We went out to dinner two nights ago. An Important Company Do. I clambered reluctantly beneath a shower (water is precious: ocassion for washing must be lofty, and I wasn’t convinced this was) and put on a pretty frock. Under which I put black trousers. I don’t do frocks very well. The trousers were a compromise. And, accompanying Busy Important Husband, I minced off out to dinner. With, it turned out, a generous handful of Tobacco Men who all – in a bid to keep the industry alive and well – chain smoke.



Dinner parties in Africa frequently segregate the genders. An old colonial hangup: men in Empire Builders hunched over beers and discussing matters of – presumably – weighty import. The women, in frocks (hand made back then) clustered like bees around the honey pot of local gossip.  Exchanging recipes. A stereotype. I don’t fit it. It’s why I wear trousers under my frocks.



With only one other woman, our hostess, present on the evening in question, ours was less a cluster than a feeble union of the sisterhood in the face of too many garrolous men who didn’t care much for female company. Not my kind of company anyway. (Perhaps the trouser/frock combo made them nervous: a sort of She Male?).



So I talked too little that evening. And probably drank too much. I no longer smoke. What was I to do with my hands?



As we departed Big Important Boss (who had flown in for this little soiree along with others from South Africa, the States and Brazil) approached Husband and shook him warmly by the hand.



”Come and see us in Jo’burg”, he invited kindly and then, an afterthought, ‘where do you go for your holidays, actually?’



‘Anywhere’’, I said loudly, leering a little at him, delighted that somebody had finally posed a question in my direction (after too much Chablis my vision was skewed; I think his query was probably levelled at the Husband), ‘anywhere (again, even louder, in case he was deaf) so long as it gets me out of this place.’



Husband looked as if he was choking on a lemon. Big Important Boss wisely chose to ignore me.



Mildly disgraced, therefore, I was pleased to receive a small pickmeup in the shape of a lovely award from Livvy U.


I am obliged to answer seven questions with seven word answers. It was a challenge: not only because I was required to select, from the dozens of blogs I read and love, just three (why not seven?) but because as my brother once observed – with the neat put down ‘why do you use two hundred words where two will do’ – that I am not inclined to precis enough of what I say. So. Thank you Livvy and here goes:


Living on a rose farm, in


“Try not to mind being here today”


I would be overwhelmed by a billion


Farms, Fulham, France (in my dreams), Faraway.

Impatience, blaspheming and then pretending I don’t …

I don’t snack. I graze. All day.



Ngorobob Hill House – because her writing sews Africa together perfectly.

Millenium Housewife – because nobody writes funnier lists; read hers.

The Good Woman – because I’m pleased to see her back



And seven small words for best beloved Husband whose patience is, I know, worn to spiderweb fragility: Bear With Me. I’m doing my best.


20 Responses to “Disgraced”

  1. Mom de Plume Says:

    Shame RM, it’s no good when you feel so isolated. Thank you for giving me perspective as today I am feeling a bit lonely and I live in a thriving metropolis compared to the outpost! I also would have donned the trousers and, after a few glasses of red, probably made a similar comment so don’t feel you are alone when it comes to that! 😉 And as for your previous post, there’s nothing wrong with cyber-friends, mine keep me sane, and I wish something so reliable could tell me what to expect from the weather – we are having 4 seasons each day at the moment!

  2. nuttycow Says:

    Oh RM. You did make me giggle. I can just imagine it’s the kind of thing I would do causing N to cringe. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be forgiven 🙂

    Hope all has settled down…


  3. Roberta Says:

    Reading this, I had to smile. I sense a little rebellion going on over there at the Outpost. (And who wouldn’t revolt? After a whirlwind trip to France and back to a burned out garden and no water?)

    Hang in there. Remember, we are all in awe of you!

  4. R. Sherman Says:

    I shouldn’t feel about about speaking to “The Big Boss.” Why not, chablis or no?


  5. Iota Says:

    Did you where THOSE shoes with the dress/trouser combo?

    I think your frogs and your cyber friends sound better company than the smoking men who ignore you, and the solitary woman who should have nabbed you quickly and bonded with you as a female partner in crime, and spent the evening with you in fits of uncontrollable girlish giggles.

  6. Millennium Housewife Says:

    Thankyou so much, it’s just lovely, off to hang it up (with blu tac obviously, Husband would have an embolism at drawing pins) MH x

  7. Expat Mum Says:

    Wow – that seven word thing was very clever indeed. (Oh blast – I did nine!)

  8. Mozi Esme's Mommy Says:

    Hold your head high – you’re not disgraced in our books . . . 🙂

  9. Potty Mummy Says:

    And would you believe it, there are 7 comments ahead of mine! Hope all is well RM, and yes, Iota is right, your public deserves to know; did you wear THOSE shoes?

  10. Maggie May Says:

    I guess we don’t really know what true loneliness is over here. But then you can be lonely in a huge city surrounded by people, can’t you?
    Liked the sound of the Rose Farm that you once lived on. (Or wasn’t it as good as it sounded, chemicals etc?)

  11. nappy valley girl Says:

    You sound like you have put up with quite a lot so far, so just the odd outburst is rather restrained of you…many people stuck in an Outpost would have completely lost it by now!

  12. rosiero Says:

    At last, I’ve got me an email address for my blog, so can start to comment. I have read your blog for months but been unable to comment, but now I can. Yay! The soiree does sound dire. Not something I would manage without some feminist comment.

  13. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you Mom de P. The fact that others acknowledge the loneliness makes it less so. And makes me feel less feeble when it overwhelms me! I do think loneliness can be a state of mind. but it can also be enormously exacerbated by geography too!

    nutty: it’s setting down … I hope. Though i mightn’t be invited to too many Company Do’s if i carry on like that! x

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Roberta, i think you’re right: an air of rebellion. Though Husband might call it plain old bad manners. As to being in awe of me, please don’t me. I can be horrendously graceless about outpost living! x

    You’re right Mr Sherman. Though my poor Husband might disagree!

    Iota. I didn’t. I wore second less high pair. (cannot walk in THOSE shoes!) and then took them off when nobdoy was watching for hostess has a lawn like the plushest pile carpet. i wanted to feel the coolness of green grass beneath my feet. not hot sand! as to an evening giggling with a girlfriend. What wouldn’t I give for that …

  15. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Glad you liked it MH.

    Expat Mum – perhaps all bloggers battle to use few words? Perhaps we all talk too much. In the ether, of course.

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you Mozi!

    Potty: no. not THOSE shoes. Just Those shoes. I cannot walk in THOSE shoes. My children were not in awe of my staggering height when i put them on. They screamed with laughter. And continued, alas, to look down on me x

  17. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Maggie – you can, you can: be as lonely in a city. I think it’s the chilling isolation. The fact i can’t get out. As to the rose farm … yes, chemicals, though heavily policed these days. And it was glorious to enjoy fresh cut stems whenever I wanted them. Valentines Day, however, became a bit of a nonevent as a result!

    nappy valley – oh give me time, girl, give me time. Plenty of opportunity to lose it spectacularly still i am sure.

    rosiero: how lovely to see you. Thanks for dropping by. I could have done with you that evening. All of you. Screaming with laughter so that our tummy muscles were quite sore the next morning.

  18. Kathleen Says:

    Made me giggle. Always hated going to Company Do, I don’t have to very often anymore. Am trying to picture frock and trousers!

  19. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Kathleen, it was a very very good look. Were there more women in Outpost they’d all be emulating it, believe me!

  20. Gill Says:

    were you and the hostess at least able to have a good chat?

    Gill in Canada

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