Teale’s to bid Kenilworth a stylish farewell …

When Teale’s of Kenilworth closes its doors next year, few customers will guess that the Italian-born owner Franca Flarry bought the business in 1968 intending to sell baby clothes.

Discovering there were few young couples in Kenilworth – let alone with babies –she made her forte dressing older women in stylish local garments and later, classical imports.

Ms Flarry and Vera Jones, her business partner and then best friend, bought the business as a haberdashery started by Mr and Mrs Teale.

Though retaining the Teale’s name, the new owners began phasing out the drawers of cottons, bias binding and needles and stocking a few Tej cardigans and crimpelene pants. With encouragement from customers, they added dresses and slacks – not yet in fashion – and quality local and imported knitwear.

“We were never high fashion,” said the tiny, immaculately-dressed Franca. “But I loved to work with the genteel generation and we had the patience and excellent skilled staff to give them personal attention. Sadly I’ve lost a whole generation of women who appreciated good quality, long lasting clothing. I believe there still is a market for quality local merchandise but it is not forthcoming quickly enough and imports are becoming very expensive with all the added import duties.

“The next generation are often working so they are not physically shopping for clothes the way their parents did. We also hear more and more about ‘online’ shopping. As next year I will be 80 and the shop 50, I think it’s time to go.”

Teale’s was buzzing with customers taking advantage of their ‘Buy One Get One Free’ sale to reduce the stock pending closure next year.

So when Franca was called away, her photographer daughter Michelle Sedgwick told me an in-house joke. “Years ago both Franca and Vera were in the shop feeling peckish. Business was quiet so Franca announced she was going to get some bread. ‘Good idea’, said Vera, ‘I’ll go too’.

“One turned left, the other right and when they met across the road their shocked faces said it all. There was nobody in the shop!”

Crime was not an issue then. Les, Franca’s husband was their “security” and stood at the door welcoming customers. “With mum being Italian and dad from England, life was a compromise between pasta and roast beef.”

And it was a successful partnership which, like Teale’s, endured for years.

Underused space

Now that the R27 million renovations on Cape Town’s City Hall are well under way, the large space off the foyer – where the portraits of previous mayors once hung and the clock was permanently stopped – is not available to be used as a bar for the audience attending the Thursday night concerts of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

Instead everybody troops into an upstairs room which is handy for those like us who bought balcony seats. It means we can get served with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine a lot quicker than when the bar was downstairs.

What’s been interesting to discover are the number of huge, beautiful empty rooms upstairs. They have lovely polished wooden floors, high ceilings, enormous fireplaces, big enough to stand up inside, and windows you’d need to climb up a ladder if you wanted to look out of them. Once upon a time these were the rooms used by the Cape Town City Council and their staff before the new premises were built on the Foreshore.

The empty room where the council held their meetings boasts a handsomely decorated wooden balcony which was the press box for reporters covering the civic beat.

The now silent empty space could make a lovely venue for a play which required a balcony scene like the one from Romeo and Juliet.

Will all these empty rooms ever be used again? It’s a crying shame if they are not because it’s clear that the City Hall is seriously underused when space in the centre of Cape Town for meetings, dance classes, lectures and other functions is not readily available.

Surprise email

Out the blue this week I received an email from Sally-Ann Lotter, the daughter of the late Jill Fletcher, who many will remember for her involvement in theatre as an actress, playwright and director as well as in puppetry with her husband, Tony.
She was a very lively and intelligent personality who handled her illness with the spirit and good humour that were her hallmark.

Sally-Ann is interested in compiling material about the history of Lakeside and its surroundings and is trying to track down a book which referred to the farms of Weltevreden and Raapkraal. She has a few old pictures of the areas but nothing of the farms. So if any reader can help would they please email me and I will pass on the information to Sally-Ann.

She tells me many young people are moving into Lakeside and are intrigued to know more of its past, people and history.
Wonderful news!

Roadworks a headache

As a motorist with a short fuse, I will give a huge sigh of relief when the construction of the cycle tracks around Constantia is finally completed. Just when I was enjoying the absence of stop/go controls and queueing traffic in front of Pollsmoor, the bottlenecks created by workmen and machinery have moved to the section of road in front of Constantia Mitsi. I sat there fuming for ages (or so it seemed) the other evening, but as I admit, I do have a short fuse.

Little bit of this…

You can’t be a little bit unfaithful any more than you can be a little bit pregnant – Bruce Lansky.