After attending a two-hour service and being enriched among the green spires at my Forest Church at Platbos Forest Reserve, eating lunch with Niel and Gabi at Baardskeerdersbos — and buying a Niel Jonker painting of Central Park — it was almost an afterthought to motor towards the ocean for a sniff of precious ozone.
So I came upon Uilenkraalsmond, an estuary, river mouth and beach and dunes and light and magic, of which I had hitherto had no experience. Unfathomably.
I would be well advised to simply let the pictures roll before your eyes at this point but I want to add a little bit more. When I parked Lucille on the bridge and scrambled down to the dunes to start a pioneering perambulation of the estuary’s edge, it came to me that perhaps I had stumbled across Mars or Jupiter. Or some as yet unnamed planet.
I have visited many breathtakingly beautiful places in South Africa… but, here, in this wild and and slightly edgy, even harsh place, there was magic in the air. There was salty seaspray, a skin-goldening gentle light, yellow dunes, black oystercatchers, red-rust and canola-yellow ripples and no humanoids in sight.
Children and I are on the same wavelength. I adore them. They tend to love my company. We play. The child is strong within me. None more so than an adorable pair who are the children of a friend.
These girls, my “Gargoyles”, and I went to Platbos Forest the other day so that I could take some photographs of them for a project I’m working on. I want to produce a set of three images for a conceptual artwork which might illustrate the spiritual path of children.
R & S have walked a very difficult path without their father. I imagine it has been both heartbreaking and strange. And the strangeness was there when we entered Platbos Forest for the photo-shoot.
The Girl had spent much of the day with friends at the tidal pool, dolphining in the cool waters, espying salmon-pink, grasping anemone and tiny silvery fish as they darted among the rocks.
When dusk closed in and it was time to return home, she walked along the promenade wall, her salty skin shivering slightly in the evening bite. She felt alive and on top of her world.
She was so happy that she felt she could fly.
But, although she had, just that afternoon, inhabited the water world of fish, she knew sadly that the vast air arena of the birds was beyond her reach…
But wait. Was it? As a loftily-kicked football fell back to earth, a dragonfly magically appeared before her and seemed to beckon her to reach higher… to fly.
But, as she dared to dream, the dragonfly wheeled and soared almost out of sight. Out of reach.
“Come down, Dragonfly,” called The Girl. “Come back. Please show me your way to be free!”
Lights flickered on along the promenade as the sun sank steeply below the horizon. She was out late and he mother would have begun to worry. And she was cold. But… what was this?
The Dragonfly had returned. Wings whispering on the evening breeze, he appeared to be encouraging her to follow him, to gather her belief and stretch her wings. And to fly.
So she did.
Pictures: Hatman Photography
The Girl flew. And, as her dragonfly friend dipped away across the waves, she soared. And soared.
She flew so high that it became possible in her mind to reach out and touch the Moon.
* This is my interpretation of an experience I had with part of a series of sculptures created by Marieke Prinsloo Rowe on the promenade at Sea Point, Cape Town. To enjoy the full story behind Marieke’s beautiful work, fly over to her Walking The Road website.
Thank you, Marieke. For inspiring children to dream.
As wondrous as Stanford is, stealing lemons from the neighbours and flogging them down the Saturday Morning Market doth not many boxes of Ouma’s Breakfast Rusks buy. So I went to Cape Town to reintroduce my being to work. W.O.R.K. Heavens to Betsy! My village mellow was well and truly destroyed. But it did give me the chance, inbetween nocturnal enslavement at The Argus and shards of sleep, to photograph things other than sheep, rivers, mountains, birds, butterflies, children running barefoot and freely in paradise and the most beautiful woman in the village. You might want to check these out…
I hear Seth Rotherham has a pair on order. But Aubrey got there first.
Love the dresses, love the hairbunches, love the little girl...
There was this incredible woman on the train. She looked like a prima ballerina who had fallen on hard times. I thought her shoe and rose worked well together...
There was music in the air...
Sometimes you only have to look up...
My friend Helen has this bunny in the window...
Back to the train... and the best of British.
I wonder where they took their kitten for the day?
Another railway sleeper...
I followed Cape Town's yellow tile road to the Open Book Festival...
... and, on the way, I thought this late-afternoon sliver of light quite poetic...
... until my ears were caressed by the exquisite prose of the mercurially wordful Isobel Dixon.
After all that, light relief...
So it is. So it is. Pics: Hatman Photography
I’m so looking forward to delivery of the redesigned “SA-positive blog”. Then I can do this picture thing much more effectively for you. Until then…
I don’t think I’ll introduce an “Amphibians” section to this blog but I can’t resist sharing this little charmer which popped up in my bedroom at Hatman Mansions yesterday… anybody have an idea what species he belongs to?
Sorry mate, I've got the pool covered.
Suzy the cat had her eye on him too Pics: Hatman Photography
I have to say that, despite my aversion to weddings (especially those in which I have actively played the male lead), I did rather enjoy the one which brought London to a standstill on Friday. I thought it delightful and far more authentic than the new fringe sported by Sir Elton John at the ceremony.
But, as entranced as I may have been by the service which made the dashing Prince William and comely Catherine man and wife, I was even more taken by the 30-odd (that’s 30-odd, not 30 odd!) ladies with whom I had the pleasure of taking tea and cake while watching the nuptials at Jill Smith’s most fragrant Galashiels Lodge in Stanford.
