To escape from banana republic politics in which even the newer parliamentary breed of the post-Zuma, current-Ramaphosa eras are physically and verbally abusing each other while in training to run the country, nogal, I turn to my bookshelf.
The sight of books brings calmness to a soul sick to death of a country wracked with crime and corruption. The titles alone are aspirational and speak of a world in which good things exist.
Included on a shelf bending badly, and needing to be emptied, is a fingered copy of the Bible given to me on my 21st birthday by staff of the printing works where I was apprenticed. On the fly leaf appear the names of colleagues, all of whom are now running St Peter’s Paradise Press without fake news.
They encouraged me to bite the bullet when uncertainty, fear and apprehension nearly found its mark as I faced the final trade test that would give me journeyman status. I still see their faces in my mind’s eye, remembering each characteristic, collectively making those years special. The black staff, too, played a big part in my striving towards becoming a good artisan. And remember, it was during a divisive and cruel era.
There was Coffee, short in stature and whose job was to do deliveries on a push bike whatever the weather. And Alfred and Johnny, responsible for cleaning off the old ink from printing presses.
All with a sense of humour that had us in stitches while the humourless boss was out at a Rotary meeting. They were my family, helping to steer me through pimply post-puberty years.
I spot a copy of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities – my Grade 8 textbook. It triggers the memory of the Afrikaans-speaking English teacher who guided us through complex text and history of the French Revolution. A passionate linguist, he had a way of making the words come alive, thereby keeping a normal rowdy class spellbound. That year, I cracked a distinction in English – and a seed was sown, later growing into a career in journalism.
I find difficulty deciding which books to remove. I mean, they all tell a good story.
Perhaps I’ll add another shelf to accommodate the old as well as new inspirational tomes. Anything but vrot bananas.