I grew up with a distinctly kind of English longing that somehow parlayed into schizophrenic African zest. The result was a classic upbringing; mom and dad schooling me in the ways of glorious, rolling songs like the Senegalese Miyaabele or the new Dakar Moon. The voices were easy-going but harsh-edged, and the backing was tight, rhythmic and enthusiastic. They spoke about sounds filtering out from South Africa that were the template for a hybrid movement that nodded vigorously to the future. Syncopated beats that transcend the sum of their parts are raw beauties that sound as vital today as they did when they were being made.

People, music and groups that were allowed to develop at their own pace became languid, melodic treaties that made me slack-jawed (still do) and living in awe for depth, phrasing, passion, and let’s be honest, sparkle. Gosh I love some sparkle. It stays singing in my bones with the wind hitting the trees, unmistakable voices carving and denting the air. How many distinct voices follow you around for life? Haunting you and hanging in the air? Like when I first heard Sammy Davis Jr sing ‘Mr Bojangles’, and he stole my heart. I felt that everything that the world hurled at him: love, death, even racism, was innately understood.

Maybe that’s what my parents were imparting, or impacted, or just knew – jazzy gospel blues in voices that reached out to many different musical expressions and social and political beliefs. They had a way of making me join them through song, as if I were marching with the birds singing. And some of those birds were the most true burning, scorching talent, glowing and humming animals in this life. Heartstrings in a voice move me. They leave me with a sort of aching. And I really love it.


source: 500px.com



Everyone wants to fall in love in a strange town,

Everyone wants to dive in that river of dreams

where the incense swirls toward the stars

and the mirrors on the hearts of the saints 

make it impossible to lie to yourself.

John Oliver Simon from “Gringo Trail”

In “Mirror”, by Sylvia Plath, Plath finds a mirror thoroughly uncanny. “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately. Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.” In “Through the Looking-Glass”, by Lewis Carroll, Alice is playing with her kittens in front of a large mirror. “How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty?” she asks. Before you know it, she is up on the mantelpiece. “Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through.”

If you shine a light into a mirror, does the fact that the light reflects back mean that you are effectively doubling the amount of light in the room? If you throw an apple against a wall and it bounces back at you, you don’t have more apples than you started with, do you? Having said that, covering your room with mirrors will certainly discourage you from throwing things indoors.

I’m certainly not a scientist, but I can tell you that the wattage “effect” is noticed as I’m currently around a reckless use of mirrors. Light, she’s a tricky thing. Mirrors bring to mind illusion, self-love and self-loathing, and to an extent, fear. But they also show the wildness, weirdness and wonder of what’s possible. The effect of meeting ourselves in the eyes of friends, lovers and strangers, is more than a postmodern pig-out: these pieces are a vision of what happens when the ‘dance of similar’ becomes something much more meaningful.

In feng shui, mirrors are used both to bring things toward us and to push things away. There’s something mysterious about our mirror images, like our shadows, like photographs – because obviously keeping up with your actual reflection may be a near-impossible task. As if a part of us that lives in a non-dimensional alias can ever be richer, stranger, and noisier.

Like most shiny talismanic objects that are both protective and decorative, as soon as you think you’ve managed to get a handle on what they symbolize, the next act of discovery will pull the rug out from your feet. What else could become as strangely seductive but disturbing? In truth, smoke and mirrors isn’t weird at all, it’s a miracle-flecked song of desire for souls who find reflection, identity and revealing mandatory, and are quite fond of watery glimpses – metaphoric associations at their most potent and anonymous.

“The world is no more than the Beloved’s single face. In the desire of the one to know its own beauty we exist. We are not alone. The world we face faces us. We look out and the world looks back at us.”



source: Olafur Eliasson



Being a Jew is largely an inherited condition, so much so that it seems perfectly adapted to being an “–ish”. There aren’t many other things you can be born into where you can choose to live the “–ish” version. Jew-ish is a bit like being the Larry, Larry David, plays in Curb Your Enthusiasm – he enjoys the culture, the humor, the hypochondria, the Yiddish-isms, the argumentativeness.

One of my granny’s friends told me recently that, ‘‘you have the soul of my yiddishe bubbe.” Clearly my Orthodox roots are not straying too prodigally far. I think that might be called ‘sustainable schmaltz’ and is hands down, my favorite new expression. It turns out that my ancestors really knew what they were doing. Have you ever read Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth? It’s about a young Jewish man’s onanistic habits, and throbs with desire for guiltless shikses in a world of crumpled Kleenex, slabs of liver and inherited angst. Oooh la la.

