Category Archives: Light

Bad News Psalmwich

When the Day of Judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done.” Thomas á Kempis (The Imitation of Christ)


I received bad news, the other day. This had me reflecting; what do other people do when they get bad news? Surreptitiously I have been observing or asking people this week how they handle bad news.


I discerned, observed or had reported to me the following methods;

Get it over with, with a dramatic episode; kick the cat, spouse, road rage.

Coldly channel the negative energy; gym, running, sport, furious knitting.

Indulgence; food, alcohol, sex, nails.

Escapism; TV, Romance novels, Porn.

Activity; Overtime, disassemble car.

Withdrawal; depression, silence, worm-eating.


This is by no means an exhaustive list. You may be able to pick out one of your own from the above. I’m sure the psych guys have all sorts of advice for us and I’ve read a sufficient share of pop-psychology literature to tell you that you can save some money and read the Psalms.


I had a great Pastor, no really I do.  I’m so grateful that I go to a small enough church where I could drown my sorrows in good coffee with my pastor. No five-year plan; no spiritual dagga, no maniacal grinning. Just “oh this is really bum news. How are you feeling?” More coffee. After some soothing noises, the shepherds crook appears from under the table. “So where do you go when you get bad news?” He queries, off the cuff. “To the minor prophets.” I lamented. “Hmmm,” pastor (experienced at dealing with nutters) controls his mirth. “I prefer the Psalms,” he comments.


Have you spent time in the Psalms lately? The book of Psalms is the ‘secret place’ of the scriptures. Don’t look that one up in a commentary it won’t be there. If you can’t find God when you’re furiously knitting, eating worms or grumbling to yourself, or doing something unspeakable – head for the Psalms I say. That’s where God makes all the necessary ooh-aah noises.


I never thought I’d see the day that I would be kissing little girls’ toes saying “ooh…..aah, wasn’t that awful, poor little frozen chicken, ag…shame, poor little hamster dropping.” But then I had some daughters, who, whilst performing Pavlova type leaps, sustain no small number of injuries. Since one can not concentrate on the gripping editorials contained within the bowels of the Isle-of-man-shoemakers-monthly magazine, with the deafening shrieks of amateur ballerinas in the background, the abovementioned empathizing is necessary.


Back to the Psalms; well when I stub my toe, or worse, whilst performing amateur ballerina maneuvers (okay the metaphor is wearing a bit thin.  Imagine me and thin being in the same sentence.) I head for the Psalms. I confess that the Minor Prophets do appeal to my sense of self-flagellation but they can do it for me too. Let me not fool you into a false sense of my saintliness. (Oh do stop laughing.) I have and do end up on the heap of sin and sulkiness when I’m on the receiving end of bad news too. But sometimes I get it right. Try and get it right – aim for God’s Word especially the Psalms in times of trouble.


So what’s so special about the Psalms? There is not a single emotion, urge, temptation, elation, delight, praise or passion not mentioned in the psalms. I challenge you to find one and let me know. (Actually, rather don’t.) The Psalms is where God empathizes with us through the experiences of the likes of David. This is where God says “there, there it’ll be all right, I’m in control.” Or “For goodness sake, pull your finger out.” Words we need hear sometimes.


I just love the variety in the Psalms; as the book opens with Psalm 1 (strangely enough, doesn’t miss a trick does He.) which sagely reminds us about where we should find ourselves in the economy of God; delighting in His Word, not in the seat of mockers – In the Jerusalem Bible it renders that “cynics”. Then waxes on about how the wicked will all end up in deep yogurt. If you like that sort of thing.  Then there are those Psalms of ascent journeying through the seasons of the heart. There’s pleading, begging for forgiveness, boasting, delighting in the triumph of the victorious, self-encouragement and so on. As a Grande finale, the last 10 Psalms do a sort of Sound-of-Music type giddy dance over the hills delighting in God whose majesty is beyond our most eloquent idiom.


What are you waiting for? Add the psalms to your devotions if you don’t already. Next time you’re tempted to throw your toys, or the bones for that matter, rush for the Psalms, rather than the knitting, or the remote.


“Okay so you’ve got my attention, what do I do with these Psalms?”

Once my daughter caught me pretending to play the piano whilst listening to Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano concerto – one of my favorites. Rather embarrassing for me, not so strange for her. I coughed a little and began dusting ebony and ivory with an imaginary duster. “Oh I do that.” She inflected with five-year-old nonchalance. Don’t be a wimp about reading scripture out allowed. So what if you look silly. I’ve seen grown men cry at the end of cricket matches. (Probably with relief.) I’ve seen 150kg rugby fans leaping about screaming like fairies from a Peter Pan movie, talk about camping-it-up. I think that the Psalms should be wept over, danced upon, bellowed out, laboured with, announced and proclaimed, quietly considered and gently treasured. The Psalms are the gentle whisperings from a lover and the angry commandments to the disobedient. They represent God’s heart of mercy and grace as well as His fierce wrath as expressed by the Psalmists. So Copy & Paste the words of the Psalms into your prayers, your worship, your crib notes for the tests of life and into your favorite tunes. There’s no copyright on God’s Word.  Enjoy!



