Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: Cape Town (Page 1 of 83)

Reginald Dwyer

Here’s another product of my writing group. Many of the elements used to thread the story together were prompts. See if you can identify them.

Reginald threw the watch into the disappointingly calm sea. He imagined feeling something huge. Instead he watched as the thing sunk like a stone, and because the water was so unexcited, he saw it plonk on the sandy bottom and stay there, suddenly motionless. He turned and huffed his way along the beach, squinting at the sunset and glowering at the couples looped in each other’s arms and kissing, eyes closed. His twingy hip alerted him to the fact that the beach was sloped, and the fine sand was filling and emptying in his brogues as he walked. Suddenly, and without any warning to himself, he grabbed at his shoes, ripping them from his feet to reveal his beige and brown diamond socks. He hated them the minute he saw them and tore them from his feet too. Everything was thrown into the sea. The socks floating, the shoes sinking slowly.

His slight stutter and small frame had resulted in Reginald Dwyer having a completely sheltered upbringing. Fussed over by a social worker mother and completely ignored by his slightly abusive and competitive, muscular father, Reginald slid through school avoiding blows and spending afternoons in the school library. Mr Collins, the insane school PE teacher knew he was there, and preferred it that way. Reginald was left hand left eye dominant and useless at ball sports. That library clock; its gentle ticking and slow, mechanical second hand had been his first love.

And then he read the Sherlock Holmes novels. The stories kept him awake and intrigued. Moriarty was alluring and terrifying. Reginald fell into a fantasy world that had him fixing clocks, solving crimes and being the world’s greatest cat burglar. He stole and collected his mother’s hair pins and taught himself to pick locks. He listened to the ticks and clicks of safe mechanisms. He practiced saying “the dead never speak” in French and German accents. In case he was ever caught. The fantasy ended in him swallowing a fast-acting poison that he had concocted in his very own underground laboratory. He thought of the pill box that housed his first tooth as the perfect poison holder. He was a loner. Independent. Secretive.

Reginald waded up to his knees. His heart was stuck in his chest. How had this happened to him? He was always the picture of restraint, manners, old fashioned distance.

How had his emotions unravelled so tremendously? The icy water lapped plastic packets against his legs. He felt trapped. His chest constricted.

Mrs Cartwright had started coming to the watch repair shop with silly little requests. She had asked to sit next to him while he worked. Her heady sandalwood incense perfume made him queasy. Fix this link. Change that face. This little watch runs slow. That one runs too fast. And then she had started sending the SMSes. Always the same. Always in caps. “I love you”. It was horrific. She had leaned over. Touched him. He had taken the watch on a chain and strangled her. And run.

The sun had disappeared. Couples had gathered their blankets and bottles and were heading to the parking lot. And Reginald Dwyer walked into the gloomy water.

Where the White Things Are

(with apologies to Maurice Sendak)

It’s well after nine in the safe neighbourhood

The Pilates girls gather – they look tight and good

They finish their flat whites and rinse out their glasses

And stretch the muscles of their super white arses

 

Then after, they convoy in their gold 4x4s

At the waiting red lights they remote lock their doors

And listen to Eusebius until he offends

Then switch back to 5 with its cross over blends

 

They wave at the beggars with go away hands

Or pretend not to see through their shaded Ray bans

And some of them gather to highlight their hair

But first a good massage in the lean-back chair

 

Where invisible hands make the water just right

And conditioner is spread to sighs of delight

And more coffee is brought and more coffee is sipped

As invisible hands in ammonia are dipped

 

Then magically golden to match their gold cars

These creatures regather at chic sushi bars

Where they order the hand rolls without any rice

It’s bad for their colons although it tastes nice

 

Then it’s home time for children from the private school

In pre-ordered Ubers; they all play the fool

While their mothers meet up at another safe space

To talk about charity, feminism and race

 

And craft gins are drunk and a good tip is left

But the old man outside will be most bereft

Because cocktails were paid for with a gold credit card

It’s, “I’m sorry, no change” for the usual car guard.

 

With giggles and waves and kisses and shouts

“See you tomorrows” slip from collagen pouts

And the 4x4s purr out the parking lot places

As the winter sun sets on their plastic white faces.

