The free newsletter aimed at fostering goodwill among residents, merchants and visitors to Melville
Letter from the Editor
It’s hard to believe the silly season is again upon us. It’s been a tough year for most trying to balance books and maintain lifestyles in a punishing economy but with a bit of luck 2010 will be a turnaround year.
The much anticipated football season promises an influx of visitors which will surely boost our coffers and our spirits – even if Bafana Bafana doesn’t perform a miracle (I’m not giving up).
Locally we experienced the disappointment of the Faan Smit Park development falling through but the unsung heroes of Melville are pursuing solutions to make us proud. The launch of the security initiative on December 1 is a tremendous achievement and while many are still sitting on the fence, I think it’s time to give the resolute efforts of all concerned our unqualified support. Melville Residents Association chair Liza de Wit tells it like it is and it seems fitting that she has the last word in this issue of Melville News.
As conveyed previously, it’s a challenge to put together each issue of the newsletter, dependent as I am on free contributions. (John Robbie says a challenge is a euphemism for a problem and he may well be right, but I remain optimistic.) As writing is also my business, I have to be careful not to exploit colleagues and friends so I’m always amazed and hugely appreciative when my efforts to extricate copy for this pro bono commitment are rewarded. Melville News has been going for well over a year now and I am eternally grateful to all concerned.
And to my readers, thank you for your feedback and for innumerable attempts to assist when I put out an SOS for issue No. 6. Catharine Keene was the lifesaver to whom I am indebted and also to my technical adviser Theo Bunge who has reinstated it in the archives.
Happy holidays and here’s to a splendid new year.
IN THIS ISSUE
- Know your neighbour: Iain MacDonald – Fiona Ramsay
- Enrico makes his mark in Plett – Suzanne Brenner
- Columnist Deon Maas’ wife has left him – what’s next?
- Dion Chang, an inspiring boss – Loren Phillips
- Energy audit special
- The Melville Visitors Centre
- Making a difference – Liza de Wit
- Credits and contact details
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR
Iain MacDonald is Director of the South African Ballet Theatre and lives in Melville with his wife Karen and their daughter, Grace. Actress Fiona Ramsay, who plays the Blue Fairy in the pantomime Pinocchio currently running at the Joburg Theatre, introduces us to the man at the helm.
Iain loves being part of the close-knit Melville artistic community. He finds the suburb ideally situated for getting to the studios in the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein in just 10 minutes and enjoys the Bohemian and varied atmosphere.
“Melvillians feel relaxed enough to stroll to breakfast at a favourite restaurant of a Sunday morning in their pyjamas”, he jokes, “and might well end up sitting next to a couple still dressed up to the nines from an evening out the night before.”
He also thrives on the suburb’s friendliness and the fact that regulars are acknowledged by restaurateurs. The variety of cuisine is another plus and he cites favourites as The Service Station – “where the food is not only delicious, but healthy” – and De La Crème for indulgent pastries. Grace is just over a year old so the family also chooses child-friendly environments – Bambanani is one of them – where sitters keep the kids entertained while parents dine.
Despite tension at the ‘office’, Iain is relaxed. Like many arts organisations, The South African Ballet Theatre company is running out of sponsorship and donor funding, which means he spends a lot of time attending meetings trying to raise finance from the private and public sectors.
Iain echoes the refrain of most cultural institutions that existing funding is insufficient to sustain them. With South Africa hosting the football World Cup next year, it’s an ideal time to showcase our enormous talent and our varied and rich heritage. The South African Ballet Theatre should be supported by government grants and Lottery funding to ensure its future, as its closure would have long-lasting ramifications.
Apart from the impoverishment of the cultural landscape if the company ceases to exist, aspirant young dancers from all over Gauteng – including Melville – would no longer be able to pursue their dreams through the company’s outreach programme.
To find out more or to make a contribution to the South African Ballet Theatre, phone 011 877 6898 orsms SABT to 39969 to contribute R15.
SAME VIBE, DIFFERENT LOCATION
Enrico Iacopini was once synonymous with Melville. Now resident in Keurboomstrand, Enrico and his wife Ornella have for the past five years dazzled the Plett set at their beach restaurant Ristorante Enrico. Suzanne Brenner has been in touch.