Try these Psalms for size

Distress; Psalm 121

U2’s favorite; Psalm 40

Fed up with the corrupt about you; Psalm 37

In need of transformation; Psalm 25

Comfort; Psalm 23

On your knees; Psalm 38, 39

Under Pressure; Psalm 54, 55

Beautiful women; Psalm 56:1 (NIV)

Reflective: Psalm 63,112

Historical: Psalm 106,

Hysterical; Psalm 140-150

Fighting fear; Psalm 91

Awe: Psalm 78

Cranial: Psalm 119, Psalm 18

Relief: Psalm 4, Psalm 64, Psalm 68

Deliverance: Psalm 141, Psalm 43

Fascinated: Psalm 19, Psalm 93, Psalm 104


Now make your own list, cut it out and put it in your Bible.

Ten practices of picky property purchasers

So you want to buy a house. House hunting is all about the viewing. Here’s how to make sure a property is really worth your money.Picture

Upon determining your bond repayments with your bond calculator it’s time to start looking around. Looking around a property that could become your new home is exciting, but you can’t afford to get swept up in fantasy, sales pitch and the pressure to purchase…

Failure to use the viewing time effectively and you could miss something that ends up costing you dearly.

Here are ten tips that will help you see what’s really up for sale behind the agent’s sales talk.

1 View during the day

Make sure to view the property at least once in daylight so that you can see it with clarity. If your first viewing was unavoidably at night, push for another viewing in daylight before making an offer. Similarly if you have viewed the property during the day and want a better idea of what the area is like in the evening, you could arrange a second viewing later in the day.

This will give you an idea of how light the property is at different times of the day, how loud the neighbours are and what the neighbourhood is like once evening sets in.

2 View with company

The more pairs of eyes you have looking around a property the better.

If you attend a viewing alone then it’s likely you will be lead around by an agent who do their best to highlight the positive features of the property, not giving you the chance to look closely.

So even if you will be living alone, take a friend or relative to view the property with you as they may spot something you miss.

3 Examine the exterior.

It is easy to get caught up examining the inside of a property and forget to take a thorough look at the outside.

Checking the exterior and the roof as well as the pipes and drainage is essential; if there are any problems they could be expensive to fix.

If any work needs doing you may either want to arrange a professional survey if you are looking to buy, or look for a rental property elsewhere.

4 Take your time

The last thing you want is to have to rush around the property because you have another appointment or viewing booked.

You should leave at least 20-30 minutes to view the inside of a property and a further 20-30 minutes to check the outside and the local neighbourhood.

If you are being shown around by an agent or the owner, try and view the property at your own pace and avoid being rushed through.


5 Consider room and space

An empty flat or house will always look bigger than a fully furnished property, so you need to check that there really is enough room.

Check what the property offers in terms of storage space. For instance, are there built in wardrobes in the bedrooms, or would you need to have space for a wardrobe in each room?

Would your bed, couch, dining table and drawers all fit comfortably or would you be blocking plugs and windows and so on?

In the kitchen, are the white goods built in or would you need to use vital space for a fridge, washing machine or dishwasher? What about the cupboard space, is it expansive enough to fit all of your pots, pans and crockery?

6 Arrange many viewings

Making sure you go back to view a property after the first look can help make sure that you don’t miss any potential issues and ensures that your know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

It also gives you the chance to ask the agent or owner any specific questions that you have after looking around the first time and to negotiate on price if needs be.

7 Take pictures

Taking lots of photos, or even a video, is a great way of ensuring that should you miss something you then have a personal record of the viewing to look back at.

It also means that you can look back at the property and compare it to others you’ve seen in your own time without the pressure of going around with a letting or estate agent.

However, make sure to ask permission before you start snapping away. Although letting agents and estate agents will not usually have an issue with you taking photos, if the owner still lives in the property it is only polite to check.

8 Watch out for damp

Damp can be serious concern regardless of whether you are looking to buy or rent a property, simply because it may illustrate more fundamental problems.

Signs of damp include a musty smell, peeling wallpaper or bubbling paint and mould or dark residue on the walls and ceiling.

If you suspect that the property suffers from damp it need not be a deal breaker but should definitely be an issue you raise with the agent and investigate further.

