Category Archives: DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN

MARCH CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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The big headlines in March are: Eskom and more load shedding. That’s the South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.
Oh: maybe I should mention our Public Enterprise power producing company, Eskom, is billions of Rands in the red, and unable to cope. Just a tiny little detail. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, or rather: does not burn. Eskom can’t keep the turbines turning. Sigh. AND, as the cherry on top: a 9.4% increase in the price of electricity coming next month. Our corrupt, incompetent national power supplier Eskom kicking us, and the poor old abused tax cash cow, in the ribs again.
A load-shedding parallel story from the gang-ridden Cape Flats area of our city. A caller to Cape Talk Radio station reported how, during load shedding, crime rises exponentially in their areas. Residents are not even safe within their own homes, due to ricocheting bullets. How his teenage son crawled up the stairs to his own bedroom, to study with a LED lantern; the kid crawled because he was terrified of being struck by a stray bullet on his way upstairs. Words fail me. How can we expect people to live like this?

 
South Africa has but one nuclear Power station, and I happen to live quite close to it. Our wonderful government cooked up a scheme to build three more nuclear power stations, to augment our coal fired plants, despite the glaringly obvious fact that solar energy blasts us daily and is a renewable energy source. Whichever way you slice it and dice it, solar energy is the way to go, but unfortunately it seems there’s insufficient kickback opportunities for our crooked politicians along the solar road, so our desperate need to divorce ourselves from coal is mired in inaction and controversy. One tiny crumb of comfort: the nuclear scheme, via Russian suppliers, was blocked and remains in limbo.
February/ March is the date for the annual Koeberg Nuclear Power Station Siren Test. It always gives me the heebie jeebies. The booming, disembodied voice droning : This is only a test. No action is required. This is only a test. Followed by the banshee wailing of an alarm siren. Supposedly, if Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 15 kms to the north of my area, has an oopsie – think Chernoybl – theoretically the warning system will alert us to immediately vacate the area and congregate at designated gathering points. Personally,I think if Koeberg blows we will all be toast before anybody can press the broadcast system button.

 

 
Maybe Adriaan Nieuwoudt’s scheme to establish an escape haven for beleaguered whites in his new town of Eureka, to hell and gone in the Northern Cape, is not such a bad idea after all. Abundant sunshine, (solar power; Eskom can take a hike), wide open spaces, beautiful Namaqualand spring flowers, plentiful mutton, what’s not to like? And don’t even think about playing that tattered old Race Card. Boo-oooo-rrring.
Fibre Optic cable is being laid in our Village: the 21st Century has officially arrived! Men in hardhats are hauling cable up out of manhole covers in every street and doing technical additions. I won’t be subscribing to it, because I don’t livestream material, and my current ADSL line works just fine, thank you. Additionally, I’m a POP = a Poor Old Pensioner.

 
Despite all the above gloom (pun intended), life goes on. Polo at swish Val de Vie Wine Estate, sponsored by Veuve Cliquot, and organised by SA swimming star, Ryk Neethling who has obviously handled the transition from water to land very successfully. Cape Town is within easy access to dozens of Wine estates, ranging from the ultra-luxurious to the modest but productive smaller ones, that don’t go in for the added-extras like open air concerts, music fests, wedding and conference venues.
Cape Town has hosted an Ed Shieran concert which was packed. What a good thing our 2010 soccer stadium was left standing to serve as a venue. I say this because a few years ago some genius wanted to tear it down and build low cost housing on the site. Other musical excitement this month is the annual Cape Town Jazz festival which always draws huge crowds.

 
The radio promo for the big musical Chicago, which opened mid-March sings : greed , lies, adultery, treachery …. And all that jazz! Sounds suspiciously like the job description for entering South African politics. Sorry: couldn’t resist that one. I’ve had too  much Zondo Commission info this month.