Out of the Blue

Seriously. This little writing group is messing with my mind. This is what came out of me last night and I don’t even know what to do with it, so I am leaving it here. The first piece was a warm-up with two prompts; desert and sea (or see or C)

Out of the Blue

Waves but not water. Heat moving outwards under dunes. A false shimmer. Attention grabber. Ultimate distraction. My tongue runs along the ridges of my palette. Other less mutable waves. I close my eyes. Two hard red C’s are burned onto my retinas. My eyes throb. I see their blood vessels. I am seeing my own blood.

I scan the horizon. Useless. I can’t tell the difference between wave, motion and man. My hands do the check. Gun, helmet, gas mask, ear piece still attached.

Something emerges. Form becomes more. Three bodies. They move like a dance. They are dancing. The earpiece crackles. A voice. “Shoot. Aim for legs.” These are dancers. The exploding bullets of the IDF will blow their legs off. The dancers are graceful. Small. Women. I aim. Through the eyepiece they are bigger. Real. Knee. Chest. Head.

They drop. Puffs of dust. Then waves. They disappear in the waves. Sweat stings my eyes. I close them again. Hard red blood C’s.

And then, following the instruction to ‘write the passenger safety card for a time travel machine’ my brain spewed this.

Dearest and most beloved on high Patronager and Provider of all things governmental and Spiritual

It is time for you to travel away from us and towards our future.

The Worker’s Union of Nambia most respectfully and with tiniest detail attending thoughtfulness have built the definitive and most secret not to mention special and outcompeting time travel machine outstriving not only the scabby and inconsistent Ruskians, the grabby and fat Amilkians and the troublesome and unhealthy Seffafikans.

Please consider this seat your golden on high throne to the future of Nambia.

Strapping your holy and divine body securely with the maroon stretchy safety garter belt will ensure your un whiplashed haloed head and prevent you from stainage on your most royally blue corduroy pant.

Two fluffy sheepswool head rest ear covers will respectfully surround your ears and prevent them from hearing false rumours and engine failure.

Special and Beyonce feet boot holders will overwhelmingly nurture your footness in the holding position beyond all movement and escapism.

This divine and shiny gear leverage will assist you painlessly to our Nambian future where you, most highly high personage and the only one capable of withstanding troublesome forces, will go to see who we become.

Thanking you subjugatedly and apologetically in advance for tiny errors. Please warm your royal bummage on the preheated bum cushion of this time traveling machine. Close your eyeness. Sit backwards and relapse.

The Workers’ Union of Nambia.

Pete

I had a full week of improv teaching and facilitating last week, including running 5 short 1 hour and ten minute sessions for a school celebrating 2 days of end of term Art Jam. I worked with groups of between 8 and 14 students and we played warm up games and they learned some improv basics in a fun and interactive way.

In my second session of my first day I encountered Pete. I could see (it was obvious) that he was out of the ordinary. He struggled with eye contact and found it difficult to do the fun and spontaneous silly stuff when we went around in a circle, but he seemed to have a spark of enjoyment about what we had done and that was great.

After a fifteen minute break I got ready to receive another group, who were coming from doing something else entirely. Who should join this group? Pete. This time he was bolder and more silly. When it came to the final game (an interview game with two players playing the talking characters hands) he volunteered, sat down, and when I asked for an expert he announced that he would be an expert in Soviet monkeys. And that is what he was; confidently, loudly and hilariously. The teacher who had joined this group told me afterwards how delighted he was that Pete had participated and spoken up – he never says anything in class.

Pete was one of the first kids to arrive the next morning for the first session. He was becoming an expert himself. Funny, clever, silly and totally committed, he had an absolute blast. And so did I, watching him. He tried to come to the last class too he but was hurried off to the session on his schedule. I don’t know if it was any good for him.

But I was so chuffed to have had him choose my improv sessions. I saw the deep magic of it in practice.

Deeply Personal reflections on The Jewish Literature Festival

I came home early; undone, dismantled and teary. I would have been stronger, held it together better if I had seen it coming but I never do. And I should have trusted my instincts.

When I was invited to participate in the first festival last year (by the amazing, driven, talented and deeply caring Caryn Gootkin – of Souper Troopers) I said an outright no. I still bear the keloid scars of my personal horror story at one Limmud once, and I know that these spaces are a deeply challenging one for me. So, what changed my mind this year? Did I bring this onto myself?

