Marching Backward

This past week we finally turned off our binding machines for the last time, thereby closing the book on our department and finally ending the 10 year+ run of work that was done for a particular customer. I only came into the company in 2018 and every 2nd week we would have a huge amount of binding and packing to do, although by then the volume had decreased significantly. It is sad when something like this does happen because those skills that you have acquired over time are suddenly useless and of no consequence. The many years of work that were put in by some of the staff members have now ended, and with an uncertain future ahead of us one cannot help but be concerned. 

A Horizon BQ270 Perfect Binder

What did strike me as quite significant was in one of the offices that were normally occupied by various admin staff and which we now use as part of “social distancing”. On the one desk is a page a day calendar that still has March 28 as it’s date. The person who used that desk having been sent to either work from home or on furlough. They left behind the inevitable detritus of cups, headache pills, photographs, a jacket, stationary and the odds and sods that accumulate when you do spend a long time at your place of work. A year later and they have still not returned, and I do not know if they ever will.  Covid changed our workspace and way of life and for many who ended up working from home it is fantastic. I wish I could work from home! 

By the time you do read this I will have had my first vaccine against the virus, and I am somewhat relieved. The UK is surging ahead with the vaccinations and hopefully at some point a new normality may start up.  The whole experience was quick, I doubt whether it took me more than 5 minutes from when I went inside to when I left. I was given the AstraZeneca  shot and will get the 2nd in roughly 12 weeks. I will be honest and admit that for all I know it may come back and bite me,  but then so could covid. I have however been nobbled by the side effects of the jab and had to come home from work after feeling increasingly miserable on Monday.  The side effects lasted till Thursday and I was really flat on my back.  Will things ever be the same? I doubt it.   

The numbers:

Sadly this week also saw the recovery of the body of Sarah Everard who was allegedly murdered by a policeman. The complete facts of the murder are not known as yet but the story will make headlines for quite some time. Unfortunately this is yet another  case of men abusing/killing women and creating even bigger rifts between the sexes. Women have every right to be angry about how men abuse/stalk/catcall/rape/molest, and frankly the streets are not safe irrespective of whether you are male or female. When will it end? it is all about power and the lack of respect for women, and who knows how many more will die or be destroyed by men. The PC mob have jumped on the bandwagon too and there are those calling for curfews of men which will really cause havoc in the job market. I make no excuses for some of these monsters though, but have to ask myself whether their mothers ever sat them down when they were young and taught them the difference between yes and no, right and wrong.

The Rand Revolt in South Africa happened around about this time 100 years ago, and there are no real definitive dates although it is generally accepted that it occurred from 10-22 March 1922. This past year I did a lot of work on the casualty list, and a lot of the known Rand Revolt graves have been found and photographed. Yet it still remains a very forgotten part of the history of mining in Johannesburg and the East Rand, and of course what little information there is really only comes from a few sources.  We did not do ourselves proud way back in 1922, and realistically it was a waste of life because it achieved very little. The sheer brutality and violence of the strikers as well as the necessity for armed troops to be called in does show the level of seriousness that was reached. As a child I used to live a few blocks from Fordsburg and Brixton and it was not until I started working with the South African War Graves Project that I discovered that it had happened on my doorstep!  That really illustrates how little relevant history I was taught  about in school. 

Plaque on Fordsburg Square

Fordsburg is one of the places where the final moments were played out and there is a plaque on Fordsburg Square that commemorates the event. The public toilets also used to have bullet holes in it up till recently, but then some birght spark hauled out the polyfilla. 

The 1922 era Gentlemen’s toilets on Fordsburg Square

Fordsburg is a very old area in Johannesburg, and used to have a number of hotels in it, may of which were used by miners who worked in that area. Way back when I was young many of the hotels were still open and relatively unchanged from when they were built.  In later years it became a predominantly Asian area and that was still true by the time I took my last photographs in 2007/20011.

Getting images free from traffic is very difficult though, but then again in 20 years time we may be looking at the cars in these images and going oooh! and aaah! Such is the nature of nostalgia.

DRW 2021. Created 13-14/03/2021

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