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The year rolls gently to a close. Your blogger has been laid up with a touch of summer influenza. Not an altogether unpleasant experience, dozing off while outside the wind brings in some overdue rain.

I’ve been ploughing through Denys Reitz’s superb trilogy, Adrift on the Open Veld. Commando is the classic memoir of the Boer War. And his subsequent soldierings through East and West Africa and the First World War are a vivid account of hell, breezed through in high spirits. Later, as a Member of Parliament, Reitz travelled widely in SA and there were frequent political meetings on the platteland. These often ended  – or began – in fisticuffs, heckling and chair throwing, such was the enmity between Jan Smuts’ followers and General Hertzog’s fervent Afrikaner Nationalists. Does this ring any bells, COPE, ANCYL etc?  Finding the present reflected in the past is comforting. In this case at least, we continue a proud tradition of misbehaviour.

As the nation prostrates itself beneath the sun, we get a break from the deal makers and turf pissers who so vocally thrust themselves into our psychic space. You know the ones. There’s a brief lull as they emerge from their tinted German sedans to sun themselves. Enjoy it while you can, for they shall be back…

tuscan townhouses anyone?

J H Pierneef’s Station Panels are cornerstones of South African landscape painting. They were placed in the old Johannesburg Station as adverts to travel the country.

But did these alluring places ever really exist? And how have they changed?

Taking up the invitation to travel 80 years later, Carl Becker set off to find out.

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