Archive for the ‘Rambling’ Category

Remember those record inner sleeves with the logo: “Home taping is killing music and it’s illegal”?
The record companies were trying to tell us that making a cassette copy of an LP would lead to the music disappearing because the taped copy represented a lost sale.

A dire warning

Sometime in 1986 or 1987 Luke let me copy his Batsumi record. It was love at first listen.

On side A of that tape was Freedom’s ChildrenAstra. Astra I had recorded from Brian Davidson who had been the lead singer of Freedom’s Children. At the time Astra was impossible to get hold of. The master tapes were destroyed in a fire, so no record company could release it. In the CD age it was released after a copy was made from a vinyl album. Ironic, né?. Brian’s girlfriend made me the copy from his tape. When she turned both tapes over she mixed up source and destination, so Brian’s side B was wiped and mine remained blank. I never did find out which album disappeared, but I suspect it was Galactic Vibes.
Anyway that was how I had side B available to record Batsumi.

That tape powered my VW Beetle all over the place for many years. It only stopped receiving play when I was finally able to buy a CD of Astra and was driving a car without a cassette deck.
In the intervening years I have never laid eyes on a copy of Batsumi for sale (and in years gone by I spent a lot of time in record stores so I would have noticed!)


Now in 2011 Matsuli Music has rereleased Batsumi and I finally have my own copy. Take a listen to it there. Buy a copy, it’s well worth owning.

It still is magnificent and my enthusiasm for it is just as great as it ever was.
The remastering has removed a bit of the murkiness of the sound, but the tremendous atmosphere of the original album is still there. As the needle drops on side one and Zulu Bidi’s bass plucks forth from the speakers, I wait in anticipation for the mangled flute that sounds like a kudu horn and then I’m off again on that wonderful journey into the unique sound world of Batsumi.
It’s a magnificent masterpiece and I would have bought it decades ago if it were possible.

Home taping did nothing to kill this music – it’s very much alive and for me probably only because I did once tape them.


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Thursday 3 June 2010

Between 4 and 5am

A short thunderstorm wakes me in Somerset West. Jipe barks at the thunder. I go back to sleep. A bit of rain falls, but not much.

About 10am

Dad calls from Betty’s Bay: “Just want to let you know the mountain above us is on fire. No need to panic yet, just an early warning.” Obviously this morning’s lightning started a fire. I go about the day as per normal and check in with the folks from time to time.

About 10pm

I talk to mom. They’ve packed essentials (change of clothes, documentation) and placed everything in the entrance hall. Friends in the community have been quick and generous with offers of help. Two of their largest paintings have already been moved to the Ficks. The Bossengers brought their trailer to the house and it is filled with books and wine. Books would be difficult to pack in a hurry – my folks have quite a large number of books they would be devastated to lose.  Wine would be awkward to pack in a hurry. A dropped bottle can never be recovered. I wish them well and go to sleep.


I’m woken by an SMS. “Packing cars”. I have a difficult night tossing and turning, wondering what’s going on in Betty’s Bay but not wanting to call and wake them or interfere with things at a possibly critical moment.

Friday 4 June 2010


I call the Bossengers. The folks are still in the house – it hasn’t burned down yet. Call the folks. Mom answers. Fire still a way off, but probably just a few hours away. She’s had two hours of sleep. Dad is talking to the fire chaps up the road in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. Sister Cathy & her husband John are on their way from Cape Town. I decide to leave it up to dad to decide if they need me. He calls later and I take the seats out of Melanie’s car and pack the roofracks, grab a torch, pocket camera, cellphone and charger and I’m off – leaving the wife to look after the dogs. (more…)

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The Peaneafowl

There are many many troops of Guineafowl in Somerset West and we have quite a few around us. Homer (the dog) and I encounter them every morning on our inspect-and-sniff of the suburb.

A while ago I noticed (and heard) a young peahen in the nearby garden of a friend. The bird didn’t belong to her, but would sometimes arrive to snack on the seeds that her family puts out for the guineafowl. Some days she’d see it and others not. It seems to have a free run of the suburb.

Since then I have often seen this bird in the company of a troop of guineafowl, looking much like a grand aunt. This morning I snapped a couple of shots with a small camera:

Peahen wandering with guineafowl

The Peahen amongst the guineafowl

For a while they felt it best to eye us from the safety of a tree:

Peahen and guineafowl in a tree

The peahen and guineafowl in a tree

The photos are very indistinct as the small camera couldn’t deal well with the early morning light.

I wonder if this fowl split from one of the groups on Lourensford estate or on Erinvale. However it happened, Homer and I continue to enjoy our suburban safaris.

Update: Here are a couple more photos – just a little clearer.

Four guineafowl and a peafowl

Four guineafowl and a peafowl

The peahen with a number of guineafowl

The peahen with a number of guineafowl

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Staaarrrt again

It’s been a few years since I did the 10 day Vipassanā meditation course.

A lot of what I gathered then has fallen into misuse (well actually the core of it – maintaining two hours of meditation a day; and particularly one of the Śīla – the one about intoxication – living in wine country is tough!). However I do still live a great deal of it day-to-day and I can still hear the order: “Start again” in my head as I did when readying for an hour of immobile silence and pain.

That moment often felt like the start of something impossible but at the end was always revealed to be possible. Sometimes the predominant sensation at the end was relief. Sometimes it was just wonder.

So here goes with the blog thing. Pain and wonder in whatever measure, here I come!

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