Category Archives: POLITICS

SEPTEMBER 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

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LOCAL
Early in September The World Economic Forum Africa met at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTIC). Whether anything useful was accomplished is debatable. There was high level security around the CTIC, because during the same period there were protests and demonstrations in the CBD about violence against women. Heaven forbid a visiting head of state, or talking head pundit be injured during a visit to the international -hot air talk show. Pardon my cynicism, but all we ever seem to have is talks, investigations, enquiries, committees, but little seems to be done as a result.

 
Our city has a large, modern Convention Centre in the downtown CBD; it hosts a variety of events, changing every week. I’ve attended Book Expos, Décor Expo, Art Shows and once – as an experiment – a Gaming Expo. See my post Granny goes Gaming on this blog: https://wordpress.com/post/despatchesfromtimbuktu.wordpress.com/1927

 

 

Heritage Day – 24 September – is it wrong that the popular title for this PubHol is “Braai Day” ? All South Africans love to braai, don’t they? Radio host Afrika Melane was jumping up and down (in SA someone is always jumping up and down about something) about the focus on braais instead of our National Heritage. In such a multi-cultural nation such as ours, which is still riven by old racial and political turmoil, what is our National Heritage? Do we even have such thing? Perhaps Braai Day is a much safer idea. What do you think?

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Notwithstanding the debate, on Heritage Day at my local Parklands SPAR store, all the female staff were decked out in traditional Xhosa dress, the headwraps, colourful skirts and tops, and white patterns painted on the faces. They looked terrific!

The Junior Royals, Harry, Megan and baby Archie visit Cape Town this month. Mercifully the visit went off well, without incident, The Sussexes focused on UK charity NGO organisations, and made a carefully curated visit to the colourful Bo-Kaap Malay area in the CBD. Here’s the link to the 12 best pix:
https://www.iol.co.za/entertainment/royals/12-best-pics-from-day-2-of-prince-harry-and-meghans-visit-to-cape-town-33513715

 

There have been Protests, tyre burning, stone throwing and road blockades in my general area – about 6kms from my house. The result is major traffic snarl up as people take alternative routes to avoid the hotspots. The Community is protesting but I’m not quite sure why; it’s usually about housing shortages and lack of jobs. The sad thing is these protest events usually end in violence and little seems to be accomplished.

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS
The Open Book Festival is an annual event, every September, organized by local Indie bookstore, the Book Lounge. This year the Book Lounge invited submissions from Capetonians   to the Writing my City Project, and launched an anthology of the best writing to coincide with the Festival in September. During the winter, I ran four workshops at the Milnerton and Edgemead Libraries, to assist writers prepare their entries for submission, so it was a thrill to visit the Festival, and buy the newly published anthology and recognize names in the book.

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But the highlight of my month was meeting a Postcrossing member in the flesh, as opposed to the usual  brief message on a postcard. This is the first time I’ve met another member, local or foreign; other than locals I’ve recruited to join the club. Nels lives in Santa Monica USA, and came out with his Cactus Club’s Flower Tour of Namaqualand, ending his visit in Cape Town at a local Blouberg guest house. We managed to squeeze in a morning visit – such a lot to talk about : life in our respective countries, his flower tour; our respective writing careers; our membership of Postcrossing.com and a great deal more besides! Viva Postcrossing!

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MAY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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Jean Doyle’s bronze statue of Just Nusiance; erected 1985 overlooking Simonstown Harbour.

FINALLY the Elections are OVER. Whew! Not a moment too soon. All the talking heads busily telling us who voted/didn’t vote (many of the unemployed, disinterested millenials) followed by a fresh bout of punditry on who would/would not be elected to the Cabinet. Which Prez Cyril has told us will be surgically trimmed to 22 ministries, as opposed to the current bloated 35. Jobs for pals, our previous Prez’s modus operandi, meant we could have built a wonderful braai/barbecue fire with the deadwood in Parliament. That is, provided we could have woken them up in time to herd them off to the braai fire. Our MPs are notorious for snoozing peacefully on their cosy Parly benches, as many pics have testified.
Election fatigue was followed by the drama over the new cabinet : who’s in? who’s out? The days of delay while the behind scenes turmoil of bargaining, bluster, and probably blackmail play out against the backdrop of a tripartite political party. The ruling party is a robust alliance of the African National Congress (ANC) the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the COSATU (the Congress of SA Trade Unions). Can you imagine trying to satisfy – placate is probably a better word – those three groups? Prez Cyril can have it, rather him than me!

