Buying a copy of The Big Issue in Claremont proved a chastening experience. As the vendor ran towards me with her pile of magazines, I held out my hand to show the R10 note and couple of coins that were only enough for a copy of Funny Money.
“P-l-e-e-z-e,” she said, “I’ve had a terrible day… only sold two copies of the magazine. Don’t know what’s wrong with everybody…” And with that she tossed one through my open window and disappeared into the traffic.
Her words haunted me all the way home. For her hard day’s labour darting in and out of cars she’d earned a measly R25, hardly enough to buy a tin of cat food. And how was she to explain that on the “sale” to me of the magazine costing R25 (of which the vendor takes half), she was short by R13?
The circumstances of getting that copy encouraged me to look carefully through the contents. Though a lot thinner than when it started 21 years ago, TBIThe Big Issue is still a good read. The interesting mix of general articles included the mysterious estuary of Verlorenvlei, Uganda’s apes, township art and the homeless pet owners of Montreal. There were also book reviews, a youth section, two pages of what’s ons and much more besides.
I was chuffed to read that two local vendors were singled out for interviews. One was Eric Mkhunkqa, 37, the month’s “Vendor on the Pitch”, which happens to be opposite Wynberg Park, where his customers “are mostly elderly and keen to buy the magazine”.
The other was Patrick Nqayi, 47, the “Vendor of the Month”. This hard-working, single father-of-four (which sounds a bit odd, but you know what I mean) sells The Big Issue on Ladies Mile Road, in Constantia.
Patrick said that “being an entrepreneur” had taught him how to manage his finances so that he could send money to his sister for the care of his kids and still manage to survive financially. His dream is to see his children complete their schooling as he never had that opportunity himself.
Life is tough for these vendors, but we can help them survive. Buy a copy of next month’s The Big Issue and you’ll find details of how you can become one of their Big 200 supporters.
A makeover needed
It’s remarkable what a make-over can do to a shop. The other day, I walked into the pharmacy in Tokai’s Pick n Pay centre and was amazed at the change. Gone are all the high partitions dividing the large floor area into separate compartments of stock-filled shelves. Now the interior is much brighter with the light flooding through the windows. The lower shelves allow the staff to see and be seen.
The staff put in quite an effort to move the stock, but the two I spoke to seemed to think it all worthwhile. “We’ve waited 18 years for this to happen,” one said confidentially, “but it’s great for us, and our customers think so too.”
It’s a good thing we get two daily newspapers. The headline on the Cape Times of Wednesday 25 declared “Crime is at a 10-year low” while that of The Times was “Bloody republic”, emphasised by a red splash simulating blood and the words “52 people are murdered each day in SA”. Stick figures of 45 men, four women and three children brought home the reality of that shocking figure.
How could the two newspapers appear to differ so strongly? The Cape Times was using figures from Police Minister Fikile MalalaMbalula, which showed a 1.8% decrease in serious crimes nationally.
The Times was quoting The Institute for Security Studies that murder had risen by 1.8% to 19 016 killings in the 2016-2017 financial year when compared to 2015-2016. “That equates to 52 murders a day – five times the global average. Of those killed, 3 478 were women and children.”
“Bloody republic” is horribly accurate.
Don’s the man
I enjoyed a wonderful evening at Artscape last week watching Cape Town City Ballet’s opening night of the popular ballet Don Quixote, produced and directed by Liane Lurie. Back in 2003, I saw Veronica Pauper’s version but could remember so little about the Cervantes novel that it all seemed fresh. The lovely bright Spanish scenery included the famous windmills that the Don is always tilting at as he sets out on his wild adventures with his trusty squire, Sancho Panza, and donkey.
The title role, which involves more character acting than dancing, was taken by Johnny Bovang, who in his heyday danced the principal role of Basilio and partnered Kitri the leading ballerina. Balletically Thomas Thorne and Laura Bosenberg filled those roles with distinction, but I don’t think Thomas ever lifted his partner so high or appeared so ani- mated.
Which is why his fans will be sorry to hear that he announced his retirement at Saturday’s matinee. Although only 29, he recently bought a Pilates studio to provide himself with an income in the future when his knees start aching and he needs to use a lift, rather than spending the night lifting the prima ballerina sky high.
Stop reading and start eating
As a UCT graduate, I have been invited to comment on the proposed change of the Jameson Memorial Hall in favour of Sarah Baartman. Knowing how students sit on the steps of Jammy oggling the girls going by, I think it an unfortunate choice. The poor woman was ridiculed for her large buttocks.
How about somebody highly respected like Helen Suzman or Graca Machel?
Stop reading and start eating
I’ve been reading that eating too much chocolate is bad for me, so I’ve decided to stop read