A bit here, a bit there and a lot up in the air

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THERE are days, good peo­ple, that Stoeps do not talk Isshoos; they talk som­mer ran­dom. In fact that was Stoep Talk’s job, way back, a daily snip­pet di­ary.

James Clarke changed this com­pre­hen­sively in his 20-year in­nings, mak­ing the Stoep a place of solid laugh­ter. I changed it again, over the last year and a half, to what I like to think is var­ie­gated.

I do not know whether this is a huge plus for read­ers. By the way, the one who wants a growl­ing po­lit­i­cal di­a­tribe is scared of bump­ing into a light­weight search for the mean­ing of the slo­gans on the backs of taxis, or vice versa.

Maar toe maar, as they say, seems to me that some­times on our stoeps we talk heavy, and some­times light and some­times jum­bled up. And some­times we peer into our beer and grunt.

One day I’ll write a blank col­umn, ex­cept for an ex­cla­ma­tion mark two thirds down the page, and round up some art crit­ics to de­clare it ge­nius.

To­day, as I write, be­ing a mind-in­neu­tral day, we grasp at handy prompts:

ColdType mag­a­zine is run by Tony Sut­ton, a mad ge­nius pub­lishoholic who had a hefty Sef­frican stint on his wan­der­ings through the con­ti­nents.

He was edi­tor of Drum, among other things. He be­came one of the planet’s (ar­guably,) top three de­sign gu­rus, with Jan V White and Roger Black. If he had a sense of poetry, he’d have changed his name to Grey but oh, dear, we live with our dis­ap­point­ments.

Tony is so-called “re­tired” but can’t keep his hands off his de­sign app. In Toronto he monthly churns out ColdType – cur­rent af­fairs with zing, free to any­one any­where, google it – ex­cept that as he gets older, he gets faster. Never did you get bet­ter value from a free sub­scrip­tion. Ev­ery month they come at you more rapidly un­til you pant to keep up.

Now he’s do­ing a clas­sics se­ries to boot, I dis­cover from yes­ter­day’s ColdType which in­cludes a re­run of some­thing I couldn’t re­mem­ber writ­ing. Damn risky, read­ing those; as of­ten as not, you cringe and dis­avow.

This one, no, fine re­minder of time in In­dia – what I’d loved (like meat­free, booze-free de­li­cious cui­sine, once you at­tune), and what I’d not loved (such as per­pet­ual defe­ca­tion and ex­pec­to­ra­tion).

Es­pe­cially, an un­for­get­table ex­change that I’d for­got­ten al­to­gether.

At Udaipur air­port, buy­ing a flight on an air­line that has just had a dire, big-news, crash, I do the stupid thing that peo­ple are sup­posed to know bet­ter than, say­ing in weird semi-jest: “… mut­ter-mut­ter, shouldn’t re­ally get on your plane, mut­ter…”

The ticket lady re­sponds in con­fi­dence: “Oh, no, no, not at all, no prob­lem. We only have one crash a year and that was on Tues­day; re­lax!”

Thanks to ColdType for Prompt 1; thanks to J, K, & A for Prompt 2, re­mem­ber­ing Ben Ma­clen­nan’s great con­tri­bu­tion, Apartheid, The Lighter Side. Well, half-re­mem­ber­ing.

We re­called sev­eral themes, like re­clas­si­fy­ing races. How many Malay coloureds were re­clas­si­fied as St He­lena Cre­oles? How many Bantu were re­clas­si­fied as Other Coloureds and so on?

Then we won­dered, was Trans­for­ma­tion: The Lighter Side com­ing up? Al­ready none of us could rightly quote that po­lice com­mis­sioner in court, solemnly in­ton­ing, down to the dec­i­mal points, how the trans­for­ma­tion sta­tis­tics couldn’t let an In­dian wo­man ap­ply for a bri­gadier’s job.

Then there was the fel­low who said coloureds should kindly recog­nise that they were in over­sup­ply in the Western Cape.

There are fine can­di­dates. Is any­one on the case? The Stoep will grate­fully re­ceive info.

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