I was having a day off, listening to Seth\’s stunning 2oceansvibe radiostream and trying really hard not to touch myself at the same time, when this little gem rolled into the collective unconscious of Hatman Mansions on a Saturday morning… oh, this carries a “You Might Fall Off Your Chair And Crush The Cat You’ll Be Laughing So Hard” warning…
Beautiful! I think all SABC TV news reporters should be ordered to get stoned before getting their hands on a mike. I might actually understand what they’re saying.
* Red hat tip to Anne Bussio of Joe’s Restaurant in Stanford for sending this beautiful baby my way.
I’ve given you three blogposts already today and I’m knackered. But I’d like to leave you with this thought to take to bed with you…
“The bontebocks, above all appeared in flocks of two thousand at least. I am persuaded that this day, buffaloes, antelopes of all kinds, zebras and ostriches, I had before my eyes at one time more than four or five thousand animals.” – Le Vaillant, the Overberg (1796)
I live in the Overberg. Two hundred and fourteen years later, where and how far do I go to witness such a thing?
And, in 214 years’ time, what real chance do the future inhabitants of Africa, never mind the Overberg, have of seeing just one of these, alive and running free in the wild?
* So I Google “bontebok photo” to bring you a pic… and I find this…
A dead bontebok. Shot. By a hunter. American. Very pleased with his work.
Ain’t that pretty? This photograph was first published on a South Dakota taxidermy website. With this caption…
“Bontebok was the easiest shot of the whole Safari. After a unsuccessful stalk and sitting in an open field, the Bontebok along with another herd bull came walking out of a draw right towards me. At 40 yards they stopped and I harvested the largest of the two. SCI Gold and Rowland Ward by 1 1/2 inches. Overall 43 0/8.”
“Harvested”? Harvested! What is that? Hunterspeak for “killed”. Can’t hunters say “killed”? Or “murdered”?
I feel very tired. And very angry. I’m going to bed. Here’s the website of that – how do the Americans say? – douchebag who kills Africa’s wildlife… American hunter/douchebag\’s website.
One of the first posts I put on this blog was about Ivy Bean, 103 years old (at the time) and the sweetest tweeter on Twitter.
I am so sad to tell you that I have learned that Mrs Bean – or @IvyBean104 as she was addressed on Twitter – died in England on Tuesday.
Mrs Bean was followed by many celebs on Twitter. Here, Peter Andre meets his Twitter idol.
A tweet sent from @IvyBean104 confirmed this, saying: “Ivy passed away peacefully at 12.08 this morning… Im sorry it took me so long to tell you but it was a very difficult thing to do.”
In my last post, I featured a charming video interview with Twitter’s oldest netizen. She was an absolute darling and will be greatly missed by her family and everybody at the nursing home, as well as by her 57,000 followers on Twitter. Mrs Bean tweeted with an abundant warmth of spirit and no little endearing cheekiness too. RIP, dear Ivy.
You probably don’t need to know this but my best ideas bubble up while I’m on the bog. Bog, not blog. Just yesterday, after completing the Cape Times’ Wordgame, I thought of a saying that I believes holds very true.
“A good picture is worth a thousand words.” I was quite pleased with that. I then dreamt up “Every Picture Tells a Story” which is not quite as profound. It’ll probably be stolen by an ageing Scottish rock star, who also once stole my mop to wear as a wig, and worked into a title of an album. Plagiarism. Sis.
So, I had no sooner thought of these sayings when a photograph came my way which, I believe, is worth no fewer than a million words. It is so utterly and outrageously beautiful that I really don’t mind adapting my saying.
Please try to relax and brace yourself for the beauty of it all…
No caption required. Pic: Allen Walker
So the whole idea is that I don’t now give you a million words, right? OK.
Now I’ll leave that insanely sumptuous image to waft among the currents of your conscious. But I would be appalled if the words “freedom”, “without”, “fear” and “beauty” don’t come to mind. Well, did they?
South African stories. What a lot we got. Folklore, fables, strange phenomena, myths, old wives’ tales, tall tales, we’ve heard them all. Or so we think. These make South Africa an intriguing, even mystical, place in which to live.
