Monthly Archives: Jul 2019

It wasn’t the restrictions or the tariffs that made us save water – it was panic

Review: Vivien Horler

Day Zero – one city’s response to a record-breaking drought, by Leonie Joubert & Gina Ziervogel (AXA/ Mapula Trust/ ACDI)

day zeroWe may not have heard of the small Canadian town of Gibsons, but they have heard of us.

The west coast town near Vancouver, where the long-running series Beachcombers was filmed, relies on snowmelt and the Gibsons Aquifer for its water. But with climate change increasing temperatures in the area, Gibsons is dealing with a multi-year drought.

So in May this year mayor Bill Beamish issued a challenge to its citizens, asking them to live like a Capetonian for a single Sunday, and see what it is like to manage on 50litres of water a person, instead of the average 250l a person Gibsons’ residents use.

Afterwards Beamish told Cape Talk Radio that the challenge had been a success in that many people had taken part and been made aware of the consequences of unbridled water use.

The possibility of a major city seeing its taps run dry made world headlines.

Continue reading

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ sequel makes Booker Prize longlist

 

booker longlist

Margaret Atwood

Devotees of The Handmaid’s Tale, both the novel by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and the prize-winning TV series, will be delighted to know that a sequel, The Testaments, is on the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction’s longlist of 13 books announced today.

It is set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, but any summary of the story is forbidden until the novel comes out on September 10. The chair of the judges’panel, Hay festival director Peter Florence, was prepared – or allowed – to say only: “Spoiler discretion and a ferocious non-disclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: it’s terrifying and exhilarating.”

This Atwood’s sixth nomination, and if she wins, it will be her second award, after The Blind Assassin in 2000.

Another writer in line for a second award is Salman Rushdie for Quichotte, a novel inspired by Cervantes’s Don Quixote, about an ageing salesman who falls in love with a TV star and drives across the United States to claim her. The judges described it as a “picaresque tour de force of contemporary America”. Continue reading

Call the Midwife – the true stories behind the hit TV series

Review: Vivien Horler

Call the Midwife – a true story of the East End in the 1950s; illustrated edition, by Jennifer Worth (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

call the midwife I have been an enthusiastic viewer of the TV series Call the Midwife, so when I came across this illustrated edition of the Jennifer Worth’s bestseller, originally published in 2002, I fell upon it with glad cries.

In fact it turns out Worth, known as Jenny Lee when she was a midwife in London’s Docklands, wrote three books, Call the Midwife, Shades of the Workhouse, (2005), and Farewell to the East End (2009). The trilogy has sold almost 2million copies worldwide. Continue reading

It’s hard to fight when you’re laughing

Review: Vivien Horler

Marriageology – the art and science of staying together, by Belnda Luscombe (Oneworld/ Jonathan Ball)

marriageologyThere is not much fairytale magic about marriage in South Africa.

In 2016, according to Stats SA, a total of 25 326 marriages ended in divorce. And almost half – 44.4% – of those divorces took place within 10 years of the wedding. Most happened between five and nine years afterwards.

In one case I know of, the couple divorced well before her parents had paid off the wedding.

As we’ve read in dozens of self-help books , marriage has to be worked at, but what exactly does that mean?

Belinda Luscombe, an Australian living and working in New York, has written about and researched marriage for Time magazine for more than 10 years and has picked up some useful information. She has interviewed therapists, sociologists, demographers and researchers, read many studies, journals and books. And she got married. Continue reading

How do you face the world when your grandfather was Verwoerd?

Review: Vivien Horler

Verwoerd – my journey through family betrayals, by Wilhelm Verwoerd (Tafelberg)

verwoerdMost whites with a modicum of sense will acknowledge that almost 30 years after apartheid began to be dismantled, they are still advantaged.

And so are their children, even children born today. It’s what the often tiresome trade unionist and former city councillor Tony Ehrenreich correctly refers to as the apartheid generational advantage.

But what is a white person to do? How do you acknowledge the harm that has been done in your name and that of fellow whites, and move on? Is it possible to move on?

If you’ve ever grappled with this, spare a thought for Wilhelm Verwoerd, grandson of the man often referred to as the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd.

He has found himself torn by his rejection of his grandfather’s beliefs and actions, and his love for his family; despite the subtitle of this painful memoir, it is dedicated to “my family”. How do you reconcile these polar opposites? Continue reading