We write what ordinary people think

2008-08-22 00:00

What is your connection with The Witness and to Pietermaritzburg?

I’ve lived in the Pietermaritzburg area for some years now and I always enjoy a local newspaper to see what’s happening in my community and for

general news.

Where were you born, where did you grow up? What’s your educational background?

I was born in India during World War 2. My mother’s family has a long history of being born there. My dad was born in Wales. As for my education, well I was “removed” from school at 15 and went to a secretarial college. I started work at 16. I saved up and went to live in London. In my 50s I spent nine years studying for a BA (psychology/communications) and an advanced counselling diploma through Unisa. I then got a post-graduate diploma in psychology through the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I was also a journalist in Pinetown and Johannesburg.

How do you spend your days?

Doing as little as possible preferably. I don’t know what I do really — write to the papers.

Do you write letters to other newspapers? Why do you choose The Witness?

I write to the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday Times and a couple of magazines. Obviously I write to The Witness because I’m usually enraged by something or other. I think it’s good to express an opinion which other people may (or may not) agree with,.

How do you receive your news about South African current affairs and why do you follow it?

From The Witness and other newspapers, magazines, overseas press, Sky News, etc. I have no idea why I do because it infuriates me most of the time.

Do you have any other passions or interests?

I play tennis. I used to shoot target rifle. I raced cars for many years from the age of 16 [in Rhodesia]. I rode off-road motorbikes until I couldn’t lift a bike anymore. I try to paint, read and study various things. I am interested in anything to do with quantum physics and animals.

What do you think is the value of letter writing? What inspires you to write letters?

It’s the expression of opinions and insights from the average person that makes letter writers so interesting. We always read the reporters’ take on things — and of course politicians’ — but it’s the person in the street who is the nub of society and his or her opinion and feelings matter.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing South Africa today?

Politicians? Anything to do with governments. If you work from the top down, all the problems come from above, as it were. They simply aren’t dealing with real issues. And this isn’t only true of South Africa. The governing bodies on all levels are too “top heavy”. In other words, too many chiefs and not enough Indians (no racial slur intended by the way). I don’t want to write a book here ...

What is your age, marital status and do you have children?

I am 64 and married with three children and three granddaughters.

What do you believe has been your best letter?

Maybe the one I wrote to the Sunday Tribune on smoking, because it did a cartoon about it. I’m a smoker, of course. It used to be an occupational necessity for journalists. I do feel sorry for journalists now. How can one possibly think without a cigarette?

Do you get any feedback as a result of your letters?

Strangely enough I do get a couple of phone calls occasionally, but mostly I get some smart remarks from people in the supermarket.

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