I was perusing the latest copy of The Spectator (29th September,
it arrives in Muscat a week late) and was fascinated to
see that it is the 50th Anniversary of ‘A Clockwork Orange‘.
As a youngster, growing up in South Africa, I remember the
Stanley Kubrick 1972 movie was banned (as were most
things in the Apartheid Era).
When I did get to see the movie, as an adult,
the sheer brutality was disturbing and shocking!
I still think of Malcom McDowell‘s bowler hat,
false eyelash and malevolent stare!
Roger Lewis, in The Spectator, writes a great article
where he describes Burgess as “rollicking, he was
shameless and he was a self-invention”.
Anthony Burgess, the pen-name of a former Branbury
schoolteacher called John Wilson was “a nervous
chap who for a staff-pupil cricket match wore a
tweed jacket and bowled underarm.”
Lewis writes that “though Burgess claimed to live as a
tax exile in Monte Carlo, whenever I met
John Wilson he was staying in
Twickenham and drawing his old-age pension.
He had odd ideas about money.
If a newspaper commissioned an article,
payment had to be made in cash,
the brown envelope left at the reception
desk of a hotel in Grosvenor Square. If pressed,
he maintained that he mostly lived
in a Bedford Dormobile.
His plan was to criss-cross national boundaries
to avoid residency restrictions for tax purposes.”
In its day the movie version was an outrage,
particularly the rape-scene . . .
nowadays turn on the TV and scenes like this are the norm!!
feeding on wild fruits, seeds, insects and scorpions
and sometimes small mammals and birds.
The mature male can weigh up to 33 kgs and measure 1.5m
from head to tail whereas the female is smaller,
weighing up to 15kg and measuring 1.1m.
Baboons breed throughout the year and have
gestation period of 140 days.
Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging
There are five species, the Guinea baboon is 50 cm and weighs only 14kg
whilst the Chacma is the largest.
All baboons have long dog-like muzzles, heavy, powerful jaws with sharp
canine teeth, close-set yes, thick fur, a short
tail and rough spots on their buttocks which protrude called
ischial callosities. These are nerveless and provide a
comfortable seat for the baboon.
Baboons are extremely social and make ‘adoring’ parents.
Troops can be 50 to 100 strong.
Although preyed upon by leopards and cheetahs, Chacma baboons
have been known to defend themselves aggressively with their
Baboons love to sun themselves and when socializing are fun
to watch as they often display ‘human-like’ behaviour.
The Chacma baboon is widely distributed throughout
Southern Africa and in countries beyond.
(I took these pictures in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.)
One of the most fascinating places that I have ever been to visit has most
definitely been The Owl House in Nieu-Bethesda in the
The mesmerizing story of Helen Martins who began, in 1945, to
obsess with cement, glass and wire is revealed in this little museum kept in her honour.
Helen Martins was born on 23rd December in 1897 and inherited the
quaint little house after her parents died.
As you enter the house you can feel the atmosphere of ‘strangeness’, an eerie experience as you view glass crushed on the walls, glass of every conceivable colour and shape in every room, hanging, catching the natural light of the sun.
You can feel the loneliness and persecution of this lady’s ‘stifled’ spirit in her time in the small conservative town, Nieu-Bethesda, where conformity was the order of the day.
There are camels, owls, cats,sphinxes and people, many with bulbous protruding eyes, all made of glass bottles.
Helen’s fascination with the Orient is evident in all the statues pointing and some desperately ‘reaching out’ in one direction, all facing the same way; Eastwards.
Helen drew her inspiration from Christian biblical texts, poetry of Omar Khayyam and works of William Blake. In 1964 she was assisted by Koos Malgas, a Coloured man; this drew considerable suspicion in the apartheid-era of South Africa.
Helen’s eyesight began to fail from excessive exposure to fine crushed glass which led her to commit suicide at the age of 78 on August 8th 1976. The Owl House was declared a provisional national monument in 1991.
South African playwright Athol Fugard drew inspiration from her story in his play The Road to Mecca in 1985, this was later made into a film.
It was an amazing experience where I actually felt her pain and anguish as portrayed in her many statues in the backyard. A remarkable lady!
The Drakensburg (Afrikaans – Drakensberge “Dragon Mountains”;
Zulu – uKhahlamba “Barrier of Spears and Sotho – Maluti)
is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa.
The mountains reach a height of 3,482 metres (11, 424 ft) and
are home to numerous gorgeous hotels, resorts,
chalets, cabins and holiday accommodation.
A breath of fresh air to stressed city dwellers who flock to
absorb the majestic beauty of the mountains and unspoilt scenery.
Also home to some 299 recorded bird species.
Well worth a few days stay if contemplating a trip to fair South Africa!
Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.
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