Category Archives: SOCIAL COMMENT

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

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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YOU CAN BET ON IT !


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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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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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REMEMBERING ANTHONY BOURDAIN


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

 

 

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

 

 

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


 

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

  • renamed Malawi
  • renamed Mozambique

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Filed under POLITICS, PRESENT & FUTURE, SOCIAL COMMENT

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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THE ORAL BIOGRAPHER


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

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

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

 

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ELECTRONIC BANKING


 

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You are looking at the remains of my Amex credit card. Have I snipped it up because of a New Year Resolution not to use it again? No. On bank instruction, I wielded my scissors. Why? Because some so-and-so hacked into it & fraudulently used it in Pretoria 2 000 kms away from Cape Town.

 
Thank goodness for Nedbank’s SMS warning system that tells you when sales are registered against your card. No sooner did I read the text than I was on the phone to report a fraudulent transaction. Whizz- bang-splat: they blocked my card. So much good it did to the hackers. A curse upon the lot of them!

 
I had to fill out paperwork (the plague of the modern world) but in three working days I fetched my shiny new Amex card, from the nearest branch of the bank. The service up to this point was excellent, but why, oh why, in this digital age do you have to wait a very long time while the bank clerk patiently waits for their lumbering computer system to process your collection? What’s with the PCs in banks? Invariably the clerk apologises “for our slow system” or – even worse – the dreaded words: “sorry, we’re off-line. You’ll have to come back.” I’ve encountered this often in the bank. And, to be fair, elsewhere.

 
Perhaps, in view of South Africa’s staggering crime rate, the clerks have to navigate an obstacle course of security checks before they can process your request. I don’t know. I remain baffled.

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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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