Category Archives: SOCIAL COMMENT

WORLD RADIO DAY 2021


13th  February was World Radio Day  and Cape Talk Radio,  my local radio station,  asked listeners to phone in and share their first memories of radio, and what radio meant in their lives. The listeners flooded the station with calls and WhatsApp messages, not only from senior listeners, but enthusiastic responses across the spectrum .

We heard about kids being allowed to broadcast on Dad’s Ham Radio, in the back shed. We heard about  the exciting arrival of Q Cards – something to do with signal frequencies by location  (hope I’ve got that right!). We heard about  listeners sharing national grief at the death of famous statesmen; their enjoyment of radio dramas, serials and book-readings; and of course the music, and a top favourite in South Africa: sports broadcasts, especially ball by ball commentaries.

My earliest radio memory comes from the mid-1940s when the radio was ceremonially switched on, to listen in hushed silence to the news from the BBC in London. First came the rousing signature tune D’ye ken John Peel?  And then the clipped tones of the newscaster, reading the news, followed by the all important  English Soccer League results.

You had to hold your breath to hear anything at all,  because reception was dreadful, faint and staticky, especially if the all-important car  battery which powered the radio was going flat. We had no electricity, and life on a remote central African tea estate was isolated to say the least. Private  telephones in homes were unknown so you couldn’t phone a friend for a cosy chat. The country had only one newspaper which was published once a week, a few slim pages, which was always a week old  by the time it reached us. Roads were primitive, public transport didn’t exist,  neighbours were far away, so that radio really was a lifeline!

Once the news was over, the radio was switched off. Due to the battery situation,  the power had to be carefully husbanded. And today we blithely leave the radio playing  day and night, if we feel like it. Provided Eskom hasn’t decided on loadshedding and switched off the power … what’s that French saying?  Tout la meme change … the more things change, the more they remain the same.

I’m recycling a much older post that I wrote in 2014, also on the topic of radio. Here it is, below:

THIS IS THE VOICE OF AMERICA  –  July 2014.

My  love affair with the Radio continues.

As I lay in bed, alternately groaning and cursing during a  bout of gastric ‘flu, my feeble hand managed to grasp my Samsung Galaxy tablet, and started fiddling with the icon marked BBC Radio. I have to say, I think that small action improved  my health  more than all the ginger tea, Probiotics, and other remedies combined.

I spent a happy time discovering a weird variety of  stations ; one  poured out Bangladeshi Classical music; another pumped out jolly  accordion/organ sing-a-long tunes from the Nederlands. Radio Venice offering baroque music. A station in Sweden broadcasting in Farsi. I’m still trying to work that one out. And,  no, I don’t speak Farsi. Radio Mediterranean offered a heady mix of Armenian, Arabic, Italian, French, Greek music. There were umpteen Polish stations promoting music from hip-hop, to acid jazz, to urban funk, lounge, and salsa. Fabulous! Almost worth being sick. Almost, but not quite.

Long ago, when I was a misunderstood teenager, I was given a portable radio – battery powered, of course, I’m speaking of the pre-electronic age, a.k.a. The Olden Days. It offered  short, long and medium wave reception. I think it was a Phillips radio, in a smart cream and chocolate plastic casing. I absolutely loved it, and would spend hours twiddling the dial, fighting the dreadful static and the waning battery power, straining my ears for the tiniest snatch of LM Radio’s weekly Hit Parade, or trolling through foreign language stations, listening to streams of exotic sounding languages, and desperately wishing I could understand some of it.

But the one station that was always amazingly clear, was the Voice of America. You knew immediately when you hit it, because out poured a stream of jazz, or  Benny Goodman’s band, playing a swing tune. Just knowing that I was listening to someone or something from half-way across the globe gave me such a thrill. It still does. Over and out!

2 Comments

Filed under AGEING, HUMOUR, SOCIAL COMMENT

UNSUBSCRIBE FROM 2021


On January 1st, 2021, I packed away my Christmas decoration table display, and removed my bead wreath from my front door grille.

 Next task was to changeover the calendars. Down came the 2020 Wildlife calendar, up went the pretty Paws and Petals calendar. Lovely! a colourful, calming picture of cats posed decoratively amongst the flowers. Inspiration above my worktable. Great.

Final chore: to write up the birthday dates into my new 2021 diary, without which no one would receive my enthusiastic rendering on their birthday of Happy Birthday to youuuu ….  sung by Yours Truly, somewhat out of tune, but with feeling.

Oh what a happy glow of accomplishment! Bolstered by the happy knowledge that  I decided not to make any New Year Resolutions this year. Note to all my readers who were nervously anticipating strange homemade gifts this coming Christmas (see previous post). Friends, it was but a passing fancy. Not an iron-clad resolution.

So: all organized, everything under control. I was prepped, ready for 2021.

