Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Devious ol' me

Just got asked, to my surprise, by a REPUTABLE fellow blogger if I really had thought he had written all of THAT stuff in one of his topics.

Come to think, are bloggers a reputable species at all?

Anyway, being in a friendly-sarcastic mood, this hyperactive ball with ants in her pants told blogger-friend she had made some 'friends' on that particular day due to ill humor. Told him also how correspondence had gone in the direction of a drain after I had learned I was to receive a gift in the shape of a wine bottle:

Me: Frost nipping at your toes eh?

German: Nipping my whatsit, more likely

I just knew something’s wrong with you

Thank you v.much. who needs friends????

Oh dear. Did I hurt your feelings…again?

Maybe my odd sense of lavatory humor stinks…but I so love to send a draft down the corridor.

The sweet-sweet Sound Of Music

If you ever wonder about sudden bursts of blogs arriving at once. It is my weekly report of Blogs on News24. The latter a wee bit more accessible...

Now. The landlord couple got their ten year old son a complete set of drums.

This serves to improve his coordination skills. Must pay off because the initial hesitate sounds radiating from the garage have upped its speed and noise drastically over the past months. Faster and louder, sometimes not just a wee bit franticly so.

And boy, does it hurt. Right through my scull to the bottom of my pituitary gland and whatever is hiding behind that.

I know that music apart from his physical disposition drove Mozart mad. Suppose it is just not possible to exorcism the devil out of a beautiful piece of musical instrument? It would be like a sexy saxophone without sound and a piano without a pianist…

But these drums… I’m bearing with it for now. But should I ever become addicted to taking anaesthetizing drugs with wine (keeps the doctor away) and music – which and who to blame?

...and Splatters...

A friend from a half-frozen land afar posted a bottle of Spanish wine out to me. With his boss who is soon to arrive in CT.

Great having a few friends across the globe, with the unlikely chance of ever meeting. Just think, it may save one severe embarrasment or having to bear with revelations of immeasurable disastrous proportions. Follow the trail of my thoughts?

Well, example of the odd chance meeting:

Friend could be bald… with such a bald head, it would straight-away distinguish him from the rest of the world. Other than the fact that he could be one of the dippiest people too, one can imagine friend’s bald head to be similar to a dippy nature to suffice...

Must confess, the following was once written by me: “And one can take a fairy across mainland to the Isle of Skye.” Agh what to say? Dippy guppy at the best of times.

Distant friend was terribly impatient, asking if I actually got the headlines of this supreme bottle to be air-borne all the way to South Africa. Such is our European friends or perhaps the frost was nipping at some peoples toes or wassits this morning…

Trouble between you and me, is that I am to be expecting a Spank-la-dish bottle from Germany. Unusual indeed. And don't get me wrong, I am DEFINITELY NOT UNGRATEFUL! Just curious.

Could the frail German vineyards not have survived the recent black frost and snow? Ah, not as hardy as our own strong vines then. Is German friend just maybe a wee bit ashamed of German wine? Well e-r…if not originating from the Rhine Valley…then…well snobby cultured (cultivated senses) me.

Their goodies frozen and ours on fire. Pffhfff…What a world of opposites. Come to think. Ought I to wait for this particular Spanish medicine to reach a golden age or simply uncork and dive in?

More Wiff & Waffel

Late afternoon in the beautifully magic garden; balmy and still. Tree-tops, primroses, lemon-basil and wotnots hallowed in an orangy-glow that wafts from Helderberg’s burning vineyards. A tragedy.

Ash from once bursting grapes and lush greenery floats like speckled grey snow amongst lazy summer, nectar and sex infused insects. An attractive fat bumble bee in a yellow striped jacket hovers around some small pink flowers. The leafs of the plant I used to put into my food at the time when I believed it to be edible and family of Mint. Turned out it was seriously poisonous, without me experiencing any serious effects...

It set me thinking this morning, how the flame will into eternity dare and fascinate the moth. Inviting and licking starvingly at the delicate fragments of the moths fluttering wings.

How the danger of the greener pastures lures the curios, creative of mind and the ever-youthful old soul to the sketchy edges of a long, narrow and steep drop just to get a view of the sharp rocks and ever restless ocean far below.

And turning my mind to how a tiny kitten can behave erratically bravely in the sheer face of a scowling big albino tiger cat (case of a house-trained domestic and no-nonsense cuddle bear).

Sipping cool wine, bare feet resting on the limp garden table, ensconced in sun dapples and droplets from the sprayer, I hankered yet again after something nameless. Freedom? Maybe. Could have gone doing some worthwhile volunteering stuff at the raging fires. Perhaps, as long as it would not include me burning to an unplanned premature death. Mind, nobody plans when they die. Not that I'm aware off...

Anything to overcome the feeling of missing life; apart from getting well and truly tipsy.

Well, dear gangly kitten Luigi brought a smile on when Mr. decided to accomplish the great task of taunting tiger Harry…AGAIN. Luigi did okay for a cocky kitten and scrambled-climbed from Mission Impossible to Mission Completed. On all four on top of the tiger and acting a bit like a baboon...Some growling started, followed by ferocious kicking and eventually tufts of hair ruffled and flew in several directions…

Harry the Gladiator eventually became bored from the never-ending onslaught from Luigi the Terminator. He smartly decided to thwart the little loafer with a dead-scary look that read


Daft kitten hardly bats an eye.

