Booktown Richmond


November 9, 2018.

Dear Karoosters,

The day after the final curtain fell on BookBedonnerd XI, which was graced with just about perfect weather, notwithstanding a bit of good dry Karroo heat during the day and a little into the night; the Cape of Storms, I think in no small part due to the fact that they lost the Currie Cup, blew with a wind like the vengeance of a scorned woman! And it has been blowing ever since. Poor losers…. apparently, the team has retired to Clifton in their G-strings to drink a few Piña coladas with their mates!

As we enter the post BookBedonnerd Karoo Kooldown period and gather our thoughts on just what a superb gathering it was, of writers, poets, photographers, philosophers, travellers, thinkers and just plain good and smart people I know, speaking for Darryl and myself, we have to admit that this BoekBedonnerd XI was the best ever. Not withstanding a few little glitches and no shows, the true character of what the Karoo does to the souls came through and shortfalls were more than adequately filled by the likes of a Tod Collins, an extra-long tea or lunch break and a feeling that time was not a factor when you are having fun, the more so with a really great bunch of people.

The week kicked off with the SA Independent Publishers presentations and Awards banquet in the evening. You can’t but be impressed by the quality of the material being written, photographed and put into a book. Congratulations to everyone. We trust that your Dlamini statues will be proudly placed in your studies at home. One may get depressed at the decline in reading and the old fashion love of books, but when we all saw what was placed on the table in the Supper Klub you can’t help but be very proud of what you have all produced.                          

South African Independent Publishers Awards ….smiles all round ( sorry we can’t include every award winner….but they all had ear to ear smiles as well )

The rest of the week smoothly unfolded and put before us a superb array of speakers whose words still linger in our minds; the likes of Vernon Head and Elana Bregin and the Karoo photographers Michael Drysdale and Louis Botha were memorable, and for anyone able to get into his head (not an easy task even if you paid 150% attention), Willem Boshoff.


If you missed this one, you missed a mental livewire of note…..

Jan Coetzee’s Books and Bones and Other Things was a journey well worth taking and a most fascinating presentation. I hope that you managed to take a stroll down to MAP to take in his exhibition as well and the others in the gemstone of the Karoo.     

….as it came to pass Word Woes became Word Woes….

( I spotted the BAKER BASTAR(d) immediately!)     

Four dudes just hangin’ about…

Saturday morning featured Tracey Going’s talk on her book Brutal Legacy, which I know left me emotionally drained and a talking point between my wife and me ever since. It is a hugely complex problem and once for which the human soul and spirit must be greatly challenged. Interestingly this theme featured in the Wigtown Festival as well.  

Thanks to Arnaud for his inputs and ideas and support. Merci beaucoup.

Anthony Osler did a fittingly appropriate closure to the week’s proceedings, composed and eloquent as always. Thank you.

I must take this opportunity to thank Chef Jovan and my wonderful chef crew at The Supper Klub for the oh so wonderful tea times and evening meals they presented.     

 Over the decade we have been up…. well sort of….and running, we have had the sincere pleasure of the fellowship and support of many many people. They make Darryl and me see the meaning in our madness. The likes of the Vermaaks who trek south from Pretoria every year (they have missed only one BB), the van der Walts from Christiana in North West, who haven’t missed a beat and loyally support us, and not to miss my three Karoo Meisies from Joey, who have rarely skipped a tour. Pieter and Esther (from the Bible) have already booked for BoekBedonnerd 2019…whew…that's Karoo faith. Returnees included the Robbins, Kate Baxter (we miss Edwin), Tod Collins, Pat and her gang, and many more too numerous to mention. Each year we see new faces who will all come back for another week of entertainment despite the rising costs of doing business in getting to the Karoo. We appreciate and love all of you. The Lowrys; getting to veteran status…… and then newcomer virgin Mark De Wet who produced such a wonderful book of poetry and who has become a fixture at the bar of the Supper Klub…. what a character. It was he and  two others, getting to be veterans, Richard Tonkin, and Teigue Payne (who cycled to Richmond on his bicycle), who discovered our story teller and poets who addressed us so entertainingly.    

I think that we all got a kick out of the afternoon wine sessions on the street; thanks go to Mark Borrie of Hawksmoor, Holger Eckoldt of Strandveld and Chris Milne of Springfield wines.


Many thanks to our wine tasting patrons

Sadly, we have to point out once again the dearth of resident support for Booktown Richmond from the local population. With a very few exceptions, locals seem to almost boycott a circus in town; a circus of fantastic South African writers, intellects, artists, travellers, story tellers, photographers and just plain awesome people that should be seen and listened to. To their detriment they have missed out once again on what we like to think of a highlight of the Karroo Kalendar.

Having said this, we must congratulate one local lady, Angie Gallagher who with AfrikaBurn did some really wonderful outreach work with the local kids. If you had to leave before the Grand Spectacle on Saturday afternoon I attach a couple pictures of a parade of kids and colourful flowers and masks and art all made from recycled garbage which litters the Karoo from top to bottom. It will be an ongoing work in progress. We all applaud Angie and the AfrikaBurn crew, Lorraine and Monica, and Simon O’Callaghan, for his superb picture book of the other great Karoo event held every year in the Tankwa Karoo.     

Now this is local participation…thanks to Angie and AfrikaBurn

As one of the Grand Finales of the weekend we held the second edition of the Richmond Mile which was won by Errol Richard, the same winner as last year, with a time roughly recorded at just over 4 minutes; that's pretty slick! For this, our home-grown speed merchant took home the R2000 prize. This kid needs to be grabbed and put into the South African Athletics programme.     

Richmond Mile Winner Errol Richard

We are grateful to the Northern Cape Department of Sport Art and Culture for their continued financial support. We certainly could not continue without their financial assistance. This year, you no double will have noticed the presence of the Northern Cape’s Tourism office. It is never too late to get involved and we thank them for their support and assistance in printing some of the T-Shirts and brochures.

And just in conclusion, we would like to thank one special Katie Lander, really a veterinary manager but really really, the chief operator behind the newsletters, programmes, posters and T-shirts…she did ‘em all….stand up and take a bow Katie Girl!

Watch this space as we are still in talks with the KZN Sports Art and Culture Department to hold a literary festival in May 2019 on the Zululand North Coast. I will not hasten to point out that the local folks in Mtunzini are chomping at the bit to get a literary festival in their beautiful coastal village.

Forever BookBedonnerd          


                                            Serious...I am also having fun!     


                                      Afternoon wine-tasting can’t be all that bad    


                                              Tracey Going ....a remarkable lady.....xo    

Thank you to Chef Jovan and his chef crew from Chefs Training and Innovation Academy, who produced wonderful high teas on the Supper Klub stoep for all attendees    

                  The Richmond rambling raconteur par excellence   

                                                Meanwhile back at the Supper Klub....    

                                 Chef Jovan and his chefs kept our tummies well filled      

                                     Kids poetry reading....thank you Angie darlin’    

                            Warm Karoo evening necessitated some fine street dining    

                      Anthony Osler ending the show with zing and Zen...and rightly so...     

                             The next generation of Richmond building some civic pride     

                                  As the sun sets over another BoekBedonnerd and ..... the shutters close on Booktown Richmond for another year we look forward to seeing you next year in the Karoo......and hopefully on the Zululand Coast in May.     

...And final thank you to the person who tolerates me and enables me to ...just do what I do…. Xo