Facts About Durban Diary - Page # 1
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10 June 2003
A process which began with a casual decision in about October last year to produce a book of facts and figures on the City of Durban came to an end today when I copied the files off of my computer onto a CD-ROM disc and handed it over to the printers. Perhaps it's just as well that I didn't know before I started how much work would be required or that the project would take over my life to the extent that I had trouble thinking about anything else.
For a while there it looked as if I'd never get finished but I eventually had to take the decision to close the first edition despite the fact that there were a number of facts I hadn't been able to check and a number of others which were still begging for inclusion. Click for a list of the sources I used.


12 June 2003
At the printer to view the page proofs. What a great experience to see one's creation in all its glory, albeit still without its cover. All was not joy, however, when I noticed that I'd left out two pictures. Difficult to see where I would have put them if I had remembered. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, however, I have included them below.


Perla Seidle Gibson - see the entry for 1939 in the
book. The pic is of her statue on T-Jetty.

Fernando Pessoa - see the entry for 1896 in the
book. The pic is of his bust on the corner of Pine
and Gardiner Streets.

22 June 2003
The excitement begins to reach a crecendo. Facts is due for collection from the printer tomorrow at midday and after that I've got an appointment with a real bookseller. Incredible!!

I've put up some of my details here in case you should ever wonder who is behind Facts.


23-24 June 2003
The book is here at last. It's been beautifully printed by my printer Print 24 from my admittedly excellent computer files. I literally haven't stopped since it arrived and have been hitting the marketing trail with a vengeance. It has already been bought by Adams Bookshop whose owner, Peter Adams, was very complimentary. He also very kindly forgave me for not mentioning in it that Adams, itself, was established in 1865 and is thus Durban's oldest business still owned by its founding family. I hope to be getting more details soon and some pictures.

One of the people who helped me most during the research for the book was Sonia Coleman and, when I delivered her copy of Facts, she had found another interesting picture in her files.

We haven't been able to date it with any certainty but it must be from the time when large ships could not enter Durban bay (pre 1904) and passengers were swung to and from their ships in a large wicker basket.

The pic was obviously taken on board a ship as the passengers prepared to make their terrifying trip to the shore. And no, we weren't able to read the ship's name on the sailor's cap.

 

Click on image to view
an enlargement. <100Kb>.

Image: ShipBasket_1.tif
Courtesy: S. Coleman


27 June 2003
What a hectic week!! I've been rushing round to all the places I can think of to try and get them to stock Facts. I've had a pretty good response, all things considered, and only one flat-out refusal to take any copies. One large chain said that they'd consider stocking the book in their Durban stores if I was prepared to pay them R10000 to register as a supplier. Lord only knows how many copies I'd have to sell to pay that off, especially seeing as they'd also be wanting a big slice of the cover price as well!!

Click on image to view
column. <113Kb>

One very good item of news this morning was that I found that Jon Penn, the very worthy Mercury Idler gave Facts a very nice mention in his column today. Thanks a lot Jon!!

I've found another couple of pics which I'm going to post here in the next few days. The other item of possible interest today is that I spotted a herd of elephants wandering about near Durban Drive-In.

IT'S PERFECTLY TRUE FOLKS !!!

And I'll prove it if you watch this space...

 


28 June 2003
I've got a bit of a mystery here for you to solve. It's a picture of a military formation (looks like they could be Guards of one sort or another) marching down Victoria Embankment and passing the Criterion Theatre which was on the corner of Victoria Embankment and Field Street closest to the Berea. The date and the occasion are unknown and I'd love to hear from you if you know anything about it. Click on the picture below for a larger version (1024x768 pixels - 114Kb) in size to take a closer look; you can use it as your desktop wallpaper if you like. Click here for a close-up of the uniform worn by the soldiers.

Image: guards_2.tif
Courtesy S. Coleman

Added 8 September 2003: My informant Doreen Monckton has told me that the soldiers are Grenadier Guards who, she recalled, visited the Durban in 1927 or 1928. Added 25 January 2005: See here for another pic of the Grenadier Guards in Durban [in 1931??].

 


30 June 2003
American and European tourists have all their preconceptions about Africa confirmed when they spot Elephants in downtown Durban !!! The screen of the Durban Drive In movie theatre is clearly to be seen in the background.


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larger version. <62Kb>

Only kidding nice tourist people. :-) The elephants are part of Brian Boswell's Circus which has been visiting the city for umpteen years. Still, elephants grazing within twenty or thirty yards of a busy intersection is not something you'd see all that often in Europe.


1 July 2003
A very pleasing development today. I received a nice order for Facts which nearly cleaned out my stock so I had to order a second print run. The nice printer says they should be ready on Friday, I'll take that as a 'might' and see what happens...

I took the picture, below, of Howard College at the University of Natal through the fence at the top of Howard Road, Click on the image to download a wallpaper-sized version of the image (1024x768 pixels - 144Kb).

Tomorrow I'm on the track of more facts about one of the many ships which have come ashore over the years on Durban's beaches.


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