“What’s your top seller?” I ask Fatima Nanabhay of the African Music Store near Diagonal Street in Joburg’s city centre. “The goat bells,” she says. At R14 a piece they fly out the shop. Cow bells are also a big hit, she tells me. As I ask the question the only thing flying past us is the traffic along the city street and the guy wheeling a trolley with blankets piled high past the doorway. For the record there’s not a goat to be seen.
Nothing to do but protest. Sad news is that one of Joburg’s most beloved bookshops is set to close early next year. Boekehuis in Auckland Park is a haven for writers and for people who love hearing from them run by the amazingly interested and interesting Corina Van der Spoel (I worked closely with her on the Sunday Times Book awards a few years ago – she was one of our judges. And I also hosted a discussion with Peter Harris on his incredible historical thriller In a Different Time: The inside story of the Delmas Four one Saturday afternoon there). It’s a gathering place for readings, poetry, debate, discussion and the exchange of ideas that has been nurtured by Corina. It’s also an independently-run bookshop that I have never managed to leave without a brown packet filled with some extraordinary title that no mega bookstore would stock (or be able to find) or even be interested in ordering. And while its heart is local, its soul is truly global.
But I am still to blame. Continue reading
“This is Mr Matthews your train driver. Sit back and relax. The weather is sunny, the ride is sweet and everything is Ayyyyyyobbbbba (Drawn-out World Cup speak for “just great”).”
I am a fan of the Gautrain #justsaying. In fact I am a fan of any mode of transport that doesn’t involve surgical gloves, hard stares and taking your shoes off. That’s any mode of transport that doesn’t presuppose I am a mad bomber hellbent on the world’s destruction. I’m more like a one-person economic recovery plan, committed to single-handedly rescuing cities from the economic downturn by spending some hard-earned cashola.
The signs are plastered all over this part of the city. They have the look of the Roneo machine – hand-operated printing with its faded purple and blue inks that reminds me of geometry tests. Except these have no questions, just statements. “Penis enlargement”, ”Lost lover back in 3 days”. Around us Joburg’s Saturday morning traffic – human and vehicular – jostles with hawker stands selling cellphone chargers, fake branded soccer merchandise and plates of potatoes. A large church group, all dressed in pristine white robes with deep blue sashes gather on the corner for a meeting. They fit in. Most thing do here. I realised that when driving through Joubert Park taxi rank one Saturday morning, trapped in gridlock, watching a man wheel a shopping trolley past my window with a bull’s head in it, it’s eye seemingly fixed on me, it’s tongue hanging out the side of it’s mouth, looking more at home than me.
I have been remiss. A bad blogger. A blog is like a Tamagotchi. It needs to be fed to be kept alive. Actually a blogger is like a Tamagotchi too, hungry. So in a world of free content where most bloggers write out of love (and occasionally ego) an invitation to dinner is a supreme event.
The invitation from mememe and Two, one of my favourite stores arrived by email – addressed to “Dear cool people of Joburg” (I was never going to resist. At my age it could be injurious). Continue reading
An innocent tweet about eating great dim sum in Joburg got me a little more attention than I was seeking. So it’s time to reveal all, well almost. Saturday morning the sky over the city was grey and foreboding and having recently returned from a weekend away in Parys I was still hungry for adventure. Be warned my idea of adventure usually involves discovering good food and exploring Joburg’s inner city. Continue reading
We have a house rule. The best weekend getaways are less than two hours away and involve no cellphone reception (it’s the one time I thank the networks for a job not well done – that doesn’t excuse the dead spots in Joburg’s “under-resourced suburbs” like Sandhurst, Dunkeld and Parkhurst where for around two to R20-million you can get a house but not an uninterrupted phone call. Funny that.) Okay, they also involve crisp white linen, large bath towels, warm weather, a natural wonder (in this case a World Heritage Site), a smidge of shopping, delicious food and great company (these all necessary, in no particular order).
Human Right’s Day weekend in Parys checked all the boxes.
Parys lies just over a 100km south-west of the city in the Free State, where the sky lets you know how vast it is. Continue reading
#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading
#214. Covet beautiful handmade goods from Cape Town handbag label Missibaba. On a trip to Cape Town sometime last year I made a point of tracking down the Missibaba studio – a treasure trove for handbag fetishists. In a world of factory made goods where quality and craft has long been replaced I was seduced by the clutter of ideas, materials and colour and real stitchwork taking place. Now their range is available online through Shop-Label, Cape Town’s answer to Net-A-Porter (the site that puts hot couture in the post). My favourite item right now is the Safari Possum Bag. Very pretty indeed.
# 199 Shop. The other day I met someone who told me, after I complimented her style, that she is only wearing South African designers. I love that idea and want to take it further.
So to kick off here’s local label Black Coffee’s coat collection fresh from their debut at New York Fashion Week and in store now in Melville.
Gotta get me one of these.
* You can find Black Coffee at Bamboo – “for all things South African” –
53 Rustenburg Road, Melville