I couldn’t resist it. Look! Here come the tomatoes.
I have been in a stomping rage. It has been so bad I have even shouted at innocents, just because they were there. Granted I am still on the edge of illness, and seriously impatient about getting well, but, honestly, white people. Let me not go there.
So, I have turned to a tiny miracle in my life and I am celebrating the magnificence of the smallest tomato. A month or so ago I noticed the first fragile leaves of a tomato plant, growing by itself in our front patch of garden. I had to toss the devouring caterpillar next door because it would have eaten the whole thing, and I have managed to just let the plant grow, and watch. I hadn’t planted the seed, and can only assume it got there in bird poo, or because someone tossed the tomato from their sarmie over the wall, but the conditions seem to be perfect, and the plant gets on so well with the star Jasmine it shares the trellis with, the lavender it shares the bees with, and the blackish flowered creeping geranium it shares the soil with.
Because the plant has just arrived and flourished, I have no idea what kind of tomatoes to expect. Big, small, cherry, Italian – they could be absolutely anything. I have no control, or choice here. I am so delighted by this.
Bursts of little, spiky yellow flowers have appeared. Such a good sign of fruit to come. And today I looked beneath a starting to shrivel blossom and saw, as small as a dewdrop, the beginnings of an actual tomato.
This plant has grown defiantly. It has broken all the rules of special seeds, and tender care, and timing, and seedlings. It has extended strong stems, hairy green leaves and blossoms all over the place, showing off, taking over, announcing itself. It has a secret history that will never be known, but will never hold it back.
Thank you fierce rebel tomato plant. You restore me to my natural self, and I honour and love you.
I love vegan french toast much more than I ever loved egg french toast because I never liked the egginess of french toast. With vegan french toast you can get it 100% right and it is delicious.
2 slices of thick white bread
2 tbs chickpea flour
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used soy milk because it’s what I had)
Turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt (as much or as little as you like)
mild oil for cooking
Whisk the flour, milk, spices in a shallow bowl. Soak bread in mix while oil is heating in the pan. Fry until golden. Cover with maple syrup and banana. Try to savour each bite. Mine was gone in a second.
One of the absolutely surprising and truly positive experiences of my weekend away was how I was treated as a vegan. There were 11 of us women, and I was the only vegan in the group. We did huge communal feast style cooking for lunch and supper, and we took turns, and at every single meal I was taken care of, honoured, consulted and respected. Special food was made for me, but I was never made to feel bad, and not once did I ever go hungry. It was the best and most wonderful response that I have had since becoming a vegan almost 8 months ago.
And it got me thinking. I am much more accustomed to having to defend myself, explain myself and go into battle. My conversations around being a vegan are usually challenging; where people demand to know why I have become vegan, demand a list of where I get my protein, and demand to know how I negotiate the meat eating world. I have even been challenged on my world views, religion (or lack of it), and how I come to terms with having animals as pets.
What this weekend away did for me was make me realise that, really, the tables need to be turned, properly and 180° towards challenging people who eat meat. Just because meat eaters are a majority doesn’t mean they are the ones off the hook. The eating of animals needs to be challenged more than the not eating of them. It is the meat eaters who are problematic, and need to justify and answer for their ways. And this is why they get in first, call us names, become confrontational, and make the Vegan memes. They feel bad, and their best defence is to point fingers and criticise.
I have never tried to force anyone to become a vegan (it took me long enough to commit to it), and I am careful about initiating the vegan conversation. Mainly because I am familiar with a teasing (at best) or even hostile (at worst) response. I am careful not to make my choices impact on others and am used to ‘making a plan’ if people haven’t catered for vegans, or considered the possibility of them. Film sets are a challenge. Mainstream restaurants can be tough going. But truthfully, it should work the other way around; like it does for smokers. Smokers are made to feel bad, and their habit is frowned upon. Don’t you think it is the meat eaters who are like the smokers, not the vegans?
I was away for the weekend, on a beautiful, celebratory trip for a friend’s 50th. We were in the Drakensberg, at a spot I have never been to before. It was also a group of 11 women, which is something I have never done before, and it was magnificent.
One of the most special parts of the space/place was the view from my bed out through huge windows over a special part of the dam. I saw the sun set behind the hills, and I woke to the morning star reflected in the water. I saw the pink sunrise turn orange and then pale yellow as Crowned Cranes fought with Plovers for the island. I heard and saw the massive Spurwing Goose, swim, dive and even take flight, and I watched the zebra from my front door. I had a live-and-let-live agreement with the family of rock pigeons sharing my balcony and even stopped frightening the two stodgy adolescents of the group. And I saw the elusive and much spoken about but hardly seen otter, twice. It was a room with a view. A whole new world for me.
When I came home late last night Big Friendly caught me up with what had happened while I was away, and one of the things we chatted about was that he had seen my brother, who was visiting Cape Town while I was away. He mentioned how my brother had said that if he hadn’t heard, from us, that there was a serious drought in Cape Town he would never have known. And when Big Friendly’s sister was here for a few weeks, she saw no sign of water awareness at her Waterfront hotel either. And this is really problematic for me. It means that visitors to our city have no idea of the extent of the problem, and are not prompted to do anything about it. It’s true. There is nothing about the drought at the airport, or in hotel literature, or in public bathrooms. There is nothing about it in the B&B’s and they are not telling their guests. We can do better Cape Town. We have to.
I hope you have noticed that I have been writing reviews for Weekend Special, Cape Town’s newest and most comprehensive online arts and lifestyle magazine, started and curated by Karen Rutter and Jane Mayne, two vital and veteran arts journos, contributors, editors and theatre and music lovers. It has been an honour writing for the website that has made an enormous impression on the arts in Cape Town since it started up in December.
I have written about plays, movies, series and even a restaurant, and it has been such fun. One of the best parts has been that I have gone to preview screenings of the NT Live productions. I was absolutely transformed by St Joan, and Hedda Gabler, was awe struck by Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, and have a few on my list that I am so excited about (tomorrow I will see Emelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).
What has been such an eye opener has been that even the famous, experienced and visionary theatre makers in the UK don’t always get it right. Last week I saw Obsession, directed by the amazing Ivo van Hove, with Jude Law, and it was truly horrible. It was agonisingly horrible. And without sounding like I am gloating, there is something so comforting in knowing that even the masters get it wrong.
Of course, the lesson is that we can all fail when trying to make theatre (or any art actually), but it is the trying that is so important. Here, at home the rules of engagement are so different, and so much of the theatre (and film) we make is terribly, boringly safe. Safety can be in what is expected of us, or it can be in having a proper, paying job, or it can be doing the same thing over and over again. Safety is low risk, low challenge, low stakes theatre, to get by. Low risk theatre is easy to make, needs short rehearsal times, and short cuts on everything including the massive commitment needed to make a show. And then, add meek critics to this; those that would rather not say if something is bad because they don’t want what tiny audience there is to stay away, and theatre is dead in the water. Nobody wants to see stuff that hardly blows air up your skirt.
Now, before everyone gets hysterical, I am totally generalising, because it is a miracle that so much great theatre IS made here, in spite of how ball achingly hard it is, and how we have none of the support, money, sponsorship, subsidy, history and culture of theatre attendance and theatre vocabulary that the UK has. I know. But there is something so extraordinary about a spectacular failure, as opposed to a whimper. And I just don’t see that here.
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