You See, It’s An Election Year

I’m sorting out a lady’s new computer glasses. She’s a clerk in the tenders office of the municipality. She’s taking strain, there’s so much to do, figures to check, rules to follow, but they’re being pushed to get things through much quicker than usual.

She’s stressed and she’s suspicious.

Last year she decided to retire. Things were very quiet in the tender office, there was nothing to do. But her superiors urged her to stay. They said it was going to be very busy this year.

‘You see,’ she says matter-of-factly, ‘It’s an Election Year.’

Jammin’ and Draggin’ Main

Rob & Jay were in my senior class in ’73; Jim & Donny were a year or so below. We used to jam in the garage and in Rob’s bedroom; I was an onlooker, really! I learnt one riff on the guitar which I believe I can still play . . Forty years on and they’re still playing gigs – or some of them are. Some are still based in Apache. Their bands have had various names.

At school, Rob drove a Mustang, Jim a Cadillac convertible, Jay a Camaro and Donny I forget, but I remember his Dad had a lovely old pickup.

Apache’s population sign on the road approaching the town was already faded when I got there in ’73 and the jokes hinted at “1500? Yeah, maybe.” But I was told the population shot up in the oil boom a few years after I had left when the middle east put up the price and we had to drive at 80km/h and hide our jerry cans. But it soon went back down, and when I visited in 1984 and 1988 the clapboard motel which had sprung up to house the workers and drifters, and the two extra liquor stores to relieve of them of their cash were abandoned and flapping in the prairie breeze.
I should write a western.

I see in the 2000 census the population was up to 1616.

The Apache Population 1500 sign was near the start of the quarter mile drag strip where the petrolheads had painted a line across the road. 440yards further was another line, much to the sheriff’s annoyance. It is ILLEGAL to paint lines on guvmint roads. Also to burn up your fat tyres on said road. Jay had a wicked Camaro with fifteen inch rear wheels, raised rear suspension and something I didn’t catch under the hood, despite him telling me many times. It went like smoke and he was very justifiably unhappy with me when I put it in a ditch with the one tyre off its rim. Beer. Terrible stuff beer. Jay was a gentleman and went easy on this foolish foreigner that night!

Just a bit closer to town than the drag strip, a local lass had written in large white spraypaint letters across both lanes: WELCOME TO PEYTON PLACE in pissed-off anger at love’s disappointments.

I taught Rob and Jay the wonderful poetic lyrics of Balls to Your Partner – remember? “If you’ve never been fucked on a Saturday night you’ve never been fucked at all”. We’d been talking about a sexy chick from a few villages away, hot pants and crop top, and Jay said laconically: “Well, she’s been fucked on a Saturday night by that little wine-maker: ME”.

Once we were dragging Main in Robbie’s turquoise Mustang, and Debbie pulled up in her car next to ours. How the conversation got there I don’t know, but one of the guys said “Ah, suck a dick, Debbie!” to which she shot back: “Well, flop it out!”

A semi-selfie in the Mustang with me safely in the seat without a steering wheel . .
A deserted Main Street

But please don’t think there wasn’t culture. I got invited to a Pow Wow by the local Native American Movement where they gave me a gift of a colourful shirt and jewellery.

— pic of presentation here —

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Reed: Screw the Camaro and the fat tyres. More about Debbie please.

Me: OK. Here she is, seated right:

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Of course on hearing about me ‘jamming with the guys’ and knowing my lack of any musical talent, the rude comments flowed!

Brauer: Koos jamming!! Playing the washboard? Or just Koos Konfyt ahead of his time?

Reed: They would have had a lot of trouble finding a replacement for you, Koos.

Me: Nah, they moved on. Here are some later pics when they called themselves The Grissleheads:

Grissleheads, Apache OK

Taylor: Did this jamming involve making jello sandwiches? Didn’t know you played any instruments?? Except wind . .

Brauer: Played the organ, did he not?

Taylor: I am sure he has done many solo recitals – unappreciated by the world at large but deeply gratifying to the organ player . .

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Reminiscing about old songs began:

Taylor: I am glad to see you took the cultural exchange program seriously. Balls to your partner counts as poësie . .

Brauer wrote: OK. So let’s see how deeply your culture is ingrained. Who knows all the words to “Balls to your partner”; How about the Ingineer’s Song?

Me: All, I dunno; but I do know a lot of them – both songs. A-hum a-hum

Soutar: . . and . . “Up jumped the monkey in the coconut tree, it was a mean motherf___ it was plain to see; it had a 10 bopper nanny and a ten inch ______. Time overdue for a song reunion, have song sheets . .

