craighall park: Call 011-325-5184 / 082-054-6751  or  WhatsApp
birdhaven: Call 011-268-0506 / 071-484-6099  or  WhatsApp

Beauty and power like the ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks valued beauty. They felt it reflected a purity of spirit. Because of this, they spent long hours caring for their bodies. They would go to public baths, where they received massages, relaxed in warm water, exfoliated with salt scrubs and moisturised with olive oil. Women would lighten their hair with vinegar in the sun and use a lead-based paint to make their faces look porcelain-like (slowly poisoning them in the process…) Despite poor make-up choices, the Greeks sensed that virtue was found in the balance between a beautiful mind and a beautiful body.

Today at places like toast&co we’re still at it. And just like the ancient Greeks, we’re doing it without electricity. Well, just for the minute it takes for the power to click over to the generator. Still, it’s an anxious minute – in an increasingly anxious time. Even if you’re all set – which toast&co is at both branches, with a generator we can’t hear in Craighall and conversion to solar in process at Birdhaven – loadshedding, at the very least, means being constantly nimble.

Next up in the city that keeps us always on our toes is water shedding. Try running a beauty salon without power or water. For that matter, try doing anything at all. In the last major water outage across the city, toast&co resorted to buying in 5l containers. There we were in the back desperately glug-glugging Oasis water into footbaths by torchlight while our generators were refuelled!

But you see the work we’re doing is older than electricity or the infrastructure problems we’re facing. And it is something that has come down the ages. In the 19th century, John Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” capturing that same ancient impulse: we sense that virtue has a certain aesthetic element to it, and that element is symmetrical, balanced. That’s not to say when you pop in for a leg wax you’re chiming with the major Romantic poets or channelling Greek philosophers. Sometimes you’re just really hairy. But there is also something invigorating in knowing that the inclination to the lovely and the well-kept comes from an art humans have been aspiring to for millenia. And we’ll keep doing it, with or without electricity.

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