Saturday, October 20, 2012

Away. Away. Away.

And then I found myself here, in the quiet, in the place I've longed to be. And I'm a contradictory mix of bliss and fear and joy and, and... It's beautiful and the silence is interrupted only by birds twittering, rain falling on the roof (it's rained, a lot!), the occasional donkey walking past and the even more occasional car. I can feel my soul slowly unwinding.

I am blogging as myself, elsewhere, keeping this blog as its semi-anonymous self. I like this place, this haven I've created, but I wanted to be able to blog for everyone I've left behind without losing the anonymity of this one. Anybody who's interested, please put your e-mail address in the comments and I'll happily send you the link.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Online shopping and a lot of chocolate biscuits

I have just completed my online shopping for the trip to the Great Wide Open. Normally, grocery shopping doesn't hold huge appeal to me although, if you were to ask me to choose between clothes shopping and food shopping, there is no contest. Take me to the nearest food shop please. Shopping for my great adventure, though, was not a chore. Although, the slowness of my connection/their site did make me say some choice things that I am (possibly) not proud of.

I'm new to online shopping, and after my experience this morning, I should probably best avoid it. While I admit to being a bit of a hazard - in the ooo-look-at-that-let's-get-one-even-though-we-don't-need-one variety - in the grocery shop itself, something about online shopping brings out the compulsive shopper in me even more! There's just so much there. I know, I know, it's all in the shop too, but as I said above, I'm not the hugest shopping fan, to put it mildly. My loathing of hundreds of people ambling down aisles, stopping in inconvenient places etc, saves me from over-spending time and again.

In the real shops.

Online, that slightly hysterical claustrophobia doesn't exist. I'm in my lounge for goodness' sake, I can look out of my window at my furiously flowering, beautifully purple, potato bush, and behind it, the mountain. While I buy another packet of chocolate biscuits.

This shop, not only absent of the fraughtness of Other Shoppers, but also for my great adventure was, I must admit, highly enjoyable.

And one can never, ever, have too many chocolate biscuits really, can one?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting stuff done

Sunday, late afternoon, after a weekend of getting things 'sorted out', readying for my trip into the Great Wide Open. Seven weeks it'll be. Seven, full, weeks. This entails much planning. It's funny, though, the routine grocery-buying, salary-paying, getting enough hand cream, tampons, dog food for two months, suddenly takes on a silvery sheen, a shuddery excitement.

The Big Black Dog is coming with me, she's getting old, I can't leave her. I also can't deny  her the joy of living in a place where she will be free to roam, lead-less, her lungs filled with clear, fresh, air, the sky above her stretching further than she has ever seen.

That sky.

But still, regardless of the silvery sheen on it all, there is much still to be done, I just can't do it now. It's Sunday afternoon, I still suffer (twenty years later) from Sunday Aftenoon Blues, a hangover from boarding school. The dread of going back, hearing the doors lock behind you, leaving the weekend looking forlornly at the closed hostel door.

These Sunday Blues, however, are a lighter blue. More eggshell blue than royal blue, because I have six more working days until I am off for 60 days. Sixty. With that, I give a happy sigh, and get back to my sorting out things, the huge blue sky doing somersaults in my head.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It was a pretty average Monday afternoon, at 5pm, broad daylight still, on that road, you know the one? That one that snakes off the mountain and flows into the city, past that big shopping centre on the left, it curtsies to The Grand Old Lady before bending to the right. You know that bend? The one with the old cinema that shows art movies, the one named after the princess with the rude name. The cinema next to the gracious old government building, or is it naval?

It’s the one that watches over that intersection, the one with the robots (traffic lights to you foreigners), the robots that lead up the little side street that connects to the other big road that goes all the way up to the mountain and falls down the other side, into the bay. That little side street is the same one with that music shop, you know, that one. The one with the guy who found Rodriguez.

I’m moving too far from where I saw him, though, let’s back up a bit, back to the gracious (naval?) building, the one next to the rude princess’ cinema. It has stairs leading up to it, open onto the street, walled to about chest height at the street level, the walls filled in with grass, I think. It doesn’t matter. It was the stairs that mattered. Well, not the stairs really, more the boy on the stairs, his back pack messily placed next to him, various things scattered about him.

He looked like an average twenty-something year old, almost a hipster, but not quite. I first just saw the tip of his hatted head above the walls of the stairs as we came around the bend after curtsying (sp?) at The Grand Old Lady. The robots were red, so we stopped. I had a chance to look at him properly, to take in his rucksack, to get a glimpse at his face, a good-looking face, I think, I couldn’t see properly because it was bent slightly, a tight elastic band or string clenched between his teeth that led to the top of his arm where it snaked around just below his pushed-up sleeve.

He was concentrating very hard on inserting the needle of the syringe into his vein.

I made G go around the block, and when we passed again, fleetingly this time, as the robots were green, the syringe was gone, but the tourniquet was still there. I wondered if we should stop and release it for him.

A strange coincidence after I’d read American Junkie over the weekend. I’d never before seen a junkie shoot up on a public street in broad daylight and it made me sad. We continued on our way, though, down that side street, past that music shop, you know the one, and on to dinner with old friends, to celebrate their new year. The sadness hovered near the door though, as I hoped he’d find somewhere safe and dry to sleep, even if it was just there, in the doorway of the arthouse cinema with the rude princess’ name. Rain was forecast.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Looking ahead

I was doing well there, for a bit. Getting a post out every day, every second day, and then I faltered. I feel like I have nothing to say, I kept opening new blog posts, even giving them a title and then, breath bated, I sat. Then I berated myself and said: "Shiny, if you have nothing to say, then you'll just have to bloody write about having nothing to say." Feeling suitably shamed by my own beration (is there such a word?), here I am.

I'm counting days until I leave for the great Karoo expanse. I shall be there for almost two months, blessed with large tracts of time during which I have no commitments. None. I plan to do a large amount of sitting on the stoep, maybe drinking beer, maybe reading, maybe watching the donkeys amble by (yes! there are donkeys), maybe chatting, maybe being still and listening, but definitely breathing. Large lungsful of clear Karoo air that make my heart swell.

And then, hopefully, I'll be showered with inspiration to write and I won't feel like I'm dragging myself over here by the scruff of my neck.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So very, very, excited

I am three days short of a month of the date that will take me to the heart-swelling, inspiration-inspiring place that I long to be. For seven weekd. Seven! That would be thirty three days until I go, give or take. I can hardly contain my joy. Short, simple, truth.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Little girl lost

She is beautiful. She has his cheekbones and is immaculately made up, her hair tightly braided. He wouldn't have liked that, apparently. Rastafarians like their women 'au natural' - no make-up, no hairstyling, just looking as they were made by Jah. I like that, the bit about being natural, not so much the idea that it was forced by the men on 'their' women. I digress, though. There she was, manicured, and talking about him, her father, Bob Marley, in the documentary of his life - Marley - which I watched yesterday.

Her beauty, her perfect manicuring, however, did little to disguise her sadness, which poured out of the screen, a product of parental neglect, still at forty-something utterly tangible. It was as if she just wanted his attention, but never got it.

It's not that he was a bad man, his ideals were good, loving, human and his music, well, we all know his music. He just had no idea how to be a father. It's not surprising in the greater scheme of things, his father was completely absent by the sound of it, a white man having his way with as many beautiful Jamaican women as he wished. And Bob Marley had eleven kids from seven mothers. I never knew that.

It's a fascinating story, about a fascinating man who did incredible things, but it was her, his daughter, that has stuck with me. He was riddled with cancer when he was flown back to Florida from Germany to die. He was only 36-years old as his family gathered at his bedside to bid him farewell.

"I thought then, maybe this time, that I'd get to have my moment with him, just us," she says with barely contained sadness that borders on bitterness. It broke my heart.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Discussions of death

A friend of mine's father died last night. A wonderful, generous, larger-than-life man. He had a massive heart attack and died. Sudden, unexpected, tragic. It got me to thinking about death and dying, again. I know it's inevitable and we don't get a choice in how it happens, but I hope mine's quick. In my sleep even better.

I say we don't have a choice but that's not entirely true - we do, really. I'm a complete believer in the fact that we were given intelligence to allow us to make that choice at any point that we have become tired of life. In my head I would rather make that choice than suffer for a long time with some horrible disease and then go. The real problem lies in the pre-empting of that.

