Life after aid work: Heading for the exit | Devex

I think all of us wonder, at one time or another, what difference we’ve made in the world, and whether our struggles have been worth it.  Here’s a ‘sadder and wiser’ reflection on this question, from an aid ‘lifer’ – dispiriting reading, I have to say, and with more than a few echoes. It’s an exploration, or excavation, I will no doubt return to, in one of my own blogs – but I’d like to hear from my colleagues and friends, too, about their own reflections. Meanwhile, do try to read this – I apologize in advance, should you find that you’re […]


This morning I received a ‘friend’ request on FaceBook: I don’t really “do” FaceBook although, yes, I know, this blog will be posted to my FaceBook page. But bear with me. The request was from someone I haven’t seen or heard from in, oh, I’d say more than thirty years. We were at varsity together, in the seventies; she went on to join the armed struggle, was detained and, if I am not mistaken, tortured and held in solitary confinement. I’ve followed her career, at a distance, over the twenty or so years since the end of apartheid and the […]

’45 Years’ – distilled

Time strips us bare. In ’45 Years,’ the truths and assumptions that underpin a relationship are called into question when the ground – quite literally – crumbles beneath the feet of a long-married couple. The past is always with us, Faulkner told us – it isn’t even past. Director: Andrew Haigh. Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay. Verdict: Flawless; mesmerising. A good Bordeaux – several glasses.

Peeing babies

Ageing is the law of diminishing returns, in slow-motion action. Everything takes more effort, and the pay-off is smaller. Sex – some people say, though I wouldn’t know this for certain – is a perfect example. Exercise is another. And don’t even mention weight-loss. Mind you, peeing seems to run in the opposite direction. Where once I wouldn’t pee during the night at all, now I can pee two, three, four, five times. That’s progress. Pregnant women, apparently, also pee more often. And babies – babies are the peeing champions! Boy-babies, especially – they can pee straight up and hit […]

Retirement Designer?

I had a lecturer once, when I was a first-year Eng.Lit student at the University of Cape Town, who ran an English Language course which was compulsory and therefore not always popular. Yet I have to say that the course marked me more deeply than I could possibly, as a snotty nineteen year-old, have imagined. One of the professor’s pet loathings (help me, someone, I forget his name, but the moment you mention it I’ll say yes! of course! professor so-and-so! though he might have been – dropping a clue here – a senior lecturer and not a full professor) […]

On Turning 60

Originally posted on Rosemary's Blog:
” . . . wrinkles are the credentials of humanity.” — George Bernard Shaw Birthday candles This is the year that I turn 60 and I’m thankful to have made it this far.  After experiencing cancer for the first time 27 years ago, I’ve never taken the years for granted.  I look at life as a finite gift, and I try to make something special of each day.  Looking ahead, I want to be even more economical with my remaining minutes and put my best energies into the things that matter most to me.…

Dazed by Baez

Joan Baez – Koerner Hall again, this time advance publicity for a concert she will give there on February 27th – is, if you believe her hype, or her publicists’, ‘a musical force of nature whose influence is incalculable…’ Well, okay, I get that Baez has influenced people, I was there, remember, that’s my generation too, but then (you’ll have to pardon me for such an extensive quote, but that’s part of the point, the fact that the blah goes on and on) we get all this, too – more than a musical force, Baez is pitched to us as […]

The Curious Case of the Singer with no Voice: Lisa Fischer at Koerner Hall

Koerner Hall is a fabulous piece of modern architecture, wrapped around the old stone-built Royal Conservatory in downtown Toronto. Rob and I went to a great Hugh Masekela concert there some time ago and loved its warmth, its sense of balance and proportion, its perfect sight-lines and accoustics. And we loved Hugh Masekela. On Friday night, we went to the Koerner to see Lisa Fischer. Lisa Fischer, you may or may not know, is one of the standout backup singers featured in that great documentary about backup singers, ‘Twenty Feet from Stardom.’ If you haven’t seen it, you should. It […]

Old fiction, new bottles

My god, is writing a pain. I mean real writing, like writers do. Like novels and stuff. Frankly I don’t know how they do it. Well, here’s how they do it, so far as I can tell. They write. That’s it. They sit down at the fucking computer, and they write! The only way to do it is to do it. No other way works, apparently. And so – after long dark nights of despair, after fantasies of writing, promises to self about writing, fidgeting and faffing instead of writing, I have (yes, I know) dusted off, metaphorically speaking, the […]