 

I’m finding it difficult to ensure the balance in my monthly Cape Town round-up posts. I don’t want the post to be a non-stop litany of crime, which is pretty much 75% of the daily newscasts in SA, and the Western Cape in particular. I certainly don’t even want to think about, let alone write down the daily national murder rate figure. I heard it yesterday on radio. Quite often, on the days when I don’t feel particularly brave, I work on the principle of “if I close my eyes, it’s not there”, i.e. head in the sand approach; believe me, if you live in SA, you either have sand in your ears, or you’re busy booking your ticket to Perth, WA. There’s a theory that Perth now has a bigger population of white ex-South Africans than the actual Republic; but this is only a snarky rumour.

 

Metal theft is prevalent in my city. The scrap metal dealers don’t ask questions. They weigh the scrap and a desperately poor person gets a few rands in his pocket to feed his family, and/or buy drugs. Garden taps, metal house numbers – you name it. Latest victim of this scourge was Just Nuisance, the magnificent bronze statue of the famous Great Dane overlooking the harbor and Naval dockyards in Simonstown. He stands proudly in Jubilee Square. But some so-and-so prised off the metal dog-collar, and his naval cap, both of which were part of the statuary. Sigh.

 

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The other 25% of our news that is not clogged up with politics, is heavily slanted towards Sports. If its round and it bounces, or if its got four legs or even two legs, and runs, then South Africans will watch it, participate in it, bet on it, follow it, endlessly analyze it, obsess over it. Football, rugby, cricket, golf followed by the rest of the sporting categories. But not by me. I am the .00001% national anomaly who is oblivious to the national passions. And you know what? My sports-free life is just fine, thank you.

 

One major good thing happened to me this month: at last I got the message to collect my renewed Drivers’ Licence card from the Milnerton Traffic Department. The end of a saga that began in September last year, when I virtuously applied well in advance of my expiry date. I had new pics taken ( aaarrrgghhh – do I really look like that?) paid my money, had my eye test, filled out the paperwork and hope to receive the renewal within six weeks. Ha! Foolish woman. First obstacle was months of labour problems, a strike; followed by a dispute with the new service provider who lost over 100 000 applications … mine included.

 

I had to make another trip to the Traffic department, to re-apply and start the process all over again, and seven months later, I finally received my new licence card. That’s what’s so exhausting about living in South Africa – apart from the nervous wear and tear – mundane tasks turn into a Mission of Note.

 

We’ve had glorious mild, sunny weather that has been alarmingly dry. Ours is a winter rainfall area but this year the rains hover above, and then very frustratingly, blow up towards the Southern Cape coast, missing my area. So no new gardening projects for me. But I’ve been feasting on winter produce from my neighbourhood Food Lovers : leeks, which I adore, turnips, cabbage. And I’ve dusted off my big cast-iron soup pot and brewed up delicious Quinoa and Sweet Potato soup. It’s laced with fresh ginger, one of my favourites. I’m a winter person, just in case you hadn’t guessed!

Here’s hoping for a more tranquil and wetter June.

 

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APRIL 2019 ROUND UP FROM CAPE TOWN


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Mountains en route to Ceres, Western Cape.  Prime leopard territory.

 

 

My Northern Hemisphere readers are enthusing about Spring, sunshine, and budding trees. But we’re doing the reverse, enjoying cooler Autumn days and showery weather – harbinger of our winter rains. Fingers crossed. My garden is still struggling to recover after our punitive drought.

 
Fortunately the weather smiled when our Two Oceans Marathon was staged on Easter Saturday. The race has been run annually on Easter Saturday in Cape Town since 1970. . Due to the mountainous terrain, it’s a tough race over a course of 56 km/35 miles; the field is limited to 13 000 runners. The Sowetan reported: There was double joy for SA in yesterday’s Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, with three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bongumusa Mthembu winning the ultra leg of the men’s race and Gerda Steyn claiming honours in the women’s section.
April is the month prior to our five yearly National and Provincial Elections on 8th May. So we’re in for endless April Foolery, unconnected with the actual date of 1 April. The day itself turned out to be very low-key this year, in terms of public pranks. But not to worry, our political parties filled the vacuum with gusto. See details below of the Dagga (Cannabis) Party.