 

Mid-month brought a lovely story about Mufasa, the lion escapee from the Karoo National Park, finally captured in Sutherland, darted and transported by bakkie* back to the park. Apparently during the loading process, locals gathering around the recumbent lion, saying … ssshhhh … don’t make a noise … apparently worried in case he woke up, jumped out and devoured them all! I wish I had a pic to add to this little gem.

 
Finishing on a happier note: here’s a pic of the pink March lilies that bloom annually along the shores of our local Rietvlei Wetland. I had to scrounge a pic online. Thanks to .http://www.everything.co.za/2015/02/march-lily/ . Oddly, they signal the end of summer, not the beginning as one might suppose. Every time I head down the R27 I catch glimpses of them on my left. Luckily it’s a dual carriageway at this point, so I can sneak a peek if the traffic is light. Flowers, along with books, are in prime position on my list of Favourite things.

• Open truck/ute

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BROWN PAPER PACKAGES


 

 

indexBROWN PAPER PACKAGES,
Tied up with string,
These are a few of
My favourite things!

My favourite things! Sang Julie Andrews . Yes, mine too, when I was a kid. Such excitement! A Parcel! With foreign stamps, brown paper, string and sealing wax. A Proper Parcel which only arrived before or after birthdays and Christmases. Posted by kindly aunts from Overseas, that mythical place.

 
When last did you make and post a parcel? Not a padded white bag, a Proper Parcel. Last week I parcelled up a book, to send to a friend in Napier. Not so far from Cape Town as the crow flies, but he no longer drives and I’m not prepared to drive the distance. So a parcel it must be.

 
First I looked for the brown paper. I knew I had some. But where was it hiding? I finally tracked it down, hiding coyly in a cupboard. Next I dug out my sticky tape, scissors, and my ball of string. Got to have string for a Proper Parcel. Parcel completed, I dug out my old address book and find his postal address. Right – Done! Now to glue my return address sticker on the reverse of the parcel.

 
The final touch: tracking down my very last stick of red sealing wax, Burning my fingers as I held the lighter flame to the wax , but it was worth it, I love the smell. It’s a distinctive smell. You don’t get that bonus from a white padded envelope!

 
I have to confess the white padded thingys are a great deal quicker, but I enjoyed the old, familiar process of making a Proper Parcel, even though it took me at least 25 minutes. I’ve sent hundreds of parcels in my lifetime, because my family are scattered all over the place.

 

How about you? When last did you post a Proper Parcel ?

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LAUNDRY LUNACY


Are our homes hyper clean and hygienic ? or are they disgusting cesspits of potential typhoid?

 

Both ends of the spectrum, but where do we fit in? and does it matter? I’ve been reading on-line articles that reveal some Northern Hemisphere residents are dementedly washing duvet inners once a fortnight, and changing face cloths and bath towels daily. Oh: and let’s not forget the curtains – washed annually or more often. What are these people doing with their curtain, for goodness sake? Using them as dishtowels? On which topic : full scale germophobe hysteria.
When I’d finished reading, my overall impression was: how wonderful to live in countries where water is in such an abundant supply that people can cheerfully wash and clean like demented germophobes without a care in the world, using litres and litres of water in the process. My mind slid back to our recent drought, where we were down to using no more than 20 litres of water per person, per day, to stave off the dreaded Day Zero. We managed to do so by a combo of strict adherence and blessed rainfall in the nick of time.

 

For myself, I’d rather have continued access to water and to hell with laundry hygiene! How about you?

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FAST & FURIOUS FEBRUARY: CAPE TOWN 2019


 

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South Africa Armed Forces Day, 21 February 2019 / Image: Luke Daniel – TheSouthAfrican.com

 

Whizz-bang-splat! That’s February done and dusted before we knew what hit us. It being a short month – only 28 days this year – doesn’t help. If you feel like time’s flying past at supersonic speed, try this article by By Ephrat Livni, qz.com. Right: Yes! Well? No, fine … as we say (in this case, doubtfully) in South Africa.

