Looking for accommodation close to work

One of our staff members at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse is in desperate need of accommodation closer to work. I decided to try the FaceBook route and ask residents in Craighall Park and the neighbouring suburbs of Parkhurst and Blairgowrie if anybody had a room to let. The Facebook pages for Residents’ Association of Craighall Park and Parkhurst were not too difficult to find, but Blairgowrie proved elusive. Finally, in between phone calls, emails, intercom buzzing and saying goodbye to departing guests, I found Blairgowrie and Rattray memories.  All are closed groups and, after requesting to join, all it seems accept me, as I can now load my request to rent a room. As I continue with my daily admin, my computer starts pinging faster than morse code signals at Bletchley Park. It took me some time to realize this indicated incoming Facebook messages  – such Connection! Basking in optimistic hope and a teeny sense of self-righteous triumph, I came down to earth quite smartly when I started to read the tsunami of responses from the Blairgowrie residents (my dear suburban neighbours):

 ‘Definitely a scam’

‘Seriously dodgy, folks’

‘It’s a trap!’

‘Ask this person to identify herself’

‘Just don’t phone this number it’s an Italian number. I’d put money that it’s a con.’

 Defensive outrage, self-righteous indignation .. I start to type furiously to put these suspicious alarmist petty suburban neighbours in their place.  I look more closely to see what else other ridiculous misguided conclusions have being drawn … then I read:

 ‘Isn’t Parkhurst a prison?


The mention of South Africa triggered a memory that there is a Blairgowrie there.


‘Just Googled the number and got Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse in Johannesburg.’

 …. Slowly the light begins to dawn.   … I had joined a closed group of Scots all connected to Blairgowrie, a town in Perthshire in the far wee north of that not so united kingdom.

So I responded:

Hello all in a foreign country!! .. dare I say it? .. all in the United Kingdom.  [The Scottish referendum was very new and raw.]  Yes, I thought I was joining a group of  my  neighbouring suburb  in Johannesburg South Africa. Mea Culpa!

 I then go on to identify myself and offer all my ‘credentials’.

Have I absolved myself of skulduggery and treachery?  Stupid .. yes.  Intention to deceive .. no.  I won’t go into the reasons here for looking for accommodation for this person. They are sad and indicative of the tough life that the majority of South Africans still have. And believe me if I had any available spare space I would accommodate her.  

But if any of you come to South Africa please come and stay. I might at least get some mileage out of my faux pas!!  Sorry everybody. But please hold thumbs that we find somewhere for Thandie to stay. By the way check the piece I wrote on Rattray and our suburb http://lizatlancaster.co.za/blog/exhilarating-air-of-peace-and-calmness-accommodation-in-craighall-park . Misguided and bit dumb not to realize the site I was joining! .. But a scam and trap I am not. And sadly I’m not Italian either!  But buonanotte and bye bye all – Please feel free to delete me from this group.

A further internal mud-slinging interchange ensued between those who were still insistent that this was further evidence of a dangerous and subversive swindling sociopath at work, and those who welcomed me to the group, who loved the SA connection, and who took the serious mickey out of all those who failed to see the funny side. More aggrieved huffing and puffing from the Perthshire biddies, and then I lost interest and left the group.

There is an exquisite irony in putting out the word for accommodation close to work  – and targeting a town some 13,800 km away from Liz at Lancaster.

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Pick of the month: the Kentridge ‘festival’


The pick of the month has to be the Kentridge festival coming up with exhibitions of his work opening in three Johannesburg venues in November.  Tomorrow, 9th November, Refusal of Time opens at Johannesburg Art Gallery and runs until 1st February. On 15th November  Drawings: East Rand Proprietary Mines Cash Book opens at the Goodman Gallery until 20th December. And on the 18th November Tapestries, a collaboration with the Stephens Tapestry Studio, opens at the Wits Art Museum  15th December.

Kentridge Goodman 2014The exhibition at the Goodman Gallery comprises approximately 45 mining landscapes drawn on the pages of Johannesburg mine ledger books from the early 1900s. They are a continuation of Kentridge’s concerns around mining and its historical role in the social fabric of Johannesburg and the industrial landscape of the city. While mining seems to be one of his thematic interests, Kentridge has often described drawing as being his primary concern. In an interview in the late 1990s Kentridge said: ‘The themes in my work do not constitute its main starting point, which is to draw.’

The Tapestry exhibiton at WAM will include approximately 20 tapestries, and some related sculptures and drawings as well as film footage of the weaving process (each tapestry is made by five or six weavers sitting in a row along the loom.)  Marguerite Stephens and William Kentridge have been working together on tapestries for the past 24 years producing about 40 tapestries. Stephens adapts Kentridge’s collage drawings for the very different materials and techniques of tapestry-making. This exhibition promises to be a treat as it has been a long time since there has been an exhibition of a major body of these collaborative tapestries.

