Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry
Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry will take you by surprise. She is this gentle, beautifully spoken, pretty blonde whose path intersects with mine in a class we sometimes have the privilege of sharing. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read a book written by someone you actually know on a casually social basis and enjoy it. It would be dreadful for me if I had read this book and thought, eeeeuuuuwwww, how do I fake my way through this, but reading it was not like that at all.
For all that looks can be deceiving Miranda, looking very much an unassuming and gentle soul has written a tale that doesn’t spare you from the harsh realities of crime and life in South Africa. Yet, at the same time the book enchants you as all the threads come together and suck you into the story.
I am not sure what genre to slot this book into, I don’t think that it really needs to be put into a box but for the purposes of this review, shall we say it is an incredibly dramatic suspense thriller or something of that sort.
It took me a little while to get into but once I was in, boy, was I in, and I spent the entire night reading to finish the book.
The writing style is elegant and easy to read. The story poignant but visceral. It is told mostly from the point of view of Sally, the deceased mother of teenager Gigi as she watches her former world in slightly detached fashion. Is it a ghost story? No, well, I don’t think so, but is very much a South African story.
I did have a little giggle because the Silverman family pops up in this novel, not the same branch of the family as in A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, but Silvermans none the less. I got to wondering how come the Silvermans have become the only Jewish family to have achieved debut novel literary fame twice in the last couple of months 🙂

I don’t know if you heard Miranda being interviewed on Classic FM a couple of weeks ago, I did. She read a couple of pages of Black Dog Summer on air and that beautiful voice is a perfect accompaniment to her novel, in fact, I think that is the voice I heard in my head whilst reading her book!
Miranda Sherry’s debut novel is well worth a read and welcome to the new South African talent on the block.

Miranda will be coming to chat to us at Indulgence Cafe, Northcliff on the 15th of November at 2pm. Feel free to come and join us.
FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1494981960758865/

Oh My Aching Heart, Gareth Patterson

Gareth Patterson's  My Lion's Heart

Gareth Patterson’s
My Lion’s Heart

As I read the final page of this book, I remembered why I read fantasy and fiction novels most of the time; they provide an escape from the hardships of life in general. They create doorways to worlds that don’t exist, they open your imagination to lands of mystical beasts and magic, to wondrous creatures and they pretty much always end happily. One cannot say the same for reading life stories and autobiographies, not all are pretty and not all end happily and some just leave you shaken and stirred, sans the olive.

Gareth Patterson’s autobiography, although being steeped in the harsh reality of life in the African bush does not fail to evoke the images of lands of mystical beasts and magic and wondrous creatures, which is all the more heartbreaking for it’s sad reality. I spent many pages of the book with tears running down my face. Maybe I am just a really sensitive soul but Gareth writes so honestly that one cannot fail to take on his pain as ones own. I felt it, I cried when he cried, I walked with him when he walked with his lions, I sat with him when he looked after cubs, I sat in the back of the Beetle as he motored around Africa and I held his manuscript close to my chest as the lost plane traversed the skies in the dark. I shared his heartbreak and I wondered how he had managed to not go insane.

I find it nothing short of remarkable that a young man would choose to spend his life living in the wild and amongst the animals that he loved, from the bush to the forest when the majority of his contemporaries would have been hanging out in pubs and nightclubs and chatting up pretty girls. One can only be grateful that there are people in this world who put Mother Nature and the call of the wild above that of material possessions and fast cars.

I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book, it is not the type of book you can enjoy. You will not look back on it as one of your “best of all time reads” but if it doesn’t affect you viscerally then there is something lacking in your psyche. My Lion’s Heart is an incredible read about an amazing man who has selflessly dedicated his life to the well being of lions and to elephants, and in turn to mankind. It is not an easy read but it is easy to read. Gareth’s style is simple and elegant and hauntingly evocative. This book is a sad testimony to the greed of man. A very sad indictment indeed. It belongs on every school syllabus throughout South Africa and the World at large.

Humankind has a tendency to destroy everything we touch in the name of progress (and religion). By encroaching and eroding the natural habitats of these amazing animals we do ourselves and our planet a huge injustice. We ridicule Mother Nature and we insult the Universe. Progress is not the annihilation of species and the hanging of their preserved heads on the trophy wall.  If we do not wake up and lend assistance the the people who go out of their way to help preserve the Kings of the Jungle and the Majestic Elephants of the Forest, as well as our very own Unicorn, the Rhino, then these creatures can only end up as the mythical beings of ages past, and the animated characters of musicals and Hollywood animation.

