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Happy birthday, Mum!

Here's an August flower for you.  Not your beloved cherry blossoms, but your favourite colour. I miss you.


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Call it remorse

Something out of memory walks toward us,
something that refutes
the dictionary, that won’t roost
in the field guide. Something that once flew
and now must trudge. Call it grief,
trailing its wings like a shabby overcoat,
like a burnt flag. Call it ghost.
Call it aftermath. Call it remorse
for its ability to bite and bite
again. — Don McKay, from “Angel of Extinction,” Angular Unconformity: Collected Poems 1970-2014 (Icehouse Poetry, 2014)

Dear Dad, this one's for you

Dear Dad,

You would've been 100 years old today. I didn't do anything lawyerly on your birthday, but ... I've never told you ... but three years ago, when I was on holiday in the United Kingdom, I spent a day in the Temple area of London, visiting the Inns of Court and the Royal Courts of Justice. It was so easy to imagine you there. I would've enjoyed your company, and I wish we could've popped into a pub to talk. Or argue. Probably. Happy century, Dad. I hope you still have tennis, and rugby, and books, and a veld for a walk.

Miss you!

The daughter who was born last




















South Africa is not a safety country (hallelujah)

I did. Smile. Nonstop. Al die pad dwarsdeur end-uit.

What do you do with your toilet if there's no water?

This is a follow-up to my previous post about apocalyptic waterless Cape Town. "Toilets! What do?" I asked my friends. Ah, you apply a little rhyme that's now doing the rounds. You apply it everywhere, even in public toilets.

if it's yellow
let it mellow
if it's brown
flush it down

I'm continuing my own water-saving experiment, partly because I'm curious, partly out of sympathy with my beloved Cape Town. It's all very un-serious in my case, of course: yesterday, for example, I put a teabag in hot water and then -- as I do so frequently -- forgot about it. Usually I would've thrown it out. Yesterday I drank tepid tea. Every drop counts.

En as dit nie anders kan nie, is daar altyd Japannese whisky (al die pad saamgepiekel SA toe) en Klippies en plaaslike wyn.








Ek mis die niks

As jy van ver af aankom, sê maar van Skilpadtepel se kant af, dan sien jy eers niks, en na ’n rukkie nóg niks, en dan die kerk se kliptoring, en naderhand ook die troppie huise daar rondom. Hulle staan soos ’n klein skaretjie om ’n ongelukstoneel – almal wil bý wees maar niemand wil dit té naby waag nie. -- Oom Kootjie Emmer, André P. Brink Dis goed om my eie taal te lees. Daardie paragraaf herinner my so intens aan Kamieskroon, die Namakwalandse dorpie waar my ouma gewoon het; en die talle klein dorpies op die platteland in Suid-Afrika.






Day Zero: when Cape Town's taps are turned off

Sleet in Tokyo, 0 degrees Celsius, possibly colder in my north-facing apartment. Opened tap and warmed hands under running water until I remembered where I'm from. Cape Town. A city without water. They will run out of water ... soon, April, perhaps sooner, and there I was, indolently watching water spiraling down the drain.

South Africa: rich in natural resources, poor in water. Japan: zero natural resources, So Much Water.

I took these two photos of the Theewaterskloof Dam in January 2017, when there was still some water left. Now there's virtually nothing.




Capetonians have been asked to limit their water consumption to 50 liters a day. Here's how it breaks down:


Only a minority is currently following these guidelines. The rest: ignorant or selfish or stupid or all three.

"I can get my head around drinking water: you transport it by truck," I told my family. "I understand that you can do a hospital bath with Wet Wipes instead of a bath-bath. I accept that la…