How do you know when it's going to happen? You just don't. I guess that's the eye-opener here. You never know, so one should take note of all those 'Live for today' cutesy postcards that people insist on plastering their Stalkbook walls with. Is it obvious I'm not a fan? But it's the postcards I'm not a fan of, not the sentiment. I've had my brush(es) with death, I know how quickly the world can turn upside-down.

I'm trying to decide if I'm scared of death, it's one of those questions people ask. I don't think I'm scared of death itself but I know I'm petrified of dying, the process. Ug, what a depressing topic for a beautiful Saturday morning in early spring set to a soundtrack of Florence and The Machine.

Let me rather 'seize the day', 'live in the moment', 'dance like nobody's watching' etc, and stop rambling on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spring has sprung

And suddenly it's Spring, proper. I love this day of the year. The one when you wake up and it's suddenly lighter, warmer, the birds are singing slightly louder and the air smells of Summer. It makes my tummy do somersaults and my chest swell with joy.

It's today, that day. The day that reminds me that I'm not always a grump, I can actually be quite pleasant, smile, laugh, hell, even be a little bit funny on occasion. Every year during the dark, cold months of Winter I forget this, without fail. It's ridiculous. I've just looked back to last year, this time, and found the exact same rant.

Time for another letter, this time to myself, to be sent around Mid-Autumn next year. Remind me, won't you, please?

Dear Shiny,

You are about to go into the Winter months. I know you are less-than-happy about this but, I'm afraid, there is nothing you can do to stop it other than marrying rich and moving to the Northern Hemisphere for six months and you know how your previous efforts in that arena turned out.

I am writing to warn you that you'll be losing your shine and, perhaps, should change your name from Shiny to Grumpy. Just for the next few months, mind. Remember that after the hibernation period during which you frown a lot and stop making an effort (this year, please, can you at least keep on dying your hair, you're getting older you know!) the sun will come out again, and bring with it your personality. There'll be that day, you know the one you love?

In the meantime, listen carefully... Make a fire as often as possible in the hearth and practice your red wine drinking. It'll be okay, really.

Love always,
Shiny xxx

Hooray for Spring!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Searching for Sugar Man

"He poured petrol over himself and set himself alight on stage."

That was one of the rumours of what happened to Rodriguez, explaining away why we never heard anything about him, despite his haunting music, his beautiful, sometimes political, always meaningful, lyrics. He was the soundtrack to thousands of South African teenage years, from the 70's right through until the 90's, when I was a teenager, and perhaps still. I don't have teenagers, so I can't be sure. We all thought he was recognised worldwide, being from America and all. Apparently not.

One lover of his music made it his mission to find the real story and the movie documents it. He tries to find out who was behind Rodriguez, where he lived, who he was and, in doing so finds many dead ends, a record label who say they 'sold six of his first album in the States.' It's estimated that half a million have been sold in South Africa, thus far. Nobody in the States seemed to know about it, nobody knew where the money went.

And then, they found his daughter. And him. Alive and still working as a construction worker, living in an old decrepit house in Detroit - a city which just looks desolate and slightly hopeless - and he shines. It's as if he's from another world. An absolutely beautiful man, with a voice that makes your blood feel like honey, he's old now but, even in the film, he still shines.

It's hard to put into words exactly what it is about him, he's just so gentle and unassuming and I won't spoil the movie by talking about the end of it because it needs to be watched to be believed. I cried and cried, big, hot, heavy tears, not because it's tragic, it's just so... emotional. See? Struggling to string a proper sentence together about it, to write something that does it justice.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Every now and again, out of the blue, one meets someone that will alter the axis of one's earth. It is, in my experience, always completely unexpected and absolutely bloody fabulous. Sometimes it's not absolutely bloody fabulous initially, but it always becomes so. I'm not necessarily talking about only lovers or relationships, which always get the kudos for these axis-tiltings.

No, I am talking about the whole range - from a conversation with a stranger in a post office queue that alters your thinking, to the three-day affair with somebody society considers Most Unsuitable, all the way through to the lovers. All of them, the people that shape the way you think, the way you live, the way you love.

As Spring springs here on the tip of Africa and the birds begin a nest-building flurry amidst the sensual fragrance of jasmine twisting through the blossoms, I am reminded of one such creature. Once upon a time, a long time ago now, I fell whirwindingly in love with a Most Unsuitable Boy. I knew right at the beginning that it wouldn't last, that it couldn't last, that my heart would break, but for that short, electric period of time, I didn't care.

And did my heart break? Hell, yes. His too. But we knew it was going to happen, the inevitability of it made the electricity spark and crackle so much more brightly, a will-o-the-whisp amongst a drugdery-filled marsh, a firework display above a void.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. A reminder of a life to be lived, a heart that doesn't live within the confines of an ordinary life, blood pumping strongly through ones veins, air filling ones lungs, under a bright, star-filled sky.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Weather and a secret addiction

Anybody who has read more than two posts on this blog will know that I have a great love of The Weatherman and am fascinated by weather reports and have not-so-secret crushes on all the TV weather people. I could go into the pros and cons of each, but I shan't bore you. I'll slip in there that Paul Monare is my favourite.

The reason I'm bringing up the weather is because it directly influences my desire to put pen to paper. Give me a grey, weathery day and I want to hole up and write. Today is one of those, pleasantly coinciding with Friday, allowing me to cocoon inside, while outside The Weatherman is wreaking havoc. The wind is howling and making The House in The Middle of the Street's bones creak, the rain is beating out a lullaby on the tin roof and The Big-Boned Cat is greedily pushing herself between me and the computer, purring loudly and demanding attention and warming hands.

It's just lovely. Then I say it makes me want to write, and it does, but I have a terrible confession to make: I have become most ridiculously addicted to playing Scrabble on Facebook. I. Can. Not. Stop. I've always played it, having various games on the go all the time, making a move every couple of days, but I've now discovered something new and sinister...

Two Minute Scrabble. Each player has two minutes for each move which, in essence, means approximately half-hour Scrabble games. Addictive? Hell yes. I've taken to starting three games at once and playing SuperSpeed Scrabble. Great fun, but the minutes slip into hours, which slip into days, as the Things That Need To Be Done gather dust in the corner. You see? Like I said - sinister. Like it was sent directly by the devil.

The funniest thing, though, is the number of men playing Scrabble on Facebook who are using it as a means to hook up. The number of "U're sexy" and "Nice tits" (I kid you not) that I've had is astounding. Then again, even more astounding is the fact that they know I have nice tits from the 1cm x 1cm picture of only my face that shows up next to the board. Funny, in a vaguely disturbing way. I'd have thought there were better places on the internet to go looking for such things but who am I, a self-confessed Scrabble junkie, to judge? And there was the rather seedy tale of Scrabble Boy.

Excuse me, I must away. I have things to attend to. Ahem.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


We lowered the age category of the restaurant by about twenty years and, let's not kid, we're not youngsters anymore. As always, I was fascinated by the conversations around us, especially by the non-stop gossip of the table of four seventy-plus ladies at the table right next to us. Who wouldn't be when one hears this:

Very grey-haired Old Lady One: They've been together for fifty years.
Very grey-haired Old Lady Two: Is it really that long already? How time flies.
Very grey-haired Old Lady Two: Yes. You should know, she's your sister. There must be something more to it. I think they must have great sex (tittering giggles.)
Very grey-haired Old Lay Two: My sister? (Incredulous expression) Carol?

I had to take a big gulp of my most delicious chanpagne cocktail and then smile at the elderly man next to me to stop myself from guffawing loudly.

Conversations, I love them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Enormous sky beckons

Whinge, whine, moan, groan. Good grief. Enough already Shiny. Enough. I'm stopping now.

In much happier news... My plans for escaping into the Karoo, to the place that makes my heart swell, are coming along. There was a slight hiccup a couple of weeks ago that, momentarily, looked like it might upset the whole apple cart and not allow it to happen but, in the manner of a pitbull, I refused to let go, and it now looks like I'll be going for six weeks.

Six weeks.

Fresh air, open sky, nothing to do but contemplate the fresh air, the open sky. Bliss. I'm also hoping to give the trashy novel I wrote last year during NaNoWriMo a good working through to see if I can make it readable and, perhaps, publishable. I also have wisps of another story flitting about in my head and am contemplating doing NaNoWriMo again this year to try and capture those wisps.