 
Christmas 2018 continues to trickle into February 2019. Two Christmas cards, one from Scotland and the other from Tennessee, USA, arrive in my post box on 6th February, mailed at the end of November 2018. That shows the state of our broken postal system. The cards will be added to my tiny display come December this year. Right now I’m looking wistfully at the snowy scenes of a Northern hemisphere Christmas and cursing the 38 degrees C temperature turning my house into an oven. Climate change, anyone ?

 
Cape Town has fried, baked and boiled with temps soaring into the high 30s. Thirty eight degrees Celcius is way too hot for me. Mercifully our renowned South-Easter wind has cooled us down on some of the days, but not every day. Air con, an automatic built-in feature of homes elsewhere, is not common in South African homes. Occasionally on unbearably hot afternoons, I’ve sheltered in the coffee bar at the next door hospital simply because they’ve got aircon! Which makes a change from my usual reason for hospital visits. Recently I told the Admissions clerk that they ought to arrange a designated parking bay for me, I’m there so frequently. Her only response was a sideways look!

 
And then we had the street closures and traffic gridlock brought about by the Military staging a massive display on 21 February on nearby Tableview Beach front to celebrate World Armed Forces Day. . A huge grandstand was erected so the dignitaries could view the display and aircraft whizzing across Table Bay. Us locals were unable to attend, because all the access roads were closed, and to walk in this heat with a 35 kph wind wasn’t a proposition. And, worst of all, what did it all cost? I should be phoning the SPCA and reporting our poor abused tax cow which is bellowing unhappily.

 
Furthermore, why do we have to participate in World Armed Forces Day when we have over crowded schools and a limping health services? I ask you! I have enough sour grapes this month to make litres and litres of vinegary wine.

 
Our annual SONA event – State of the Nation Address – took place on 7th February with a not-unexpected fracas at the end, featuring the red boiler suited EFF . I refuse to spend more time thinking or writing about their pointless disruptive tactics. Post -SONA every talking head in the country is offering reams of analysis on what the President did/did not say, what they think he meant; what the sub-text hinted at … oh for goodness sake! How about more action? Active hands instead of motor mouths?

 

The nation is in a state of Commission Exhaustion after listening to Mr Angelo Agrizzi’s explosive testimony at the Zondo Commission of Enquiry . Collectively we’re addicted to Commissions of Enquiry; it makes us feel as if we’re doing something useful. We’re not. More talking, is all. If our myriad COEs resulted in widespread prosecutions, now that would be another matter entirely. Very high on my Wish List.

 
The Zondo COE is delving into the labyrinth of State Capture, Corruption and … oh, just general and widespread skullduggery at every level of Government. Every time Agrizzi opened his mouth we reeled, clutched our foreheads and gasped: No! What! Surely not … accounts of money laundering, bribes of staggering amounts, couriers delivering sacks of money as monthly stipends to crooked officials, literally a payroll to look the other way . You couldn’t make this stuff up. On and on went the scandalous testimony, for over a week.

 
And another chapter in our COE sagas : our national power supplier, ESKOM. Revealed as being corrupt, mismanaged, run into the ground, and billions and billions in debt. ESKOM gave us a week of savage power cuts, locally called ‘load shedding’. Doesn’t matter what its called: there ain’t no power. There were reports of deliberate sabotage, of political manipulation as a reprisal for our no-nonsense Minister of Public Enterprises’ plan to unbundle the giant into three separate business entities. Which sensible plan set off the Trade Unions, powerful political allies of the ruling ANC, into paroxysms of rage over anticipated job losses. You just can’t win! As usual: nobody’s happy.

 
I’ve often heard stories of South Africans who’ve emigrated to Australia, returning to RSA after six months or a year. They say that life in Oz is dull, over-regulated, and nothing ever happens, so back they come. Inexplicable. So: if you’re fed up with snow, ice, winter gloom and Brexit come and join us. We can guarantee blue skies and sunshine and more excitement than you ever dreamed of !

