Back in Joey once again after a very pleasurable session in Richmond its was really one of the better BookBedonnerd's notwithstanding the Covid business and the curtailment of our ability to carry on as normal. Under the circumstances I reckon that we did pretty well and that, although the numbers were lower than in the past, the quality of the audience and speakers, and the fun we all had was right up there on the top shelf. It was gratifying to see so many regulars from years past. I was perusing some pictures from Booktown Richmond before the days of the BTRHQ in the library and there were Grace and Graham in the town hall listening to David Bullard. They haven’t missed a year. Its folks like them and many others who give us the motivation to keep on truckin’. So, to the Elize, Tertius, Richard, Louis, Mike, and Co.’s, we thank you for your support and the more so for introducing newbees to the event. We have to get the word out there.
of dirt from the Supper Klub to the BTRHQ. Now the village has dozens of members in the orange overall brigade to do such jobs, but it is obvious that they are a complete waste of money and effort. Another government stuff up.
We began Thursday at a relaxed hour and in the absence of Nico Moolman who was compelled to stay close to his farm in Utrecht in KZN, due to the ongoing threat of land invasions, apparently by employees of the Correctional Services outfit, or at least in their uniforms, so we enjoyed a lovely filum on the heritage flower gardens in KZN. Darryl then read his essay on his Howick home. This man has moved to the fairest Cape (if you follow weather in this country you will soon come to realize that the fairest Cape is just a lot of probably DA inspired propaganda), the weather in the Cape is by and large far from fair….blustery, wet, and very cold often, but fair , perhaps on a special day when the Stormers beat the Sharks, but his heart is in Banana Land where he is never more that a 3 minute drive from the nearest curry den where he can get a Bunny Chow takeaway. What a lovely piece of romantic writing. It is attached following if you would like to read it again and perhaps get a peek in the mind of a loon!
Darryl then proceeded to analyse Ashwin Desai’s Hari Pottermari, which I think placed us all back in our English 100 class at college. The only thing missing for me was my pipe (in my day we were allowed to smoke during lectures, and it was far from frowned upon during the early days of the dawning of the age of Aquarius.
After tea Ashwin Desai was in full pedal to the metal mode and at times almost punched his way out from the screen with an avalanche of words, a lot of it reflecting on the idiocies of our wonderful country…..what is Siya Kolisi’s son going to do when he gets drafted for the Springboks but gets dropped because the quota for Coloured players is full? Siya’s son is a Coloured???? We live in a strange country. He touched on many subjects from Wentworth, to black rugby players, his having an entire cricket stand to himself and his father rather than mix with the wit mense next stand over, and our preoccupation with race as a country. But isn’t this an international preoccupation? Everyone like to talk about a subject which everyone is so bloody touchy about. Let’s build a bridge and get over it.
After lunch we watched the filum Ellen Pakkies
which was pretty profound, although this writer in his ignorance could just make out a few well known, to me that is, tid bits.
Friday kicked off with the new techno Zoom interviews with Don Pinnock and later his wife Patricia Schonstein from the homes in the Cape. This is the way of the future and one which we will fully embrace and thus be in a position to get a grand assortment of overseas based speakers brought to us in living colour on the big screen. If there are people you would like us to invite, please let us know.
As we had a last minute cancellation of Aswin Desai’s second presentation on the history of black rugby players in the Eastern Cape, we were fortunate to have famous Karoo photographer, Louis Botha, ready to fill the gap with his Karoo photographic presentation from the book of the same name. What a talented man and great eye for the things we all often miss. The ou Karoo is a photographer’s paradise. Thank you, Louis, for being such a boychik!
After these three excellent presentations, we did fall back techno a tad, as poor old Nico, stuck on his farm with the barbarians at his gate, in Utrecht, with only a circa 1905 laptop with windows 95…..so the technology was stretched and we had to conduct an interviews from his cell phone through our speaker system and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Nico always a great yarn spinner and raconteur managed to stimulate the audience about his latest museum project of South African memorabilia that he can expect several travellers to come knocking on his door looking to see his wares and drink his moorse koffie and biskuit on the stoep. We made a plan, and it was a great session enjoyed by all of us.