It seems silly not to, when I'll be out there, in the fresh air, under the enormous sky, in the place where inspiration flaps around me...

Oh, I am SO excited. I've been waiting months to write this post, the one where the dream, finally, is forming into reality.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I guess it happens all the time, to everyone. Sometimes we see it happen, other times it happens without us even knowing. Brushes with death. When we notice it, it's a wake up call, a reminder of the fragility of it all. When we don't notice... well... I don't know, maybe we realise somewhere, way deep down in our psyches and we draw a breath in, surprising ourselves, but not really knowing why.

It started last Monday, fairly innocuously, but I was pre-menstrual at the time and terribly emotionally fragile, so I was struck down with a terrible sadness that made me want to sob. It was a floating upside-down fish in a fish tank at a fish restaurant, being removed most carefully into a plastic bag. He was being taken home to the restaurant family owner's son's (and our waiter) tank, hopefully to be revived from whatever goldfishy ailment had turned his world, literally, upside-down. It all seemed too much. Remember... I was awfully PMSsey.

The next morning, I narrowly missed 'walking into' a crime scene. See post before this, or before that one. It made me want to devise some kind of filming set-up that filmed a minute ahead of me, and a minute after. Wouldn't that be fascinating? Or maybe just give one more to worry about.

And then, last night, the third (and hopefully last... come on Old Wive's, prove you're right with that 'Bad luck comes in threes' thing. Please.) This, truly, was a proper eye-opener, not a hormone-induced sob-fest.

They'd unwisely brought some of the fire they'd made outside into their completely closed room. Her mother had done it when they lived in the Transkei, in a hut with windows which had no glass and a door that opened onto the beautiful Kei hills. She didn't think that it'd suck the oxygen from their lungs and fill the room with god-knows-what noxious gases. It did.

I heard her screaming to her sister, her son as they, all three of them - two grown women and one 7-year old came into the house and literally fell into my room looking as if they'd all been drinking. He was crying quietly and squirming in his mother's arms. Her sister fell onto my bed, sliding down onto the floor where I could hear her breathing heavily as I simultaneously tried to get the story out of her, calm them all down and call an ambulance, my father, anyone.

It seemed like hours before they all descended on the house, as I thanked my lucky stars for family, friends, paramedics. An hour later and all had been examined and given the all-okay, her sister up off the floor, standing up, breathing normally, her oxygen levels back to normal.

And me - a swirling, bubbling, confused mixture of sheer anxiety, fear, claustrophobia, sadness and anger. I just feel like I need a good, hard, and possibly loud, cry. The fragility of us all, the momentariness, the fact that death really is always just there, waiting, it all just seems too much.

We're all alive though. For now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coffee shop observations

Meeting there seemed wise, she knew that nobody would suspect anything if they saw her meeting him in that kind of place. Affairs are not conducted in coffee shops. If she met him there, people would think she was having a business meeting, nobody would suspect a thing, as long as he didn't stare at her longingly, like he had the other night, when they'd met at an edge-of-town motel, all affair-like, while she told her husband she was going to a PTA meeting. Her husband had a 'late meeting' - his most unoriginal euphamism for 'a date with my secretary, who I've been shagging for three years.'

She couldn't do another motel meeting, it had made her feel seedy and dishonest, rather like she was having an affair or something. She worried, too, that she'd bump into her husband and said secretary. That would just be awkward. So, yes, a coffee shop was a better option. They wouldn't be able to touch, but at least she could see him, and talk to him, and try and quell the fierce missing that they both felt.

What she hadn't taken into consideration was that love and passion can't be hidden by the aroma of coffee and baking muffins. Holding hands or not, the lady sitting waiting for her friend in the corner having a glass of wine can see it shining off her. It's alright, though, she has made up a story in her head and will keep mum. You deserve some happiness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Admin, boring bloody admin

I have things to do. Lots of them. Tax submission admin, looking for writing work so I can keep Freelance Fridays going, some editing for someone who's kindly done a whole lot for me, fighting with the medical aid... boring, boring, yawn. All the admin I want to be doing is making proper plans for my Karoo trip, but that is fraught with hanging on other people's decisions. I'm not even sure that sentence makes sense. I just wanted to throw 'fraught' in the mix.

With all this admin glaring at me disconsolately in the corner, I find myself sticking to my guns and blogging regularly. Now you know why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When bad timing goes good

"Will it be ready soon?" I asked, my foot wanting desperately to tap out an impatient tune against the slightly scuffed desk behind which she sat, watching her printer single-mindedly as if, in doing so, it’d hurry up and print the authorisation.

I’d been there waiting since before eight. I watched them all arrive, unlock, turn on the lights, moving around inside the shop windows like a live TV show. I was there to see how age had affected my eyes in the past two years, and to get new glasses to replace the current pair that look… well… well-used.

Optometrist appointments make me nervous. I’m never sure if I’m getting the answers right for which option is clearer and I always think I’m going to give myself the wrong prescription because I don’t do it right. “Which is clearer, the green or the red?” in my head sounds like “Get this wrong and you’ll be the recipient of lifelong blurry vision and, possibly, headaches too.” It makes my blood pressure rise and my palms sweat. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little over-dramatic.

I’m pleased to say that my left eye is pulling the middle finger at age and hasn’t got worse. The right eye is slightly worse. The puff of air in the pupils, the oh-so-close-up-I-can-see-your-irises-optometrist-lady measurements, all done and dusted. Then the final hurdle – frame choosing. Again – palpitations, sweaty palms etc.

Well, I thought that was the final hurdle. Turned out the admin was the actual final hurdle. Filling in forms, sending off medical aid authorisation, waiting, waiting, waiting. I had another appointment, I needed to get going. Being of a normally patient disposition I did wait, marvelling at the industrial roof and listening to the conversation between the two secretaries who were discussing the pros and cons of flesh-coloured stockings. Important stuff. After fifteen minutes of being patient, though, fifteen minutes that would make me twenty minutes late for my next appointment (I hadn’t planned all that well to start with), I told them they’d have to fax it to me, I had to go.

I was, indeed, closer to half-an-hour late for my next appointment, at a shop located in a less-than-salubrious area of the city. Luckily. I arrived with the police, who had been called following a robbery that had occurred at the shop, some half hour before.

Somewhere, someone is looking out for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The bridge ladies, a story

Her lipstick was just a little too red, her eyeshadow a little too dark, her skirt a little too short. At least, according to their very exact, and much gossiped about standards. The room became murky amidst a cloud of judgement from the other women in the room, their lipstick slightly duller, eyeshadow less dark, skirts slightly longer. She swept through the room, her high heels catching ever-so-slightly on the thick carpet, her hips swinging provocatively, keeping her gaze on the door leading out to the patio.

They'd been playing bridge all morning. None of them really knew how to play properly, it was just an excuse to get together and twitter. Not in the new-fandangled Twitter internet way, no. This was twittering of the slightly nastier version. That one where affairs, divorces, in fact anything a little bad newsy, was regarded as highly interesting and very talkworthy. Especially if it involved people outside their bridge circle. They'd been known to make ladies cry. Ladies who didn't conform to their exacting standards, their dour, boring, existences.

They stopped twittering as she walked through. As she felt their eyes on her, sixteen of them, taking in her provocation, her lipstick, her short skirt. Turning to them as she opened the door onto the patio, the young man outside standing, ready to greet her, she smiled at them, her too red lips stretching across her face, her eyes lighting up beneath the too dark eye shadow, and they all looked down, fiddling with their cards.

She greated the man outside, hugging him and leaving a blood red imprint of her lips on his stubbled cheek where she kissed him. Sitting down, she ordered a Singapore Sling, with two cherries.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Relationship versus friendship

After hearing a few remarks on my post yesterday and a quick re-read, I got to thinking. Most of my gazillions of two readers quite understandably took it as a little prose in celebration of an anniversary, which it is. The thing is, though, that it's a 'friend' anniversary, as opposed to a 'significant other' anniversary. This is what got me thinking.

In this day and age, where so many of us are not doing the nuclear family thing, it seems like a good idea to celebrate the friends that, essentially, are our families. Why the focus only on celebrating the anniversaries of 'significant others'?

While I realise it's just socially inbred in us to to take note and remember the date that we met/first kissed/first slept with our significant others (I love that everybody starts counting from different points. I, myself, have often blurred the edges of these so-called significant points in relationships, but that's another story, for another day...), why don't we do it with our friends?

