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NAF DIARY: DAY FOUR (JULY 4) (article first published : 2005-07-5)

The weather dawned cloudy but clear with a sneaky wind that some optimistic local predicted would bring snow!

I sincerely hope not! Along with the rest of the media as well as thousands of other festival-goers, I have enough to do with carrying festival programmes, notebooks, anoraks, scarves, cell-phones and car keys to have to worry about keeping dry as well!

This morning, I had to venture into the Market Square area opposite the City Hall en route to collecting something from the Post Office up the road in High Street. This was quite an eye-opener as the number of stalls is considerably less than in past years and those that are there, invariably offer non-South African items such as curios from East or West Africa or the Congo. More than one stall offers the same wares.

In addition, there were stalls offering cheap clothing, belts and tablecloths and there was the constant presence of a man offering the price of one cigarette at full voice! So, if you are looking for the kind of craft items that used to be found in this area, donít waste your time. Thereís certainly no sense of local creativity here. Head for the Village Green, instead!

An hour-long wait at the Post Office, after having been moved from one queue to another, didnít sweeten my temper any Ė all right, they are in the middle of alterations but a notice or two as to which counter to use would be a help! This sense of irritation then turned itself onto the city streets and pavements. It is acknowledged that the Festival brings a sense of chaos to the city but I donít think Iíve ever seen it as scruffy as this in the 20 odd years Iíve been coming here.

The state of the toilets in any establishment is usually a good gauge and most of the doors of the ladiesí toilets at the Monument donít lock and there is no replenishment of toilet paper. Either the festinos are becoming more irresponsible or the city of Grahamstown isnít caring as much as it used to about the Festival. Which would be a pity because it brings in considerable revenue.

However from 5 oíclock, things improved as I reviewed two fine productions: Petra and Full Circle. (See reviews on these pages or on Dance and Drama)




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