 But unfolding events on Wednesday 6 January  in Washington, USA  shattered my sangfroid. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight, va BBC TV  News, of rioting Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building, and invading it. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was stunned. To put it mildly.

I live in Africa. I am well accustomed to news/footage of dictators fomenting riot and resolution when elections don’t go their way. But Americans? No! Surely not! Isn’t the USA meant to be the bastion of democracy, the leader of the Free World, the leader of the West? But if a narcissistic, rabble rouser is Top Dog, then look out. All the high flown ideals are tossed onto the rubbish heap, and mob rule is encouraged.

Which brings me to Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor of France. I have been watching a fascinating TV documentary on the Corsican soldier, inspired by visions of classical heroes like Julius Caesar, soldier, leader, emperor extraordinaire – Napoleon’s role model.

A brilliant military strategist,  Buonaparte  tamed the post-French Revolution Mob chaos, brought order, rule of law, dignity and imperial status to his country. He unified France, which flourished and became a solid, established, modern society. History has recognized Napoleon’s genius.

How will History judge Donald Trump, I wonder? An aberration of the Social Media Age?

I watch unfolding events in the USA with horrified fascination. My feelings today can be summed up by a meme currently floating  around WhatsApp and it crisply states:

I’d like to cancel my subscription  to 2021. I’ve experienced the free 7 day trial and I am not interested.

7 Comments

Filed under HUMOUR, POLITICS, PRESENT & FUTURE, SOCIAL COMMENT, TV SHOWS

ARTY CRAFTY HOMEMADE GIFTS


 Because I’m hiding away from the dreaded Second Wave, I’m watching a lot of programmes on the Home Channel, and  I’m all fired up. Next year, friends and family will open their gifts and gasp: Did YOU make this? Yourself?  Whether  the gasps will be of horror or admiration remains to be seen.

How hard can it be? Knock up a batch of shortbread? Tick. Knock up a batch of Fir-tree shaped biscuits? Tick.  Bash out a couple of fruit cakes mid-October, buy a bottle of brandy, and tenderly dose the cakes at weekly intervals. Tick. These I can do. Easy peasy.

Ditto making chutney  when apricot and tomatoes  are plentiful. Tick.  Doable. Provided we aren’t plagued with load-shedding in 2021, hello Eskom, are you listening?

But there are other options: apparently all I need is  bunch of willow branches, a stout pair of pliers, iron determination and I will weave a batch of wooden placemats, or maybe  a small laundry hamper. The relentlessly enthusiastic   English TV anchor made it look so simple. Now where am I going to source willow branches? Do willows even grow in this province, I wonder? Maybe Karree  tree branches would work out? This is so exciting!

And then, I nearly forgot: Knitted items , and crochet whatsits. Why, I saw an adorable little crocheted snowflake in a craft magazine, only yesterday. Never mind that the South African Christmas season is blazingly hot, and not a snowflake in sight. Details, details!  Don’t be a wet blanket! Of course, I’ll have to learn how to crochet, but that’s all on YouTube, isn’t it ? No problem.

Or I can raid my trove of wallpaper samples, ( note to self: start collecting wallpaper samples); cut out floral bits and bobs and make individual handsewn greetings cards; or decorate the cover of the handmade book that I’ve conjured up out of thick manilla paper, and magicked up a cover out of an old leather coat that I’ve cut up. Must say I have reservations about cutting up an old leather coat. Even if it is Pleather. Is this a good idea, I wonder? Again, the TV anchor was amazingly nonchalant about attacking an old leather jacket with an enormous pair of shears. Mind you, it was a nasty shade of green, so what the heck.

Really, the choice is dazzling, and I haven’t even got around to the  knitted and sewn items. I mean, socks, scarves, beanies, dinky little purses.  Positively overwhelming.

Oh! the agonies of choice!  A greener, more thoughtful Christmas. Thoughtfully  curated gifts, personally designed and laboriously made; no more raids on the Chinese plastic shop.

The only thing between me and  a homespun Christmas in 2021 are the following: a glue gun, a craft cutting mat, a super-sharp craft knife,  an awl, pliers, a steel ruler, paint,  decorative trinkets, buttons, raffia,  fabric strips, a collection of wallpaper samples, fabrics samples, buttons, sequins, dinky charms, a ton of glass and ceramic beads, oh …. and a lot more besides.

My word, I’m going to be busy in the New Year. Alternatively I could just go online on Black Friday and press the plastic. Takelot.com could see me around the end of November. Watch this space. And if you don’t want a home-made gift,  I suggest you start planning your  home removal right now! You have been warned.

