The free newsletter aimed at fostering goodwill among residents, merchants and visitors to Melville
Letter from the Editor
This issue has been a long time coming, I know, and I’m still seeking the best way to compile and deliver Melville News with some regularity. It’s become clear to me that I need to simplify and reduce my dependence on many factors. To ease up on the time it takes me to collate the content, the first decision I have sadly made is to cull the print version. I have also had to rethink the editorial focus, which to date has been exclusively about Melville, as I’ve been unsuccessful in attracting many contributions from those who live or work here. Another stumbling block is the reduced availability of Rozanne Myburgh who honed the look and layout of both versions at my behest. Unfortunately for me, she’s changed jobs and expanded her horizons (I like to think with a little help from my glowing testimonial) and can now only offer me very limited time indeed. I wish her well in her new endeavours. Melville resident Theo Bunge, whose Webster software is designed to turn websites into DIY zones, has stepped in to show me how to simplify the layout in the belief I will eventually be able to do it myself. I can only hope I learn it all by osmosis.
I remain extremely grateful to Dehan Liebenberg, the face of Jawitz in our suburb, for joining me at inception with his sponsorship of the print version but I think he understands my need to rationalise my ‘free time’ to favour my income-producing ‘real job’. Thanks too to Jenny and Les at Postnet Melville whose friendly rate on the printing made it affordable and to Theko who acted as my quality controller to meet my exacting standards.
I have not given up on being besieged by local contributions!
IN THIS ISSUE
- Columnists James Clarke and Deon Maas
- Interview with Dumile Mafu
- Fiona Ramsay reminisces about a Melville lunch club
- Jane Griffiths on winter vegetable gardens
- Loma Botha’s health ideas
- David Molelekoa on first-time voters
- Melville News Smalls
- Winners, special offers and give-aways
Did you know we had a wildebeest on our doorstep? Well-known ‘stoep talker’ James Clarke tells all.
If you don’t own a rhino or an elephant these days you are not with it. There’s even an Elephant Owners’ Association in South Africa with headquarters in Johannesburg.
There’s also a Rhino Owners’ Association.
Such associations are necessary because of the numbers of elephant and rhino now in private hands.
Come to think of it, it is truly amazing how many private individuals now own large mammals…
Connie Taurinus, chairman of WOA – the Wildebeest Owners’ Association – called the meeting to order and said how pleased she was that so many members had come along. But one thing worried her, she said: a member had given an address in Melville, Johannesburg – a suburb which is not ideal wildebeest habitat.
At this point Grenalda Witherington rose to her feet and explained it was she who was from Melville and that she kept the wildebeest in her lounge. Members tittered (if you’ll excuse the expression) but Grenalda pointed out it was a biggish room and that she and Willie, her wildebeest, lived there – quite happily.
But what, the chairman asked incredulously, about the wildebeest’s bathroom requirements? (Wildebeest owners are pretty earthy.)
Grenalda told how the droppings soon dried and formed a soft carpet – “like underveld”, she punned (quite superbly, I must say). It served, she said, “to deaden the sound of the animal’s frisking about”.
The assemblage of wildebeest owners was appalled, and the chairman said that this was precisely why the association was necessary – to advise on what was and what was not suitable accommodation for wildebeest.
It so happened that Hopewell ‘Ace’ Ebedar, a newshound, was at that moment passing by the door on the lookout for bad news for his paper. That’s how he heard about Willie.
And that’s how Willie the Meville wildebeest became a celebrity.
SCANDALOUS! editorialised The Star.
LATEST GNUS ABOUT WILLIE read The Citizen’s poster.
PROPERTY VALUES IN MELVILLE DIP said Business Day.
Exclusive: GRENALDA TALKS ABOUT HER WILLIE! shouted the Sunday Times.
IS A MELVILLE LOUNGE APPROPRIATE ACCOMMODATION FOR A BRINDLED GNU? asked the Sunday Independent in a half-page think-piece – and it quoted Dr Andy McKenzie, veterinarian and wildlife expert, who advised against precipitate action saying one should not overlook the fact that Willie was a very fat and contented wildebeest. “He might be a little dyspeptic perhaps, and his main joy – watching television, particularly 50/50 – was a bit worrying, but there was no denying he was thriving.”