Me: Fourteen-beer song evenings. I remember them well
-ish
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poësie – poetry; right?

Old Man’s SWA Memories

The ole man’s first visit to South West Africa was by train in 1939. The trip cost six pounds return. His father being a railway man, he probably got a good family-rate deal. He would have ‘entrained’ here. where Oupa worked:

Pietermaritzburg station – Oupa’s workplace

. . crossed all of South Africa to Upington, then passed through Keetmanshoop, Rehoboth and Windhoek:

Keetmanshoop station
Rehoboth station
Windhoek station

.. and arrived at his destination station: Okahandja. The last stretch on a narrow gauge line.

Okahandja station

He remembers a lovely wooden dining car, wooden tables, wooden carriage walls. Maybe like this?

His destination was his uncle and aunt’s farms. His aunt Isabel and her husband Theunis van Solms farmed on Engadien or Engadine. They did a lot of hunting.

‘Skiet hom!’

The farms were clustered east of Okahandja – about fifty miles east, he says.

One farm called Nooi Bremen – Was originally owned by a German Count someone – a scion of the Staedtler pencil family and fortune. Or was it the Faber-Castell pencil family? They had more counts.

Daantjie’s farm Uitkyk – original name Onjombojarapati (meant ‘giraffe fell in a hole’)

Sarel’s farm Hartbeesteich – he left his father (or got kicked off the farm?) when he couldn’t stand the abuse any longer. Was sent away with nothing, but rounded up 600 cattle and drove them off to a widow’s farm near the village of Hochveld, 70 miles ENE of Okahandja, where he farmed for her and with her. When she died he bought the farm. Hartbeesteich. ‘teich’ = German for pan.

Japie’s farm was a dry farm; he drilled eighteen holes but never struck water. Dad can’t remember ithe name of the farm.

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Lone Ranger in Intensive Care

We packed breakfast and lunch and snacks and left for Mfolosi Game Reserve at 6am this morning; Jess, Azo and me. ETA around 8.30. Tom elected to chill at home.

Instead, by 8am we were back home, with the sad and sick Ford Ranger on the back of Ritesh’s yellow ‘flatbed’ or ‘rollback’ AA tow truck. Dammit. The gears gave a death rattle and the engine died. May be terminal.

ignominy

Tom was still sleeping. We ate some snacks, I took butterfly pics in the garden and now its bucketing down with rain. The End.

Kaput Ranger in the rain
Butterfly garden

Later: Terminal, schmerminal. ‘Twas nothing. The verdict was only the engine, the gearbox and the propshaft. Nothing that R25k couldn’t fix. Got it back ten days later – all good. Purring; Nicely run in at 272 000km.

While it was indisposed I drove a little blue Nissan Micra. Very nice.

Breakfast on the Deck

Egg, bacon, tomato, black coffee and binoculars. Thanks, Cecelia!

The flying ants were trying to pair up and scurry off and mate after shrugging off their wings, but the ants were nabbing them. The ants, in turn were being robbed by the birds and a skink. They’d grab the juicy termite, flick hard, separating the ant, then peck up and gobble down the termite. Termites taste like butter, ants taste like acid.

westville wildlife

Indoors there was also some wildlife to be seen:

westville wildlife indoors

Made me late for work!

More this week:

The raucous Westville Kookaburra
Dragonfly with a point-n-shoot camera
The dreaded Westville Pteradactyl

Westville Kookaburra – Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Westville Pteradactyl – Hadeda Ibis

A Splendid Wedding

Raksha Singh had a magnificent full Hindu wedding, and me and Jess were invited! I did a bit of homework as the only other one I’d attended was probably fifteen years ago:

Marriages are made in heaven. Once you are married, the bond is to last for seven lifetimes. Hindu weddings can be long, and various rituals may be held on different days. Every custom and practice in a wedding ceremony has deep philosophical and spiritual significance.  Hindu traditions of marriage vary, but some form of them take place throughout the world.

Raksha and Pratish looked magnificent sitting on stage in the center of the mandap, or wedding altar. A fire burnt brightly in an altar in front of them. The bride’s brother gave her popcorn as a wish for his sister’s happy marriage. Each time, she offered the popcorn to the fire, an offering known as a homam. I kept thinking Don’t let her clothes catch fire! especially when they did The Seven Steps, getting nearer to the fire with each step!

