Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The house with two numbers

It was Small Town South Africa of the 80’s at its best. Our telephone number only had four digits – 3583. I lived in Beatrix Street for years, first at number 11, then number 33, but they were both the same house.

I’ll explain. At the end of the street was a large piece of veld with nothing on it except a huge rain drain that ran through the middle. During summer thunderstorms children would go down the roaring rapids that would appear suddenly on blown up tyres. Unfortunately, the rapids would disappear just as quickly, leaving us sitting on our tyres on the concrete floor of the drain.

About five years into our stay at number 11 they extended the road into the veld and built a whole bunch of little boxy houses down there. The problem was that number 1 started that end. But, my little Small Town South African Small Town didn’t let that get in the way of expansion. They just tipped it all over and started with number 1 at the opposite end, changing ours from 11 to 33 (and everybody elses from whatever to everwhat).

For years we got the previous-33-er’s mail and the previous-11-ers got ours. Essentially, it turned into a really good way to shake the street up and allow everybody to meet their neighbours. Then again, in Small Town South Africa, we knew everyone anyway.

I was just thinking, though, perhaps it’d be a good idea in The City Beneath the Mountain. While I know my neighbours, it is in a vague-wave-hello kind of way, as opposed to a may-I-borrow-an-egg-here’s-a-slice-of-the-cake-I-just-made-send-your-kids-over-here-while-you-shop way.

I wonder if I should send a letter to council suggesting turning the number chronology around of streets?


Angela said...

Some time ago our postman started bringing us mail for a family in the next village. Wrong name, wrong street, but accurate house number (72). It lasted for weeks. Every time we got their mail it made me mount my bike, ride to the 20 minutes-away village, ring the doorbell and exchange letters. I THOUGHT it was because the requirement for mailmen to be employed was NOT to be able to read and write, but now I see that there were far more interesting hidden motives!

tam said...

Great story! My but you are being prolific. Such good writing, dear.

Shiny said...

Angela - yes, the motives are far more fun for that kind of thing happening.

Tam - thank you. Tell stories of you and the bambino, please please. Lots of love xx