But the bunny-huggers had their way. When The Star published a picture of Willie’s head looking through the burglar bars of Grenalda’s lounge window, animal lovers went wild. The cry went up: “FREE WILLIE!”
The SPCA moved in and Willie was darted and translocated (note: wild animals are never simply ‘moved’, they are ‘translocated’) to Kruger National Park where a large number of people watched, moist eyed, as Willie, free at last, stared out in amazement at the endless sea of fodder.
Unseen by anyone and lounging on their backs, picking their teeth under a tree, were two lean lionesses – Mabel and Arlene.
Mabel, on seeing fat Willie gazing about him in wide-eyed wonder, nudged Arlene. But Arlene had already noticed. She gave Mabel a confiding wink.
The lionesses struck at dusk and gobbled Willie up.
MORAL: associations are fine, but be careful with whom you associate.
James Clarke, Ink – Fax ++27 11 465 4564 BLOG: stoeptalk.wordpress.com
SOULSA IS IN HIS BLOOD
In 2004, before Soulsa opened in 7th Street, owner Conway Falconer placed an advertisement for waiters. Dumile Mafu was among the first respondents. He chatted to Suzanne Brenner.
“Passion for what one chooses to do is essential, and Dumi certainly has that”, says Conway. “Our regular guests have all come to love Dumi’s warmth and professionalism.”
In 1999, when he’d finished college, Dumi’s training ground was the Holiday Inn in Rome, where he spent a year thanks to a scholarship. He learnt a little Italian and adored his time in Italy, but Africa beckoned.
It was while working at an Italian restaurant at Montecasino that he spotted Conway’s quirky ad which grabbed him. Of course, he didn’t stay a waiter very long and six months later he was also doing management duty. A year ago, Conway formalised his seniority.
Dumi is clearly in his element and punts the restaurant at every turn.
“The Melville community expects wholesome food, fresh products and good service,” he tells me over tea one afternoon. He also waxes lyrical about the vibe Conway has established for his staff and customers alike. “It’s a very peaceful environment,” he continues, “where relationships are nurtured. Even after work or on days off the staff meet and socialise.”
He laughs when asked where they get together and has no hesitation in saying they support other Melville establishments too. But it is to Soulsa his thoughts always return.
Dumi explains another attraction for him is that the staff is encouraged to contribute ideas. “We are given a stage, so to speak,” he says.
In equal measure to his feelings for Soulsa, Dumi is a Melville supporter, where he now also resides.
“It’s not as pretentious as some places,” he states simply.
He is at pains to point out that Conway is revisiting many aspects of Soulsa in acknowledgment of the hard times we are all facing in this global recession.
“ Conway is going to balance economy and community,” he tells, “and we are bringing back some old favourites like ostrich burgers for lunch, haloumi herb salad and ostrich spring rolls.”
As for his personal life, Dumi says that at age 35 he is enjoying his year-long relationship with Lusiwe Nxumalo, who he feels provides balance to his life.
As for the future, without hesitation he adds: “My future is here. There are a lot of exciting things happening and we’re getting back to a proper Soulsa environment in line with what the community expects.”
MAN ABOUT MELVILLE
Melville News columnist Deon Maas lets it all hang out.
Like so many of the metrosexuals of my generation, I finally found my balls again and realised that it’s fine to do manly things – as a matter of fact women seem to expect it of me. We men are only too glad to oblige.
This means that I have started going to Fred’s barber shop for a haircut; I pop into Bill Craig’s every once in a while to replenish the bow tie and evening shirt that my teenagers inevitably misappropriate in some bizarre dressing up ritual and I buy real pies from the Shell shop.
I haven’t thrown my face cream in the bin yet as I am at an age where it is much needed, if only to console myself. I also still insist on going for a wax to get rid of those pesky hairs on the ears and the unruly ones that seem to worsen when you get older, on my eyebrows.
My guiltiest pleasure though is popping in at The Hobo Collection with my wife.This shop has not only survived some of the tougher times in Melville but it has actively grown into a business that attracts clientele from all over town who wander into the shop as a pilgrimage.