 
For openers: 33 political parties have registered to fight (probably going to be a very appropriate word) the elections. Local radio announcer, Pippa Hudson, gave us her criteria for selecting who to vote for:
• What is their track record?
• What is the quality of their leadership?
• What does their manifesto have to say?

Using these criteria to review the parties, via, gave me a headache, especially Point #2 : leadership quality.

 

However, I did crack a smile when I heard about a colourful Party entering the race : The Dagga Party. Apparently one of their major policy points is that hemp provides a viable alternative to fossil fuel. Yes: hemp seeds produce Biodiesel. News to me.  Clearly there’s more to hemp than I realised. Others thought so too, because the first Cannabis Expo took place at Cape Town ‘s Grand West venue in early April. It was punted as “– displaying medicinal, agricultural, construction and lifestyle etc. ” Unfortunately the entry tickets fell outside my budget, but hey! A sign of the times, no?

 

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Another happy event this month : popular blind singer, Andrea Bocelli gave a concert in Paarl, at the22 April at Val de Vie Estate, Paarl. Not my cup of tea, but he’s an extremely popular Performer.

 
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April was a bad month for Taxi troubles. When I say ‘taxi’ I’m referring to public transport, mini bus taxis, used by thousands. On the other side of the mountain in Hout Bay, Taxi violence on 1 April saw the bullets flying, three killed right outside the Cop Shop*; others were wounded. Local law enforcement is seemingly unable to deal with ongoing taxi violence , which is usually sparked by disputes over taxi routes. Unlike Joburg where the non-nonsense Mayor brought out the Casspirs  and the taxis came to heel. I thank my lucky stars I’m not dependent on public transport!

 

 

And, of course, the usual public holiday mayhem on our roads , caused chiefly by drunken driving, drunken pedestrians, and speeding. This year’s fatality total in our Province: 22. As radio host Africa Melane observed: effectively, we are a nation of functioning alcoholics … when are we going to stop drinking so much? Good question.

 
Followed by more arson at Cape Town station on Easter Monday: rolling stock set alight at the station, damage amounting to millions, and resulting in yet more woes for Cape Towns rail passengers. Three years down the line, little progress is being made to solve the mystery. Speculation is rife: who is behind the ongoing sabotage of our rail network? Who benefits? The Taxi industry? The coach-building industry? The ANC  by causing public disenchantment with our Province’s DA majority government? We are the only Province that is not run by the ruling ANC party. Oh: and statistically the best run Province, which is an embarrassment to the ruling party. Life in South Africa: challenging!

 

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Leaving urban troubles behind, and turning to Nature. 200 kms from Cape Town lies the mountainous Cedarberg region PIC , perfect habitat for the rare Cape Leopard . They like the rocky environment, populated by baboons, a handy food source for them. Estimates put the Cedarberg leopard population at a mere 350 animals. So sad to learn that a mature female was knocked down and killed by a vehicle on the N1 this month. The accident happened at night, when the leopard was crossing the road. Wild life vs cars seldom has a happy outcome, because the animals appear quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, become dazzled by the vehicle lights, and then its collision time.
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One of the Cape Honeysuckle hedges bordering my garden

Wildlife in my garden has been on a much smaller, safer scale: birds feasting on the nectar in the Cape Honeysuckle hedge, a late Autumn flowering. Snails reappearing with the arrival of rain showers. On which more peaceful note, I will leave you – see you in May.

*SA slang for Police Station

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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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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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SOUTH AFRICA NEEDS MADAM SECRETARY!


 

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I’m a huge fan of the award winning TV series Madam Secretary.
Not only do I enjoy the plots, which are always up to date and compelling, but the chief focus is on the fictional female incumbent of the USA Secretary of State Ms Elizabeth McCord. The fact that the series promotes a feisty, fearless woman in one of the world’s most challenging political roles, cheers me immensely. Especially in the current period of Trump turmoil in the White House.

 
I recall that in Series One, an episode showed Madeleine Albright  mentoring her fictional counterpart with sage advice based on her own experience in the position. How’s that for authenticity? Ms Albright occupied the powerful and demanding position during from 1997 to 2001. She was the first woman to hold the cabinet post of U.S. secretary of state.

 
I’m well aware that TV series stretch and embellish fact, for the sake of dramatic impact. I know that TV stations/movie production companies all have a particular agenda they want to promote. I’m also  well aware that I’m watching fictional events play out on my TV screen. This said, I am struck over and over again, by the frequent reference in the dialogue to the importance of upholding a democracy, and how Madam Secretary often says things like: It’s a privilege to uphold or contribute Public Service. OMG. I can’t imagine any South African politician saying anything remotely like that.

