Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's in a name?

My friend spent some time visiting friends on a ‘Guest Farm’, so I’ve learned something new: this is where guests come from, is it? I wonder if she went to help with the harvesting, and how that’s done. Hope its not too messy.

My thoughts drift from there to the rows and rows of B&B’s, guest houses, guest lodges and the like (not sure what the distinction is, but I suppose there must be one) that stand, almost cheek-by-jowl in all the prettiest spots around here.

A house built in the seventies will sport a name like ‘Wilderness Manor’ – it just doesn’t seem right. It certainly isn’t a ‘manor house’ in any sense that I understand the word. What manner of manor could it be?

Then there’s ‘Tuscany Guest House’ a fake-Tuscan monstrosity situated on Wilderness beach. Nuts. If you want Tuscany, go to Tuscany. This is Wilderness with miles of unspoiled coast – haven’t they heard of ‘sense of place’?

There is a ‘Long Island – style’ development on an island in Knysna Lagoon – you couldn’t think of a location more perfect – at least until they piled row on row of little boxes on it, tight as sardines, painted them blue-grey and sold them for millions each.

Was the ‘Long Island Style’ supposed to encourage one to swallow the size, proximity to neighbors and the price? I don’t get it. Why bring Long Island to Knysna? Not having been to Long Island, I can’t say if they got the effect right. To me, it just looks like one of those huge townhouse complexes.

Oh, and thinking about complexes connects immediately to the word ‘exclusive’ often used in the marketing of such places. It’s a beastly word. It stinks of snobbery and it surely adds a few hundred thousand to the price of what is quite likely a jerry-built, characterless unit among many others just like it. What’s ‘exclusive’ about that?

Heavens! That reminds me! There’s one of those things in George itself – ever so expensive, a fantasy (nightmare?) of clipped lawns and face-brick, walled in against the real world and called… wait for it… ‘Earl’s Court’! How’s that for pretentious? Definitely a complex for people with a complex

I suppose names aren’t really important and I should be more tolerant of people building fantasies with words: being ‘Earls’ and living in ‘Manors’ in ‘Long Island’ or ‘Tuscany’ and suchlike. It seems odd that people should need such fantasies in this beautiful place, but then again its human nature not to be satisfied.

I feel rather proud of the fact that I am.

Today's picture: sometimes reality is difficult to improve upon!


  1. That was a very interesting article. Enjoy this clip.


  2. Ah- such a well written piece! I laughed and I nodded my head in agreement. The same thing happens here- the building of fantasies. It sure makes one think.
    As always, I love your style. The harvesting of guests on the farm was the most original opening!! LOVE IT!

  3. I guess it's better than people from Long Island

  4. I'll take a peep at the video clip later, Israel. I don't doubt it will be a good 'un. Thanks for that.

    Glad you enjoyed it, Pamo - but then you know how to think in cartoons, so you would!

    Maybe Knysna and Long Island have something in common after all, Karl!