Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Caryn Gootkin


I was talking to my friend Melinda Ferguson yesterday. Both of us had had a challenging week; a week filled with grief and despair, measured with the absolute knowledge that there were so many worse off than either of us. It is a balancing act that defies the laws of nature. How do you manage the personal, political, global and local when you have no idea what is really going on?

We were talking about the feeling of how charity has a ‘drop in the ocean’ effect when Melinda came up with the most simple, practical and obvious idea. Imagine if anyone who could would eWallet a destitute person R350 a month? The same amount that the government will be paying. Imagine if we kept it personal, took out the NGO, the middleman, the administrator? Each person who can, sends R350 to someone who has nothing, every month for the next while. keeping them alive. With no fanfare or rigmarole or publicity. If you can, you do it.

Right now R350 is a sacrifice for me. But it is simple. I must read one tarot (and R50 more) for it to happen. I know of someone in the Transkei who has nothing. I will send her the money, every month.

Who is in this? Who wants to do it? If you think this can work then let’s spread the word. If you have good ideas about how to spread the word, then do it, go for it. If you can afford more, give more. You decide.

If you want to talk about this more, leave comments. If you want to add to the idea, the conversation, let’s do it. I have a feeling that now is the time, and the place. If you don’t personally know of anyone, ask me, ask someone who works for you (who I assume you are still paying). Caryn Gootkin from Souper Troupers knows of many homeless people that could use R350 a month and who may not be able to access government funding. If you want recognition for contributing, I will publicise your effort.  My fantasy is that everyone who usually gives randomly and generously will be able to harness their donation into a specific, realisable, simple thing.

Edit. Please let me know, privately or publicly, if you do this, so we can get a sense of our reach. I have just done mine.

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.



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