Karoo Keepsakes II Launch Report: The Graaff-Reinet Gig

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Chris and Julie in McNaughton’s Bookshop in Graaff-Reinet just before the launch. Photo by Neco Bokwe

Words and Photographs by Chris Marais

We have just launched Karoo Keepsakes II in what is arguably the finest bookshop in all of the Karoo: McNaughton’s in Graaff-Reinet.

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The salty humour of David McNaughton…

The owner-manager David McNaughton is, again arguably, one of the Karoo’s humour men. David once took us to visit the local taxidermy and briefly inserted a couple of fake red hartebeest eyeballs into his own eye sockets.

Needless to say, that photo has done the rounds in the Karoo.

Part of our launch ritual is to give a slide show, a visual workshop really, on our travels. I would run the projector and give overviews on what the audience was seeing. Jules is supposed to sit next to me and help me remember facts, names and dates – she’s good that way.

The McNaughton’s slideshow venue was intimate. About 50 guests tried cramming into a small office and Jules was way back in the standing room section.

So I had to yell whenever a face stumped me. The genial Graaff-Reinetters were amused. A visiting party of Australians were touched by the show, because the landscape shots reminded them of their very own Outback. No one minded the boxed wine (Cardbordeaux) – it was actually quite palatable. That’s how we do it in the Karoo.

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Eira Maasdorp – the very soul of Karoo kindness.

David reported good launch sales and a number of us repaired to Gordon Wright’s excellent restaurant at the Andries Stockenstrom Guesthouse in Cradock Street for a Chef’s Table.

In the morning, we went off to say goodbye to one of our favourite people, restoration angel Eira Maasdorp.

She knows we’re potty over old enamel signs and gave us this remarkable Flag Cigarettes antique piece.

“This is for all you two have done for the Karoo,” she said. And we walked out of her shop with tears running down our cheeks. Thank you Graaff-Reinet. Thank you McNaughton’s. Thank you Gordon Wright. And thank you Eira Maasdorp…

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Our much-treasured Flag Cigarettes sign.



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