How your sub­urb could be nearly as nice as ours

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

ONE rea­son that my sub­urb re­mains the nicest in Joburg, de­spite the Hope School, is Zoo Lake. Our lit­tle green patch is dinky in re­la­tion to Delta, nine hectares to 104, but it seems to be treated as Joburg’s chief park nonethe­less.

Some cir­cles wail about week­end crowd­ing and “swamp­ing” but they’re out of order, turn­ing up their noses at the hu­man­ity around them and then al­leg­ing they’re ex­cluded.

We should be past that now. It’s para­noia. There’s in­deed no promis­ing that mu­sic se­lec­tion or vol­ume con­trol will be to your taste. But one party in 50 ir­ri­tates you and that party ir­ri­tates the other 49 as much as it ir­ri­tates you.

It’s also pos­si­ble that you can meet crime. But it’s just as pos­si­ble in Bryanston and, likely, worse crime. It’s pos­si­ble any­where this side of Ice­land.

One Sun­day, Betsy and Claire and I dis­cov­ered we were all home alone. We each took a bit of hum­ble lunch to Zoo Lake and found a mega-event was on. We had to hunt for space to lay a blan­ket. Sin­gle-hand­edly, we light­ened the av­er­age com­plex­ion. With a few al­lies, we raised the av­er­age age.

We basked in warmth and wel­come. We came home on an Africa-high, a mag­nif­i­cent an­ti­dote to the lows we are dealt by im­por­tant peo­ple in suits at mi­cro­phones.

A tip for a smart cap­i­tal­ist: do what cap­i­tal­ists are sup­posed to be good at, ex­ploit an op­por­tu­nity. Round up the wail­ers and de­spair­ers, con­fis­cate their Smart­phones and ban­ish the me­dia. Then take them by the hand and lead them to the places where Africa-highs will stun them.

You’ll have a growth in­dus­try, when the habit catches on. You’ll sent the economists into rap­tures.

Zoo Lake is a big tick on our lo­cal score­card. An­other is that we are a non­closed-off sub­urb. We have not one rust­ing pile of barbed-wire fenc­ing blockad­ing our streets and not one tat­tered, fad­ing, no­tice stat­ing that great Jozi lie: “TEM­PO­RARY ROAD CLO­SURE”.

I ad­mit a mea­sure of hypocrisy here. Firstly we are thick with mil­i­tary look­ing ve­hi­cles driv­ing around un­der slo­gans like “Tac­ti­cal Unit” and “Im­me­di­ate Armed Re­sponse”. Some have that po­et­i­cally ag­gres­sive acro­nym “SWAT”, for “Spe­cial Weapons And Tac­tics”.

More­over, some of us who’d get claus­tro­pho­bic liv­ing in a cor­doned off road smack­ing of old-age homes are hyp­o­crit­i­cally happy walk­ing the con­ve­niently cor­doned off roads sup­plied by our lar­ney south­ern neigh­bour, West­cliff.

Oh well, “con­sis­tency”, they say, “is the last refuge of the sta­tion­ary mind”.

What I mainly wanted to tell you about is two-legged spe­cial lo­cal fea­ture Bart Cox. I don’t much know Bart. Noth­ing of his ca­reer or fam­ily. Only that he has de­cided – I think alone, no backup, no mis­sion state­ment, no fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions – to rev our lo­cal minds.

A must-open in my email is Bart’s alert to who’s talk­ing “at 6pm sharp” on Thurs­day. That “6pm sharp” is bonus. For round­ing up in­ter­est­ing speak­ers, Bart’s awarded the Stoep Medal. For con­nect­ing us with our neigh­bours he gets the medal’s Bar. For start­ing when he says he’s start­ing; Aloe Leaf Clus­ter.

Why the nasty whack at Hope School? They’ve blocked our long-stand­ing quiet an­swer to Ta­ble Moun­tain, the view from their ridge. They had cause – dog own­ers who save on their poop-bags when no-one’s look­ing – but they won’t look at other op­tions. A place we should love greatly, for its fine work, we don’t love at all. So the Stoep grum­bles a bit, now and again.

Fel­low Joburg­ers, rig up a Bart and you could be nearly as nice a sub­urb as us. Cheers!

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