Sheila worked at Fugitives Drift Lodge with David and Nicky Rattray for a while and met many interesting people and characters from all over the world. She should write about the weird folk she met – the judges and military men and colonial types and rich folk and historians and chief constables and all the other titles the Breetish Empire invented.
While there, she organised for the five of us – her old Swanie family from Harrismith – to have a family weekend there with her as our guide. One afternoon she took us out to the Isandlwana battlefield in a Landrover and got lost. Her sense of direction was imperfect, but she was unfazed and soldiered on like a lost Pom fleeing a battlefield. She had the Buffalo River on her left (or was it right?) and was headed in a direction she thought might get us somewhere sometime. Don’t panic.
So we’re bouncing over the veld, Sheila driving the ponderous old Defender, and our 85yr-old ‘ole man’ sitting in the back getting fidgety.
After a while the bouncing got to his ancient bones and he groaned and – forsaking the old stiff upper lip – moaned about the bumpiness – sort of a geriatric ‘Are we there yet?’
Sheila whipped round and said, “Keep quiet and sit still. Don’t make me come back there and sort you out!” then grinned triumphantly and crowed, “I’ve waited fifty years to say that!”
What luck! friends couldn’t make their timeshare for happy reasons (grandchild due) so we took over! With pleasure. Nibela is in prime Broadbill sand forest territory and I have dipped out on seeing a Broadbill, coming close a number of times, but no sighting. I was keen, so was Jess. Tom considered the fishing options and the food a la carte, but decided in the end that it was just too remote for a city slicker! ‘Enjoy your sticks and trees, Dad!’ he bid us farewell.
Jess liked the place immediately. It had cellphone reception and DSTV. Also there was wifi at the main building. What was not to like?
The food at the lodge was great. The one pork belly dish was the best I’ve had, and all their soups and veges were superbly done. We ate there three nights and I made supper one night.
We searched for the African Broadbill, but no sign was seen or heard, so it remains on the wishlist. This is what its sand forest haunts look like, where it performs its little bird-of-paradise dance to get laid so an egg can get laid:
Lovely local specials we did see were Woodward’s Batis – a pair displaying and calling two metres away in a tree; Rudd’s Apalis; Purple-banded Sunbird; all good sightings and obligingly chirping as we watched. Narina Trogon, calling each day, but not seen; Heard but didn’t see a possible Neergard’s Sunbird. Two lovely bird parties popped up right in front of our chalet: One evening Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow White-Eye and Southern Black Tit; The next morning Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Pink-throated Twinspot, duetting Southern Boubous, Square-tailed Drongo, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Collared Sunbird.
Jessie’s Best Sighting:
In the grounds of the lodge Jess spotted something beautiful in a tree! Look! Dad! wifi! You didn’t even have go indoors to have wifi!
A drive out to where the Mkhuze river flows into the lake brought back memories of my last trip there – by boat on a bird count with the game warden nearly forty years ago. Greater Flamingos, one Lesser Flamingo, White Pelicans, a Rosy-throated Longclaw, Common Ringed Plovers, Kittlitz’s Plovers, Stilts, Yellow-billed Ducks, Hottentot Teals and many more.
Pelicans fishing in a ‘laager’ – surrounding the fish then dipping in: Heads up – Bums up.
It’s true I have been a poephol in the past. But that was behind me. I now knew more. I was wiser. So when I got to the toll booth at Marianhill and reached for my bag on the front seat next to me I thought it must have slipped off. I pulled over. And I searched. And searched again.
So now my recent past flashed before my very eyes. I had parked my sleek white Ranger 4X2 3litre diesel – turbodiesel actually – bakkie on the pavement outside the old man’s place and left my bag on the front seat. I now remembered thinking I shouldn’t really do that but it’s fine and I won’t be long. After that I had driven to Azania to visit Mom, also parking outside on the pavement. The bag may or may not still have been next to me – I don’t know. I didn’t need my wallet, ID card, drivers licence or credit cards to visit my folks. Nor did I need my Petzl head torch or my new tiny Canon camera.
Nor . . MY ZEISS BINNIES!! Oh shit! NOW this was a disaster! The other stuff I could do without, but I cannot live without my binoculars! DAMN!!
