Treasure in Tokai

It’s easy to understand why folk around here were upset recently about the bin pickers getting positive publicity in the Bulletin. That was my initial knee-jerk reaction too.

Then I thought more carefully and had to admit that I was being really mean-spirited in denying that these men and woman were doing something abhorrent to most of us in order to put a bit of food on the table – probably only a rough plank of wood – for their children.

Have you ever had to scratch around in your own dustbin to find an important document that was inadvertently thrown away? Or hunt for a watch that has disappeared? Well, I have and it’s awful. Even with thick gardening gloves, it takes courage to sift through vegetable peelings, compacted vacuum cleaning dust mixed with dog hairs and household rubbish.

When bin pickers first began unpacking our dustbins they were looking for things that could be sold, used, repaired or eaten. Now they have upped their game and are removing recyclables which would otherwise end up in the landfill and, by selling them to recycling depots, are collectively generating R700m a year.

Considering how little the individuals are paid for these items, it illustrates how many bin pickers there must now be in South 
Africa as well as how many householders are not bothering to recycle.

I’ve been quite shocked to see piles of plastic and glass bottles extracted from the bowels of a Tokai bin.
There is another worrying aspect. What happens to the umpteen bags of unsorted rubbish hanging from overloaded trolleys? When the recyclable items have been pulled out, where do the bin pickers take the rest of the stuff?

Please, somebody, put me out of my misery. I don’t want to hear that it is dumped illegally.

Pumpkin pot

As a father, Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch’s Graham Tait decided to organise a special patrol of Tokai on the night of Halloween to ensure the safety of the children tricking and treating their neighbours. He called for volunteers to swell the number of patrollers so sending out the message that Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watchers were keeping an eye on everything.

Those who took the trouble to dress up as witches with pointed hats and cloaks or in fancy trousers and scary masks had a ball. In groups with really young children I noticed there was always an adult or two in the party, including one watchful father in a magnificent white ball gown.

As Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts, my Scottish parents loved Halloween and allowed us to hold a party. My eldest sister carried on this tradition for her medical colleagues at which the highlight was her Halloween stew served in a giant pumpkin.

On one famous occasion a new boyfriend of one of her five daughters spying her precious pumpkin in the pantry decided to turn it into a jack-o-lantern to out do all the other modest ones that lit up the house. He cut out holes for eyes, nose and wide smiling mouth and proudly marched into the family gathering holding his magnificent lantern. Instead of praise he encountered horror as this pumpkin-head had wrecked the pumpkin “pot”.

Chunky cello

The engaging internationally- known American cellist James Zuill Bailey, better known as Zuill Bailey, professor of cello at the University of El Paso, is a rare bird.

Before playing a note of the Saint-Seans Concerto at the Friends of Orchestral Music’s fund-raising gala concert in the City Hall on November 2, he stood beside conductor Bernhard Gueller telling his audience how he’d started playing the cello at the age of four with his eyes shut and his musical parents had to tap him on the shoulder to stop.

Exactly 33 years ago as a teenager he made his debut playing the same Saint-Seans Concerto and during that performance he had opened his eyes and noticed that most of the audience had their eyes shut too!
From our balcony seats he appeared to play in a similar fashion on his unusually large Goffriller cello, which, after years as a youth borrowing a variety of cellos for concerts, he decided was the instrument for him.

For 30 years it belonged to Mischa Schneider of the Budapest Quartet who sold it in the late 1960s to another player in LA who had it for 30 years, and Zuill has owned it for 20 years. So it’s a real player’s instrument and he doesn’t let it out of his sight.

When he appeared at the after-concert reception he looked as though he was carrying a double bass on his back.

Treasure in Tokai

The annual West Coast spring flower season is usually followed in October by the appearance of numerous white chincherinchees (ornithogalum thyrsoides) along the R27. Guess where I recently found a clump? In deep shade in the centre of the Lower Tokai Park. I couldn’t believe it. Some of those heavy showers we had obviously got through the canopy of pine needles to water this bulbous geophyte, but how did the bulbs get there in the first place I wonder?

Fortunately, I have not seen any more because pretty as they are, chinksthey are poisonous, particularly to grazing animals like horses and cattle.

It’s all in the catch

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man – Lana Turner.

fionachisholm@iafrica. com