So The Heartman and I will trundle out of Durban from Wilson’s Wharf on Monday (ETD: 8.30am) headed for 1,700km of pure adventure. We are jumping up and down with anticipation. There is a humungous reservoir brimming with adrenaline that needs to be broken. As my young surfer tjommies would say, we are “amped to a scale of total radness”.
But I’ll miss the Bush Palace, our Heart & Sole Tour control tower nestling in the bush on a hill overlooking our sublime Indian Ocean in Umdloti. I’ll miss the resident population (five people, seven dogs, a troop of vervet monkeys, a few buck and gollyness only knows how many beautiful birds and snakes.
I’ll miss the irregular cabaret put on by the humpback whales and dolphins. I only wish they would give me a start time, like they do on television, so that I can have my Kodak Instamatic at the ready. The sunrises, the electrical storms, the lagoon, the Bushguy.
Me and Bushguy are making quite a nice connection. We passed on the 147 steps leading up to the Bush Palace the other day and got to talking about our bush idyll and how long it would last before the greedy property developers start munching on it to regurgitate huge profits with even more high-rise holiday apartment blocks which wealthy people occupy for a month each year.
He asked me if I had watched “What The Bleep!” and I said I had seen it a couple of years ago. “Would you like to see it again?” asked Bushguy, “I have a DVD I could lend you.” “I would,” I replied and before I had finished saying that, Bushguy had raced back to his hut in the bush, grabbed it and was thrusting it into my hands. “You can’t watch this often enough,” he said.
There you go. If you want to begin to understand what makes the enigmatique Bushguy tick, get out “What The Bleep!” and learn.
In the meantime, enjoy some images of life at The Bush Palace, an extraordinary place that I will greatly miss over the coming weeks…
This school of dolphins graced our bit of the ocean yesterday morning Pic: Hatman
This electrical storm popped by to say a loud hello yesterday evening... Pic: Hatman
Then not one rainbow but two decided to give us a bit of a show... Pic: Hatman
Then there was just time for quite a nifty sunset before the sky fell into blackness and the stars burst forth... Pic: Hatman
But that wasn’t enough. At 1am this morning, The Heartman takes a call from distant neighbour Darren Aiken that a bushpig has been spotted snouting around in his part of the bush…
... and this is what it looked like. Schweetness overload, hey? Pic: The Heartman
All in a day’s hard labour while living the holiday in the Umdloti bush. I’m sure we have your sympathy. Because we’ll need it when we leave all of this behind to unicycle all the way down to Cape Town! Kaapschstad, hier kom ons!
Slowly, slowly, the mystiqueness that surrounds The Bushguy is unravelling.
I’ve told you in previous instalments of The Bush Palace Chronicles about our bush-dwelling recluse who shies away from people and their cluttered, noisy lives and chooses to live quietly in a three-walled cabin deep in the coastal vegetation behind the Bush Palace.
To refresh your memories, I could add that he only ever wears a pair of navy blue shorts and shuns a shirt and shoes, even in the most adverse weather conditions. Well, as adverse as the weather gets in our sub-tropical paradise of Umdloti.
I bumped into The Film Director, the cool guy who lives in a cottage immediately behind the Bush Palace, at the foot of the steps leading up to our jungle hideaway. He had been surfing and was chilling on the steps with a Castle Milk Stout, apparently still mesmerised by the waves he had caught. Ever the nosey journo-blogger, I probed for info about our Bushguy.
TFD (the Film Director) confided that the only time he had seen Bushguy’s rustic lodgings was when he heard a loud crash one afternoon and went to investigate. “I called out into the dense bush to ask if he was OK and he said he was. Apparently, he had a fourth wall on his log cabin which operated on a pulley system so that it could be lowered on very hot days and then raised when it rained and got chilly.
“What had happened was the pulley system had rusted and that afternoon the whole contraption broke and the fourth wall collapsed,” said TFD. “He’s never bothered to have it fixed so he lives and sleeps with one side of his cabin totally open to the elements, not to mention snakes, vervet monkeys and all the creepy-crawlies that lives in our bush.”
