The Book Collector

By Jac Dowling

It’s been a busy and extremely interesting time at our Bhuki Cafe lately. Yours Truly woke at 2am on a Road to Damascus and had an epiphany – whatever that means in today’s argot. What happened was, I had a good idea (like Pooh), which was immediately taken to our core committee at our favourite coffee shop, and they liked it. Possibly the mountainous scones and coffee softened the moment, add homemade jam and butter and you’re away.

The Antiques Roadshow was a stalwart of the BBC for many years, still is probably. So I thought, why not have a Bhuki Booktiques Roadshow and invite Benadė, our Book Collector, for muffins, coffee, assessment and valuations? So we did, and it was a huge success, except that he didn’t get to eat his choc muffins and his coffee went cold, but never mind, we had some happy punters and sold lots of teas and munchies while people waited.52007

It was so successful that we’re repeating the exercise in July and, if there’s another inundation, it may well become a monthly happening. Benadé has a shop absolutely stacked and groaning with books, how he ever stocktakes will probably remain a mystery, but he loves books and is happy to see what members bring to The Bhuki, chats about the provenance, assesses and, if required, values. Fascinating except that we now have to put a time and number limit on who brings what because one dear soul arrived with a box full, and that took TIME – which was when the coffee cooled! So we thought max 2 books and ½ an hour because we only have the facility for 2.5 hours each Friday before it returns to the reference section. Having recently read The Shadow of the Wind, I’m even more fascinated by the concept and just so happy that books are once more coming back into fashion.

‘A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us’


typeremingtong-graphicsfairy002Anyway, we have our very excellent free local newspaper The Village News firmly supporting our literary efforts, two book pages once a month, a Bhuki piece and lots of great art, wine and restaurant coverage. They keep away from the grizzlies that occupy all our papers daily, and publish a very special fortnightly paper . After all, Hermanus is becoming a serious arts centre and we’re proud of our small town’s achievements.

On a different, but still book note, I was presented with a 1986 large, and I mean large, Wind in the Willows in which each page is most beautifully illustrated. It will go to a loving home at Christmas, in the meantime I shall continue to feast on what it has to offer. And may you feast on whatever takes your fancy until next month. I didn’t mention the limited edition history of the Rhodesian army – bound in elephant hide and gold metallic borders, slip case et al. The elephant, the owner was quick to explain, died of natural causes and was not hunted or poached!


Harry’s Boots – My Books!

by Jacqueline Dowling

Poor Prince Harry, he hadn’t even left Afghanistan before the press spun both booted feet into his mouth over certain comments. OK, he didn’t want to do the interview in the first place, but the bosses had arranged a quid pro quo for leaving him to get on with his tour of duty sans media intervention. And all he said, quite rightly in my uninformed opinion, was that anyone who pilots a helicopter or operates aerial guns, needs to have nimble thumbs – which usually come with playing video games.
And the press loved it, they set to in a feeding frenzy par excellence. Poor guy.

My friends know all too well that I am not an Apps or Techno geek, I studiously avoid those things – except in extremis, like now. Which is how I come to observe that far too many children are Apping instead of reading.  How do we fix it? Part of our answer was to form Friends of the Library, an organisation which is growing rapidly year by year, and it’s fun: it works.

We’re  slightly less nimble in limb than we were twenty years ago, but with one goal in common. Books and Reading. Last year we put more new and donated books on the shelves than came from Province, and raised R70 000 towards even more books and reading aids. Our library has been voted the best in the Platteland (not quite sure exactly where the boundaries lie, but anyway…) which is a large chunk of the Western Cape.

Each Friday our Bhuki Cafe takes over the reference section of the library for the regular tea/coffee morning. This is hugely popular, especially when we have a special guest – one of the many writers and artists living in the area. And, in case you’re thinking I’ve not heard of epublishing or Kindle, our
next guest is a local epublisher!

Our 2013 Outreach Project is aimed at encouraging young people to read. We hope to establish a regular column for young critics on the book page of our weekly local newspaper, together with a story writing competition, open to all, in three languages. We also have invited hobbyists and crafters from various retirement homes to display and sell their goods at the Bhuki Cafe. It seems to be working well and bringing in yet more tea drinkers and readers.

With provincial and municipal budgets shrinking at an alarming rate, libraries closing and books being allowed to sicken and die on the shelves, there really is only one way to go, and that’s to get the public motivated and reading. Thumbs remain an exceptionally useful tool (more strength to Harry’s) and will, no doubt, become even more useful and essential in future.

But for me, there is nothing like a good old fashioned book, smelling a bit musty probably, and slightly  soft around the edges. And until someone convinces me that Kindles float when dropped in the bath or pool, I shall continue along the paper route!