Africa, Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles

Ephemeral

Some sappy soul sent me this:

I thought ya, ya, sure, that’s true.

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. 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!

Life

My Car Is Scotch-Guarded

A special place is Montclair. I’ve been here seventeen years now. Longer than I was downtown, or at Musgrave or Pavilion!

My car guard is 80yrs old, a proud member of the McGregor clan. Knows exactly what the weather is going to do each day and tells me with unerring accuracy. “Sunny tomorrow”. The next day if it’s raining: “I knew it would rain today”. Never wrong. Knowledgeable on birds, too. Two drongos attack a kite, dive-bombing it. “Look, that mother bird is teaching the two young ones to fly”. Had me searching the skies hopefully recently for an albatross that hangs around here. “It just flew over. Yes, an albatross. It’s here all the time,” she says. It would be a lifer for me and it would have all the birders in Durban flocking to the centre if there really was an albatross in Montclair! Of course it could be a wagtail.

The bane of her life is school holidays when the youngsters of Montclair use HER roof to kiss, cuddle, grope and “who knows what else!” She chases them off like they’re alien vagrants. When pressed she will confess she was a handful herself in the old days in Joburg. She worked at the Norwood Pick n Pay and frequented the Braamfontein & Downtown pubs, Wolmarans Street was one I remember her telling me about. Speaks fondly of the Victoria Hotel and the Station Hotel.

If I leave my lights on she marches into the shop: “Where’s your boss?” she’ll bellow. Stentorian, you could call her voice. Demure, not so much. And off she’ll go with my keys to switch them off for me. If I’m around when she returns she’ll deliver a short lecture about the battery. I know it off by heart, of course, but she’ll repeat it. She also gleefully tells us when the lift is working (which is often) to save me the extra twenty metres I would walk to the immobile lift.

Knows all the skinder does Bridget. Which shop got robbed, who did it, what the cops said, her opinion. What the punters at the tote on the roof do and say, whether they have won or lost. How much they drink. Who drinks inside at the bar and who saves money by drinking standing around an open boot with a strong cane and coke mixture in polystyrene cups.

What a centre. Whose car guard comes to fetch them in the shop, pops up a golf umbrella and walks them to their car every time it rains? Mine does.

 

Africa, Birds & Birding, Life, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Bliss

I heard a cry on high as I parked on the roof at work. Glancing up I saw two crows cartwheeling, freewheeling, locking claws and spiralling like a propellor high above me. What a magnificent display of flying excellence!

Buzzing around above and below them was a drongo, divebombing and harrassing them, cheeky little blighter. They ignored him and carried on exuberantly showing off. Wow!

Isn’t that amazing!? I said to my 74yr old carguard as she shuffled up asking “And now?“.

I pointed out the birds.

“Yes”, she says off-handedly, “Those two parents are teaching the young one to fly”.

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The evening sky from my rooftop parking spot