Stories

Like The Greeks, Only More So

Posted on June 09, 2017 by Cape Rebel

From Patrick Leigh Fermor – An Adventure
by Artemis Cooper

 

Balasha was in her car listening to the radio when she heard the news that England had declared war on Germany, and in that moment she knew her time with Paddy was over. He did not want to leave her, but he was so keen to get back to London and join up that he started making arrangements at once. Her friends asked her why he was in such a hurry to go to war, could he not wait a week or two? Yet as Balasha wrote to him years later, she understood and made no attempt to hold him back: ‘your heart and soul were straining for it.’

With Henry Nevile, a friend who had been staying in Bucharest, Paddy made his way back to England by train, hoping to enlist in the Irish Guards. Being ‘of Irish descent’ was very much part of the romantic persona he had created for himself, and his desire to serve in the Irish Guards was a way of claiming that Irishness. What he really coveted, Paddy maintained, was the uniform, with its Star Saltire of St Patrick emblazoned on the cap badge and its buttons in groups of four. ‘I had read somewhere that the average life of an infantry officer in the First World War was eight weeks, and I had no reason to think that the odds would be much better in the Second. So I thought I might as well die in a nice uniform.’

~

On 14 November, Paddy was ordered to make his way to the Guards Depot in Caterham, and submit to a regime that came as a severe shock to his system. He was physically tough, but he now found himself in a place where his charm cut no ice and the pressure to conform was relentless: like going back to school, only more brutal.

~

The Intelligence Corps, on the other hand, were very interested in the fact that Paddy spoke French, German, Rumanian and Greek, and with the situation in the Balkans developing fast they offered him a commission. If he took it, he would be spared any more training at the Guards Depot, but he still clung to the hope of a commission in the Irish Guards.

He had an interview with the regiment’s commander. There was no opening for him in the Irish Guards at present, Lieutenant Colonel Versey told him: indeed, he might have to wait for months before the opportunity arose. Although most regiments at this time were desperate for young officers, Versey was in no hurry to commission this particular cadet: one of Paddy’s reports had described his progress as ‘below average’. The Intelligence Corps, on the other hand, were offering immediate employment and the opportunity to return to Greece.

~

The final, prophetic remarks on Paddy’s report were written by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel R. C. Bingham: ‘Quite useless as a regimental officer,’ he wrote, ‘but in other capacities he will serve the army well.’

~

Monty Woodhouse was a Greek scholar with an austere cast of mind, who admitted that he was slow to appreciate Paddy’s qualities. ‘I first saw him on the platform at Glasgow, with an Irish Guards cap pulled so low over his eyes that he had to lean over backwards to look at you.’ The bone of contention between them was Greece. Woodhouse, who had a double first in Classics from Oxford and had studied in Athens, was an academic. Paddy, on the other hand, had lived among the Greeks, meeting Vlachs and Sarakatsans, soldiers, monks and shepherds. As Paddy put it, ‘This was always the real root of the friction, a constant jealous, unarmed struggle as to who had the greatest proprietary rights to Greece.’

At Gibraltar, they were transferred to the cruiser HMS Ajax, and went on to Alexandria. Then, on the final stretch to Athens, they stopped at Suda Bay in Crete to refuel. The ship would not leave for another three hours, so Paddy suggested to Woodhouse that they visit the island’s western capital, Chania. After a few rounds of coffee and sikoudia (a spirit made from mulberries) in the waterfront bars, they found it was getting late. A soldier of the Black Watch gave them a ride back to Suda in a truck full of oranges. Very drunk, he lost control of the truck and it overturned, sending an avalanche of oranges bouncing into the dust.

Woodhouse and the driver were unhurt but Paddy, who had been thrown out of the back with the oranges, was covered in blood from a gash to the head. Woodhouse was obliged to rejoin the ship without him, while Paddy was taken to a doctor in Halepa who insisted on his staying a night or two since the wound was serious.

This was Paddy’s first time among the Cretans, and he claimed an instant empathy: ‘They were like the Greeks, only more so.’

Baie Soos Die Grieke, Net Meer So

Posted on June 09, 2017 by Cape Rebel

 

Uit Patrick Leigh Fermor – An Adventure 
deur Artemis Cooper

 

Balasha was besig om na die radio in haar kar te luister, toe sy die nuus gehoor het dat Engeland oorlog teen Duitsland verklaar het. Op daardie oomblik het sy geweet dat haar tyd saam met Paddy verby was. Hy wou haar nie verlaat nie, maar hy was so gretig om terug te gaan Londen toe om aan te sluit dat hy dadelik reëlings begin tref het. Haar vriende het gevra waarom hy so haastig was om oorlog toe te gaan – kon hy nie ’n week of twee wag nie? Maar tog het Balasha jare later aan hom geskryf dat sy verstaan het en geen poging aangewend het om hom terug te hou nie: “Jou hart en siel het daarnatoe gebeur”.