The particular friend I was talking of and I met on another friend's birthday so, admittedly, it's an easy enough one to remember but I'm thinking, maybe, we should just celebrate them everyday - our friends. I know I'm blessed with a group of fabulous ones, the one mentioned yesterday, and others.

Essentially, the  little piece I wrote yesterday differs between our friends and our significant others - be they boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives - only in the last sentence of the second paragragh, really. Someone who you feel like you've known forever, someone you will, now, know forever. Sadly, this often doesn't apply to the significant others. Hearts break, emotions get bruised, people part, and often the 'knowing forever' bit falls by the wayside. (Again, my history with this blurs... yet another story, for yet another day.)

I suppose that sometimes happens with friends, too. Writing this has reminded me what a lucky girl I am. Here's to fabulous friends. And more shared homemade chocolate ice cream. Hell, let's throw in a glass of champagne too. Or a bottle.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Three years

It's not something you can anticipate. Not something you ever expect. Not something that happens very often. When it does, though, it's like finding a pearl in an oyster or eating an enormous bowl of homemade chocolate ice cream. With chocolate sauce made from melted Bar Ones.

Meeting a kindred spirit. Someone who gets you, who you get. Someone who likes the same things, and other things, things you'd never thought of liking, but realise, perhaps, you could like them too. Or not. It doesn't matter. Someone who makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you want to do stuff. Someone who you feel like you've known forever, someone you will, now, know forever.

It's a lovely thing that, meeting kindred spirits, and it deserves celebration. And a shared bowl of homemade chocolate ice cream with melted Bar One sauce.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


It’s weathery here on the tip of Africa. I do not use the term ‘weathery’ lightly, either. The winds gust and howl as the heavens open, showering down huge drops of rain and even some hail. The clouds are dark and heavy, leaking onto earth, obscuring the mountains, giving everything a feeling of dampness and a pervading sense of melancholy.

It’s the type of weather that makes me want to stay home, light a fire in the hearth, and write. Yes, write! Woohoo. It’s been a while since I had that urge. If only I could magically transform into a trust fund kid and didn’t have to come to Real Work, then I could feed the urge.

Instead, here I sit in The Ivory Tower, staring out across the Cape Flats, watching the hadedas flap against the wind and rain while I deal with the rigours and tragedies that are my Real Job.

Tomorrow, though, I shall stay home and pretend to be that trust fund kid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Catfish, the documentary

I watched Catfish last night, a documentary made by two brothers and their friend. Basically, one brother is a photographer in New York and he gets sent a painting of a photo he's taken, supposedly painted by Abby, an 8-year old girl in Michigan. The film follows his 'cyber' (Facebook) friendship with her and her mother, father, brother and then his blooming relationship with Megan, her older sister, first on Facebook, then over the phone. Further paintings follow.

Over eight months he falls in love with her, becoming friends with her friends on Facebook, looking at pictures, spending hours chatting. Then she sends him a song she says she wrote and sang for him. He Googles it, and they find the song, written and performed by someone else. At this point it all falls apart and they decide to go to the small town where they all supposedly live.

Basically it turns out that, while there is a daughter, Megan, and an Abby, the mother is the painter; the 'Megan' that's he talked to, fallen in love with, divulged all his energy into; the friends; the brother. She has created all their Facebook profiles, talked to him over the phone late into the night. Her awe of him is palpable. His confusion and disappointment obvious.

It is heartbreaking to see as he confronts her, a woman who does not look as she (Abby) has portrayed herself in paintings. She is mortified, sad. At one point she says each of the characters she'd created were a part of her that she longed to be, that she couldn't be, because that's just how life turned out for her.

In reality, she is a woman, living with a husband in small town America (he seemed a bit wanting), looking after his severely retarded, grown-up twin boys from a previous marriage and their daughter, Abby, estranged from her elder daughter, Megan. An artist and story-teller stuck in a life she didn't think she'd be stuck in.

It's fascinating and I'm writing this before I go and do some internet investigation because, as the story unfolds, it becomes hard to believe that it actually, really, happened. It's also fascinating to realise how the world we live in is so stuck on looks. The Megan she created was blonde, buxom, beautiful in the pics (she'd taken pics from some model) which, obviously, helped our young lad to fall for her but, essentially, he'd fallen for her actual being, having not met her 'physically.'

This is a documentary that asks all sorts of questions and exposes many truths. Facebook is a minefield. Human nature is fragile. We all, essentially, just want to be loved.

The movie left me feeling incredibly raw and a bit sad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting back into it

I am starting today. I know, I know – I keep saying this. I keep promising myself I’ll write more regularly, I’ll write every day, or every second day, or twice a week. And then I don’t. I must, though, to recover some modicum of sanity, to practice, to get myself going. I just must.

Various Real Life, admin stuff has messed with my escaping the city for two months plan. I’m fighting for it, though, making other plans, getting the ducks in a row. At this stage I’m looking at a month, maybe a little over that. I have to rely on various other people, which makes it frustrating. Luckily, I’m blessed with lovely ‘other people’, making it a little less frustrating.

So, in the meantime, I need to get into a rhythm of writing. Hopefully I’ll be here again tomorrow, with something more interesting than a Me-Me-Me Pep Rally.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I went to a funeral yesterday. My best friend's mother died last week after a long and brave fight against the dreaded cancer. It's one of those inevitabilities that you hope will remain in the distant future well, forever really, but of course, it doesn't - the death of parents.

At the funeral I realised that we're at that age and I completely freaked. I don't want to be at the age where I'm suddenly going to my friend's parent's funerals and, god forbid, my own parents.These are the people who watched us grow, saw us through our adolescent tempestuosness (with us rolling our eyes and them shaking their heads) and then welcomed us to the 'adult' dinner table, becoming our friends. They know our history. They are our history.

My best friend flew from Sydney for the funeral, her tummy beautifully swollen with her second baby, which will join us in October, and who kicked and wriggled with life at the funeral. She, of course, is heartbroken. The funeral was as good as funerals can be, a mixture of sadness and laughter. Her mum was a lively woman, with a wicked sense of humour, right up to the end.

After the funeral we all gathered at one of her brother's houses and celebrated her. Wine flowed (they're Irish), food was consumed, stories were shared and the sun came out after four days of grey, miserable, weather. It all seemed fitting.

I came home and organised to meet my parents for dinner having realised (again) how lucky I am to live down the road from them and still be able to make that shared history with them. I've never been a fan of funerals, I'm bad at them, and I especially don't like it when they make it patently obvious that I'm the wrong side of 35 and can no longer rely on teen- or twenty-something delusions of immortality.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The beautiful nephews visit

The beautiful nephews are visiting from The Big Smoke and staying at my house. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since their birth. They turn three next Saturday. I've had a fair amount of contact with small children but there is something about small children that share your genes that is astounding. The love one feels that makes your heart squelch up and then go so huge it feels like its pushing all your other organs into one small corner is just astounding. I cannot imagine what it's like to be a mother if this is just what it feels like to be the aunt!

They are at the 'Why?' stage which is such fun. Nothing is impossible with them. I've heard stories of giant crabs crawling off the roof onto one of their legs, been explained to very seriously that while giraffes can't fly when they're small, they fly very well when they grow up and told that dragons live in Australia. All of these things make complete sense and my explanations of things (which often tend toward the ridiculous) are lapped up. It's like a three person mutual fan club.

Of course, being three comes with many challenges too. We had an early birthday party yesterday, complete with Granny-made lion cake (much fearsome roaring), many balloons festooned around the lounge and a whole bunch of noisy children. One of them got left out playing 'Catch' and was heartbroken. My heart nearly broke for him too and I had to remind myself that all that is part of growing up.

This morning I was sitting in the kitchen having tea after a particularly rigorous game of 'Hit the balloon so high it reaches the ceiling." One of their mothers had cleared up the lounge and put the balloons at the back of the desk in the lounge. Another challenge. He traipsed through to me.

Nephew: Auntie Shiny?
Shiny: Yes?
Nephew: Where's my big balloon?
Shiny: There. On the desk. Can't you see it?
Nephew: Yes. Can I have it?
Shiny: Of course you can. Just go and get it. (Aunt's prerogative(sp?) - I never have to say no)
Nephew: But it's too high.
Shiny: Is it? Did you try?
Nephew: No, I can't.
Shiny: Why? (forgetting the poor mite is not yet three feet tall)
Nephew: If I climb on the table to get it, I might fall down and hurt myself.
Shiny: Fair enough. Shall I come and help you?
Nephew: Yes please.

