This post was originally written in 2013 and has been updated.
In America, they are called copy editors. In South Africa, in a journalism context, they are called sub-editors (or subs). They form a vanishingly small percentage of the world population, and yet they are somewhat powerful.
That’s because much of the text disseminated by the world’s media passes before their eyes and gets fixed, or changed, or mutilated, or left alone. They correct grammar and spelling, they rewrite clumsy phrases, they cut copy to fit an allocated space and in most publications they write headlines. So far, so familiar – most people who read newspapers or news websites or magazines are aware that such people exist and have a vague idea of what they do.
Cat On A Warm African Night
Cape Town – A long time ago I bought a painting.
It was hanging in a small shop in Muizenberg village, and was called Cat On A Warm African Night. I fell in love with it instantly but it cost R850, a great deal of money at the time. I hummed and hawed but I had to have it. Eventually I bought it (all this time later I can’t remember where I found the money as it was certainly before I had a credit card). It has hung on the wall of all the places I have lived since, casting its benevolent gaze over my life. Every time I see it, my spirit lifts.
Last weekend, I bought another painting. Continue reading
A dog of uncertain mind and big heart.
Cape Town – A long time ago I copied down something out of Time magazine, from an interview with the Dalai Lama.
This is what he said: “Whenever I leave a hotel room, I always try to switch off the light. In a way, it’s silly. But if another ten persons follow my example, then 100 persons, there is an effect. From that point of view, I believe that constant effort, tireless effort, pursuing clear goals with sincere effort is the only way. It’s the only way! The bigger nations and more powerful leaders are not taking care. And God is also somewhere asleep, I think. So we poor human beings, we must make the attempt.”
This last week I met some people who are making the attempt. Continue reading
Cape Town – “So,” said the rather vexed voice, “they’ve moved in, with two cats.”
“Of course,” she continued, “my father-in-law can’t organise anything at all.”
The cashier wanted my card, so I missed the answer.
The same cross voice continued: “And he’s started drinking again.”
I missed the next bit as my shopping was handed to me.
“We must do lunch,” said another voice.
I had to stop myself from going over and asking if I too could come to the lunch. Why, I wanted to know, were the cats such a problem? What had the father-in -law failed to organise? And who, for the love of all that is holy, had started drinking again?
Cape Town – When I was at school, there was a girl who had shiny, straight, black hair.
I wanted her hair more than almost anything.
Mine was (and is) an unmanageable mess – a wavy, frizzy, bumpy, boring brown mass of hair. Short or long, it has kinks and cowslicks and crinkles, and a tendency to go to dreadlocks if I neglect to brush it with great fierceness at least twice a day.
A Lego creation
According to British TV presenter Ben Fogle, Lego is a Bad Thing.
Apparently Fogle is an adventurer (though perhaps not as well known in South Africa as Bear Grylls), and he had a rush of blood to the head at the annual conference of the Boarding Schools’ Association in Manchester.
Oddly, as he was once a brand ambassador for Lego, he is reported to have told the gathering that modern Lego is harming children’s development and stifling creativity because of the rise of prescriptive build-it-yourself kits.
Cape Town – So, Freedom Day.
On Tuesday night I reflected quietly on the freedom of not setting an alarm for the following morning, but resisted the temptation to share the thought on social media for fear of seeming to trivialise the day [April 27].
On Wednesday we had a friend round for a braai, who said that as she was driving to our house someone on the radio was talking about how we voted all those years ago, and were part of history before it became history. I asked my 13 year old if he knew what Freedom Day commemorated and he rolled his eyes at me. Of course he knows. Continue reading