Monday, June 30, 2008

recent research shows

"Woman overwhelmed by Sunday papers"

Here are the fake headlines I wish I could see this Monday. The news is so dreary this side, I thought I needed to invent some antidotes.

Mugabe bows out gracefully.
"I have realised the error of my ways," says former president and liberation leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe in a suprise move this week. "My people are suffering and it is time to put them first. An election with only one candidate is not really an election at all, but I thought I would carry on the joke just to put one over on Blair's puppets. Now however, I am stepping down and would like to call on the people of Zimbabwe to freely choose the way forward. This week we will launch 'Operation Heal and Reconcile', whereby my personal millions will be pumped into a campaign of consultation and public crisis solving." Thabo Mbeki was unavailable for comment.

Arts council awards grants to unknown writers.
In a suprise move this week, the National Arts Council has decided to award a series of large grants to unknown talents in an effort to develop theatre and literature in the country. "It is difficult to get ahead in the arts in South Africa as too often the grants are awarded to tried and tested names, or to those whose work serves a political agenda," said the Minister of Arts and Culture in an early interview this morning. "To counter this, we invite writers and unknowns to submit their proposals and samples of their work." More than 100 artists will be given an all-expenses paid year of leave in the destination of their choice, in order to write the next great works of literature for the continent. "We will also be searching the blogosphere for worthy recipients of the prize," added the minister.

Mining companies pour millions into rehabilitation of wetlands
Major mining houses have responded to environmentalist's calls for responsibility towards the communities and ecosystems in which they operate...

Clean Energy Bill to be passed immediately
"Forget Eskom, solar and wind energy are the future," says government energy commission in a recent move to bring clean energy to the masses.

Mass movement to build houses, create jobs for foreigners
Hundreds of South African citizens are building houses and opening their doors to foreign nationals in a massive effort to provide refuge for those running from their countries of origin. "We just can't sit by and see our fellow Africans abused and homeless" said one South African national who wishes to remain unnamed. "Since our government is not doing much, we decided that it is up to us to make our brothers and sisters welcome. We need them to teach us their skills, and in return we are starting a job-sharing initiative." Community members said that by 2010 they hoped to have integrated the influx of people into schools, hospitals and police force. "We recognise that together we can build a great nation. They will help us to fight crime and take back our streets. Once we have done this together, we will go with them to help them fight the struggles in their own countries. We can make this continent a place of justice and prosperity, if we stop waiting for our leaders to show the way."

Sigh. Happy Monday everyone.
Recent research shows that avoiding the news for one week will improve mood and reduce dentistry bills...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You cannot book a ticket in the past

Oh dear. One shouldn't make promises in blogs. Time moves faster than intentions. I said in the last post that I'd share with you how I faced down the immoveable hulking cash flow blockade and applied a problem-solving process in a late night insomnia party for one in my bathroom.

But I don't want to bore you. Suffice to say that Mercury retrograde has loosened its grip. The communications planet has removed his spanner from the works and the wheels are turning again. My books arrive today! All 83 boxes of them. I cannot quite visualise how mountainous this will be but have primed surfaces in the cellar and the room-that-will-one-day-be-the-gymn. I accepted a loan from the injured one to get the books here. I discovered that I forgot to invoice for a job last month so a tiny windfall, well, breeze-fall, really will wend its way into my account. Sighs of relief all round.

And I'm not going to Grahamstown. Its always strange not to attend the festival. Its become part of my DNA. Bumping into traders trying to sell you foolish hats. Fending off dishevelled bands of streetkids singing shosholoza. Picking your way through shredded trodden posters in last nights mud while vigorous mimes push flyers at you and the cold snaps at your neck. Never quite managing to shake that 'what am i missing' feeling, sure that the show you chose not to go to might be better than this one. Jostling through drunk tekkies at the Long Table while trying to get to the bar. Mustering smiles for the clawing hordes of hungry-ghost actors Darling! Who are you here with? Do come and see my show. What show did you bring? Do come and see my show Have you seen soandso's I heard its not that good You must come and see my show what did you say you were doing again?

