WLR inclusion

Just a quick link to a “creative nonfiction” piece in this quarter’s World Literature Review magazine.

Here is that link:


Our protagonist is ostensibly chatting to a gentleman at a party, but her mind is a million miles away: apparently knee-deep in white guilt and self-doubt over her parents’ roles in pre-94 South Africa.

Sheesh. I know, right?

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I do want to say that one of the photographs illustrating the piece is – in my humble opinion, at least – rather good.

Spanish fire ignition

I saw this headline on the pisspoor CNN site:

And I was immediately reminded of this meme* (which I have to say is still one of my all time favourites):

And continuing the coprological theme, you can file this “flammable stuff will catch fire when it gets hot enough to catch fire” revelation under the heading “Sherlock, No shit”:

Authorities said the fire likely began when an “improperly managed” pile of manure self-combusted in the heat, causing sparks.
Spontaneous ignitions can occur when flammable materials, such as piles of hay, compost or manure heat up to a temperature high enough to cause combustion, according to the US National Park Service.

Notwithstanding that for shit to catch fire, it really does have to be very hot, prompting all sorts of trendy hashtags like “#climatechangeisreal” and the like. And yes, it is, but I’m so fed up of the way it’s shared with us. So yes, I need to do a proper Climate Change post, but that’s for another day.

Meanwhile, temperatures in Europe continue to rise even beyond the heady heights of this time last year, when we were dying of heat on the Canal du Nivernais. This was the heatmap for France this last week:

I mean the one on the left, obviously. If ever there was a poster pic for the Climate Change media, this would surely be it. Ugh.

The top temperatures being experienced across France and Spain are certainly toasty, but certainly no worse than a warm February day out in Paarl, which does make me wonder why there aren’t more manure fires each summer in our Winelands.

Maybe South Africans are just better at managing their shit?


* The original painting is known as “Portrait Of A Young Man”, painted by Italian artist Alessandro Allori in 1561. The painting is currently exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. 

Dead cat

You either love him or you hate him: the current marmite of UK politics is PM-contender Boris Johnson. But this isn’t supposed to be the preamble to a post which will divide my readership, it’s merely a means to share this quote he made in 2013, and which is back in the news:

When you are in trouble, diversionary tactics can be a useful way of escaping immediate censure. In politics is almost routine, because all you need is a suitably foolish audience (and god knows that the voting public are pretty much that).

Recent (just before the general election) local case in point:

JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has weighed in on Tuesday afternoon’s altercation between eNCA journalist Samkele Maseko and African National Congress (ANC) deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

The ANC’s integrity committee is set to look at the processes around candidate lists.

Duarte revealed this in a post-NEC meeting briefing earlier on Tuesday.

The move follows reports that the ANC’s candidate lists have been tampered with.

Serious stuff. This is basically who gets to sit in Parliament for the next 5 years if the ANC get enough votes (which they were obviously always going to). And it seems like the process may have been interfered with?

Not good.

Remember this line?

Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality, the worse it is for you and your case.

Jessie remembered.

What happened next was that poison dwarf Duarte flung a dead cat onto the table – and the eager reporters present were… well… perfectly outraged, alarmed, disgusted.

But the rest of the briefing on what the ANC’s top decision-making body had discussed was overshadowed by Duarte’s public altercation with a journalist.

During a briefing with reporters at Luthuli House, Duarte described Maseko as arrogant, saying he thought of himself as “lord of the media” instead of the mere journalist that he is.

And the newspapers were full of that instead of whether or not the candidate lists of the ruling party had been compromised.

Thing is, anyone with half a brain will see directly through your flimsy tactic and completely ignore it, so Duarte was clever with her perceived “attack” on Maseko: playing for a defensive, emotional response from his colleagues present. And getting it. Because was the ANC candidate list unduly influenced from within the party? Well, we’ll never know, because the rest of the briefing (and consequently the rest of the reports about the briefing) was only about what Jessie said to Samkele.

Canny woman. Clever move. Brilliant politics.

Boris would be very proud.


Great day out. Loads of photos. No time to edit and share this evening. More on that tomorrow and in the meantime, please enjoy this bittersweet tale from the City of Cape Town Facebook page.

A drunk driving suspect’s attempt to flee turned into a nightmare on Sunday 23 June 2019.

The suspect was stopped during a Ghost Squad operation in Eerste River, but tried to make a run for it.

He jumped over a wall, but in doing so, sustained cuts to his ribcage on the spiked wall. After landing in the backyard, the property owner thought he was trying to break into his house and proceeded to sjambok him.

Fortunately, the arresting officer intervened and the suspect was taken to the local day hospital where he received seven stitches to the wound caused by the wall spikes.

‘This is not the first suspect who attempted to make a run for it, but it is certainly one of the first who came off so badly as a result. What would have been a straightforward drunk driving case has now turned into resisting arrest, but also a possible trespassing charge, if the property owner decides to pursue the matter. This is not to mention the physical impact of the attempted getaway. I commend the officer who didn’t give up and saved the suspect from the potential consequences of being mistaken for an intruder,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

All very amusing, and then the bit where they remind you who you’re sharing the road with:

The 27-year-old suspect from Bellville was one of 11 arrests for driving under the influence during the operation. The highest breathalyzer reading was 2.0 mg/L, which is more than eight times over the legal limit.

The tide is turning on the practice of drink driving in SA, but it’s painfully slow and we’re still years and years away from the watershed moment when it becomes unacceptable to get behind the wheel of a car when you’re pissed. (Or even a bit tipsy.)

Until that time, you just have to hope that no-one being an utter twat after seventeen beers wipes you and your family out while you’re behaving responsibly.

Hoedspruit gone

You can expect to hear more on this story as it continues to develop, but I thought I’d be (one of) the first to reveal that the town of Hoedspruit in Limpopo is no more. It’s gone.

And we have indeed lost a gem in “Hat-River”:

The name Hoedspruit itself was given by Dawid Johannes Joubert and was directly as a result of an incident after a major cloud burst on Mariepskop area in 1844 (when he first arrived in the area) which caused the “now called Zandspruit” to come down in a flash flood.  During this even he ended up losing his hat in the flooding river.   Bearing in mind that a hat in those days was a valuable resource for a farmer (sun protection etc) and not something that could be easily replaced as there were not “hat shops” on every corner, this in itself was a major event for Dawid Joubert and as a result, he then named the river the Hoedspruit (the Hat River) – as in the River that stole his Hat.

Crazy story. Crazy name. Crazy place. Crazy that it’s just no longer with us.

Sure, it seems almost impossible to believe that a town of close on 4,000 inhabitants could have simply disappeared, but we looked for ages on a really big map and we couldn’t find it, and we’re pretty much experts in this kind of thing, so it must be true.

Sadly, I just don’t have the time to follow up on this personally, but if you are aware of any other small, but strategically important (Hoedspruit was the gateway to the Kruger National Park and had an Air Force Base right next door) towns which have mysteriously gone missing, then please let me know.

I have plans to drive through somewhere near where Hoedspruit probably once was next month, so I’ll be able to report back on whether I manage to find it, or anything where it might have been, then.
In the meantime, it’s back to that office in Claremont where we can once again scour north-east SA for any sign of this missing settlement.