I love this. I don’t know about you, dear Hatpeople, but Bushguy deeply fascinates me. Not least because I can see the appeal in the lifestyle he has chosen. It’s natural. It’s wild. It’s, yes, deeply spiritual.
But it got better at the weekend. On Sunday, the hottest day we’ve had in a while, I strolled along North Beach – still unfamiliar to me – looking for a gap in the rocks where I could swim. Bushguy’s coming towards me with two of his dogs and a piece of wooden panel under his arm. He recognised me and gave me that haute enigmatique smile. After he had shown me a spot in the ocean, clear of reef, where I could swim, I pointed to his piece of wood and asked him if he had been bodyboarding.
“No, skimboarding,” our man of few words murmured. “I made this out of something I found. It works really well. Want to see?” He ran off towards the waves and I got my camera out just in time to record this…
Bushguy's wooden panel from somebody's former wardrobe works a treat as he skims impressively into the ocean...
... and he's engulfed by the foamy stuff as his skimboard ride comes to an end...
... and, without so much as a 'how's your father', Bushguy lopes off along the beach back to his safe haven in the bush Pix: Hatman
Got to love Bushguy! Enigmatique or what? More on him and his life in the wild as it all unfolds…
Here at The Bush Palace, every hour of the day throws a different light on our 155 deg slice of the Indian Ocean.
And, yesterday morning, while most of you, dear Hatpeople, were recovering from Christmas parties or other gatherings of humungous bonhomie, your faithful “SA-positive blogger” was up with the Natal Robins, snapping a sunrise of increasing phenomenalness.
Just for you. Because I love you. Because I feel you. Because I feel your love for all things beautiful. And I try not to disappoint you. So let’s have a squiz at yesterday morning’s lights display from our majestic mansion nestling in the Umdloti bush…
It's still dark, the ships have their lights on... and this is what happens when I fiddle ignorantly with the settings on my Kodak Instamatic and my hands are as steady as yours were the morning after thaaat Christmas party...
The sky's coming over all deep purple... and my camerashake shows no sign of improving...
Wait. Perhaps if I twist the camera and give my right hand a bit of a rest?
Ah, that's better! Amazing what that first cup of strong black tea (more like Five Roses soup) can do to tighten one's grip on a Sunday morning! All pix: Hatman
There you go. I hope you enjoyed that little show as much as I enjoyed capturing it for you. All in a day’s work on your only “medically diagnosed SA-positive” blog. I’ll be back later with major Bushguy breakthroughnesss. I bumped into our bush-dwelling man of local mystique on the beach yesterday. A short conversation ensued. And a couple of new pix of him playing the incredible Bush Palace Character that he is! All of this coming up later today!
If activity on this blog in the past couple of days has appeared to be less detectable on your radar than the usual blip-blip-blip, my dear Hatpeople, then it’s because I’ve been moving house. Through necessity.
Yes. The staff at Hatman Mansions, led by Alfred, demanded a summer break. I played with the idea of denying them their annual holiday, if only for the entertainment value of watching them toyi-toyi on the front lawn in colourful protest, but chose not to provoke an international incident.
Being an innately decent sort, I declared that they could naff off for a full three months – on full pay – as I was off to organise and participate in The Heart & Sole Tour – y’know, the one in which The Heartman (Geoff Brink) will UNICYCLE 1,700km from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the very nasty scourge of landmines.
Nkosi Alfred roused the staff into a joyous and frenzied dance, sang “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” in isiZulu, grabbed their belongings and raced for the gate, pausing only briefly to give me an interesting wave which appeared suspiciously to feature quite prominently the extended use of middle fingers.
So it is that I find myself at The Bush Palace. Now I must try to find words to do justice to my new, if far too temporary home. Idyllic. Sublime. Chuffing magnificent. Those will have to suffice.