Any cracks or signs of subsidence may indicate a much more serious problem with the property so make sure you look out for these too.


9 Examine everything

When you are looking around a flat or house, don’t be afraid to test the fittings and fixtures.

Check that the windows open easily and that there is suitable water pressure throughout the property by testing the showers and taps. You are also within your rights to check things like the level of loft insulation, the wiring and electrics during a viewing and it’s a good idea to do so.

Although you may feel awkward testing things in this way, any issues you spot at viewing can either be fixed before you move in or be used to negotiate a reduction in price.

10 Ask the hard questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you are looking to rent or buy, you will be parting with a significant sum of money and you are well within your rights to have any of your questions answered. For example ask about rates, previous renovations, traffic, neighbours, burglaries, state of roof, proximity of schools, state of geyser, the reason why the property is on the market, were there tenants before and so on.

George Clooney

– for Le Kap Magazine by Matthew Campaigne-Scott


If we asked you to identify a celebrity who started out selling ladies shoes, whose face was paralysed with Bell’s palsy in high school, dropped out of two Universities, whose mother was a beauty queen and whose maternal great-great-great-great-grandmother, was the half-sister of Nancy Lincoln, mother of President Abraham Lincoln you may be a tad flummoxed.

George Clooney, it turns out, is a wealth of fascinating trivia: Born in Lexington, Kentucky he is now a house-hold name, candid pictures of whom fetch a fortune. Women, and even men have been feasting their eyes over this man’s man ever since the days of his appearance on Television’s medical drama ER, although he has been treading the boards since 1978.

georgge child

Yep, George wasn’t always so suave.

Many may not know that Clooney has a dog he named Einstein. “Einstein has been studying acting for many years now as you can imagine. I think he’s concerned that I am in his shot and he thinks that perhaps you can airbrush me out if it. That’s his hope.” said Clooney in a photo shoot with Einstein for Omega where he sports an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra wristwatch. He is currently an OMEGA brand ambassador.

Going back in time George has had some roles he would prefer us to forget: everything from a simpering supporting role on the trashy sitcom Roseanne, a down to earth handy man on the more respectable: The Facts of Life and a role on a sitcom that took a nasty dive with the prophetic name of E/R.  (Not to be confused with ER!) George has certainly paid his dues.

george ER

As Doug Ross in ER

Then came along that famous episode of ER, one of the most viewed on US TV history, where George’s character Doug Ross emerges from a flooded storm-water drain carrying a hypothermic boy under the glare of lights, cameras and howling helicopter blades over head. Fellow ER actress Gloria Ruben is quoted as saying that every women watching was wringing her hands, crying out: “oh George, SAVE ME, let it be me!” He received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series in both 1995 and 1996 as well as three Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor – Television Series Drama in 1995, 1996, and 1997 for his role in ER.

It’s been happy hunting for George since then – in more ways than one. Scripts began falling into his lap, most famously and lucratively the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy. He got started in movies with some not so Thespian: Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) to the commercially pleasing Batman and Robin in 1997 – a movie that he openly advises people not to watch. In later years he displayed his maturity as an actor in movies like the critically acclaimed war satire: Three Kings.

The Facts of Life

…and with Mullet in THE FACTS OF LIFE George Clooney as George Burnett — Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank

In 2002 George decided it was time to sit on the opposite side of the camera as director of the movies Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and the political drama Ides of March. Last year he directed/produced and starred in The Monuments of Men which grossed $155 million at the box office, receiving mixed reviews.

The 2000’s through to the present have been kind to George.  He is the only person ever to be nominated for Academy Awards in six categories. He received Best Actor in a supporting role for Syriana, a 2005 geopolitical thriller loosely based on the Robert Baer’s work See No Evil. Then in 2012, as producer received Best Picture Oscar for Argo -the political thriller about the iconic Us embassy in Tehran debacle and it’s political fallout . Both very challenging movies showing a depth to George Clooney’s greater than just charm and good looks.  Other Oscar nominations were for Best Director for Good Night , and Good Luck as well as Best Original Screenplay. He was nominated for Best Actor in Michael Clayton’s, Up In the Air and The descendants. He was also nominated for Best adapted Screenplay for the Ides of March.

George-Clooney the wise

The world’s got problems, but I can handle them.

As if this wasn’t enough there is a great deal more to George Clooney than just the movie industry. The CFR or Council for Foreign relations is an august body that influences US foreign policy. It’s fellows include CIA directors bankers, lawyers and senior politicians and one George Clooney. They have clearly had their eye on George and his political activities.

George Clooney has been vocal about a few issues. He has also made it clear that he was anti the War in Iraq and pro Barak Obama and pro Gay Rights (for example Clooney took an auction winner out to lunch to benefit the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)in September 2001.)