 
South African politicians, I am very sorry to say, seem to enter politics for one reason and one reason only: to enrich themselves. Public Service and democratic principle are a foreign concept to them so far as one can see. Our country has gone through a black period of corruption and maladministration for 9 years. At the moment we are gingerly creeping out of the stinking swamp and scrabbling for dry land and a public service driven by ideals, hard work and recognition that the citizens of South Africa have a right to a better life and clean governance.

 

Reference is often made to our Constitution , very recently composed in the late 1990s, and held up as the best Constitution in the world. Maybe it is, on paper, but in the real world our politicians flout it at every turn.

 
Elizabeth Mc Cord: please pay us a visit – we desperately need you!

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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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A DAB HAND WITH THE BATH SPONGE?


 

One of the many recent political spats in South Africa, and trust me, these happen on a daily basis, is over our new Finance Minister taking his wife with him on an official visit to Paris. Questions are being asked: why was Mrs G in the official party? What did she contribute? Etc.

All good questions, seeing we are talking about apparently  (yet more) wasteful expenditure of our hard-earned taxes.

And somehow my aged brain dredged up the mischievous memory  of a married couple I knew way back in the mid-60s. He was a jockey, so naturally he was a very small man. His good wife was a very solidly built formidable Afrikaans lady, almost twice his size. My husband told me there was much mirth in the Jockeys’ Change-room, when the husband confessed that he never ever took a bath unless his wife bathed with him. Together in the bathtub, you must understand. Given his tiny size and her large size, I’m sure they both  fitted nicely into the bathtub. Despite my questioning I never discovered whether she washed his back? Massaged his aching muscles? Or maybe she saved his skinny little bod from vanishing down the plughole ? Who knows?

Now our new Finance Minister appears to be a very slender man, so maybe his good lady is a dab hand with the bath sponge?  We will never know, but maybe it’s a reasonable pretext for taking your wife with you to Paris on a business trip? Let’s face it, which woman doesn’t want to visit Paris?

But, and it’s a reasonable quibble,  preferably not at the South African Taxpayers’ expense.

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MY NEW BOOK-THEMED BLOG


 

I subscribe to a number of WordPress blogs about books and reading,  and after enjoying them for several years, it finally dawned on me that maybe I should identify the book-related material in my  own blog  and start a second blog, devoted to books. Ping! Lightbulb flash.

So: I’m happy to announce the launch of THE BOOKSMITH BLOG  http://thebooksmithblog.wordpress.com .  Thanks again to WordPress.com for their blogging platform.  They really do make blogging easy for  wrinkly writers like yours truly. I hope you visit my new blog, even if you’re not an official Booknut like me.  If all else fails, it has quite a funny header pic.

Despatches from Timbuktu  will continue to act as my electronic soapbox where I comment on modern life, South Africa, social trends, my travels around the Western Cape and Cape Town, plus  anything else that might  attract my butterfly attention.

And not to overlook the fact that Despatches From Timbuktu  is  the one place where Chocolat can express her displeasure at my poor performance as her Personal Assistant. Sorry, Chocolat,  but you have no idea how much work building a new blog entails . I promise there’ll be fish for supper tonight. How’s that for an apology?

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*(JAP)MY LATEST LEXICAL TREASURE


*(JAP)MY LATEST LEXICAL TREASURE

Dictionary.com has introduced me to a wonderful new word which I’m about to share with you.  I love it! Both for its comical aspect, and for its meaning. But I’m going to preface my discovery with a few general remarks on the topic of the right to free speech. Theoretically, we have this right in South Africa. But oh! the tsunami of outraged howls when a prominent person dares to voice a personal opinion.  It would seem that free speech is fine, so long as it doesn’t contradict political correctness.  Anyway, I will prudently say no more, and I will leave you to join the dots regarding my latest lexical treasure:

THROTTLEBOTTOM noun [THROT-l-bot-uh m]
1. a harmless incompetent in public office.QUOTES
If there was one function that any vice president, even a Throttlebottom, could be expected to perform it was to represent the president and the country at funerals of notables abroad.
— Carl Solberg, Hubert Humphrey: A Biography, 1984
ORIGIN
The term Throttlebottom was formed after the character Alexander Throttlebottom in the musical comedy Of Thee I Sing (1932).

 

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

 

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