I mean, please take just a mo to drink in the view from where I sit right now, hammering out these words of happy…
The view from my desk on the deck outside The Hatman Wing... not altogether shabby, hey? Even if a tad cloudy on the first day. Oh, that's Meditation Man posing on the balustrade... he's another story at another time!
Mmmm. OK. Let’s step right up to the balustrade and take another peek at our slice of the Oceana Indiana, shall we?
Oh, look. A beach. that will be our private Bush Palace beach, people. Yumness. Care to join us for a braai this weekend? Bring and share.
How do you feel about that?
How did I feel when I awoke at my usual time of 4.58am, stumbled out of the Hatman Wing to sup on last night’s tea… and saw about a dozen dolphins catching waves directly in front of The Bush Palace? They were generally headed towards Durban but, ever in playful mood, had paused to ride a cool left-hander, peeling off at the last second to bounce back into the school. Stokedness. No whales as yet, but I trust there will be a Breeching Display sometime today.
OK. So allow me to introduce you to The Bush Palace Characters. You already know The Heartman pretty well. Madman. Extraordinary guy. Top-notch friend. He and The Fiancee (along with PhutuShark the Alsatian/Africanus crossbreed, Lucy Lu the pedigree Bull Mastiff and Bellatjie the Dachshund, occupy the main building, of which the new Hatman Wing forms a part. You’ll get to know this beautiful couple and their dogs very well as I update you on The Heart & Sole Tour. So let’s move on for now.
Behind the main palace building is a tasty not-so-little rustic cottage. The Film Director lives there. Cool guy. He surfs and dives and skateboards a lot when he’s not filming. And he attracts very hot women with his extremely positive vibe. I’ll develop his personality – not that he needs it developed – to you as we go along.
Ahoy! The Whales Breeching Display is on! Let me grab my Kodak Instamatic and see what I can do…
OK. I’m back and the film is being developed… hang on… here we go!
OK, so I need to upgrade from my old Instamatic to a turbo-charged Nikon V8 or something... but, if you train your binocs on your screen you can make out a whale at play... can you? What? Just move binocs down from container ship to black speck. Well done!
Alright. I’m sorry. Let me zoom in on those binocs of yours… ah, there you go. *Passes back binocs*
I told you. A whale. Or are there two? See the splash? It's either that or The Heartman going for his early morning goof!
Right. Can I go back to my Character illustrations? Coolness.
So, as I was saying before the whales deliciously interrupted me, then there’s The Gardening Executive. He lives in a wooden cabin adjacent to The Film Director’s cottage and tends to the small lawn and attendant palm trees which grows on the cleared space around The Bush Palace. Allegedly. I’ve seen him once. He’s very quiet. Big toothy grin. And he comes to the Bush Palace at strange times, asking for a few teabags and some bread. If I see him actually working on the property I’ll photograph him for you. And for posterity.
Now. Hear this, all ye who enter this blog! Bushguy. That’s what I’ll call him. He blows my mind. Bushguy lives in a three-walled structure deep in the coastal bush behind Bush Palace but still on the same property. He never wears a shirt or shoes, come winter or summer, rain or shine, and I’ve seen him three times. Once, before I moved in here, I saw him swimming with his three dogs in the nearby lagoon. He didn’t swim like a person. He used the lagoon as would a dog or perhaps a dolphin. A pure and simple celebration of being submerged in water. He seemed to form part of his pack of dogs. Splashing, diving, jumping, just being in the moment.
The next time I saw Bushguy, he was running up the 147 steps from the beach to The Bush Palace in the rain. No shirt. With his dogs. I had been dragging my worldly chattels up these steps for several hours, stopping several times on each trip to catch my breath, and was exhausted. “You must be super-fit,” I coughed, “to run up these steps like this!” Barely breathing, let alone panting, he smiled as he bounded past and said: “It makes no difference.” Enigmatique, oui?