I salute you Gareth Patterson. Thank you for allowing me into your head, for bearing your wounded soul and sharing your broken heart. And thank you for bringing your lion children to life in my world

Bloody, Bloody Book Week

I am always saddened when the Bloody Book Week, brainchild of Jenny Crwys-Williams, ends every year, as it is a week filled non-stop with the magic of books and lots of truly fascinating people.
The Bloody Book Week over the last three years has given this humble coffee shop owner the opportunity, not always afforded to us ordinary mortals, of meeting and more importantly interacting with a host of some of South Africa and the World’s most amazing authors

This year has been no exception and whilst I didn’t get to host Peter James and Deon Meyer this time around I had the immense luxury of spending an incredibly entertaining Thursday evening with Jacques Steenkamp, Amanda Coetzee, and newcomers Penny Lorrimer and CM Eliot, as well an outstanding Saturday afternoon with 702’s Ray White, Dr David Klatzow and Paul O’Sullivan.

It was fascinating hearing about the different writing styles of the lady thriller writers, to plot or not to plot is the question, character development, getting to know the characters and the joy of discovering the various protagonists, from CM Eliot’s Sibanda in the African bush to Amanda Coetzee’s Badger, a hunky sinewy Traveler (Gypsy). It does take a little leap of imagination to see these ladies sitting at their laptops plotting murders most foul, particularly in the case of Amanda Coetzee who is the bouncy, happy, irrepressible creature who talks at twenty to the dozen and writes a fabulous thriller.
Jacques Steenkamp the absolutely charming crime journalist who lead the conversation spent a few minutes chatting to me about his non-fiction book about the Griquastad murders, also the Steenkamp family but luckily no relation. I wouldn’t be lying if I said it was a truly enjoyable evening.

Four Deadly Authors, Their Books…

Four Deadly Authors, Their Books...

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jacques steenkamp

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Some of the evening’s picture highlights with Authors, Mtutuzeli Nyoka and Mariyln Cohen De Villiers in the audience

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A magnificent Saturday afternoon event spent with three very interesting characters, Dr David Klatzow, Paul O’Sullivan and Radio 702’s Ray White.
What can I say about Ray White apart from the fact that he is a delightful human being, charming, lovely eyes, softly spoken but with some steal under there I think, and a great sense of humour. There are rumours that he too, has a book coming out at some point. I cannot wait for that to happen! Watch this space about Ray White!!!
Paul O’Sullivan and David Klatzow, couldn’t be more different. Paul’s CV must make for fascinating reading, I honestly cannot remember how many different types of policing or police/security services he has been in both locally and abroad. His accent is an unusual mix of Irish, Afrikaans with a little R rolling. I perceived him as a little uncomfortable to be around, he doesn’t radiate warmth but maybe that has something to do with his choice of career. I did fully expect him to arrive with hunky, chunky Kevin Costner, bodyguards in tow, alas I was disappointed. I am pretty sure he is not at the top of Jackie Selebi’s Christmas card list and I never said a word about Glen Agliotti, having taken center stage at Indulgence Cafe last year, with his charm at volcanic level charm. What is it that makes the bad guys charming and the good guys not quite so?
I realize it isn’t polite to have favourites but David Klatzow could quite possibly get a Valentine’s card from me next year. I think that gruff exterior and furry face hides a supremely sharp mind accompanied by a sharp wit and a very dry sense of humour. He does have a lovely smile when you catch sight of it, but the thing that strikes you the most is the passion with which he speaks. He positively radiates when talking about his chosen career and the work he does. For me it was an absolute privilege having spent the time listening to him talk to Ray White at Indulgence Cafe and Alex Eliseev at Bookdealers, The Colony.

The Books…

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david klatzow

A couple of the pics from Saturday afternoon’s event

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Thank you so much Jenny and Co, for including me and Indulgence Cafe in the 2014 Bloody Book Week events, it was an honour and a privilege
Until next year..

Simon Dingle, Forward Thinker

Simon DIngle, Forward Thinker

Simon Dingle, Forward Thinker

This morning I had the privilege of spending an hour or so with a few of South Africa’s more fascinating human beings. We managed to put politics, war and wildlife in distress aside for a while and chat about technology and the human condition. Being a bit of a technophobe I had wondered how much of Simon Dingle’s chat I was going to understand because you know these techie types, the run on acronyms and abbreviations and sometimes they use really long technical terms that the plebs amongst us have no absolutely no understanding of.

I was most pleasantly surprised, and if Simon did throw in a long word here and there it was quickly explained and of course the long words made perfect sense in the context in which they were used. I think I managed to keep up 🙂

The basic premise being that human beings, though being at the pinnacle of the evolutionary table are not necessarily logical thinkers and do not necessarily make rational decisions and choices. Given the example of the car salesman who is about the clinch the deal on your fabulous new R400k vehicle, tossing the suggestion of one or two minor extras into the mix. In the “hot state” or emotional context the odds are you are going to take the extras and to hell with the extra costs involved; in for a penny, in for a pound so to speak.

