I’ve been thinking about developing a personality. No, not mine. I gave up on that some time ago. Earthworms have got the jump on me. Not my fault I like to wear an anorak, write down the engine numbers of passing trains, have a massive collection of pet rocks and have taped every episode of Noot vir Noot on VHS.
No, I’ve been thinking of developing a character, like sex symbol blogger Seth Rotherham has done so cleverly with TBG (Tall Blonde Guy) over at 2oceansvibe.com. And very charmingly too, if I may say so.
I did have one. A character. A strange, eccentric, reclusive one called The Bushguy. But then I left Umdloti to go on a unicycle marathon, found Stanford and lost him. Not difficult. Last I heard, Bushguy was still living in the thick coastal bush above Umdloti Beach with his dogs and existing on mushrooms.
So what to do. Where to find A Character? As always, one doesn’t have to go far. He’s been on my doorstep. No, not at Hatman Mansions. But on the doorstep of my conscious. And characters don’t come any bigger, colourful, tougher, crazier, more beautiful than “The G-man”.
Are you feeling strong today? Are you up for this? Sure? OK. Let’s take a look at him…
No sooner had he been introduced to Miss South Africa and The G-man takes a call from a fan
OK. Now I can’t speak for you but if I had just been introduced to Miss South Africa Nicole Flint, I wouldn’t take a call from anybody, not Nelson Mandela or even my close friend Gen Morton. Even if I had just bought one of those phenomenal new iPhones that look like a crayfish.
But this is how he rolls, The G-man. The man for every situation. So cool you need to wield an icepick to get near him. A man you’d want alongside you in the trenches in a particularly brutal and unconventionally-fought war.
The G-man is an ADD-addled action hero. He’s seriously feral. A natural-born actor. He’s South Africa’s Bruce Willis, Woody Harrelson and, er, Lou Reed all rolled into one unpredictable, fearless and insanely cool package. And you don’t have to take my word for it.
He lives noisily in a quiet village north of Durban. You might see him barking like a dog at the La Mercy Lagoon. He can convincingly imitate 36 animal sounds. I know. I heard them all during this madcap adventure.
I could go on. But I’ve used up all of my G-man force for the day. So this what I’ll do. Send me a photo of you with The G-man and, every Friday, I’ll choose the craziest one. The winner will receive one of those brand-new, totally insane Special Edition Crayfish iPhones. Yes, just like the one The G-man is using in that pic!
How cool is that? Yes, yes, I know. Please try to remain calm. OK. Here’s a tip on how to find The G-man. He really digs the coffee that Judd “Juddy-poo” Campbell purveys at the absurdly groovy Corner Cafe in Glenwood, Durban. You’ll find him there most days, high on caffeine and getting up to mischief.
Brace yourself, introduce yourself, get in a picture with our boy and send it to email@example.com. If it’s the nuttiest one of the week, you win a Crayfish iPhone and I publish the pic on here. Well. Why are you still sitting there, staring at this word. Vamoose, babies!
So The Heartman and I will trundle out of Durban from Wilson’s Wharf on Monday (ETD: 8.30am) headed for 1,700km of pure adventure. We are jumping up and down with anticipation. There is a humungous reservoir brimming with adrenaline that needs to be broken. As my young surfer tjommies would say, we are “amped to a scale of total radness”.
But I’ll miss the Bush Palace, our Heart & Sole Tour control tower nestling in the bush on a hill overlooking our sublime Indian Ocean in Umdloti. I’ll miss the resident population (five people, seven dogs, a troop of vervet monkeys, a few buck and gollyness only knows how many beautiful birds and snakes.
I’ll miss the irregular cabaret put on by the humpback whales and dolphins. I only wish they would give me a start time, like they do on television, so that I can have my Kodak Instamatic at the ready. The sunrises, the electrical storms, the lagoon, the Bushguy.
Me and Bushguy are making quite a nice connection. We passed on the 147 steps leading up to the Bush Palace the other day and got to talking about our bush idyll and how long it would last before the greedy property developers start munching on it to regurgitate huge profits with even more high-rise holiday apartment blocks which wealthy people occupy for a month each year.