One forgets how little they are sometimes. It's hard to say no (make that impossible.) I fear I'd be a terrible mother and spoil my children. Those little faces, so unspoilt yet by humanity and the hard things that come with it. It makes me want to keep them safely inside, away from it all. Then I remember all the good things that come with humanity too and the fun to be had out there and all I can do is wish that, at least mostly, those are the bits they'll see.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Writer's block and some Very Good News

Having been relegated to staying home, firstly by an op and recovery and then by pure, common-garden anti-sociability, I found myself not having anything to write about. That's a blatant lie. I was still thinking of things to write about, I was just not writing them. I don't know why but the writing's just not coming. Writer's Block? Of course I've heard of it but surely you have to be a Real Writer to get it. Nope. Apparently not.

This city is making me claustrophobic.

So. Here I am. Trying to open the channels. To write again. But I feel like I have nothing to say. How many words can one write about that? One hundred and eight, apparently. Yes, I just hand-counted them.

On a very positive note, with regard to opening up those writing channels and curing my claustrophobia, our plans to head Karoo-wards, where my heart swells and my lungs fill with air, are very much coming to fruition. Come October, we'll be heading inland to bask under huge blue skies and sit on the stoep doing nothing (and, hopefully, writing a trashy novel) while donkeys amble by on the dust road. Bliss.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An indecent proposal

It’s never happened to me before: an indecent proposal, a real one, from a real boy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Let me scroll back a year and a bit to a friend of mine’s birthday party…

It was fun, nothing hugely out of the ordinary – lots of nice people, mainly ones I’ve known for around about forever, and a couple of new ones. One guy in particular stood out. We met, we chatted, we chatted some more, you know the deal. If I wrote romance novels I’d say ‘there was a spark’, but I don’t. If I were of the Ramaramadingding Brigade, I’d say there was ‘a connection’, but I’m not.  I’m more of an Anne of Green Gables follower so I’ll say he was a kindred spirit (with a side serving of sexual tension, something Anne of Green Gables would never have said.) We chatted until I left, he made Facebook friends with me the next week, and that was it.

Forward about a year and I bump into him out for drinks with friends. Again, we chat and I think he’s nice and off we go into our separate directions. He’s involved elsewhere, I’m involved elsewhere, I think nothing of it, other than that the spark was definitely still crackling between us (oh, okay, I admit it, I might write romance novels at some stage.)

A couple more months go by and I surprisingly get a message from him on Facebook. Just a ‘Hi’ kind of message, which I reply to with an equally ‘Hi’ kind of answer. A week later I am nearly knocked flat by the message I get back. It is, basically, very flattering toward me and is a request to spend a night of unbridled passion – one night, no strings attached!

Knock me down with a feather.

Now, while it is extremely flattering, obviously, it does leave one in the position of having to reply. He had been very honest about the fact that he is involved with someone, this is just something he longs (lusts?) to do, just one night. He was, in fact, brutally honest about himself which, while endearing (adding to my previous feelings of endearment for him), unfortunately didn’t distract from the fact that he’s involved.

So I had to say no.

I was tempted, I have to admit, and I’d like to say that it was purely a choice of taking the moral high ground that I said no, but that’d be lying. A whole lot of factors played into it, the moral high ground being the biggest. I’ve cheated and been cheated on. And learnt my lesson.

Ridiculously, it makes me feel kind of delicious, the whole concept. I wonder if it allows one to wear a badge that says: “I’ve received an indecent proposal”? It’s just what one needs for a bit of an ego boost.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

At the seaside, Part 2

I dreamt of it last night, our beach shack, and reckon it’s a glaring sign that I need to get back over here to my blog.

There was no TV and no phone. The sum total of electrical goods in the house were an ancient fat fridge, a light in each room and a reading lamp in the sitting room. The bathroom only had a candle for years, until my father rigged up a single bulb with a cord into the house which we thought was the ultimate in luxury. The stove was gas and the water out of the taps was brack. On top of the fridge was a battery-operated radio which told us the news and played us songs.

The second drawer from the right was the Treats Drawer. Every December it contained an enormous Christmas cake (baked by my mother in September and doused with brandy regularly until it's trip to the seaside) wrapped in tin foil, which got progressively smaller as the holiday progressed. The drawer smelt deliciously dark and rich. In there, too, were the sweets and chocolate bars: two sweets or two pieces of chocolate each afternoon after lunch when my parents went to rest.

We drank water from the rain water tank which lived out the back door and to the right, a place that, when we were small and scared at night, flitting out at breakneck speed to fill the orange water jug, was full of dark shadows, possibly containing wolves. The square of light that fell on the grass from the kitchen window didn’t quite reach far enough to light the little tap. We made it through twenty years of holidays without being gulped down by wolves I’m pleased to report. The water was sweet and delicious and we ignored the mosquito larvae that floated about in it. "It's just protein," said my Mother.

If we wanted to phone someone, which of course became an absolute necessity when we hit adolescence, we had to walk over the bridge to the post office and use the ‘tickey boxes’. For our weekly dose of television (Who’s The Boss, on a Wednesday), we’d go over to the lovely old couple next door, The Cleghorns. We’d watch while the old man, Theo, ate Provitas for dinner and told us stories of 'The Olden Days' (far more interesting, even, than Who's The Boss.)

It had a specific smell, which is hard to define, but I smelt it in my dream last night and woke up feeling holiday blissful. It was a combination of grass mats, seaside mould and pure, unadulterated happiness.

It’s almost as if that house was built of love and happiness (at the risk of sounding schmaltzy). It saw me grow up and provided some of the very happiest moments in my life. When I went to university (60km down the road), my parents gave me the keys and we went down regularly for weekends (and sneaky week days, which my parents were blissfully unaware of).

It was there I had my first crush, then first fell in love and there that I lost my virginity (a fact my parents definitely would wish to be blissfully unaware of, I'm sure). I can’t think of a better place for it, all of it. That house, if it could speak, could tell many fabulous stories. There are more, but let me stop there.

I miss it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

At the seaside

We had a cottage at the seaside. My parents bought it when I was two. Living in gold mining towns, often dusty and small and farfarfar away from the sea, they bought this little piece of paradise in a coastal town in the Eastern Cape, near the university they went to (and then I). One small bite of the Eastern Cape and it steals your heart and beckons loudly forever. Thus, their purchase.

This was not a seaside holiday house in the manner of those that are found there now. This was referred to as our shack at the seaside, and rightly so. It wasn't on the sea - in fact it was a good, brisk, ten-minute walk to the beach. It didn't have any amazing views or large numbers of glass sliding doors opening onto a patio and rim pool. It was, in fact, a rather ramshackle, four-roomed square of a house, with an outside bathroom which had lots of ginormous spiders and no electricity.

And we loved it. With every cell of our bodies. And, even though it's no longer ours, I still do.
Spending six weeks a year there (one of the joys of working on a mine back then was lots of holiday time) over Christmas was like heaven. The four rooms were: a lounge into which the front door opened which led into my sister's and my room with two highly sprung metal single beds, some shelves made of bricks and planks, and a dressing table with two large drawers and three small. The three small ones were for my sister's clothes, the two big ones were mine. Always.

Our bedroom led into the kitchen which had a back door that opened onto a bricked path across which we'd fly on dark nights to the bathroom, under a tin 'afdakkie'. Off the kitchen was my parent's bedroom which contained a large double bed and a huge wardrobe which always had 'secrets' in it until Christmas and a top shelf on which my father kept coins for some reason.

The whole house smelt slightly mouldy, as seaside houses do. The lounge floor was covered in grass matting that we'd lift up twice during the six weeks: once at the beginning to sweep away the year's dust and once at the end to sweep out the tons of beach sand that we'd carried in on our salt-soaked, sun-kissed bodies throughout the holiday. Pure bliss.

This story is far from finished, but I've promised myself that I'll press 'Publish' more often this month, so I'll end Part 1 just here. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

One last stand

I should have taken a picture. I wanted to, but the moment passed before I could, or did. It didn't happen suddenly, I had days, maybe even a couple of weeks when I kept saying, each time I came home, "I must take a picture of that." But I didn't and now it's too late. The rain is belting down and it's rained off the last of them. They're blending into the mud below, twirling around blades of grass, becoming mulch, indecipherable from the mud.