So Luigi prowls away with a Oscar for Best Acting Italian Stalker, and Harry purrs with acclaim for Best Heavy Weight Director.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Woody Perfume

Oh, The music of Wood-smoke...

The fickle witch at work can’t stop moping about her sodden aversion to the smell of smoke.

What's thàt?! It smells so acrid (Sigh. Of course it smells, but not like that)

How revolting…

It can’t be good for one..!!!

For me on the other hand, the smell of wood-smoke casts out the devils of a mundanely existence.

If something rekindles and awakes tender feelings of melancholy and the stirrings of happiness in my soul, it is smoke wafting from a bonfire, tickling my nose and senses to live.

The smell of moss and smoke clouds over feelings of anxiety and boredom that sometimes skulk in the back of my mind.

It brings a tingling feeling of life to me that reverberate all through me. And it wafts me away on wisps of threadbare smoky strands spiraling through the wide branches of pine-needle giants and hill-forests.

On the Isle of Skye, I once mistook mist for smoke. The upwards flutters of a misty cloud transported me to the days of small stoked fires and kindred spirited gypsies in the woods. But then, the misty isle has that effect on one...

This last fragments of a dying wood-fire, now all but evaporated also carries me back to the farm where two three four things are synonymous: bees, a thousand tiny gum-tree flowers, honey and back at the house, leafy rubbishy soft smoke lingering amongst the hill, outhouse and me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Explicit versus Old Fashioned

Fellow Blogger ‘Melodrama’ on the News24 Blog-site suitably touched upon a very interesting topic. Vulgar language…

Some novels are fun to read, until I’m midway through some surprisingly sex-manic scenes which seem to take it all out of me. It makes me blush and slam the book shut in company, as if I am some porn-starved sado who tries to hide my obsession.

And I cringe at the very thought of ever writing novels with crude, filthy and repetitive blasphemous language. Why is it that such banal stuff continuously pops up in sitcoms, movies and books?

I’m not referring to the odd occasion of mischief in real life or books; lifts, drains, underground, airplane cupboards, broom cupboards etc.

To be compared to naked and clothed:

Let’s take a woman dressed in next-to-nothing and another dressed elegantly in next-to-nearly-nothing.

The one with too much make-up and the other with subtle splashes of make-up.

The swimmer guy bulging with 'goodies' in his ‘ouch’ speedo and the guy hiding his bulding goodies with trendy old-fashioned trunks? (Well, come to think. This sensitive point may be a debatable matter...)

Isn’t more interesting to leave certain things to the imagination?

Old Weekend Stuff

What do you like to do on weekends?

I managed to complete an article for a travel mag – just need to tweak and edit a wee bit more. Tough job though without Internet at home and a dysfunctional PC with its spacebar and Shift buttons falling out. Okay, yes…I tampered with it and can’t get them back properly now. I’m a technologically challenged person.

But what are OTHER PEOPLE up to during weekends?

Some like to sleep in and are either boiled out of bed by their body heat or too many farts (oops, er…sorry).

Others prank in undies on Camps Bay whilst their irritating loud husband plonks around on a board like a Neanderthal of old, fishing (for brains maybe?).

Couch potatoes dwell not far either. Eyes going squint, solid-square or wide-shut-snoring OFTEN. People that have a personal relationship with their telly better watch as it’s said that prolonged staring causes Alzheimers.

I am annoyingly bugged with people spending time at leisure in the shops. Heartily spending money (that they get where?) in an unnatural noisy environment of squeezing, navigating and getting squashed in the isles and endless queues.

Recently I had no choice but go on a Friday late afternoon to Pick & Pay. Choosing two boxes of chocolate, Mints and Lindt, I realized was a rather extravagant thing to do. As REAL coffee rocketed from R29 to R54 I’ll soon be without chocolates, resorting to pap & wors. Not a bad thing but it sometimes causes people to develop bloating with protruding Sotho-buttocks and bellies.

So I got rid of the Mints in the cleaning-stuff isle. I guiltily dashed away and thus ran the trolley with cat-dog-food contents right across my little toe.

The littlest toe of the anatomy is extremely fragile and prone to feel pain more than any other part of the anatomy. Refusing to look at the damage, I queued and felt quite sick when my toe began feeling rather sticky. It was bleeding to death. My little toe was in bad shape.

Blasted trolleys. You understand now why I absolutely divulge in not pushing trolleys? Ever. I’d rather break my arms carrying baskets.

Coming to the point: Just saying I stayed at home Friday night. GREAT! Under the tree, watching the sun set behind little Lions-head and gorged on Hill & Dale sauvignon blanc(s). Anyone seen The Phantom of the Opera? Nah nah, not talking about the giant panter up the tree.

I’m still a little bit stunned. Beautiful music; Andrew Lloyd Weber deserves more credit!

V&A saw me briefly (yeeeehgh) and any idea of getting Valentine flowers FOR MYSELF were blown away under a sparkling sun, over a torrent of ocean-spray and a wild howling gust at dear old reliable Dunes. Oven-baked Karoo ribs and more movie time followed later on…

Sunday a vinegar-pot-roast Italian chicken, loads of garden loitering and more movie (this one’s name I remember: North & South). Another BBC oldie and piece of brilliance. Gorgeous hunk plays in it, garls.

