Author Topic: Return of the happy shoeshine boy  (Read 5566 times)

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Offline Iain Fisher

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Return of the happy shoeshine boy
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2011, 03:04:58 PM »
"Return of the happy shoeshine boy" by Steven Berkoff in New Statesman, 12/16/2002.         

“…The first thing you notice once you leave Cape Town city and drive south is such unbelievably breathtaking beauty that you gasp in scenic wonder at this great gift of a country -- God's own. You sweep past gaunt mountain ranges revealing between their divides deep lapis lazuli seas, jade shallows and infinite creamy beaches…"

"…I'm moving out of my fortress-like apartment -- it seems a bit excessive for it to be as protected as it is, but it makes the white occupants feel more comfortable, even if I've hardly seen any black faces around except those street car-parkers and the newspaper sellers at the traffic lights (here called "robots")... They've even reinstated that old- dare I say it- racist symbol from American movies, the black shoeshine boy in the shopping mall. He looked more than happy cleaning the white man's shoes and I tried to snap a picture, but the white man's wife sniffed that something was up and stepped in front. Bitch! It would have been a nice study of racial harmony…”

“…It has to be said that South Africa is a delightful place and blessed by fair winds, a soft warm climate and gorgeously brilliant-hued seas . . . And yet, according to the Cape Argus, one of the two daily papers, out of 44 million people, 181,000 are currently in jail and, in ten years, the prison population will reach 450,000. At that rate, they beat Britain hands down..."

“…This is a truly cosmopolitan town and you can find anything, so it's no surprise to find in Seapoint a bit of Golders Green, a wonderful deli where you can enjoy the tastes of the old homeland: bagels, salmon, cream cheese, herrings, chicken soup, pickles and on and on . Again, I check the wages and ask a very charming waiter, who reluctantly tells me that he makes 1,200 rand. "A week?" I ask. "No, a month." So he's getting about £20 a week…”

“…I strode out, packed to my pot-belly which I am now acquiring so as not to stand out too much, paid my street minder five rand and headed to the Baxter Theatre to arrange some lights for my forthcoming performances. I swung along the dipping highway passing glorious views: pine-lined avenues, the profusion of yellow protea (South Africa's national flower), serene homes complete with balconies for those delightful sundowners and adorned with pretty little signs: "ARMED RESPONSE". In fact, nearly every house has that sign on it, so it figures that there must be some sort of "B" army hiding out in the hills somewhere…”