I heard about “the Tokoloshe” when I was very small. Yes, deep under apartheid. The 60s, babies. Mary was a very large, round woman who lived in what was then called a “khaya” (home) in my family’s backyard. A tiny room with a bed, chair, shower and toilet. Behind the garage where my Dad kept his gleaming white Ford Cortina. With red leather seats. And those kiff tail fins.
Artistic impression of "the Tokoloshe"... fortunately not invisible and, even more fortunately, without its "exceptionally long penis".
I loved Mary. What I’m about to say may seem patronising but it isn’t. She was one of two mothers that I was blessed to have. My Mom worked all day so Mary looked after me once I got home from school. Fed me lunch, checked on me while I played on the foofie-slide down at the river with George from next-door and worried that I might have my leg taken off by one of the legavaans (large monitor lizardy-type reptiles) that lived there. And wouldn’t allow me to bring tadpoles and silkworms into the house.
When I was very small, she would wrap me in a blanket, tie it to her back and take me with her to the tea-room to buy milk and bread, having countless very long conversations with other “maids” on the way. When I was about 12, Mary “got sick” and moved back to her family who lived in a “location” somewhere near Edendale, outside Pietermaritzburg. Soon after that, she died. I cried as if I had lost a mother. Because I had.
While she was living in that “khaya”, Mary had her bed put up on bricks. I remember she had two bricks placed under each leg of the bed, making it so high that it was difficult for me to clamber up and chat to her.
“Many urban and rural women use bricks as a protection against the Tokoloshe. That is, they raise their bed on bricks. This is so that the Tokoloshe can’t reach them while they are sleeping. The Tokoloshe is the evil creation of a man who murdered nine women in his quest to be come a witchdoctor. He is hairy, has the face of a monkey, can make himself invisible and, other than attacking unsuspecting women, is responsible for all sorts of mischief. The Tokoloshe has an exceptionally long penis (which it hitches over its shoulder as it walks) and is, fortunately, a dwarf.”
Musical footnote: There is a very cool South African band named “Bed On Bricks”.
So you think that living in the country is easy? That all we do is plough a few furrows before parking the Massey Ferguson under a tree, haul out the old Blackberry and get on to Facebook to sow our oats in Farmville?
Well, yes, that’s exactly what most of us do. That’s how we roll out here in Stanford. But not every day. Take Wednesdays. I have to come over all corporate on Humpday. And what a hump. I can barely get my tractor over it.
I had two meetings today. Two. This entails me getting out of my Barney pyjamas at 2pm, washing my hair front and back of my bald Karoo (sounds better than Sahara) and going down the pub. That’s where we have our “informal tourism group” meetings. Informal being the operative word. No tie required. I was going to say “No Jacket Required” but that’s the name of an album by my least favourite musician of all time.
Not entirely the vibe we have going at our Stanford informal tourism group meetings
The cool thing about meetings at the pub (Stanford only does “meetings” in the pub) is that a certain amount of alcohol is required before any ideas remotely worthy of discussion are issued forth. And, boy, do we have ideas. Let’s just say that you are going to be gagging to get over to Stanford soon enough.
Moving swiftly alo… what? You want minutes? We don’t take minutes. We take hours. And you’ll have to ask the ridiculously effervescent and clever Janet Marshall of Stanford Info for the attendance register. I’m not saying who was there in case they were actually meant to be doing some work. We’re protective of each other out here in the wilderness. Reminds me of a saying I came up with a couple of months back… “One for all and all for one”. I should have patented that. It encapsulates our vibe.
So it was home to feed the dogs and the cat and neck a couple of Milk Thistles before rushing back (I was thirsty) to the Stanford Arms for the Rotary weekly meeting. This was even more exciting than usual because four young people from Knoxville, Tennessee (I love how that sounds) were there.
Now I might be breaking new territory here but I fully believe that “kids” today are nicer, better-looking and more intelligent than when I was their age. And more responsible. It’s like they looked at my generation, thought about it for two seconds, held a global conference and unanimously passed a motion to be far cooler than we were.