I’ve been offered another job. Shocking. Miracles still happen amidst depression! I may finally be given the opportunity to get rid of the blasted Mafia (and vice-versa) without a civil war breaking out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Good Round

I once lived in London - at the top of a road near Kensington High Street. If I stood in front of the elongated narrow kitchen window, Earls Court would be situated immediately to the south (my right), Knightsbridge down the lane to the east (ahead of me) and Holland Park a few short steps to the north-west (my left). To my north (my back) the ever intriguing famous Notting Hill…

It was a good time. Similar in some ways to the book ‘A Good Year’ (Peter Mayle) except that I was in England and not France, did not inherit a vineyard with a huge house and wasn’t fired like the character Max.

During the following months I stayed in a big mansion, walking almost everyday. Often with set determination to spend my weekly earnings on neck & heel breaking Laura Lee and boutique outfits. Very often returning with nothing but a Boots smelly soap, my first ever wax strips, a new squash racket and balls, or a bottle of newly released Aussie or French wine under the arm. It was here at Safeway that the round-faced butcher bellowed on top of his deeply humored voice “Chicken BREASTS then for our young lady!” (I left deeply flushed like the red raspberries carefully placed next to the brown-paper wrapped succulent chicken-breasts.)

Soon I was quite skinny. Taking Miss Kelly on long walks to Kensington Palace and once we were rebuked by a stranger with flashing eyes when the 80-year old dear said too loudly that the Princess of Wales had been a disgrace to the Royal Family. Traffic halted together with pedestrians when one afternoon an unusual person sailed across the saliva-spat dirty pavement, apparently oblivious to a staring audience. Maybe she was a drag-queen, actress or maybe not. With those fishnet stockings, endless long and shapely legs and weird hairdo, I still wonder.

A lot of me became still during golden October afternoons and darker mornings. After months of commuting to unknown stations and employers, trying to figure out why I lived a solitude life in a foreign country, I saw another side to life abroad. I got up at eight in the morning, enjoyed Italian M&S coffee at leisure, bathed in a deep old bath full of spindly cracks and had almost too many free evenings to read, wander in Holland Park and visit the art-shop around its main entrance or hit the streets that I have never quite seen deserted.

Once the sight of a Kensington High Street Madonna nearly sent a prudish-me puking with shock and revolt in a small backstreet. Heavily pregnant she wore a tight bra-like top and a golden ring protruded from a protruding belly. Nothing subtle about that and worse was a beggar that nastily spat on my new leather jacket on another occasion, when I gave him a piece of my bread and advice.

The Odeon cinema is kind of an old-fashioned and bloody expensive activity. Nearby is an Italian restaurant, extremely popular. I once enjoyed a slivered-cold-mutton dinner in this cozy woody place with its jovial owner and chef. There were other places too, but perhaps this was my favorite dine-out.

It was the post-towers time, 2002 when threats of dirty-bombs were hovering dark and sinister in the air. I wondered whether I ought to buy masking tape to seal up the windows, to buy tinned food and bottled water and…decided against the whole idea. Often I would hop on a tube train to get to Oxford Street, Trafalgar square or Camden Town where I bought a sexy sandy dress which I’ve so far only worn once.

A fellow South African, a year younger and male was introduced to me at an East London potjie-pub-party. We were instant friends and met up at Starbucks – for once someone insisted paying for my cuppa coffee. We went for long walks, shared our thoughts and plenty of laughter. He took me to little shops that he insisted I had to see; closer, further and deeper into the city than I ever could have guessed. I introduced him to the Victoria Museum and Tate Modern, we lounged on a park bench with his head resting on my lap - looking at the oak leafs, me and blue sky - and we marveled at the ease of our friendship. We both loved Holland Park with its acres of scented roses, squirrels and hidden corners and once asked a lovely French couple about their stunning two Pointer hounds.

We drank wine in the tree shade outside an underground spooky candle-lit pub, fed pigeons and went listening to an acquaintance playing saxophone during a jazz evening at the Oxo Tower. Spectacular views from the top. And Elaine Vassal from the drama Allie MacBeal exchanged a few pleasantries during a trip in the lift down. She is much shorter in real life, and very pretty…

I knew him for a short time only, and all this little episodes to remember…My gentle friend then had to get on board of a friend’s yacht and set sail back to SA. There was no time to say good bye. Just as well; I may have fallen in love.

I wonder…If I stayed there, if I just stayed and never went away. What would and could have happened?

Poem of an Unknown Soldier

Does your mind take you as the wind, into different directions?

With me, it does so often and today is no exception.

Once again I am in a frame of mind;

far removed from a world full of noise and bother.

And I remember a poem that I hold very dear;

it was written during World War I or II.

Poem by Unknown Solider -

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there, I did not die.

Someone stole my idea

Learning and checking out the ropes, I'm not too sure if what I'm about to do, means breeching of somebody else's copyright. I might be jailed and banned from the writer’s community, but tough luck. Worse crimes are committed such as stealing other peoples work.

The following article from the website could serve as a lesson us. It's rather long though, but insightful.

Posted: 15/01/09 By: Dan Roberts

After a decade of freelance feature writing, you think you've seen it all: pitches ignored or rudely rebuffed; work spiked for no good reason or going unpaid; lovingly crafted pieces hacked to bits on an editor's whim.

But last month I had a new and not-so-pleasant experience – someone stole my idea.

The whole thing started innocently enough when I pitched a decent feature idea to a women's mag, which shall remain nameless. The features editor responded, saying she liked the idea and would put it forward at the next features meeting.

Then… nothing.

Expecting a commission, I waited to hear back, but didn't. I sent an email chasing it up, but no reply. Breaking one of my golden rules, I sent another, only to pick up the mag in question and see my feature in all its glory crowned with someone else's byline.