Aah, Grahamstown you old whore. How she dolls herself up in the weeks before fest. All that neon and the perky little come-and-get-some signs. The one night hotdog stands, the overnight coffeeshops in someone's lounge. The kilometres of cable, strapping and gaffertape holding together the seen-better-days bits, tucking away flab and hiding bad wiring. The posters, so crisp and inviting at first, soon succumb to wind and sog and sag. Bit like the actors, really. And everybody wants some of the action. The east cape kudu farmers with their biltong and boerie rolls. The hippies with their crystals and incense. The beautiful Xhosa mamas, resplendent with their white dot make-up and red and black or white and black wrappings.

How she opens herself to them at first, spreading wide. But after the first week the sub-station blows, the wind blows, the teens bunking out of school blow their cover, their streetkids blow their earnings, the lighting designers run out of blow and have to send to PE for more.

On that last Sunday, when the vendors have packed up their marked-down from rock-bottom wares, potters wrapping up their unsold fragiles and Hare Krishnas giving away their last holistic chickpea fudge. The festival office pays out millions to artists who will be a little less hungry for, oh about 2 weeks. The overnight coffeeshops close up as quickly as they rose up. One sturdy streetkid tries for one last disjointed round of shosholoza. And the rain comes down. Washes away the posters and the flyers and the grime and the vomitty gutters. The last roll of cable is rolled. And if you wind down your window on the N2 you can just about hear her sigh. She's sore, and dirty and stretched thin like raggedy pantyhose. But she'll do it all again next year of that you can be sure.

No I shan't miss it. I shall swallow this feeling of betrayal, like the regular who chooses another trick for the night.

I couldn't make it work this year. Bad planning, no cash, and frazzled nerve endings. I looked online for tickets, and was gonna book. But I forgot to check the month box on the return flight and the site sagely told me, "you cannot book a ticket in the past."


And besides, my books are coming. I got work to do.

There's plenty more to say about that there little annual arts festival and its the subject for many more posts, i don't promise.

Friday, June 20, 2008

nothin goin on but the rent

Somewhere in the late 80's at St Andrews Secondary school, Blantyre. Me and my mates and our 'flicked' hairdos and our (probably) hot pink skirts and our plastic gummy shoes and our beatbox. Probably the top dorm, in Livingstone hostel. Where the girls get a couple of hours "free" time on a Saturday afternoon after our weekly trip to town,where we gorged ourselves on fanta floats at the green and pink ice-cream palace. And stocked up on essentials like sickly sweet smelling spray deo, packets of custard creams and cassava crisps from the Kandodo, sachets of Malawi gin smuggled in our bras and 10packs of Life cigarettes.

Me and my girls in the dorm at the top of the steps. Or was it already that cubicled arrangement where everyone started falling out miserably coz you could hear each other's girly alliances and heartbreaks through the cardboard walls. Whichever dorm it was, you could be sure that on a saturday afternoon in 1988 the air would be tangled with the tunes from several competing beatboxes. Maybe Aggie and her gang had some Lionel Ritchie going. Billie would undoubtedly be listening to her heartthrob Billie Idol's white wedding. Mel and Kim, or Salt n Peppa clanging with someone else's crooning Billy Ocean and someone else's moonwalkin Michael Jackson. This was my education, people. When people talk to me about TV from those years I got no matching files. We had weekend video night, sure. How many times is it possible to watch Ferris Beula's Day Off or endless Eddie Murphy? Well, I guess we in the back row weren't actually watching. But when it came to the important stuff we quoted sound bytes from Whitney, Feargal Sharkey and the Boss. And of course the inimitable Gwen Guthrie:
"No romance without finance
No romance without finance

Boy, nothin' in life is free
That's why I'm askin' you what can you do for me
I've got responsibilities
So I'm lookin' for a man whose got money in his hands

`Cause nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You got to have somethin' if you wanna be with me
Oh, life is too serious, love's too mysterious
A fly girl like me needs security

`Cause ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent
You got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me
Ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent
You got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me

No romance without finance
I said no romance without finance"

Yes, scary isn't it? There are a couple of songs that really embedded themselves in there as anthems for a group of awkward gin-sneaking Life-smoking we'resocoolkids who hung out at the Art Block. "Don't want no short-dick man" we'd assure each other like we were doing the haka. Did we even know what we meant?

