Category: Johannesburg


I hate goodbyes. So when I saw the movie Brooklyn, I was weeping within the first five minutes. And I did a lot of weeping thereafter, forcing the woman next to me to snort, sigh, pick up her popcorn and leave.

Nasty, unsentimental bitch.

The movie opens with Eilis hugging her Mama and sister, boarding a ship bound for America. She’s leaving because she has to escape the small Irish town that holds nothing for her.

She leaves behind everything that she knows.

The boat trip is awful.  Settling down is awful. She’s young, naive and very very homesick.

She imagined it would be easier. Brooklyn, after all, is a second home for the Irish.

But Brooklyn is nothing like home. There is no family, no best friend and no-one who understands who she is or where she comes from.

Everything is unfamiliar.

The movie is all about identity, love and belonging.  It is about the importance of our birthplace and the things that shape us into the people we are today. It’s about what we know, how we adapt to change and about broken hearts.

And this is why I wept.

I remember very clearly the day I immigrated from Zimbabwe. The tears. The hugs. Saying goodbye to people that I’d grown up with. Friends. Boyfriends. Family. Housekeepers. The Cafe owner. The Greengrocer.

Leaving behind the people who knew me.  Heading into the unfamiliar. And never quite coming to terms with it.

The unfamiliar can be a trauma. For me it was not understanding the thick South African accent. Wearing slip slops when everyone else was in stilettos. Turning up at a party in bell-bottoms when stovepipes were high fashion.

Not knowing what a French kiss was.

And feeling decidedly Zimbabwean amongst all the South Africans.

I’ve had more than half my life in South Africa now and I call myself South African.  It’s home. But so is Zimbabwe.

Leaving is hard.

Except for the stupid woman who didn’t like my tears.

I’m glad she left. Hope she gets sick on the boat too.


A preview of the trailer.  It is a fantastic movie!


My dog Scarlet is thirteen. I walk her almost daily at Emmarentia Dam and she’s always a little nervous and a lot unpredictable.

Odd, my friends call her.

Intriguing is what I say.

She never goes near the water. And lately her arthritis has been really bad, leaving me to wonder how much longer she has.

Today we went walking with friends.

And for some insane, crazy, who knows why and I’ll never get it reason, Scarlet plunged head first into the water.

Whoosh splash, she was gone.

Surrounded by ducks, geese and a huge body of cool sparkling water.

It was fabulous, this dog who has never swum before. Whichever way the ducks went, she went too.  Swimming like a pro dog Olympic doggy paddle champion of the world.

Unbelievable. Hilarious. Brilliant.

Until we realised she wasn’t coming back.

We were standing on the edge, yelling for her. And she never once turned to look at us. She was a dog on a mission.

Except this old dog was getting deeper, further and more and more distant.

I panicked. She would have a heart attack. She was going to drown. She would disappear under the water and that would be the end.

There was no-one around to help.

‘You’ve gotta go in, Violet,’ said my friend. ‘Go. Go.’

I was hesitant. I’m not a strong swimmer.

But I threw off my clothes. And I plunged in too.  It was warm and delicious, except I wasn’t feeling warm or delicious. I was terrified.

I didn’t get anywhere close. She swam left, she swam right, she ducked, she dived, she became one of the bloody ducks.

And she ignored me completely.

I had to turn back or I would’ve got into trouble.

It had been an hour. We yelled some more, one of us naked, one not. And then I threw my clothes back on and ran for help.

I found a couple of cyclists who under normal circumstances I may have flirted with, except I hate cyclists.  Now, tears streaming down my face,  I begged them to rescue my dog.

Except she did not want to be rescued. She was having the swim of her life.

And then, just like that, TWO HOURS LATER, she swam in. Shook herself off, grinned, I swear she grinned, jumped into my arms, licked me all over and we went back home.

I thought she would die from exhaustion in the afternoon. I thought her heart would just stop beating while she slept.

She hasn’t died. She doesn’t even seem tired. She’s happy and content and clearly has a doggy bucket list of things she wants to do.

I’m the one who’s shattered.

But if I think about it, it was very nice skinny dipping in Johannesburg.

And so we’re planning another activity.

Today the ducks in Emmarentia, tomorrow the dolphins in Mozambique.  Who knows what adventure awaits.

Scarlet.  She is an intriguing dog.

  • with thanks to Lesley Cowling for the doggie bucket list inspiration.


I’m engaged

I’ve been kind of antisocial this weekend. Sitting alone on my new couch, reading, writing a little, not doing much of anything.

But- when I did venture out – I had the most beautiful and meaningful engagements.

At the supermarket, two old men stood behind me. They were talking about their homeland, Senegal.   About how much they miss their village, communal cooking fires, the brothers they have not seen for over ten years and the grandchildren they will never meet.

As they spoke I could see their families. I could feel the heat, taste the dust and hear the drumbeat.

And I could feel their overwhelming sadness of displacement, of being so far from home and of knowing that they will never go back.

I apologised for eavesdropping and chatted to them for a while. Two gentle old men with extraordinary stories.

I came home to my couch. A few tears in my eyes.

And then I heard the ‘shouting man’. The neighborhood pest. He used to wander around at the same time, every day and every night, yelling in an unintelligible language.

