Monday, February 7, 2011

The noon day gun


Last week we walked up the slopes of Signal Hill above the Bo Kaap, through a dusty garden belonging to the Noon Day Gun Tea Room and through an open but warning gate in a no-nonsense razor wired fence, to see where the noon day gun is fired every day.

It was long past noon, but I had never seen the gun and imagined a solitary affair and someone in uniform standing to attention, through all weathers.


It was a very odd place, with a funny feeling. Dry, dry, dry, dust-packed, with many hacked and blue-painted agave stumps, bar the two survivors framing the stadium, many covered guns pointing at the harbour below, and the two in-use guns, dating back to the eighteenth century, surrounded by deserted colonial-era buildings and bunkers, a flock of creaking guinea fowl and a wonderful view.


I got very hot. The sun struck my head like a gong (who wrote that?). Later I blew a gasket round the corner from the Atlas Trading Company - I could actually feel it happening. I sent heat-resistent Vince to take pictures of the Bo Kaap and sat in the car with the air the conditioning blowing full blast and the reflective silver screen on the dashboard, gonging the sun back at itself. Then my gasket felt better. I went into the spice shop, browsed, allowed my hair to become perfumed with cloves and cardamom and left again.


There is something about the noon day gun enclave.

Below it is the tea room, through whose dust bowl garden (it has been hot, water is expensive) we climbed. That part was quite human, and I would like to eat at the tea room where one can apparently find a good biryani. On our way down we met a Muslim man walking down, too, cradling a wilted orchid in a plastic pot. I think it is his garden. The lemon tree in it had been watered.

But I digress.

And must end there, since I cannot put my finger on it.
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