He asked me if I had watched “What The Bleep!” and I said I had seen it a couple of years ago. “Would you like to see it again?” asked Bushguy, “I have a DVD I could lend you.” “I would,” I replied and before I had finished saying that, Bushguy had raced back to his hut in the bush, grabbed it and was thrusting it into my hands. “You can’t watch this often enough,” he said.
There you go. If you want to begin to understand what makes the enigmatique Bushguy tick, get out “What The Bleep!” and learn.
In the meantime, enjoy some images of life at The Bush Palace, an extraordinary place that I will greatly miss over the coming weeks…
This school of dolphins graced our bit of the ocean yesterday morning Pic: Hatman
This electrical storm popped by to say a loud hello yesterday evening... Pic: Hatman
Then not one rainbow but two decided to give us a bit of a show... Pic: Hatman
Then there was just time for quite a nifty sunset before the sky fell into blackness and the stars burst forth... Pic: Hatman
But that wasn’t enough. At 1am this morning, The Heartman takes a call from distant neighbour Darren Aiken that a bushpig has been spotted snouting around in his part of the bush…
... and this is what it looked like. Schweetness overload, hey? Pic: The Heartman
All in a day’s hard labour while living the holiday in the Umdloti bush. I’m sure we have your sympathy. Because we’ll need it when we leave all of this behind to unicycle all the way down to Cape Town! Kaapschstad, hier kom ons!
Slowly, slowly, the mystiqueness that surrounds The Bushguy is unravelling.
I’ve told you in previous instalments of The Bush Palace Chronicles about our bush-dwelling recluse who shies away from people and their cluttered, noisy lives and chooses to live quietly in a three-walled cabin deep in the coastal vegetation behind the Bush Palace.
To refresh your memories, I could add that he only ever wears a pair of navy blue shorts and shuns a shirt and shoes, even in the most adverse weather conditions. Well, as adverse as the weather gets in our sub-tropical paradise of Umdloti.
I bumped into The Film Director, the cool guy who lives in a cottage immediately behind the Bush Palace, at the foot of the steps leading up to our jungle hideaway. He had been surfing and was chilling on the steps with a Castle Milk Stout, apparently still mesmerised by the waves he had caught. Ever the nosey journo-blogger, I probed for info about our Bushguy.
TFD (the Film Director) confided that the only time he had seen Bushguy’s rustic lodgings was when he heard a loud crash one afternoon and went to investigate. “I called out into the dense bush to ask if he was OK and he said he was. Apparently, he had a fourth wall on his log cabin which operated on a pulley system so that it could be lowered on very hot days and then raised when it rained and got chilly.
“What had happened was the pulley system had rusted and that afternoon the whole contraption broke and the fourth wall collapsed,” said TFD. “He’s never bothered to have it fixed so he lives and sleeps with one side of his cabin totally open to the elements, not to mention snakes, vervet monkeys and all the creepy-crawlies that lives in our bush.”
I love this. I don’t know about you, dear Hatpeople, but Bushguy deeply fascinates me. Not least because I can see the appeal in the lifestyle he has chosen. It’s natural. It’s wild. It’s, yes, deeply spiritual.
But it got better at the weekend. On Sunday, the hottest day we’ve had in a while, I strolled along North Beach – still unfamiliar to me – looking for a gap in the rocks where I could swim. Bushguy’s coming towards me with two of his dogs and a piece of wooden panel under his arm. He recognised me and gave me that haute enigmatique smile. After he had shown me a spot in the ocean, clear of reef, where I could swim, I pointed to his piece of wood and asked him if he had been bodyboarding.
“No, skimboarding,” our man of few words murmured. “I made this out of something I found. It works really well. Want to see?” He ran off towards the waves and I got my camera out just in time to record this…
Bushguy's wooden panel from somebody's former wardrobe works a treat as he skims impressively into the ocean...
... and he's engulfed by the foamy stuff as his skimboard ride comes to an end...
... and, without so much as a 'how's your father', Bushguy lopes off along the beach back to his safe haven in the bush Pix: Hatman
Got to love Bushguy! Enigmatique or what? More on him and his life in the wild as it all unfolds…
Here at The Bush Palace, every hour of the day throws a different light on our 155 deg slice of the Indian Ocean.