It’s three days later. I’ve been to the traffic department. The lady fetched me out of the queue and took me to the front along with some old people. I think it had to do with handsomeness. The clipboard she gave me said this:
I’ve been to the police station – very helpful; they took my case in Montclair Durban, even though ‘the incident’ happened in Pietermaritzburg. They sent me my case number for insurance the same day via sms. Tomorrow I go to Home Affairs. The bank is sending new cards. Insurance has emailed me – they’ll pay R20k towards new binocs. This is almost behind me again. I now know more. I am wiser.
Oh, and at the toll? One of the guys who works there said can you send me ewallet? I said Good Idea! Instead of a huge backtracking detour he paid R12 for me and I sent R50 to his ewallet. Win-Win.
poephol – South African – The anus; (derogatory: a stupid or unpleasant person). Origin: 1960s. From Afrikaans poephol from poep + hol – literally shit hole; arsehole, asshole.
The Montclair police captain said he’d forward the docket to PMB. I thought, All I Want Is A Case Number, and wondered if there was any point. Next day I got a call from Alexander Road police station: Where is Lincoln Park? I explained exactly and she was puzzled: Is it a gated estate? she asked. Then I clicked! It’s Lincoln Meade, not Lincoln Park, sorry! Oh, OK, now she knows where it is. The next day another call: Any chance of a surveillance camera at the scene of the incident? he asked. I said No. What else was in the bag? A little Canon camera. What make were the binoculars? Zeiss. OK, we’ll do our best, sir, he said. I’m ashamed to say I thought they’d do nothing. But they did follow up. Well done, guys!
postscript: It gets worse! Sheila found my bag with everything still intact inside it in the old man’s lounge, where I must have carefully placed it, proving I am actually very organised – I hadn’t left it in my car after all! ** sigh! ** Tomorrow, exactly one week after first reporting it missing I will be phoning the insurance company and the police in PMB to cancel – false alarm!
I admit to being rather delighted! I get an uninsured camera back; my head torch back; my binocs back without having to pay extra to get new ones; and my ID card back without having to queue; It feels like I just played a Country and Western song backwards.
Tonight I was parked right outside the entrance to the Playhouse theatre in downtown Durban, opposite the City Hall, waiting to fetch Jess and Fatima after the show Shall We Dance? when out of the corner of my eye I saw cars taking big evasive action. A bakkie zoomed from the far-side lane at breakneck speed right across towards my side of the road and smashed into the little silver car parked right in front of me. BANG! People standing under the No Stopping sign scattered, leaping every-which-way.
Silence. Then much Hey! Hey! and running. I couldn’t see, too many people, but ‘my’ carguard told me the driver had made a run for it and citizens had chased after him. I though Uh Oh! and phoned 10111. Listen, you’d better send your people here pronto. I’m afraid the citizens may rough up the perpetrator, I said to the operator. I’ll send the police there right away, she said.
To their credit, the Playhouse security people stepped in and took the perp, who my informant confidently assured me was inebriated, marched him back to his car and put him back in the drivers seat to safely await the cops.
Two tow trucks arrived. An ambulance arrived and took the driver into their vehicle. The cops arrived and took over. The middle-aged couple who were sitting in the little silver car when it was hit – and like me had been waiting to fetch concert-goers after the show – were amazingly calm. They took photos and told their story, filled in forms, no panic, even though their car was badly damaged.
In the whole pantomime there were only two poephols – the drunk driver and a prick in a Merc SUV who drove up and hooted for the ambulance, the tow trucks and the crashed cars to magically get out of his way, he was important. A family member (I assume – probably a son) who had arrived to join the ‘victim’ couple went up to him, gave him a withering look and waved him around the scene.
When the dust had settled I finally thought of taking a picture. Then the girls arrived at last – they’d been waiting to have their pics taken with stars from the show! – and hopped in.
***** jess pic *****
As I was leaving my man came and spoke to me firmly: Mkhulu, my parking fee is R20; I looked after you well and I have to feed my family. I agreed with him, borrowed R20 from Fatima and paid him! He was chuffed and stopped traffic in the main street – old Smith Street – to let me out!
Its ongoing. There’s even less stuff there, but some stuff is going to have to be pried from his tight reluctant fingers, maybe?
The awl and the hand drill brace were Oupa’s in Boom street in PMB. The screwdriver and needle-nose pliers on the right were issued to Dad by the General Post Office when he started as an apprentice electrician in 1938. He had to climb up telephone poles with those in his pocket. Here’s the GPO vehicle he’d drive around in, fixing the phones! They didn’t bother with parcels and letters, no! That was old-school! They were the high-tech side of the Post Office: The telephones!
