Stories on Stones

Stories on Stones

At a time like this, when half the world is on lockdown because of the pandemic, when civility and decency and the very foundations of democracy seem at risk in the face of racist populism and rabid know-nothingness, when the planes are grounded and we can barely venture out of our houses, when our ‘advanced’ [...]

Life in Lockdown

Life in Lockdown

I am startled and yet not surprised, in returning to my blog, that almost a hundred days (of solitude, I am tempted to add, in the spirit of Marquez) have passed since my last post. Last time I wrote we were 10 days into the lockdown, and the number of reported cases in South Africa [...]

Staying Home during the Lockdown – Day 10

Staying Home during the Lockdown – Day 10

It is Day 10 of the Covid-19 lockdown, here in South Africa, and autumn is in the air in Johannesburg. It has been an intense week of work, and the calm and quiet are strangely welcome. I say strangely, because the times are not normal, and we stay home not by choice but because we [...]

Joburg Water and the DA City Council

Our water is off again, in Parkmore - not, in this case, on this umpteenth occasion, for some dramatic, globally important reason such as drought or climate change, but simply because of an aging infrastructure, a lack of maintenance, the incapacity and incompetence and lack of responsiveness of local government.... Not, let me add, an [...]

O joy, business travel

O joy, business travel

Business travel is fun, ne? Take Monday, for instance. Up at 4.30 in the morning, to drive to the airport (drive, because the blerrie Gautrain workers are on strike), attend two (good) meetings with the Western Cape government, go for a (very good) lunch at a brand new restaurant on Bree Street, then head back [...]

The Ale House

The Ale House

We headed out, last Sunday, Kathy and Tom and Rob and I, to the Magaliesberg, to our favourite bush-pub, the Ale House - only to find it had moved. How does a bush pub move, one might ask? Very slowly? Anyhow, we tracked the place down to its new home, on the road past Hartebeespoort, [...]

Johannesburg Art Gallery – Seven Images

Johannesburg Art Gallery – Seven Images

JAG - the Johannesburg Art Gallery - is, as I've mentioned in a previous post, a once-grand edifice, marooned like an old freighter on the manic reef of downtown Johannesburg. You enter (for free) through a turnstile, and as you do so, the last survivor of the shipwreck emerges from the wheelhouse beside the door, [...]

Tuinhuys, in Black and White

Tuinhuys, in Black and White

Tuinhuys (the Garden House) is the Cape Town office of the Presidency, a lovely piece of architecture with a history that goes back, as everything does in South Africa, to slavery and colonialism. It was from here that FW de Klerk declared the end of apartheid; it was from here that Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and [...]

Reflections on Tillmans

Reflections on Tillmans

The work of Wolfgang Tillmans, a German photographer, seems perfectly housed in the downtown, chaotic, teeming environment in which the Johannesburg Art Gallery has washed up, like a shipwreck on the beach after Fukushima, faintly radioactive. Much of Tillman's art is seemingly artless - and sometimes, in his work, to my eye at least, art [...]

Sea Washing

Sea Washing

On the north side of the quay, just across the way from the Cape Grace Hotel, is the Victoria Basin, and a dry-dock where Taiwanese trawlers come to have their paintwork and their bodywork done - like elderly ladies at a beauty parlour. It is a study in contrasts. A contrast I like even more, [...]