Then, just 20 minutes ago, he charged down the hill into the clearing on which the Bush Palace stands and I raised my hand and said “Hey, “Bushguy” (but I actually addressed him by his real name, right?), how are you?” He didn’t speak but gave me the enigmatic smile and disappeared under the stilted Bush Palace, where I could hear him taking a cold shower in the old and otherwise unused shower cubicle below.
Are you intrigued by Bushguy? I am. Big-time. I’d love to interview him for my weekly “Umdloti Interview” but The Heartman and The Fiancee rightly suggest that I take my time to gradually get to know him and win his trust before suggesting anything as alien to him as an interview. So, I’ll content myself by sporadically reporting on this blog any new sightings of Bushguy. Too much of mystique.
One thing is for sure. I’ll only be seeing him running around shirtless in this piece of pristine indigenous bush which surrounds The Bush Palace. Nobody has even seen him shopping or eating or drinking in town. He’s seriously feral. For all we know, Bushguy lives off berries and other stuff found in the bush. I’ll pass on further info on him as it is becomes available. Fascinatingness!
And, oh yes, there is – as you would expect – a massive amount of richly diverse birdlife (sunbirds fly into the banqueting hall to suck nectar from the cut flowers), snakelife (nothing found in my bed as yet), and bucklife… a couple of sweet duiker like to nibble in the garden early-doors. Words and pictures on all this and much more as it unfolds, dear Hatpeople!
Let me leave you with this. After my BPC photo-shoot was done, I retired to my lodgings only to be confronted with this going past my window…
The Heartman heading off to the bush to shoot his breakfast. Needs protein for his 1,700km Heart & Sole ride to Cape Town he says. I don't approve. What's wrong with Milo Flakes, I ask. But our unicyclist rolls his own way. As you'll find out...
I was summoned at the weekend by The Oyster Box’s Head Honcho to discuss his proposal for my weekend residency at the newly revamped colonial-style hotel, a veritable institution among old Natal hostelries.
Over the finest cream tea to be had anywhere, our residency agreement was speedily finalised. I mean, am I the biggest fan of the Oyster Box or what? I was hugely relieved to note that the recent refurbishment of this grand old lady of South African hotels has not in the slightest bit diminished her haughty yet laidback seaside grandeur.
When Head Honcho put on the table a kind offer for me to stay as their guest (any weekend I like) in a suite which, I imagine, very few other than Nelson Mandela get to see the inside of, it was a firm gentlemen’s handshake, smiles all-round and a stiff gin and tonic and salted peanuts were waiting four-poster-side before Alfred had even dropped off my Vuittons.
Coolness. I was left to wander around the old girl, a hotel where my parents used to take me as a snotty-nosed sapling for a Coke Float and Chocnut Sundae way back in the day. So I swooned over the way Red Carnation Hotels have expertly blended in the new with the old, maintaining the dignity and character of Old Lady Oyster Box, and wielded the Canon 50D with no little relish.
OK. So I got a tad fixated on the old lighthouse, an Umhlanga icon situated directly in front of the hotel and a humungous source of wonderment to me as a child. This is how it all turned out…
I'm fine with that. The view from where I scoffed my cream scones on the Indian Ocean-adoring verandah. The view from the newly-named Hatman Suite which larges it up on the top floor is not too shabby either...
Post-cream tea deliciousness, I was tempted to plunge into my new rimpool but decided not to disturb the reflection of my lighthouse and spoil it for the other patrons. That's how I roll. Decorously.
So I got creative instead and paid homage (that's ho-marge, as in French) to My Lighthouse with some crafty compositionness. Hope you like this...
And, not being one to leave it there, I thought I'd capture another angle, knowing all the while that these vignettes (vin-yets in the French) from my new weekend residence might serve to cheer all of you up this Monday... anything for my Hatpeople.