George has found his political voice with the Not On Our Watch Project, a body that was co-founded with Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, David Pressman, and Don Cheadle. In this capacity he has raised donations for the 2010 Haiti Earth Quake victims and has been on a fact- finding mission to Chad and drawn world attention to human rights violations by Burma’s (Myanmar) brutal military regime. The organisation says on their website “Our mission is to focus global attention and resources towards putting an end to mass atrocities around the world”. [1]

Clooney and human rights activist, John Prendergastco initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), after an October 2010 trip to South Sudan. SSP monitors armed activity for signs of renewed civil war between Sudan and South Sudan, and to detect and deter mass atrocities there.[2]

Clooney spoke at a Save Darfur rally in Washington, D,C, when he and his father returned from Darfur after having made a  documentary, “A Journey to Darfur.” exposing the Darfur refugee crisis.

George the activist

George the Activist

In March 2007 Clooney sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on her to use her influence with the European Union to take “Decisive action in Darfur.” Also in 2007 he narrated and was co-executive producer of the 2007 documentary Sand and Sorrow. Clooney appeared in the documentary Darfur Now, with the view to activating people the world over to help stop the human rights abuses in Darfur.

Clooney and Don Cheadle received the Summit peace award from the Noble Peace prize Laureates in Rome in December 2007. But Clooney expressed how much he felt his and other’s efforts were for naught in his acceptance speech:  “Don and I … stand here before you as failures. The simple truth is that when it comes to the atrocities in Darfur … those people are not better off now than they were years ago.[3]

In March 2012, he whet his theatre acting appetite by starring with actors Martin Sheen and Brad Pitt in a performance of Dustin Lance Black’s play, 8, a re-enactment of the US trial that overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The production raised money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.  In the same month Clooney was arrested for civil disobedience during a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. The man gets around.

It’s no wonder  George Clooney was included on Time Magazine’s top 100 “Most Influential People in the world.”

Speaking of getting around, George has had his fair share of exotic beauties on his arm, from the talented Talia Balsam and Italian stunner Elisabetta Canalis to popular actresses Kirsta Allen and Renee Zellweger. But 53 year old George has shown his class and his pecking order by landing 37 year old British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. They recently did a ‘royal tour’ of the Italian countryside visiting the Chianti Hills on a vintage Vespa Piaggio. George, who has a passion for motorcycles as well as beautiful women, took his bride for further tours on an assortment of bikes throughout Italy last month.


Leisure time

But movies is what most of us love about George, so we look forward to his latest offerings.

This year saw the launch of a science fiction adventure: Tomorrowland. The movie is all about memory, destiny and time, so he appropriately dons a masterpiece of retro timekeeping: the vintage 1958 Omega Automatic Chromometer in his role as Frank Walker. Regarding time, Clooney’s character says: “With every second that ticks by, the future is running out.” Profound words from the man who’s made good use of his time.

What does George have in store for us in the future? He is currently working on two productions: a comedy with Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Alden Ehrenreich, and Ralph Fiennes called Hail Caesar. He has also teamed up with Jodie Foster  and Julia Roberts to make a thriller called Money Monster. You can’t keep a good man down. So George continues to do what he is arguably best at, making movies and keeping us entertained.

View the article with vivid and unique pictures at Le Kap online magazine.

A Man and His Butcher are not Easily Parted


The ever helpful and courteous Emil from Waterfall SuperSpar Butchery

There’s something very masculine about meat, isn’t there? The immediate image that comes to mind is the braai. Generally and mostly it’s men standing around advising other men about how often to turn the meat, what adjustments the fire needs for different meat and so on. That’s why male vegetarians aren’t really complete men- kind of like missing a testicle.

This is not to ignore the fact that it is actually mostly women that prepare and cook meat but without the fanfare and drama that male meat interaction seems to involve.

An example is the poitjie. Men who wouldn’t know how to boil an egg for dinner and practically strain themselves to find the cereal or burn themselves making toast become experts on all matters culinary when preparing meat for the potjie, its tenderisation, the slow cooking of, flavouring, what spices and herbs to apply, the works.

In fact rarely does one see the high level of sophistication men embrace when it comes to meat outdoors. Wives who try to solicit an ounce of assistance with the evening meal preparation during the week are met with nonplussed expressions and glazed eyes when asked to: “just toss the salad while I:- go to the loo, shift grandpa, change this nappy, move the house to the left.”

Then there’s biltong – do women and children eat it, sure. But who’s the expert on what biltong is the best, most flavoursome and assuming the correct shape – the man. If a woman offers an opinion on biltong, men assume embarrassed looks or bow their heads, and that’s the polite response. What could a woman possibly know about biltong? And let’s not get started on the intricate equipment that men have invented to cut, shave, slice and dry biltong in the luxury of their own home.

