6th June 2021
Greetings my fellow doddering elders,
There may of course be some young people who glance at this blog/column/blurb but the seven known readers are all of the same vintage as myself. In other words, doddering elders and more so in winter rather than those glorious summer months now seemingly so distant away.
This last week in the Kalahari temperatures have plummeted to zero and below as the sun rises and has finally reached a high of about sixteen degrees celcius. Not that I have taken my hand woven pullover off but I was reminded a day or so ago that when the temperature in the UK reaches sixteen degrees the population dashes out to catch a suntan. You have to be kidding me, but then, perhaps it is true.
I once was good friends with a mad dog who also happened to be an Englishman and he was one of the Barmy Army following the England cricket team around South Africa. I do not know if it was the mad dog or the English part but on his first day in this (cry the) beloved land of ours he decided to lie in the sun for a bit. Well, he did just that and proceeded to lie in the shade of a hospital for the next three days. He recovered fully I am pleased to say but is still a bit of a mad dog and 100% still an Englishman.
I have been quite shocked at recent statements by high ranking citizens of this land. One former VIP says that she cannot do much with a paltry R3000, while the Prez himself defends the politician’s monthly stipend of some R100 000 by saying they struggle to survive. What? Struggling on R100 000 less PAYE or whatever. And the few million fellow citizens of theirs and us are having an absolute blast on their SASSA grant of R1890 per month. With masks and social distancing of course. Do not forget that those same chaps and chappesses nod off in parliament when they do attend, exhausted from trying to struggle all month on such a petty amount. And that amount excludes the free air trips, transport allowance, car allowance, cellphone allowance and a few other allowances I cannot recall. And then another, that chap with a hat, who only goes anywhere with about 100 well-armed bodyguards with automatic rifles, a helicopter hovering above, and bullet proof vehicles, wants to take away guns from people. Defending yourself is not a valid reason to have a weapon. What? These comments cannot be made up surely? Do these important people write their own speeches? Can they write?
The cold does that you know. It gives you brain freeze. It also, at this stage of my life, gives me frostbite on the extremities such as nose, ears, toes and gingers. Probably elsewhere too but I am rather warmly ensconced in winter clothes made in Lesotho. And am in bed. Unlike many others out there today struggling to survive.
The cold weather has also brought the season of uncontrolled fires, many of which are started out of pure malice and design rather than being accidental, but that’s another story for another day warmer than today. There has been smokey skies in the area this last week or two and I have heard that some 26 farms in the Boshof region have been destroyed by fire.
Today is 6 June, a date made forever memorable by the allied forces landing on the Normandy beaches of Nazi controlled Europe. It was quite a battle and for a few more days to finally control the beaches that day in 1944, some 77 years ago. Many heroes there were that day, and thousands of deaths too, on both sides. Now that was a struggle. And mostly forgotten. A luta continua.
On this day too in local Kimberley history the Mayor of Kimberley, one HA Oliver, officially welcomed back the Kimberley Mounted Corps who were part of Colonel Mahon’s Flying Column that had relieved besieged Mafeking in middle May 1900. This welcome back was at the City Hall on 6 June 1900.
Well known Kimberley architect and artist William Timlin also died this day in 1943, from pneumonia.
Timlin was born in England, the son of a colliery fireman. He showed talent for drawing at Morpeth Grammar School, and received a scholarship to the Armstrong College of Art in Newcastle. In 1912, he joined his parents in South Africa where he completed his training in art and architecture and remained for the rest of his life.
He designed a number of important buildings in Kimberley including Kimberley Boys’ High School while pursuing his interest in art, turning out a large number of watercolour fantasies in addition to oils, pastels, etchings and periodical illustrations. His work was regularly exhibited. He also wrote stories and composed music.
Timlin worked on “The Ship that Sailed to Mars” for two years, expanding until it had 48 pages of text and 48 colour plates showing remarkable flights of fantasy.
Timlin sent the book to publishers George Harrap, who were delighted with the illustrations and the calligraphic text, deciding to print it without typesetting. The book has since become a fantasy classic. The film rights to the book were purchased in the United States, where Timlin enjoyed great popularity. Alan Horne in The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators describes the book as a masterpiece and “the most original and beautiful children’s book of the 1920s”.
He also illustrated many South African travel books and prepared illustrations for a book titled “The Building of a Fairy City” which was never published.
He was only 51 years old when he died.
I need to get back in my bed and stay there for a few days.
Have a good week.
I thank you.