Funny thing is, tho. I am utterly unable to assimilate these wise words drifting back at me from a couple of decades back. I don't mean the bit about the short dick man. I mean the bit about the damn rent-paying man.

So here I am, officially unemployed, but in reality far too busy to be interested in holding down a real job. The man is doing rather well, and generously offering financial assistance whenever I get that pale look as the end of the month comes hurtling towards me. But I find it so damn hard to accept. I engage in juvenile power plays and inadequacy self-talk marathons. Even tho two years back it was me with the J.O.B. while he wrote dictionaries and engaged in dodgy publishing contracts. I get seriously miffed when my independence is tested (by my own exacting standards) and found wanting. When I want to go to an arts festival and can't finance it myself. When I have a period like I've just had, where for the life of me I cannot figure out how to crack the veiled seals and codes of capital and my account starts to flatline. What is going on? Take the money with a smile, girl. The words you're looking for are "thanks, see you next week."


So anyway, this was all by way of a long introduction to something else I wanted to share - how I applied a problem solving process to my wretched cash flow situation, all alone in a party for one in the bathroom. However the day beckons and I will have to serialise this, and give you part 2 tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

heart[h] and home

thought of the day. if you take the h from in front of heart and put it at the end, you get earth.

Today I we mined for gold and found it. So rare, these moments of real heart connection in corporate contexts. I worked for months last year developing a training programme for a big cellphone company. A training programme designed along the lines of an initiation day. A finely balanced combination of theatre games, playful exercises and mind muscle problem games. You've got to love it when it works and it only works when you love it and for a sheer uninterrupted stretch of about 35 minutes we found real openings in people. An exercise in connecting your childhood passions and fascinations to what you are currently doing, no matter how dreary. I wasn't trusting the exercise at first and was going to chuck it coz we were running late but then decided to do a shortened version. To my amazement people shared, found energy in a usually sagging post lunch hour and we just kept rolling.

Perhaps the sabbatical that became a 6 month non earning period has been good for refreshing my playreflexes. It felt good today. I could do more of this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

hard knocks and shortfalls

Its those tiny pinhead moments that can prise your life apart. The short sharp tap of a diamond edge hammer that sends fragments flying.

We were lucky. It could've been like that but it wasn't.

Its been a wild few days. I'm doing too much, trying to keep too many balls in the air. Again. Aside from designing a play that is being rehearsed in another city and that opens in yet another city in just a week, I am also trying to piece together various other bits and pieces. The corporate training gig that has been on hold forever starts tomorrow morning and I had to drive to Pretoria to go through the strategy with my co-trainer, and pick up dvds along the way. Also on the side, trying to scrape together a marketing plan (and implement it) for the books that (still!) haven't arrived from Durbs. Also finish off various proposals and complete the self-imposed deadline of finishing my play before the festival. Agh sies man.

And then yesterday my beloved narrowly missed a Darwin award by falling 2 metres off a ladder onto a hard brick driveway while pruning the avocado tree.


You know when you see it happening before it does? Like the glass of red wine on the edge of the table and you know you must move it and then you don't and then it does get knocked over and you think your dread thought actually caused it?

Me: Um,that ladder doesn't look so safe, don't you wanna rather use the other one. Are you sure its ok?
He: Oh, stop fussing. Its fine.

But he does replace it with the sturdy metal one.

Me: Can't you just wait til I've finished this phone call? Then I can help.
He: Oh man, I've been wanting to do this job for two weeks!

In the pause between breath and fall. Between gasp and shout. Damn its a long time. But not long enough to reach out and pluck someone from the air. The branch sprung, knocked the ladder out from under him. I saw it happen in slomo.
"The concrete broke your fall" sings Michael Stipe. But we were lucky this time. My poor one, he is very very sore and bruised and probably has a couple of broken ribs. But he didn't sever an artery on the bowsaw he was holding. He didn't crack his head or break his neck. We don't need to buy a wheelchair as our next very expensive purchase. He can't burp laugh breathe cough or put on a jersey without shouting an angry shout but he will be ok.