It annoyed me so much that I sent a withering email to the features ed, which made me feel better, but probably ensured I would never write for them again.

Still smarting, I talked to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other intellectual property experts to see what rights I had, if any, to find out how common idea-stealing was and what freelancers could do to avoid it.

John Toner, the union's freelance organiser, reports that it happens with annoying regularity: "My sympathies are with freelancers who are ripped off and get nothing for it. Some writers get understandably angry about having their ideas pinched. Others just acknowledge it's part of freelance life, put it behind them and move on to the next pitch."

So is there anything we can do to keep those precious ideas from being taken and given to another writer?

"You could pitch the idea without giving away specifics," says Toner.

"If you can keep back details like who you would interview until they've agreed to commission you, then you've improved your chances of not having the idea stolen.

"Some freelances will only pitch if the other party agrees to commission under strict commercial confidence. But that's usually only writers with a track record of coming up with exclusives – the kind of stories commissioning editors would do anything to get."

Given that most freelancers aren't pitching bite-your-hand-off exclusives, what legal protection do more mainstream ideas have?

In order to understand that, you have to know a little about intellectual property. This is broken down into separate categories: patents apply to the scientific or mechanical workings of an invention; while trademarks apply to logos and brands, like the Coca Cola or McDonald's logo.

As creatives, what we're interested in is copyright, which applies to any written medium, including dramatic works, broadcasts or musical recordings and literary works, like novels, newspaper articles, song lyrics – even computer programs and instruction manuals.

"Unfortunately, copyright doesn't protect ideas for a piece of work," explains James Thomson from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) – the UK government body responsible for granting intellectual property rights.

"It's only when the work is in writing that copyright automatically protects it."

Thomson echoes Toner's suggestion about requesting a confidentiality agreement: "If you pitch an idea to a paper, it might be worth protecting your intellectual property with a confidential disclosure agreement, which you can download from our site."

If you do think your copyright has been infringed, the IPO is a good place to start, as it offers a mediation service between you and the publisher and can direct you to the appropriate body if you need to take further action.

This may be a legal advisor or specific organisations representing different types of artist, like the Writers' Guild, which looks after writers in TV, radio, theatre, books, poetry, film and video games; or the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, which ensures that authors are compensated for works that are copied, broadcast or recorded.

Another such organisation, Own-it, provides intellectual property advice for creative businesses.

Its project director, Marice Cumber, is a passionate advocate for us creative types. Although she believes we should protect our copyright by whatever means necessary, she also advises caution.

"With creative people, because their ideas represent that creativity, they can get very emotional if they feel those ideas are taken away. But it's good to get someone independent to say whether anything awry has occurred or you may lose potential clients," she says.

"You need to make an astute business decision about the value of pursuing something and what you’ll get in return."

Cumber points out that, in addition to the risk of biting the hand that feeds us, just two lawyers' letters can cost more than the fee we'd get for the piece.

Before you go charging off to a legal firm, talk to Own-it, which offers a free legal advice service. Its website also hosts an excellent series of free-to-download podcasts on all aspects of copyright.

One final – and somewhat surprising – comment from Toner: though he is a staunch defender of freelance rights, he thinks it crucial that finished work should be copyrighted, but ideas not.

"There is actually a very good reason for ideas not being protected by copyright: if they could be copyrighted, it would prevent two people writing or broadcasting about the same subject. For example, if you wanted to write about Paul Gascoigne's [former England footballer] alcohol problems, you could write a piece with a totally different focus than the recent Channel 4 documentary.

"It's essential for journalism that ideas cannot be protected, but equally essential that the finished piece can."

Somewhat grudgingly, I have to agree, though I'm still fuming about my idea being 'borrowed'.

Never fear – next time I pitch something juicy there will be a confidentiality agreement attached.

St. Valentine & Decapitated

Something to ask with St Valentine’s stumbling around the block again. I'm sure he is a drunk.

How do you make love work for you?

Some swear by commitment, bugger sentimental love and whispers

Others firmly belief the glue that keeps them together is e-r…sex

Emotional naggers swear by communication in all its forms (including psychologists)

Sentimental love-to-be-in-love experts choose partners that will always buy them gifts

Vulnerable lambs hang onto the belief that the world will be a better place with a crappy partner

… Seldom, the Valentinos and Valerinas of the world truly understand the word ‘Love’ …

To me the tricky snare in a relationship seems to be commitment. How to bear with a partner’s whims and less elegant moods? It leaves one pretty much alone out there on the shore, in a breaking storm. Love eventually takes a hike, even after a long time and so I came to associate my relationships with a favorite childhood game:

Snakes & Ladders.

The dice is jinxed. More often than not I am kicked right down a blasted long and wobbly ladder and my partner hardly seem to notice. My partner in fact, seem to progress rather well and swiftly upwards to the Finish Line. It’s the pits at the bottom. Pretty lonely and disheartening.

A bit stupid really, this game forever wrecking havoc regardless of my honorable efforts. I also don’t like the evil snakes that eye me so hungrily. They obviously think I’m stupid. To keep trying. That I'm not good enough to play their game, a bad looser and a spoilsport when I stump off to pour a glass of wine, lick my wounds in solitude and wallow a little bit in my bottom corner.

