Category Archives: PRESENT & FUTURE

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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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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HOLO-MARRIAGE or is it a HOLLOW MARRIAGE?


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At my age, thought I’d heard everything, but no.

 
Heard on radio today: A man in Japan threw a standard wedding party bash when he married a hologram. Apparently his family refused to attend. Now, why ever would that be do you suppose ?

 
The man, a mid-level manager, stated that he’d been disappointed by women, so he was marrying his perfect woman who just happens to be a hologram. A singer, I think they said, with those round saucer eyes that the Japanese love so much, and blue hair or skin – I was so stunned that some of the details didn’t penetrate my brain. The hologram apparently says goodbye dear, every day as he leaves for work. Isn’t that nice?

 
Which brings me to the much darker topic of the Incel Movement , an on-line sub-culture populated by misogynistic young-ish men, not only disappointed by women/girls but now actively hating them. When I saw the pictures, I could well believe that the pudgy, pasty-faced Goth style geeks wouldn’t be that attractive to many girls. Aaarggghhh …. A disturbing social trend? Movement ? manifestation? Too much on-line fantasy clashing with reality ? I don’t know. Items like this make me wonder if I’ve fallen on to an alien planet during the night, or blundered into a time-warp.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incel

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THE LAST BUNCH OF INCA LILIES


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My friend E visited me on Wednesday. She walked in, carrying a generous bunch of Inca Lilies, freshly cut from her garden. As ever, she apologised for the mess they will make, and as ever, I replied “I don’t care, they’re lovely!” Which they are. Deep red, with yellow highlights. En masse the flowers produce a light, frilly effect, but day by day the papery petals fall off, until the tall glass vase is surrounded by a halo of drying petals. I could care less – the flowers are so beautiful, and it takes but a few moments to pick up the fallen petals and bin them.

 

 
I always enjoy her visits. E’s passion in life is to travel. I listen with envy to her planned trips for 2019. Her equal passion is photography, and she take hundreds (and on occasion, literally thousands) of photos on her journeys , which she puts into visual presentations and photo-books, and shares with friends. I’m an armchair traveller, but she is a modern female Marco Polo.

 

 
Two days later she texted me to say she was in hospital, and the prognosis was not good.
I’m looking at my vase of Inca Lilies, and know that this may well be the last bunch of Inca Lilies I will receive from E’s garden.

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SAUDADE


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For some reason, I’m thinking about the Brazilian Portuguese word saudade. I’ve never been to a live performance, but my exposure to saudade music goes way way back.

 
I’m remembering my radio listening days in the 1950s, when the dial was firmly stuck on LM Radio – or, to give it the full title: Radio Club de Mozambique – please aurally visualize a heavy Portuguese accent. In those years the station was unashamedly Portuguese orientated; today, hardly at all, with the target audience living in South Africa.

 
Back then, I would have heard the melancholy, oh so wistful slow tones of an obviously heartbroken woman pouring out of my tinny radio, despite the poor reception. I say “tinny radio” deliberately, because way back then, many radios did come enclosed in a thin metal (tin?) casing.
The definition of saudade is: Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Thank you Wikipedia!

 

 

Later in my life I made the happy discovery of the Cape Verde singer, Cesare Evora and bought her CDs. Which reminds me: I should haul them out and give them a spin, just for old times sake. If you’ve never listened to Cesare Evora LINK then now would be a good time to explore the romantic, emotional saudade songs . I’ve put in a YouTube link. But if you’re currently suffering from a broken heart, then maybe not!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade

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200 YEAR OLDS ?


centenarian-clipart-3Do I want to celebrate my 200th birthday? No: I don’t think so.

I’m about to see my 77th anniversary of arrival on this earth, and thus far a mixed bag of good and bad times, illness and health, success and failure, amazement and boredom. In short: life, in all its shades from brilliant gold to desperate black. Could I face? Enjoy? Withstand? another 123 years of the process?

Again: I don’t think so. And what about the planet? Many, if not most of our current ecological and social ills are due to one factor and one factor alone: overcrowding. Our world is over-populated. Just imagine: if we had the ability to prolong life up to 200 years, and the current birth rate continued, we’d be one gigantic seething mass, living under terrible conditions, short of every natural resource and fighting for survival. Shades of the Bladerunner movie  Pretty much how many live today in Third World countries.

Currently on my local radio station there’s an ad confidently announcing that the people who will live up to 200 years have already been born, and what are the listeners doing to adjust their financial planning accordingly? Good question. And only one of the many questions that the scenario generates. Prudent financial planning will be the least of our worries when the Two-Hundreds start multiplying. Our needs will be a great deal more basic. Food. Water. Shelter. Survival.

Just maybe that sonorous phrase to live three-score years and ten was excellent advice.

 

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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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*JAP* BRICS BANANAS ??


 

 

Really? Bananas from Ecuador, for crying out loud? Now I realise why it cost me R6-77 in Cape Town for two bananas. What a crazy price. But I suppose if the fruit has been air freighted from the north-east of South America to the very tip of Africa in the South , the price is bound to rise. South Africa produces bananas  on our southern coast in Kwa Zulu Natal; as does our neighbour Mozambique to the North of us. Not to mention Malawi  even further North.  South Africa joined the trading bloc BRICS  – BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs“), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. BRICS – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS

Thanks Wikipedia. What would we do without you? Global info is wonderful but I’m not so sure about global trade deals . They  certainly wreck the price of bananas.

 

*(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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*(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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