Cool. I’ll leave it there. Perhaps, if you all behave really well, I’ll release i-marges of the Oyster Box’s magnificent new decor d’ interieur, pardon my Franglais, in a later post. Let’s just say that I’m not at all displeased with the totally sick suite Head Honcho has thrown my way. Catch you in the Lighthouse Bar on Friday evening, Honch. I trust you’ll have those G&Ts lined up on that bar of great splendidness. There’s a good chap!
* Please feel free to help yourself to more info on the sumptuousness of the new Oyster Box by checking in here and/or here. Tell them Fred sent you.
In the fourth of my weekly interviews with an interesting resident of Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – the idyllic seaside village in which I am blessed to live – I asked the Big Five questions of Andre Cronje, director of the Wild Touch programme on SABC.
Let’s have a quick look at him, shall we?
FH:You grew up in or near the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, yet knew from a very early age that you wanted to be out in the bush and working with wildlife… how did that come about?
AC: You see, Jozi-city is one of the most hardcore jungles out there. If you look at any aerial shot of the place it’s striking how many trees there are, there are also some crazy animals lurking in the bushes. On a more serious note, most of my ancestors were hunters, farmers and fishermen. I guess a love and understanding for nature is in my blood.
FH:You have been involved with Wild Touch, SABC’s popular wildlife educational programme, since its inception and now direct the series. How did you get involved and what does working with the programme mean to you?
AC: I have been working in the television industry for 11 years now so you naturally get involved with the kind of projects that fits your profile. It’s important for me to believe in what I invest my time and effort in. Series Directing Wild Touch is very rewarding because I know that I’m involved with sharing something beautiful and important with the nation.
FH:We are constantly being alerted to horror stories related to the degradation of our environment. Working so closely with it, what is your experience of human abuse of the environment and what would your message be to the youth who are to inherit it?
AC: You said I must keep my answers short, this question might take days to answer! But I think if we look around us right now, you will see the answer. The abuse that’s visible in the environment is only a mirror of our abuse of ourselves. Just like the orangutang, we are also running out of living space and just like the fish in our rivers the polluted water will also kill us. If there is a message for the youth it would be to start a revolution! Don’t be as ignorant as me, your parents, your teachers or our world governments. Don’t accept the easy way out and do question what is going on around you. To this day we are pretending that we don’t know that we are killing the earth and ourselves.
FH: A group of foreign visitors to South Africa (let’s say, ahem, a gaggle of gorgeous Scandinavian environmental science students, shall we?) arrive on your doorstep and demand to be shown the finest wildlife attractions our country has to offer. Where would you take them? And why?
AC: It depends… the Scandinavian students can hang around my house for a week or so and they’ll get up close with vervet monkeys, various snakes, spiders, amphibians, whales, dolphins and the beautiful birds of prey that hang out here. If it’s a small group I’ll take them on a wilderness walk through the Umfolosi Game reserve. Am I allowed to punt any cool organisations on this blog? Check out www.wildernesstrails.org.za.
FH:Cool. OK. So, you’re often to be seen surfing off and skateboarding around our gem of a seaside village, Umdloti. And I happen to know that you live in a beautiful house hidden deep in the bush on a hill overlooking our bit of the Indian Ocean. How did you get to be such a lucky bugger? And, go on, make us all insanely jealous… please describe your paradisical living-in-Umdloti-vibe!
AC: Jeez, Hatman, you just blew my cover. I was put under a witness protection programme several years ago and they forgot about me. I’ve been trying to get out of this lifestyle for years! Jokes aside, if you let go of your fear, everything else happens naturally. I remember as a kid I dreamed that I was surfing some deserted island. Everyone around me always said that it’s a silly dream because I live in a city 600km away from the sea. So I thought F@*^ you all and I started imagining that my skateboard had no wheels and the concrete was water. The rest is history as I have since spent tmy life living my dreams. I do want to encourage everyone to live their dreams, however far your imagination runs… though it’s crucial that you never forget this: “Concrete is not water” and you will get hurt along the way. So to answer your question about how I got to be such a lucky bugger… “no matter how hard you fall if you get up and try again, you will succeed”. Oh, and by the way this doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt like hell either.