Preservation followed by improvisation? The settings of these subtexts in my head range from successor, to sexual, Jewish, Catholic, post-colonial, existential, suppressed, sublimated and so forth: when it comes to “–ish’es”, there’s a variety for everyone. Guilt unzipped I’d call it, and compelling enough to turn off those quiet Jew-ish voices in my head.


source: magnumphotos.com



When you feel things deeply do you get angry? Do you shout and scream? Do you retreat? Do you go mute? All of the above? None of the above? I’m choosing my words carefully, but maybe lyrical perfectionism is imperative. Maybe ineloquent or careless utterances betray us: I’m think specifically when I told someone who cut across me on the highway recently to go and f*@K himself.

I’m intrigued by people who don’t give too much away – a gnarly badge of honor if you will. But then, I begin to find them disingenuous and boring. Nothing to share means literally, nothing to share, not even drops of spilt tea into a mug cavernous enough to house them. I think that’s why it’s made me want to try and get close to this strange, mysterious thing that we can do with words. It’s what’s made me want to beat everything including my chest, such is the power of the feeling. Reading words that touch me takes my breath away. I literally have no clue what to do with myself.

When I get riled up which happens less and less these days, the jolting release of turning life up loud (music, car, running down a hill), is a potent desire that’s not met in too many other areas. Except screaming like a lunatic into the ocean. That’s pretty grand that is. Or bashing a set of drums with a torrid beat. That’s grand too.

When my dad was alive, we would speak about everything and anything – that was one of the big joys of our relationship. And now that he’s gone, I do find myself looking at him in photos and wishing I’d asked a lot more of him when he was still alive. Because there’s so much you want to know once they’re gone. That sense of mystery isn’t exciting, it’s palpably urgent, and I don’t want to hold my breath on it.

I’m bringing this up, because my dad taught me about knowing how much to expose, knowing how to pace. Simple things that are mighty helpful when I come to approach my writing. I give myself time to open up that part of me, and then close it down again. Closing up all those edges and carrying on about your day is a discipline that’s necessary.

Living in New York has removed me from familiar surroundings, opened my eyes, and forced me to think in an entirely different way. Life is nothing if not unpredictable. It’s also sublime doing the last thing anyone expected, casting off the shackles to reveal much more than glimpses of a vulnerable and kaleidoscopic human being underneath. Someone once sang “these are the greatest times of my life,” simultaneously capturing the energy of the times while emphasizing an opposition to them.

Aaah well then, I’m a supreme contrarian indeed.


source: Hockney | A Bigger Splash | whereisthecool.com


583b3b6877241d91ba7f7e1720de7205Women can do many things. In the pursuit of beauty, we will even endure baring all in front of a stranger to have the hair ripped out of our most sensitive spots. Women also have an innate desire to please those to whom they are closest. Hopefully, in this case that’s..whoever you want it to be.

“Fool” and “cruel” is of course a perfectly good rhyme, though not a brilliant one like those in women at work Down Under. Amy Schumer did a hilarious sketch on waxing in which she said (and I’m paraphrasing):

Most egregiously, one person objects to the wax on the grounds that they are really an astrophysicist from Thailand (and not a waxer), and the thought that anyone can fail to see the genius of that is enough to make you weep.

These things are, of course, subjective, which gives me the excuse to offer my interest in hairlessness; ah the exquisite agony of a wax. Like controversial yoga, it’s made me realise the extent to which Brazilians have been normalized.  Those of us who choose to curate our own body hair know that the world moves on our hips. By going bald like Samson, are we losing our power?

Throughout history, a shorn head has been heavy with meaning. The bare-headed Christian or Buddhist monks told of their devotion or a renunciation of worldly pleasures. And more commonly, shaven heads have been associated with trauma, brutality and the loss of individuality or…and back to Samson, strength…just not down there.

It’s not a self inflicted madness à la Britney Spears days is it? It’s ‘clean’, it’s ‘validatory’, it’s about ‘control’. Or, is it about dystopian futures? A sign of people who are in some way untouchable, but begging to be touched? Maybe it’s only just hair. And for the most part, it grows back.


source: missplunkett.com









Midnight At The Oasis. Showtime In The Sahara. The decaying and dusty streets of Morocco are begging to be revisited. I’m planning a ride from Rabat to Casablanca. Funny things, road trips. They can be the best way to get under the skin of a country. Or your own skin. Or someone else’s.

Apparently I’m gonna need some mighty patience. The expressway I’m hankering after is 57 miles long, which in the grand scheme of things is a mere blip o’ this life, but the traffic I’ve been warned is an absolute beaut, with long delays and slow movements par for the course. I quite like the idea already.

I’ve been told of Morocco’s dangerous drivers who supposedly neither dip their lights nor slow down at corners. But that’s ok, I drive in Cape Town, across highways I shouldn’t, and even once in such torrential rain that I think my headlights got excited.

There’s something about a drive, something so compelling. From first rides of life, illegal smells (cigarette smoke in a car!), graduating from incense to perfume in gloriously confined spaces, lemon trees billowing through car windows and the architecture of buildings (maybe) lining motorways. I’m reminiscing now, but it gives me a tingle to see my joyriding evolution. And goodness, I’m only just getting started at this life.

