Gus Ferguson and Tony Morphet, friends who shone with higher internal music, are gone, having lived a long and fruitful life. They have been commemorated in numerous publications, including this one. Allow me to cut my own facet of gaze into memories that, frankly, have yet to recover from grief.

Two men whispered about the windswept and sea-swept days of my late youth in Cape Town – benevolent omens who, for no other reason than their selflessness, resolutely came to my aid as I set out to pursue a career in letters.

Gus Ferguson and Tony Morphet, friends who shone with higher internal music, are gone, having lived a long and fruitful life. They have been commemorated in numerous publications, including this one. Allow me to cut my own facet of gaze into memories that, frankly, have yet to recover from grief.

You learn too late to appreciate such a rare gift as the one Gus and Tony gave me: a license to write in a country I’m not from; explore new territories of creative space; with warm smiles and an arm slung to reward the effort. Friendship and community – you didn’t have to work for this with Gus and Tony. They have lent you a state of grace as carelessly as others could pass you a leaflet. As I beamed around them.

In the company of Gus, we talked about the quirks of life – the snails, the irony, the peculiar architecture of electrical substations. In Tony’s, it was about the bounties of life – the birds, the wine, the unparalleled beauty of the Eastern Cape beaches. Gus might put you at ease faster than any other literary prodigy in history: a quick joke, a sly aside, a soft little laugh, and you forget the magnitude, the dimension of the person sitting in front of you. . Has the world ever seen the poet-editor-cartoonist genre? I doubt.

Tony, meanwhile, had the inner trail infallibly: I always craned my neck to see the papers that lay on his desk whenever we met. Within them, I knew, were literary beauties sent by writers and publishers from all corners of the world, and cautious but profound statements about how things were, letters and society, and how they were. should be.

I once saw a manuscript on Tony’s desk for a novel that, over a decade later, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Has anyone ever laid a more solid foundation of discretion, empathy and trust in the literary world? I can’t imagine how or who.

At the turn of the century, while I was purchasing my one and only novel so far, Gus made a deal with another publisher to agree to co-publish it, at a considerable cost to him. (I could be wrong, but I believe mine was one of two or three novels he published, compared to the hundreds of volumes of poetry he published.)

Meanwhile, Tony blurred him by saying that my book “taught us to listen to the mind”. I wish, now, that I myself had been more mindful of the spirit of this moment, when these two greats conspired to hoist me up a step. In retrospect, this counted as one of the most important milestones in my life. Gus and Tony: they were there.

Such a privilege, and I was only half aware of it. What did I do to deserve their generosity?

When silent titans like Gus and Tony pass away, you feel helpless as a ram. Every conversation with them, to borrow from Maugham, was a philosophy. As one of Gus’ immortal cartoons said – they were worth their weight in saffron! And with their death, the literary era that I was very fortunate to witness first-hand is closing a little more. My thoughts are with their amazing partners, Nicky and Ingrid.

Gus and Tony were men who, if you weren’t at the heart of their lives, yet they were at the heart of yours. This internal music, appearing wryly at the corner of their mouth – how I wish I could go back to those windswept days and reconnect to their special vibrato. We have the desert without them. DM / ML

Ben Williams is the editor of Johannesburg Book Review.


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Source: www.dailymaverick.co.za
This notice was published: 2021-06-02 22:15:09

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