song for richard

I wanted to paint on Long str. in Cape Town.. A place I have always loved since discovering it as a science student.. the old cafes.. Pickwicks the washed out bohemian feel.. I arrived there.. parked on Dorp str.. negotiated parking with the Nigerian traffic marshal lady.. set off to case the promised land.. it was still as it was.. had my coffee at pickwicks and it was good the acidic hip hop edgier than I remember..  the same decayed feeling which used to feel hip now just felt lost in another time or was that just me I found my place to paint and set up.. german tourists muscled angry men models paupers and marshals walking past me all indifferently or was that just me I wanted something beautiful fresh and alive from my canvas but I really struggled.. the paints held back an angel in the painting showed such promise but she died on the back of a palette knife a man white middle aged looking (me?) stopped to chat.. it soon became clear he was lost in his land and his hopelessness the veneer was thin.. his name was Richard he lost his job 10 years ago as a prestigious mine manager he threatened some troublemaker with a knife and then he had no job.. I felt sad for him and wondered what we were doing here… as I stood there hoping he would leave after a little while and I could get back to being tangled… but he remained kind and gentle in his lost-ness.. we cried over the anger and lack of compassion that this city seemed to be offering us as it rushed about on this day…  I wished him well but that was all I could offer.. nothing real… I hope that was enough for now

I struggled on.. the painting reflecting something of the decay

under the thin veneer that

this city conceals in its extraordinary beauty

I realised that this was the painting’s story

that I had to accept


© Copyright Sid Sledge Artist