This blog, for reasons that may surprise you, should be considered an experiment. Last week I was in Cape Town, nosing about for new business, looking up old friends and colleagues, and taking a little time out to spend with my mother who, aged almost 80, is still as alert, as mobile, and as feisty as ever. The weather was grey as I went about my business, as well it might be, but on Saturday morning the sun threw off its sulks and came out to play. Off we went, my mother and I, for brunch at Caprice on the Camps Bay beachfront, enlivened by a little people watching and an excellent cup of coffee. From there we made our way along the coast, along the old familiar roads, past the old familiar haunts, and down to the Waterfront. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I went down to Cape Town, as I said, for business. I met with colleagues from the University of Cape Town, and people I have known and worked with for 20 years or more. Everyone was friendly, everyone was helpful, yet a number were a little glum and concerned when it came to discussing the State of the Nation. I am not alone, it seems, in my middle-aged cantankerousness: much better, more principled and wiser people than I see much in the national tea leaves to make them shake their heads and wonder.

Still, as I say, it was an enjoyable and productive visit, and good to see how, despite the state of anxiety, good people continue to beaver away, with diligence and integrity.

After three days of meetings, however, it was good to cut loose and head down to the seaside and the harbour. I found, I am happy to say, my favourite aftershave lotion, simply unavailable for some reason, in Johannesburg. As a reward for my mother’s patience, I treated her to something cold and alcoholic at Quay Four, and myself to a glass of white wine. From there it was but a short leap, metaphorically speaking, and just a few paces in the real world, to Vaughan Johnson’s cave of wines. Suitably supplied, my mother and I headed back to our rented car and in a short while I had dropped her back at home. I packed, loaded up the car with my bags and the wine, and headed out to the airport and home.

I have omitted from this story only one thing of significance. Down at the Waterfront, I had popped into the Apple store, on the remote off-chance that they would have a remarkable piece of software which I had seen reviewed on the Internet. It was, and is, a voice recognition program that translates my spoken words into typed text as I utter them. It is extra ordinarily quick and accurate, and I have dictated this entire blog with its assistance. There are, I have to say, very few errors and it will take me just a second or two to correct them. So let me switch off the mike, get to the corrections, and send this little experiment on its way.