Saam met Henry Nevile, ’n vriend wat in Boekarest gewoon het, het Paddy per trein terug Engeland toe gegaan met die hoop om by Ierse Wag aan te sluit. Om “van Ierse oorsprong te wees” was tot ’n groot mate deel van die romantiese persona wat hy vir homself geskep het, en sy begeerte om in die Ierse Wag  diens te doen, was ’n manier om daardie Iersheid vir homself toe te eien. Wat hy regtig begeer het, het Paddy aangevoer, was die uniform, met die “Star Saltire” van St. Patrick op die pet geblasoeneer en die knope in groepe van vier. “Ek het êrens gelees dat die gemiddelde lewe van ’n voetsoldaat-offisier in die Eerste Wêreldoorlog agt weke was, en ek het geen rede gehad om te dink dat die kanse in die Tweede veel beter sou wees nie. Daarom het ek gedink dat ek maar net so wel in ’n mooi uniform kon sterf.”

~

Op 14 November is Paddy beveel om na die Guards Depot in Caterham te gaan, en daar was hy onderwerp aan ’n regime wat ’n ernstige skok vir sy gestel was. Fisies was hy taai, maar daar het hy hom op ’n plek bevind waar sy sjarme nutteloos was, en die druk om te konformeer, meedoënloos was: dit was soos om weer op skool te wees, slegs drakonieser.

~

Die Inligtingsdiens, andersins, was nogal baie geïnteresseerd in die feit dat Paddy Frans, Duits, Roemeens en Grieks kon praat. En met die situasie wat in die Balkans vinnig aan die verander was, het hulle hom ’n kommissie aangebied. As hy dit sou aanneem, sou hy vry wees van enige verdere opleiding in die Guards Depot. Maar hy het steeds gehoop om ’n kommissie in die Ierse Wag te kry.

Hy het ’n onderhoud met die regiment se bevelvoerder gehad. Op daardie oomblik was daar vir hom geen vakature in die Ierse Wag nie. Luitenant-kolonel Versey het aan hom gesê dat hy inderdaad maande lank kon wag voor die geleentheid mog kom. Hoewel die meeste regimente daardie tyd desperaat was om jong offisiere te bekom, was Versey glad nie haastig om aan dié kadet ’n kommissie te gee nie – een van Paddy se rapporte het sy vordering as “benede gemiddeld” beskryf. Die Inligtingsdiens het egter dadelik ’n werksgeleentheid beskikbaar gehad, en die geleentheid was daar om terug te keer Griekeland toe.

Die finale, profetiese opmerking op Paddy se rapport is deur sy bevelvoerende offisier geskryf: “Geheel en al nutteloos as ’n regimentsoffisier, maar in ander kapasiteite sal hy van goeie diens vir die weermag wees.”

~

Monty Woodhouse was ’n Griekse geleerde met ’n ernstige soort van gemoed, wat toegegee het dat dit hom lank gevat het om Paddy se kwaliteite te waardeer. “Ek het hom vir die eerste keer op die perron by Glasgow gesien, met ’n pet van die Ierse Wag so laag oor sy oë getrek, dat hy agteroor moes leun om na jou te kyk.” Die twisappel tussen hulle was Griekeland. Woodhouse, wat ’n dubbele eersteklas in Klassieke Tale by Oxford behaal het en wat ook by Athene studeer het, was ’n akademikus. Paddy weer, het tussen die Grieke gewoon en het Vlachs en Sarakatsans, soldate, monnike en veewagters ontmoet. Soos Paddy dit gestel het: “Dít was altyd die ware wortel van die kwaad – ’n konstante en ongewapende stryd oor wie die grootste eiendomsreg op die Grieke gehad het.”

By Gibraltar het hulle na die kruiser HMS Ajax oorgestap en toe van daar na Alexandria gevaar. Toe, op die finale ent na Athene, het hulle by Sudabaai in Kreta stilgehou, om brandstof in te neem. Die skip sou eers oor drie ure vertrek, en Paddy het aan Woodhouse voorgestel dat hulle die eiland se westerse hoofstad, Chania, besoek. Ná ’n paar koppies koffie en sikoudia (’n drankie wat van moerbeie gemaak word) in die kroeë van die waterfront, het hulle besef dat dit laat geword het. ’n Soldaat van die Black Watch, het hulle terug na Suda toe opgelaai met sy vragmotor vol lemoene. Hoogsbesope het hy beheer oor die vragmotor verloor en dit omgegooi, en ’n stortvloed van lemoene het oraloor gebons en gerol.

Woodhouse en die bestuurder was onbeseer, maar Paddy wat saam met die lemoene uit die bak geval het, het ’n sny aan sy kop opgedoen en was vol bloed. Woodhouse was verplig om sonder hom weer by die skip aan te sluit, terwyl Paddy intussen na ’n dokter in Halepa toe geneem is, wat daarop aangedring het dat hy ’n nag of twee moes oorbly omdat dit ’n ernstige wond was.