Hundreds of little deep purple flowers from the Potato Bush, pale blue Plumbago, yellow ones from the Bush with Yellow Flowers (name unknown) and bright pink bougainvillea, all pushing out over the fence of The House in the Middle of the Street, unruly and sticking their tongues out at the impending Winter.

It's a brave little garden my beloved mother has created here at my house. My fingers are not green, hers are an astounding shade of it. Her garden needs to be seen to be believed, it's gorgeous. I'm a lucky girl that she was kind enough to do mine for me too and she filled it with wild, unruly bushes that have entwined themselves around the palings and push their way out to trail their petals along passersby's arms when they walk past. It's a riot of colour and green.

And I love that, like me, my little garden always makes one last stand in late Autumn. It produces flowers profusely and throws its petals about boldly in the face of Winter.

I wish I'd taken that photo but, as seasons are wont to do, they'll happen again and maybe, just maybe, next year I'll take it in time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The unwatched TV

There is a distinctly different sound made by a TV being watched and one sitting alone in a room. It's one of my pet hates, a TV left on in a room where nobody is, talking away to itself, lonely. A psychoanalyst would probably put this down to my innate fear of loneliness and give me all sorts of exercises to overcome this fear but, luckily, this is my (self-indulgent) blog, so I have no need to be scared of psychoanalysis and its resultant exercises that I'd hate doing. Besides, I'm perfectly aware of my fear of lonileness, as has just been made obvious here. I don't mind being alone, in fact I like it sometimes. But loneliness - ugh, shudder.

I stray. Watched TVs, be their audience one or a crowd, seem to have a confidently calm kind of sound, like people talking to friends they know are listening. The minute the audience leaves the room, though, leaving the TV on its own in a room, the volume goes up slightly, as if the characters on screen have raised their voices and are peering expectantly around the side of the screen, waiting for someone to come back in and watch, allowing them to carry on with whatever scene was playing out.
Sunday morning ramblings on a Wintery long weekend, getting my writing juices flowing. Again. And I'm a little lazy about writing for a couple of weeks, then come back, and someone's moved all the furniture? This new format? It took me ten minutes (admittedly in a very lazy I'm-still-in-my-pyjamas-at-12 o'clock way) to find what to press to make a new post. Hell man, what's with the symbols for everything? Can't we just use lovely, old-fashioned, words? I can't imagine that anybody illiterate is wanting to write a new blog post, so why the need for little pictures?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trivial Pursuit and such

There’s a lot to be said about playing Trivial Pursuit with old friends. I suppose there’s a lot to be said about doing anything with old friends, really. It’s just that little bit easier, more comfortable, when people know all the good bits and gory bits of your history.

In Trivial Pursuit though, I realised on Saturday afternoon while sitting next to our first fire of winter, that, when playing with old friends, very often you know which answers they’ll get right, and it feels lovely.

Winter arrived over the weekend, bringing with it bucketing-down rain, great grey skies, a distinct drop in the mercury, and six new leaks in the lounge roof. Also, fires in the hearth, game-playing, red wine and cosy old friend time. I’m going to focus on that, as opposed to Grumpy Shiny that the cold and dark brings out of the shadows.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The aquarium

"It's feeding time at the zoo," she said, although I'd met them at the aquarium - my best friend who is visiting from Sydney, her husband and my godchild, aged 2 1/2 with her cousins (2, 4) and aunt. They'd all been around the aquarium, ogled at the fish, touched the starfish, stared entranced at the huge tank filled with big fish and a shark or two.

I'd forgotten it was school holidays and planned to meet them in the restaurant for tea, while the littlies ate their lunch of fish and chips - oh, the irony! The noise level was extraordinary and the excitement tangible as hordes (schools?) of children ran between tables populated by harassed-looking mothers and the playroom in the corner, even more ironically sponsored by a frozen fish company.

My godchild informed me that she'd got a hippopotamus, which she'd aptly named Henry. Before I could ascertain where Henry had come from, or why he seemed to be the star of the day when they were at the aquarium, she'd scampered off to play with her tomato sauce-smeared cousins in the playroom, leaving us to chat (at high volume) over a calamari salad.

There's something really lovely about being in a space like that, where children's excitement fills the air, flooding ones lungs and, somehow, changing your view on things slightly, opening one's eyes to the possibilities in everything, the naive wonder of the world.

There's a lot to be said for hanging with the littlies every now and again, despite the noise levels that come with them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Small town thoughts

The leaves are turning on the vines on the other side of the tunnel, just their edges starting to bleed red as Autumn throws her cloak over us. I don't like the tunnel. It makes me claustrophobic as I try not to breathe, every time reminded of the fact that it is impossible for a person not to breathe for that long, without dying. I endure it, however, in order to leave the heaving city behind us. We are in the country, separated from the bright lights by the towering mountains.

As I've said, possibly ad nauseum, I love small towns. I grew up in first one – a place where the land was flat, the soil red, mielie fields abounded and the sky stretched all the way to space – and then another – where the earth was unstable, a patchwork of holes beneath the surface threatening to swallow houses at any moment. Both were places where, if you went into ‘town’ on an afternoon, you would run into at least two people you knew well enough to stop and chat for ten minutes. We borrowed sugar from the neighbours, rode our bikes everywhere, people knew your name.

The small town we went to is one of those that claims to be a little shoowow, you know the type - they have a 'Retreat' which does yoga and runs 'Silent Retreats'. They claim to be on ley lines and talk of spiritual energies and such. I probably don't have to point it out that, while I love a good hippy, I do snigger a little at those that are a little overboard with the shoowow stuff.

Anyway, it's a lovely little peaceful town, surrounded by mountains. The air is clear, they have donkeys, and we needed a night of starshine and peaceful sleep, which we got. We arrived early, visited the donkeys and stroked their noses, scratched behind their ears and bequeathed them carrots. They seemed pleased by the whole thing.

After donkey-stroking we ambled into the village to eat some lunch, a very delicious meat and cheese platter accompanied by a crisp glass of white wine from the valley. We'd decided to braai in the evening, our house being blessed with a fabulous verandah on which to watch the sun set and braai some meat, as good South Africans should on a Saturday. Asking the deli lady about where to buy meat, she showed us her 'deli sausage' and pronounced that there was "nowhere else in town that sells meat. Other than the Chinese Supermarket." The last statement was accompanied by a disturbing sniff of contempt.

So off we traipsed, to investigate ourselves why this should be. It's a supermarket, in the first half of town which we discovered, on our journey, to be the 'coloured area', owned by a Chinese couple, with very little English, but smiley and welcoming. The shelves were filled with necessities and smelt like a proper, farm shop - furniture polish, maize meal - a comforting, childhood smell. Above the meat freezers hung a disturbing array of sexy lingerie. I guess maybe there's a market for it in Small Town South Africa.

Ahead of us in the queue were a patently poor family, buying milk, bread, some fruit, with a toddler who was wailing because he'd picked up a chocolate and his mother had whipped it away instantly and put it back. They paid, and as they were walking out, the shopkeeper reached beneath the till and pulled out a handful of sweets, handing them to the snivelling child, turning his tears into smiles.

I wished I had the gall to go back up the road to the sniffy deli lady and tell her this sweet story (ahem) and encourage the occasional amble over the invisible line dividing the town, but I didn't. Instead we marvelled at this country we live in, still so full of prejudices and segregation, but never stopping trying to make it better. I suppose it all takes time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I have been developing a growing fondness for Ryan Gosling. After watching Drive this morning, it has turned into a full-blown crush of teenage proportions. Gorily violent, a description which would normally put me off a film, this one was brilliant. I loved it. There is a lot of silence, some slow mo, a fabulous soundtrack and... Ryan Gosling. Sigh.

I am always astounded when I love movies like this. I'm not a fan of violence, especially gratuitous violence. This violence is so close to sex that it is unnerving. I'm not even sure that I can quantify that statement because it sounds wrong but it is not meant to. It's a violence entrenched in passion. Like Tarantino does violence. It's graphic, though. Really, really graphic - heads get blown off, blood spurts, jugulars get spliced open. I found myself closing my eyes, hiding behind my arm, in places but only momentarily, because the compulsion to look back was overwhelming.