And, yesterday morning, while most of you, dear Hatpeople, were recovering from Christmas parties or other gatherings of humungous bonhomie, your faithful “SA-positive blogger” was up with the Natal Robins, snapping a sunrise of increasing phenomenalness.
Just for you. Because I love you. Because I feel you. Because I feel your love for all things beautiful. And I try not to disappoint you. So let’s have a squiz at yesterday morning’s lights display from our majestic mansion nestling in the Umdloti bush…
It's still dark, the ships have their lights on... and this is what happens when I fiddle ignorantly with the settings on my Kodak Instamatic and my hands are as steady as yours were the morning after thaaat Christmas party...
The sky's coming over all deep purple... and my camerashake shows no sign of improving...
Wait. Perhaps if I twist the camera and give my right hand a bit of a rest?
Ah, that's better! Amazing what that first cup of strong black tea (more like Five Roses soup) can do to tighten one's grip on a Sunday morning! All pix: Hatman
There you go. I hope you enjoyed that little show as much as I enjoyed capturing it for you. All in a day’s work on your only “medically diagnosed SA-positive” blog. I’ll be back later with major Bushguy breakthroughnesss. I bumped into our bush-dwelling man of local mystique on the beach yesterday. A short conversation ensued. And a couple of new pix of him playing the incredible Bush Palace Character that he is! All of this coming up later today!
If activity on this blog in the past couple of days has appeared to be less detectable on your radar than the usual blip-blip-blip, my dear Hatpeople, then it’s because I’ve been moving house. Through necessity.
Yes. The staff at Hatman Mansions, led by Alfred, demanded a summer break. I played with the idea of denying them their annual holiday, if only for the entertainment value of watching them toyi-toyi on the front lawn in colourful protest, but chose not to provoke an international incident.
Being an innately decent sort, I declared that they could naff off for a full three months – on full pay – as I was off to organise and participate in The Heart & Sole Tour – y’know, the one in which The Heartman (Geoff Brink) will UNICYCLE 1,700km from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the very nasty scourge of landmines.
Nkosi Alfred roused the staff into a joyous and frenzied dance, sang “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” in isiZulu, grabbed their belongings and raced for the gate, pausing only briefly to give me an interesting wave which appeared suspiciously to feature quite prominently the extended use of middle fingers.
So it is that I find myself at The Bush Palace. Now I must try to find words to do justice to my new, if far too temporary home. Idyllic. Sublime. Chuffing magnificent. Those will have to suffice.
I mean, please take just a mo to drink in the view from where I sit right now, hammering out these words of happy…
The view from my desk on the deck outside The Hatman Wing... not altogether shabby, hey? Even if a tad cloudy on the first day. Oh, that's Meditation Man posing on the balustrade... he's another story at another time!
Mmmm. OK. Let’s step right up to the balustrade and take another peek at our slice of the Oceana Indiana, shall we?
Oh, look. A beach. that will be our private Bush Palace beach, people. Yumness. Care to join us for a braai this weekend? Bring and share.
How do you feel about that?
How did I feel when I awoke at my usual time of 4.58am, stumbled out of the Hatman Wing to sup on last night’s tea… and saw about a dozen dolphins catching waves directly in front of The Bush Palace? They were generally headed towards Durban but, ever in playful mood, had paused to ride a cool left-hander, peeling off at the last second to bounce back into the school. Stokedness. No whales as yet, but I trust there will be a Breeching Display sometime today.
OK. So allow me to introduce you to The Bush Palace Characters. You already know The Heartman pretty well. Madman. Extraordinary guy. Top-notch friend. He and The Fiancee (along with PhutuShark the Alsatian/Africanus crossbreed, Lucy Lu the pedigree Bull Mastiff and Bellatjie the Dachshund, occupy the main building, of which the new Hatman Wing forms a part. You’ll get to know this beautiful couple and their dogs very well as I update you on The Heart & Sole Tour. So let’s move on for now.
