Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: November 2016

A Swim

In a moment of relief and with the seed of delight that my sore back was much released by the chiro yesterday, I decided to go and check out our local public pool this morning. I have been there before, with crowds of local kids on sweltering afternoons, but never before in the early morning.

I was greeted by two police people at the desolate gate and box office. The ticket seller wasn’t at work yet so I was snuck in with the suggestion that I would pay the R6 entry fee when I left.

I walked through the spotless cool of the building into the beautiful lawned park that surrounds the old but immaculate pool.

I was the only swimmer there. I did widths across the deep end while the life guard and another maintenance man did work in the middle section. On the width back to the near end of the pool I stared at Devil’s Peak. Going in the other direction I was welcomed by the big blue sky. I only stopped because I didn’t have goggles or earplugs and my ears started throbbing.

I sat on the low wooden bench and drip dried in the sun. A flock of hysterical sea gulls swooped in and paddled and washed and shouted. When I was dry enough I threw on my sundress, stuffed my feet into my takkies and walked home again. It felt like the old days, and it made me so happy.

For those of you who live and work in Woodstock, I am sharing my secret with you. Morning swims at Trafalgar Public Swimming Pool.

Advertising – a wake up call

In the last couple of weeks I have been listening to the radio a lot, mainly Cape Talk 567, to keep up with the news, the current climate of sentiment in South Africa, and because I enjoy the challenging, funny, irreverent and sometimes razor sharp attack of Eusebius McKaiser. He doesn’t let a thing slide, and he calls out the white privilege of those who dare to call in, pointing out their hideous assumptions, lack of awareness, and the outrageousness of how badly they want to be heard and recognised as sufferers or victims. He is so good at it; so good at the outrage, the debate, the breaking it down into bite size pieces, so good at carrying the thread for maximum traction. He is a jolly fabulous talk radio host and I do love him.

What I have been finding more and more problematic though, is what happens when, in Eusebius’s own words there needs to be an ad break ‘to go shopping’. I know that Joburg (where Eusebius sits) and 702 land’s advertising is different from what we get here in Cape Town, but I am always utterly shocked by what is being advertised to whom. And, of course, in case we ever forget, who holds the purse strings. Cars on special for only R369 000. Holiday packages beyond the reach of anyone I know. Retirement homes in retirement villages. Insurance and investment packages. Vehicle tracking systems for cars. Very, very expensive things for the rich, white few.

This is not the demographic of people who listen to the radio, (although in Cape Talk’s case, from the complaining white constituency you would probably think so), and yet, only the rich white few are targeted as relevant for advertising. It makes business sense. Sell to those who have the money. That’s the whole point of advertising. But it so often buys straight into everything that Eusebius (and others) are railing against. It is the whole system, run by white capital, and the independent media is no exception.

So often white callers quote ‘business facts’ raised by Eusebius’s colleague Bruce Whitfield on his The Money Show, and sometimes I end up hearing bits of Bruce as well, mainly when I am driving at that time and the radio in my car is on.  And let’s face it, I know that the show tries as hard as it can to have as many black voices featured on it, but the voices and faces of big (and small and medium) business in South Africa are still predominantly, largely, and only with the rare exception, white. Then there is the content on that show, aimed at those who have disposable income, regular jobs, property, annuities, insurance, medical aid, cars, investment portfolios. Who are these people? They are mainly, and for the most part white.

So, what’s my problem? It’s this. In a world where we are trying to have the honest conversations that Eusebius tries to have, we have to acknowledge how even he and the radio station he works for are propped up and supported by the very thing he is trying to engage critically about. And I find the adverts uncomfortable. I find them garish, and insensitive and completely out of touch. And yet, they are aimed directly at where the money is.

This system is deeply entrenched. It underlies the fibre of even those that dare criticise it. It marginalises and excludes the masses. It is as dishonest as only advertising can be.

 

Thoughts on what the dead would think

I am only starting to creep out of my paralysing coma that the Trump election has caused. I am properly frightened these days; frightened in a way I have never been before. I understand that for me it is a combination of deeply personal micro tragedies and heartache, and the big, global picture, but the timing of it has left me reeling, spiralling, fearful and hopeless.

I have seen it coming. We all have. My own sense of helplessness has been strong these last times; right here in my neighbourhood, in my city, in my country and now in my world. And I am going to be asking for help. I need help because I cannot work out what it is that I can do to make things better and different. I know all the arguments against asking for help, and I usually speak them out myself. I know I need to just get on with it. I know. I know. But I am stuck, like in a bath of glue.

I keep thinking about how my father, dead thirteen years now, would never in his wildest dreams have been able to believe this world; what it has become. He would have embraced much of its raging change, but the radical horrors that we have come to accept in the last thirteen years would have struck him down too. Trump; hideous and vile caricature of idiotic reality TV as president elect of the country my father saw as great; an example, an image of what to work for. Evil, racist, sexist, moronic and base Trump chosen by people to be in his charge. No.

I am not sure I have surfaced from my paralysing coma. I am dumb struck. Struck dumb.

 

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