Beautifully entwined is an electric love between two people that positively crackles on the screen and the one, very short, moment of passion between them turned my insides liquid. I was incredibly impressed by its beauty, its unexpectedness. Kissing scenes in movies are so often ridiculously contrived and the same thing is done, over and over, ad nauseum. This one - amazing - and followed by intense violence, again.

It's pretty obvious that my mind is a muddle after watching this movie. One thing is for sure - I'll be playing it over in my mind for a good, long, time. And finding the soundtrack. And carving Ryan Gosling's name into my desk at work. Oops, that's not 'one thing for sure' is it? Make that three.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book vs Kindle

I love books – their feel, their look, their smell, the lot. I have been known to buy a book purely because I like the cover – idioms, be gone! I love bookshelves filled with books and piles of books on tables, next to the toilet, on my dressing table, next to my bed… they’re welcome anywhere, anytime. I read them, too. This paragraph was beginning to sound like I had them purely for decoration. Books – they’re like little friends made of paper. If I could find one willing to commit to a long-lasting relationship, I’d marry one. Well, commit to it at least, I’m not so sure about the whole marriage thing.

The thing is, though, that I got a Kindle yesterday. I’ve been humming and ha-ing about it for months. Do I? Don’t I? Isn’t it cheating on my lifelong lovers, The Books? Am I selling out, falling for commercialism in a technology-obsessed world? Sleepless nights, turning these thoughts in my head, I tell you! Well, okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.

Eventually, practicality won out over all those thoughts and I’m loving it. How easy is it? I have, however, sworn on Stalkbook (and, as we all know, a swearing on Stalkbook is like a legal document) that this will not stop me buying real books. Honestly, who could live without that paper smell? And the dust they gather?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Surreal. Nonsense.

It's hot. I'm not complaining (too loudly), though, because those little signs of Autumn are about and I'd far rather have hot, than Autumn. Autumn brings Winter and Winter turns me into a grumpy whiney person with no personality and a two-dimensional smile, if any at all.

I've had a vaguely surreal-feeling weekend for some reason, probably due to the hot nights causing a distinct lack of restful sleep. I saw friends, ate while we sat outside enjoying the balmy night, reflected to myself the priviledge of having old friends, and listened to conversations that I seemed to be flying above.

It's as if my mind seems to have shifted slightly off centre. Perhaps it was always there and now, in a flash of middle-aged wisdom, I've only just noticed. Did I really just say 'middle-aged wisdom'? Good god. If anything proves the point, that sentence must be it. Did I say my mind shifted slightly off centre? I think what I should've said was, my mind has taken a flying leap off a high, and particularly pretty might I say - the lillies are flowering in all its crevasses - cliff.

Waffle, waffle, nonsense. But it's writing, and I need to get back into it. I figure if takes thousands of a couple of nonsensical wafflings, so be it.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Heartbreak. It's a rough one. One of my closest friends is going through a break up. She thought they'd marry, it's that kind of break up. Admittedly, she's been living in limbo, waiting for The Ring, for months and, honestly, has been miserable not knowing, waiting, wondering.

Being miserable, however, before the break up, doesn't make it any easier when it happens. She's devastated and torn apart, convinced she won't survive this. One forgets that acute pain (thank god!) attached to breaking up with somebody. That feeling of not being able to breathe. Watching her, hearing her, I seem to absorb some of her pain, and am flung back to my own heartbreaks. I'm a bit of a sponge like that. This is not necessarily a good thing.

I figure, though, that maybe, if I can absorb just a little bit of it, I could make it easier for her. Obviously I know this isn't true, only time'll make it better. Ugh, horrid. It's always so hard in the acute stages to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and it's made worse by his behaviour now which, honestly, is just odd.

Best I away though, to take her out, feed her a delicious drink, and remind her (and me) there's lots out there still.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March? What?

There it is, right up in my face, proclaiming that February's done, dusted, over-scadover. March. Well, I guess I have no choice but so say: "Welcome March, come on in. Yes, yes, you can bring The Ides along too, just dust off all your feet at the door, please."

I have (again) been neglectful of my writing. I've been terribly busy doing Real Work, living life, now dealing with a heartbroken, broken-up friend, and gazing at my navel, to bring myself to write. This, in itself, is ridiculous because (a) What is blogging if not the highest form of navel-gazing? and (b) My navel seems to be expanding most worryingly and I'd do better to not look at it and, therefore, remain blissfully unaware of the middle-age spread happening down there.

I meant to (re)start blogging on the 1st of March and do it daily, at least for the month of March. I like doing stuff like that, starting things in a new month, resolving to be better at it. Please note that I said I like doing it, not I'm good at doing it. Not that I really have to point that out, it's pretty obvious, isn't it? It being the 3rd of March and all.

So here I am, starting. Maybe I'll do every third day, that seems more doable. I have lots of stories - the plans for the country move, a very sad and beautiful funeral, my first meeting with KitKat, the donkey...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grumble grump

Thoughts of big skies and open roads keep distracting me from the matter at hand. The matter at hand, though, seems flimsy and colourless, a bland moment in time. I berate myself constantly for doing what seems to me to be Wasting Time. Again, I have the preciousness of time thrown in my face, with the death of someone I was once close to. There is no time to waste. None, nada, zip.

It just all seems so pointless sometimes, the dreary drugdgery of work, home, filling up time with ‘stuff’. It feels like the ‘stuff’ is junk food, nutrient-less, filling a void that just keeps getting bigger. I feel guilty, though, even saying this, knowing my everyday drudgings are so much easier than most, my job mainly stimulating, my life pretty damn rosy. In comparison.

I feel like I’m waiting for something big to happen, jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone in a marshland, toward a mirage that just keeps rushing further away. Wishing I could blame it on PMS I check my calendar hopefully, knowing my hormones are blameless this time.

Perhaps I need to stop jumpingjumpingjumping and just be still for a bit. Still and quiet. Maybe with a large bottle of gin and a couple of books.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Tallest Man on Earth

A skinny figure with his guitar silhouetted in a round moon of white light. One man, casting two shadows. On stage he looks tiny, dressed in skinny jeans (a uniform, it seems, amongst the audience), but there, on both walls, either side of the stage, he really does look like The Tallest Man on Earth.

Then he plays his guitar and sings and there is a collective intake of breath. He is astounding, his voice gravelly, but pure and beautiful. His songs move easily from ones that want to make you wiggle your bum and dance wildly, gypsey-like, preferably under a huge sky filled with stars, to ones that crumple your heart and bring huge, fat tears that drop almost audibly.

This man has plucked the best of The City Beneath The Mountain’s uber-cool and I feel at once cool and old. We bump into a young whippersnapper girl who G works with and she exclaims: "It's so cool to see old people at concerts like this and know you can be cool when you're old!" Well, quite.

It's fabulous. He's astounding. My "old" body and bones don't want it to end and my heart squelches as he plays this, a song he hasn't played before, a new one, recorded coincidentally by a boy I knew once:

I cried. The look of a boy, with a voice, and a guitar, is unbearably beautiful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

At the mall

It was only after G pointed them out that I realised. They were, frustratingly, sitting behind me and two tables away so I had to surreptitiously keep pretending to look at the clothes shop behind them by unobviously turning my neck 180 degrees. It's what's expected when you find yourself eating dinner in a mall, you know... the looking around thing. Isn't that the idea of trapping people in a table with food and a glass of wine, surrounded by shops. It's the cleverest form of commercialism I know of!

Back to the couple, who we initially thought were having an affair. In their mid- to late-fifties, they were both dressed smartly (obvious in the bright light of the mall), more smartly than was required of a shopper having a quick meal. She had incongruously pink finger nails, he'd carefully brushed his straggling strands of hair across his head to feign hirsutism. It wasn't working, but we gave him points for trying.

They were paying very close attention to what each was saying, laughing, looking into each other's eyes. It just seemed a wierd and very public place to be taking your mistress for dinner and it was then that G realised (she had the seat facing them) - internet date. The attention to detail, the perfect dressing, the fascinated concentration of conversation... the choice of public, well-lit place.

Finishing our pasta and wine, we walked past them on our way out, feeling suffocated by mall, and I silently wished them great love and an immediate connection because, honestly, I couldn't think of anything worse than internet dating.

The thought of having to meet some stranger in a mall, watched by curious people like me, fills me with fear and makes me come out in instant hives. Having to do it more than once sends me screaming, while sweating and getting hives, so my wish for her, with her 'I'm still fun' pink nails, is that it was her first attempted meet-up, and she will need to go on no more because he's her soulmate, straggling hair and all. They actually made a sweet couple but then I'm a hopeless romantic.