Erin, Stephanie, Connor and Sam are seriously nice kids. Not only have they been busy helping out with upliftment projects around Stanford but then they come to our meeting and tell us how wonderful our country is, how warm and friendly South Africans are and generally how blown away they have been by their African experience. We liked that.
I mean, we South Africans got a lot of that during our beautiful World Cup, right? But keep it coming is what I say! And now The Knoxville Four are going home to try to raise funds to improve conditions for the disadvantaged people in our area. Like I said, seriously cool kids.
Now I must iron my Barney jim-jams and bomb into bed. It’s been a tough Humpday in the corporate world. And I need to be ploughing my fields in Farmville before midday tomorrow. Yee-ha.
What a lot of fun we’re having right now in South Africa, hey? With the World Cup fading into a yellowy-sepia tone, we’ve been given a rampaging-tiger-on-the-loose drama to hook into.
What a jolly jape. What a rollicking rumpus. What a rip-roaring reality show. What a complete poephol Goosey Fernandes is.
Goosey Fernandes. That tells you all you need to know. Would you buy a used car from an oke called Goosey Fernandes? Would you open your mouth to a dentists who drills by the name of Goosey Anything? I wouldn’t. The man is clearly an idiot.
Who keeps a tiger in his backyard? And then sticks him on the back of a bakkie to take him to the vet? Only a guy called Goosey.
So Panjo, for that is the name given to Goosey’s pet “cat”, jumped off the bakkie, swung by the local Wimpy, didn’t fancy a double cheeseburger and fries and disappeared. Any well brought-up and obedient domesticated animal would have reported itself missing to Sergeant Kriel at the copshop but not Panjo.
Panjo, all zenned out, enjoys a little treehugging while waiting for his fave dish of chicken a la king
I wonder why? Could it be that Panjo the tiger is not a domestic pet? Wait. Let me mull over that possibility. Sure, Goosey enjoyed delusions of making him one but, no, tigers are not meant to kept in cages in some nutter’s back garden. Or in his bedroom for that matter.
Sorry to be pious or in any way paraat - or to spoil the sport of the media and those on Twitter and facebook who are having a field day with the elusive Panjo – but tigers belong in the wild. Duh. And if that’s not possible – and we humans have made it so – then in a proper facility where wild animals like Panjo can be looked after in the best possible way.
I don’t want to give others who live on Planet Goosey any bright ideas but would you keep a Great White shark in your swimming-pool? Would you keep an elephant in your TV room? Not if you wanted a decent view of The Animal Planet, you wouldn’t. Oh, never mind.
So, you chorus, Goosey brought Panjo up from when he was a cute little tiger cub. Sweet little pussycat. Oh, that’s OK then. They don’t grow very big. They don’t grow to have aggressive instincts. Just like Siamese cats, really. In fact, Goosey says so. And he should know. “Panjo’s very tame and won’t attack anybody,” said Panjo’s “owner”.
it gets better. While Panjo has everybody guessing about whether he’s snacking on a herdboy in Limpopo or dining on a Japanese tour group in Mpumalanga, Goosey comes up with this helpful hint: “Whoever sees Panjo must point a stick at him and say ‘no’, or offer him a chicken.”
Well, I’ll be blowed. I think we need a little more information than that. Like, does Panjo like his chicken mildly spiced or does he prefer it done simply with just a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprig of parsley? And, if he says “I didn’t order that. Take it back to the chef and tell him to do it again or I’ll eat both of you”, do I just point my stick at him and say “No”?
I don’t know. Look. I might be wrong but I think nature’s beasts deserve to be kept away from dangerous humans like Goosey. They deserve some respect. And some dignity. And to be given their space.
Maybe, instead of being held captive under the supervision of good old Goosey, all tigers, alien to South Africa nogal, should be kept at John Varty’s Tiger Canyons set-up. None of his tigers, bred responsibly in captivity to boost dwindling population numbers, have been spotted at the roadside begging for chicken a la king. Or begging to be shot by some hunter idiot.
Tigerbomb, believed to be the only white tiger born in the wild, with her mother Julie at Tiger Canyons Pic: Daryl Balfour
Now that’s more like it. Would somebody please shoot Goosey Fernandes. And all of the other ignoramuses who keep wild animals captive as some sort of macho extension of themselves. Thank you.
