Scary stories from a lovely place
Since writing yesterday about the old man and his van I have been thinking about the other people I regularly see around Brixton. This suburb really is a motley crew of archetypes that respresent the demographics of broader South Africa. Here we have rich and poor, old and young, foreign and local, homeless, destitute, supermarket employees, informal workers, university lecturers, students, architects, pretentious clothing store owners, new to the area, lived here for 60 years and of course black and white and everything in between. I love the mixture. I love the way this pot of people use and appreciate the local community.
One such person I am fascinated by is another old, white man. He lives just opposite Hilltop Tennis at Kingston Frost Park. His much lived in home is completed by a garden of plastic sunflowers, relics of swings and slides for his now probably emigrated grandchildren and beautiful flowery vines. Each morning between 8:00 and 8:30 he strolls down past Hilltop Tennis and takes his place on the edge of Kingston Frost Park to read the newspaper or whatever novel he is currently compelled by. Instead of sitting on the park bench he always perches on the edge of the war memorial obelisk. I find this act both comforting and sacrilege. As a proponent of respect for returned war soldiers (like my Grandfather whom I wrote about on Anzac Day) I would never feel comfortable sitting on the cold of the stone statue, covering over the names of the handful of soldiers who didn’t come back to Brixton after World Wars 1 and 2. But this man may be old enough to have been one of those soldiers and, let’s face it, he’s not doing any damage, just enjoying his local park.
Sometimes he walks dogs. A smaller hairy one, and a much larger, nice looking brown one, which grossly, has no nose. He always greets Fi and I as we play tennis, as well as anyone else who is in the vicinity of the war memorial. By 9:00 his morning ritual is complete and he walks home. I want to follow him into his house and learn more of his life. He has a story that is interwoven with memories of living in Brixton. The whole crew have stories and all of a sudden I feel a creative urge to know them all and write them all down. But stories have to be learnt over time, just as they are lived.