This possibly explains something: men and butchers. Men may not be able to find the right deodorant, two-ply loo-rolls, a ripe avo or correct baby formula at the supermarket, but they can be found congregating around the butcher on a Saturday morning. Dozens of them standing around discussing the length of their boerewors, different flavours, contents and uses. (This is the same butcher that housewives have been consulting nonchalantly during the week.)

One may venture that in our society a truly masculine man knows his local butcher – this is the closest men get to hunting in the 21st century. Butchers are the druids or medicine men of the modern western culture. Butchers are greeted with special reverence. Various cuts of meat are discussed, advice is sought and opinions are given. “Would it do better in the Weber, should I debone them before putting them in a potjie, is sixteen table spoons of salt too much, what percentage of fat is optimum in a good wors,” questions that any housewife would come up with a common sense answer for. But men respect the views of their butchers.

So meat is very important to men, it’s a reminder of those cavemen days when bringing home a carcass ensured hugs from small children respect from adolescents and long romantic evenings with Mrs Caveman. Today even bringing home the paycheque is obsolete never mind bringing home the bacon. It’s all done over the net. So ladies give your man a break, when you see him lurking about the butchery for that exciting moment when the butcher comes out, don’t nag, let him enjoy being as close to the kill as he’s ever going to get.

Eccentrics and Characters in Waterfall

Do You Know This Man?

Do You Know This  ‘Waterfall Character’?

If something strikes me about Waterfall, it’s the characters. Every community has its fair share of oddballs but characters are more than that, they have substance and value. Characters give a community colour and flavour. I’m referring to individuals usually beyond the years of youth who have developed a certain style or manner expressed more for themselves than out of mere vanity.

In more outlying areas there seems to be a tolerance for characters, or eccentrics if you will, as part of the community not dissimilar to a more urban tolerance for youthful self-expression and experimentation. In more remote communities there is usually a smorgasbord of middle aged and beyond, self-expressive, self-styled characters who would ordinarily be shunned in an urban environment. In smaller communities such people are considered features of a whole. Eccentrics and eccentric behaviour thrives in societies that are detached from the greater boundaries of the big city.

Waterfall used to be very isolated from Durban going far enough back. But as roads and communications improved and the Outer West population grew, Waterfall became more accessible to conventional middle class families. But characters still remain, if you take a moment to spot them.

When my friends arrived in Waterfall from Johannesburg 10 years ago they were amused to see a man dressed like a cowboy, singing Country n’ Western music, that was painful to the ears, from the back of his bakkie in the interest of promoting the weekly boerewors and biltong specials from the  local butchery. Not only were my friends amazed that such appalling attempts at entertainment were being unleashed on the good folk of Waterfall but the said good folk were applauding and cheering with great enthusiasm for a performance that would have been lambasted elsewhere. The attitude seemed to be: “so what if he can’t sing, that’s just who he is, he’s doing his best.” Besides, they all seemed to be well acquainted with the man.

Our friends in their snobbishness used to refer to “Waterfall Types”. “Looks there’s one” they would say in amusement. But in a short while their sniggers changed to endearment as they fell in love with the suburb. They still may say: ”There’s one.” From time to time but their attitude has changed from snide to pleasant observation. In fact they’ve noticed that the amount of characters have dropped and feel quite concerned.

But the atmosphere prevails. In Waterfall if you are over a certain age you are allowed to wear your pants as high as you like and as colourful as you like and with as many outrageous patterns as you like. You may also wear dress shoes, short white socks and jeans shorts and even a skirt up round your solar plexus. You may dye your hair and then change colours as often as you want and there’s no shame in wearing any kind of hat either, decorated with small animals or fruit if you prefer. Your opinion on a wide variety of subjects is tolerated by all the staff at the Waterfall Spar, who tolerantly nod and smile, especially on a Tuesday. If you want to use two parking spaces for your 1977 Peugeot 404 –who cares?  Creativity with facial hair is encouraged as is popping into the shops with bare feet. You’re also never too young or too old to wear live flowers in your hair. Nor should one be of a specified shape to wear sleeveless garments or tight shorts regardless of the sex.

Entertainment takes on special meaning out here. I recall a line of towering blue gums running alongside the old Waterfall shopping centre. One week these were systematically cut down in zealous pursuit of all things indigenous, all done under the watchful eye of senior citizens in folding chairs on the pavement with thermos flasks and sandwiches bussed in from the Waterfall Garden Retirement home. For some it seemed that was all just in week’s entertainment.

