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.

8 comments:

  1. The first photo in this post is so pretty. The heat and sun makes me irritable. We went to Italy in July and the heat really got to me. The spice place sounds wonderful. So does the tea room.

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  2. There is something weirdly depressing about that spot, the stunning view notwithstanding. The heat is gasket-blowing. Atlas Trading - India smells like that and the process of payment (many processes in one) is the Indian way, many layers of careful paperwork learned during the British Raj. I hope it cools down for you soon!

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  3. “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs." (Private Lives, 1930) - Noel Coward

    Also (same author):
    "Mad dogs and Englishmen
    Go out in the midday sun.
    The smallest Malay rabbit
    Deplores this foolish habit.
    In Hong Kong
    They strike a gong
    And fire off a noonday gun
    To reprimand
    Each inmate
    Who's in late."

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  4. If I'd known you were going there I would have yelled STOP !!!!
    It's favourite place for muggers

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  5. meems, thanks. Yup, heat makes me cross, too. But at least this is dry, not NYC muggy!

    Jane - it is cooler already :-)

    melanie, ha! Thank you. And, like Englishmen, I detest a! siesta!

    Hen, ja, we read about that a bit late. Maybe that explains the funny feeling.

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  6. Great shot of the stadium! I think maybe they should turn the modern guns around at the muggers. Or the tourists.

    Indeed a weird place.

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  7. Aggenee, wat het gebeur wat so ontstellend was? Niks erger as om so kwaad te raak as dit nog warm ook is nie.

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  8. You know, of course, that you can drive up to the noon gun and you should really visit when it's being fired, for a little bit of drama. I think the muggers operate higher up the hill.

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