So when I queue in shops, the domino effect hits and plasters me to a wall: Another year and here I am again, pestered by revolting nylon teddy bears and cheap milk chocolate hearts. Under my breath, I curse the wicked dice. Then I remember that I'm actually not in such a bad spot - that my love life is not a soap opera of sordid rules and break-ups. Neither am I playing the macabre game of Russian Roulette which I'll never understand. I don't have to fear decapitation or desperately edging a knife deep into my lover's chest.

Love seems to be a blood-thirsty game. And a piece of medium-rare beef with a trace of blood goes so well with a romantic dinner by candlelight...

From Snakes & Ladders on to the worn weather-cock on top of the church tower: It seems to get it all; swaggering and swaying day and night with a full round view. I am bound to bloody do something ridiculous this Valentines Day - and why not? Anyone up for a game, can meet me at the tower this coming Saturday. We’ll decide which way to go from there.

Finish Line: So what would be the greatest cheesy Valentine gift?


Call me a drama queen, but exciting moments in life adds spice to the existence of an adventure-adrenalin-craving but shit-scared ordinary person like me.

Those moments add up to waving at helicopters.

First things first however. I am very sad to announce that I don’t have any pics available to show how loony our Cape doctor gets from time to time. Must be male, as it ravished, scooped, ripped, sprayed and did everything else it could do on the dock and over the decks of big old boats. A good wind clears the cluttered brain, I agree, but it is also very good at making one look like a filth-wit growing stubborn dandruff on the head and nostrils. I was quite brave visiting our rather deserted desert-looking Dunes after work. But hardly had the gust or guts to return to my car in the face of a manic tantrum exhausting itself on the beach. There was a mad dog and his half-senile owner playing along though…

Driving home, I saw billowing smoke further up the valley. Oh dear! And suddenly all the cars in front of me seemed to slow down and drive rather pathetically slow and directionless. I swear I’d drive over them to get home, should a fire ever threaten to destroy my lavender and pets. Turned out it was not at our place, but one can’t help to be nervous about these things. There’s Lourensford in Somerset-West as an example. A hundred fire-fighters are right now as I speak, battling a fire that may be destroying the vinyards together with those of Vergelegen, to ashes.

Sewende Laan time on telly, kitten fed, dogs fed and human beings not fed, I heard the rotors of a heli battling the waves of the wind. Rushed out to wave at it as it circled over the garden and back the way it had come. Strange. The next instant, more by the sound of it, we realized they planned a landing. Right there outside our walled garden, on the main road of our valley! I sprinted out of the gates, first grabbing keys to unlock it and saw the following: two police vehicles parked by the side of the road, a panzer-police lorry heading their way and our heli landing right next to them on a strip of open field.

This may be a state secret so don’t tell anyone: There were only one or two cars passing at the time – maybe other motorists have been blocked further up and down the road. The one heli guy jumped out with a box in his hands and handed it to one of the other car-chaps. Neatly got back into the heli and as they started leaving, they saw us. Frantically and not really dressed for the occasion, waving our arms off in the driveway outside our big gate. Hmm. So the thrill of the story is that he spotted us and waved back. Really cool. Very satisfactory, don’t you agree? These police people so often take flak and there’s two gorgeous chics falling over their bare feet to show our gratitude for the work they do.

Back at the cottage, we came to a verdict with two possibilities:

Either we will be eliminated early this morning for witnessing something secret. To which I replied “With love!”. But nothing happened this morning. And I doubt they know where I work…

The next thing that could happen is that we’ll wait there by the gate after work. A little suitcase packed and when the heli pitch up, ask why they are so bloody late.

Don’t you find it terribly frustrating when things happen at your doorstep and you have not a blinking idea what it is all about?

PS: People, I just caught a wiff and sound of a low-flying helicopter!!!

Australia Fires

So terribly-terribly beautiful and sad.

The thing about jelly-tots

I just asked a colleague to go & get me some jelly-tots.

Yesterday it was chips.

Fat chance if you get any ideas, as chances are about as slim as snow falling on Table Mountain this time of year. Easier to get pollen stuffed up one’s nose, actually…

The youngster colleague asked what I want to do with a BIG packet of jelly-tots.

(Well e-r…)

I’ll eat it. My sister once stuffed tots up her nose though.

Really, and what happened to her?

(A bit of thinking)

Well e-r, my sister turned into a blond

Heh. And what do you mean with that?

I don’t know. She stuffed it really deep, until it began to melt…eventually.

The danger of sweeties...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Drugs or Coffee

Reading friend BT's blog, I could not help but smirk...e-r laugh a bit.

The British are indeed a nation that I had come to love for the following:

Wicked, wicked and wicked sense of humor (I would love to spell it wicket as for hitting the target spot-on)

Their obsession with black, toilets and the weather (forever)

Their brilliant authors and films

Their love for anti-fox-hunting marches on bitter cold winter days

(I could have been arrested at Heathrow with my profile on Police-file)

Their love-to-hate passion towards their politicians and education minister in particular.

The manner with which they eye all USA & Israeli activity with curios suspicion

BT wrote about ducking out of the way of falling airplanes and how he once came upon a stack of coffee packets dropped in their neck of the woods, from a plane. Many weeks later he came upon the story how smugglers disguise drugs as coffee packets, so BT headed up the hill as fast as his legs could carry him. To find the nearly disintegrated packets, full of ground coffee.


This gets me to thinking that Africa has indeed become a…curios country in itself. Say, if something similar played if off on our continent, what do you think might have happened?