Dit was Paddy se eerste geleentheid tussen die Kretensers, en hy het op onmiddellike empatie aanspraak gemaak: “Hulle was baie soos die Grieke, net meer so.”

The Hush Puppie Epidemic

Posted on June 01, 2017 by Cape Rebel

From The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell
Click Here to Play Podcast

 

For Hush Puppies – the classic American brushed-suede shoes with the lightweight crepe sole – the Tipping Point came somewhere between late 1994 and early 1995. The brand had been all but dead until that point. Sales were down to 30,000 pairs a year, mostly in backwoods outlets and small-town family stores. Wolverine, the company that makes Hush Puppies, was thinking of phasing out the shoes that made them famous. But then something strange happened.

At a fashion shoot, two Hush Puppies executives – Owen Baxter and Geoffrey Lewis – ran into a stylist from New York, who told them that the classic Hush Puppies had suddenly become hip in the clubs and bars of downtown Manhattan. ‘We were being told,’ Baxter recalls, ‘that there were resale shops in the Village, in Soho, where the shoes were being sold. People were going to the Ma and Pa stores, the little stores that still carried them, and buying them up.’ Baxter and Lewis were baffled at first. It made no sense to them that shoes that were so obviously out of fashion should make a comeback. ‘We were told that Isaac Mizrahi was wearing the shoes himself,’ Lewis says. ‘I think it’s fair to say that, at the time, we had no idea who Isaac Mizrahi was.’

By the fall of 1995, things began to happen in a rush. First the designer John Bartlett called. He wanted to use Hush Puppies in his spring collection. Then another Manhattan designer, Anna Sui, called, wanting shoes for her show as well. In Los Angeles, the designer Joel Fitzgerald put a twenty-five-foot inflatable basset hound – the symbol of the Hush Puppie brand – on the roof of his Hollywood store and gutted an adjoining art gallery to turn it into a Hush Puppies boutique. While he was still painting and putting up shelves, the actor Pee-Wee Herman walked in and asked for a couple of pairs. ‘It was total word of mouth,’ Fitzgerald remembers.

In 1995, the company sold 430,000 pairs of the classic Hush Puppies, the following year it sold four times that, and the year after that still more, until Hush Puppies were once again a staple of the wardrobe of the young American male. In 1996, Hush Puppies won the prize for the best accessory at the Council of Fashion Designers awards dinner at the Lincoln Center, and the president of the firm stood up on the stage with Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, and accepted an award for an achievement that – as he would be the first to admit – his company had almost nothing to do with. Hush Puppies had suddenly exploded, and it all started with a handful of kids in the East Village and Soho.

How did that happen? Those first few kids, whoever they were, weren’t deliberately trying to promote Hush Puppies. They were wearing them precisely because no one else would wear them. Then the fad spread to two fashion designers who used the shoes to peddle something else – haute couture. The shoes were an incidental touch. No one was trying to make Hush Puppies a trend. Yet, somehow, that’s exactly what happened. The shoes passed a certain point in popularity and they tipped. How does a thirty-dollar pair of shoes go from a handful of downtown Manhattan hipsters and designers to every mall in America in the space of two years?

~

The book The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea is very simple. It is that the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the phenomenon of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life, is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas, products, messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do.

The rise of Hush Puppies is a textbook example of an epidemic in action. Although this and other examples may sound as if they don’t have very much in common, they share a basic, underlying pattern. First of all, they are clear examples of contagious behaviour. No one took out an advertisement and told people that the traditional Hush Puppies were cool, and that they should start wearing them. Those kids simply wore the shoes when they went to clubs or cafés or walked the streets of downtown New York, and in so doing exposed other people to their fashion sense. They infected them with the Hush Puppies ‘virus’.

~

The second distinguishing characteristic is that little changes can have big effects. How many kids are we talking about who began wearing the shoes in downtown Manhattan? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred – at the most? Yet their actions seem to have single-handedly started an international fashion trend.

Finally, these changes happen in a hurry. They don’t build steadily and slowly.

~

These three characteristics – one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, the fact that change happens not gradually but in one dramatic moment – are the same three principles that define how measles move through a school classroom or the ’flu attacks every winter. Of the three, the third – the idea that epidemics can rise or fall in one dramatic moment – is the most important, because it is the principle that makes sense of the first two, and it permits the greatest insight into why modern change happens the way it does. The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic, when when everything can change all at once, is: the Tipping Point.

Die Hush Puppies-Epidemie

Posted on June 01, 2017 by Cape Rebel

Uit The Tipping Point
deur Malcolm Gladwell
Click here to Play Podcast

 

Vir Hush Puppies – die klassieke Amerikaanse gepluisde-sweedseleerskoene met die liggewig kreipsole – het die kantelpunt êrens tussen die einde van 1994 en vroeg in 1995 gekom. Die handelsmerk was op daardie punt so te sê dood. Verkope het tot omtrent 30 000 pare per jaar afgeneem, meestal in afgeleë afsetgebiede en klein familiewinkeltjies. Wolverine, die maatskappy wat Hush Puppies gemaak het, het daaraan gedink om die skoene wat hulle beroemd gemaak het, uit te faseer. Toe het iets vreemds gebeur.

