I promise. I won't mention it once.
I'm just feeling a sudden rush and swell of goodwill towards the beautiful city I live in.
This happened prior to reading this hilarious article by Jeremy Clarkson about our lavender lined streets. Ok, so Jeremy hasn't been to Alex in winter near midnight, and obviously hasn't had the experience of being young sexy poor female and Zimbabwean on the streets of Hillbrow, or rich and driving a verrrry desirable car on the Malboro offramp, but still - he's right, to a certain extent. Joburg is piss-easy and safe, if you play it right.
I'm busy working on a little something with a dear friend, for the Grahamstown festival. A piece about Jozi. A love poem to Jozi. An exploration into - what is it that makes you love and survive this place? One of my favourite things in this city is listening to people give directions. It literally makes me gas up with giggles, I can't quite say why. Its a certain goodwill promise we have to each other as citizens - we help you get where you need to be. You take the Riviera offramp, ok, then turn left but get into the right lane immediately...then right and second left into, I think its second avenue Houghton...
Oh, I could write a whole play with people giving directions. Or a dance piece. lost people, giving each other directions and missing. Wrong turns and dead ends, cordoned off streets "for security reasons" and negotiating the space between the rising panic of being lost and the delight of discovering a new road or two in a part of town you've never been.
I love this mad city, all of a sudden. When I was 17 my dad owned a flat in Hillbrow - its now a derelict part of town, but (perhaps) on the rise again. Oh, I remember walking up the rise of the 'brow, to the bookshop, to Look n Listen. I remember buying James Dean posters in the poster shop, feeding a sweet teenage obsession. I remember getting flashed by a Twist street vagrant - a foreshadowing of the days when one wasn't allowed to walk those streets alone. Again.
Aah, but this city gets her grip around you, and I'd never have said that five years ago when I was trying to be faithful to The Mountain (of Cape Town. yes, Shiny, I'm talking to you).
I love her history - the gangs, the fever of goldrush, the sudden streets, the dustbowl politics and the hastily erected rules and regulations and streets and forest plantations.
I love the way whole streets and buildings have their identities erased and pasted over and erased again. Joburg has been built and rebuilt and erased and built again several times over.
I dunno, I reckon the city she has a certain something, bouganvillia and koi pond outlets aside.
Since the Georges first hit paydirt here, and the whole fabric of lies and hustle and bluff started to gather momentum, I reckon its a space where you can spin your own hustle and bluff and blunder and people might just actually pay you for it. The tricky part is, she can just just as easily eat you alive as pay you out for your chutzpah. What's it gonna be?
Ah, Jozi, my city. You wanna visit? Text me, I'll give you directions.