So I spent the day driving to xrays and chiros and have not got anywhere near my to-do list. Postings may be sparse in the next few days.

Oh. And am fighting with blogger to figure out why the hell i don't have an add page elements button so those of you that dearly deserve to be on my blogroll, please be patient, I am not good at this stuff. In the meantime I am ecstatic that I have a tiny group of people who do come here, even if they are shy to leave comments. THANKYOU!! It means the world, serious.

Friday, June 13, 2008

where do i apply for my poetic licence?

It would be nice, wouldn't it? I mean, wouldn't it make life easier? If you could just whip out your little id card and say, well, actually I'm allowed to be staring vacantly out the window. See, here's my licence.

I wonder, would it entitle you to some form of legal protection. Or at least a support network. Like the medical associations. The Chiropractic Association. We all get together once a month and discuss similes, exchange rhymes. Or would be even be able to organise ourselves enough to demand a basic wage for poets... hmm. prolly not.

Would it make you feel a little less guilty about being in bed at 9 on a friday morning in winter with a laptop and the electric blanket on? Or wandering randomly around shopping malls staring and staring "through the bars of the rhyme" and wondering and wandering?

I wonder, what would it take to get your licence revoked? The overuse of cliches? A slightly too obvious appropriation of someone else's clever image? "I'm sorry maam, that's just one too many split infinitives. You're over the limit. We're going to have to endorse your licence."

I mean, could it help you to actually get away with pushing a slightly sad pun as far as I am trying to, right now?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

actually, you did promise me a rose garden

Aaah, relationships. You gotta love em. How sweetly we imagine our lives together. When its early days and our dreams are still blushing and we are still wrapped in promise like buds.

If, like me, you forget to get married, coz it's just not important and who needs a piece of paper anyway, there comes a day when the go-luckyhappy days suddenly smack you from behind and you think oh Shhhheeeeit, where did all the time go?

So you sort of airily propose to the boy during the news one evening and he says, oh, yeah, ok, organise it then.

When you've been through so damn much together including two unsuccessful break-ups that you've learned that the grass on this side is actually waaaayy greener than the grass over there.

When you've taught each other to love, to talk, to cook, to be grown ups, navigate without maps and find g-spots, e-spots, f-spots and picnic spots.

And now you finally have a veggie patch to call your own, and two cats in the yard.
Aah, how wild the future used to be. How we would travel, garden, strut and shop. How famous we would be. How our dreams would swell like cumulo-nimbus in the high-veld skies. And now you look at me and you think i want more. You think "its not enough for her." You think you've come short.

I wanted to write you a love letter. I wanted to tell you -
I never wanted the damn rose garden. I'm happy with the spinach, darling, and that handsome lavender at the front step.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the tunnel and the egg

I'm running a nursery for tiny little pink hairless creative projects.

Throughout my childhood it was my sister who was the nurturing one when it came to taking in orphan creatures. My attention span lasted as long as the pull of the next chapter of my book. I was more interested in the adventures of Dick, George and Timothy the Dog. [Aaah, that George, who was 'almost as good as a boy'. I think I fancied that George. but this is another story]. Miranda, on the other hand, could wake up at hourly intervals throughout the night to feed some see-through pink squidget that couldn't even squawk. The squirrels, the mice, the tiny birds with their stumpy wings. Many of them didn't even last long enough to get hair, feathers or a personality. But she persisted. The milk in the eye dropper, the pro-nutro mush when they got a bit older.

And the heartache. Many mornings she woke up to a small corpse in the shoebox next to the bed. Or worse, the almighty Fang, our domestic cat plucked them right off her shoulder. Her anguished cries might have caught my focus for a minute or two, she may have got a grunt of sympathy for me before I was back in Narnia, or Nancy Drew land. But sure enough a week or two later, it was "oh, sweeeeeeeet" and another little fuzz-less mite was getting the glass dropper treatment. And every now and then, one would make it through to adulthood and what a fine companion she would then have. I'm thinking of the bigger ones of course - the cuddly porcupine, the hotbodied warthogs, or frenetic banded mongoose.

I feel a bit like that now. I have at least 6 proposals for theatre or book projects that will happen if I can just get the universal teat full enough for one of them to grow a bit of fur. Aaah, that teat.

