … fifteen years before my divorce, we were separated …. I had him deported … the police caught him at the airport … he never paid any maintenance, you know – only two months! I was married in Canada …. fifteen years ….
I am fascinated and astounded that people will cheerfully relate their life stories to complete strangers, over shop counters. And in queues, to strangers. Maybe this is the point? That the listener IS a stranger, and in no position to deny or challenge the storyteller?

 
I knew a young woman who was obsessed with a websites called SECRETS (or something similar; I now don’t exactly recall). She kept urging me to visit the website and look at the contents: anonymous people’s revelations. Clearly the idea intrigued her. Not me! Do I really want to be peering and poking through dark, shadowy corners of other peoples’ lives? Even for research purposes for my writing? No thanks!
Would I ever do my True Confessions recital, in public, or over a shop counter ? Never in a million years. How about you?

 
I’m born under the Chinese astrological sign of the Snake, which is classified as being secretive. A very good idea, indeed, in my view!

 

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INVESTEC 2018 ART FAIR


 

20180218_121906.jpgI enjoy visiting the annual Cape Town Art Fair, but I’m   not sure whether the greatest spectacle at these events are the art works, or the audience.

 

 

 

 

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I have no idea what the polar bear, covered in pink and cobalt feathers, was all about; who the artist was, or what the work was titled. It was prominently placed, and surrounded by enchanted children; me being one of them.
This year’s Cape Town Art Fair included work from many African countries, amongst them Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania. There were others, but I didn’t note all the names.

I notice how many artists chose to work with fabric :

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And yet again I have evidence of why I don’t enjoy installations:

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Reminds me of someone’s patio that’s being used as a junk room. And don’t get me started on the wall of household irons, neatly arranged on a wall, pointy front facing downwards, cords and plugs dangling alongside. I didn’t manage to catch a pic of the Irons Wall – too many people standing in front of me. A dazzling array of different irons to be sure, every colour, model and make you can imagine, but … WTF ? sorry, but that was one work I just didn’t get. Not to overlook the pink polar bear of course, but there I enjoyed the whimsy.

 
What I did enjoy was the original and unusual work of Ingrid Bolton, who worked with copper wire to create beautiful and unusual mosaic effect pieces, reminiscent of Moorish tile work:

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My work explores how copper is deconstructed, broken down into individual strands and then reconstructed in various ways. The cable comes together to suggest layers of soil, water or skin. I investigate how the global demand for copper has micro and macro implications for South Africa as well as and the greater global community.

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ps://www.investec.com/en_za/welcome-to-investec/news-and-views/i
http://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/exhibitors/

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EVERYTHING CHANGES


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Its well known that older people are often resistant to change, and find it difficult to deal with. Intellectually I’ve always known, and understood , that change is the one constant in life. An elegant paradox if you will, and one of the central teachings of the Buddha.
Yesterday I had change shoved right up into my face, by – of all people – my hairdresser. I’ve driven up to Melkbos for years, to my home hairdresser who gives me a perfect haircut for a modest charge. Wonderful! She understands my hair and is prepared to do a dry cut. In other words, I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of a wash and shampoo prior to the haircut. Fortunately I have very manageable hair, that falls into place easily and behaves itself.

 
She started to snip away and announced she and her husband were moving to a small town 97 kms up the West Coast, and  she was retiring. I nearly fell out of the chair. Bam! Out of the blue.

 

I managed not to burst into tears, which was what I felt like doing. I wished her well and thanked her for years of beautiful haircuts, not to mention the plant cuttings she had given me over the years. We share an interest in gardening, you see. Apart from the excellent hair-cutting skills and the gardening, I like the woman: a no-nonsense middle aged Afrikaans vrou*. We’d chat about our families, and local neighbourhood events. She always alerted me to the date of the next mammoth pre-Christmas Church Fete held by the NGK in Melkbos.

 
You knew where you were with her. You might not always agree, but hey! I only saw her at seven or eight week intervals, so it wasn’t crucial.
I’ll miss my hairdresser. And the worst thing is, I now need to find another home hairdresser in my area. Sigh. This older lady is not enjoying this particular change in her life.

*vrou = wife, woman

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR

TREE THERAPY


 

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Readers of my blog will have seen from recent posts, Cape Town is struggling through the worst drought of 100 years. To add to our woes, we’re experiencing a very hot summer. For example, today’s temp is 36 degrees Celsius. Way too hot for me. I positively drool over blogs from the Northern Hemisphere showing snow pics.
Anyway. On Sunday I managed to spend a wonderful five hours in my favourite place, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. KBG have their own water supply from high up on Table Mountain, so the gardens are watered and present a restful oasis of green. There are benches placed under shady trees and shrubs, little secret leafy bowers, wood-chip paved windy paths leading to yet another cool, green shady spot.

 

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And of course, the trees. Magnificent tall trees, in avenues, clumps, groups, pairs, scattered throughout the grounds of the garden, which is large – ‎528 hectares (1,300 acres). Because I live up the coast in a very windy coastal area, trees do not do well up here. Those that do grow are generally stunted and warped by the wind. Consequently, I suffer from tree deprivation. For me, one of the chief attractions of the Garden are the variety and number of trees.

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After soaking my weary body, mind and spirit in Kirstenbosch’s green balm, I drove home relaxed and smiling, healed from my hectic week. If you’re hot and frazzled, I heartily recommend the Kirstenbosch Cure.

 

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