By ’n foto-opname het twee Hush Puppie-uitvoerende beamptes, Owen Baxter en Geoffrey Lewis, ’n stilis uit New York, raakgeloop. Hy het hulle vertel dat die klassieke Hush Puppies skielik hoog mode in die klubs en kroeë in die middestad van Manhattan geword het. “Daar is aan ons vertel,” het Baxter onthou, “dat daar herverkopewinkels in die dorp, in Soho was, waar die skoene aan die verkoop is. Mense het na die ‘Ma and Pa’ winkels toe gegaan wat steeds die skoene aangehou het, en hulle opgekoop.” Baxter en Lewis was aanvanklik dronkgeslaan. Dat skoene wat klaarblyklik só uit die mode was, weer mode geword het, het net nie sin gemaak nie. “Daar is aan ons gesê dat selfs Isaac Mizrahi nou die skoene dra,” het Lewis gesê. “Ek dink dis billik om te sê dat ons destyds geen idee gehad het wie Isaac Mizrahi was nie.”

Teen die herfs van 1995 het dinge met ’n spoed gebeur. Die ontwerper, John Bartlett, was die eerste een wat gebel het. Hy wou Hush Puppies in sy lentevertoning gebruik. Toe het ’n ander Manhattan-ontwerper, Anna Sui, gebel – sy wou ook skoene vir haar vertoning in Los Angeles hê. Die ontwerper, John Fitzgerald, het ’n vyf en twintigvoet hoë, opblaasbare basset-dashond – die simbool van die Hush Puppy handelsmerk – op die dak van sy Hollywood-winkel geplaas, en ’n aangrensende kunsgalery afgebreek om dit in ’n Hush Puppy-modewinkel te verbou. Terwyl hy nog besig was om die plek te verf en rakke op te sit, het die akteur Pee-Wee Herman daar ingeloop en gevra om ’n paar skoene te koop. “En dit was alles van mond tot mond oorgedra,” het Fitzgerald onthou.

In 1995 het die maatskappy 430,000 paar van die klassieke Hush Puppies verkoop, en die jaar daarná vier keer soveel, en die jaar daarná nog meer, totdat Hush Puppies weereens die belangrikste inhoud van die Amerikaanse jongman se klerekas was. Hush Puppies het die prys gewen vir die beste toebehore by die Raad van Mode-ontwerpers se prystoekenningdinee by die Lincoln Center. Die president van die firma het op die verhoog saam met Calvin Klein en Donna Karan opgestaan en ’n prys aanvaar vir ’n prestasie wat – en hy sou die eerste een wees om dit erken – sy maatskappy amper niks mee te doen gehad het nie. Hush Puppies het skielik ontplof, en dit het alles begin met ’n klompie jongmense in die East Village en Soho.

Hoe het dit gebeur? Daardie eerste paar jong mense, wie hulle ook al was, het nie doelbewus probeer om die Hush Puppies te adverteer en bekend te maak nie. Hulle het dit gedra juis omdat niemand anders dit wou dra nie. Daarna het die gier na twee mode-ontwerpers toe versprei. Hulle het die skoene gebruik om iets anders te smous – haute couture. Die skoene was ’n blote toeval. Niemand het probeer om van Hush Puppies ’n tendens te maak nie. Tog, op die een of ander manier, was dit presies wat gebeur het. Die skoene het ’n sekere punt van gewildheid verbygegaan, en toe die hoogte ingeskiet. Hoe is dit moontlik dat, in die bestek van twee jaar, ’n paar skoene van dertig dollar, van ’n handjievol middedorp Manhattan jeugdiges en ontwerpers af aanbeweeg het na elke winkelpromenade in Amerika?

~

Die boek The Tipping Point (die Kantelpunt) is die biografie van ’n idee, en die idee is baie eenvoudig. Die beste manier om die verskyning van mode-tendense, die verskynsel van mondelinge oordraagbaarheid, of enige aantal ander misterieuse veranderinge wat die daaglikse lewe kenskets, te verstaan, is om daaraan as epidemies te dink. Idees en produkte en boodskappe en gedragswyses versprei net soos virusse.

Die opgang van Hush Puppies is ’n kenmerkende, klassieke voorbeeld van ’n epidemie in aksie. Hoewel dié en ander voorbeelde mag klink asof hulle nie veel in gemeen het nie, deel hulle ’n basiese, onderliggende patroon. Hulle is eerstens duidelike voorbeelde van aansteeklike gedrag. Niemand het ’n advertensie uitgehaal en mense begin vertel dat die tradisionele Hush Puppies die ware Jakob was nie, en dat hulle almal moes begin om dit te dra. Die jong mense het eenvoudig die skoene gedra toe hulle klubs of kafees toe gegaan het, of net in New York se middestad rondgeloop het. En terwyl hulle dit gedoen het, het hulle ander mense aan hulle mode-gevoel blootgestel. Hulle het die ander mense aangesteek met die Hush Puppie-“virus”.