7 Comments

Filed under HUMOUR, SOCIAL COMMENT, TV SHOWS

A SURPRISE BONUS DURING LOAD SHEDDING *


We’re currently undergoing two and a half hour periods of load-shedding, up to three times a day, which makes life difficult, as you can imagine. One of the difficulties is that the traffic lights don’t work when the power is off. Theoretically, the robot intersection should then operate as a four way stop.
Theoretically. Because there’s always some oke – usually in a huge 4×4 who’s in such a hurry, or so important, that he just barges across the intersection, out of turn. So crossing a busy intersection, or heaven forbid, executing a right-hand turn, is motorized Russian roulette. I hate driving when the lights are out.
Today I had no choice but to start my journey homeward during load-shedding. Horrors! Then inspiration struck. My homeward route passes the local beachfront, so why not detour to the beach, park, and wait until the appointed hour when the power should return? Brilliant idea.

IMG_20200313_140934_resized_20200313_030016470 (002)
For once, there was no wind, the sun shone, the seagulls swooped and shouted and sunbathed from post perches.

 

The mountain loomed in blue majesty over the bay. Not so much as a baby cloudlet over Lions’ Head, a sign that clear, sunny dry weather will continue.

IMG_20200313_141659_resized_20200313_030015390 (002)

 

A taxidriver and his gaartjie sat on the fence and relaxed. Given the state of his battered taxi in the parking lot, this was a good idea, prior to his attacking the peak hour afternoon traffic

IMG_20200313_141653_resized_20200313_030016110 (002)

 

A perfect late summer afternoon in Cape Town. And when I tackled the roads again. the robots were working. What a relief!

*Our South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.

10 Comments

Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, SOCIAL COMMENT

MOTHER YOGESH’s APOLOGY TO TECHNOLOGY


This year I officially made no new year rezzes but I did have a few half-formed promises lurking in my mind. Promises to myself, you understand. One of them was to spend less time on social media, and more time meeting more friends face to face.
With this in mind, this morning I came across the following apposite poem written by the most delightful, saintly old yogi it has ever been my privilege to meet :
With Apology to Technology
It seems to be the modern trend
That with one’s family or friend
Communicating heart to heart
Has been completely split apart
As iPhones take away the space
Of relating face to face.

Fascinating they may be
But do they recognize or see
The truth revealed within the eyes,
Anxiety, or stifled cries?

When the heart is tightly sealed
There’s no chance of being healed.
Technology and technicality
Should not remove us from reality.

 

Mother Yogesh has a talent for writing verse, and her latest collection – see cover below – if full of charming little verses, some devotional, others not, often sparkling with that quiet little nugget of humour. If you’re interested in learning more about Mother Yogesh, or getting hold of her collection of poems, the Ashram website is http://www.anandakutir.org.za. Emails to: info@anandakutir.org.za

 

IMG_20200109_110455_resized_20200109_110525613 (002)

5 Comments

Filed under AGEING, SOCIAL COMMENT

JOLLY HOLLY TO ALL


 

 

IMG_20191111_090310_resized_20191111_053834643 (002)I was hunting in my desk for my address book, because I need to send out three Christmas cards – yes, readers, those antique objects : Christmas cards. Remember them? The glitter? The snowy scenes, the holly, the robins. All wildly inappropriate seeing my Christmases are hot, sunny and dry, but never mind, tradition is tradition!
Inside my address book I found old lists dating back to 2004, listing the names of people who annually received cards from me in December. Some of the names mean nothing to me now, pen friends of yore I suspect; some folk have died, others have moved out of my life. Every year I receive fewer and fewer cards but I stick them up and enjoy the green and red cheer.

 
Many cards only arrive at the end of January and sometimes February or March, due to the vagaries of our postal service. So I tuck them away for the year ahead and enjoy them a year later. And why not? In these difficult times, we need all the good cheer we can get! Don’t you agree?

4 Comments

Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR, SOCIAL COMMENT

RENAMING WEEKDAYS


 

calendar-20clipart-4i954x5ie

The slogan ought to read: Take this OFF your calendar!!

I wrote this piece last year after the Friday Frenzy, and kept it, to publish prior to the next awful retail event. It’s a lighthearted piece about consumerism, greed, shopping – but, seriously, I think we need to change our approach to consumerism, it ain’t helping our poor battered planet. I, for one, will not be buying one damn thing on 29 November 2019, Black Friday and encourage the rest of you to do likewise.
Okay, so we’ve had the frenzy of BLACK FRIDAY, followed by CYBER MONDAY and finally (very welcome) GIVE IT BACK TUESDAY. All of which are driven by retail sales marketing and rampant consumerism. How about: CELEBRATION SATURDAY followed by SLOPPY SUNDAY? Monday, of course, offers limitless possibilities. The first option springing to my mind is: MOPEY MONDAY. Wednesday is HUMP DAY – because it’s in the middle of the week , and not the other meaning! Get your mind above your waistband, for goodness sake! Visualise camels. There. That should calm you down.

