Tuesday, April 19, 2022


 Dear Readers,

The Upmarket Tramp
          One morning a few weeks ago my wife and I were driving along a virtually deserted road in front of the Sun Valley Primary School in Cape Town when I saw a tramp rummaging through a municipal dustbin attached to a light pole on the other side of the road.

          He looked so forlorn and down and out that I said to my wife: “I must give him something.” I stopped and looked through my wallet only to find that the coins I had  were of such miserable denominations it would have been an insult to give them to him. So I thumbed through my notes and the smallest one was a R50. I handed it out of the window and beckoned to him.

          The guy, who looked white and was probably in his early twenties at a guess, crossed the road, took one look at the money and walked off without saying a word.

          Neither of us could possibly imagine what could have gone through his mind.

            How often would this take place even once in a million times or even in a trillion? This was my third experience of what you could only describe as being in the ‘it will never happen’ category.

The Bad Driver

          Beside the Long Beach Mall in Cape Town there is a narrow road that runs down to a circle at the back of it where there is a Stop Sign, but a lot of motorists just ignore this and drive straight on because there is not much traffic there most of the time. Adjoining the circle there is a large car park for people going to the Mall.

          On this occasion I drove round the circle and turned left to go towards the car park entrance. To do this I had to cross the end of the road where the Stop Sign is only on this occasion the car coming along it did not stop. I had the right of way but fortunately I was going very slowly so a collision was narrowly averted.

          I drove into the car park and as I got out of my vehicle the bad driver was getting out of his almost opposite mine. “It’s customary to stop at Stop Streets,” I told him. He glared at me but said nothing as we both walked away.

          A few minutes later when I walked into Food Lover’s Market in the Mall I saw him coming towards me. He apologised profusely for going through the Stop Street without stopping and said that he had been “quite wrong” to do this.

          I was so amazed by his response that I think I mumbled something like: “Well it’s good to hear you admit you were wrong and hopefully you won’t do it again.”

          That was my second experience of something that might only happen once in a million times, if at all.

Cycling Madness

          A few years ago just before the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour through the City the roads were full of would-be competitors getting in tune for the big occasion. I was driving my wife’s car as she was away in Johannesburg.

          I was in one of two lanes of traffic going along Ou Kaapse Weg about to turn right into Kommetjie road when suddenly these cyclists appeared with a complete disregard for their own safety in the narrow space between the two lines of vehicles. They obviously all belonged to the same club because they were dressed in identical colours.

          I hooted to warn them of the danger they were in and as one passed my car he slapped the windscreen with his hand. It shattered with an almighty bang. You can imagine the fright I got, but fortunately there was still enough clear glass to enable me to see where I was going.

          All the cyclists disappeared as if somebody had waved a magic wand while I drove to the nearby Police station knowing full well that reporting the incident would be a futile exercise. Bicycles don’t have number plates or any other distinctive marking yet they are allowed to be driven in among all the other traffic on our roads.

          I had no chance of being able to identify the cycling car clapper, who seemed to belong to a Club in the nearby Ocean View Coloured township, yet I felt I had to report what happened to the Police because it’s the kind of thing insurance companies insist on regardless of the likelihood of success.

          I had hardly got to our home nearby when I received a call from the Police station. The Officer told me they had a man there who wanted to speak to me. When he came on the line he told me he was an advocate who had some kind of official position in the cycling club to which the car slapper belonged. He had heard about what had happened and he asked me to withdraw my Police complaint as the Club would then deal with the matter. He took my home address and undertook to ensure that the windscreen was replaced at their cost.

          Within a few days Plate Glass came to our house and replaced it perfectly. It didn’t cost me a cent and when my wife returned from Johannesburg the car was once more in the same condition as she had left it in.

          How often would that happen anywhere let alone in South Africa? It was a million to one chance or perhaps there were even greater odds against it turning out so well for us.


          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and self appointed Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.     








Monday, April 18, 2022


 Dear Readers,

I was born in Johannesburg, the only child of somewhat elderly parents. When I was three, my father, a Maths teacher, had to take early retirement because of ill heath.  He developed a thyroid condition which made him very ill, but the treatment was so successful that he made a complete recovery.

My aunt was the philosophy prof at Huguenot College in Wellington and owned property there. My parents chose to move to Wellington where they established a small Primary school. I attended this school where I and a motley group of children who for one reason or another, did not fit into the rigid Government School system, were taught by my parents, mostly by my mother, who with extraordinary skill managed to keep three or four classes occupied at the same time. Somehow she succeeded in imparting the three Rs to us, although I must admit that my Arithmetic remains shaky to this day. She also introduced us to Shakespeare and many other classics and instilled in us a love of literature.

In retirement my father discovered his true vocation, admin. He became a church warden, the chairman of the Bowls Club and the secretary or treasurer of almost every charitable organisation in Wellington. 

I grew up in a very academic atmosphere, surrounded by teachers and professors in a house filled with books on all sorts of subjects. After leaving school I went to Cape Town University. I didn't want to be a teacher like my Mom and Dad so I opted for Science courses which I struggled to master, but I did manage to acquire a BSc. Also at UCT I met my husband, Mike and we got married soon after we graduated. I worked for a short while in Cape Town as Food Bacteriologist, then Mike and I went to Zambia (which was then Northern Rhodesia) where he had a job as a Government Land Surveyor. 

In the first few years we spent a lot of our time camping in the bush, but when our four daughters got older they needed to go to school so I had to stay at home. We lived in several different towns including Livingstone and Lusaka. In Livingstone I was offered a teaching job.  I became a Science Teacher and to my surprise I found I quite enjoyed it. I later taught in schools in Choma and Lusaka too.

After Zambia got Independence, we left and settled in George. We lived in George for thirty years.  Happy years at first but I did go through a very bad time, having to cope with an alcoholic husband and a schizophrenic daughter. Then things improved. Mike joined AA. and was a changed person. Dot was put on medication which helped her though it didn't cure her.

Margaret's children Luke, Eleanor, Shirley & Patricia with 
granddaughter Danielle on the floor

Work was my salvation. In George I worked for Table Top as a bacteriologist, for SA breweries as a chemist on their Hop Farms, and for two years I taught in a township school, but the job I held down longest and enjoyed the most was as a soil chemist and researcher in the Dept of Forestry. Sadly, the Forestry Research station was closed down. But I was lucky and got a good teaching job. When I finally retired I was teaching a bridging course to post matrics at Mossgas.

After my husband died, I came to live in Cape Town sharing a house with my son, Luke.  Here I took courses in writing and just as my father found his true vocation after he retired, I discovered creative writing, re-invented myself and am now a published poet.



P.S. Here are the titles of my books of poetry: At least the Duck survived; The Last to Leave; Portrait in Thread; A Pious Pachyderm and Living Locked Down.