22nd November 2013

It seems eons since the invasion of the Steel Wings and Clarens has begun to melt into the rainy season with a satisfied sense of accomplishment.  The farmers are smiling – well, they’ve stopped snarling at least, and there is green of every hue in all directions.  So, what’s new, given my absence from the old desk last week?

First, there is news hot off the presses: Clarens has its first traffic light!  Yes, a robot has brought us shivering with anticipation into the twenty-first century.  We have come a long way since the trekkers dug the first long-drop on Market Street and the village first drew its water from a tap.  So it is that the Clarens News is able to report this technological breakthrough, placing us on par with our Mother City/Town (?), Bethlehem.  As is always the case with such breakthroughs, there are one or two minor issues associated with this development.  Well, one really.

The fact is that the robot (named Doris by its last owners) is in fact located in the Clarens Brewery, and therefore a little out of mainstream traffic flow (notwithstanding the odd Harley).  It would appear that due to a century-old bye law, we need the permission of the State President to allow us to locate any traffic control (or birth control) measures in the precincts of the village.  Ordinarily this would not be a problem, but it would appear that he is rather busy opening a tuck shop in Nkandla.  So, regrettably, this important innovation will remain off the grid, so to speak, for a while.  However, the Brewery has risen to the challenge and has agreed to keep Doris (the robot) in running order by regulating the drinking habits of its patrons.  This is in keeping with the spirit of South Africa’s drink-driving laws and the Brewery is pleased to be able to play its part in keeping the village sober.

In short, patrons may drink to their heart’s content when the robo is green, but must place their last orders when it winks orange.  Red, naturally enough, signals that the taps are closed and that another night of revelry is over.

Second, your faithful correspondent notes with considerable pleasure that the Clarens Galleries Association has decided to put its collective muscle behind a reinvigoration of the village art scene.  Plans are afoot to launch an annual Winter School to put the village squarely on the country’s art map.  Coupled with cooking courses, a writers’ workshop and visiting performing arts, this puts a buzz into 2014 that we can all look forward to.  And there’s more: Plans are also in hand to train some personable guides to provide tours of the Clarens galleries, to order.  Perhaps it is time we reinvented ourselves as the art capital of the New Republic – Watch this space for further details!

And finally, Kaalvoet is back in the news.  Notwithstanding rumours of her infatuation with Big Bruce of Artichoke fame, it appears that she has a new quarry.  Early risers will have been startled, on their early morning walks, to see the recumbent form of a gently snoring lad outside the Bibliophile.  This experiment in nocturnal exhibitionism has sparked a rare dividend however, as Kaalvoet is now in residence in the Clarens red light district, and spends her evenings gazing lovingly at her prince.  Where will this cross-species infatuation end, and do they listen to the same music?  Watch this space for more news of this unlikely (and perhaps one-sided) romance.

Birds next week.  Plenty of ‘em.

The Twitcher