Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Darkness at Noon 2

This is becoming very tedious. The nuclear generator has crashed again and the power cuts are rolling across Cape Town. It's pretty obvious that we are being lied to; every time some minor fault on the transmission lines is blamed. Either this is not true, or the generator itself is acting its age (geriatric in nuclear terms). And it takes up to five days to bring it up to speed.

So there I was, sitting in a traffic jam as our deadline for the City Late approached. This allowed me to listen to all of Handel's Water Music, a big fave of mine, followed by the bubbly and talented Miss Jane Monheit on her latest album. Of course, what is considered virtual gridlock in Cape Town would be fairly average traffic in London. Here we expect to keep up a brisk clip through the inner suburbs.

Most popular stock items among the roadside vendors who run up and down between the vehicles at traffic lights: 1 Coat hangers, tops countrywide. 2. Wire ornaments, particularly metal flowers, a craft that began in the townships. 3 Jokes -- a small donation buys you a piece of paper with a picture and a feeble joke on it; the sellers grin and clown their pitch. 4 New, and in with a pellet: catapults -- vendors watch out for cars with small boys in them. 5 Newspapers or the Big Issue Cape Town. 6 Grapes or flowers (real).

With the traffic stalled at dead lights, the fearless entrepreneurs did landslide business today. I imagine even the jokers did well.

A walk along the beach and over the rocks requires only leg power and mine today was rewarded by the remarkable sight of a squadron of cormorants banking over the bay, then adopting line formation and simultaneously divebombing the water, having presumably spotted a large shoal of fish. My camera lens buzzed forth just too late. I waited for a while, hoping they might ascend in unison, but no sign. I guess underwater it's every bird for itself.

Must get this posted before the darkness comes.


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