Apartheid on the beaches

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1.

Twenty-five years, and I don’t look a day older than one! Alas, I can’t say the same for my Travelling Companion. I spend most of my time inside a book (well, duh) while the TC sees the world. Read all about me and follow my blog posts to share my experiences as bookmark and travelling worm.

I keep saying:

I’ll keep it meaningful. Like a t-shirt.

So here we go, a “meaningful” post at last.

I’ve been spending some time in the TC’s scrapbook

Me in the Travelling Companion’s scrapbook:

Me in scrapbook

Please excuse the quality of the next couple of images. The TC is not a great photographer at the best of times. These pictures are scanned in from a photo she took in 1979, using who knows what cheap non-digital apparatus.

The scrapbook entry shows a signpost on the beach at Simons Town, near Cape Town in South Africa. The year is 1979.

Apartheid on the beaches

Looking closer:

Apartheid on the beaches

Here’s what it says:





There may be a few readers who can’t even imagine what that means. You might have an inkling, but doubt that it can possibly be true. The sad fact is, the signpost does mean this: Only white people were allowed on the beach.

“White people” — what does that mean? It means someone who has been classified as white. Short and simple. But not easy.

If asked, the TC will narrate in great detail how weird it was growing up as a child in apartheid-governed South Africa. At first, of course, you accept that there are separate buses, separate trains, even separate benches in the park. Every child learns the environment as it is presented to her. But then you start wondering, seeing the absurdities and questioning the sanity of all around you.

That might be when the TC started taking photos like the one above.

Published in: on 28 June 2008 at 3:20 pm  Comments (3)  
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This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1.

Twenty-five years, and I don’t look a day older than one! Alas, I can’t say the same for my Travelling Companion. I spend most of my time inside a book (well, duh) while the TC sees the world. Read all about me and follow my blog posts to share my experiences as bookmark and travelling worm.

I’ll keep it meaningful. Like a t-shirt.

Today’s travel notes

We passed through Goulburn last weekend. Goulburn is a city (it has a couple of cathedrals) in New South Wales, Australia. It’s kind of a detour between Sydney and Canberra. At least, that’s how I’ve always thought of it.

My impressions? “Oh no, what am I doing here?” closely followed by “Ah yes, that was good”.

First we went to the outskirts of the town (yes, I do know it’s a city but it’s rather small) to find Drool. He’s our latest acquisition — a rather fetching gargoyle. There’s a photograph somewhere below. He hales from the Menduni Garden Artistry centre, 26-28 Gulson Street, Goulburn. I’d recommend a visit if you’re in the area. You’re greeted with big smiles, strong local accents and lots of variety, from devilish gargoyles to lightly-swaying giant emus and everything between.

Then we hit Goulburn in search of lunch. We found that and a lot of impressive architecture too.

Traveller’s tip

A warm worm is a happy worm.

Recommended restaurant

The Roses Cafe, 10 Montague Street, Goulburn, NSW.

Great pies and cheese pastries, fresh tasty salads, superb florentines with lots of nuts and stodge and a good layer of chocolate. Faultless service.

The book I’m in

I have just emerged from Falls the Shadow, by William Lashner. Alas, the TC (she with whom I travel) yanked me out when I was only half way through the book. I’m guessing she grew tired of it. I couldn’t help noticing this bit before I left, because I found it strangely apposite. It’s something said to the lawyer who is the anti-hero of the book, with his reply:

“You’re an insignificant worm.”
“Yes I am,” I said cheerfully, “on a useless piece of rock hurtling through a universe devoid of rhyme or reason.”

I suspect that Goulburnians might often hear the phrase “an insignificant town in the middle of nowhere”, or words to that effect. Goulburnians could reply with something like the lawyer’s response above.

Or maybe, like me, they would reply:

“Yes, but that’s irrelevant when you’re as good-looking as me.”

The photos

Me at the fountain in Belmore Park, Goulburn:


Me at the glasshouse in Belmore Park:


St Peter’s and St Paul’s Catholic cathedral (it’s just one building, probably named by someone in dire need of saintly appeasement):


St Saviour’s Anglican cathedral:


The Big Merino, one of Australia’s famous “big things”. They say you can go inside to buy souvenirs and to see the world through the ram’s eye at the top. I didn’t do that. This dude is more than 15 metres tall and weighs 97 tonnes:


The Goulburn Club, established 1877:


The inviting open door of the Goulburn Club:


The Roses Cafe has a narrow shop front, but is long and spacious inside, modern in hues of pink and purple:


A row of buildings in downtown Goulburn:


Get closer to me baby:


Technical College AD 1900, now the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium. If you peer inside, you’ll see lovely old wooden doors and staircase:


Drool the gargoyle:


A worm’s eye view

This section is for me to put things that are not necessarily relevant but meant something to this worm at the time. Here’s a shot of the dawn before we set out on the trip:


Other travelogues of note

These travellers have been to Goulburn too:

  • Elke went back to visit family.
  • Jamie went through on the way to Canberra.
  • Jon & Jules were impressed by the big merino.
  • Marillionkm gives lots of details.
  • Darryl writes about the drought.

First past the post

There are no wordpress.com blogs tagged “Goulburn”. This worm will be the first!

That’s all for today dudes.

