Saturday, 27 July 2013

Some rules are made to be broken

This Tuesday I will have been away from home for five weeks.  (On Wednesday I begin the long journey home to Australia, the journey that takes me well over 24 hours and halfway round the world.) 

Here's a list of things I am pining for:

pushing my face into the ruff of my dog's neck;

the taste of Wolf Blass's Chardonnay Pinot Noir bubbly;

some different clothes to wear;

The Loved One;

a skinny flat white coffee;

holding a real newspaper in my hands, not a virtual one;

Friday night's pan fried salmon with a sprinkling of Moroccan spice and braised cherry tomatoes and creamy mashed potato;

the smell of my little girl (who's 21);

not being surrounded by poverty and the accompanying guilt.

As writers we're not supposed to make lists;  it's not done according to the experts. Because readers get bored with lists.  Tell me, are you bored?

Some rules are made to be broken. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

He said, she said

For personal reasons I am in South Africa for a number of weeks.  I thought I might be able to write while I am here, but I am too distracted. 

The view from my bedroom window

I find I am a writer that needs solitude, stillness and a quiet time to think, but that isn't presently possible. To attempt anything longer (or more serious) than a blog seems to be beyond me in the time allotted.  

In the meantime I am accumulating experiences, storing up sights, sounds and smells. And even though I am not writing, I am thinking about writing.  And apart from soaking up the scenery, I've been listening to the locals. Sometimes their conversations are amusing.  

In church the other morning before the service, two guys in the pew behind me:   And before I go on you have to understand that rugby in South Africa is a whole religion on its own. Anyway, (as the locals are also fond of saying):  
First guy, "Well, did you see the match last night? It was absolutely thrilling."
Second guy, "Christ! If only they had passed the ball like that at the start of the bloody season. Instead they wait until the last game, they wait until Bryan Habana is leaving to run with the ball and pass it, and play like their lives depend on it."

I kind of felt like it was taken for granted that God was just as interested in the game as they were, and that somehow by the end of the service, they would know what God's opinion was, too.

This is one of the reasons I am distracted
And then yesterday in the street, on my walk home from the beach, I was accosted by a young guy who was begging, which put everything into perspective. Could I just please give him a loaf of bread or some money to buy food?  I told him I had nothing with me, I'd just been walking on the beach. All I have is the front door key.  And he said to me, No, that's not good enough. Here I am, suffering, and you people can't help me. 

I did not know what to say...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Other people's houses

Although she knows nothing of Mythbusters, she has used duct tape in all four corners of her home. Inside and out, it binds one wall to another, holds it together. 

Her home is made of corrugated iron offcuts, but there’s the odd piece of cardboard. Big, strong, packing cartons are easier to anchor. You place the fold parallel to the dirt and you heap it with stones. Although the stones take up space and Elias complains of them digging into his shoulder at night. That boy will complain about anything. 

Four rocks are pushed up against the iron on the outside, one at each corner, but when the wind blows nothing can stop the shaking, and the jittering, the feeling that it might all take off.
Her home is colourful, which is more than can be said of her neighbours’. The corrugated iron is shades of rust and mustard, and Elias in one of his more useful moments found an old can of paint and painted the cardboard red. He also found three pottery pieces, chipped yes, but still usable, and nailed them to the iron. Number 864.

The front door, a sheet of smooth shiny iron, is attached to the door frame with bits of wire threaded through holes. She’s so accustomed to the scraping noise the wire makes that when the wind isn’t blowing it’s too quiet. She can’t sleep when it’s too quiet. It’s like waiting for something to happen, something bad.  

The floor – where you can find it – is hardened dirt. On the walls, against the corrugated iron, Elias has sticky-taped a poster of Madiba with his fist raised to the sky. Amandla! And his favourite basketballer, some American. There’s also a white boy on a skateboard.  Against another wall are two planks of wood on bricks and on these sit packets of mealie-meal and sugar, a tin of coffee. Two mugs and two plates. Alongside is a small gas stove and a pan and a pot. A plastic bucket. The smell of smoke is in everything. 

Some clothes hang from another wall. Her jacket and skirt for church. Elias’ school shirts, clean for tomorrow. One of her husband’s coats, frayed at the cuffs. She likes to see the coat hanging there, reminding her of him, telling her it’s possible he might come home any day.

In the winter her home is like the inside of Madam’s freezer. And in the summer, well, it is hard to find the breeze when there are no windows and you sleep on the floor. Boulders on the roof hold it down, but she worries that one day the wind will shove the roof hard and the boulders will fall through. Eish! Stones in Elias’ shoulder will be the least of his problems, then. 

This random piece of writing comes to you by virtue of the fact that I am currently in South Africa.