Friday, March 26, 2010

1.27 - Goodbye To All That

The memory is blurry, but somehow I convinced Phillipa to come to my matric dance. I even designed her outfit, out of a red and gold carpet with a chiffon skirt. I myself wore a black silk shirt with dragons on the back and the green sequined flares. There exists a photograph of me and Phillipa standing in the kitchen in Westville, I am proud, young, puffing out my chest, Phillipa looks like she just wants to get it over with. Maybe that is my interpretation. The evening is a rush. Of course by then everyone knows I am in love with Phillipa, but actually I’m crushing on another girl, who happens to be Andrews date, I don’t remember her name, even though he was expelled and not at the school, we managed to get him on the list. I buy a whole lot of daffodils on the way there. We have tequila, I think, or old brown sherry but a lot of it anyway, shout to interrupt the speeches, when the “dancing” starts, I come in from the table we have been placed at in the marquee, far from the action, to try dilute us, in to the main area, climb on a table throw flowers about. We are constantly sneaking through the gaps in the red striped tent to drink more, more, eventually thrown out of and/or leave, stopping to ring the school bell, normally only rung in reverence, loudly, continuously, until the prefects come out and we are running in the mad possibilities of it all into our futures, multiple, split, to join and split, we bundle into the car and race off to drop off Andrews date first, Roxanne maybe, Rosanne? Anyway. We get to her place and there is smoke rising from the, it seems, gearbox, “Gearbox is burning!” I shout, we all tumble out of the car and into a ditch, fully expecting it to explode, Phillipa saying “I left my rose in the car”, me, heroically going to fetch it, gingerly getting into the car, picking the rose off the back and running back to the ditch, Roxanne’s father coming to of the house, looking at us, saying, “It smells like you kids have been driving with the handbrake on”, sheepishly saying goodbye. Goodbye to all that.

The second last real memory of Kevin, chronologically incorrect, is when the Celtic Rumours played at the university, supporting Mango Groove, who at that point in my eyes where an inoffensive pop act. I had just managed to dodge army call up, with a two-year study deferment, Kevin would have to go. My sisters boyfriend, later husband, who I spent most of my life hating and jealous of his suburban ethic, Kevin referred to him as Fat Pig, for his own reasons, was in the crowd. The lead singer of Mango Groove, makes a political statement, she supports the ECC, the End Conscription Campaign, Mark, future brother in law is standing in a bunch of guys, all on study deferments, who start protesting, throwing beer cans. It is a moment of supreme irony for me, avoid beer in cans still to this day, the searing image of men throwing beer cans at a woman, trying to get them out of something that they say they believe in but are avoiding anyway.

1989 ends on December 31st, as it should, with me, my father and Brandon Botha driving to Cape Town, to begin a life in film. We drive up, through the mountains, then me crossing the Free State for the first time (later discovering it unfree), then dipping into the great desert of the Karoo, ending up staying at a cheap hotel, edgeofthedesert half empty swimming pool, my father drunk in the room at sunset, me and Brandon, still high on a week of parties and marijuana cooking, sitting at the pool until midnight and bar closing, drinking cheap gin umbrella cocktails the desert warmth and the future promise washing over us, swimming lazily and long, my father on the edge of consciousness as we sneak into the room, a beast mumbling, keep quiet, keep quiet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3.12 The Sudden Pull To Freedom

Two things happened that sent me toward film. Spielberg’s ET and sneaking into see The Night Porter. ET left me with unwarranted tears, feeing the powers of film’s manipulative force. The Night Porter left me bored and slightly raped, dreams that night of lipstick and leather.

This book, needless to say, is not a credit list of influences or a nod of heads to all that walked through my life. I am trying to explain who I am now, by who I have been, trying to work out my need to explain it. All art is a celebration of loss. Loss of Love, Loss of Innocence. A dictum of everything we have lost and everything we have gained in the losing.

I have told this story before and will tell it again. My father could not understand my love for photography, my need for film, my inability to not write. He was convinced I would take over the family business, his building company. Not that it existed, he was living from job to job, holding onto the house with my mothers salary. After two years in Cape Town, I hitch back home to surprise them, am surprised by the fact that they don’t live in that house anymore, have to get the new residents to give me the new address at one a.m. Loss comes slowly and is then definitive.

I applied to the Cape Town Film and Television School as a last ditch effort. Photography schools, techs, would not take me, I was told that I would have to start at second year and you can’t do that. I was for the first, not boasting (am, really), not the last time, overqualified. The day the fax came through, I heard the phone ring, picked up, pressed start and slowly saw the acceptance form coming through. I called my mother, who’s response was, as I recall, simply to say “We have to break this to your father gently”

Of course he tried to talk me out of it, the mantra, “when are you going to get a real job” was beginning to form. I remember putting the fax, already browning, on top of his, already yellowed, architectural plans for a long since lost project and him trying to convince me. The next morning my mother told me that my father would be leaving for Cape Town to find me a flat. All that was left to me of my adolescence was a matric dance and some goodbyes.