a letter

Letters. The word has that musty, moth ball-y, old lady smell.

Letters. They crackle like the Botanical Garden leaves at the end of June.  They creak like Opa’s old tank ploughing over that speed bump on Ridge.

Letters.

A little bit chewed around the edges. It’s a blurry word that makes me wrinkle my nose and go huuh?

Letters litter a far corner of my brain. Somewhere. They lie in a disorderly heap. Almost discarded. But somehow familiar. Writing letters is a foreign skill, tossed somewhere in the depths of my pre email-smartphone-sms and IM life.

Lick. Stamp. Post

Isn’t there an app for that?

Perhaps the letters for the words of the letters have got tired. Worn thin from use and wobbly from carrying so much meaning. So faded now it’s just an empty white page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L      r    t

e  t    s    l e          some day I’ll organize them; line them up at the tip of my pen. I’ll begin

t t     e s             with My darling and round them up with All my love

r

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And then there were five!

I’ve been vaguely following the stories of the EU’s latest problem child. It feels like a repeat of the Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain saga. Like watching a repeat of a bad soapie, only I think less easy to turn off. After marathon negotiations and an ever-increasing anxiety amongst the poor Cypriots (and funnily enough, a surprising amount of British expats) a bailout deal was eventually secured. The EU, still riding on the nebulous dream of unity, offered a package earlier this month which called for a one-time levy on all bank depositors in Cyprus. It might have been around the 6% mark, don’t take my word for it though. This, naturally, ignited fierce anger amongst the Cypriots. My first thought was “surely they can’t expect million Euro payouts and not have any T’s and C’s attached? Cyprus must take responsibility and play their part and not leave it to France and Germany to keep backing their failing system.”

Cue: climb off high horse.

This levy is perhaps not so bad for big businesses but what about the small savers? What about students like me or pensioners like my grandparents? I keep thinking of ‘Cyprus’, a faceless, nameless sploge in the Mediterranean but what about the individual people? Is it their fault that those appointed to manage the country’s financials have lost the plot? Is it right for a national crisis to become an individual responsibility?

It turns out that these draconian measures failed to win the vote in Cypriot parliament. The Russians who claimed they had political, economical and cultural ties to the country also made an offer. Most believe it’s just a sneaky way to get their hands on the gas tap but that bid also failed. Cyprus has been forced to turn back to its European partners and I’m not entirely sure what the outcome was but either way, it means that more than a quarter of the countries in the EU zone are effectively lying in the emergency ward. I wonder who’s next? If I was Italian I’d be moving my money … Pericoloso Italie!

It got me thinking about South Africa. Thanks to Trevor M’s brilliance and careful strategies we may have some of the most secure banks in the world, but with our president and his not-so-modest mansions all over the country and the cost of deploying South African troops to CAR (for what?) you never know when we might reach the tipping point. When might we start being taxed for government’s mismanagement? When will the ANC start reaching into our savings accounts? And who will be our lifeline?

That was your financial and economical low down for the day. Say thank-you and be glad you’re not a Cypriot.

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The Purchase – A novella

A  small eternity later, with one sprained finger, two raw hands and far too much dirt to count she closed the car door feeling a mix of satisfaction and annoyance. Her father had recently made a rather economical purchase of a new, second-hand car and was feeling quite pleased with himself. She, on the other hand, was putting together a mental list of essential things to check before ever buying a car again. Since it wasn’t really the done thing to have more than one test drive, they could only make sure the basics were in order. She also had the suspicion that the social etiquette of buying and selling between strangers led to them behaving in far too polite a manner. Under such circumstances she never took a particularly confrontational approach and so it was only later,  in the privacy of her own company, that she muttered angrily to her bucket of soap suds about the more unsavoury details of the buy. The first thing she’d insist on was that the sellers had the car valeted. She would, however, still make sure that there were no fake nails as complementary souvenirs from the wife left in the cup holders, that no chewing gum was lodged in the crevices between the seats, that the ceiling was devoid of muddy shoe prints and that there wasn’t any dried fruit moulding in the spare-wheel well. She had already congratulated herself for keeping a small bottle of disinfectant in her handbag with which she surreptitiously wiped down the steering wheel and gear stick before driving home but, after seeing the filth she had just cleaned off, she did so again. She understood that spare keys, COR, NCO forms and all the related paperwork were important in such procedures but she couldn’t believe that she was the only one who was disgusted by the state the car had been exchanged in.

Chev

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Go Wild

Go Wild

I’m not sure about you but my mind is, regrettably, of a rather feeble constitution. I’m not a harden horror viewer, I could never do paranormal activity and even regular thrillers leave my mind seething for hours after. Mostly, books are far safer. They don’t have that visual shock factor. You know the whole thing of a picture speaks a thousand words? Well, by the time I’ve read a thousand words and my flagging imagination has actually caught up enough to conjure up that image the horror of it has already subsided somewhat. See, books are safer. My theory failed a bit with this one though. I was finishing off the last few chapters the other night and I was so creeped out I wouldn’t even get out of bed to go to the loo.

But if you’re up for a strange mix of muti, magic, colourful language and an excitingly familiar South African setting then get stuck into Beukes’ latest novel. Also if you’re anything like me and are convinced that there’s always more to a novel than meets the eye then see if you pick up on the Xenophobic vibes, Apartheid allusions, the idea of us, as a South African people carrying visible manifestations of our guilt and underlying discussions of hell and the supernatural world.

Consider this a recommendation.

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Hunter S. Thompson

So I just read an interview with Hunter S. Thompson in the Paris Review. I was fabulously amused, to say the least. There is something shockingly crude and yet incredibly profound about him. A drunk, stoned, wack-job of a journalist who had a brilliant mind and functioned best in a state the less artistic would call “insane” and the everyday Joe Soap might term “high”.

The interviewer’s concluding question to Thompson was “If you had that fortune sitting in the bank would you still write?”. Thompson’s answer? “Probably not”.

Whaaat?

I think there’s the general assumption that writers must write. We have vestiges of some legacy, left to us by the romantics, that runs a little like this: the artist is impassioned and overwhelmed by an idea and cannot rest until it’s laid out in verse (or a novel, article etc). I suppose this is, in part, true but writing is work, hard work and a writer’s success is measured in pages not ideas. Ideas are nothing. No matter how noble. Unless it’s written there is no story.  I fancy writing as being central to who I am. Except I ignore that centrality. A lot. No deadline, no write. But if even the crème de la crème of pieces are often cash-pressed inspirations then I guess I can absolve myself of my slothfulness.

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Shweppes

the written word!

Nikolai Jericho

Anarchy... but controlled anarchy.

WORDSNICK

Repotted...

The Art of Being Impractical

... still working on a title

Under Construction

... still working on a title