By the way, everything has a correct name. The screwdriver is a ‘perfect handle’ screwdriver. That’s a specific kind of screwdriver.
Today I learnt Mr Buckle didn’t shoe horses. No, he was the blacksmith, upholsterer and wagon-maker. Charlie Rustov shoed horses. He was a few rungs lower down the totem pole, and the only farrier in town. He had a high-pitched voice and would say‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’when I took my stallion in to be shod. Dad would buy horses, school them, then sell them for a much higher price. I made more on horses than my post office pay.
‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’ – No man, Mr Swanepoel, that blerrie stallion is going to kick me!
blerrie – bladdy
bladdy – bloody; no blood though, just a swearword
Stefanus wrote about a new thing. I paraphrased his rant:
What a bloody stupid idea. The ‘Key Fob’ or ‘Keyless Start’ or ‘Keyless Go’ or ‘Proximity Key’. I have always thought it was a stupid idea but I wasn’t sure why. Tonight I found out why.
Our friend John gets home with his wife after several stops, including our place for a while. Cannot find his ‘fob’; realises the car might have started because his wife had the other fob in her handbag. Panics.
After much driving around and searching in various places, including our place, it ‘turns up’ under his drivers seat where he insists he had searched several times. But ‘it had gone into a crevice.’
Steve expostulates: It’s a lousy idea! You could leave your key fob behind and drive 300 km without knowing you don’t have it, because the car opens and starts with the proximity of the duplicate ‘fob’ in your wife’s handbag. Frikkin stupid, really. Although in hindsight he could have narrowed the search by checking to see if the car would start without his wife’s keys being nearby . . .
going to ask them to implant mine in a crevice so I can never lose
I won’t let them fob me off.
– yes. Ask my older brother.
Ja, but how will you avoid forgetting the rest of your keys – the ones that are attached to the – er – transponder? Having your own practice I am pretty sure you have a bunch of keys like a prison guard anyway.
am lucky enough to have an “Open Sesame” lifestyle. The practice
is always open when I get there at a leisurely hour, and my home is
always open. Overrun with bloody kids who all know the 1299# that
opens the gate from outside. Me and security are strangers.
goodness for Raksha and the keys at work and Cecelia and the no keys
Sadly, I do have to carry the one single key for the 2007 Ford 4X2 3litre diesel double cab bakkie. White. I lost the canopy key so now it doesn’t lock. Help yourself to my toolbox back there. At times I do spend some time looking for the damn thing on the odd occasions when I put it in a clever place instead of the usual on the kitchen counter. For some reason my Ford key says ‘Mazda.’
I should have realised I was speaking to the wrong person. We tend to lock stuff by and large. Someone came and had an overnight scratch around Wendy’s unlocked car a while ago. Front door gets locked at night or if we are not around. We regularly get wide-eyed warnings from the neighbours about dodgy people seen snooping around the street.
Office keys: I am the first to arrive by a half an hour (OCD) so key needed.
am weird that way. Partly slackness, partly – slackness. Been very
lucky and fully aware that could change.
1984 – Marriott road flat – nothing. No incidents.
1989 – 7 River Drive Westville – pre-kids. Zanele said she saw an umfaan in our room and she said ‘Hey! Wenzani?’ and he scuttled off through the burglar bars, which were big enough for him to get through.
Years later Aitch found her Zeiss binocs were missing. ‘Stolen!’ she announced. I thought no, ‘Misplaced.’ She thought ‘Poephol, stolen!’ Two years later we found them in the socks drawer.
post-kids I got hijacked and taken off in a friend’s car. That wasn’t
2003 – 10 Windsor Avenue Westville – Break and enter while we were out and Aitch’s binocs WERE taken. Also her wedding ring. She replaced only the binocs with a shiny newer model – insurance. I still have the new ones.
2005 – 10 Elston Place Westville – nothing.
The reason I have a keypad at the gate where friends just enter the last four digits of their cell number and Open Sesame is I hate closed gates. I once – ca1982 – waited on the pavement in Argyle road outside the palatial home of one of Barks’ friends, ringing the doorbell in vain. Party inside, so they couldn’t hear. Pre-cellphone days. Eventually went home and resolved never to live in a fuckin prison. Still don’t.
Confession: I do insist the kids practice common sense security and keep doors locked if they’re alone at home and when they leave the home unattended!