The Ghost in Barrydale

The Rooms

My music partner, Adel and I were clever enough to ask more than twice if we can play and stay at the Barrydale Hotel. The owner, Theo is a lover of quality music and gave us a little Karoo haven to rest our travelling guitars and shakers.

On arrival we were booked into room 12, Adel was happy enough, a clean stylish room. I was a bit disturbed, the room was (and still is) white, the walls, the floors, the towels , the bedding. I felt uneasy, how would I be able to sleep in such a bright room, and seeing that resting for me means hiding, there was no way that I could hide away in this room, especially in daytime.

After overcoming a self-worth issue, I took my chance at dinner the same night when the owner enquired about the room. ” I need a darker room”, I said apologetically and to my surprise he had no issue with my request. After dinner I was taken to room 13. Good number, brown wooden floors, quiet, on the one hand, birdies and bright colours on the other hand, but I slept well, after spending some time contemplating in what manner my body will give in on me one day. This was 24 December.

Christmas day and I am asked to move from room 13, seeing that it is the honeymoon suite and sensing from the tone that I don’t belong there. They clean the room and wash the bedding I slept on and so I am moved, to my pleasure, into my match. Finally, a dark room. A room on the end of the corridor, facing the balcony , the balcony, facing Barrydale, Barrydale facing the surrounding mountains and lazy clouds. Wine-red curtains and almost black wood cupboard and bed. Under the red curtains, there are see-through white ones, almost net in texture, they swell with the occasional wind, filled with light and eerie energy.

There are a few photos of “legends” against the walls, one of them always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, even though she looks really good in the photograph, a  Bond-Babe. I spend some time contemplating a picture of Greta Garbo, and I’m glad I am left alone. I pull the curtains shut and at the same time think of Marlene Dietrich, and always Ingrid Jonker, and then my thoughts jump to the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda I forget her name ..Helen Martin, the suffering lady who also took her own life and like Virginia Woolf, would probably have been spoiled by the intelligence of ZEN.

The Ghosts

I am content, it looks like night time in my room and now I will sleep, properly for the second time since the tour. It is a deep sleep that I am in when a sound, like a hundred shakes, makes me aware of the fact that I am slipping of the bed. I’ve felt this before, in London 1999, in an old house, this time I am going with it. There is someone in the room with me, a strong forceful energy, female, sensual. I slip slowly and steadily, but before I hit the ground, the whole situation gets swallowed by a dream that I cannot remember anymore.

Later, I wake up, dress up and go set up for our gig. The gig goes well, very well, some of the songs have reached a state of synergy, and there is almost no effort, just energy coming out of me and Adel and the small but dynamic crowd starts dancing around the old style wooden bar, in a very sensual way. So this is what it is about, I say to myself for the 107th time in my music career. Christmas day suddenly had a new exciting sentiment to it again.

I go back to my room, smile at myself in the mirror for being sober, brush my teeth, put on something comfortable and slip into my clean huge bed. Read a bit about the coast of South Africa in the old days and then I’m out.

I wake up, but am aware that I’m not awake in our world. Again I’ve been here before, but tonight I’m not brave enough to face what I am seeing on my bed. It was not the fact that there was a thin man with a brown wool suite and a brown wool hat sitting on my bed that made me not breathe properly, it was the way he tipped his head from side to side while watching me. Like an alien so absolutely curious and his movements so animal like. An old school image, someone out of the old Karoo days, but the eyes are like holes, and it reminds of the pictures of what people believe aliens look like. Deep black holes, almost like the universe is in there.

I was using every ounce of energy in my mind to snap me out, and it worked. I was awake and in free form again.

The Musicians

The Barrydale Hotel is a hot spot this summer and we spend time with the Legend. It is the first time I look into Piet Botha eyes, and I’m glad that I catch him right after a powerful gig. He has the energy of a timeless being and his eyes are flashing with the essence that so many of us seek. He is naughty, he gives wisdom and he is pulled away from Adel and I most too often to sign a shirt or a piece of skin.

I had five questions for the man, he answered three, keywords were, intelligence, magic and freedom. The other two questions were about woman and alcohol, he got distracted by, um, woman and alcohol.

The night after, we try and find a spot in the bar, but there is no space. The Johnny Cash Tribute is working some Cash magic on stage and we go sit outside. As luck sometimes follow us on tour we find the band emerging for a smoke and a star gaze break. I know and like the two brothers in the band, and we meet the rest. To my surprise the lead singer resembles Mr Cash in his younger days, handsome, raven black hair, and the outfit is studded with silver shine on the black. His name is Gert and he is Afrikaans, he is worried about his voice. I tell him not to speak.

The Night Walks

Every night we take a walk in town, Adel and I, and we speak about what it means to be great. Sometimes we just walk and listen and feel. We meet a black cat on one of the dusty roads, he acts like a dog, he has the night to himself. We have time, for the first time in a long time and we make plans about escaping the city and we talk about girls, and spirit, always spirit. The spirits in Barrydale are present and a young boy takes us to a church the one night, to meet the Bell Tower Spirit, we knock, he responds, we run away.

We will be on the road again, shortly and passionately.