We followed with the Hugh Bland video of the Trappist Monasteries in KZN and it was quite a revelation for most of us what this religious order has done in the province since the late 1800’s when the Austrian monk Franz Pfanner started his evangelical mission in the south of the province. A remarkable story.
After a relaxing lunch break under clear skies we headed down the road to MAP here Jan Coetzee put on a talk about his latest artwork, The Book and the Slave. It was a wonderful presentation and gave us all room to ponder as he drew from our deep pasts to the present in the same context…thought provoking. Later in the afternoon MAP hosted an exhibition in the Dark Room which was raved about by all who saw it.
The MAP gallery is one of the main attractions of the village and something which we can all be proud of. In conjunction with Booktown Richmond they have carried on a very good project of book binding and have a couple full time employees who make fantastic products; diaries, notebooks and sketch books, bound in full leather. And even potato sacs!
We retreated to the BTRHQ where renowned Karoo chef Annetjie Reynolds put on a tasting of her charcuterie, all made on her farm 50 odd km out of town. There was a call to have the wine tasting with the cured meats sampling, so the fun began. Some lovely Springfield Sauvignon Blanc and Hawksmoor Rose and Chenin were all a treat enjoyed by everyone. I even saw DD with a few glasses of wine in hand!
It was a great way to end a lovely day and thought of what to have for supper tickled the mind.
Saturday morning under clear skies we watched the Filum Dominee Tienie
followed by a talk by Magistrate Jo Els who recounted his anguish as a stutterer for most of his life and only recently self-cured. It was a heartfelt presentation, and we all learned a lot about this problem and disability. As a man who is required to speak at length in public, it was an open door for the audience on the inner turmoil, he had to undergo and probably still does to keep this habit of stammering under control. I think that everyone present would agree that Jo’s presentation was one of the highlights of the week in Richmond.
After a little quick sustenance, we packed up for the road trip to Deelfontein with a half dozen stops along the way to snap snap snap the endless vistas, the mountains and plants and wind pumps.
The graveyard has been scraped bare of all the lovely golden grass that used to grow between the rows, giving the place an incredibly beautiful and mystical air. Seeing the row on row of 120 year old graves is a constant reminder of the horrors and absolute waste of war and that we humans are pretty dumb in being drawn to kill people we don’t happen to like.
We retired to the stoep of the derelict Yeomanry Hotel for a happy hour with some wonderful snacks courtesy of Pat and copious quantities of Hawksmoor, First Sighting and Springfield wines. I think that we could have easily just continued to pass the afternoon away with the good conversation and kibbibles we had at hand.
The trip back to town was also interrupted by several photo stops, as the lighting of the late afternoon along with the scattered rain we had in so in places, leaving some surface water on the ground reflecting the grey skies above.
The Last Supper at the Supper Klub was lots of fun as we all realized that we have made it through another BoekBedonnerd and even with the Covid restrictions we had managed to all have a pretty grand old time. I would like to thank Chef Andrew, the Supper Klub’s Chef in Chief and his great little crew of Chefs who put.
on some very outstanding culinary delights for all of us. they are an integral part of Booktown Richmond, and it would be hard to imagine BookBedonnerd without them…thank you all very much for supporting us and for being so loyal. Until next year……
It was great to see the village in full flower if only for a week. We are gradually getting to the critical mass we need to grow organically from within; maybe a few more years and we’ll get there.
Richmond, the Desert Rose in bloom
We left the village on Thursday with the only excitement being a local election seemingly between the EFF and ANC, both riding on the free t-shirt gets your vote deal. Very sad that there are no other issues like for example unemployment of over 80%, deteriorating infrastructure, complete lack of service delivery and garbage everywhere. There is work a plenty to be done but no money to get the jobs done. Councillors of course all drive late model Mercs and Beemers. The t-shirt is the issue and there were literally dozens of new yellow shirted young people hanging around street corners with nothing to do. I hope that the village votes DA….they are the only hope for a future.
