‘The President’s Keepers,’ by Jacques Pauw, published by Tafelberg, has caused something of a sensation here, not least because of government’s clumsy attempts to suppress it – the best publicity that Pauw and his publisher could ask for. Copies of the book have sold like proverbial hot cakes – I had to place a copy on order, and picked it up at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park yesterday. I have hardly been able to put it down since. Apart from anything else, it is damn well written – fast-paced, vivid, more best-selling thriller than sombre analysis. And yet the story […]
With Rob safely and warmly (well, warm indoors I guess) back in our little house in Marchmount Road in Toronto, my thoughts somehow turn to our last days here, back towards the end of 2010, when we had packed up our home in Johannesburg and were doing one last road trip to say goodbye to South Africa, before the big move to Canada, where I would descend into Pearson as a landed immigrant, and set out on the road towards becoming a Canadian. One of the last places we stayed before our departure was the little fishing village of Paternoster, up […]
I was out in the evening, and up early in the morning, as I observed in my last post, chasing the light in the Drakensberg, hoping for something dramatic. What the ‘berg gave me instead was a picture of calm, of light peaceably moving over a silent landscape, as the slow world turned. In the end, I quite like these images.
Ok, so you’ve meandered through the Natal Midlands, you’ve stopped off for a coffee, or a glass of wine at Ardington Winery, you’ve pulled over to take photos of hills, of valleys, of dairy cows contentedly doing whatever it is that dairy cows do on an August morning or afternoon, and then you turn down a winding dirt road, and swing off into a driveway, and there – across a placid pond and beneath the bucolic hills in the distance – what do you find? You find the wildest, craziest, most lunatically imaginative art at Ardmore Ceramics. Now, if you […]
You reach Lindsay Scott’s Hillfold Pottery in Lidgetton in the Natal Midlands by following a dirt road into the hills, climbing through forest, then turning off down a narrow rutted track that makes you wonder why, oh why, do you no longer have the Landy, until suddenly the woodland opens and you are in a sunny clearing where a low bungalow awaits, and the studio beckons. The man himself was there, reserved but gracious, and while he might have been of few words the work spoke volumes. We bought a piece for ourselves, and one or two smaller pieces for […]
These days I work, not in downtown Toronto, but in Pretoria, Gauteng – administrative capital of South Africa, a small city with Boer Republic roots and an African feel, a place of substantial Anglo-Dutch architecture from the nineteenth century commingled with brutalist Afrikaner buildings from the 1970s, and the litter, taxi mayhem and crumbling sidewalks of Maputo or (who knows, since I haven’t been there) Nairobi. I go there, most days, by Gautrain, the gleaming Bombardier-built high-speed commuter train that links Johannesburg with Pretoria and the O.R. Tambo International Airport. Most days, since I try to travel outside of rush […]
The Vedado end of the eight-or-so kilometre Malecon in Havana has a very different feel to it, from the more grandly built-up and fortified stretch toward the harbour mouth. Crumbling apartment buildings face across the dual carriageway, and the sea that crashes coldly into the rocks seems a metaphor for isolation and banishment. People sit on the battered sea-wall, or stare in vain at the horizon, as if waiting for something – the future? – to appear. Here is a final set of images.
Sunday in Jo’burg. The weather unsettled. Breezy, cool, the sky laden with clouds. In another ten days, Rob arrives from Toronto. The house has been found, the movers booked, tomorrow I will go look at a car. Piece by piece, the architecture of this new-old phase of our lives is constructed. To brighten the weekend, here are some more images of Havana’s old cars, this time in colour.
Your upcoming post this weekend will feature the cars of Havana – cars which are not just cars, but markers and expressions of a society, an economy, a particular history. This Chevy truck is not a car, obviously – but deserves a place, perhaps, as a kind of precursor or foreword. No matter how glamorous, how retro, the car in Havana – like the truck, the motorcycle with sidecar, the crazy coco-taxi – is a workhorse. Keep an eye on your inbox.
Cuba’s history, of course – by which I mean only its modern history, which we can date back to the first Spanish warships, sailing off the island in the late 1400s – long predates the Revolution. As Richard Gott explains, in his dry but absorbing Cuba, A New History (published in 2004) there has always been trouble: privateers, conquistadores, slavery, wars and coups, poverty and excess, rebellions and the mafia pock-mark the narrative like bullet-holes in a wall. Visiting Havana, in this sense, means descending into an archeological dig. At the surface is the Revolution, with its heroic moment, followed by […]