This is my theory:

Sound of falling airplane; stash falling from the rear of plane onto a hill

Stampede of mass proportions heading and heaving upwards towards the accident scene

The ‘big trek’ tramples over the dead and half-dead bodies strewn across a field, unfazed by the sight of death. ..

Bags with powdery contents and cigarette boxes ripped open

Unprecedented grabbing and looting at whatever else hands and mouth can find

...And one stupid fool goes and lights a cigarette

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Balmy World

Did I tell you how single chics get down to perving without the guilt-factor that so often accompanies our male counterparts? Well later, I’ll tell you later but first onto serious matters…

The raging fires and icy storms across the globe pull at the hearts of many-many people such as the ones who read or only hear about it on the telly. The havoc caused by nature calls the world to an instant halt of sorts – resulting in silent or bewildered contemplation mixed with compassion and a feeling of helplessness. On my part, the feeling that I could do more even if only to make flasks of coffee, soup or sandwiches. So this year I may just get round to joining the local fire-brigade (for the right reasons).

On a balmy Saturday evening, a barbeque fire crackling under a thundry outspan, I looked across the darkening valley. Nature and human folk in several places across the country holding in breathe, anticipating the slim chance of fat raindrops splashing on a hot earth, bringing some relief.

And further a field, lives were torn apart by sheer desperation as they watch helplessly how a raging fire destroyed their livelihood and loved ones.

This morning, I took a moment to ponder the unimaginable terror of such destruction as is currently unfolding in Australia. Silky cold shivers go rampant on my arms as I think of tragedy, accompanied by death. I think of the many lives lost. My mind reverts to another continent and I wonder about the 200 odd people rescued in Devon, hampered on route by snow storms. Many young birds, for example robins, blue-tits and chaffies often don’t survive such icy spells. We don’t even want to touch the subject of torrential storms or cyclones such as the one that recently hit Madagascar (not caused by the penguins, but perhaps global warming).

My thoughts skirted to our own country which so often faces extreme weather conditions. The result of bravery and new bonds created between different lines of society often fails to raise eyebrows. I wonder why we so often prefer the terrible to the triumph, the sadness to the Brightside….The past few days had caused havoc on farms and communities, resulted in the loss of livestock and smoke inhalation... I take my hat off for all those people around our world who have made it their plight to save, rescue and to risk...

Now, how do some chics manage to find the light in the dark of dust and ash? A fire once rolled dangerously down the slopes of our backdoor mountain-side. Within minutes though, heli’s hovered above our heads and firemen spread like fleas across the fynbos cliffs and crannies. They carried torches and fireman-wotnots with them, visible in yellow cladding.

Then a brilliant idea was sparked as one of us ran into the cottage and brought out a pair of binoculars! I told you, nothing beats the thrill of a back-garden-pervert following the drama of real events, with real men, right on their very own doorstep…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Garfield & The Law

One doesn’t mess with the law.

The nearly extinct law abiding SA citizen is under impossible pressure these days. This rare species is tested to the limits and finds it impossible to keep trouble at bay.

There's me, a feeble excuse for a patient driver. Twisting one finger at lawless lopsided vehicles almost makes me feel better. Taking both hands off the steering-wheel however, and sending secret sign languages to pieces of swerving scrap-metal junk makes me feel infinitely better. I dare not think of the consequences when the favor gets returned if ever I loose my way in Mitchell’s Plain or Soweto. Heaven forbid that I have to ever venture over those borders…I’m a really scared person in reality.

My currently yeast-riddled mind hobbled into something that happened 3 weeks ago. A arse tightening-clinging episode, if looked at from several angles:

Lovely Friday summer night out, music band, watching bemused how children are attracted to pole-dancing whilst the parent look on shocked and anxiously. Salt scent of the ocean and... Hmm-ah. Paying an extortionate huge price for shit-cooked king-prawns (blame the kitchen) and reluctantly going home before the cops are out.

I breathe out garlicy relief as the usual police-infested circle is quiet. The field is clear and the 1.6km drive home will be pudding. At the top of the little hill however, we are met with flashing blue lights, red lights, filthy yellow sign boards indicating rather filthy language, torch-lights and moving uniforms.

Oh shit. OH SHIT. (Oh f**kfkkffkkkkkkk...).

No worries, I say, switching to a lower gear.

We’re way over the limit!

Yes I know.

They’re going to lock us up tonight; we're in our chops!

Oh shut up, just chill

And you better not talk so much. Just answer the questions

Hey, the garlic pong in here will deter or overpower anyone that dares coming too near...

Okay, now be normal. Talk and sound SOBER


Slightly heavy sandal on the brakes. Oh... My... Word.

A complete hunk approaches the car. The wispy hair and olive skinned attractive manly kind that turns normal people into lisping drooling and popped-eyed jellyfish. He is air-suckingly gorgeous; this policeman. For crying out loud, B-E-A-U-T-I-F-OOO-L. And THIS rare specy is stepping towards ME, right on my doorstep...

A rather sobering thought.

All okay ladies? (Cop-man greeted by two killer-Garfield grins)

Yip-ah…We live here actually. Just over there at the gate (You can come over after your shift finished)

My mind clouds over faster than Everest; the demister will soon overheat and explode.

He smiles at me (us) and it is impossible to stop the muscle-grinding grin that spreads and stretches to the ends of the world. Could look slightly moronic in sober daylight, I think.

Okay, you may go then. Have a nice evening.

(Oh, is that it? No more nice questions?)