A trip into a caffeine-head’s head

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. Today we’re going to do something different. None of this blog post is true. It’s a trip into a fictional character’s head. For the sake of the fun. And the puns. I’ve promised to make this blog “meaningful, like a t-shirt”. That’s not going to happen today. Except that, if you’ve encountered a person like Ms Java, you might find it comforting to laugh at her now.

A trip into a caffeine-head's head

8 a.m, 4 BC

At this time of day, survival depends on avoiding eye contact. I stalk into the office, staring straight ahead. It’s 8 a.m, 4 BC – four minutes Before Coffee.

The office is, as usual, in crisis mode. Jilly has a pile of faxes and a desperate expression. Mike is shouting at the printer, because it has sprayed black gunge over the proofs which we need at the 9 a.m. meeting. Ellen stands on a desk, waving three phones at me while she tries to pick up a fourth with her toes. (Why does she paint her toe nails that dippy puce?) More frantic faces spew out of offices all down the passage which leads to my room.

Every day it’s the same. Haven’t they figured it out yet? Don’t they know that I can’t cope with the daily grind until I’ve drunk my first coffee down to the grounds? Let them swap irritated looks, let them mutter under their breaths as I sweep past. Let trouble brew until I’ve had my first dark, rich roast. Will it be arabica or robusta today, or perhaps modest liberica? Don’t bother me with any decisions except that one.

My door opens to a cloud of warm, fragrant steam. My very own espresso machine gleams fire-engine red, hissing and spitting on its table, set to one side of the finest view in the office. The finest view in the building, to tell it straight. I’m that good.

Outside my window, and far far below, is the most treacherous slice of motorway in the city. I watch the toy cars dicing with death as I gently blow away a puff of steam. The hiss of milk frothing onto hot coffee announces the most perfect cup of the day. Without a word, Dan hands it to me and leaves the room. He, at least, knows how the day should start. If only his good sense would filter through the others’ thick skins and percolate down through the organogram.

Two cappuccinos later, it’s time to give an underling a roasting. Underlings are like the sludge at the bottom of a good Greek coffee: necessary but tiresome.
“Send Ellen in.”
“Yes, Ms Java.” The intercom responds immediately to my murmured order. Thirty seconds later, there’s a tap at the door.
Ellen’s head appears. Her gaze goes instantly to my chrome-topped coffee table. I see her eyes counting the empty cups. She’s not too bright, but she can count to two. She decides that two cups mean it’s safe to enter. Wrong!
That one word is enough. I got the tone just right. With some satisfaction, I watch her face whiten until she has just one pink spot in the middle of each cheek.
“Dan says you fell asleep over your PC yesterday evening.”
“Yes, Ms Java. Sorry, Ms Java. It was late, and…”
“Quiet! No excuses. There’s plenty of caffeine around to keep you on your toes.”
“I can’t drink coffee, Ms Java. It makes me all hyped up and shivery.”
“Then you don’t belong here, Ellen.”
“Oh, but…”
“And I hate your nail polish.”
“Yes, Ms Java.”
“Very well. On your way, Ellen.”
“Yes, Ms Java.” She scurries out of the door, freshly ground and roasted to perfection.

Time for the management meeting. Dan fixes me a good strong arabica. He knows I can’t even begin to express myself without a double espresso. My points carry the meeting. The others just sit there, hissing and sputtering like a row of sub-standard coffee machines.

The day wears on. The coffee beans are beginning to lose their potency. It’s time to sit in front of my computer screen and let the rest of the day pass me by. My head is buzzing, my mouth tastes like nothing on earth, my heart is trying to burst out of my rib cage. It’s seriously time to leave me alone. The staffers should know that. But still they keep coming.

I have cultivated a knack for dealing with them.

In comes Jilly, who considers herself my confidante. The others use her to gauge my mood. She’s wearing some sort of ghastly cap and yellow chino trousers. There’s a blouse there somewhere, but it fades into insignificance. So does her face, and everything else about her except the head gear and chinos. Watch how I deal with her.
“How do ya like my cap ‘n chinos?” she tweets, twirling round and round for my benefit.
“Yes, thanks, but make mine an espresso instead,” is my quick reply.

See? Once you’ve done it a few times, it’s a snap. Jilly looks puzzled – she doesn’t get it. She’s slow, to put it politely. She and Ellen fell out of the same tree. But she does understand the word “espresso”, so she wafts over to the coffee table.

I watch her with faint amusement. Her clothes are unspeakable. Glancing down at my own trim outfit, I congratulate myself on its style. Like coffee, people lose their unique identity unless properly packaged. I go for the hermetically sealed vacuum-pack look myself. Sleek, synthetic, tightly zipped from neckline to knee.

Jilly leaves my office, not quite sure what happened in here, but happy enough. I laugh out loud. There’s a knock at the door, and Mike appears in time to catch the dregs of my chuckle.
“You’re full of beans,” he says.
“Not yet,” is my zippy answer. “But if you bring me a coffee, it’ll top me up.”
See, there’s that knack again. Mike looks a bit freeze-dried, but brings the coffee. They all know how to do that. He’s forgotten what he wanted, so he leaves too.

There you have it, my technique for getting through the day. It’s an exclusive blend of strength and bitterness, in a zip-sealed package. The product of expert roastings, based on years of tradition. Keep refrigerated.

A trip into a caffeine-head's head

Published in: on 8 June 2008 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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