Madibaland is fast approaching and we have a really spectacular line up of speakers from all over the show. Darryl is looking for additional helpers in moderating discussion groups and hosting events. If you have the time and inclination and a functional computer please contact him right away….. 'Darryl David' firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking into the crystal ball and 2021, we are moving forward on our plans for Spinning a Yarn, Our Oral Traditions and Story Telling. There is just such a vast amount of oral tradition in the Karoo that it is going to be a mammoth task to get people to interview the Last of the Mohegans who are lingering in every one of our villages, towns and kraals. In fact we have made a start in the project when acclaimed Karoo photographer and chronicler Louis Botha started rolling the finest mohair wool with an interview of several hours duration, of Auntie Moira van den Heever, who is well into her nineties, and has lived her entire life in Richmond. Bar a short period after her husband Charl, a sheep farmer and equestrian of note (he was one of the founders of the Richmond Horse Museum) died, and she “retired” to Cape Town. She didn’t like it that much, so she returned home to the old folks home.
Louis has managed to get a great deal of information and anecdotes about our dorp and its people. Once this generation has trekked on to the happy hunting ground, the oral tradition will dry up, the more so as people are just talking less to each other and more to the cell phone in their hand. Every Karoo dorp should start the process of recording interviews of it senior citizens.
We plan to stage live interviews as well as recordings of Karoo Karacters during Spinning a Yarn in the early new year. One of my favourite quotations is from WH Auden who when asked about tradition said that
“Tradition is the only link between the dead and the as yet unborn”.
Booktown Richmond precept is, “Building a Nation with Words”.
THE METRONOME OF LIFE by Darryl Earl David
For 35 years you have remained bound to the same piece of earth. For 35 years your blonde hair would get wet in the rain, only to get blown dry when the winds came down into the valley. And one can’t deny that after three decades of baking in the sun, your blonde hair has lost some of its lustre and you have developed brittle ends that no amount of combing can cure. I apologise, if it makes you feel bad Beloved, when everyone says, ‘sell your house, Darryl’. I realise more than anyone else, I too broke your heart when I uttered those words. Etu Brute, I know, I know. But please try to understand, it was the hijacking, at your welcoming gates of all places. As Kobus Moolman wrote: ‘sorry for the things I said, and for the things I didn’t…’
Maybe you think only Mooinooi and Kiara love you. (Singing) “This love is unbreakable, it’s unmistakeable, each time I look in your eyes, I know why…”Forgive me for stealing the words of Westlife, it is not easy to utter these words on a public platform. There is the fear of being called a lunatic. But Beloved, know that I love you. There, I said it. No man has ever declared in book form his undying love for a house. I may have had a strange way of showing it- not mowing your lawn regularly, hardly ever trimming your hedges , never varnishing your wooden window frames. But it was within your loving embrace that I changed the face of SA literature. You were my muse Beloved. You were that wilderness that Ian Player described, where I discovered myself. Or as John Denver sang: he was born in the summer of his 27th year, coming home to the place he’d never been before. Three books on churches. A Book Town. A Unesco City of Literature. You are going to feature on the front cover of my next book- if you needed any more convincing. On the subject of books, I am sorry for burdening you with the weight of so many books. Mooinooi is worried your upper half may collapse under the weight of all those books. But I am slowly moving the books to the Cape as you no doubt know. What’s that you said? – looking back and longing for the freedom of my chains, by Dobie Gray?. Oh that is profound, my beloved house.
Mooinooi always loves to tell visitors the story of how we chose you. I am sure you are embarrassed to hear the story, but when she asked Kiara, who was just under 2 years old then whether we should make you our house, Kiara said: ‘BRING TV’…Oh, how that vignette makes us laugh. But who was to know that in the Zuma years, when the ANC lost its soul, I would need to bring electric fences, alarms, security beams, pepper spray... Remember how Kiara and I used to sleep outside under the stars on your deck? Please know that it is not your fault. When people say: sell THAT house, know that YOU are not the problem. THEY are the problem. At least we can flee. But you, Beloved, chained to your foundations. Violated by the vilest members of society. Your only flaw? Being the biggest, most beautiful house in the road. I can only pray a similar fate like that of Tiger Woods does not await me for my infidelity.