A-alright-y… (Breathy sound)

Turning the car into the driveway I nearly crash straight through the iron gate. My mind flutters and swivels with desperate ideas.

Do you think I could bring over some coffee?

Are you MAD!! All of them will want coffee. They’ll pick up that you’re drunk.

Why, would they? It’s only a garlic hangover.

Heady Concoctions

I am convinced that certain types and amounts of alcohol adds up to a gland (scientific name not established), painfully throbbing at the back of my scull. I was reminded this morning that this gland still exists and seems to be functioning very well.

This state of the anatomy usually goes hand in hand with an unearthly thirst. And two dogs that seems to have an urgent need to pee and thus nudging me awake in the middle of the night.

Following a night out with the girls, I find myself in a terribly woozy state. Can one single cocktail served in a flute and one elegant glass Shiraz really have such devastating effects on one single slow-sipping person?

I don’t know.

The cocktail was something unknown to me; something lime-green tasting with mint and sugar at the rim for the sweet-savoring lips. The red wine a mellow one with great character and all the right descriptions a good wine connoisseur would savor: honorable, no tardiness, dark, handsome, crisp, smoky, smooth, polished, plush and robust…

Sounds all the more to me like the type of suburban dude a good girl’s got to watch out for. I’d like to add to this particular Porcupine Shiraz three more notes: Sexy, Mocha that lingers in the mouth and a good long finish.

Well apart from these small observations of taste and appearance, I learned the following between last night 07h30 and this morning:

I’m not a cocktail girl.

I’m not much of a girls-girl night out person

I’m not much of a midweek-out girl

I’m a girl who likes to have fun without worries about how I’m going to cope with poisoned glands and the darn mafia the next day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The toffee between high & low

What makes one think it is possible to achieve immeasurable heights in life?

I wonder if the notion 'immeasurable lows' adds up to the human race being conditioned into believing 'comes bad weather, sunshine will follow soon’? So maybe the extremity of lows and highs keep us balanced somewhere in the middle with each faltering or uncertain step we give.

Earlier this week and after much consideration, I sent the following reply to a magazine lady's question:

No, I haven't published anything yet.

Sending the reply to the editor, I thought how a real writer will joyfully give him or herself up for life-long enslavement of the pen and PC - just for the privilege to write. It also reminded me of the elation and down in the dumps feelings that comes with the tough job called Write. And to tail this I once again experienced that painful twist in my guts of a thirsty craving for becoming a successful and fulltime writer...

Writing has become my longterm tormenting lover and the unfathomable foe I must live with. It drives me to dizzy heights and terrible lows, and usually leaves me stuck in a place between nowhere and going somewhere.

I started writing at the age of nine and chucked away all of it either in a barbeque fire or bottom of the kitchen bin. Guess I'm somewhat of a purrr-fectionist. Then I enrolled for a degree in journalism and guess what? It been pending like a thorn under my skin for many years now. Do unfinished degrees have an expiry date?

I know that my Pa's father sent a couple of short stories to editors; done on an ancient typewriter - they were all rejected.

There are a lot of similarities between me and grandpa apart from an artistic streak going hand-in-hand that seems to drive us potty in a sometimes dull and mundane life. We're stubborn, generous, eccentric, don't walk with our feelings on our sleeves, we observe and cry when we're angry and we both kept diaries. I miss him because he died many years ago.

A stranger once illegally picked up my diary and leafed through the most secret contents of my life. Since then I haven't kept a diary and never will do so again. The very intimate act of touching those pages reminded me of a time when a sensitive 10 year old me voice-recorded songs on a tape-recorder. It accidentally got mixed up with other tapes and the wrong one was put on during a family trip from P.E. I nearly died.

One thing that stood out in Grandpa's diary, is an observation he made as he walked somewhere in town. A man in front of him was puking onto the pavement.

Don’t you think that it takes something to write at length about the contents of some unfortunate being's breakfast or lunch?

Perhaps it's all in the manner how we perceive life and the thrills it presents that determine how high and low we go or whether we stay in the middle-bit. For me it is about stories and opportunities lost in bins, or about a terminally ill stranger...

- It's all out there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Secret Gardens & The Unexpected

During my time 'sentenced' to Carbisdale Castle high up in the mountains, fate stepped mercifully into my somewhat dreary existence. Story of her life, you must be thinking, but fate met me in quite an unusual and unexpected manner. In kind of a grand manner. A manner that spoke more than words ever could!

During this miss-matched tour business at Carbisdale, I met the only other four occupants that were in my age group. They were loud wild-haired Aussie girls and I think all of them were teachers apart from one nurse.

Fiona with the flaming curls and I agreed that we would do our own thing on Christmas Day. Bugger the regime of Bruce-the-sex-god who tried enforcing us to follow the rule and go with everyone else on this godforsaken ‘excursion’ to a rocky and I'm sure windy, beach… We did not stuff our fingers in his face but shrug off his constant threats rather dismissively.

So I woke up on Christmas morning and leisurely opened some prezzies from home. The place was as silent as a ghost - lovely. I then tiptoed downstairs past the many oil paintings to meet my new friend, as agreed the drunken night before. She wasn’t there. The castle is huge alright, but we did say we would meet in the front lobby. How many lobbies do you think could be there, if a castle has 365 windows - one for each day of the year?