A friend in Cape Town said that he admired fundraisers because they divert global funds to humanity's highest and noblest ideals. Mmm, lovely thought. And then there's Shri Shri Ravi Shankir, the Art of Living guru's famous response to one of his participants who asked "But where will the money come from?" when they were discussing a new project. He looked at her with his benificent smile and said "From wherever it is at the moment!"

Of course. So lets see, the wish list. There's the Great Walk. To get all the local and international organisations that work for causes like human trafficking, child slavery, etc etc, and do a long walk from Ujiji to Bagamoyo (the slave caravan route of old), culminating in a street carnival at the Bagamoyo arts festival, where each organisation has its own float, and then there's and a performance of Susi and Chuma, a half play I'm writing about Livingstone's loyal friends and pall bearers and their long walk to Bagamoyo...

Then there's the Zambezi play - a visual spectacular with puppets and physical theatre that tells the tale of a girl's journey down the Zambezi from source to ocean...

Then of course there's the play I've just finished writing. Anyone want to sponsor a production of the first ever bush memory mystery play?

Oh and don't forget the children's story, the organisational development self-help book, the Atlantis project - a movie about women who believe they are reincarnated scientists from Atlantis come to save the planet...

Last but not least there's the Inanna myth contemporary opera, this one on its way to a stage near you by, oh I don't know, around 2011...

Now of course, more pressing than ever, a new one - workshops on xenophobia for reintegration programmes in Cape Town and Joburg...

No, ideas are not the problem. Capitalism is. And the uncanny lack of patrons knocking at my door. Damn.

Writing proposals is a curious activity. Its writing the fiction of fiction. A document describing a document that doesn't yet exist, but will, if you (o esteemed producer/corporate social responsibility officer /gatekeeper of public funds) can just bear to part with the $10 000 needed to make it all happen.

Its like hatching crocodiles. Another activity Miranda was far better at than I. All these fierce little lives waiting inside the shell for the squeaks which cue them to start busting out. One squeak wakes up the next which wakes up the next. Squeak squawk from the first little slippery leathery beast. Hold your breath. Silence. Wait. Then a quiver from the shell next door and that one starts to press his shell-breaking tooth against his eggshell walls. Next thing there's a whole seething squawking slippery mass of baby crocodiles nudging and snapping and squirming, blissfully unaware of a future date when their sexy skins will house crisp dollar bills and elegant Italian feet.

But for every writhing snapper there's a silent egg. A dud that didn't squirm or squeak or wake up. And in the wild only one or two of those hatchlings will actually end up as a big old ten-foot lazy eyed croc basking on a sandbank provoking reptilian shudders in the back of a tourist brain.

So here's to the one that makes it. And here's to the hope that if many make it, they don't all hatch at once, coz that's gonna be some mean-ass feeding we'll have to do.

Anyone know of a professional egg-sitter I can borrow for a while?

Sunday, June 8, 2008


When i left cape town in 2002 people were aghast that i could even consider exchanging the mountain for the minedumps.
Trying to cheer me up, a friend's husband said - "they say its not that bad." (in joburg, he meant).
"There's, um.. there's a lot of benefits. Like... the absence of the south easter."

