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Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Till Death Do Us Part @ Porn Pixels

rosesssPicture the following: a blushing groom walks up the aisle, to be greeted by his bride @ Porn Pixels. She is a laptop bulging with the following websites: Watching Family Porn with horny step-sister, Everyday sexual life with a Sloven, Girl Getting Pounded by Orc, and niche market videos such as ”rough”, ”choking,” ”rape”, ”orgy”, ”whip” & ”gang bang.”

As Blushing Groom and Bulging Computer say their wedding vows, to a packed audience of fellow porn users, pornographers and porn crew, we marvel at how far we’ve come. New Age Puritanism? Me-Too? Nada. Not on your nelly :-)

Today we’re celebrating in the sacred confines of our local cathedral.

A marriage, with vows: Till Death Do Us Part. Blushing Groom & Porn Pixels.

The Groom’s Vows: They say that love is a many splendored thing, constantly changing and evolving. My love for you will be ever changing like a chimera and ever growing like a verdant valley.

The Porn Pixels’ Vows: “I’ll be your bridge o’er troubled water, when you’re down, I will carry you, like a bridge o’er troubled water I will lay me down.”

How long will Newly Wedded Groom remain faithful to his bride, Porn Pixels? Will he, soon enough, stray out into the murky world of The Affair(s)?

A real live woman will offer her company, and the married man will experience real live sex with bodily fluids, cooing noises, fresh linen, and even a pregnancy scare. His Porn Pixel Computer won’t know, or won’t mind, or won’t care. Porn Pixel Knows Her Husband Has Needs Too. Porn Pixel Waits. He’ll return :-)

And the cliff hanger ending to our blockbuster documentary?

Which is The Real Thing? Porn Pixels or The Affair? You decide, my friend.



It’s not you, Calitzdorp, it’s me. XXX


Dear Calitzdorp,

For years, twelve years, in fact, since we spent a morning together in 2006, while I was road-tripping, I’ve earmarked you as the answer to my woes. A bad day in Hong Kong? Why not up sticks and move to you? A sad day in Cape Town? Buy a plot in Calitzdorp, sip port, and watch my vegetables sprout. But it’s been these past eighteen months that you were on my mind the most. Only two hours’ drive from where I now live, I often wondered if you were a better option. Had I made a mistake and relocated to the wrong town?

In time, it became obvious. All I had to do was to book a trip to you, and see for myself your splendour. So I did. Book the mini bus, that is. Splendour? Sorry, Calitzdorp, I didn’t see much. How could I? You absolutely could not live up to a twelve year fantasy. Neither, it seems, could you compete with where I already dwell, amongst wild orchards, 360 degree mountains, sheep, cows, horses, donkeys, baboons, meerkats, tortoises, hadada, guinea fowls, weaver nests, snakes and scorpions. My neighbours are artists, writers, water engineers, potters, motor mechanics, retired physics professors, farmers, builders, kinesiologists, hypnotists, and chefs. The Calitzdorp I’ve been fantasizing about, with some insistence and twelve years of persistence, does exist. It’s called Barrydale and I was so warmly welcomed last year, that I told my ‘city’ friends that I found the locals nosy and intrusive. Um. No. They wanted to know who I was, what I wanted in their town, and to welcome me.

Under different circumstances, I may have found you charming. I didn’t spend time on your farms and vineyards, and staying in a guesthouse is not the same as gardening and living in a place. But for 48 hours I had this strange sense of groundlessness, loss, and mourning. I absolutely couldn’t reconcile the rather odd, misshapen town I was visiting with the glorious pictures I’d seen online, and in my head. Under different circumstances I’d have appreciated you more. Don’t take it personally. It’s me, Calitzdorp, not you.

And now I do need to phone that locksmith in Swellendam. I have a security gate that needs fixing. I have a floor to paint. I have unpacking to do.


Anne PHD in Geographic Fallacy


photos of barrydale @ annetownsend#

Creating space in your new home


Are you a newcomer in a small town? Are you settling into life as a rural resident, having fled the ‘city’? Look no further than these tried-and-tested tips from a Barrydaler.

You will be regarded as fresh meat for your first few months. Don’t let it go to your head. It has nothing to do with charm, looks, wealth or intelligence. It means that you’re fresh, easy pickings, and people will try and recruit you into their camp. Keep a low profile. Take sides, never. Stick to yourself, keep your own counsel, and give it 12 – 18 months before you take sides. Sides will be taken. Ruthlessly. If you’re hoping to sit on the fence, go back to the ‘city.’ Small town life requires invigorating taking of sides. It comes naturally, but only after at least a year. Then, take sides, and budge, never, from your position.

You will be accused of having City Manners. Again. Don’t let this go to your head. It simply means you are energetic, punctual, successful, a go-getter, and almost definitely from Cape Town or Johannesburg. It will be used against you. Let this accidental compliment land where it belongs: on your methodical, organized ears. Try and hang on to your City Manners for as long as ‘rural’ life allows. Don’t slide into rural apathy or languid late-coming. We need City Manners. They are our link to civilization.

You will be invited to barbeques (commonly known as ‘braais’), to dinner parties, and, even though you’re only 45, you will be invited to play bowls at The Recreation Club. Try to decline as politely as possible. Once you’ve made too many new friends, too soon, getting rid of them can prove impossible, or at least, challenging. Decline invitations, (it gets easier wth practice), and once you’ve sussed out who’s who (give it 12 – 18 months), either accept an invitation or two (if they’re still coming your way) or take the plunge and have a Belated Home-Warming. Invitation Only. Small towners have a habit of arriving unannounced, uninvited, and taking over your dinner bash.

Security is considerably more relaxed than in the big cities. Sadly, crime can seem to intensify in a small town. You actually know the person who gets robbed, beaten up, slandered or bullied. It’s not just a name. It’s a familiar face, it may even be an out-of-towner who spent several months up the road, and you feel their pain. Empathy increases in direct proportion to intimacy. Small towns foster intimacy. Be prepared to ‘feel’ more.

You will be regarded as a representative of your former home. You will be lumped together with Capetonians, or Joh’burgers, or the British. As with all stereotyping, wait it out. Your true self will make an appearance, in due course, and you will be seen as an actual real, live person, with your own ways, your own views, and your own manners.

Seventeen months now I have resided in Barrydale. Much of my time is spent, alone, in nature, or alone, at home. On the rare occasion that I encounter neighbours, residents, and the many visitors to my new home, I have learnt to appear inscrutable, neutral, friendly, and invisible. It’s an art that takes a while to master. You can do this, too.


photos of barrydale @ annetownsend#







No Title: 2018-07-30


Photo Credit: Anne Townsend, Barrydale

No Title: 2018~06~16

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Photo Credit: AnneTownsend, Barrydale

Wabi Sabi ~~~ Beauty in Imperfection

Wabi Sabi. Whenever people ask me about the Japanese calligraphy I had painted on a cream kist, they first think it’s Beauty is Perfection, then Beauty in Perfection, and then, they get it: Beauty in Imperfection. Once this sinks in, they relax. As soon as they grasp that there’s actually a phrase for this, it gives it credibility. I saw it again yesterday when my (beautiful, glowing) new workspace/desk was delivered. The two people that drove over from Swellendam visibly relaxed when they understood Wabi Sabi. ”Oh”, Charles said, ” yes, yes, I get it.” He is the furniture restorer who sold me a chest of drawers last year, explaining that one of the six handles was slightly bigger than the other five, because he couldn’t find the exact size. ”It gives it character”, he explained. My uneven floors, my (porous) 1850 clay walls, and my slightly misshapen front door, are now art. Words really do change our minds. Neural pathways are like any construction site. In flux. In motion. Water#


Photo Credit: AnneTownsend


The Desire to Write Alain de Botton

In no other age can so many people have harboured such intense ambitions to become writers. The longing one day to turn out a book probably a novel or, less likely, an autobiography lies close to the center of contemporary aspirations.

This is at one level a hugely welcome development, a consequence of widespread literacy, higher educational standards and a proper focus on the power of books to change lives. But looked at from another angle, it may also, in private, be the result of something rather more desultory: an epidemic of isolation and loneliness. The army of literary agents, scouts, editors and writing coaches testifies not only to our love of literature, but also, less intentionally, to an unaddressed groundswell of painful solitude.

Reasons for wanting to write are multiple of course, but the structurally simplest option may also be the most pervasive: we write because there is no one in the vicinity who will listen. We start to long to set down our memories and emotions on a page and to send them out into the wider world because our friends can’t be bothered to hear us, because our partners are preoccupied and because it’s been agonisingly long since anyone gave us an uninterrupted stretch of time in which we could be attended to with respect and attention in short, because we are very lonely.

Writing, for all that it might begin with experiences of joy or disinterested intellectual fascination, also owes its origins to despair, shame and a lack of someone to cry with. It is when we have screamed a long time for help, and no one came, that we may begin quietly to burn to write a novel instead. Writing can be the presenting solution to a more poignant ambition beneath: to be heard, to be held, to be respected, to have our feelings interpreted, and soothed, to be known and appreciated. Flaubert put it at its simplest: if he had been happy in love at eighteen, he would never have wanted to write.

At the start of the West’s journey into self-awareness, we meet the figure of Socrates, who puts forward a striking proposition: writing is not what thoughtful people should ideally be doing with their time, he suggests. For Socrates, writing is a pale imitation of and replacement for our true vocation, which is that of talking to our fellow human beings, in the flesh, in real time, often with a glass of wine on the table, or while walking to the harbour or doing some exercise in the gym, about what really matters. The birth of literature is, in the Socratic world view, simply a symptom of social isolation and an indictment of our communities.

Even if we find literature the finest of substitutes, infinitely better than anything else yet invented, it still pays to recognise that substitute is what it might primarily be, that writing is in certain ways an act of very polite and artful revenge on a world too busy to listen and that we would never develop such fierce bookish ambitions if we had not first been let down by those we needed so much to rely upon.

A slightly more conscious awareness of writing as compensation may lend us energy to acknowledge our unrequited ache for more visceral forms of contact. Whatever the satisfactions of writing alone in bed, we should perhaps not cease so easily to give up on the ecstasies of mutual understanding and sympathy. It is far from easy to write a decent novel; it may be even harder yet ultimately more rewarding to learn to locate a circle of true friends.

A better world might, from this perspective, be one in which we wanted a little less ardently to be writers because we had collectively grown ever so slightly better at listening and making ourselves heard. Literature’s loss might, in the end, be humanity’s gain.


Gagged Visualno going back~Gagged Visual

The New Normal (March 2018)

DrLH80QXgAAOV1Y1. When a relative becomes ‘the perpetrator’.

2. When a deceased aunt turns into ‘the enabler/spouse of the perpetrator.’

3. When siblings are referred to as ‘the enablers who refuse to cooperate.’

4. When you wake up at 2 am, sit up next to the cricket that now lives in your home, and you think: Botha’s Daughter. That’s the name of the (next) book.

5. When you take leisurely walks along the onion fields, past the labourers’ cottages and the laundry flapping in the wind, and you think:  Installation Art: (Clean) laundry, sprinklers, the winds of change. Winding roads. (Could we get a helicopter to film this as part of a documentary on Incest?)

6. When ‘Incest’ is ‘your word’ for 2018. You use it, daily, often more than once. It slips into conversation, and almost no one notices, or minds.

7. When it ceases to be a problem if no one else gets or hears your word. They will, eventually, or not. Either way, you hear it.

8. When you have no idea what you’ll be doing one to three months down the line, and you’ve been living this way for years now.

9. When you follow your gut even when you have no idea why it’s telling you what it’s telling you to do. You just do it. It makes sense eventually.

10. When Augusten Burroughs, Ronan Farrow, Natalie Goldberg and Martha Beck are family. They are tribal kin. They are your support.



Incest is a long-distance train


It doesn’t matter how you swing this. Breaking Silence sucks.

You destroy a family. The paedophile’s family. You ruin your health, you wreck your bank balance, your peace of mind is a distant memory. People you’ve never heard of, be it a cousin’s ex-wife, or distant relatives you’ve only seen on Facebook, associate you with a predator.

It’s always your fault. It’s your fault for not speaking. It’s your fault for speaking too late. It’s your fault for being alive. It’s your fault for being a child. It’s your fault for not going through life complicit, silent, avoidant.

Naomi Wolf has told us, that the women she knows who’ve spoken out about campus harrassment, are never better off for having spoken. She advises them, to this day, to get ‘a good lawyer’. She wishes it wasn’t so. But it is.

Dylan Farrow has spoken out, insistently, about Child Sexual Abuse. Is she better off for having spoken? The intensity of keeping open the wound of incest is labour-intensive. It’s all-consuming. Someone has to do this.

Dylan Farrow tried to move on. She couldn’t. She hasn’t. What are her options? To rest. To take breaks. To accept every ounce of empathy, love and support that is rushing her way. To raise a glass to Colin Firth for taking a stand. To raise a glass to every actor who has donated his/her earnings from Woody Allen movies, to charity. To thank every actor who has agreed never to work with her abuser, ever again.

Once you’ve been on the Incest Train for as long as I have, the train acquires some cool & mysterious passengers. You never know who’ll climb onto the seat next to you. Who’ll blow the whistle and try and get you arrested. Who’ll listen with care and growing fury. Who’ll offer to drive up the coast and give someone ‘a bloody good piece of my mind.’

All you can do is to trust your Invisible Army. They support you. They cheer you on. They wave at you from the side lines even though they can’t always understand what you’re up to. Perplexed but trusting, they let you be. You order the train meal. You open a book. You’re on the train for life. It’s a long-distance journey. The views are spectacular. The end is in sight. And you plan the engraving for your tombstone: INCEST SPEAK#








Seventy Two Hours on Twitter

Alicia Lutes‏Verified account @alicialutes Nov 9

I refuse to trust anyone who loves Woody Allen/is influenced by him

Jack Kornfield‏Verified account @JackKornfield 7 minutes ago

What we practice becomes habit. Societies can repeat destructive collective habits of racism, hatred, and revenge.

Matt Haig‏Verified account @matthaig1 Nov 18

I am sometimes looking at an argument online and thinking both sides are incomplete halves of a whole that refuses to be joined. Twitter is all thesis and antithesis and not enough synthesis. Which is famously why Hegel was never on Twitter.

Anne Townsend‏ @AnneTownsend007 Nov 18

If we have a lingering horror of parties, we should be generous towards our hunches. It doesn’t mean that we don’t like other people, rather that we have too ambitious a conception of social contact to put up with what is on offer at most parties. (Alain de Botton)

Dalai Lama‏Verified account @DalaiLama May 1

Anger may seem to be a source of energy, but it’s blind. It causes us to lose our restraint. It may stir courage, but that too is blind.

Augusten Burroughs‏Verified account @augusten Nov 17

There’s so much iron in our well water I feel like a vampire every time I take a sip.

Naomi Wolf‏Verified account @naomirwolf Nov 16

Statutes. We need to do away with statutes of limitations. How is a crime less of a crime if time has passed?

Pico Iyer‏ @PicoIyer Nov 12

“My school report used to say, “Takes no part in communal activities,” said Lucian Freud. I thought, “Well, at least I’ve got something right!”

Pico Iyer‏ @PicoIyer Sep 27

There’s only one hope for the North Korean impasse: send Melania to Pyongyang!

Alain de Botton‏Verified account @alaindebotton Oct 9

You can be quite sad and reasonably content at the same time. It only sounds impossible.

Donald J. Trump

✔ @realDonaldTrump

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!

2:48 AM – Nov 12, 2017 · Vietnam

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