I thought that maybe she had decided to go with the group after all. So left to my own device, I left the grounds singing softly to the tune: Queen of MY castle. Took a left out of the gate and started walking along a narrow road towards nowhere in particular. This small and warming activity took me nearly all day to complete. I think, the memory will be lodged firmly in my memory even when I’m a dementic, incontinent and somewhat deranged 90 year old lady one day.

The whole world around me had turned into a fairy-world. White-washed and shivery cold. What did I read amongst furry snowflakes, naked trees and little red-roof croft houses? I saw a lot of things over and between the lines of buzzing telephone poles and farm fences…

There was a flecked speckled thrush searching looking frostily at me from a farm-gate. Clumps of brittle mottled Birch trees blending well with the scenery. A small sheep shed with cattle and sheep grazing nearby – steam rose from black and pink noses as they searched for grass and hay.

Ravens skirting the edges of a arctic blue cold and cloudless sky. A rail track with juniper or hawthorn red berries shining under the soft rays of a winter sun. The bluest lochs I have seen to date. Tracks. Traces. Trickles of melting snow… My thoughts were audible in the great hushed silence, the crunch of my feet on snow accompanying the direction it took.

Then a sudden blanket of snow, a somewhat whiteout blizzard spent itself all over me - and I went standing on a bridge that ran across the railway track. I stood here for a while; toes probably going into the stage of frostbite, but my thoughts were adrift in places where it did not matter.
I took an extremely beautiful photograph here; pity I can’t put it on here right now.

A stranger stopped his car, asking if I wanted a lift. I declined, because I wanted to complete the long Christmas walk on my own. Much later before darkness settled, and back at the formidable castle I walked straight into Fiona who had just reached the outside of the lobby.

Exclamations: Where have you been?!!!

Our breaths formed clouds as we ogled each other curiously and with surprise. I found out that she could not find me either, that morning. So she became an explorer of ‘Secret-Gardens’ on the grounds of Carbisdale Castle. She was utterly enchanted with what she found.

I told her about traversing on a lonely cold and sacred road strewn with small stones and unexpected gifts: Burns, lichen and frosty leafs, berries, birds, railway tracks and plenty of snow.

So a fairytale was born from desperation and a little bit of misunderstanding. We looked at each other, a friendship born and smiling we went inside to join the rowdy mob on their return by a raging hot fireplace. Fiona passed me some paper from a drawing pad and pencils, and we sat down to start some sketches of our day and solitude wanderings.

Oh and we had a cold dinner of Brussels sprouts and Haggis meat later on, amongst the bluish but elegant marble statues and portraits scowling down at the barbaric youth.

A toast was held in honor of all the wandering ghosts of Carbisdale Castle.

Packed Like Sardines

- and... down to a beach.

(Borrowed picture, aye I knowwww. Very frustrating indeed).

The filing of people to desolate beaches happens only to the weary and unsuspecting traveler in search of some balance.

Except, the traveler can be smart and turn it into something else called "Revenge". Wisely and quietly the wise traveller can throttle the very idea of being jam-packed like a pickled onion, and go for an extended and peaceful stroll afterwards.
Allow me to make sense and begin to tell of something between the dusty pages and fragments of my derelict memory…

Once upon a few moons ago and hovering on the brink of a white Christmas, I took a somewhat stupid decision. I re-booked a trip with a tour company I have used before. Turned out that they have received too many bookings to cope with that particular year and the previously gorgeous tour guide had since become a sexy worshipped god who had no power against the advances of dozens of fluffy and very wet-eared spring-chickens. A sullen twenty eight year old with high expectations, I was caught amidst the grave disappointment of an outrageously “naff” affair.

A good solid word of advice: If you ever happen to find out too late that you’re bound to share an ancient castle with a bunch of strangers, take my advice: Find the key to the dungeon and lure the huge amount of girls under the age of 25 in there. Lock them up, without a conscience, those binging and for some reason forever screaming, tit-bearing foreign from all over dimwits...

I was astonished to the point of rage when I was cajoled with dozens other bright-faced fellow tourists into one of three big busses. To be transported to a place north of the Highlands of Scotland - Carbisdale Castle in the Sutherland region. The entrance to the castle was quite impressive and the towers showed some promise before we came to halt and were dumped like potato bags in front of a huge old wooden door.

During the first 24 hours, I discovered horror of horrors. My fairy-tale Christmas holiday had turned into doomed glory. Seemed like I was to be part of some sort of ghastly surprise. The stunning location had an adder hidden behind every other door and heavily draped curtain; and one did not need to wait for night for it to strike. It was a place where the mamba danced to the beat of a bagpipe, thrill of drunken flying skirts and kilts and ensconced in lethargic stupor.

The more adventurous could even sweep down a chimney or up to the towers. I did not want to do that. Neither did I have the desire to imagine the amount of amorous activities happening on the very high window ledges. This place, built between 1905 - 1917, made me feel like a stiff-necked frigid ice-queen who only happened to wonder how the peasants had come to nest in her bosom.

How their names could have ended up written in some vile signage on her guest-list?!
This however, isn’t about the sordid details of shameless tarts and farts, but about discovering secret gardens and winding snowy roads below the swirling roots of deep forests.
Ah well, I have been summoned again by the mafia to do some… Please try not to shred your nails to pieces in anticipation of a gruesome end to this particular story. It won’t be worth it, I promise…

Carbisdale Castle was built by the Duchess of Sutherland and is now used as a youth hostel, operated by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association. It is located on a hill above the Kyle of Sutherland. The castle boasts with marble statues or magnificent paintings in the galleries, the old library and dining room.