Enrico was once best known for his brilliant blue eyes and as the owner of Roma Pizzeria on the corner of Main Road and 4th Avenue.
I was among those who frequented Roma every Saturday at lunchtime when the late actor James White presided over our rowdy corner table. Roma had long been a meeting place and melting pot for anyone who liked the buzz and simple Italian food.
Enrico and Ornella and those who worked for them treated regulars like family and the chatty students who tended tables are now doctors, TV producers and lawyers.
In his 50s, Enrico is in his element. He arrived in Johannesburg when just out of his teens after an apprenticeship in Italy under his father Luigi’s watchful eye. A modest start at Mamas in Yeoville was ambitiously followed by his own restaurant in Melville. Overnight, Roma became home to actors, writers and artists who inhabited the suburb.
In 1997 Enrico left South Africa after a crime related incident and settled uneasily in Italy. Then in 2004, he received a call from a patron-turned-friend who asked whether he may be interested in running a restaurant on a site he owned in Keurboomstrand. Enrico did not hesitate.
Ristorante Enrico was an instant hit. While not a place to eat quietly or quickly, no doubt when Enrico decides it’s time, the likes of his old favourite Toto song Rozanna is turned up loud to indicate it’s time to go.
Enrico loves seeing old friends from his Roma days so if you’re in the vicinity, drop in to see the team. Sydney and Rita are among the staff members who followed him down the coast bringing Joburg friendliness to this Western Cape haven.
And as a sign of homage and nostalgia to his Gauteng beginnings, his walls carry messages and photographs of unforgotten characters who treated Roma like their home from home. For many of us, Melville has never been quite the same.
Ristorante Enrico: 044 535 9818
SOLO AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
After 16 years, Melville News columnist Deon Maas’ Sure Thing left him and he found himself back in the dating game.
I guess I could be like one of those loners who drink alone at the Wee Pub or worse, the gang of old time single men who so wistfully discuss my divorce. But I’m a glass half-full kind of guy and decided to dive in where others of my age fear to tread and start dating again.
I am willing to admit that a keen need to be seduced by large numbers of younger women played a role in this decision.
My research in this field has led to a lot of new discoveries, because as they say in the movies: “A lot can change in 16 years”. The Internet has become a valid and socially acceptable way of meeting new people. This technology didn’t even exist when I last dated.
I was still wondering what happened to singles bars and gym pick-ups when the next realisation hit me. The two to three dinners before getting invited in for a night-cap seems to have made way for a new one that determines that it’s okay to have the night-cap in the bar where you just met for the first time.
Cellphone technology (another new invention since my previous foray into singlehood) – or more specifically the sms – seems to have replaced any iota of face to face foreplay. The first meeting has now become the third date.
It also means that after-the-night-before communication is either totally absent or so persistent that resistance is futile. There is no chance of escape and the chance of your car getting a nasty little key scratch if you didn’t respond is quite high. Thanks to new technology, I noticed that key scratches are not as severe as they were almost two decades ago and just for the record, if she drives a newish Mercedes-Benz, for instance, the scratch can be polished out with remarkable ease.
And those funny things that you have to use that apparently help to prevent bad things from happening to your health have become a total pre-requisite if you want to get to know someone in the biblical sense. Which brings me to the matter of prophylactic etiquette. As someone who doesn’t carry a wallet or a man bag, where am I supposed to store these things? We all know that one will not be enough and they make this ugly bump in your jeans’ pocket that’s a dead give away.
And even though she knows you’re going to get it on, no-one (and I found this out the hard way) wants to be seen as a sure thing right from the start.
How did I solve this problem? Easily. I renewed my subscription at DVD Gurus, invested in lots of microwave popcorn and spent my dating money on some fine single malts to be enjoyed on my own.
Maybe next week I’ll join the guys in the Wee Pub because this just seems like way too much work.
A RARE SPECIES
Fashion designer, editor and writer, Dion Chang metamorphosed into a leading trend analyst and there’s no telling what mountain he’ll conquer next. His PA, Greenside resident Loren Phillips, is in awe of him.
I first started working with Dion during my internship studying fashion design. It was quite an unlikely leap from pattern making to personal assistant. I find it funny that most people I talk to still think Dion is a fashion designer. It’s a common misconception but fortunately through our conferences and publishing deals, this is changing.
