A beautiful noise to thank essential workers

Demetri Philippides playing an African drum that comes from Namibia.

When it comes to thanking essential workers by making a beautiful noise every night at 8pm, far south residents have all the bells and whistles.

While the cacophony that echoes through the valley is not unique to the far south and happens across the globe, mountainside residents in Fish Hoek
decided to take it a step further and created the Fish Hoek neighbourhood orchestra.

Residents were encouraged to join in and make music for essential workers via the Highway Mountainside Neighbourhood Watch WhatsApp group, and it didn’t take long for residents to make themselves heard.

Pat Lawson, one of those behind the initiative, says so many doctors, nurses, paramedics and other essential workers are working
during this “dreadful time”, so showing appreciation for their efforts is the least people can do.

One of supporters, she says, uses a Bluetooth portable speaker on their balcony to play Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, Amazing Grace and Shosholoza, along with other songs.

Ms Lawson says the orchestra is “conducted” by a Clovelly resident who beams a search light across the Clovelly mountain while other residents in the area flash their lights.

Eva van Belle says so many essential workers put their lives on the line and it feels good to thank them.

She plays a treble recorder while her husband, Jean-Paul, joins in with the panpipes.

“It also unites us with our neighbours in this time of social isolation,” she says.

There are four “musicians” in Magda Ku’s house, and everyone wants to play the African drum her late mother, who was a doctor, gave her when she was a teenager. They also have a vuvuzela.

Claudia Philippides and her husband, Demetri, use a large cow bell, which hails from the mountainside villages of Italy, and a large African drum from Namibia.

“We faithfully go out on our veranda every night and love the
noise we hear from our village,” she says.

Hilary and Neville Wyness clap, bang pots and use a naval bosun’s call, a type of whistle, which
Mr Wyness used during his national service aboard the President Pretoria in 1965. Their daughter, Kate, is a health-care worker in the
UK.

Tania Bownes says the balcony of her Peak Road home, where she is spending lockdown with her
husband, Ronald, and two children, Darren and Nicole, is the perfect spot to make some noise from. She has “a fabulously loud music system to blast sound out across the valley”.

Ronald, she says, loves to drum on anything he can find including dustbins and pots.

“The whole family gets involved. We even bang on the glass surrounding our balcony. Our dog, Bella, howls along too, and we’ve played songs like I Will Survive and Max Hurrell’s Zol,” she says.

They also have an extensive dress-up box.

“We love putting on the odd hat and glasses and weird bits and blobs. It makes us feel silly and is fun.”

Gwyn Phillips uses a small domestic bell and a genuine Swiss cow-bell from his wife, Ursula’s grandfather’s farm. The noise they make shows solidarity with all the unsung heroes who are the health workers, he says.

Mark Keeling says the vuvuzela he bought during the 2010 World Cup makes the perfect noise for the 8pm sessions.

“We are grateful during this time for the essential workers putting their lives on the line in certain cases, to help the old, sick and vulnerable people in all
communities. We are grateful that we are all healthy and well at this time, as you never know when it could affect those closest to you.

Pierre and Sharon Roux also enjoy supporting the essential service workers.

Mr Roux is a diabetic and has had five foot operations. He recently broke his foot and had to have yet another operation.

“I am not musical in the slightest, but I bang my crutches together to make a joyful noise.”

Mr Roux says it is very important to him to thank the health-care workers as he has been in and out of hospital so much and was treated with such great care.

“I wish I could remember the names of all the staff that treated me, from the lady who admitted me to every nurse and sister that treated me so well and put my mind at ease.”

Leonard and Yvonne Bebb have been clapping and making noise since the beginning of
lockdown.

Mr Bebb blew a whistle and Ms Bebb played the vuvuzela until a woman confronted her in a shop and accused her of “blowing her germs all over the neighbourhood.”

“Needless to say, I was shocked, and so we stopped joining in at 8pm every night. But I did blow my vuvuzela, once again, to honour our nurses on International Nurses Day last week.”

Marguerite Phillips, 80, uses a metal tray to make noise and her husband, Newton, switches the porch light on and off.

“If we can do anything, however small, to brighten the night for the essential workers and make them aware that we are out there supporting them, then I’ve done something to relieve their burden,” she says.