Archive for June, 2008

You’re Not the Only One

June 10, 2008

You know how you witness some atrocity on the telly or read an appalling news item in the papers or receive a petition via an email and absolutely determine to do something to make a difference? You ever been there? I have. How many of us tell ourselves we’re going to change the world, just a tiny bit, just one person’s life.   But we’re all too busy; all too jolly busy in our own lives to have the necessary to stick to ”changing the world” promises.

And then someone comes along with an idea – an idea to change the world. A bit. Or at least the world of a few. She gets off her arse, rallies the troops (in blogsphere in this case), and edits a book. She gets it published here so that you can buy it here and simultaneously enjoy reading whilst knowing you’re making a difference here.

I’m in it. Which flatters me greatly. So I have bought my own copy. Which takes the sting just a little out of always telling myself I’d make a difference to somebody’s life.

But never actually getting around to doing it.


DID YOU KNOW THAT: according to UNICEF in the last decade 10 million children were traumatised by war

DID YOU KNOW THAT: according to UNICEF in the last decade 10 million children were traumatised by war

Because I’m worth it?

June 4, 2008

The outpost is desiccated.

Less than two months ago it was a fat sponge, saturated after weeks of rain, foliage preened, all new green leaf and luxuriant gloss – like the heads of L’Oreal shampoo’d celebs, ‘because we’re worth it’, the mango trees whispered smugly, wiggling their hips, when I drove beneath their plump shade.

Now it’s a chamois leather; hot dry days tanning its hide mercilessly.

The grass is reduced to bed-of-nails-prickliness. The flamboyant look as if they’re about to breathe their last; their branches droop like exhausted limbs that move only occasionally with rare, tired exhalations of breeze so that brittle-cracked-glaze seed pods rattle in irritation. Hat’s lips are sore. Her lip-balm keeps melting. We put it in the fridge. The mango trees have stopped showing off, they’re not green anymore. They’re a mottled brown stained untidily here and there with copper and bronze. Like somebody whose box-job hair colour has gone all wrong. Hat thinks they look autumnal.

Is it autumn here? she asks. It looks like it.

It does. When we go to the dam I notice that distant hills have shrugged off dense velvet wraps spun of emerald and jade and New-This-Season lime green. Instead they’ve dragged on a decidedly moth-eaten one strung hastily together with threads of khaki and saffron and patched up with something that looks horribly like beige.

I don’t know that it is autumn though. I’m not sure we have an autumn here. We simply go from hot and wet to hot and dry. This is the hot and dry and I can feel the air like a blow-torch against my skin.

That looks like a chamois leather as well. I can’t blame the outpost entirely for that. Too many hatless days and too much teenage sun worshipping.

I wonder what L’Oreal can do for me. I wonder if I’m worth it? Actually. I wonder if it’s worth it. Can we believe what they say on the bottle: will I really look 17 in the morning?


Off tomorrow. To the big smoke. To fetch twenty frozen chickens, half a dozen packets of butter, several pounds of bacon and a couple of kilograms of biltong. Or jerky. Or dried strips of meat. Or dead cow that looks like chamois leather.

And, oh joy, Amelia. Who begins her summer holidays early.

I can’t wait. And nor can Hat. To have Melie home.

Ta ra

Prison Break

June 2, 2008

The house is coming along really, really slowly. Really slowly. Outpost speed. Which is really slow (did I mention that?)

The contractor, Maulidi, has fallen out with the owner, Mr Kitumba, who has really bad teeth, little broken yellow shards stuck at random in big gums. Maulidi was all polished shoes. And teeth come to think of it?

So now, every time I go and inspect on progress, or not as the case is, Mr K tells me how useless a contractor M was. Everytime. I’m getting quite bored of it.  Especially as I’m not sure Mr K is any more effective on the building front than M was; at least M strode purposefully around the property and even got his hands dirty. Mr K lies dozing on a vast plastic carpet in the shade of a Flamboyant tree gazing up at the feathery leaves above him (when his eyes are open, which only happens when O’Rafferty – thank you Primal Sneeze – and I come belching and farting up the drive at which point he scrambles up and tries to look lively).

Everytime I visit the house, urgently champing at the bit, desperate to get in, Mr K mildly tells me, ”another ten days and it’ll be ready”. The thing is, he’s been saying exactly this for the last ten.  Our moving day never looks any closer: neither bathroom is ready, nor is the kitchen, the plumbing hasn’t been finished, the roof isn’t all on and the wiring still looks alarmingly dangerous – hanging in suidical nooses strung about unpainted walls.

He and a friend were lounging together when we went to inspect anti-progress on Saturday. His friend was called Richard. Richard works at the prisons.  He has a very big smile which means that you can see how good his oral hygiene is, especially as he has no comprehension of personal space. As you speak, he shuffles closer and closer and closer until his face is within inches of your own. So that you can see his teeth in all their pearly white glory. I suppose I must I be grateful it is he, and not Mr K, who is the non-regarder of personal space?

Richard was there again yesterday, he waved like the Queen from his prostrate position on the mat when we drove in.  He has been supervising prisoners he said. What? From there? Almost. He has been overseeing their work as they crudely hacked at a jacaranda tree in the corner of the garden.

– why on earth did they have to chop all the branches off like that? I asked (they’ve made a real mess, poor amputee tree).

– because there was a snake, he told me, creeping closer so that I had to begin a crab like shuffle to the side.

– a snake?

– yes, a big, big snake

Surreal isn’t it? My new garden is being landscaped – really badly – by a gang of criminals managed by a man who looks like a docile old optician/dentist/dermatologist  (given how close he feels obliged to get to your face) who directs proceedings from a supine position in distant shade.

Why couldn’t I have got Alan Titchmarsh instead?