Kentridge Refusal of TimeThe Refusal of Time is a collaboration with composer Philip Miller, projection designer and editor Catherine Meyburgh, choreographer and dancer Dada Masilo, and Peter Galison, an American historian of science. It comprises a five channel 30 minute video with at the centre of the installation a ‘breathing machine’, along with 5 steel megaphones. The Refusal of Time was first shown at Documenta (13) in 2012 and has since been seen in several countries around the world.  It has been bought by public art galleries including the Art Gallery of Western Australia and is also jointly owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Made in the artist’s studio at Arts on Main over a period of 2 years, it has now returned home.

Cotter’s 28/11/2013 review in the New York Times, introduces us to the visual assault which is so characteristic of Kentridge’s  video projections. ‘Metronomes pound away like a grim marching band. Hands on clock faces spin, spewing trails of stars. Drawings erase themselves. Maps of Africa appear and disappear. In a laboratory filled with what look like giant watch springs, white-coated figures mix potions to the beat of a tuba-intensive score by Philip Miller.’  The 5 steel  megaphones in the installation are formal devices but are functional as well for they direct sound. There is Philip Miller’s general soundscape but if you sit underneath one of the megaphones you can hear the sound of the spoken text very clearly.

In a video discussion (13/03/2104) on the making of The Refusal of Time,  Kentridge speaks of making time visible (playing a film in reverse or fast forwarding) as well as transforming time into material objects – eg representing fractured time with 2 simultaneous images overlapped or synchronized images becoming out of synch.  “If time could reverse itself there’d be a kind of utopian perfectibility – you can take back all the things you wish you hadn’t said, the smashed vase recomposes itself perfectly … but that in some sense is our definition of time – that which you can’t call back.”

Kentridge NY timesThe machine at the centre of the installation pumps slowly up and down, a cross between bellows and pistons. In Kentridge’s trademark language where symbols and ideas transform from one image to another with fish-like slipperiness, the machine is a breathing machine; like human lungs; the rhythm section of the installation (keeping time); the ‘elephant’.  In the 1870s there was a plan in Paris to use regular bursts of air from underground copper pneumatic pipes to calibrate the city’s clocks – a reminder of late 19th century attempts to ‘control time’. This reminded Kentridge of Dickens who, in Hard Times, likened the working of factory machinery to ‘the movement of the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.’   Taking the metaphor of rhythm and time-keeping even further Kentridge likens the human being to a clock which gets wound up at birth and ‘will keep ticking until it winds down at the end of its allotted years’.

Kentridge refers to the concept of the black hole as both a scientific theory of time as well as a metaphor for human states of being and the inevitability of death itself. He says of Refusal of Time: ‘It’s a celebration of making against the fact of our eventual disappearance – that’s the refusal of time. We are not going to escape our journey to the black hole at the end, however fast we dance or run in the way. But that dance and the run .. are what it’s all about’.

So let’s run and dance and get lost in the Refusal of Time.

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Sunday walk and breakfast in Soweto


Alarm goes at 4.45. Hit the snooze button for another  10 minutes of shut-eye. But then it’s up and out the door to collect my 2 walking partners to head off to Soweto for the Nike Soweto 10km run – although we, along with many others, were walking it. The more ambitious and fitter tackled the 42 km marathon or the 21km half-marathon.  After a very  slow start with over an hour in the traffic into Soweto, a fair bit of  hustling with parking attendants,  a  somewhat unorthodox shortcut Startroute to the start through a hole in a fence (only in Jozi –Eish!), we were over the start line at around 7.25 and on the road. The 10km  isn’t a very scenic route (it’s all on the outskirts of Soweto) but when you’re walking and talking, the kms pass quickly. (The full 42 km marathon takes in better known sites in Soweto itself such as Vilakazi St, Regina Mundi and Walter Sisulu Square).  It was great to see all shapes, ages and sizes out there for a good time – 21,000 in all apparently.   A group of young twenty-somethings managed to dance and sing their way along the route and marshals offered water at the refreshment stations with good-humoured banter  of ‘Johnny Runner for you’.  We were amazed to see the speed of the leading finishing runners – including two women running barefoot.

The letters Vilakazi spelt out in sign language

Two kids run to catch up with their friends with Vilakazi spelt out in sign language in the background

At the end of the walk we headed to Vilakazi Street for a much needed coffee and breakfast at NextDor (that’s next door to the better known Zakhumzi’s.)  All in all it’s a great way to spend a Sunday morning – we are even talking of doing the 21km next year.  But please Nike sponsors –  if 80,000 odd concert-goers can get to the FNB stadium via train and buses, why can’t the same arrangements be made for your 21,000 race entrants?

Temporary trash boxes are needed to create awareness around litter

Temporary trash boxes are needed to create awareness around litter




Also, why are there no temporary trash boxes strategically places after the watering points?   We can’t expect no litter after a race but we can at least reduce the quantity. We need to start sending out the message that it’s not OK to indiscriminately drop Coke cups and plastic sachets for somebody else to clean up.

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