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Anton Ferreira

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Hondeklipbaai: Only Your Dog Wants To Go There

Call me weird, but when a seaside destination is described as being nothing like Paternoster, I immediately want to go there.
That’s at least part of the reason I spent my latest holiday in Hondeklipbaai.
Never heard of it, have you? Well, not many people have. The nearest town, 90 km away on a rutted, potholed dirt road that will wreck your suspension, is Garies. Never heard of that either, right?
Well yes, it is remote – about as far from Joburg as you can get without leaving South Africa. Which is a good thing. Then there’s that name. Who, apart from an unreconstructed Vaalie, could pronounce it?
It would certainly sound better in English. “Dog Stone Bay” has a certain cachet, it could be a celebrity hang-out up the coast from Malibu with its own boutique winery and extra-virgin-first-cold- pressing olive oil label.
But that would be dishonest – Hondeklipbaai has absolutely no cachet whatsoever.
That’s what makes it a world apart from Paternoster, and irresistible as a holiday resort for people like me.
There are no quaint fishermen’s cottages just waiting for Cape Town’s idle rich to arrive in their Range Rovers stacked to the roof with 20-litre cans of Earthcote paint and ambitious renovation plans. There’s no Vida e Caffe, no oyster bar serving ice-cold Chardonnay, not even a KwikSpar or a Spur steak house. You cannot buy petrol in Hondeklipbaai. The water out the tap is laced with bitter residues. The lone bottle store caters to those who are nostalgic for the days of the banned pap sak and who think terroir is a good name for a naughty Jack Russell.
It’s a windswept collection of buildings and houses ranging from the ramshackle to the derelict that squats on a barren sand flat sandwiched between diamond mine concessions on the West Coast south of Kleinzee.
“It’s got nothing,” admits Elize Hough, who has probably done more than anyone to try to promote Hondeklipbaai as a tourist destination. “It’s drab, it’s bleak and the wind blows all the time. When marketing it, we have to be careful not to raise expectations.”
Some visitors do turn tail and run when they realize what they have let themselves in for. “People like that don’t deserve Hondeklip,” sniffs Elize.
Along with her husband Attie and their daughter Ninette, Elize runs the town’s leading hostelry, Die Honnehok (The Dog Kennel).
And that’s the main reason I chose Hondeklipbaai for my holiday – they take dogs. I have two, both of whom have issues. Shumba is 98 in dog years, diabetic and cranky. She’s so old, she remembers the time when dogs of dubious ancestry like herself were dismissed with a racial epithet of the kind recently dragged into the public eye by Irvin Khoza.
I can’t leave her in a kennel because she needs a special diet, meticulously weighed out to the nearest gram and lovingly served at specific times of the day. She also likes to be let out of the house at 3:07 a.m. to ease her bladder.

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My iPod is trying to kill me

The Euro 2008 tournament will go down in history as the first major football event to be decided by iPods. It was all so clear as the teams disembarked from their buses to enter the stadium for the final, tell-tale white leads dangling from their ears – the Germans looking grim and teutonic as Wagner pounded their brains, the Spaniards focused and centred as they drew inspiration from Nina Pastori, Lole y Manuel, etc. So Flamenco is superior to north European opera. We knew that.

But what’s going on with the shuffle function on the iPod? Why does my iPod go directly from “Everything is Wrong” by Lucinda Williams to Leonard Cohen singing about the rain falling down on last year’s man and then straight into Johnny Cash reporting that he hurt himself today just to see if he could feel.

Okay, it’s my own fault for putting those songs into iTunes. But I was brought up on records, cassette tapes, CDs. I had control. You played Johnny Cash, but then you put on Janis Joplin to lighten the mood a little. Spice it up with Talking Heads. The iPod doesn’t do that. It searches out all the most dire, depressing tracks and plays them one after another.

It wants me to kill myself.

It’s Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey all over again.

The scary thing is, Apple is bringing out an iPot to finish off any survivors. It will decide what you eat.