Just one last example springs to mind: if you happen to travel down Niagara Drive you will notice a spritely lady going for her morning and afternoon walk, as so many safely do. However you would notice she carries with her a bag of litter that she has collected on her way. As a result Niagara Drive must be the neatest road in the suburb. Not the sort of one finds in cities where litter collection is left in the hands of municipal workers. It takes a special sort of character to commit to such a sense of the pristine.

Waterfall has an abundance of entrepreneurs running light industry factories, all manner of shops and small business with names like Clever Little Fish, Quirky Queens, Sham Pooch dog parlour, Crinkly Bottom- sadly missed as is the Thirsty Duck. All types of people build, labour and serve away in Waterfall, thriving in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance.

Off I go to the shops then, one glance in the mirror –gasp! It’s one of them!

Oh Wither are we Bound?

fghjklRemember those old printer’s trays that young girls, mostly, now a little older, used to put on their bedroom walls filled with the most hideous useless junk. I think the trays then moved to more sumptuous parts of the home and became centre pieces for more ornate and tasteful knick-knacks as the girls grew up. If you have printers trays in the house you now know what to buy for Christmas at the end of this year and if you were the recipient of some irksome little trinkets last Christmas, you know where you can put them now.

Well, as a pre-Christmas chore I found myself chipping and scouring away the layers of paint, especially from the corners, from my daughter’s printers trays that she inherited from my wife, that she had as a teenager back in the, never-mind. Clearly instead of their beautiful virgin wood, paint was applied with whimsy and little skill to the trays as often as a new fashionable colour got their attention. Alas the burden of restoration is a heavy one. If you find yourself being asked if you think the current colour of the printer’s trays is suitable, whatever you do gush madly at its beauty in order to avoid hard labour.

This got me thinking about when I was a library prefect at King Edward VII School. I had an unorthodox and engaging library master called Mr Sandom. He encouraged us to read all manner of works from the classics to the then, recently in vogue, fantasy literature.

Just before the Christmas holidays Mr Sandom took us library geeks, as we would be called today I suspect, to the then arty-farty suburb of Melville where we visited a house with a ye-olde genuine printing press, cabinets with draws similar to the printer’s trays that people used to put up on their walls in the 80’s. They were full of letters, numbers, punctuation, and many other characters, as well as space blocks.

We all got into the spirit of the occasion and learned from the Mr Sandom how to create a page that we would print and place into our hardcover books that we had manufactured out of old maps as Christmas gifts the previous week. I distinctly remember that I had Iceland on the back and Nyasaland on the front. We didn’t just learn the rudimentaries of what it took to create a page of text the manual way we came away with a sense of achievement that a print out from our state-of-the art dot-matrix couldn’t do for us.

Which causes one to reflect, wither are we bound? Elsewhere in this magazine you will have read that inkjet technology exists that can produce droplets smaller than bacteria. Talk about sending the ‘flu a message. Then some Japanese guy had the bright idea while putting on his deodorant one morning: “if inkjet printing is just firing liquid at a surface why not spay stuff with perfume and other smells.” So maybe you’ll receive Christmas card smelling of roast turkey. And to think we got all excited in the 80’s about scratch-n-smell.

Whether it was yesterday, today or tomorrow, in the printing world higher and higher resolution seems to be that holy grail or fleeting horizon, reaching ever further, to working harder to produce clearer and better images and text, faster and faster, with less and less, in narrower and smaller spaces, cheaper and cheaper, with fewer and fewer people, using the fewer calories and lower wages, during reduced hours and….okay I’ll stops now.

Going Green: So I asked my 85 year old dad…

So I asked my 85 year old dad: “what do you think of when I say ‘Green’ dad”. There was a brief crackle on the phone and then came: “mould.” The generation gap on matters Green is clear.

I have to admit that as a 44 year I too didn’t think of the practice of making modern day sacrifices in order to conserve the rapidly depleting fossil fuels, when the word Green came up. Rather I would think of someone new on the job, who parks in the bosses bay on the first day, a ‘Green-horn’ if you will, it’s best not to mix those two words up.

Or perhaps “Green Fingers”. I used to have “Green Fingers” when I was more involved in our garden or is that having a Green Thumb? It means the difference between getting anything to grow and creating a micro-desert.

But the search for a Green definition remains elusive: The movement to green has been nearly a thirty year process beginning in the 1970’s with the solar-energy craze.  Early in the 1990’s for example, the green building movement began to take hold.  Expanding our thinking and consideration for the larger picture of the total environmental impact, thus driving demands for materials, commercial and home designs offering reduced long term costs, healthier living, greater efficiency and sustainability.

But for me Green is for gunge: Gangrene from war stories, brave soldier who fought in the trenches and got the Dreaded Lurgy. Then there’s the sludge down on Zoo Lake before the big clean-up of whenever-it-was.  Then there’s beautiful, wonderful mucous. Oh yes, oh quivering parent – there were those nappies that….never mind. Green gunge is every little boys early fascination until puberty hits then green becomes just another colour.