~

Die tweede onderskeidende karakteristiek is dat klein veranderinge tot groot gevolge kan lei. Van hoeveel jong outjies praat ons wat begin het om die skoene in die middestad van Manhattan te dra? Twintig? Vyftig? Eenhonderd – op die meeste? Tog, lyk dit of hulle optrede, so op hulle eie, ’n internasionale mode-tendens begin het.

Ten laaste, hierdie veranderinge gebeur sommer baie gou. Hulle neem nie gelykmatig en stadig vorm aan nie.

~

Hierdie drie karakteristieke – een, aansteeklikheid; twee, dat klein oorsake groot resultate kan hê; en drie, dat verandering nie stadig plaasvind nie, maar in een dramatiese oomblik – is dieselfde drie beginsels wat bepaal hoe masels deur ’n klaskamer beweeg of griepaanvalle elke winter opvlam. Van hierdie drie, die derde eienskap – die idee dat epidemies in een dramatiese oomblik na vore kan kom of weer verdwyn – is die belangrikste, want dit is die beginsel wat van die eerste twee sin maak, en dit verskaf die beste insig waarom moderne veranderinge plaasvind, en die manier waarop dit wel gebeur. Die naam wat aan daardie een dramatiese oomblik in ’n epidemie gegee word, wanneer alles eensklaps kan verander, is: die Kantelpunt.

A Call To Arms

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Cape Rebel

From The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell
Click Here to Play Podcast

 

On the afternoon of 18 April 1775, a young boy who worked at a livery stable in Boston overheard one British army officer say to another something about ‘hell to pay tomorrow’. The stable boy ran with the news to Boston’s North End, to the home of a silversmith named Paul Revere. Revere listened gravely; this was not the first rumour to come his way that day. Earlier, he had been told of an unusual number of British officers gathered on Boston’s Long Wharf, talking in low tones. British crewmen had been spotted scurrying about in the boats tethered beneath the HMS Somerset and the HMS Boyne in Boston Harbour. Several other sailors were seen on shore that morning, running what appeared to be last-minute errands. As the afternoon wore on, Revere and his close friend, Joseph Warren, became more and more convinced that the British were about to make the major move that had long been rumoured – to march to the town of Lexington, northwest of Boston, to arrest the colonial leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams, and then on to the town of Concord, to seize the stores of guns and ammunition that some of the local militia had stored there.

What happened next has become part of historical legend, a tale told to every American schoolchild. At ten o’clock that night, Warren and Revere met. They decided they had to warn the communities surrounding Boston that the British were on their way, so that local militia could be roused to meet them. Revere was spirited across Boston Harbour to the ferry landing at Charlestown. He jumped on a horse and began his ‘midnight ride’ to Lexington. In two hours, he covered thirteen miles. In every town he passed through along the way – Charlestown, Medford, North Cambridge, Menotomy – he knocked on doors and spread the word, telling local colonial leaders of the oncoming British, and telling them to spread the word to others. Church bells started ringing. Drums started beating. The news spread like a virus as those informed by Paul Revere sent out riders of their own, until alarms were going off throughout the entire region. The word was in Lincoln, Massachusetts by one am, in Sudbury by three, in Andover, forty miles northwest of Boston, by five am, and by nine in the morning had reached as far west as Ashby, near Worcester.

When the British finally began their march towards Lexington on the morning of the 19th, their foray into the countryside was met – to their utter astonishment – with organised and fierce resistance. In Concord that day, the British were confronted and soundly beaten by the colonial militia, and from that exchange came the war known as the American Revolution.

Paul Revere’s ride is perhaps the most famous historical example of a word-of-mouth epidemic. A piece of extraordinary news travelled a long distance in a very short time, mobilising an entire region to arms. Not all word-of-mouth epidemics are this sensational, of course. But it is safe to say that word of mouth is still the most important form of human communication.

But for all that, word of mouth remains very mysterious. People pass on all kinds of information to each other all the time. But it’s only in the rare instance that such an exchange ignites a word-of-mouth epidemic.

~

In the case of Paul Revere’s ride, the answer to this question – why some ideas and trends and messages ‘tip’, and others don’t – seems easy. Revere was carrying a sensational piece of news: the British were coming.

But if you look closely at the events of that evening, that explanation doesn’t solve the riddle. At the same time that Revere began his ride north and west of Boston, a fellow revolutionary – a tanner by the name of William Dawes – set out on the same urgent errand, working his way to Lexington via the towns west of Boston. He was carrying the identical message, through just as many towns and over just as many miles as Paul Revere. But Dawes’s ride didn’t set the countryside on fire. The local militia leaders weren’t alerted. In fact, so few men from one of the main towns he rode through – Waltham – fought the following day that some subsequent historians concluded that it must have been a strongly pro-British community. It wasn’t. The people of Waltham just didn’t find out that the British were coming until it was too late. If it were only the news itself that mattered in a word-of-mouth epidemic, Dawes would now be as famous as Paul Revere. He isn’t. So why did Revere succeed where Dawes failed?

