Surviving Off The Grid – The Essentials

So we have no electricity and its getting dark and the kids are all over me, outraged!

Dad! There’s no electricity!

Yes, I say, I can see that.

Why!? they ask.

Uh, mumble mumble, payment mumble, I mumble.

Soon I have to confess: I paid late and we got cut off. Now there’s a re-connection fee I have to pay and a delay. I’m thinking fridge, freezer, supper tonight but they have far more urgent and greater disasters and catastrophes in mind:

“THERE’S NO WIFI!!” they scream in unison.

Now they’re ganging up on me. “In unison” and “Jess & Tom” are not usually linked phrases.

Well, I’m walking to the shops, I say, thinking charcoal, firelighter, matches, candles. Do you need anything? Their voices go up two octaves as they shout as one:



Lasted four days. It was cool. Very instructive. Gas cooker and candles. Cleared out the fridge and deep freeze. AND – they survived!

(I had paid on the due date but had ignored this little instruction “Rx is due immediately, the rest can be paid on the due date”).


I Was Young and Foolish Then

Today twelve year old Tom comes home with a long face. He took his cellphone to school and was busted. School rule: The phone is confiscated for the rest of the term! I laughed like a drain – even harder when he manfully tried to smile ruefully.

Tonight was Jessie’s school art exhibition and music and food evening. I told everyone who wanted to hear and we all hosed ourselves at Tom’s discomfort. Give him his due, he took it like a trooper.

Tomorrow’s Saturday and I’m working, so just before bed he comes to me with puppydog eyes and asks to please use the iPad tomorrow. I say I don’t think we can give irresponsible boys any treats whatsoever.

He implores: “Dad! Give me a break! I was young and I was foolish back then! I have matured immensely since!”

A ten-hour turn-around.

20140831_152100 no more selfies

It’s Lo-onely in the Saddle . . .*

Jessie lost all her songs on her Blackberry. Also all her photos. Just disappeared. Much sadness.

She started uploading new songs slowly from her friends.

This morning she comes running to me “Dad! Dad! All my songs are back! I’ve got 173 songs! Also all my photos are back!”

I said ‘You must have played a Country & Western song backwards, love.’

She just looked at me blankly, thinking ‘What’s he on about?’

Different generation. Double generation gap, in fact.


*. . . since my horse died.


Everyone knows if you play Rock n Roll backwards you get Satanic Verses.

If you play Bles Bridges backwards you get potjiekos recipes.

If you play Country and Western backwards you get your dog back, you get your girlfriend back, you get your house back . . . and your lost songs on your cellphone!

Now I’m Incommunicado . .

As I hit “pay” on my internet banking and waited for the beep on my cellphone it struck me: No cellphone!

I could picture it in my mind’s eye: The little white enamel loo roll holder in the stall in the mens toilets in Montclair Mall where I had ‘temporarily’ placed my phone.

I rushed back just in case, but forget it. No sign of my red Nokia N73 music edition. Damn!

Feroza and Raksha phoned it as soon as they saw me muttering and cursing. It got switched off in mid-ring. So moertoe.

It’s 17h15, so the cell shop – my ‘service provider’ – is closed. I go home and phone Vodacom. Sorry, our systems are down. Phone back in an hour. Or so.

When I finally get them with their disting up, it’s: Sorry, I MUST PHONE MY SERVICE PROVIDER. (Vodacom! You don’t train your poor call centre people! Shine up!)

I phone the Autopage after-hours number. They say they’ll block my number (well, in the next 24hrs they will), but they can’t block the phone. I MUST GO IN TO THE STORE and give them the IMEI number to do that.

The store will block the IMEI number after I report it to the cops but it’ll take 24 – 48 hrs. Or longer, today being Friday.

The insurance will need the SAPS case number, but the cops will need the ITC number first. When? When it gets blocked. Maybe Monday. I’m not happy, so they give me their provider number and I’m off to the cops right now. So what will I need at the cop shop? Only the ITC number, they assure me.

At the copshop Inspector Luthuli is helluva apologetic, but firm: Yes, he needs the ITC number, true. But he also needs the IMEI number. The computer won’t give a case number unless it is fed with both numbers.

Back to the Mall, and then back to the copshop. As I get in Inspector Luthuli is on his way out. He has grabbed a copy of Drum magazine and he’s heading off (to the loo? home? I dunno, but I call out: ‘Please Inspector Luthuli, can you help me?’).

Drum magazine

He does. Batho Pele.

Actually, this is quite lekker. I am incommunicado, as Jimmy Buffet would say. I reach for my pocket quite often: I’ll just phone Aitch. I’ll just sms the Brauers. I’ll just make a note of that. No, you won’t. Write it down. Use a pencil.

I make a note to use a tickey box. That will tickle people.

I’ve lost my contacts list, my notes, my sms’s, my calendar reminders, the lot.




Jimmy Buffet when John Wayne died:

But now he’s incommunicado

Leaving such a hole in a world that believed

That a life with such bravado

Was taking the right way home


batho pele – Batho Pele means putting other people first before considering your own needs, or yourself.