One mini Green definition I heard somewhere, went something like is this: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” A little whimsical with a touch of daisy and shoo-wah, but pleasantly unimposing.  I rather like it.

Depending on where you are applying the term Green, ‘sustainable design’ may be a good substitute. True sustainability embraces a commitment to see the world as interconnected, to understand the impact our actions have on others and our environment, and to nurture the offspring of all species that will inherit the planet. To become truly sustainable, it is vital to equally address social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability like three legs holding up a stool. Okay, a little preachy.

The truth is, the Green movement is now orthodoxy, mainstream, convention if you like. It’s no longer the fringe realm of hippies and New Ages or people with pony-tails in general. For example, Green construction is huge in South Africa now and Green Stars are a coveted reward.  It reminds me of my children when they were of the age when a gold star on the forehead for good behaviour was the most coveted award in preschool. Now we have pinstriped executives scurrying around fulfilling the requirements of the Green Buildings Council so as to acquire more Green Stars for their buildings.

As if Green building isn’t enough we have green nappies, green fuels and green political parties. But a new interesting one I discovered is “green-hypocrisy”. Green campaigners argue that cheap short-haul flights have fuelled a massive hike in carbon emissions over the past few years. Celebrities in particular are criticised for struggling to reconcile their well-meaning efforts to develop green credentials and the demands of the modern world.  Sienna Miller and Chris Martin preach the importance of being ‘green’. They recycle obsessively, insist on green nappies and compost every scrap of organic vegetable peeling and they’re not slow to tell you about it. Yet they jet set the world over producing a carbon foot-print bigger than the rest of us.

It’s tough at the top. Looks like you can’t get away with anything these days. Did I say Carbon Footprint, let me tell you what my 85 year old dad said when I asked him what he thought of when I said Carbon Footprint….


Colouring Confusion or Confused by Colour

Perusing show-houses on a Sunday afternoon I came across an exquisitely restored Orange Grove house in Johannesburg’s North Eastern suburbs: Steel pressed ceilings, Oregon Pine floors and trims pedantically purged of paint and blemishes, with doors varnished to perfection.

As I admiringly examined the paintwork’s faultless lines and perfect finish I couldn’t help imagining what an annoyingly fussy and fastidious person must have been responsible for this. Yet the choice of paint colour suggested otherwise. I was told by the eager estate agent: “he did all the restoration himself you know.” I didn’t.

The children’s room was delightfully colourful. Not in that proverbial chameleon-on-a- Smarty-box way. The light of the room was wonderfully swept up into the four colours that made up the walls and splashed out a joy that kitsch can’t produce. Funny how too much colour or ‘wrong’ colour is like a fine perfume mixed with cigarette smoke.

But this use of colour was captivating. The children’s toys and bedding were convincingly persuasive of the presence of children, all thanks to four completely different coloured walls. I was converted at once and decided that I too would embrace the pedantic little man who perhaps, resided somewhere  deep within me and apply the same vivid and extravagant formula.

I voiced my plan to my ever-tolerant wife about how I was to apply my new conversion to the world of colour to my two daughters rooms. I have seldom seen my wife’s eyebrow raised so close to her hairline. All credit to her forbearance as I was unleashed. Alas, unlike Mister Perfection-Restoration of Orange Grove, I found that painting four walls different colours, plus the ceiling, infuriatingly, maddeningly and unbearably finicky.

Some say it was my actual choice of colours that was causing the nausea, others that it was the peculiar meshing of colours between the walls, but the effect when walking into the room of the four colours was not unlike entering a cabin on board a ship on a rough sea, where the portholes are just hovering above surface level.

Although my girls’ dreams of rainbows, clowns and female members of parliaments’ hats subsided, they never did quite get over their early years subjection to Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat on their walls. When we eventually moved home and they reached their teens, I was tentatively offered the task of painting their rooms. This time there was a very firm condition: “Daddy, please, only white, paint only white!”

Whether it’s painting or printing, colour is probably having more of an influence on your life than you think. Whether you call it ambience, atmosphere, mood or vibe you can’t live without colour. But you’d better get the best advice on how to use it.

Weeding in Waterfall

Having lived in Johannesburg for 30 years, moving to the thriving metropolis of Waterfall was quite a change of scenery. I loved the fact that I lived in an area named after physical features that actually existed in the area, (Apparently there are 7 waterfalls in Waterfall.) as opposed to Parkhurst where there are no parks and certainly no hurst.