The answer is that the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Revere’s news ‘tipped’, and Dawes’s didn’t, because of the differences between the two men. This is the Law of the Few – the people critical to social epidemics, and what makes someone like Paul Revere different from someone like William Dawes. These kinds of people are all around us. Yet we often fail to give them proper credit for the role they play in our lives. I call them Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Tot Die Aanval Oproep

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Cape Rebel

Uit The Tipping Point 
deur Malcolm Gladwell
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Gedurende die middag van 18 April 1775 het ’n jong seun wat by ’n perdestal in Boston gewerk het, toevallig gehoor hoe een Britse weermagsoffisier aan ’n ander iets gesê het oor “môre is die hel los”. Die stalkneg het met dié nuus na Boston se North End, na die huis van die silwersmid genaamd Paul Revere, gehardloop. Revere het heel gewigtig geluister – dit was nie die eerste gerug wat hy daardie dag gehoor het nie. Vroeër is daar aan hom vertel dat ’n ongewone getal Britse offisiere by Boston se Long Wharf vergader het en op sagte toon met mekaar gepraat het. Daar is waargeneem hoe Britse bemanning gejaagd in die bote wat onderaan die HMS Somerset en die HMS Boyne in die Bostonse hawe vasgemaak was, rondbeweeg het. ’n Hele paar ander matrose is daardie oggend op die kus gesien, en dit het voorgekom asof hulle opdragte op die laaste oomblikke uitgevoer het. Later die middag het Revere en sy boesemvriend, Joseph Warren, meer en meer oortuig daarvan geraak dat die Britte op die punt gestaan het om oor te gaan tot die maneuver waarvan daar ’n hele ruk lankal gerugte oor rondgegaan het – om na die dorp Lexington, noordwes van Boston, toe te marsjeer om die koloniale leiers John Hancock en Samuel Adams te arresteer, en daarvandaan verder na die dorp Concord om daar beslag te lê op die gewere en ammunisie wat sommige van die burgerlike verdedigingsmag daar geberg het.

Wat volgende gebeur het, het deel van die geskiedkundige legendes geword – ’n verhaal wat aan elke Amerikaanse skoolkind vertel word. Tienuur daardie aand het Warren en Revere mekaar ontmoet. Hulle het besluit om die gemeenskappe om Boston te waarsku dat die Britte daarheen oppad is, sodat die plaaslike burgermag voorbereid en paraat kon wees om hulle te ontmoet. Dapper en onbevrees het Revere oor Boston Harbour na die veerbootlandingsplek gegaan. Daar het hy op ’n perd gespring en sy “middernagtelike rit” na Lexington aangepak. Binne twee uur het hy dertien myl afgelê. Op sy weg het hy by elke dorp waar hy verbygegaan het –Charlestown, Medford, North Cambridge, Menotomy – aan die deure geklop en woord gelos en die plaaslike koloniale leiers laat weet dat die Britte aan die kom was, en hulle versoek om die nuus rugbaar te maak. Kerkklokke het begin lui. Dromme het getrommel. Die nuus het soos ’n virus versprei en daardie mense wat deur Paul Revere ingelig is, het hulle eie ruiters uitgestuur, totdat alarmseine oor die hele gebied afgegaan het. Teen eenuur dié oggend het die woord versprei na Lincoln, Massachusetts, en by Sudbury teen drie-uur, in Andover, veertig myl noord van Boston, teen vyfuur daardie oggend, en teen nege-uur in die môre het Ashby, naby Worcester, daarvan geweet.

Toe die Britte uiteindelik hulle mars op die oggend van die negentiende na Lexington begin het, was hulle strooptog na die platteland teengestaan – tot hulle groot verbasing – deur goed georganiseerde en hewige weerstand. Daardie dag is die Britte in Concord gekonfronteer en deeglik toegetakel deur die koloniale burgerlike verdedigingsmag, en van daardie skermutseling het die oorlog, wat as die Amerikaanse Rewolusie bekend is, gekom.

Paul Revere se rit is miskien die beroemdste historiese voorbeeld van ’n mondelinge epidemie. ’n Brokkie buitengewone nuus het in ’n baie kort tydjie ’n lang afstand getrek en ’n hele omgewing gemobiliseer om die wapen op te neem. Natuurlik is nie alle mondelinge epidemies só sensasioneel nie. Maar dis veilig om te sê dat mondelinge mededeling steeds die belangrikste vorm van menslike kommunikasie is. Maar ten spyte daarvan bly mondelinge bekendmaking baie misterieus. Mense dra die hele tyd allerhande soorte inligting aan mekaar oor. Maar dis slegs in ’n buitengewone geval dat so ’n oorvertelling ’n mondelinge epidemie op tou sit.