Simon Dingle’s core belief is that “Innovation starts with understanding people”, and that the sooner that big corporations understand this the soon things will start to turn around, this being particularly evident in industries like banking and telecommunications. When was the last time your bank understood your needs and assisted you according to those needs? Do you even know what your needs are?

Simon’s desire is to work with companies who wish to change their business models in as far as how they look at and deal with their clients. The important question as a business being, how are you going to change lives, moving towards being a force for good instead of a force for evil, which is exactly what prompted Simon to answer my emails requesting him to come and speak at Indulgence Cafe … “That’s why I will reply to Mandi’s email when I won’t respond to some of the major banks “, he was just showing appreciation of me as an end user… 🙂

As technology forces the consolidation of many items into one, i.e. your smartphone now having replaced your radio, camera, diary, alarm clock, diary, book, torch, map book and social life etc. to name just a few gave rise to a conversation that touched on “Contextual Computing”; Information looking for human beings instead of humans having to look for the information, finding out who that information is most relevant to, and giving you answers to questions you don’t even know you should be asking. This is an area that Google has taken the lead on with Ray Kurzweil at the helm, Google being the world’s most powerful contextual computing engine and the world’s biggest brand.

The next logical step? Between all the available social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, your Garmin etc, there is enough information out there in the ether to form a virtual blueprint of the person you are and behavioural patterns can be observed at which point the computer, your virtual PA can start to make decisions on your behalf from ordering your lunch at your local nosh stop to notifying the client you’re going to be late for a meeting due to the traffic! Scary much? I think so, but, Simon finds it an incredibly exciting space to be in. His view being that if the computer handled those types of things, it would give him more time to spend with his children.

Out-sourced Consciousness, artificial/synthetic intelligence, I have to wonder if the human species will survive its own inventions. Synthetic Intelligence may question the ultimate good mankind has done to the planet and decide that we need to be eradicated. Movies like Terminator may very well become reality shows.

In summing up, Simon said….:)

It doesn’t matter what your business is, whether you are selling a cup of coffee or a vehicle, the fundamental question remains…….How can you make a positive impact on someone’s life, they won’t know, how do we go and find out that will really a make difference!

Simon’s chat with us was incredibly informative and very, very thought provoking and I can only, most humbly, thank him for giving us his time…………The most precious resource that there is!

A little recommended light reading:
Ray Kurzweil – How to create a mind
Tom Kelly – The Ten Faces of Innovation

Who is Simon Dingle……
Simon loves disruptive new things that deal with finance,
technology, design and behavioural sciences. He is an advisor to 22seven and hosts a radio show on 5FM that focuses on consumer tech. He also co-presents a podcast called Take Back the Day and writes about technology and trends for Finweek magazine.
He is often asked to discuss innovation, behavioural economics, disruptive technology and business trends on television, radio and as a keynote speaker at conferences.

Until next time
Love ‘n Lollipops
Mandi

Special People………….Jodene Shaer

Jodene Shaer and Greg Arthur #MondayNightTalk

Jodene Shaer and Greg Arthur #MondayNightTalk

It Takes a special kind of person to make a success of themselves yet remain humble and not look down their noses at other people. By a success, I don’t necessarily mean make huge pots of money because in my own very humble opinion being loaded doesn’t always make you a success as a person, it just makes you wealthy in cash terms. As nice as it is or would be to be rolling in huge amounts of dosh, and I am pretty sure Jodene shares my opinion, money does not amount to the be all and end all of life but being happy and confident and knowing that you are, does sure go a long way!
That is exactly what Jodene Shaer, partner in the business, Lifeology with Greg Arthur radiates; happiness and the confidence to show her vulnerabilities to the world through the medium of blogging, tweeting, facebooking, talking to people and showing the real Jodene to the world.

Jodene Shaer

Jodene Shaer

Jodene was the guest speaker at last night’s Monday Night Talk and she managed to hold her audience in the palm of her hand for over an hour whilst she chatted about her journey from school to present day. From the trials and tribulations of not knowing where you are going to finding your way and making a go of it. Not afraid to mention her fight to get her weight down, her broken heart and the hardships of finding real people out there in a superficial world, Jodene was forthright and brave enough to answer all of the questions that were thrown her way.

Whilst Jodene does not profess to be a social media guru she certainly has an insiders knowledge and huge insight into the world of twitter and Facebook. Asked for “Twitter” tips she responded with the following five points which I have made into 6 points:
1. Follow people back
2. Engage with people
3. Avoid negativity & drama
4. Make the most of every opportunity
5. Take a picture (or it never happened)
6. hang out with influencers

Sounds easy enough doesn’t it, maybe a little harder to get there than she made it seem. However, considering that last night I got to hang out with Jodene Shaer, David Graham, Greg Arthur, Jared Orlin and a whole bunch of others, there is photographic evidence, we engaged with everyone, kept the evening hugely positive and loved every minute of it, seems to me that pretty much sums up everything that Jodene was talking about last night…………….the tracks are laid, now for the steam train to roll on through!

