Friday, March 27, 2015


I was listening to somebody holding forth on Cape Talk about cleaners and how they are not appreciated and should be paid far more."Cleaners," he said, "Are more important than other categories of employees at the university. They are essential. The university would not function without them." I do agree that cleaners are paid too little, but I disagree when he says that they are  essential. Cleaning is not a highly skilled job. Neither University staff, nor students are unable to do a bit of cleaning and in some other countries they are expected to do so. I think of my own situation. I don't like housework and it suits me to employ a domestic worker two days a week, but I don't need to. Most of the residents in the Old Age complex where I live do their cleaning themselves.and if it meant that I had to pay the equivalent of R10000 a month, I would do the same. The truth is that my charlady needs me much more than I need her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I haven't written anything in this blog for months. At first I was very busy with the memoir course and coming out of that, the piece I wrote about living in the Zambian Bush. "In the Bush with a Baby in a Meatsafe". At last that mini-memoir is finished. It wasn't very long but it took quite a few weeks. I am pleased with it now.  I wouldn't consider trying to get a publisher interested in it. I know a number of the people on the course do have that in mind, but what I want is just a presentable chapbook (a few chapters and some pictures) that my children and grandchildren might like to read.

Here is an extract and one of the pictures.


I don’t believe it,” I say. “Are you telling me that this is where we are going to be living for the next couple of months?”
“Actually more like eight or nine months,” my husband, cheerfully, replies. “It’s an ideal spot; near a river, so we can fetch water easily and there is lots of timber lying about so we won’t run out of firewood.”

It has been a long, dusty journey. We have driven hundreds of kilometres up the Great North Road and over several kilometres of narrow winding bush track. Now Mike and I, with our three-month-old baby, Dorothy, have reached our destination − a small clearing in middle of the Zambian bush. It seems a very long way from the nearest human habitation. I was expecting something like the accommodation one gets in the Kruger Park. Instead, I see a large, weather-beaten tent, obviously army surplus, surrounded by several hastily assembled grass huts.  This, I find, is to be our home for the whole of the dry season − from early in April, to the beginning of the rainy season in November, when we will, at last, strike camp and head back to our proper brick house in the town then known as Broken Hill.  

“But what about wild animals?” I say, looking into the surrounding bush. The grass is thick and high and the tall trees crowd in on us. I am sure I can see movement and hear rustles. “You know, lions and leopards and things?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got a gun.”
“Yes, a little .22 rifle.”
“No, a proper gun.”
“Where did you get it?”
“I borrowed it from Dad’s cook. It’s probably illegal, so don’t tell anybody,”
“And the baby? Will she be safe? What about spiders. What about snakes? What about mosquitoes.”
“There is a meat safe for her to sleep in. They’re unloading it from the lorry now. She’ll be perfectly safe in a meat safe.”
“A meat safe? Do you expect our child to sleep in a meat safe?”
“Why not? What’s wrong with a meat safe. I was brought up in a meat safe and so was my brother. We both slept in meat safes. No creepy crawlies can get to her in a meat safe. A meat safe is the best place for a baby.” And it is. We put a little mattress and a pillow into it and she is just as happy as if it was the finest baby carriage. 

Fires on Mountain

Fire at Muizenberg

As I walked in the evening by the river,
the fire was climbing all over the mountain,
flames were dancing on top of the bushes
and smoke was rising, covering the peak.  
Then the sun, pushing through thick brown cloud,
turned to blood and its rays
fell onto the water

And the river was on fire