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In die geval van Paul Revere se rit, lyk die antwoord op die vraag – hoekom sommige idees en neigings en boodskappe versprei en ander nie – maklik. Revere het ’n sensasionele stukkie nuus saam met hom geneem: die Britte was aan die kom.

Maar as jy mooi na die gebeurtenisse van daardie aand kyk, dan verklaar dié verduideliking nie die raaisel nie. Die selfde tyd wat Revere sy rit noord en wes van Boston af begin het, het ’n mederevolusionêr – ’n looier met die naam van William Dawes – die pad gevat en met dieselfde dringende opdrag na Lexington toe gery via die dorpe wes van Boston. Hy het dieselfde boodskap gedra, deur net soveel dorpe en oor net soveel myle as Paul Revere. Maar Dawes se rit het nie die land aan die brand gesteek nie. Die plaaslike burgerlike verdedigingsleiers het nie gewaarsku gevoel nie. Feit is dat daar so min mense in een van die dorpe waardeur hy gery het – Waltham – die volgende dag geveg het dat sommige geskiedskrywers tot die gevolgtrekking gekom het dat dit ’n sterk pro-Britse gemeenskap moes gewees het. Dit was nie. Die mense van Waltham het eers die volgende dag uitgevind dat die Britte aan die kom was, en toe was dit te laat. As dit net die nuus self was wat van belang was in ’n mondelinge epidemie, sou Dawes vandag net so beroemd soos Paul Revere gewees het. Hy is nie. Waarom  dan was Revere suksesvol terwyl Dawes gefaal het?

Die antwoord is dat die sukses van enige soort sosiale epidemie grootliks afhanklik is van mense wat ’n besondere en rare stel sosiale talente besit, wat betrokke is. Revere was daarmee toegerus en Dawes nie – as gevolg van die verskille tussen die twee mans. Dit is die Wet van die minderes – die mense wat krities belangrik is vir sosiale epidemies, en wat iemand soos Paul Revere anders as iemand soos William Dawes maak. Hierdie soort mense is oral om ons. Maar tog slaag ons dikwels nie daarin om hulle deeglik krediet te gee vir die rol wat hulle in ons lewens speel nie. Ek noem hulle Koppelaars, Deskundiges en Verkoopsagente.

No Place To Hide

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Cape Rebel

From Stalin’s Daughter
by Rosemary Sullivan
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At 7:00 pm on 6 March 1967, a taxi drew up to the open gates of the American Embassy on Shantipath Avenue in New Delhi. Watched carefully by the Indian police guard, it proceeded slowly up the circular drive. The passenger in the back seat looked out at the large circular reflecting pool, serene in the fading light.

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Svetlana Alliluyeva climbed the wide steps and stared at the American eagle embedded in the glass doors. All the important decisions of her life had been taken precipitately. Once she crossed this threshold, she knew that her old life would be irrevocably lost to her. She had no doubt that the wrath of the Kremlin would soon fall on her head. She felt defiant. She felt terrified. She’d made the most important decision of her life; she’d escaped, but into what she had no idea. She did not hesitate. Clutching her small suitcase in one hand, she rang the bell.

Danny Wall, the marine guard on desk duty, opened the door. He looked down at the small woman standing before him. She was middle-aged, neatly dressed, nondescript. He was about to tell her that the embassy was closed when she handed him her passport. He blanched. He locked the door behind her, and led her to a small adjacent room. He then phoned Robert Rayle, the second secretary of the embassy, who was in charge of walk-ins – defectors. Rayle had been out, but when he returned the call minutes later, Wall gave him the secret code indicating that the embassy had a Soviet defector, the last thing Rayle was expecting on a quiet Monday evening in the Indian capital.

When Rayle arrived at the embassy at 7:25, he was pointed to a room where a woman sat talking with the consul, George Huey. She turned to Rayle as he entered, and almost the first thing she said to him was: ‘Well, you probably won’t believe this, but I am Stalin’s daughter.’

Rayle looked at the demure, attractive woman, with copper hair and pale blue eyes, who stared steadily back at him. She did not fit his image of Stalin’s daughter, though what that image was, he could not have said. She handed him her Soviet passport. At a quick glance, he saw the name: Citizeness Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva. Iosifovna was the correct patronymic, meaning ‘daughter of Josef’. He went through the possibilities. She could be a Soviet plant; she could be a counter-agent; she could be crazy. George Huey asked, nonplussed: ‘So you say your father was Stalin? The Stalin?’

~

While he waited for a response from Washington, Rayle interrogated Svetlana. How did she come to be in India? She claimed that she had left the USSR on 19 December on a ceremonial mission. The Soviet government had given her special permission to travel to India to scatter the ashes of her ‘husband’, Brajesh Singh, on the Ganges in his village – Kalakankar, Uttar Pradesh – as Hindu tradition dictated. She added bitterly that because Singh was a foreigner, Aleksei Kosygin, chairman of the Council of Ministers, had personally refused her request to marry him, but after Singh’s death, she was permitted to carry his ashes to India. In the three months she’d spent here, she’d fallen in love with the country and asked to be allowed to stay. Her request was denied. ‘The Kremlin considers me state property,’ she said with disgust. ‘I’m Stalin’s daughter!’ She told Rayle that, under Soviet pressure, the Indian government had refused to extend her visa. She was fed up with being treated like a ‘national relic’. She would not go back to the USSR. She looked firmly at Rayle and said that she had come to the American Embassy to ask the US government for political asylum.