There are probably a few reasons why I agreed. The first and main one was a general softening in me towards the Jewish community of Cape Town after the way From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach was received here. It was a great success. Our play was understood, appreciated and enjoyed. The second was that I had agreed to be in conversation with someone, who then wanted to do their own thing, and I think the inclusion of me in the programme as a speaker in my own right was an afterthought. I knew. My body told me that this was true and I didn’t listen. And the third was, ever since Tali’s Wedding Diary I have been getting genuinely kind recognition from many Jewish Capetonians (and South Africans) for my tiny cameo in it. I thought I may have developed a little traction. And also, I always want to share my knowledge. I love talking about the stuff I do.

I Ubered to the festival. Shafiek was nervous as he stopped to let me out. Suspicious glances from the guards outside the Jewish museum gate turned to recognition once I climbed out and waved him on. I got my presenter’s pack, dashed inside and joined a packed and rapt audience in a warm seminar room for Stephen Sidley’s talk on Science, Jazz and Stories. Then, in the same space I listened to Lisa Chait in conversation with my old friend and hero Mark Gevisser. Then I went downstairs to find out where the Book Lounge venue was for me to present my interactive ‘workshop’ on scriptwriting.

Baffled by the poor woman on a microphone who was struggling to read to an audience in the main outside thoroughfare, I made my way to the info table to find out where the venue was. That was it. I was going to be running my session there, in that main thoroughfare. At lunch time. It is fair to say I lost my shit. A main organiser tried to tell me that the space was perfect. A volunteer was dismantled. A woman was trying to run a mindfulness session while people ate their lunch wraps and ordered coffee.

Phillip Todres (and a few others) saw me at my hysterical worst and jumped in to help me. At last my venue was changed to a boardroom that had been reserved for the slightly bigger kids. I cleaned up the room, removed tomato saucy plates and sweet wrappers, piled paper and pencils into heaps on the table and then ran my interactive workshop. For 6 people. Husband and son of an organiser, my cousin, two teenage girls and a man who wasn’t sure he was in the right place.

It was clear that Henry, the man, had been sent by the gods. He needed my workshop and I needed him. The other five were sweet and kind and cooperative, and I do hope they got something out of it, but I don’t know.

I wanted to stay and listen to Gus Silber. I wanted to hear Sugar Segerman (whose wife kicked in to high gear to help me while I sobbed). But my roast vegetable wrap got lodged in my throat and I couldn’t swallow. Alan Glass tried to lighten my burden with jokes but I couldn’t. I came home with my tail firmly between my legs.

Did I bring this onto myself? Am I delusional and hysterical when I believe I need better consideration? Why is this struggle with this particular community always so fraught for me?

And then there is the self loathing. I was the only one who made a fuss. Who refused to do it there. I watched others suffer, but they pushed through with greater fortitude than I, a performer who should have been able to, was even prepared to try.

 

 

SA life #snapshot

I had such a beautiful uplifting and heartwarming night last night at the second opening of From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach at the Auto & General Theatre on The Square. Honestly, I could not be prouder of this work that has evolved and grown into something I am so aligned with; magical theatre and storytelling with a human message.

It was with a bittersweet heartache that I woke up, ready to get back to my home, partner, animals, other pressing work and Cape winter storms, knowing I was leaving this show, and Chantal, in Jozi, as well as my hometown and city that I long for, love and hate in equal measure. The only way to describe my feelings for both of these cities is in the SASL sign for ‘it’s complicated – a frowning face with wormlike fingers moving from out to in front of the signer’s face.

Lucky, my Uber driver, was chatty and we spoke about how ridiculous the SA banking system is. He needs a loan to buy his own car, but the bank won’t give him one because his previous loan is paid up; something he did way before the time, even paying penalties for early payment. How will someone like him get ahead, he asked.

I had a tiny epiphany. We have to take a risk. Individuals, groups, corporates, banks, governments, friends, neighbours. We have to help each other. Build trust. Have something to lose and risk anyway. Help someone with their education. Help someone take out a loan instead of saying no. I don’t know how, but I know it is so, so necessary. Let’s do this thing. Let’s help each other.

I was going to write more, but I boarded my flight, felt sad about the homeless and vulnerable in stormy Cape Town, and lost my gees a little bit. Still, one thing I know is that I am going to try and help more, do more, be more.

Edit: I bought a bed for 5 nights for a homeless person from The Haven. It cost R60. It is the easiest thing to do. Go to The Haven and buy one. If you do, let me know.

 

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