Our garden borders a little gorge created by the Nkutu River. There are three waterfalls at the bottom of our garden. My two small daughters and decided we wanted to find the source of that beautiful sound of rushing water. Thus began the required process of clearing the vegetation between us and river. At my previous residence in Johannesburg I had been used to extracting weeds with a small polished fork (with a quaintly mounded orange handle for comfort) and depositing the said weeds with gentle rhythm and small sighs into a black bag which was inoffensively sent out with the garbage each week. Imagine my horror when I opened my back door on a fateful Saturday morning to the roar of half an acre of Waterfall’s six foot high Lantana, Triffid and Mexican Sunflowers. My small fork fell from my hand with a whimper, prongs disfigured like lukewarm spaghetti as I examined my bleeding hands, this after my first failed attempt at removing a spikey Lantana stem.

I have learnt many things about weeding in Waterfall since those virginal days, I became equipped with a most formidable device which became a faithful companion as I cleared my way to the Waterfalls over those many adventurous months: a mighty Cane Cutter. So I tell you all this oh gentle reader for one reason. Alas my cane cutter has expired after years of good service. But do you think I can find a single cane cutter in a hardware store in the Upper Highway area. No, only those bendy long blades for veld or tiny little pangas. If anyone can tell me where to find a decent size cane cutter I’ll gladly send you my old weeding fork with the quaintly moulded handle.

Golf: who needs a ball anyway?

I’ve never understood why people watch golf, especially on television. I do understand why people play golf. In South Africa I can categorically state that our most manicured stretches of landscape are our golf courses. For those elsewhere in the world I would imagine to some degree that is true for you to too. This on it’s own is reason enough to, at least pretend to play the game and simply enjoy the walks and scenery.

I recall the comedian Jasper Carrot referring to all the camera crew covering golf tournaments as being ex World War II search light operators. “Hours and hours of televised sky!!” He said. I agree, what a bore, all that fuss about a little ball going into a little hole instead of into strategically placed sand pits and ponds. Then in a desperate appeal to people drawn to that other exhilarating sport, bird spotting, they have chosen to use the names of the creatures that represent the only genuine action camera crews ever actually see. I suppose we should be grateful that instead of terms like birdie, albatross and pigeon, or whatever it is, someone didn’t end up calling shots cumulonimbus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus.

There was once a man, who wishes to remain anonymous, who by reason of circumstance acquired a lone golf club. He lived near to a municipal golf course, not one of those “stuff-the-poor” places, outside which are parked cars that might as well have “stuff-the-poor” bumper stickers on them. This golf course was small and not as well kept as those other more ostentatious institutions reserved for a handful of elite martini sippers who speak and say nothing for so long it just sounds like; “stuff-the-poor darling”, “stuff-the-poor my brother” or “my good man, stuff-the-poor.” Well anyway it wasn’t one of those courses.

It was a lovely day and lets give anonymous a name, how about Garth? Well Garth is very fond of wide-open spaces and enjoys hugging trees and talking loudly to himself. At last he had the excuse to prance about a golf course. Just one snag Garth though, large and gormlos, has never been very sporty. Garth can not play the game required for him to partake in a beautiful day in the wide-open green grass and trees. Ag shame. (If you’re English; oh tut. If you’re American; oh that’s too bad. If you’re an Aussie; aaaaa.)

However Garth is not as dim as he looks, he decided that it was not necessary for him to know how to play since he would not make use of a ball. Golfers, he had observed acquired great rage as a result of this ball and caused many people to get fibersitus in their necks from spending too much time looking at the sky. Garth decided he would pretend to play and walk about with great authority and pleasure like one of those golfers on television. Garth imagined what those golfers must have been saying to themselves when striding about looking concerned as to the whereabouts of the ball they’d hit so hard that it was rendered invisible. “Ho ho” Garth imagined their chuckles as they contemplated all those silly people giving them so much money to hit a ball around a big park.

Garth stirred great curiosity that day among the amateur golfers at the humble course. He donned his finest braces and floral hat that he usual kept for weeding the garden. In leau of plus fours he tucked his trousers into his odd socks and beamed at his new found fellow sports men. Garth has a portly frame and requires regular provender so as not to get giddy. He decided to bring some meat pies to celebrate his virgin golfing experience. What a grand moment as he put down his pies and swung at the imaginary ball. Taking a handsome bite of pie he notice a quizzical face at his elbow. “What’s a good score?” he enquired of the face. It gave a figure. “Would you mind writing that down for me?” Garth said baptising the face with flaky pastry, “I am with pie.” He explained. The face graciously obliged though not without concern.

At the end of the morning Garth had had enough and deposited his impressive golf card at the humble golf club building and trundling home kicking an orphaned white ball down the street. He was seemingly oblivious to the bewildered faces of those he had left behind.