P.S. Note to self: you really, really, don't like malls. They make you feel like you can't breathe, despite endless voyeur opportunities within them.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

500th Post: An announcement

Five hundred posts. 500. This is my 500th. It should be memorable then, shouldn’t it? I have chosen it, therefore, to announce the plans that I’ve been mulling over, talking about, polishing up. G and I are hoping to go and live in that heart-squelching place in the Karoo, the one that makes my entire being smile, for two months from October.

The seed was sown after our last visit in September. I’ve always loved it, and the city has been feeling crushing for a while now. The vast, open Karoo sky, blue in the day, scattered with a billion stars at night gets my creative juices flowing and, hopefully, will allow me to write. Well, that’s the plan. To write or just to be still for a bit, in a place without pollution and hooting cars and city-harangued people.

I have permission from work, we have a house provisionally booked, we’ve made lists and budgets and twirled ideas and dreams. The boxes are, slowly, being ticked. The next big one is for G to get permission from her work, to work remotely (oh, how delicious! Remotely! How it rolls off my tongue…) This is not as easy for her as me, she having been there less than a year, as opposed to my almost fifteen years at mine. Hold thumbs.

And so, there, with my 500th post, hopefully a long time dream will be turned into a big-skied-lungs-filled-with-air reality.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday rainfall

The incessant heat was momentarily broken by delicious, fat drops of rain falling hotly on the tin roof of The House in the Middle of the Street as I woke, turning my tired sigh of an impending Monday morning into a pleasure-filled one. It rained, heavy and strong, for a short while, interspersing rain clouds with golden sunshine and rainbows to make leprechauns leap.

You could almost hear the plants yelling out in delight and the soil slurping greedily. Almost.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's been hot. Thick, sticky, hot. The kind that makes you feel like you're breathing in hot soup and makes you gasp slightly. We do hot here, in Summer, it's par for the course, really, living in Africa, and I like the warmth, but this is humid. We're not used to humid. It makes me feel like I can't get enough air.

It may not be just the weather. I'm having that stifling city feeling again. The good news is that I am working on a plan that might offer some repreive, there are just a couple of ducks that need rowing first. More on that later. In the meantime I am trying desperately to breath enough to make me write. I've been slacker than slack and I miss it.

I wake in the early mornings, the quiet grey light of dawn peaking through my curtains, and the words prance and dance in my head, stories beginning, emotions flowing, epiphanies abound. Once I'm up, though, they skitter away, scattering in the sunshine and noise of the day in the city and I am left, wordless.

Perhaps I need to get back and finish those Writing Prompts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hotel foyer

Suspended between a coffee shop playing French love songs and a cavernous, modern-designer hotel foyer playing loungey Jazz I feel like I've been dropped into some strange vortex between worlds. The women here all wear higher-than-high heels and tight pants. I'd never noticed before but those higher-than-high wedge heels actually really do make one look taller.

At one end of the cavernous foyer, which reminds me of my school hall but more designer, is one of those floor polishing machines dragging around a tired-looking man with the demeanour of someone who'd rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Three crumpled businessmen pulling bags on wheels roll across it's newly-polished floor, little track marks across the only-just-there shine. There must be a pool somewhere in the hotel. I see a small boy wrapped in a towel skid across the business men's tyre tracks, his barefeet making no imprint.

For some reason I can't shake the feeling of anxiety in this place filled with transience. Nothing seems stuck down. Even the (designer) lamps seem to be trying to escape. Everything echoes and reverberates, the air rushes out of the door, making an escape each time it slides open on its designer tracks, sensing someone in its little electronic beam.

I feel very, very alone as I wait for the other Eager Beavers to arrive. It's book club night and we decided to meet somewhere else, and this is it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


There's photographic proof. Year's of it. They were the beautiful, young lovers at university, she blonde, waif-like, beautiful, kind, smiley; he skinny, long-haired, just as beautiful. It was at that time, the one when everything seemed perfect, the air was clear, we were filling our brains with learning and love and the freedom of youth and they were like a snapshot of it - the perfectness of young love.

Their's lasted, it wasn't a fleetingly beautiful moment in a small, dusty town that swelled hearts, broke them and swelled them again, their's was more. As is the nature of leaving university we all scattered in the wind. They married, more photos of love, and with the invention of Stalkbook, suddenly those pictures were there for all of us to see, to be allowed to believe in love. The photos documenting them, and us, growing slightly older, possibly wiser (or not), but settling.

That's what the photos showed - them, love, a clarity in it all that I've seldom seen. It was tangible through the pictures although I didn't see them in 'real life' after varsity. In a moment it was over. No, that's not true, I heard the whole story, it wasn't a moment, it was over time, as cancer ate her alive, that beautiful, waif-like creature, so young, so lovely, so in love. And he was left. Alone.

My heart breaks at the cruelty of it. She died a couple of years ago now but an old friend was here over the holidays, a good friend of his, so it came up and I recoiled, again, at the heartbreak of it.

She saw him while she was here and reported that he is healing, smiling again, and I'm almost 100% certain that that is making her smile too, in the ether.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On safari with a green milkshake

The lime green milkshake caught my attention first. It just seemed so incongruous to be drinking such a bright green, milky drink with a huge seafood platter – prawns, crayfish and all. I wondered what flavour it was – lime, as its colour suggested, or cream soda, as its colour could also suggest. I wondered if she’d like to join us but looked at her face as she sucked some green milk up and decided, perhaps, she didn’t wish to be disturbed. Her face was not one that invited conversation.

Dressed in camoflauge clothes that shouted “I’m a tourist”, she sat alone in the restaurant. Well, not exactly alone – she had her green milkshake, and the company of various well-cooked creatures of the sea. Again, I was compelled to make conversation, but saw her sullen face, and decided not. I wondered if I was being silly and she was just genetically doomed to have a sour look. It just seemed impossible for her not to at least look vaguely happy about the feast before her, not to mention the cheerfully-coloured (if incongruous) green milkshake.

For some reason there’s a type of tourist that come to The City Beneath the Mountain and insist on wearing safari gear, even to the most cosmopolitan of shopping malls, such as the one we were unlucky enough to find ourselves last night. It’s as if they think they may need to hide behind a bench in one of the passages in case of an elephant seeing them as they walk out of the Louis Vuitton shop, new handbag hanging off their trunk.

And that's when I decided why she looked so unhappy – perhaps she had been misled somehow and was cross about not finding an elephant shopping for a Louis Vuitton handbag, or a giraffe looking for a long enough tie in the Hugo store (I had to look that up… my designer clothing knowledge leaves a lot to be desired.)

I just hope she’s going to go out into the African wild, all got up in her safari gear, to see the real deal… where designer gear is not only unnecessary, but is simply ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012? Seriously?

Good grief, it's 2012, just like that. Happy, happy to everyone and may it be prosperous and happy and filled with love, good food, friends and laughing like my little nephews do. The kind 2-and-a-half-year olds do, shrieking with delight at the golden retriever that chases a pilates ball around the garden, completely unabashed, completely delicious.

That's what I've mostly been doing for the last week, staring in wonderment at the fun of my twin nephews, laughing at them and with them, as they talk up a storm. They're fabulous - bright, engaging, chatty and really, really funny. And cute, did I mention that? Doting aunty? Me?

The Big Black Dog thought she'd died and gone to heaven, trailing after them as they dropped a constant supply of muffin crumbs, peanut butter sandwich bits and, on one occassion, and enormous nougat-type lolly, which she, much to their horror, swallowed in one large gulp. They're kind, though, despite being at that age where one is completely and utterly self-absorbed, and the other one shared his lolly with the forlorn one, the Big Black Dog looking on hopefully, wishing for a second helping, being admonished by the little guys who took to a safe spot, high on a couch, out of dog reach.

They stayed for a week, waking the house at 5:30am with delighted excitement at it being a new day, I showed them how to take apart their beds and move the matresses onto the floor and make tents and tunnels (I'm not sure their mother's appreciated this particular tutorial...), we read Dr Zeuss and we played and laughed and chattered.

Now they've gone off down the coast to an idyllic beach-side house, where I will join them for more holiday fun on Thursday. Who could ask for a better way to start a year? I haven't made any resolutions yet, I've been too busy giggling and loving. I think that's a pretty good excuse.