We are blessed with some stunning proverbs in South Africa. And I’ll stun you with some of them as we walk this Know The Beloved Country path.
“Ngwana a ka feta gare ga molete wa tau.”
No, this does not translate to “Darling, would you mind hoiking the feta out of the fridge, please?”
It’s a northern Sotho proverb which means… “A child can go through the hole of a lion.”
Yes. I was also left wondering whether this was a misprint and they meant “whole” rather than “hole”. Kids do tend to eat a lot these days.
But, if you’ll allow me to get to the nub of all this, this quaint proverb suggests that adults should be open to what children say.
Now I’m a great fan of this thinking. Have been ever since my Dad got into the habit, at the dinner table, of barking at my sister and I: “Only open your mouth to put food in it.” And we were already in our 20s! Only joking.
But, seriously, I think we adults would do very, very well to really listen to what children say. Perhaps then we might shift a lot of the absolute rubbish we carry around in our heads all day, every day, and begin to appreciate once more the joy to be had around us.
You know, those small and seemingly insignificant things that we either take for granted or completely ignore because there’s a a job to be done, money to be made, neighbours to be upstaged and grudges to be settled.
When last did you really share in a child’s elation at an earthworm presented in muddy little fingers? Did you hold the earthworm, admire it and Google all the facts about Lumbricus terrestris? Or did you tell him or her to put it back immediately and go and wash those filthy hands? Just asking.
I think that we have a lot to learn from children. Perhaps everything. How did we forget it all?
I never thought anything said by Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts would talk to my soul.
But I was wrong. This does…
“The bushveld is a place where the human element indeed shrinks into utter insignificance, and grips you and subdues you and makes you one with yourself.” – J. C. Smuts, South African Prime Minister (1870-1950).
Er, those dates don’t indicate the time Smuts ruled our country but the length of time he spent on earth. And he clearly spent a great deal of that time close to Mother Nature to reach a place in which he could release that pearl of wisdom.
The longer I live in our great country and the more I gravitate away from the city to the wide expanses of natural magnificence that dominate South Africa, the more Smuts’ words resonate with me.
I have this hunger for my authenticity and I increasingly know that it can only be attained by making myself small and surrendering to the power of the natural world, away from the myriad distractions of the urban conurbation with its noise and self-importance and false illuminations.
Size does matter. But don’t ask a mosquito or a Jack Russell, ask a sardine.
I don’t think their lifestyle is anything near ideal. But I suppose some life-forms, such as worms, prawns and Paris Hilton, are just feeble fodder for something far larger and hungrier.
So you’re a sardine. There you are, hanging with lots of friends and making your way timidly up the east coast of South Africa, checking out the pretty coral reefs and the colourful undersides of surfboards when… wham, your best mate disappears into a gannet.
Damn. But you put it down to bad luck and swim a little faster. Kapow! Your twin sister gets taken by a tuna. Next thing, there’s a sound not dissimilar to a giant Deluxe Supa-Strength Hoover sucking in bathwater and you look around and find your entire family, including a distant cousin and a few hangers-on, have been baitballed up into a nice, juicy orb and swallowed, along with the tuna still digesting your twin sister, by a chuffing Great White.
Where’s the fun in this, you ask yourself, and hook up with a new shoal who look like they know what they’re doing and head with them for shallower waters. No sooner are you there and some big chick in a sari and smelling faintly of curry powder and assorted exotic spices is scooping you into a bucket. A cheap one from Checkers, nogal.
Not nice. If you drew one of life’s short straws and you’re not much bigger and a lot hungrier, like a Great White or even a Great Big Black… like Julius Malema. He’s always on the right side of a feeding frenzy, isn’t he?
But before I am tempted to digress any further, please pull up the closest deckchair, apply some Factor 30 and enjoy The Greatest Shoal On Earth (as provided each and every July by South Africa’s eastern seaboard)…
How cool was that? I think that even a sardine, if it would just choose to step back for a few minutes and try to be dispassionate about everything, would see the coolness in that spectacular vid. Especially as I threw the inimitable voice of David Attenborough into the mix as well. What a legend.