The Moon and The Telescope

In the morning:  interviews.  South Africa cultivates world class journalists . The  greater  need for  truth  the more committed journalists there are. Maybe this is wrong. They embark on key  training  (schools) to imbue  principles of fact and investigation, recordand instinct.  I am interviewed by  The Citizen and The Mail and guardian.   

I spend the day on the green, a massive green  filled with gigantic  tents full to bursting with stalls selling all kinds of wares. The stall holder could be a Xhosa woman or a  white settler . It’s an international festival and the stalls reflect this.  And there’s thai food stalls Indian food stalls , Chinese food stalls. I am in heaven. The requisite man on stilts walks past, so too the juggelers and street theatre practitioners. Children grapple candy floss and sweet stuff.

I am stopped by throughout  by people who came to my workshop yesterday or to the performances over the past two days. A tall shouldered ruddy nosed  gentleman  selling  Kudu steaks from behind a counter says in a gruff south African Settlers accent.  “I cameto your show yesterday” he   passed me the burger with a stern twinkle in his eye “food for thought” he says. His daughter  looked at me with  pursed smile as if to say now there is a compliment

 I go sit and  a wisened   gentleman sidled  up to me with a grin on his face. He had aperfect English South African accent. Softly spoken but  sure.  I remembered him from a workshop I gave yesterday.   “Hey” he said in  mischevieous voice  bright as a djhin.  “My wife died  fifteen years ago” he said after swallowing his food.  He felt my inner bracing.  “she visits me occassionally.” He paused to check that I hadn’t run away and in so doing allayed  my fears.  

“ but there’s one occasion  she always, always comes to me”  his voice had gentle risen as if it were a question “I wrote a poem about that and  I read it to a couple of my friendslast night and I said to them what you said in the workshop. I said “look I wrote this poem and I want to read it.  I don’t want you to worry about liking it or not. I am reading it to you but I am reading it for me.” I told him  his feedback made the entire workshop – the art of being an artist – worthwhile.

In early evening I attend a reception orgnaissed by Sustained Theatre. This is a festival after all and a good place to meet people.    From England  Corinna Edwards,  Kully Thiarai,  Garfield Allen, Tyrone Huggins , Felix Cross,   Bea Udeh  are just some of the dynamic contingent brought here.    I see  Bra Willie and his face lights up.  We warmly hug each other remembering when we met last in Durban at a poetry festival. But  Bra Willie is now  The poet Laureate of South Africa!

Garfield Allen and I spoke with good words. They were a long time coming. Outside in the blushing white  light of a South African full moon Felix Cross notes that his young boy who has a telescope back in London will see only a partial moon  from home in London “butthe detail from the telescope is amazing” he says.     The concept of different  moons being seen on the same evening by a father in South Africa  - the whole moon - and his son  back in London – a partial moon -  is  surprisingly moving.

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