Why are white people so angry?

About a year ago I parked my car in a street near my home. When I returned from my errand there was a note under my wipers: “Please don’t park so close.” I was confused. So close to what? There were no other cars along this stretch of pavement. Was there some hidden pavement bailiff,Continue reading “Why are white people so angry?”

No GPS for mourning

In young, white Cape Town, the mourning is directionless. We cling onto scraps of third-hand Xhosa like magic spells – “Tata Madiba”, “enkosi kakhulu”, “uMkhonto weSizwe” – our Victorian penchant for petty shame reducing the words to whispers in case we get the pronunciation wrong. We don’t know the old dances, we don’t know theContinue reading “No GPS for mourning”

The past is a fogged mirror

Susanna sits, flanked by her grandchildren at the edge of the fading family portrait. Her face is vague, the imprecise chemistry of the photograph eroding her features into mere hints of a thin, tight mouth, of wary eyes. But then you look away, back to the men. It is they who draw the eye inContinue reading “The past is a fogged mirror”

Vive le cowardice!

The matriarch of the tyre fitment centre is beckoning. Her face is grim. I join her under the hydraulic lift to peer up at the exposed viscera of my ancient car. She points into the darkness between the front wheels, like an oncologist pointing at an X-ray. It’s just as well I brought in myContinue reading “Vive le cowardice!”

I was dissing hipsters before it was cool

The hipster is hesitant. He stands in the doorway, his ironic moustache tasting the air. If he senses danger he will slip away, perhaps to the vinyl shop next door. But all is well here. The hiss of the cappuccino machine soothes him. His natural enemies – people with real jobs – are all atContinue reading “I was dissing hipsters before it was cool”

Let them drink gin

The estate agent sniffed me over and knew I wouldn’t be buying, but the rain was drifting down in sheets over the city and nobody had come in all morning. Boredom trumped disdain. He stretched his face into a reasonable facsimile of a smile and handed me a pamphlet as if he were sprinkling delousingContinue reading “Let them drink gin”