Tuesday, June 2, 2009


An enormous treat for country bumpkins like us was to get in the car and go to the big bad city. Johannesburg always hovered on the horizon, tantalizing, the loud, dangerous boomtown city with its luxurious, sensual, wicked edge. Streets were supposed to be paved with gold, but bad things happened. Little blond girls were abducted by white slavers. We weren't sure how much work a white slaver would get out of 10 year olds, but we were innocent then. At Christmas, a big treat was shopping in the department stores, a movie, toasted bun and tea and driving through the streets looking at the lights. For a while, every two weeks, we went to the library.

This is a great picture of the Johannesburg library, pity it doesn’t really look like that. The photographer was a genius and managed to shoot the lovely old building in a way that you can't see palisade fencing and part of a construction site, as well as horror upon horrors Magid’s Folly, a crime of architecture that serves no purpose other than to enclose the park between the library and city hall. For no good reason.

Magid’s folly was conceived by past mayor Eddie Magid, who determined that a popular and beautiful park in the middle of two gorgeous old historic buildings, needed to be enclosed with huge ugly steel and brick structures. They were supposed to be little shops, a la Paris, but nobody could afford them, and nobody seemed to know what to do with them when Eddie Magid passed on. They’re doing some building there, and I sincerely hope they plan to tear it down the sell the metal to clean out and fix the fountains.

Anyway, that's my rant, I drive past it every day and it annoys me. But onto the library and the delights within, not only the lovely old wood paneling and plush interior of hushed reverence, but Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, the Girls of the Chalet School and a book called How to make the animals of Beatrix Potter. Thanks to my mother who hoards unimaginable things, I still have my early attempts at toy-making.
This is Peter Rabbit, well he doesn’t look exactly like the picture in the book, and it was hard to get horsehair for real whiskers in South Africa circa 1970, so I had to use string.
This one turned out much better, it took ages, and never managed to get it to stand up without assistance.
This is the first animal I ever sold ZAR 2 (20 cents, thanks sis.

The bug bit and I'm still at it and at least now I can get every colour of fur, except for red.

1 comment:

  1. I'm pleased to say that the horror that is Magid's Folly seems to be coming down. I'll post pics when it's all gone. Right now it looks like a construction site in hell.