The traditional white horse the groom would arrive on is more often a motorcar these days, and Pratish arrived in a very noble steed: A white Merc 6.3 AMG!

But Raksha trumped him! She arrived in a McLaren 650s – much to Tommy’s awe when I sent him this picture:

The food was delicious and plentiful and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I had the lucky job of keeping five ladies company: Jess, Prenisha and Yandisa from work, Raksha’s colleagues; Prenisha in a Hindi outfit, Yandisa in a Xhosa outfit and Jess in a Dress! plus Seema and her daughter were also at our table. It really was an awesome day.

Prenisha, Jessica & Yandisa


It’s Just Cos You’re Old

My ole man complains his doc doesn’t even try to help him. He always just says “It’s cos you’re old.” Any problem, there’s no attempt at fixing or understanding – just “Hey, you’re old.” Now I really empathise with people wanting to be heard; I think every effort should be made to hear out 95yr-olds and understand their problems; But I did also suspect that some things – human and mechanical – are simply “because they’re old” – reinforced by Tom’s refrain from The Boondocks: “You’re just mad cos your ass is old.”      SO – although I told the ole man he really should get a second opinion (to which he replied, “I’m going to make one last appointment with him and I’m going to tell him I’m leaving him!” Why? I asked, Just leave. “No, what about his other patients!?  He needs to be told!”), I did also secretly think, Hey, some things can’t be fixed.

So my Ford Ranger – that’s my white 3litre diesel 4X2 hi-rider double cab Ford Ranger – has been a bit noisy, but I was not admitting to it. What? What noise? I can’t hear anything. I once heard a noise and it cost me money.
Then three things happened and forced my hand: One, a very young lady, teenager really, reversed into my left front wheel, BANG. I got out and she burst into tears Waah! I’m sorry! Waah! I’ve had such a terrible day! Waah! I’m going to be in such trouble! I looked at my car: not a scratch. I looked at hers: a dented soft bumper. I said Off You Go. Just Go. As I drove off Tom said Dad! You’re such a sucker! You should have sued her ass! Nah, I said, nothing happened. Then the car starts to shake like its got Parkinson’s. See!? says Tom, I told you. She just suckered you, you should have sued her. We’d gone ten metres and a glance at the young lady, teenager really,’s car showed she’d already gone seventy metres in the shade. She was outta there!  What to do? I pretended not to feel the shake. What shake? I don’t feel a shake; I once felt a shake and it cost me money. Tom just gave an exasperated eye roll and shook his head.

Two, driving up our road with Jess, a cacophony of sound like forty seven tin cans had been thrown under the car made it hard for even me to ignore it. What was that Dad!? says Jess, who usually doesn’t notice anything automotive. Did you throw all your tin cans under the car, Jess? I deflect. No! She says firmly, That noise is from your car, Dad! Jess, I once heard a noise . . oh, hell, I just kept quiet.

The clincher was I had volunteered my vehicle as able to take the nine lady walkers and me to the Zululand walk and I now found out they expected it to drive to the actual beach, then on to fetch us at the next stop and I suddenly thought, “What if it lets me down in front of these grown, not teenage, ladies? That could prove embarrassing.” A 4X4 it ain’t. So I leapt into action: I fixed the left rear door, which hasn’t opened for a year; And I decided I’d give it new tyres. That always makes it look better. The front ones were worn quite sadly. New tyres, I thought, and then the alignment will probably fix all the other problems which are simply a matter of being out of whack after being whacked by a young lady – teenager really.

And you won’t believe what the tyre man told me as he was doing the alignment! Your Shocks Are Fucked, he tells me. Bluntly; Just like that. How dare he? I was still puffing when he scribbled on my tyre invoice “Four shocks” and said “Go get a quote.” Well, I’m a diplomat and they say the meek will inherit the earth without any land claims, so I absorbed the shock and next thing I’m driving away with two new Dunlop with superblue tyres, balanced and aligned and four new yellow Monroe shock absorbers.

And would you believe it!? Silence! Smoothness! Amazing. Maybe things CAN be fixed. I may have to re-evaluate.

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While these shocks were being applied, this party bus was having its wheels aligned nearby:

So I dial the number and a voice behind me says “Are you calling me?” It’s Ndumiso and he’s the owner-dude. Sure, he can do Jessie’s bar for her 21st party, he says. No prah-blim. Ha! Two birds with one stone.

You can see from their bumper they’re probably steady, reliable ous.

Update: NOT. He hasn’t phoned, hasn’t returned messages. He’s like King Kong with Faye Wray. I’ll have to play barman.