Behind the main palace building is a tasty not-so-little rustic cottage. The Film Director lives there. Cool guy. He surfs and dives and skateboards a lot when he’s not filming. And he attracts very hot women with his extremely positive vibe. I’ll develop his personality – not that he needs it developed – to you as we go along.
Ahoy! The Whales Breeching Display is on! Let me grab my Kodak Instamatic and see what I can do…
OK. I’m back and the film is being developed… hang on… here we go!
OK, so I need to upgrade from my old Instamatic to a turbo-charged Nikon V8 or something... but, if you train your binocs on your screen you can make out a whale at play... can you? What? Just move binocs down from container ship to black speck. Well done!
Alright. I’m sorry. Let me zoom in on those binocs of yours… ah, there you go. *Passes back binocs*
I told you. A whale. Or are there two? See the splash? It's either that or The Heartman going for his early morning goof!
Right. Can I go back to my Character illustrations? Coolness.
So, as I was saying before the whales deliciously interrupted me, then there’s The Gardening Executive. He lives in a wooden cabin adjacent to The Film Director’s cottage and tends to the small lawn and attendant palm trees which grows on the cleared space around The Bush Palace. Allegedly. I’ve seen him once. He’s very quiet. Big toothy grin. And he comes to the Bush Palace at strange times, asking for a few teabags and some bread. If I see him actually working on the property I’ll photograph him for you. And for posterity.
Now. Hear this, all ye who enter this blog! Bushguy. That’s what I’ll call him. He blows my mind. Bushguy lives in a three-walled structure deep in the coastal bush behind Bush Palace but still on the same property. He never wears a shirt or shoes, come winter or summer, rain or shine, and I’ve seen him three times. Once, before I moved in here, I saw him swimming with his three dogs in the nearby lagoon. He didn’t swim like a person. He used the lagoon as would a dog or perhaps a dolphin. A pure and simple celebration of being submerged in water. He seemed to form part of his pack of dogs. Splashing, diving, jumping, just being in the moment.
The next time I saw Bushguy, he was running up the 147 steps from the beach to The Bush Palace in the rain. No shirt. With his dogs. I had been dragging my worldly chattels up these steps for several hours, stopping several times on each trip to catch my breath, and was exhausted. “You must be super-fit,” I coughed, “to run up these steps like this!” Barely breathing, let alone panting, he smiled as he bounded past and said: “It makes no difference.” Enigmatique, oui?
Then, just 20 minutes ago, he charged down the hill into the clearing on which the Bush Palace stands and I raised my hand and said “Hey, “Bushguy” (but I actually addressed him by his real name, right?), how are you?” He didn’t speak but gave me the enigmatic smile and disappeared under the stilted Bush Palace, where I could hear him taking a cold shower in the old and otherwise unused shower cubicle below.
Are you intrigued by Bushguy? I am. Big-time. I’d love to interview him for my weekly “Umdloti Interview” but The Heartman and The Fiancee rightly suggest that I take my time to gradually get to know him and win his trust before suggesting anything as alien to him as an interview. So, I’ll content myself by sporadically reporting on this blog any new sightings of Bushguy. Too much of mystique.
One thing is for sure. I’ll only be seeing him running around shirtless in this piece of pristine indigenous bush which surrounds The Bush Palace. Nobody has even seen him shopping or eating or drinking in town. He’s seriously feral. For all we know, Bushguy lives off berries and other stuff found in the bush. I’ll pass on further info on him as it is becomes available. Fascinatingness!
And, oh yes, there is – as you would expect – a massive amount of richly diverse birdlife (sunbirds fly into the banqueting hall to suck nectar from the cut flowers), snakelife (nothing found in my bed as yet), and bucklife… a couple of sweet duiker like to nibble in the garden early-doors. Words and pictures on all this and much more as it unfolds, dear Hatpeople!
Let me leave you with this. After my BPC photo-shoot was done, I retired to my lodgings only to be confronted with this going past my window…
The Heartman heading off to the bush to shoot his breakfast. Needs protein for his 1,700km Heart & Sole ride to Cape Town he says. I don't approve. What's wrong with Milo Flakes, I ask. But our unicyclist rolls his own way. As you'll find out...