What to do in a lock-down?

What to do in a lock-down? This is a question to myself, you’ll be glad to hear, not another of those claims to instant expertise, sunny wisdom, righteous outrage or uniquely personal angst or fear that seem to be spreading around the globe with the speed and virulence of, well, a Coronavirus or a Donald Trump.

So nothing, then, about that squalid little misfit in the White House, nothing even about our so much more admirable and principled President Ramaphosa, no homilies about how to keep fit, or sane, or just plain human.

Just this.

We are in Day Three of our lock-down, here in Johannesburg. Keeping to ourselves, as we should. We are fortunate. We have our comfortable town-house, with its patio and garden and plunge pool and barbecue. The fridge and freezer are full. Rob has a studio where she can work on her collages, I have an upstairs office from where I can look out at the sky and some trees while I work, or while I video-conference on Zoom, or add a few lines to my novel – there is always a novel, in process, waiting patiently, without cynicism, to step outside, into the light of day. The novel has learned nothing, in more than forty years. It lives in hope. And there is a backlog of photographs waiting to be processed, to be selected and polished and posted on Flickr, a catalogue large enough to outlast this pestilence and any pestilences to come.

So we are, as I say, fortunate. We have kept in touch with family and friends, or they have kept in touch with us, via WhatsApp and FaceTime. As always there are jokes, there are inquiries about one another’s health, about how we are doing. We are doing fine, thank you. A-okay. Normal. Yet there is something in the air, isn’t there, an undercurrent of concern, that wasn’t there before. Like an odour or gas, as I wrote in my diary – yes, I have resumed my diary, too. There are unexpected benefits to being locked up at home.

It won’t be so easy for the people of Alex, for those who are unemployed, who live in the townships or in the poverty-stricken rural areas of South Africa; it won’t be so easy for the vast majority in this country who are unimaginably worse off than we are.

And it won’t be so easy for those on the front lines – the doctors and health-care workers, obviously, but also for the army and the police who are trying to keep the streets clear, the supermarket staff who need to get to work each day, the people who pick up the garbage or – for now at least, thank you Eskom – keep the lights on. Spare them a thought, and a prayer if you have one.

There is a strange sense of calm. Is this the phony war, you wonder, as you follow the news? The pretend-war before the real one arrives? And how bad will it be? Perhaps we will – all of us here in South Africa – get off quite lightly. And perhaps we won’t.

It is too early to tell. So back to our pastimes and interests we will go, to our photographs and collages, to catching up on films – we watched The Piano again, last night, and it still packs a wallop – and following the news while we try not to obsess.

Tomorrow is a work day. The work goes on.

The Bosphorus Ferry

For a couple of weeks now I have been meaning to post these images from a ferry ride up the Bosphorus – there are plenty of sight-seeing trips you can book, to explore Istanbul from the water, but the ferry is the simplest and most affordable, offering a two-hour round-trip from Eminonu by the Galata Bridge for a really quite nominal sum.

But February was a crazy month, and there will be not much let-up until May, at least. Time and energy to catch up with this blog have been a little lacking, and besides, what little time and energy I have been able to muster has gone, instead, into setting up an account on Flickr and figuring out how to set up the right kind of albums to display my photographs.

Here is a link, by the way – please do head on over to Flickr and take a look – even better, sign up to ‘follow’ and receive my updates 🙂

The fact is, I have been looking for some time for the right platform to exhibit my photographs – more and more, I am drawn to photography as a means of discovery and expression – and Flickr seems to be the right jumping-off point to try and build a bit more of a profile as a photographer, and hopefully achieve a bit more exposure than has been possible with this blog.

The blog takes time to write, when sometimes all I want to do is display my photographs. But it serves a different purpose – not so much of getting my words out to the universe (who wants to read the ramblings of some old dude anyway) but to friends and family, and a few brave souls (thank you all!) who take the time to follow my meanderings.

The waters of the Bosphorus are crazy busy!

So, with all that said, back to the ferry!

It’s a great trip, zig-zagging from one bank of the Bosphorus to the other, passing by palaces and villages, offering intimate glimpses of local lives and local places, all unperturbed by the huge cargo ships ploughing their way north, or the busy fleets of smaller craft zipping along the shore. A study in contrasts, too, the ancient and historical framed by the soaring construct of the Bosphorus Bridge suspended across the water.

As always, click on the images to enlarge, and then scroll through.

On the return leg, you head toward the mouth of the Bosphorus again, and you see the beautiful Leander’s Tower in the middle of the channel, and a huge vessel bearing down at speed upon you…. Time to head back to shore, and the steep climb up the hill to the hotel.