Owner Edna should be paid by the government to present retail seminars all over the country to show people how attention to detail, knowing your customer and limiting stock to make sure that your client doesn’t bump into someone else with the same outfit can build a business, no matter what the circumstances.
From a hole in the wall to a retail space where champagne is served while you sit on a soft leather sofa watching your wife choose cutting edge fashion from all over the world, The Hobo Collection is one of my Melville guilty pleasures. It should be savoured as a specialist store that can keep the flag flying with the best in Johannesburg.
REMEMBERING ROMA (LUNCHES)
Well-known actress and media personality Fiona Ramsay has a soft spot for an erstwhile lunch club of note.
Saturdays will never be the same again. The Saturday Lunch Club (SLC), founded in the early ‘80s by actors Richard Haines, James White and Robert Whitehead, and designer Johann Engels, was an elegant gathering of theatricals and related industries.
At Enrico’s Roma, the SLC’s preferred corner table was reserved each week. Much like the Algonquin Circle frequented by Dorothy Parker and her set in New York in the ‘20s and ‘30s, it was dubbed AllGoneQueen by comedian Mark Banks. And some folk have indeed ‘all gone’ – with the result that SLCs are not a regular feature anymore.
Elitist by design and nature, artists from out of town or abroad were welcome and the table would expand to 15 or 20 and contract sometimes to just two or three, with stalwart James White always heading the table.
As regulars slouched in after Saturday morning errands, Rita and Sidney – the resident waiters – would pop each one’s preferred tipple on the table before they’d even said hello! Many a brilliant idea was germinated, discussed, chewed over and occasionally spat out, many a rumour began there and became urban legend. These were long, languid lunches with lots of laughs.
Not entirely a thing of the past, an occasional text message summonses the remaining hard core to Picobella, just a few blocks up the road. I’m thinking of printing bumper stickers which say: “I survived the Saturday Lunch Club – what about you?”
Jane Griffiths once again shares her know-how with the Melville community.
It might seem crazy to be thinking about our winter gardens, but now is a good time to start sowing seeds of winter vegetables. Sow them in seed trays so you don’t waste space in your vegetable beds.
Kale, mustard, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and more are all Brassicas. Probably the only other vegetable family with a wider diversity of shapes and sizes is the Cucurbit or squash family. As Brassicas are heavy feeders, enrich the soil with compost and add a slow release, balanced fertiliser before transplanting your seedlings. All Brassicas prefer more alkaline soil and benefit from some lime being added before planting. This also helps prevent club root disease, a fungal disease affecting the Brassica family.
Rhubarb leaves, which are very high in oxalic acid, help to prevent club root. Water the ground with a rhubarb drench* before sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings. Crop rotation also reduces chances of club root developing. Brassicas should not follow one another in the same spot for at least two years. When Brassicas have finished bearing, pull the entire plant out, roots and all, and compost it. Leaving the stumps in the ground encourages club root. All Brassicas love growing alongside aromatic and flowering plants such as rosemary and sage.
Some Brassicas, such as kale and mustard, are leafy greens and can be grown as such. Others – particularly broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage – require a little more care. These vegetables all develop buds, either a large single one like cabbage, or a mass of them, like broccoli. These Brassicas have four stages of growth. In the early stages they concentrate on developing their roots and leaves. During the second stage, the outer leaves develop. The third stage is the most important, as this is when the plant builds up nutrients in the outer leaves. The third stage is the time that Brassicas most appreciate being fed some extra food. Once sufficient nutrients are stored, the plant transfers them from the older outer leaves to the internal buds, which develop very quickly during the fourth stage.
Feeding Brassicas during the fourth stage won’t make much difference as the growth is too fast for the roots to keep pumping nutrients to the heads. All the growth is drawn from the outer leaves. So we need to feed our Brassicas with a balanced diet before the heads start developing. They require a balanced organic fertiliser, such as Talborne Vita-Fruit Flower (3:1:5), as this will help build large, healthy heads and buds.
* Rhubarb Drench
500g rhubarb leaves, chopped
Boil leaves in 1ℓ of water for 30 minutes. Cool and strain. Can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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