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Following his advice as to the wording, she then wrote out a formal request for political asylum in the United States and signed the document. When Rayle warned her that, at this point, he could not definitely promise her asylum, Svetlana demonstrated her political shrewdness. She replied that ‘if the United States could not or would not help her, she did not believe that any other country represented in India would be willing to do so’. She was determined not to return to the USSR, and her only alternative would be to tell her story ‘fully and frankly’ to the press, in the hope that she could rally public support in India and the United States. The refusal to protect Stalin’s daughter would not play well back home. Svetlana understood how political manipulation worked. She’d had a lifetime of lessons.

~

At 9:40 pm, a second flash cable was sent to headquarters in Washington with a more detailed report, stating that Svetlana had four hours before the Soviet Embassy noted her absence. The message concluded: ‘Unless advised to the contrary, we will try to get Svetlana on Qantas Flight 751 to Rome leaving Delhi at 1945Zulu (1:15 am local time).’ Eleven minutes later, Washington acknowledged receipt of this cable.

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The deciding factor was that Svetlana had her Soviet passport in her possession. This was unprecedented. The passports of Soviet citizens travelling abroad were always confiscated and returned to them only as they boarded their flights home.

~

Svetlana easily passed through Indian customs and immigration and, in five minutes, with a valid Indian exit visa and her US visitor’s visa, she joined Rayle in the international departure lounge. When Rayle asked her if she was nervous, she replied: ‘Not at all,’ and grinned. Her reaction was in character.

Svetlana was at heart a gambler. Throughout her life she would make a monumental decision entirely on impulse, and then ride the consequences with an almost giddy abandon. She always said her favourite story by Dostoyevsky was The Gambler.

Though outwardly cool, Rayle himself was deeply anxious. He was convinced that, as soon as they discovered her missing, the Soviets would definitely insist that she be handed over. If she was discovered at the airport, the Indian police would arrest her, and there would be nothing he could do. He felt that the consequences for her would be grave. Execution would have been the old Stalinist style, but her father had been dead for fourteen years. Still, the current Soviet government took a hard line on defectors, and imprisonment was always a possibility. When the classical dancer Rudolf Nureyev had defected in 1961, he was sentenced in absentia to seven years’ hard labour. In Rayle’s mind must also have been the recent trials of the writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. In 1966 they’d been sentenced to labour camps for their ‘anti-Soviet’ writings, and they were still languishing there. The Kremlin would not risk a public trial of Svetlana, but she might disappear into the dark reaches of some psychiatric institution. Svetlana, too, must have had this in mind. Sinyavsky was an intimate friend of hers. At the very least she must have known that, were she apprehended, she would never be allowed out of the Soviet Union again.

The Qantas flight to Rome landed punctually, but Rayle’s relief soon turned to dread when he heard the announcement that the return flight would be delayed. The plane had developed mechanical difficulties. The two sat in the departure lounge, waiting as minutes turned to hours. Rayle looked at Svetlana. She, too, had begun to be agitated. To cope with the mounting tension, Rayle got up periodically to check arrival desks. He knew that the regular Aeroflot flight from Moscow arrived at 5:00 am, and a large delegation from the Soviet Embassy always came to greet the diplomatic couriers and the various dignitaries arriving or departing. Members of the Aeroflot staff were already beginning to open their booth. Finally, the departure for Rome was announced. At 2:45 am, the Qantas flight for Rome was airborne at last.

As they were in mid-air, a cable about the defector arrived at the American Embassy in New Delhi. In Washington Donald Jameson, who served as CIA liason officer to the State Department, had informed Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Foy Kohler, of the situation. Kohler’s reaction had been stunning – he exploded: ‘Tell them to throw that woman out of the embassy. Don’t give her any help at all.’ Kohler had recently served as Amerian ambassador to the USSR, and believed that he personally had initiated a thaw in relations with the Soviets. He didn’t want the defection of Stalin’s daughter, especially coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, muddying the waters. When the embassy staff read the flash cable rejecting Svetlana’s appeal for asylum, they replied: ‘You’re too late. They’ve gone. They’re on their way to Rome.’

The staff had failed to check the status of the Qantas flight. Had they discovered that Svetlana and Rayle were sitting for almost two hours in the airport lounge and could have been recalled, Svetlana would have been driven back to the embassy and ‘kicked out’. The whole course of her life would have gone very differently.

But Svetlana’s life always seemed to dangle on a thread, and chance or fate sent her one way rather than another. She would come to call herself a gypsy. Stalin’s daughter, always living in the shadow of her father’s name, would never find a safe place to land.

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