Last week, on what is now fixed in my mind as The Day Before Omicron TM, my wife and I joined two friends for a visit to Dlala Nje’s 51st-storey bar at the top of Ponte City. We had envisaged sundowners. As the day wore on it became evident that there would be no sunset, but we stuck to our plan, even when the clouds loomed over the city, turning dark grey and then black.

It started to rain heavily as we drove into downtown Johannesburg, big dramatic drops pelting the car from above as the wind buffeted it from all sides. Lightning forked down, reaching below the level of the bright red Vodacom sign that sits atop Ponte. We felt like those storm hunters who go chasing tornadoes in the US — that is, we felt stupid, but we wouldn’t turn back...

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