Many Hatpeople will have been horrified by the reports of the terrible accident in which local surfing legend Heather “Fergie” Clark was seriously injured after a car driven by an allegedly drunk 20-year-old man collided with her vehicle.
The young man then apparently tried to get away from the scene of the accident before he was apprehended and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving before appearing in court and being released on bail pending an investigation. Disgusting.
The good news is that Heather is making encouraging progress at the Hibiscus Private Hospital in Port Shepstone on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast after being treated for her injuries.
But our seriously popular surfer found the strength to be propped up in bed and thank her family, friends and supporters for the help she has received over the past few harrowing days. A grateful tip of the old red hat to surfing publicist Olivia “OJ” Symcox for sending fredhatman.co.za this wonderfully reassuring pic…
Heather relays a thank-you message from her hospital bed to all of the people, both friends and strangers, who have rallied to help her
Doesn’t Fergie look amazingly well for somebody who has been through a dreadful accident such as the one she fortunately survived? Yes, she does. And what a lovely thank-you from our girl in this pic! I’m sure I speak on behalf of everybody who has admired Fergie’s accomplishments on the surfing circuit over the years when I thank her for giving South Africans, and especially us living here on the edge of the Indian Ocean, so much of pride. Thank you, Fergie!
OK. Cool. Now we need to look at the practicalities of the situation. This is what Heather’s sister Brenda Human has said: “Heather is still in a lot of pain but is doing OK and is hoping to be home soon. She won’t be allowed to surf until January next year and has to have four to six weeks complete bed rest.”
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I’m a guy who likes to use the ocean (well, it is 40 metres from my front door) and many of my friends surf and dive and kitesurf and are generally at one with the many moods and nuances of the big, blue sea.
Somebody I know loves nothing more than to jump off the side of a boat and swim as close as possible to sharks, especially Great Whites, and film and photograph them. When asked by an animal communications expert whether he felt a special connection with sharks, he stared at her with incredulity and, in his bluff way, said: “Are you crazy? They’re just big fish.”
So, here’s a photograph of a big fish for you to ponder over…
A big fish, sadly dead
You might have noticed that I placed the word “sadly” before “dead” in the above caption. That’s for those people who believe that the only good Great White is a dead Great White. Oh, this 4.5m beauty unfortunately saw its end in the shark nets off Zinkwazi, about 50km north of us here in Umdloti on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coast. Thanks to the guys at Zigzag mag (see full story) for use of the pic.
To want something or somebody dead is to fear it. And Great White sharks are not to be feared. Respected, yes. But not feared. That fearmongering movie “Jaws” had about as much grip on reality as I will have two hours from now (it’s Friday night, innit?) and has a lot to answer for (as I will undoubtedly have tomorrow morning).
People, we are plainly and simply not on the menu for sharks, Great Whites or any other. They don’t like to eat us. Get over it. A hungry lion would take a chomp, a piranha would fancy a nibble and a mosquito totally digs the taste of your blood. Sharks don’t. Unless it’s a case of mistaken identity. You know, like when you get arrested for something your neighbour has done. So, yes, if you sitting on your surfboard comes over to a shark like a tasty seal, you’re in trouble. Why somebody hasn’t come out with a nice line of Day-Glo orange wetsuits to replace the standard seal-look-a-like black ones is beyond me.
Shell collecting. The most innocent and becalming of pastimes. Fresh sea air. Crashing waves caressing one’s ears. Kids building sandcastles. Seagulls wheeling and whingeing. Dogs with sticks in their mouths shaking saltwater over bodies browning under sun’s grill.
Time was when Mom and Dad would take us down the South Coast for a Sunday of bodysurfing, Coke floats and burgers and Swingball on the beach. We would wade in the rockpools, wonder at crabs and gigglingly stick our stubby little fingers into ever-alert anemone. And pick up, seemingly, huge cowrie shells almost at will.