For a long time after i left cape town i would get spatial memories that would revisit randomly. I often get these. in the morning sitting meditation - a sudden rush, i'm beamed to a certain section of street in mowbray. why that particular street corner, i can't tell. Or a moment outside the baxter theatre, stepping on acorns. always sudden and mundane memories, never the splendour of the mountain, the magnificent talking rocks of Llandudno (they do talk, they ooooze, those rocks, you must just listen carefully. they have a lot to say). just the memory of a gaaitjie's call outside chippies in obz. or a wet stink near the station, those steps up on the civic centre side as you go towards the taxi rank. Being blown down strand street with my sister, where we literally had to hold on to the poles coz the south easter was blowing so hard we couldn't be upright.
Ok some of those memories are more dramatic. The particularly inclement august of 2002, i was driving the red hilux while B was in Joburg as a migrant labourer and I faced down two magnificent storms all on my own. One, i drove right into after a late shift at the fancy restaurant - 2 am and bone ache weary but i had to get home. As i hit the M5 the sky was whipping itself up into histrionics. Even in the hilux which usually felt like a tank, i was vulnerable and scared as vasco da bloody gama in his wooden ship. Bushes on the roadside churning, and i didn't know whether to pull off and wait or drive on through it.
Another night - I was spoiling for a fight with the elements and deliberately drove out into a monster storm. the rain on the road swirling like mosquito nets caught in a demon ceiling fan. I love the way something in you responds to the sky on a night like that. Come and get it!! Whatcha lookin at mr raincloud? and oh how you are humbled. seconds into driving up boyes drive my windscreen got such a thrashing i couldn't see a damn thing and the one thing i really couldn't do was turn around. without hurtling down a precipice.
From the relative tranquillity of a highveld winter, even though its bone breaking frosty some mornings, its easy to long for a cape storm. and from the warmth of my cousins's gorgeous bed right now i'm loving the sound of that pummeling wind. aaah, bring it on.

All my ranting and raving about hospitality the last weeks, i realise I'm better at giving it than receiving it. I loathe asking for lifts and being reliant on people. but everyone has been so kind, feeding and lifting me. and wine really does taste better in cape town, i can safely say i've done enough tests to establish a broad range of results. oh, except the control tests. umm.

People come here for the wine, the mountain, the penguins, robben island, clifton, oh there's so much to do. Me, i like the weather. And maybe as the global climate brews its menopausal changes, we can consider weather tourism as the next big thing. Cyclones in cypress, brow blisters in botswana, wild winds in the western seas. Bring your own titanium umbrella, your teflon anorak. Don't forget your snorkle.

Well its late and tomorrow its mine dumps instead of this sculpted bit of rock exerting its magic pull (which i've discovered is much improved if you just rehydrate and keep drinking water!).

thank you so much my cape town hosts. when the wind blows you north, you are most welcome.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I'm having a very full week in Cape Town, so nothing new from these fingers ... this may be cheating, to post an old piece like this, but its something I wrote when I was last living here (some years ago) and it still feels relevant. It was published on planet waves, one of my favourite sites. It's part of a bigger series of pieces of speculative fictions.
Here goes then:


Addictions creep in on us like ants in the night. Red ants which give the signal to bite only when they have the body covered. We used to put ash from the fire around our house at night, to seal ourselves off from the red ants. But now it is years later, and I understand that we invited them in. They came to us to show us, how we were. How our gin cravings and our next cigarette cravings choke us in the night. I don’t want to wait, for some stranger to approve the scripts I write before they are shown to the world. We don’t want to wait, for the black jacketed white men of the world to hear us, and pull us through their paradigms. We know the world is dying. We can hear it in our coffee cups in the morning. We can hear it in the crackle of our cigarettes. We know that we don’t want to be smokers. But we want the next cigarette. Like the CEO who knows, he doesn’t want his children to inherit a charcoal world. But he wants the next deal. He wants it bad, like the red ants want our blood in the night. My dreams eat me. I see my river, choked with plastic bags. I see the paper, reamed and jacketed, trees shredded and refined into black and white environmental reports that doom our forests, our rivers, our stormy skies. Or those other skies, that seem to have no storm, no fight left in them. Crops, swindled by rain that was supposed to come from somewhere further north, only it can’t come from there any more, because the trees that were there have given up the fight. I reach for another puff of a tobacco wish fulfillment, and know that all across the peninsular, and further upwards into the desert lands and beyond, cars fart their defeated sighs, factories squeeze diseased feces into the night. And conscience attacks all at once, like red ants in the dark I see the children’s dreams, their words being neatly sewn up by the voices of their elders, who have left them no hope to speak out. No hope of being heard. The image of elephants running, one of the saddest sights of the world. Elephants running with their tails shrunk against their sphincters. Knowing the suffocation of a constricted landscape. Sighing their deep infra sound sighs, hearing throttle engines and mistaking that sound for the throb of machine guns. In the south they are waiting for thunder. For the comfort of the rains their grandmothers had. When it comes, their crops shudder to the ground, gone. In the north, the rains don’t seem to stop. The weather doesn’t play along, in the capitalist game show. Wishes don’t turn to water. Water can’t be wasted. So even tears don’t come, and parents console themselves that at least the children have stopped crying. In the middle of the night, a marketing manager for Coca Cola chokes on his tie in his dream. He sees how tons of water are mixed, every day with tons of sugar, and how that sugar was made by thirsty reeds pulling water from the earth’s secret savings. He wakes in the night, thirsty from the wine of the night before. He stumbles from his bed as his wife is sleeping, he turns on the tap, and water flows from it, soothing his mouth and his smoking brain. He goes back to sleep, and in the morning his coffee tastes the same again. As he gets into his car to get to work, he notices for the first time the small shrub next to his car. How beautiful it is, with perfect independent leaves. He remembers how he felt when he saw his daughter’s small fingers for the first time. He makes a note to find out what species it is. How it got there. How it continues to exist, so miraculously, while he ploughs through traffic. At work he is consoled: his company is launching a new social responsibility programme to alleviate poverty and provide education for young people. Reaching into the community. This is what makes it worthwhile, staying where he is. Providing meaning in his day. By the time he comes home in the evening, and his wife is distant, and his son’s asthma seems to have improved, he knows, he knows that he is making a difference. He’ll give up smoking soon. He can see it is doing no good. He is ok, we are all doing ok, he tells her. We are doing ok.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

