Home of the blessed


They’ve been letters from home, but not stayed the same. Then they became letters for
home. Home of Garth Wright, Springbok of legend, who scored that runaway try down
the grandstand touchline at the Boet in the Currie Cup semifinal.

Home of Athol Fugard, the bard of the Bay, who knew our people, spoke as we
do and told our stories. Told human stories with courage, touched the world, inspired,
revealed. We helped him tell it through us. He helped us know our selves.
Here in the home of the underachievers, the launching point of champions,
breeding ground of quality people for export. Of quiet heroes, shy champions. Gavin
Cowley, Peter Pote, Keith Butler Wheelhouse, Anton Calitz, the tortured, guitar-wielding
wordsmith on his one-man crusade for self-expression.

Turtle Morris, Richard Rath, Vincent Barnes, Mush Hide… the watermen who
passed down the wisdom from the days when there was still a wall at the Pipe, when you
could play sticks at the Summies Hotel, even before you could get pissed at Lillies and
laid on the bowling green behind Faces, while the ballies queued round the corner for
Irish coffees at Angelo’s and you had to have a meal to drink on a Sunday, at El Cid, at
the Ranch, Blackbeard’s Tavern, The Bell, De Kelder. You had to tuck in your shirt to jol
at Cassidy’s, Daytoga’s was illegal and you queued your arse off if you weren’t mates
with big Gord at Indigo’s.

Here in the home of big, mellow, Joe van der Linden, Gino Fabbri, Steve Schultz,
Worm, Wang and the ones that made it. Made it out, made it back, made it big. Black
Coffee live tonight at Pizza Palace, Sticky Fingers at the Festival. “If you enjoyed
yourself, my name is Craig Mischief. If you had a kak time, my name is Barry Hilton.”
Things to see and things to do. Places to go, minds to blow. But just not so often,
you know? Paul Simon at St Georges, Indecent Obsession at the Westbourne Oval in
the rain while Kiss Me was number one for 27 weeks. Van Coke at Pool City, Nude
Girls at Einsteins, Napalm Death at the Dungeon, Kerkorrel at the Tech. With Gary
Hemmings, impresario of Bar None festivals. Centrestage when it was still at the harbour.
The harbour when you could go raving there. When you could still go raving, when
Munro, Shane, Vimo, Karmi and them played till 8am and we stopped jolling at Cadillac
Jacks and only went to Barneys on a Sunday afternoon for a draught or two or three and
to bump into Bruce and Colleen and to stay for a last one even though we had a 4pm
subbing shift at the Herald with Bobby Cheetham on the night desk and Bob Kernohan
chief-subbing and Sue Ramsay copy tasting and a Mike Holmes pic for the front page
and Rick Wilson said we’d lead with the Cape Town pipe bomb and Fredlin and Deon
were meeting us at the R-Bar when we got off shift and the Red Bull girls were doing a
promo and it was good and we were going to the Shine-I later. And then maybe watch the
sun come up on the couch on the pavement outside Jules and Mia’s house there by Peas
and Carrots.

Home of the brave, home of the hesitant, home of the beautiful that don’t know it
yet. Barbara Robertson making sure they find out. Nicole Marais, Jane Simpson, Lauren
Harper, Taryn Miller, Kim Danoher, Danelle Bhana, Reeva Steenkamp, Zipho
Zokhufa… at the Feather Market Centre in the same suit you went to court in, with
Mandela Mazibuko saying, “Thanks for the support,“ to the well-wishers as we get set
for our winning weekend in Sun City, or the Fish, or Plett or The Halyards, or just a day at Seals with no wind and the beginning of a west swell and Duncan Scott in the water
doing head-dips at the outside peak on the low tide, while Big Red checks the waves
before work and Brad and Darren tune up in the parking lot for an acoustic set at
Legends, while Gerry van Wyk plays the ladies’ bar of the Cape St Francis hotel, where
Thulani was the king, when he wasn’t playing the Skyroof, or was it the Room at the
Top, or was it the Markham, when there was a passage through to the Herald so the
reporters could squeeze in a extra dop during supper break, till they moved to the
Maritime, where Dave Goldblum played Say Africa at the Four Winds Folk Club while
Gavin Weeks unloaded the amp from his boot outside Tico’s and Gerard had just moved
back from Cape Town, but Matt was on his way there. With Karen and Toni and Trent
and Tani and Gary and Meegs and Smiles and Bean and all the ous, if they didn’t go
further, Joburg and London and LA and Adelaide, where Craig Pottie still gets a wave,
but it still says there on the second line of his Facebook profile, “From Port Elizabeth,
Eastern Cape”.
Home of the blessed, the fortunate, the friendly, the real, the cheap, the priceless,
the not too big, the not too small, the real right regular know-it-alls. When all’s been said
and done it’s the one place we all look back on. It’s where we’re from. Where we did all
the things we’ve done. Where we’re remembered when we’re gone.

Writer, editor, ghostwriter, writing coach. I've been involved in 30+ book projects - for myself and for clients, partners and colleagues. Experience in marketing, PR, advertising, television, print and digital, corporate and editorial. Former editor of FHM magazine. Currently Director, Editorial and Content at Ogilvy PR, Johannesburg. Musical performance, spoken word as Inspector Ras. Guitar/vocals for The Near Misses, (Worst Band In JoburgTM). @hagenengler

(14) Comments

  1. Lauren Demetriou (nee Harper) - Reply

    Hey Cosmic – does anyone ever still call you that :-0) Fantastic piece! Loving your other stuff too – so glad I had this link sent to me.

    • Hey Lauren! How and where are you? That name is a time capsule from Rhodes days. I think the last time was when Roger Brooks was down from the UK. He then orchestrated a dinner, where it was a veritable Cosmic Fest! I thought of you the other day when I found an old pic of you modelling in those Mickey Mouse ears!

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