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Today's quote:

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Are we there yet?

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As David Smiedt writes in his very funny book full of sizzling metaphors "Are we there yet?", "Life in 1980s South African suburbia was pretty close to perfect. As long as you were the right colour and weren't burdened by a conscience."

Although I was the right colour, I was burdened by a conscience which made me leave South-West Africa again after only six months despite being made an offer to join the VOLKSKAS in very English and yet oh so cosmopolitan Cape Town. Apartheid didn't agree with me nor I with it.

After watching shocking YouTube clips of some poor whites living in total squalor under the new South Africa's reverse-apartheid "affirmative action", I'd picked up this book to read something more light-hearted about a country whose racial policy I'd always considered to be doomed.

No-one in South Africa in the late 1960s expected the country's harsh system of racial segregation to come to an end as early as the 1990s, while the few doomsayers predicted a bloodbath which never came.

As late as December 1986, P.J. O'Rourke wrote in "Holidays from Hell" after visiting the shanty-town of Soweto, "There is some hope for South Africa, for the souls of the people there anyway. I mean, personally, if I'd lived my forty years in Soweto and I saw some unprotected honky cruising down my street on a Saturday afternoon, I would have opened that car like an oyster and deep-fat fried me on the spot."

That none of this happened is very much thanks to Nelson Mandela but I wasn't there yet where the author describes a visit to Robben Island when it began to dawn on me that this was the very same David Smiedt whose spoodles Maureen and Barry we befriended during my stay at the Lifehouse two years ago. Wikipedia confirmed it: Yep, the very same!


Is this Maureen or Barry?


Of course, I emailed David almost immediately, and he just as quickly replied, "Small world. How are you feeling, mate?"

Small world indeed! I'll be at the Lifehouse on the 24th for more poking and probing, so perhaps we could meet again to give me a chance to tell you about that Texan, South African and Sydneysider who were standing on the deck of a cruise ship chatting under a blazing sun ...

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P.S. David Smieth has written several other books - see here. To whet your appetite with some of his occasional other pieces, click here.