Does every country have a London?

Not an actual London, of course. I mean – maybe they do… There’s a Little London on the Isle of Man, there’s East London in South Africa, there’s a London Island in…. Chile? I think…?
I’ll have to look that one up.

[later: looked it up, yes – close to the Western end of the Beagle Channel.]

But I’m not referring to lazy colonial nomenclature. I mean the essence of London. For many people, that means excitement, bright lights, a cosmopolitan lifestyle and world-famous landmarks.

After all:

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.

I love London. But in small doses.
Could I live there? No.

Oxford seemed a good compromise. All that London razzmatazz was just an hour away, but equally also a world away. Much like someone else’s cute but irritating toddler, it was nice to be able to play politely for a while, then hand it back over, make one’s excuses, and leave.

[Gets out broad brush]
London is a deeply impersonal, insular place. Gone are the days of the friendly cockney market traders. They’ve been replaced by soulless automatons, looking out only for number one. Maybe I shouldn’t blame them – maybe it’s the city that has shaped the people who have then shaped the city. A vicious Circle Line.

Alan Partridge gets it:

Go to London! I guarantee you’ll either be mugged or not appreciated.
Catch the train to London, stopping at Rejection, Disappointment, Backstabbing Central and Shattered Dreams Parkway.

Of course, it might just be me. Square peg, round hole and all that.

But no. London is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.

All of which leads me back to the question in the title of the post. And ‘m pretty sure that everyone in SA will agree that out local London is right here under Table Mountain.

Cape Town isn’t exactly London… squeezed between the mountain and the ocean, the geography and its Apartheid history dictate its society.

But can it compare? Sure it can.

Because yes. Cape Town is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.

In saying this, I’m not suggesting that I don’t belong here. At least, I feel that I belong here as much as anywhere else I’ve ever lived.
I’m also not trying to criticise the city for being the way it is. Cities evolve, and as individual residents we have very little control over what direction that evolution takes. But I do find it interesting that if you were asked to single out a city in either of the countries in which I have lived that fitted this description, you wouldn’t hesitate to name London and Cape Town.

Not Birmingham or Johannesburg. Or Manchester and Durban. Or Leicester and Bloemfont-look I think you get my point.

So – is there a London (or a Cape Town) in your country? Or, if you’re in the UK or SA, do you agree with what I wrote above?

New road

I read some articles and I put two and two together and I don’t think this is very good news for Cape Town.

The first news article was a piece in Quartz about the heroin trade in Mozambique. This is literally the first line:

That road is the infamous EN1. And while that might be interesting, and it might be in Africa, it has very little impact on Cape Town.

Or does it?

Here’s a map from the same article:

All roads lead to Rome Cape Town (apart from that one to Uganda). And by extrapolation, those solid lines indicate “certain” corridors for the drug trade. Genuine. Proven.

Not great. But at least no-one is not doing anything to make those corridors any more usable.

Or are they?

Basically, that road that was mentioned in the first line is being improved, to the tune of R10-billion (which is ironically the estimated annual value of the heroin trade in Moz), thus:

A project which includes the construction of Africa’s longest suspension bridge (±3km, photographed here in 2016):

Add that to the 2010 infrastructure project at the Tanzanian border and the upcoming improvement plans for the EN1, the “one reliable road that has become the backbone of the lucrative heroin trade” and – along with all the mutually beneficial economic benefits for the three countries involved – you’re also tacitly assisting the flow of heroin from Asia to… well… to Cape Town.

There’s a lot in the Quartz article about the disruption and decentralisation of the heroin trade in Mozambique, but the EN1 remains central to the trafficking of the drug from Tanzania to South Africa.
I can’t see that all these improvements are going to reduce the flow of heroin through Mozambique.

And that’s not very good news for Cape Town.

Apartment To Let

From time to time, I like to help people out by mentioning their cause on this blog.
This is one of those times.

Here’s it:

Apartment To Let

Observatory, Cape Town.
Unfurnished.
Top floor of brand new building.
Excellent security, communal gym, rooftop braai area, pool.
2 bed, 2 bath.
2 secure parking spaces.
Viewz. For. Dayz. (Devils Peak, Lions Head, Waterfront, Harbour, Table Bay…)
Available now.
R11500pm.

Apparently, that’s R500 less than other similar units, so don’t hang around.

For more details – including more photos – drop me an email at:

and I’ll put you in touch with the people who are waiting for your call.

Oh, and please share this widely in case that dream tenant is on your timeline.
Thanks.

Blood Moon Eclipse Weather Update

As promised here.

Basically, if you’re in Cape Town, you don’t want to hear this.

It’s not looking good.

Windguru has “heavy, low cloud forecast until 11pm”.
Flowx has “overcast conditions throughout Friday and into Saturday”.
Accuweather has “partly to mostly cloudy”.

Ugh.

Cape Town Lunar Eclipse – touch and go

There’s a Lunar Eclipse – a BLOOD MOON! eclipse, nogal [audience gasps] – later this week: the longest lunar eclipse THIS CENTURY! [audience gasps again] (so far, anyway) and Cape Town is one of the best places to see it from.

If the weather plays ball, that is.

I was aware of this and had set a reminder on my calendar some time ago (for Wednesday: 54 hours apparently being my warning period of choice), but that was preempted by an email from my Dad. He’ll also be able to see the eclipse from the UK, but he’ll have a shorter window in which to view it because of the time of the moonrise and he’ll also face some daylight issues: it’s still light at 21:21 there, which is the time of the maximum eclipse.

But back to South Africa… Here’s what you need to know about Friday night’s happenings for Cape Town:

So basically, if you’re here in the Mother City, you need to be somewhere with a fairly clear sight of the sky to the east. Go elevated: think Rhodes Mem, Rustenberg Pavillion, anywhere looking across the Cape Flats towards the mountains of the Winelands for your photographic delectation.

The weather is looking a little iffy though. Touch and go.

Google says cloud.
Flowx says not.
Windguru says maybe.

Borderline.

The moon is all of 385,000km from earth. It would be frustrating if clouds just 1km from earth blocked our view of this phenomenon. But it’s five days away – so let’s just cross our fingers and keep an eye on developments.

I’ll post an update here later in the week.