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!



by Jacqueline Dowling

Yes, OK, I know I’m always hacking on about our library; the way I see it is that Library = Books = Writers = Orders. Ergo, the more interest we generate in the contents of our shelves, the more scope there will be for writers.

Having got that out of the way, what must follow is a small trumpet blast. Not only were we voted 2nd in the Arts and Culture Award of Excellence last year, but we are the first library in the Western Cape to have Good Morning Mr Mandela on our shelves within days of release – in both English and Afrikaans. And that’s just for starters.

Photo: Grant Cochran -

Photo: Grant Cochran –

Friday last was Friends of the Library’s winter pancake day. Shock and horror echoed throughout the municipal offices when they heard that the excellent product would now cost R5. Well, there was a bit of a hooha but we held our ground , mixed batter for 300 pancakes and waited for the orders to come in. And they did. We took R1 000 in sales and there wasn’t a teaspoon of batter left at the end of service. ‘Upstairs’ managed to get over their miffs and ordered 108, the police popped over for a boxful and the public had difficulty getting past my table which screamed PANCAKES R5 in loud letters, right in the entrance. At one stage I thought I’d better ask for a strong-arm to guard the money box! So we’ve decided to go for a second round in July, hopefully on another cold, wet day. This time we’ll make batter for 500 and see what orders come in. So many ingredients are contributed by volunteers and well-wishers, that the balance after costs will buy at least five new books. Orders orders orders.

Talking of which, an English member arrived with a suitcase full of end of lines from Bungay Press in East Anglia, with their good wishes. Hemel en See Publishers, a local company donated a generous helping of their end of lines last week and, our lovely local bookshops hand on their publishers’ advance copies ‘not for sale’, Orders only. So I don’t really mind hacking on about a subject very close to my heart – books, words, writing, reading.

Later this year, maybe, our book of recipes of yesteryear, a bit of nostalgia, may see the light of day; because…a new member, a retired foodie journalist has shown interest in the project, which is very encouraging. All going well, we will raise more funds for books from the sales.

Lastly, also on the subject of Orders, although a bit remote from the library as it happens: the young designer of the McDonalds Fry Box artwork for the 2014 Soccer World Cup, is coming to live locally and is busy working on our next set of bookmarks .

Things are definitely looking up: next Friday is…pancake day and we’re making 500. Imagine, half a thousand pancakes, half a thousand spoons of cinnamon sugar, half a thousand lemon slices, half a thousand take-away containers. Half a thousand new books? Probably not, but who’s counting!