But let us not dwell on sadness Beloved. You have seen such beauty over the years. Yes, no one knows the rhythms of Howick better than you. From your aging, bespectacled four eyes that look out onto the Umngeni River, you have witnessed the roar of this mighty river every spring when colourful canoes frolic in the rapids and children on tyre tubes let out shrieks of delight, as though their butts are being filled with laughing gas directly from tyre tubes that finally escape through their mouths. They say a man who lives near the seashore seldom hears the waves. But you, who have lived all your life on the water’s edge, I know that like me, you are proud to live along the river, although estate agents seem to consider it a taboo these days. I know you delight in nature’s great strip tease. How could you not be captivated by all the trees that surround you, when your green world changes her frock for the second act, when nature puts on her autumn splendour. And then in winter when the trees go kaalgat. You Beloved, I know you delight in your static dance with the rhythms of nature.
‘Sell your house,’ they say. But they have not witnessed wonders only we have been privileged enough to enjoy from your skoot. Like the times our neighbours black Labradors would frolic in the Umngeni River EVERY morning. Every day, their maid of over 20 years, dressed in her pink pinafore, would throw sticks into the river for the dogs to fetch. Rain or shine. Winter or summer. And then on the day Colin Houghting our neighbour died – remember how we saw the maid standing still. With the two dogs beside her – almost staring at something in the water. And when she threw the stick in the water – how the dogs just turned and followed her back home. The day Colin died. A few weeks later, the one Labrador died. Do you remember, Beloved? That is what Arundhati must have meant by The God of Small Things.
Know that a part of me will die when I leave you. Know also that I would rather die than see you go out of my hands. I am like the shepherd Michael in William Wordsworth’s poem of the same name. And you are like the Evening Star, the name of his house. You were not there when the tears rushed down to my voice box when I taught this poem the last time to my English class at UKZN. They must have wondered why is this ballie getting so emotional. It was because of you, Beloved. Like Michael, I love my home and the memories we made together. Know that we will never sell you. We will come back to you when the DA hopefully takes Howick back from the ANC. You know what they say about when the head is rotten…Kiara has said she wants to bring her children up under your roof. So pray that she marries soon. Until then I wish for you a large family. May your rooms and passages be filled with the sound of laughter – and the smell of just baked biscuits.You might miss Mooinooi’s curries – but the both of us need to broaden our palettes.
You know Beloved, when I first came to you and Howick, my abiding memory was of a young boy I saw, riding his bicycle up that steep hill to Howick Prep. On Valentine’s Day. With a rose clenched gently between his teeth. If only I had my camera on that day. And then just before I left Howick, I saw one of the most amazing sights. It was at a time when the country was in a deep depression caused by the ANC under the Zuma administration. There was pessimism everywhere. And racial hatred. And on this day, as I drove past the Prep school that Kiara attended, I saw a black mother rushing to drop her child off at school. Like Kiara, this boy clearly did not like school. And he hesitated at the gate whilst his mother, from her car seat, tried to shoo him through the school gates, like a good mother hen. But he would not move. And then, from the other end of the street, a white woman, in a rickety old Landrover, drove past. And as she came to the stop street where the boy was rooted, she blew him a kiss. A White woman who didn’t know this boy at all – she blew a black boy a kiss. And she smiled at him – and he smiled back – and walked through the school gates
And I knew then that God wanted me to leave you, to leave Howick, to leave my people with a smile in my heart. The two book ends of this chapter in my life. I tell you these stories Beloved, because when I leave you, I hope you will have the strength to wave me off into the great unknown. But know in your heart that, like that boy with a rose clenched between his teeth on that Valentine’s Day 16 years ago, I will bring you, my Beloved, a red rose the day I retire 16 years from now.
Till we meet again Beloved – a message to sustain you and I, from the good book
There is a time for everything,
And a season for every activity
Under the heavens;
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot
This is the metronome of life.
Till the planting season then Beloved
Darryl Earl David / Sheritha David / Kiara David
43 Oakleigh Drive