Local Francophiles and French expats joined much-loved South African author Marita van der Vyver at The Alliance Française in Cape Town to celebrate her latest offering, A Fountain in France. Elna van der Merwe kicked off her hilarious conversation with Van der Vyver with the question, “How do you ever get a handle on French grammar when male body parts take a feminine article?”
The author explained, to the audience’s great mirth, that the complexities of interaction with French society in a small rural town in Provence extended well beyond the subtleties of language. Take kissing, for example, which has rules just like grammar. “For every rule,” she said, “there is an exception. It just doesn’t make sense.” There are times when you kiss the postman or your child’s teacher, and times when you do not. “The mystery deepens for this boeremeisie when I consider the ‘French kissing’ of my teen years because the French never kiss each other on the lips. Sometimes I forget this and my French children are utterly horrified!”
Another oddity is the matter of going barefoot. “People do not understand it. They are completely bewildered by somebody who is unafraid of dirt and germs. They have to believe that you do not have money for shoes. When visiting South Africa, my husband soon discovered the pleasure of going kaalvoet. 20 years on, he is the one who has shed his sandals and socks and goes barefoot, and I am the one that now struggles to do this.”
A Fountain in France was written in Afrikaans and published as ‘n Fontein voor ons deur. Van der Vywer praised the gifted wordsmith Annalize Visser as “a very natural translator who enables me to hear my own voice in the English version of this narrative”. She highlighted the wordplay in Afrikaans that has no direct translation, which requires her to come up with imagined alternatives.
Van der Vyver spoke about the enormous challenge of finding a reliable, affordable handyman in the French countryside, and how this eventually inspired her book. The dearth of handymen prompted her to acquire skills that she never imagined she would find herself practising: tiling a bathroom and installing fittings and fixtures, for example. “If you have a plumbing disaster on a Sunday, it’s harder to find a plumber than it is to find God,” she exclaimed. The Afrikaans expression “nood leer bid” (need teaches prayer) sums up her strategy for acquiring the skills to adapt to her new life.
A Fountain in France is the story of the decision made by the author and her husband to install a fountain in their French home. They could not afford a swimming pool, and undertook this interesting challenge instead. Van der Merwe said this a lively tale of triumph over the intercultural challenges of marriage and motherhood. She says it will have readers laughing and weeping in sympathy, “… and in gratitude for the good life they enjoy in South Africa where labour is readily available, competent and affordable!”
NPA spokesperson Velekhaya Mgobhozi said: “We are very excited that the court agreed with the NPA.” Mgobhozi said that if Masipa had granted Pistorius permission to contest the state’s right to appeal his sentence it would have set a precedent that would have opened a flood gate of appeals.
Legal expert Sebar Jazbay told OFM on Saturday that if he was on Pistorius’ legal team he would have saved his energy and resources to face the appeal that is now pending, “because that is where the real battle lies”. He said it was foolish of Pistorius to challenge the credibility of Masipa’s ruling when she gave the state permission to appeal the severity of the sentence.
Liebenberg says that weight loss is 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent exercise. The internationally renowned neurosurgeon explains how you can break bad habits like emotional eating and maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying the food you love.
The Brain Surgeon’s Diet is also available in Afrikaans as Die Breinchirurg se dieet. The author offers tips on how to use base human emotions to motivate yourself to lose weight.
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Q: Every time I look in the mirror I feel like none of my dieting and exercise is helping, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I find that the base human emotions work the best. I always have some instance or somebody in mind when I try and motivate myself. The smirking face of someone who finds you distasteful, the look of admiration in a partner’s eyes when I did something good or a situation that I would like to unfold or would like to forget.
Pistorius, who is the subject of Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius by John Carlin, is currently serving jail time at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, after being convicted for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Independent Newspapers has published an article about correctional services’ response to a video of Pistorius playing soccer in plain clothes. This was taken to be an example of unfair privilege.
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The Correctional Services Act made provision for both sentenced and remand detainees to have one hour exercise daily.
“Sentenced offenders may wear their sporting gear during the exercise periods,” the department said.