…along the Atlantic seaboard. I set out from Perspectives, taking a diagonal through the long rectangle of the city centre. Music that sounds Congolese spills down through narrow stairs from where church services are in progress. Smartly dressed couples mingle with those who have been sleeping rough, the tourists and the loiterers.
Pass the corner on Loop Streetwhere Sean and Theo’s new bar might open. The previous concept, the Che Bar, didn’t last long: graphics of Guevara as icon in the Campbell’s soup tin poster with words like Radical and Ideology printed in cutting edge fonts at the bottom.
Tack across through De Waterkant; men wave from the other side of the road where they sit under bluegums on the long, dry Lions Rump. People on corners try to draw me into conversation – I give them a curt wave and carry on walking purposively, wearing a shirt crusted with sand, salt and sweat. Come down on Greenpoint main road, where there is a huge stadium half built, more traffic and more voices.
‘And I’m very hungry and very thirsty too,’ says a dolled up lady to someone who could be a prospective client, or pimp, or just a long-suffering boyfriend.
‘And they watch, have someone watching, they make a mark…’
A beefy pair of white men go past, talking about what sounds like ATM fraud. Backpackers where I stayed long ago, feeling so proud to be the one travelling with the beautiful girl. Municipal rockeries, whole new districts, election posters.
‘Hie kom hy, hie kom hy…whoa!’
People crane over railings at Three Anchor Bay, watch the kelp slap against the rocks. I took off my shirt and considered a game of putt-putt.
‘I think we should play a game of putt-putt,’ I said aloud, to some half imaginary friend, and then considered asking someone if this really was Three Anchor Bay, since it seemed a rather prosaic spot for a tormented young poet to walk into the waves. Onward along the promenade, where a tiny old woman in a wheelchair cocks her head towards the younger women I take to be a nurses, making them smile about something.
‘I have finished,’ said a camp man to me after washing his hands in the basin of the public toilets. The tap in mine had been broken. I joined the main drag, stopping for lunch at a fish restaurant. The man in the door of Woolworths also spoke to me, clicked a counter, but he was just about the last human to acknowledge my presence until I had tramped all the way past Clifton and up the Kloof Nek Road.
Found a stand of pines and bench that I had been hoping to find. The wind was just beginning to start up after weeks of still, hot days. It blew in the pines, then stopped, sounding like the slowest, most beautiful shutting down of machinery you could imagine. It started again, stronger, then stopped again, slower.
I had to leave because the sun was dropping, but now became uncertain, trying this path, then another, trying to avoid the cars I had put up with all morning, but needing to be back before darkness. Dog walkers below the cable station were the next people to register my continued existence with a tight suburban ‘Hi.’ I asked the guard if there was a gate at the other side of the Molteno Reservoir and he said: ‘Yes’. Took a call there, hiding from the wind behind palm trunks. Thanked the cashier at the Engen effusively, greeted the man in the lobby.