Proof that the evening happened at Indulgence Cafe

Proof that the evening happened at Indulgence Cafe

We wish Jodene huge future success, go from strength to strength, stay positive and above all else stay the happy, humble person you are!
Thank you so much for your time last night for Monday Night Talk!

Our 2013 in Pictures…………..

January to December 2013……

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Welcome to the New Year

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Amiga inspecting the beanies for The Beanie Project

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Sushi Evenings at Indulgence Cafe

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Adriaan Basson and Anton Harber at Indulgence Cafe

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Easter Egg Collection for the Needy

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Naughty Cupcakes

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Hagen Engler at Indulgence Cafe

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Our New Baby

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Auriol Hays at Indulgence Cafe

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Annica at Indulgence Cafe, a taste of next month

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Gareth Crocker at Indulgence Cafe

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On Radio Today with Michael De Pinna

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1368292680166Pieter Dirk Uys Visits us for the first time

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20130512_124418Keira Witherkay at Indulgence Cafe

20130503_212026Annica in Action

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20130629_153925Peter Piegl, Sean Newman and Glenn Agliotti

20130622_161842Gogo’s Birthday

20130615_154449_resizedMad Hatter’s Tea Party

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20130612_190207Jo-Anne Richards

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IMAG0070Craft Beer Tasting with the League of Beers

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20130727_144133The Twisted Market

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7

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20130802_193133The Bloody Book Week with Margie Orford, Stuart MacBride, Alex Eliseev, Barry Bateman, Mike Nicol, Michele Rowe, Mthuthuzeli Nyoka and Julian Rademeyer

DSC_7496Tony Leon at Indulgence Cafe

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20130924_122758Heritage Day with James Hendry

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DSC_9685The Burger Menu Launches

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20131012_144845Lee Marcus with Basha, baby

20131016_212818First Annual Horror and Fantasy Festival at Indulgence Cafe

20131022_170708Halloween at Indulgence Cafe

20131025_213359Second Craft Beer Tasting with Three Skulls Beer

20131027_104105_1Pieter Dirk Uys, the Return Visit

20130906_174602Lionel Bastos, live at Indulgence Cafe

20131129_215752Open Mic Night at Indulgence Cafe

20131122_200835 Keira and Auriol together again

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20131115_172523Wine and oyster evening with Oneiric Wines

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IMG_119765828790758Zapiro at Indulgence Cafe

20131209_095040The Death of a Statesman, Nelson Mandela

20131204_202922Deep Fried Man live at Indulgence Cafe

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Author’s Cocktail Evening with a whole bunch of great SA authors

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Hamilton Wende Reading from Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut

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A slightly Disorganized Carols By Candlelight

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Twitter Pre-Christmas Evening

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We Look forward to a fabulous and fun filled 2014 with more events, more authors and a whole bunch more Indulgent Fun, share this journey with us in this coming year
Love ‘n Lollipops
Mandi

Being Musical

When Keira Witherkay, the incredibly talented guitarist who plays at Indulgence Cafe on a regular basis suggested we have an open mic night I was a little ambivalent about the idea. Firstly because it was something that we had never tried before and secondly because I had no idea if anyone was going to actually turn up.
What is an open mic night you may be wondering, I know I was until it was explained to me. Open mic is when anyone who plays a musical instrument, belongs to a young band, sings or recites poetry gets to come along for the evening, put their name on the board and to stand up or sit down as the case may be, in front of a whole group of strangers to perform. It must be incredibly daunting to take that first step and find the courage to put yourself out there at the mercy of the public.
I know how I felt the first time I picked up a mic in front of a waiting audience to introduce an author at Indulgence Cafe and the first time I actually interviewed an author instead of just letting them talk to the audience by themselves, it is quite scary and your mouth dries up. The possibility of making a huge ass of yourself is a reality but unless you put yourself out there and try, you will never know what you can do.
I shouldn’t have doubted for a second though. Keira has a huge following of her own and on Friday night they came out in full force to come and play at Indulgence Cafe. It was a real treat, we have so much as yet untapped talent in Jozi and in South Africa that it was a pleasure to sit and listen to the music. You didn’t have to like everything you heard but getting exposed to it is the thing that counts as much as getting out of your comfort zone and trying out something new
Kudos to all those very talented young and older people last night, we look forward to seeing you at the next open mic evening at Indulgence Cafe or just maybe seeing you name in lights on center stage…………….

Open Mic Night at Indulgence Cafe

Open Mic Night at Indulgence Cafe

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Thank you Keira Witherkay for making Open Mic Night happen