When I tell people what I do, the most common response is: “That’s interesting.” And it certainly is. In fact I’m paid to be interested in everything, eternally curious and always on the look-out for those odd human stories that speak so much of the human condition. I feel really lucky to have landed one of the most fascinating jobs I’ve ever come across. Somehow things just fell into place. But then again, with Dion, they just always seem to.
I recently read an article about Deepak Chopra’s book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”. An excerpt spoke about the path of least resistance – for example how trees don’t try to grow, they just grow. That is their essential nature and that is how it feels to work with Dion. He doesn’t try to make things happen, they just happen. It’s a wonderful and inspiring process.
Working with Dion Chang has been the opportunity of a lifetime. In our time together I have learned the ins and outs of running a small business – from the financial nitty-gritty, to how to flex my creative muscles.
Dion plants seeds – that’s what he does – and I think that best describes him, more than trends analyst, certainly more than fashion designer. He is among the rare individuals in this world who find themselves in positions of prominence, yet still have the character to lead with integrity – a true ripple-maker.
The State We’re In: The 2010 Flux Trend Review edited by Dion Chang is available in most book stores, or Loot will deliver it to your door (see ad above in this issue).
HOBSON’S (GREEN) CHOICE
If you’re thinking about reducing your dependence on Eskom, help is at hand. Dillon Davie is providing independent and comprehensive energy audits on houses and will advise and supply power-saving accessories where necessary.
With ordinary consumers effectively subsidising already profitable corporates, we are in essence bearingthe brunt of financing Eskom’s expansion plans. Despite the fact that industrial corporations are the biggest users of electricity, they pay the least for the power they use.
Most households will find that with a few easy interventions, their monthly bills can be substantially reduced. By replacing light bulbs, insulating geysers, using less hot water and putting timer switches on geysers and pool pumps, one can reduce electricity usage substantially. Compliance with these simple changes will go some way towards preparing consumers for the coming tariff increases which over the next few years will be crippling.
For an affordable consultation, contact Dillon on 084 371 9038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MELVILLE VISITORS CENTRE OPENS ITS DOORS
The new Melville Visitors Centre on the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue, opposite the Golf Tea Room, is cause for celebration.
A campaign titled Melville, South Africa! was launched earlier this year at the international tourism Indaba with a view to capitalising on the 70+ guesthouses that populate our suburb.
It’s envisaged that the centre will provide a central meeting place where visitors and residents alike will congregate. As well as being a central reservation hub, 20% of the sales from its an arts and crafts gallery will go towards paying the rent.
Organisers invite residents to come and browse around for interesting gifts and to use the space for meetings, small conferences and even parties, all catered.
Drop in, see what’s going on and meet Marie-Lais, Samson, Pierre and Jan at the Melville Visitors Centre. It’s not just for visitors. It’s for us.
For more information or to the book the Melville Visitors Centre, call 072 305 0281.
MELVILLE ON TRACK FOR 2010
After months of hard work, the Melville Security initiative launch has arrived. Together with her team, MRA Chair Liza de Wit went all out to make it a reality. Here she shares progress with us.
Indicating a vote of confidence, the service providers have assisted us despite our financial shortfall to initiate a phased roll-out plan so as not to delay this proactive plan to eliminate crime in Melville.
Like us, CSS Tactical believes we will consolidate support within six months to enable us to reach the goals set earlier this year. Already up and running is a pro-active patrol vehicle that operates in the area to prevent crime incidents before they happen. There’s also an unmarked vehicle dedicated to assisting with intelligence gathering.
We are also fortunate that there are four vehicles in our neighbouring suburbs that can be used as emergency back-up. In the longer term, our vehicles will similarly complement the pro-active schemes in neighbouring suburbs and collectively drive crime out of our areas. It is only through collaboration that we stand a chance of overcoming and winning the fight against crime.
In November, the CSS Tactical vehicle was already roaming the suburb and conducting discussions with the police as an essential component of our strategy. Police visibility remains a key to our safety strategy especially when dealing with the night life in Melville.
We thank all of you who made this initiative possible. Please support us through the growing pains we may experience in the next few months as we realise that there is still hard work ahead to stabilise the solution and gain more momentum and support from residents and businesses.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a 2010 full of new opportunities.
For more information go to www.mra.melvilleinfo.co.za or call 076 920 5625
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