Well, as they oohed and aahed over, to be entirely honest, Kate’s dad Michael Middleton, I snapped a few pics of the, um, quite indescribable headwear on display. Here, see for yourself…
I love Elma Hunter!
And you have to love this hat... check out the, er, is that a koala bear?
… and this lady’s nose, I mean hat just floored me!
Style, my Hatpeople, style. Essential. Very important to take the trouble to be well turned out. Just like this…
Yes. Just like that.
I call it my Karoo-meets-Kensington look. Very big next year, fashion insiders tell me. You read it here first. It’s OK. Just thrilled to be of service.
I need some help here, Hatpeople. Something has bubbled up in my line of vision this morning that has seriously harshed my Stanford mellow.
I mean, here I am bound by the almost indescribable beauty of the natural world and basking in my pantheist’s paradise. And then this horror show, packaged and marketed in the name of art, nogal, crawls in to contaminate my karma.
Brace all of your your sensibilities, my Hatties, and get a load of this…
A nice young woman sitting on a very nice horse in a nice bit of South African countryside... with, er, what the hell is that?!
That, dear and undoubtedly devastated readers, is a buck. A South African buck. A blesbok if I’m not an ignoramus. Dead. Brown bread. Killed. Murdered. Shot. By that there sweetie-pie girly on that thar hoss. Nice, hey? Nice picture, hey? Yes. It’s called art.
And so artistic is deemed this sweet little snap that it has earned a bloke called David Chancellor top spot in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Go on, click on that last link and check out what the once highly esteemed British Journal of Photography has to say about Chancellor’s winning picture. And then, if you feel strong enough, scroll down a bit and have a butchers at what won second prize.
Tasty, hey? I mean, tasteful, hey? Yes, some oke’s wife spreading her pins for an upskirt shot. That’s art, Hatpeople. Art. Not porn. Not at all. And I’ll tell you why. Because that there pussypic, which I won’t publish on this blog, was snapped not by some dodgy character called Elmer P. Gobspittle with a Burt Reynolds ‘tache and a massive gold medallion nestling in the old chest-jersey, but by An Artist.
Someone who has minced around the art world long enough, clinking glasses with the people who nod their approval of certain artworld mincers, and ingratiated himself into their artworld good books. And will willingly produce the schlock horror allegedly de rigeur to draw attention to their absurd art prize competitions. I blame that arty-farty toerag Damien Hirst for starting this.
So, what else do the two top entries in the precious Taylor Wessing competition tell us? That it’s absolutely whizzo to photograph murderous Alabama teenagers and assorted other plonkers on wildlife massacres in Third World countries, especially if you have a posh name like Chancellor, and it’s divine, darling, to show the world your wife’s vagina as long as it’s not on www.mymissuseshairyguava.com.
But, hey, perhaps I’ve lost the plot and I am the total doos in all of this?
Wonderful news. It now emerges that I needn’t have plugged Maths in matric after all.
All I had to do to improve on the 16 per cent I scraped together after spending two hours playing noughts-and-crosses on my Maths paper was to get my Dad to rig up a battery-powered electrical current and fit a couple of electrodes to my bonce.
Then, when the adjudicator, in a voice not dissimilar to the bloke who does the punts for movies and says “Coming to a cinema near you… The Revenge Of The Malevolent Mathematical Under-Achievers..”, sounding like a mongrelly cross-breed of Tom Waits and Benito Mussolini, pronounced “Pupils, you may now pick up your pens and commence”, I would have simply switched on and come over all Einstein in an instant. Instead of staring at him blankly and musing over whether Miss van Straaten, my dead-sexy Afrikaans teacher, was wearing a mini that day.
Nooit, man! What do you mean e doesn't equal ac/dc squared?!
No formula or equation would have been beyond me. Trigonometry would have proved a piece of piss. I would have nailed Pythagoras’s poncy theorem quicker than you can say “Hatman’s a genius” – even if you hired one of those chicks who reveal the specials on Vim over the PA system in supermarkets to make the announcement.
But, no, they’ve typically left me to wallow in decades of guilt before announcing that running a slight current of electricity from one side of your brain to the other is a cure for something termed “dyscalculia” which, like my Attention Deficit Disorder, neanderthalitis, hypertrichosis (excessive growth of hairs in ears) and dofclobberitis (the inability to look anywhere remotely near fashionable), has only been dropped on me in an advanced stage of my life.
Nice. A classic piece of scientific discovery. The boffins emerge from sterile-white labs and wave around a piece of paper which makes absolute sense of something disastrous that happened to you about 54 years ago. Helpful.
But I mustn’t be so self-indulgent. If fitting a pantechnicon battery into a South African child’s “Ek hart Wayne Rooney” rucksack and releasing a few thousand volts through the cerebral deserts where grey matter is as rare as a Bafana victory helps to send our Matric pass rate soaring, I’m all for it.
So, fire up your synapses the best you can and zoom over to the BBC\’s health news site to be further stimulated. And, please, don’t buy into all that politically correct “don’t try this at home” codswallop. You want to pass Maths, right? Right.
Well, just get the old man to rehabilitate an old battery and attach to the parietal lobe around the back of your head somewhere. I suggest you have a word with your Biology teacher about this first. You don’t want to stick the electrodes on the wrong lobe and sardenly fand yu karnt spel.