Many years later, now that I enjoy the “live-the-holiday” luxury of blogging on my Umdloti verandah instead of enduring endless newspaper strategy meetings in drab offices, I have begun to take walks on the beach – just 40 metres away from my front door.
Bliss. It is during my seaside solo sojourns that I feel the eye-crustiness of hours spent hovering over my laptop wash away, cleansed by breezes surfing off the Indian Ocean, my feet cooled by flirtatious tides, the scrunching sand exfoliating my toes.
Umdloti beach: in more chilled times
That was until I rediscovered what I remembered to be the joys of finding the enticingly elusive cowrie shells. Those subtly coloured beetle-body shells of porcelain sheen, with the tiny teeth that once protected the gogga which lived inside. The shells that, centuries ago, were used as currency in much of the world. Eulogised in myth to boost fertility in women whose bodies are adorned with them. Oh, what elation to be had when, among myriad fragments of oystershells, mussels and limpids, I spot a cowrie furtively shooting off a watery wink at the wintery sun.
Shells on the seashore: can you spot the cowrie?
Aaah, got it... did you get it?
But no more. I have stumbled upon a secretive, sophisticated network of local cowrie collectors. And they’re scary. They emerge silently and menacingly at the crack of dawn from their hi-des double-storey homes lining Umdloti South Beach Road, clutching roneo’d copies of tide-tables in one hand and Friendly Store plastic bags in the other.
Wearing crazy-paved, granny-knitted and grotesque jerseys to defeat the early-morning chill, they fan out on the sands with nary a glance at sky or surf. Heads down they plod away, scouring around every granule of sand for any cowrie which may be trying to hide behind a piece of seaweed or Coke bottle-top. Raised glances are reserved for me, an Umdloti newbie, and they wordlessly say: “Hey, out-of-towner, don’t tread on our turf. You’re welcome to surf or build sandcastles but we have sole mining rights for cowries on this beach so naff off.”
I pretend to stare out to sea, waving occasionally at a bloke in a microlight or at a container ship headed for the Far East, all the while poking a toe around in the sand for a shape resembling that of a cowrie shell. It’s not nice.
You have to make lots of tough decisions in the best interests of your ratepayers and you’re almost constantly vilified by public and press alike.
You stump up big dosh to have Durban’s Waterfront built, which necessitates the removal of ancient institutions with aquatic interests. Bang! You get whacked. You have the beautiful old Dolphinarium knocked down and approve the construction of uShaka Marine World, which immediately starts losing money hand over fin. Bang! You get whacked.
You rename loads of Durban’s streets, formerly named after the outrageously racist settlers who masterminded the building of Durban, after Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and Humpty Dumpty. Bang!
In a heroic effort to ensure that the descendants of those nasty settlers never again have their grass verges trimmed outside their homes in previously hugely advantaged “white suburbia”, you demand that refuse hardly ever gets removed from those areas, that “loadshedding” be assiduously implemented and that the once pristine beachfront (and adjacent Indian Ocean) is left to go to such rack and ruin that nobody with more than a bean in their pocket and a slightly-above-zero-valuation of their lives ever goes there again. Bang! Whack!
If that weren’t enough, you diligently oversee the gradual degradation of almost everything of any worth to anybody, including the destruction of the street traders’ market at Warwick Junction for yet another shopping mall. Bang! Whack! Wham!
No, it’s not an easy ride for the good DOCTOR Michael Sutcliffe, who is just doing his best for Durban. Then, he sees this:
Shock! Horror! Outrage! What will our children think?
So you ban it. Well, what else could you, the moral guardian of all things good about Durban, do? This is not Cape Town, for Helen’s sake! Oops. Should have seen it coming. Bang! Whack! Kapow! *Good kicking in the gonads* Here follows a letter from one of those arty-farty liberals who’s always whingeing about something, this time about the banning of his grotesquely hard-porn poster advertising some smutty play he’s putting on: