Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Image: Simz Mkhwanazi

Ed's letter | Darling, leave a light on for me

I’m writing this letter from my bed, balcony doors open wide. From the canopy of green that I can just see above the balustrade, I hear intermittent hadeda calls, the accelerating of a bike, the white noise of traffic in the distance. No generators.

We’re apparently only on stage 2 today, so that means zero load-shedding in our area — but its pronouncement is still causing some consternation among the WhatsApp group for my apartment block. “Can we trust the app? Is it correct?” someone asks. “I heard we’re off from 9am,” someone else chimes.

I’m pretty confident we’re not about to be shed — City Power says so. “Foolish, gullible Sarah,” I hear you tut. Nevertheless, I’ve made coffee, charged my tech and hedged my bets. But aah — a day with uninterrupted power. What an extravagance!

It’s funny how we’ve all adapted to a dark state of normal so quickly. Such is human nature, I suppose, but suddenly everyone is a power expert. Boardroom small talk centres around alternate sources of energy, inverters, theories of sabotage, and talk of emigration.

“Come over to mine for a blackout braai,” is the new, chicest dinner-party invitation you can score. “Oh, we’ve got a gennie,” is this season’s ultimate casual, smug brag. I’ve even seen one social-media influencer (don’t get me started on THEM) post about leaving South Africa in her first-class pod, with designer luggage (and filtered pic of it, of course) just to get away from the power issues. Tone deaf, much?

Next I’ll be extolling the virtues of drawing cameos by candlelight
Sarah Buitendach

Gives new meaning to the idea of luxury, doesn’t it? Not that it isn’t still a fancy watch (they keep ticking sans current, of course) but suddenly this category includes dinner out where the whole menu is available because they have back-up power; having the robots and streetlights on so you don’t have to guide yourself across town by moonlight — and being able to watch the end of that Netflix series before stage 4 kicks in.

I know I’m being quasi-Pollyanna-ish here, but it’s added a couple of strange pluses to our existence — well, mine certainly. Having to actually talk to people because you can’t be distracted by BBC News or Game of Thrones is one. The other is more time to read: by Kindle or with a tiny book torch when all is dark. It’s all very Jane Austen. Next I’ll be extolling the virtues of drawing cameos by candlelight or “taking a turn around the room’” as per high society of the Regency era.

That said, the government better sort out this unmitigated, ongoing power disaster. It’s embarrassing, amateurish, depressing — and devastating for our economy. The worst bit, if they don’t? Winter is coming.


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