Rides and journeys, destinations and dalliances, they get me going they do. I could tell you about a myriad of roads, lanes and paths I want to drive down. Some are at shores, some are high atop mountains, and others, they’re just off the beaten track with not a soul around. I love to listen to music when I’m driving just as much as I love listening to birdsong and the wind. Especially if my arms are out the window and they feel like they’re going to fall off.

I also like the louche, laid-back and (a bit) seedy ride you can take, which is probably why I’m itching for the Moroccan road trip. The air, she’s a bit raffish, but the labyrinthine hearts of towns remain intact, mazes of tiny streets, souks, monuments and traditional dye pits. I want to chase the sun knowing that there’s nothing a full tank of gas cant fix – it’s the essence of optimism in motion. It’s definitely sexy when you’re with someone you find sexy. Oh, and vice versa. It’s the idea for both of you that renewal (or something else – sorry mum) waits just around the bend. The wide open highways beckons, but also challenges.

Which leads me back to Morocco, the beating heart of North Africa that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. I just want to stuff my face with lemon cake and mint tea under rays of pink-soaked afternoon sun filtering through trees. I want color, history, hairpin turns, flocks of goats, a camel or two, maybe an impromptu festival, definitely lots of markets, oh, and starlight over my head. Maybe the trip will be the road itself. I’ll let you know.



I’m not talking about anosmia, or people who don’t get pleasure from their nose, I’m talking about a man who wore no scent, smelt of nothing and wasn’t influenced one bit by his beak. It was an odd conundrum for me mind, because he also said he just wasn’t interested in it. The thing is, two New York researchers, Daniel Wesson and Donald Wilson, were confronted with this fact when they began investigating an “enigmatic” area of the brain known as the olfactory tubercle.

Originally, they only intended to measure how olfactory tubercle cells in mice responded to smell. But during testing, Wesson noticed that every time he plonked his coffee mug down next to the experiment, the mouse cells jumped in activity. In fact, the olfactory tubercle is physiologically well-placed to receive both smell and sound information from the outside world.

Of course, mice are not people. But if research found that listening to different sounds can alter your perceptions, well then how can we be so one dimensional when understanding our senses. Clichés are the fastest way to express something because I can’t really think of anything else that carries the same emotional charge. Except cliché and Alain de Botton who said that they do nothing more than “inspire us to believe that they adequately describe a situation while they’re merely grazing its surface.’

Talking about surfaces and experimental camouflage, the man with no smell reminds me of this Jenny Holzer quote. ‘When you’ve been somewhere for a while, you acquire the ability to be practically invisible. This lets you operate with a minimum of interference.’

I much prefer to dazzle and razzle with life and all that jazz, because I’m intrigued to know let’s say, why, wherever I may go in the world, mosquitoes always know where to bite me in the same three places. And exactly the three same places.

I’ll leave the last words to that prolific man, John Wayne.

‘Mister – you’d better find another line of work  – this one sure doesn’t fit your pistol.’



Whenever I look at the moon, I wonder at her celestial beauty, and the fact that 47 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on it. I also wonder what we’re immersing into the atmosphere, what we’re crafting as orbs of the night (ah, how lovely those words are to me) dip into new waves. It is certainly a cup of tea very different from the norm I know, but self-reflection is something that should still be done. Often. Or, every once in a blue moon.

Fragrance is more unexpectedly straightforward than you would believe, so much so, that I urge you to avoid the modern mainstream ‘pop scent’, and follow your own perfumed tune. Mine, well, it’s just an offering of sorts, it doesn’t burn brighter than all the shadows cast across it, it just feels homemade, which it kinda is, not in a way this is unsettling as homemade things can be, but in a way that feels rooted in reality.

So by now you know I’m fickle with fragrance. Sure, I always come back to certain scents, but I spend a lot of my time trying to add to a repertoire that could only be described as schizophrenic. Layering fragrances is like a Rubik’s Cube; it’ll drive you crazy until you happen on something that you know you’ve never smelt before. A once in a blue moon mix. The big plate of pomme frites I’ve been alluding to.

Try this, and it’s a definite that you’ll get you a cacophonous chorus of “ooooooh, what you wearing missus?!” You just play—and play it really is—with Santa Maria Novella’s Tobacco Toscano and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre du Nepal in any spritz-order you see fit. Close the redolent circle with a drop of vanilla oil behind your ears, on your wrists, the small of your neck and just between your collarbone—C.O. Bigelow’s lasts for an eternity.

Frédéric Malle, the architect behind Editions de Parfums—a collection of nineteen original scents created in collaboration with the world’s top noses says, “Perfume is not an intellectual thing. It’s very primal. You have to use what you already know about someone, but you also need to trust your instincts.”

I think this mix will make you feel humid, narcotic, a bit unsettled even, and I think you’ll like it. Caution: Marinate for a good half an hour before stepping out.