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South Africa Armed Forces Day, 21 February 2019 / Image: Luke Daniel – TheSouthAfrican.com

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HANDS UP! YOUR CELLPHONE OR YOUR LIFE !


 

 

 

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You think I’m being overly dramatic?
No I’m not. Ask Eric, one of the gate guards who works at the Complex where I live. He’s finally back at work, after weeks in hospital and three surgical procedures to repair the stab wounds to his abdomen. He was attacked and robbed of his cellphone , en route home from his shift at our gate.

 
Despite the attack, and the ensuing medical dramas, he managed to survive. For which, let us be devoutly thankful.

 
Part of daily life in South Africa, I regret to say. South African crime statistics are jaw droppingly horrendous. I don’t even want to Google them, so I can back up this little piece of writing with solid fact. If my readers are interested they will have to do it themselves.

 
Years ago, driving the familiar route to the office, through a leafy suburb, I spotted a fresh wreath fixed to a street light pole. I was profoundly shocked when I discovered what the wreath was commemorating. A young student, in his late teens, walking home, was stabbed and killed for his cellphone. His family had fixed the wreath to the pole to mark the place where he died. Every time I subsequently saw the wreath, I was saddened. And that incident took place fifteen years ago.

 
In the interim, things have grown significantly more dangerous. Life in South Africa. And yet I continue to live here. I know the alternatives are either : work for change or go live elsewhere. Easier said than done, when you’re elderly

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CAPE TOWN CALLING : OFF WE GO IN JANUARY!


 

 

 

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Table Mountain on the left, from the Silo District, V & A Waterfront

 

Despite the blue skies and sunshine, January is generally a gloomy month. Chiefly because our credit card statements were terrifying, and because our purses were scarily empty. We all know we shouldn’t overspend at Christmas, but guess what? We always do. South Africans are not very good at saving, despite campaigns to encourage us and offers from our major banks to open a savings account.
The Road Death Toll for the 2018 Holiday Season figures are released. As usual, they are staggering. In, the Western Cape Province, the total was 169 fatalities, over the December/January period. And still we continue to drive like maniacs and disregard the rules of the road. Statistics reveal that over 50% of road deaths are alcohol-related. And yet we continue to drink & drive. Arrrggggh. You venture forth at your peril!
Schools re-open. The tiny tots start their School careers on Day One with either floods of tears or wild delight . Mums agonise and helicopter around the kids Other parents wake up and realise they should have booked their kid’s place in the local school last year, around June 2018, so now there’s no place for little  Bongi  or Devan except in a school that’s 20 kms from home and not on a bus route. Pandemonium, threats, panic, (and probably bribery) ensues.
No sooner has the furore over school placements subsided, and the annual tsunami of grumbling over the (admittedly high) cost of school uniforms staggered to an exhausted halt, we are galvanised all over again by reports of rural schools in far flung districts that have not received any textbooks for 2019, never mind the promised water-borne sanitation that was promised at the beginning of 2018. Life in S’Affrica!
Fire Season in Cape Town flares up  every summer. Our famous Signal Hill, part of the Atlantic seaboard/CBD, was ablaze – fanned by 40 kph South-Easter winds. Wuppertal a small historic town in the Cedarberg (350 kms away) is demolished by fire. The Overberg region is ravaged by fires for days.  Apparently the initial fire was caused by some bright spark  letting off a flare on Old Year’s Night. Our noble fire fighters battled the blazes for weeks on end. They all deserve medals.

On the brighter side – yes, there is one. A fire crew discovered a traumatised baby duiker in a fire zone, the little buck had badly burnt feet/hooves. They were able to catch it, and take it to a nearby vet in Somerset West, who treated and saved Bambi. Yes: that’s what the fire crew christened the little survivor, and, even better, the vet rehabilitated the animal free, gratis and for nothing! Us Saffers have big hearts when the chips are down.

 

Some much needed comic relief: in a recent development, the proposed new Gatvol Party* is sulking because the Electoral Commission won’t let them register their party name because “ the name might cause offence to some people.”  *Gatvol is a very vulgar Afrikaans expression, indicating complete disgust – I’m not even going to try to translate this one!

 

And the cherry on top: The Independent Electoral Commission announces over 240 parties have registered to contest the election in May. We can only hope this is fake news!
All this and it’s only the end of January – sterkte+, as they say in the Afrikaans classics!
+ strength

Dockside, at the V&A Waterfront

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THE GERIATRIC DIY FIEND


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I live in a gated Village for those who are over 50 years old. So far, so good. Consequently we are a mixed community of those who still have jobs or careers; those who are in their mid 60s and upwards, and the very elderly who truly are geriatric.

 
New neighbours moved into the house opposite mine, mid December . So far, so good.  Christmas is over now. All the visiting families have departed, we are into the early days of 2019 and New Neighbour turns out to be a D I Y fan of note. He hammers, bangs, and wields his electric drill with gusto, literally from morning ‘til night. What on earth can he be doing? Re-fitting the entire damn house with new cupboards? I happen to know the house has more than adequate cupboard space.
What’s equally baffling is that he’s over 80 years old, and quite stooped. When I met him in the street he gave me a tortoise grimace and pallidly shook my hand.

 
Sir: you’re supposed to be relaxing on your verandah with your cup of coffee, or snoozing in front of the Sports Channel on TV. I’m told his wife is a sweet lady and from the little I’ve seen she doesn’t fit the profile of domestic tyrant raising hell over the lack of cupboards. For goodness sake, there’s only the two of them,  not a family of ten!

 
Who knows? Meanwhile, I’m gritting my teeth and muttering : live and let live . Trouble is, our houses are jammed very close together. So any noise is shared noise. Yay.

 

Dear previous neighbour: don’t you want to come back to my street? I never really appreciated the excellent qualities of a nice sedate older school teacher until now!

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2 JANUARY 2019 : CRUNCH TIME


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Determined to make good my silent promise to myself about making more of an effort, there I was, on 2 January, briskly walking on the treadmill at the gym. Was this my New Year’s Resolution? No – not exactly; but acting on the need to become fitter, and to stick to regular exercise. I’m a terrific starter. Propose a new activity, and I’m super enthusiastic and get going with gusto. But. And here’s the sticky patch: I’m not a good stayer.

 
In view of my daily – sometimes twice daily! – dog-walking in December , which was quite enjoyable but somewhat leisurely because The Dog just had to sniff, and (usually) christen every tree trunk and pole we encountered, and my Village has a fair number of both. So the Dog Walking got me going again, and I didn’t do too badly on the treadmill. Nothing dramatic you understand, given my age etc etc.

 
I thought the Gym would be packed with people pounding off the Christmas indulgence, and while there were more people than usual., it wasn’t throbbing as I’d expected. Sure – more men sweating on exercise bikes, but I suspect that’s because they’re still on holiday. South Africa doesn’t really get going until the second week in January. Work ethic and productivity are not our strong suit!

 
While I’m all in favour of life reviews at year end, or setting goals in early January, I know from past experience that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for me.

 
I asked my New Year’s Day lunch guests what they had planned for 2019? One reply was to move up to the Silver category in Ballroom dancing, so that was a firm commitment. Another reply was to make more use of their new gym membership …. That wasn’t me, but another luncher. Another person is launching a new home business venture and possibly moving to the Southern Cape. Somebody else wants to improve their photography skills. Concrete goals, all progress related I note. Oh – one woman said this was the year she wanted to leap out of a plane, attached to a parachute, but I think she’d had too much champagne!

 
How about you? Any New Year’s resolutions? Personal promises and goals?

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A CAPE TOWN DECEMBER 2018 SNAPSHOT


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Our world famous Clifton Fourth Beach

 
Me: nobly dog-sitting the neighbour’s Papillion dog. Virtuous dog-walking to off-set the Christmas fare. Dog returned with relief. Little dogs are demanding. Give me a nice self-sufficient cat any day!

 
Different voices on my local radio station while the regular announcers took a well deserved break after a hectic year. Less hard news – more Christmasy items – where to go for the perfect picnic, how to cook the tenderest turkey – which will be the place to celebrate New Year? Does the annual Cape Minstrels Parade (PC-speak for the traditional Coon Carnival) still have any significance? Reminiscences about Christmases Past, when life was simpler and easier: grand family gatherings. Boxing Day beach picnics. Volunteering at Christmas for the less fortunate; plenty of street people in Cape Town in need of festive cheer, blue skies & sunshine notwithstanding.

 

 

And then hard news with hard facts about real life kept intervening: the annual carnage on our roads; I don’t even want to think about the numbers.

 

EMS  crews being attacked and robbed when they enter some of the more dangerous townships. Can you believe it? Robbing Ambulance crews!
And of course – 3 drownings. The Western Cape is a coastal province, and most of the locals have never learnt to swim, so predictably, every holiday season, there are beach fatalities despite lifeguards on the beaches, and PRO exercises by the NSRI.  . So sad when fatalities could be prevented if people only listened and swam where indicated or on beaches with lifeguards. But of course, they don’t. People being people. https://www.nsri.org.za/

 
A Rambo type private security firm illegally chasing people off Clifton’s famous 4th beach and the ensuing uproar, the politicising, the protests, the slaughtering of a sheep on the beach to make a point (poor old sheep, I say) and then the fresh uproar about debasing customary Xhosa ritual animal sacrifice for political gains – it wouldn’t be South Africa if we didn’t have at least one issue in December with inflammatory ingredients.

 
Aforementioned Rambo Security Service arbitrarily closing off roads – ‘coning’ they call it, this is not a typo, it refers to the orange traffic cones used by the Traffic Cops in Cape Town They closed roads in an affluent area thus provoking further outrage and uproar, and and and … sigh, whatever happened to the Season of Goodwill? Just asking.

 
In my own tiny little world, there were gatherings, festive meals, modest gifts, laughter, stories, jokes, Christmas crackers that wouldn’t crack (el cheapos don’t) and more hilarity as we read out the terrible terrible puns and jokes spilling out on tiny paper strips. Now we know what Santa’s elves do post-Christmas during those long Arctic nights. I mean, how elf could they be gainfully employed? A feeble pun I know, but indulge me.

 
We drank toasts to a Happy Christmas, and one week later we did it all again and drank a toast to a Happy New Year. Everybody agreed that 2018 was challenging and difficult, so we’re looking forward to an easier year in 2019. There’s an encouraging start on 2 January when the new monthly petrol price comes in, with a ZAR1.00 price reduction per litre. That’s good news!

 
And so I wish all my readers a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.

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YOU CAN BET ON IT !


rgesthuizen_Analogue_mobile_phone

Regardless of the venue, be it theatre, cinema or concert hall, there’s ALWAYS that one idiot who doesn’t switch off their cell-phone. And sure enough, at a crucial moment, their phone will merrily chime to announce an incoming call. Despite turned heads, and hostile glares, the culprit often continues to sit happily engrossed in the performance, until a neighbor administers a sharp nudge and hisses: Your phone – turn it OFF!!

 

Despite clear announcements prior to performances, people ignore the polite request. What’s the matter with them? Are they so addicted to their mobiles they can’t bear to be out of communication for an hour? Or so important that such mundane things don’t apply to them? And most deaf people can lip read, so they’re not excused either .

 

And let me tell you, the culprits are not just the elderly technophobes who don’t know how to turn off their phones (and I’ve met them!) but much younger folk too.

 

Here’s a hint: turn your phone off before you enter the venue. Works every time!

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