24 April 2011 by Chris Marais

Long Street Sunday

Sitting on a double bed in a narrow room on the third floor of Carnival Court Backpackers in Long Street, Cape Town. I find myself strumming on a steel string Seagull guitar that has lain dormant in the pantry for five years, right up until this trip.

Finally playing the chords of D, A, G. Slow business, fingers on left hand developing calluses. Outside, the street people are yelling at each other, the Sunday evening traffic is starting to hot up and tonight’s band is doing a raucous sound check on the first floor. Aah, this Long Street. It’s been the naughty heart of Cape Town for so long.

But why am I here? I’m 57 years old, doing this hippie stuff in a backpackers’ at the top end of Long Street.  As close as you can get to Bourbon Street in New Orleans without actually leaving South Africa. Short answer to that? I do it because I still can.

I should be back home riding the rocker, I suppose. But as they say: it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

They don’t ask you your age at Carnival Court. They don’t even raise an eyebrow when you traipse up the stairs bearing cameras, tripods, computer and an old Seagull guitar. Which was made in a village in Quebec Province, Canada called La Patrie.

Jambalaya, Hasie (A Bad Moon Rising), Long Black Veil, Dead Flowers, all are getting a thorough mauling at my hands, which are more used to typing.

The night is but a puppy. And when the strumming pain from the steel strings gets too much to handle, we’re going downstairs for a wicked cocktail at one of the street bars. Long Street knows no age limits…

Category: Culture & History

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