A Congregation of Vapours
It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, they say. But I'm still looking for the bloody station.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I hasten to reassure readers (if any) that I have not retreated back into hiatus. The only hiatus I have right now is hiatus hernia. Alas, would that it were the worst of my woes. I have suffered some kidney failure resulting in a lot of other nasty symptoms. Going into hospital for an op on Thursday November 27. Just a mild one, scraping the prostate again. In the meantime I feel like an old rag. Blogging will resume after a brief interruption.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Long Street shuffle
The thing about Long Street, the best damn street in Cape Town, is that it tries to be tacky but somehow it always turns out cool. Every square foot of it, from the lacy ironwork of the Victorian facades, through the sidewalk cafes -- big as the Long Street Cafe, with its airy ceiling fans and Fifties wooden furniture, small as the sandwich bar slices the width of a shop door, with two tiny tables huddled on the pavement -- the black widowed porn shops, the backpackers' lodges with sharkdiving adverts, the lush life bars and street-smart clubs, the style stores, book labyrinths, mannequin fantasies, half-recognised languages and secondhand faces, the purple hearts of psychedelia, goths and hipsters, fashionistas, the flash, the trash ... to the old Turkish bath house at the top of the street where it is finally forked by the roads of the rushing city and lost in concrete.
The picture is of the button emporium's SUV, suitably decorated.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The great gales may have ripped tiles off the roof, but the accompanying squalls of late seasonal rain in the Cape Peninsula have endowed us with a sumptuous spring. The clivia this year are the best and most abundant I have ever seen in my garden. They don't last all that long, so a picture was mandatory to remember them by. Double-collared sunbirds are ecstatic under an intense blue sky today, glissading streams of notes from the trees after a week of heavy showers. The front yard is a bit dispirited, generally shady with two big trees erupting from a bricked central bed, and it's difficult to find anything that will thrive there. That will have to be my next mission for the summer.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
No, not a 1960s New Wave movie actress -- Francoise Hardy perhaps? -- but my granddaughter Juliet, at Camden Lock during our recent London jaunt, her first ever trip abroad. Gosh, I never realised how many shoe shops there were in and around the West End. Or clothing stalls in Camden Lock market. I needed a new pair of shoes myself after the apparel adventure. Still, Julie finally came up with a cool leather-style jacket and a pair of ankle boots that apparently gained her supercool status among her pals. And I did get to Forbidden Planet for a book buying spree.
Downsides: seeing off Julie's many admirers, or chancers, who popped up every time my back was turned. Just about everywhere. And given the value of our rand (1 pound = 15 rand), we did a lot of gasping in horror: R50 for a coffee! R30 for a busfare! And so on. In general, transport and food prices seem to have risen exponentially. Clothing, books, music, DVDs and entertainment, reasonable. However our accommodation was a beautifully appointed four-bedroom house in Acton, free, thanks to an internet house swop. They got my two-bed pad on the mountainside in Fish Hoek, near the beach.
Am enthused by the internet thing. Paris next ( had to turn down a nice central apartment) , or Rome (ditto).
Saturday, September 13, 2008
They don't call it the Cape of Storms for nothing. After a mild, not to say serene winter, September 1 marked the first day of spring, ushered in by an almighty gale and a deluge that battered our little town into submission. The catwalk that runs from the beach along the rocks to Sunny Cove station was savaged by raging waves that hurled concrete paving slabs around like playing cards. Not to mention what was left of the old changing room. A reminder that the sea must be treated at all times with extreme respect.
Not that this lesson was taken by the merry souls who celebrate the official start of spring every year with a dip. With the temperature not much above freezing, in they went to frolic in enormous swells that continued to chuck the furniture about after the storm. They were out in a flash. No deaths or injuries but, as one survivor put it, "It was instant brain freeze." Yeah, well, better than being flung against the rocks.
The catwalk was pretty dangerous that day. I picked my way among scattered paving until a big swell sneaked in and sent me scurrying up the grassy bank to cling to the lifesaver's platform. Retreated and squished home on the road.
Today I was sunbathing next to the pool. Glorious. Gotta love the old Mother City.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Sleeping with the fishers
I have become a victim of crime -- a very sneaky, creepy kind of crime. It happened on a Saturday afternoon, sultry and clear, a typical late summer Cape afternoon. I bestirred myself from a fitful doze in the Laz-e-Boy in my study to go out and wash the car. In a couple of minutes the pool guy arrived, bent on installing a new pump (painfully expensive).
When I returned to the study I found the side table next the recliner had moved to the window, and a broken stick lay nearby. My wallet, which I had thoughtfully slapped down on the table earlier, was gone. I found the rest of the stick outside. Yes, the mysterious wallet fisher had struck again.
I finally worked out that, humiliatingly, this could only have happened while I was comatose in the chair. Didn't think to survey the room before going outside ...
Then the cards had to be cancelled, yada yada yada, following which I made a very interesting discovery. Credit cards can be used after they have been cancelled. Probably not possible with a chip card. The bank's "customer care" dude explained that banks have what is called a "floor limit". This is the minimum amount below which the transaction will not need electronic approval from the bank. The sneaks know how to play their cards right.
"What's your floor limit then?" I asked. I mean, you never know when that might come in handy, right?
" Oh, I'm not sure," he vagued. Yeah, right. "It varies from one bank to another."
What's worse, merchants generally do nothing, even if it's obviously a scam, the guy explained. "They fear there are consequences." The reason is that the scammer usually has a heavy dude hanging around outside.
I do believe that not many people know that.
Oh, and the wallet angler is still at large, according to the local cops. What really creeps me out is the thought that he or she must have been watching over the wall from the lane outside.
At least the guys with knives who mugged me on a dark rainy morning in the city had the decency to chuck the wallet away after cleaning out the cash. A very attractive blonde from the financial management company near my office found it, traced me and gave it back. And the city council stuck a CCTV camera at the spot afterwards.