 
Which brings us to Thursday. Hmm. THUPER THURSDAY ? I can lisp if I want to! It’s my blog. Maybe you have other suggestions? Feel free to make them in the comments section. And: I’m not even offering a prize for the most inventive. You’ll just have to make do with the glory.

7 Comments

Filed under HUMOUR, PRESENT & FUTURE, SOCIAL COMMENT

SEPTEMBER 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

cape-town-south-africa-260nw-265281386

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?

index
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.

IMG_1479

 
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!

1 Comment

Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, EXPLORING CAPE TOWN, POLITICS, SOCIAL COMMENT

JULY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

I

 

IMG_20190714_115459_resized_20190714_020249543 (002)

Winter in Cape Town

 

NATIONAL
Much loved musician Johnny Clegg dies. The man who bridged the national cultural gap by making Zulu music his own. The French gave him the fitting soubriquet of Le Zoulou Blanc. The entire nation mourned his passing. Hamba Kahle, Johnny.
http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/355022/may-we-repeat-asimbonan

 

Former President Jacob Zuma finally attends the Zondo Commission of Enquiry into State Capture. Why he bothered I don’t know, because he displayed wall-to-wall amnesia about everything.

 

What a mensch! Not strictly a Cape Town story, but I did hear it on Cape Talk Radio Station. It’s such a good news story, I have to share it. A recently qualified medical doctor, Dr Paolo de Valdoleiros , living in Bloemfontein, has taken the radical step of telling patients they should pay what they can afford for a consultation. Now that’s a real doctor, in my book! He says he’s not interested in the luxe lifestyle, expressing disinterest in acquiring a Merc – how very refreshing.
The background to his story is even more astonishing: at the age of 46, paraphrasing his words : I woke up one morning and decided: that’s it – I’m going to be a doctor. Inspired by a lifesaving stint as a patient in hospital in Beira, Mozambique, when he was ten years old,  suffering from hepatitis. His recovery made him realise, at this early age, he wanted to help people. However, it wasn’t until he reached middle age, when he changed career path and he succeeded. What a story.

LOCALLY
At last, at long last, after literally years of formal requests, the Army is deployed to assist the SA Police in the gang-ravaged areas of the Cape Flats. The difference thus far is minimal, from what I’m hearing. Last weekend only – note only – six murders on the Cape Flats. Clearly better than the double figures reported after every weekend, week after week. The mind just reels.

 
Winter rains continue falling, to the relief of those watching our dam levels, now around 70% capacity. Counterbalanced by the annual misery of flooding amongst shack dwellers living in low lying areas, plus yet another fire in Masi in Hout Bay. Imagine being homeless in the pouring rain ….

 

PERSONALLY
I’ve had some lovely beach walks, read a pile of books, drunk plenty cocoa. My garden has provided the annual smorgasbord of tasty shrubs to hordes of hungry black and orange furry caterpillars busily munching their way towards their cocoons, and ultimately glorious wings. Meanwhile, they’re hairy, ugly, prickly and to be avoided. Much like South Africa. I wish our country could quickly pass through this painful, difficult period of clearing out the mess and corruption, and move on to butterfly status.

IMG_20190715_101048_resized_20190731_074412950 (002)

2 Comments

Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, PRESENT & FUTURE, SOCIAL COMMENT

OH, I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDES THE SEASIDE ¶♫♫


IMG_20190714_115417_resized_20190714_020249230 (002)
Indeed I do, even if it’s a partly overcast, mid-winter  Sunday. Melkbos is  always  lovely whatever the  day or season.  Look at those clouds, the play of light on the water.

IMG_20190714_115459_resized_20190714_020249543 (3)

The sun gleamed and vanished, but it made no difference to the walkers, the dog walkers and the Dads playing footie with their kids.

IMG_20190714_115307_resized_20190714_020251292 (3)

 

Did I see dogs? Oh yeah – and of course, my cellphone camera was not to hand, so you‘ll have to take it on trust that I saw twin beagles, many Pavement Specials, a curly poodle, two extraordinarily well behaved Jack Russells, Labs both black and cream, three tiny Yorkies manically towing along an elderly lady who was forced to tilt herself backwards at an angle of 120 degrees to maintain stable forward progression, otherwise she’d be ploughing a furrow in the sand with her nose!

 

20160520_085653_resized_20190620_093245186 (002)

The  mid-pic group wearing red are the junior trainee lifesavers, going through drills. You need your wet suit in these icy Atlantic waters!

The jet skis howled and whined offshore, above the sound of the incoming breakers. But the racket didn’t spoil my morning. And even though my little Yaris was boxed in by two behemoth 4x4sfrom which I extricated myself with difficulty on departure, even this did not dispel my seaside euphoria.

Oh! I do love to be beside the sea side!

 

4 Comments

Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, EXPLORING CAPE TOWN, SOCIAL COMMENT