These days some of our best friends are never at home. They’ve let their houses out through Airbnb to pay the bills, put the kids through school, or study further.
But it isn’t money for jam. “The laundry and cleaning never stop,” moaned a friend, who dumped all her beautiful old inherited linen and invested in multiple sets of best quality sheets, duvets and pillow cases. Then she had to buy a new washing machine to cope with the load.
Last year Airbnb generated R2.4 billion to our economy through 394 000 visitors. Of these 240 000 came to Cape Town, Durban and Jozi giving each city a welcome R1.9 billion boost. Importantly, the benefits have also reached the townships where short-term visitors have enjoyed being shown around a community by the homeowner.
Alas the popularity of Airbnb is hitting resistance and not just from the hotel industry. Both New York and Singapore are banning short-term letting on the grounds that it exacerbates the near-crisis situation of affordable homes to rent. Short stays are also said to lead to “high turnovers of occupants, and gives rise to nuisance and safety concerns”.
In New York some unscrupulous landlords have pushed out low-income tenants, so they could turn their apartments into illegal hotels, which they advertised on Airbnb.
Airbnb in New York is spending $10 million to fight the ban but are agreeing to concessions – such as limiting hosts advertising more than one property to weed out people listing multiple homes which make them unavailable for those seeking permanent accommodation.
Of course we’d love to see more of our friends in their homes, but not through the banning of Airbnb. In these tough times the scheme offers financial help to single moms and cash-strapped families, without breaking the law.
Plant sales low due to drought
After admiring the dazzling display of annuals, perennials, shrubs, creepers, herbs and veggies at a nursery, I asked the attendant how on earth they were coping with the drought. She pulled a face which spoke volumes.
“It’s tough,” she said. “Even people with boreholes or well points are not buying plants as in normal years. This means cutting back on part-time staff yet we still must keep our stock in tip-top condition which takes time, effort and water. We also worry about our suppliers. They have to plan in advance what to grow for us and we don’t know what’s round the corner…”
It’s a tricky time to be a nurseryman.
Play stirs appetite for lemon creams
On a recent Saturday I had a sudden impulse to shoot down to the Masque Theatre to see Athol Fugard’s two-hander Hello and Goodbye – a play I’ve associated for years with Lemon Creams from seeing the late Yvonne Bryceland and Bill Flynn tucking into a packet in a long ago performance at the Space theatre.
This time round the roles of the estranged siblings, Johnny and Hester Smit, were taken by Darryl Spijkers, known for his inspired directing and dazzling productions at the Somerset West Playhouse, and Annelie van Zyl, a writer, teacher and director of note. Both played their hearts out in rather unsympathetic and wordy roles, particularly for Darryl who, as Johnny, has long monologues before the arrival of Hester. She is visiting their shabby home in Valley Road, PE, for the first time since she left for the bright lights up north.
I was quite chuffed when, early in the play, the famous biscuits were mentioned.
“Tomorrow!” said Johnnie. “God willing if it’s a nice day I’ll go to the beach. Bottle of beer and a packet of Lemon Creams. Make it an outing. Break the monotony.”
To my disappointment he never produced the biscuits and the scene I remembered never took place.
However, I consoled myself by buying a packet of Lemon Creams on the way home, making a cup of tea and recreating the Bryceland-Flynn scene in real life.
Bye to ‘Big Ben’
In the orchestral world the reverse of hallo and goodbye has recently taken place. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra has said goodbye to Ben Rabinowitz as chairman of the board and hallo to Derek Auret into the top position.
”Big Ben”, as he is affectionately known, took over the chair in 2009, six months after the founding of the new orchestra.
Known for his generosity and friendly smile, he is a philanthropist of note – and a doer. He initiated the successful campaign to save Oudekraal from property development, helped save Princess Vlei and led the campaign to save the Sea Point beachfront from development.
Derek is a former diplomat and businessman.
His vision is to keep the CPO as the foremost orchestra on the continent and develop its diversity while maintaining international standards. He sees the orchestra as a tourist drawcard which sets it apart from other cities. We wish him luck.
We all know about painting the town red but have you noticed that parts of Constantia are now being painted green?
I spotted a strip of green tar along Spaanschemacht River Road approaching the Kendal Road interchange. Thanks to the City’s cycle map I know the green paint signifies a Class 3 bicycle lane which is part of a busy road where cyclists must take care. Soon there will be a new set of traffic lights operational at that intersection which, hopefully, will make it safer for cyclists.
My neighbour says that as you get older you have to stay positive.So when she fell down the stairs recently she shouted “Wow, that’s the fastest I have moved in years.”