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.

1 comment:

Miranda said...

Ha. Love it. You're quite a clever one, aintcha? Would love to revisit Gtown one day....been an age. Don't worry about missing this years - next year will be exactly the same.
Good luck with the books. I'll e-mail with names from the pigment pusher.