Did optoms of yore have wig-fire insurance, I wonder?
I ask cos I dusted off my candle-powered retinoscope – a gift from the Stoutes on my 40th – in case Eskom keeps wobbling and maybe even goes phut.
While re-honing (OK, honing) my candle-powered retinoscopy skills I saw that singed ear might be a complication. And then I wondered about the wigs the toffs wore back before the rinderpest. If one of those things caught light it would be more than a singed-ear problem. You might get a nice bright reflex for a while but then the blerrie patient might not sit so still and what good would that do?
You got to have the candle as near to their head as possible to get a good reflex and as near to you as possible for maximum brightness. So there’s a fine balance here. And if a shot of absinthe between patients is your norm, things could get interesting. So I think you would need a policy.
A wig insurance policy.
The book Manual of the Diseases of the Eye by C MacNamara FCU was published in 1876. It was given to me by my uncle Boet Swanepoel in Malmesbury.
On the way to Ithala we stopped at a Boxer store in Dundee to buy supplies. I deliberately didn’t go to the Woolworths or a shopping centre as the boys had been talking about dodgy places. As I stopped Josh and Tom said “This place is dodge”.
Grabbing a trolley, I sent them off to buy the braai. “Buy charcoal, lighters, matches and meat”, I said. Then I thought “Better write that down”, so I tore my list in half and wrote down those four things for them:
We put all our goods in one trolley. I glanced at the meat they had bought while paying and stifled a grin: We were not going to be short on protein!
I paid, left the shop and loaded all the stuff we had bought into our trusty Ford Ranger bakkie.
“Oh! We forgot the charcoal”, they said.
“And the lighter and matches?” I asked.
Forgot that too.
In their minds they HAD remembered four things:
Meat, Meat, Meat and Meat.
They did the braai both nights and did a great job of it. While they were at it they spotted a Thicktailed Bushbaby (or nagapie) and a Large-spotted Genet in the headlamp light.
It was about a mile and we set off around 1pm. When we got home we got the “Where have you been!?” treatment. Apparently it was 5pm already and getting dark and cold. Well, we wouldn’t have known and anyway, we’d had a lot to talk about and Donald had a box of matches, so we had stopped and made a little fire of plane tree leaves in the sandstone gutters of Stuart Street. These gutters used to channel water from Platberg to town according to Blanche Hawkins, local historian.
Fast forward to 2014 and 12yr old TomTom asked me if he could walk home from school today. It’s about 4km and school ends at 2pm. When I got home at 5pm he had just got in and Cecelia and Carla had been worried: “Where had he BEEN?!”
I knew where he’d been. His journey was double mine and he’d taken one less hour. Why, he’d almost hurried home! And no matches, so how could I complain? You have fun, my boy? I asked. He’d stopped en route to buy a pie, a packet of jelly tots and an energade drink.
Feature pic: Me, Anne, Donald & Sheila in Platberg’s shadow
I am not known for braai’ing. Anything but. I avoid it if I can.
If God had wanted men to ‘barbecue’ he would not have invented ovens. Or some such excuse.
I am quite good at watching okes braai.
But living in primitive country it’s inevitable that I have to set fire to something every now and then and cook something on it. Tom does it for me now, and does it well, but I remember the first time he assisted me. When it came time to present the offerings he stood up for me:
He said: “The meat’s not burnt, it’s just the way we cooked it”