its the mountain, mama

Have you noticed how some people always need an alibi to excuse the work they have done?
"I'm sorry its all I could manage - there's so much going on at the moment"
"I'm really not coping at the moment - i should have spent more time on this - please understand..."
"I'm afraid I haven't quite cracked it, but...take a look and, of course I can make any changes..."
the implication always being that the work done is not quite up to scratch. that it could've been better, if not for x, y and z. which all conspired to keep you from your best.
hmm. Some people.
Why can't the work just be what it is - you did what you could with the circumstances being what they are. It might withstand criticism, it might improve with a bit of tweaking - but its the best you did and that is simply good enough.
some people, i tell you.
like the ones who say "i hardly touched my books" before the exam but they always get a first class pass anyway.
or the actress who says, "oh no, you weren't at last night's show were you? I was so off last night."
eish. those people.
What does it really signify though, the alibi? that everything you ever do is not perfect, that if it wasn't for circumstances you would just be so much better, at everything. life gets in the way of perfection. so you can never just be - good enough. but isn't there an inverted arrogance in this?
isn't the implication - "i'm actually much better than this, just that you are not getting to see it [right now, because of x, y and z]".
huh. some people.
I don't consider myself a designer anymore. its been at least 3 years since my last professional job. I'm rusty. my drawings are as stiff as my neglected hamstrings. I'm feeling so damn full of self questioning and "i could've but..." I don't trust myself to make the right decisions on this job. Quite honestly, I'd rather be doing things I do better.

But I do have an alibi. It's cape town. Its that damn mountain. I casually mentioned that since I stepped off the plane I got a couple of notches stupider, and my brain feels like its got a hazy fuzz around it. Like i forgot to eat lunch. That feeling. The one that makes you drive like a doos and not be able to do simple arithmetic. or spell it, for that matter. The cousin says its a known phenomenon and that when she goes to Joburg she's definitely more switched on. That the mountain's magnetism keeps everyone slightly fuzzy.

There you go. that's why.
Normally i would do a very good design job. you know, back in my day i was quite a hotshot. i made killer sets. I used to get all the jobs in Grahamstown, you know, back when i was the er, only designer there. If it wasn't for this damn mountain and the fact that i'm so rusty, i would kick this job's ass. I would.
It's just that -
Eish, I tell you. Some people.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I'm in Cape Town for the week. I'll be staying with my dear cuz as of tonight, on her incredibly comfortable bed with her magnificent view. I'll be creating the set for a play that Yvette is directing for the festival. hmmm. A bit daunted by this as I am very rusty with design stuff. Ah weell.

so i may post dribs and drabs but not sure what my schedule will allow.

last night kind P put me up, which was a strain for her I know coz her dog was ailing. Badly. But lots of liver and water and he seems to have turned the corner in the night.

she also has a pretty impressive view.
thanks P!