I’ve often wanted to kill him.

But then he disappeared.   And as noisy and mad as he was, I really missed his presence. His regular 8 pm appearance was somehow reassuring.

I worried that something horrible may have happened to him.

Yesterday he came back. 8 pm. Yelling louder than ever.

I went outside to tell him to keep it down, but also to ask where he’d been.

‘A place where they tried to clean me,’ he replied. I think he meant a shelter.

I’m glad he’s back on the streets. It’s where he’s happiest.

I’ve decided to get out more.

Not to bars or coffee shops. But out.

To walk streets that I haven’t walked on before.

To meet people that I wouldn’t normally meet.

Because the world opens up wide when you engage with new people.

And I definitely want engagement.

Violet inappropriately reviews her own play

I was told that writers never watch their own plays. They’re supposed to sit at the bar and drink during the show, but there was no way I could do that. As the lights went down I picked up my gin and snuck into the back row.

And had a really good time!

What I loved about the play, apart from the fabulous actress and ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, was the audience.

They started off a little quietly, unsure whether to laugh or not, and then once Violet had said her first ‘cunt’, they started giggling. Then laughing, then roaring and the man in front of me actually choked.

He was old, it may have been a heart attack and maybe it ended in death, but at least he went smiling.

The audience had fun. You could see women elbowing men, as if to say, ‘this could be us.’  And women elbowing each other because they identified with the stories or recognised the men that Violet talks about.

People connected.

As soon as the show ended I ran to the bathroom. A woman ran in behind me. While I was fixing my lipstick she opened her phone, downloaded a dating app and said – ‘Thanks, Violet, I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.’

Yay for her!

And afterwards, everyone shared their stories. Not only women but men too. Violet seemed to have given a platform for older people to talk honestly about dating, love and sex.

It’s a little bit like Fifty Shades of Grey. It was a terrible book (I read all three, obviously) but it made erotica, sex and BDSM permissible. It made it, in South Africa anyway, okay to read and talk about these things, publicly.

The highlight for me was the man at the end of the show who I met at the bar.

‘Good evening’, he said, while signalling the barman. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Violet’, I replied, completely poker-faced.

‘That’s a lovely name’, he said. ‘ Barman, give me a drink. I hate the fucking theatre.’

Lynita Crofford plays Violet.

Directed by Megan Furniss.  Auto and General Theatre on the Square, Sandton.  011 – 883 8606.  On till 7 Nov.


Violet Online, the play, opens in Johannesburg tomorrow night. It’s very bloody exciting but oh my gosh, nerve wracking too!

I’m suddenly thinking that it’s time to get off the couch and have my hair cut, my legs waxed and buy something gorgeous and sexy to wear to the opening.

Except, and I think it’s nerves, I’ve found it really hard to do anything vaguely functional. My day has been filled with friends and phone calls and every time I try do something, I get distracted.

Instead of buying a dress or shoes I have:-

Had three bubble baths.

Bought lipgloss.

And two pairs of earrings.

Eaten a ton of ice cream.

And binged on salted caramel.

Had five cups of coffee.

Played with my dogs.

Napped in a sunbeam.

Planted an entire vegetable garden.

And thought of a new idea for a blog.

The one thing I did manage was a visit to my favorite store – The Bedroom – where I bought a very sexy pair of black silk stockings and suspenders. I know it’s not very smart to have the stockings without the dress.

But there is not much I can do about it now.

Instead, I’m going to go to yoga where I will relax, meditate, breathe slowly and think about tomorrow night.

And know that while I am in the audience, there will be a man there too, sitting separately from me, alone, and very sexy.

And only he and I (and maybe you) will know that I am wearing the stockings!

Violet Online stars the beautiful Lynita Crofford and is directed by talented Megan Furniss. It’s at The Auto and General Theatre on the Square, Sandton, 28 Oct – 07 Nov.  (See here for this morning’s interview)

Violet Online – the play.

Violet Online is opening.

Not her legs!

The play….

It’s going to be on at The Auto and General Theatre on The Square in Sandton, Johannesburg in just two weeks time.

Previews 27 October and opens 28 October and we are excited, nervous, trying not to take tranquilisers and definitely not panicking.

Starring the very talented and beautiful Lynita Crofford.  Directed by the fierce and fabulous Megan Furniss.

And written by me – Violet Online.

Bring your husband, your boyfriend, your lover, your lovers, all your girlfriends, your mom and your granny.

Leave the kids at home.

And if you’re not in Jozi- well – get on a flight, dammit.

Book at the theatre 011- 883 8606.

It’s a lot of sexy somewhat hilarious fun.

How to survive a heatwave.

Put ice down your cleavage

And wet your t-shirt.

Take a late night skinny dip

And an early morning one.

Listen to Joni Mitchell

Under a Jacaranda tree.

Stop the car

Find a rockpool

And dive in headfirst.

Wear a cool dress

A huge sunhat

And remove your underwear.

Make direct eye contact

With the ice-cream seller

He’ll give you one for free.

Walk straight into a bar

Order pink champagne

Drink it slowly

With extra ice

And remember:

You don’t need any excuses to go naked

This weather has you covered.