Category Archives: memories

Summer

Highveld Summer (Suburbia):

  • The prickly feel of grass beneath the feet outdoors, cool tiles indoors
  • The scent of watermelon, fresh cut grass and chorinated water
  • The buzz of mosquitoes and chirp of crickets in the night (And the endless itchy from the former all through the next day)
  • Endless blue skies and fluffy clouds viewed from the silky coolness of the swimming pool
  • Heat sizzling off the pavement and sharp hard pellets of rain hitting you after the deep rumble of thunder that almost makes the earth shake and flashes of blinding lighting
  • The smell of wet earth and ozone after, cleansing the earth
  • A burning blazing sun, fading the washing on the line, bleaching blonde hair white
  • Christmas beetles drowning in the pool, crashing into light fittings, being chased by the geckos
  • Braai vleis smells in the evening
  • Slip slop and swimwear tans
  • The scent of jasmine on a hot wind and jacarandas squishy underfoot

English Summer (Inner City):

  • Humid heat coming off the hard surfaces
  • Half naked lobster red bodies on sunny days, in parks, in pubs, on balconies
  • Pork sausages and burgers on a bbq
  • Hot heat inside the train tunnels, condensing into static air inside the actual trains
  • Warnings to carry bottles of water in case of dehydration
  • Cloudy days and cold rain interspersed at random
  • Long summer evenings filled with glowing endless twilight late into the evening
  • The smell of cigarettes and stale beer as pubs and bars overflow into the streets
  • Softball in the park, along with picnics bought from the supermarket nearby
  • Strawberries and tennis somehow being associated
  • A whole week being able to wear open toed shoes
  • Outdoor theatre and children shrieking in water fountains

Personally I still miss the summers of my childhood…

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‘Real’ writers

Once, just once, I went to a writers club. I realised that if you want to be a ‘real’ published author you need to be focused, dedicated, sacrifice, keep a steady eye on the target.

I thought perhaps this focus would be easier found in a group. I imagined this eclectic bunch of people, meeting in beatnik locations, drinking green tea and debating semi colons and metaphor.

The internet told me there was a writers circle at the library (how fitting) down the road from my house.

I carefully constructed a short story and even edited it out and copied it a few times to take along.

It was with some trepidation I went to meet the group. They were both more and less than I had imagined in my head. Run by a very friendly young man, who gave me a printed (self published I suppose) beautifully professionally bound book of short stories done as a collective by the group. Apparently they give one complimentary to all new members.

The intense young man was accompanied among others by a bearded Terry Pratchett character (sans hat) and a housewife who clearly had a lot of time to write, along with a random scattering of people who definitely came from all walks of life.

The thing is, when it came to discussing work, the Terry Prachett character, intense young man and frustrated housewife hauled out actual scripts to discuss. With full plot, chapter, in depth character analysis.

I felt completely out my comfort zone, me with my casual blog postings and the flippant Bridget Jones style writing I was doing. (Even though I had tried for a more dramatic short story that day.)

‘Your issue,’ said Terry Pratchett guy,’is your blogging. It’s like turning on a tap and letting it drip. All your creative juices are dripping away. You need to be more focused.’

I’m sure he’s right. Focus is something I’m seriously lacking in general, unless given an actual incentive, good or bad. Like a penalty for not completing. Or a huge book advance (yeah right). Something that has consequences and also makes the actual production of work a priority rather than a luxury.

Needless to say I did not return to the writers group although I meant to.

I still feel guilty I got a free book out of it as a consequence.

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Filed under balance, memories, motivation, work

The stuff in your head

We were watching TV the other day when a truly diabolical advert with a super annoying but addictive sounding soundtrack appeared on the screen.

‘This advert’, I said in irritation, ‘is ridiculous. It has no bearing to the product and it’s completely crazy. What were the makers of the advert thinking?’

‘Really?’ said Plus One, trying hard not to laugh, ‘I always imagined that is what the inside of your head looks like.’

‘What? Random animals bouncing around and chaos? And that completely mental music?’

‘Yes,’ he responded, ‘I honestly think your head is not a quiet and orderly place to be. If anything, it’s messier in there than the advert.’

I was going to be insulted.

I was ready to be insulted.

But I then recalled a conversation with a colleague when I was going full steam about how much needed to be done and when and in what order. And she also commented how everything must just rush non-stop in my head and didn’t I ever just pause and take a mental break.

‘What,’ I asked, ‘Do you mean? It’s not like I can control the fact there are thoughts in there, I can only direct them.’

‘You know, when you just sit. And think of nothing.’

‘How do you think of NOTHING? You must be thinking something, even if it’s only ‘I’m thinking of nothing’.’

‘You just DO, you don’t do that?’

‘You manage to just have nothing in your head?!’

‘Yes, especially when it’s really stressful at my desk I do that for a bit.’

She is not a stupid girl, she is actually very smart and organised and well put together. But apparently is capable of blank periods.

I still don’t get it. How do you think NOTHING? So nothing is going on?

Although perhaps the noises and movement in my brain are a bit extreme? I can’t tell. It’s like asking someone who is blind what blue looks like.

PS the advert in question if you are curious. Credits to Ribena and co

 

 

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Last Friday

Last Friday evening was one of those magical nights when all was right with the world. Which was great given it was on the back of a not great week.

But, after having finally gotten bank cards back, I was flush with cash (well, not really but I was able to at least BUY stuff without borrowing off other people) , the weather was balmy and I was meeting friends by the riverside.

As usual a shambolic system as we are incapable of managing time or location very well. But we eventually managed to find each other and after forcing our way past a load of young men who had managed to Bring You Own with two crates of Fosters and bags of Doritos, we found a place on a series of steps leading off a pub into the river.

The Thames rushed in eddies and whirls past us, reeking pretty much of refuse from the boat just downstream from us, with river boats flying downstream and literally chugging with effort upstream. We pretty much took a safe bet on drowning if any one of us was suicidal enough to try get into the water. Not to mention if you managed to not drown, inhaling any of the Thames would probably kill you more slowly.

‘There are three things essentially that float’, declared my friend wisely as we watched a box float by and wondered what was in it, ‘wood, and there isn’t a lot of it on this river, plastic and condoms, which are mostly just plastic.’

‘WHY on earth did you choose that as an appropriate subject to prove what floats.’

‘Oh, you know, my friend used to kayak along the river but tired of all the condoms that would slap him in the face when the paddle came up bring up debris.’

I’m not sure that was a true story.

What was true was at some point a police boat raced up the river at speed. It was yellow and blue like police cars and vans here. Inexplicably it also had a whirling light and a very loud siren, both of which were on.

‘What,’ I found myself asking, ‘Do they need THAT on for? It’s not exactly like the river is so crowded they are going to be weaving between a traffic jam of ferries, it’s a bit show offy and extreme, no.’

That’s me, cynical.

Other friend pointed this out to me on leaving, that I needed to stop grumbling as she knew I didn’t mean it but other people don’t always.

That’s what true friends are there for. To point out the good and the bad.

It was a good evening.

(Until I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a raging thirst regretting the last half pint – oh wait, does that make me sound cynical and whiney again?)

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Filed under anecdote, memories, modern living, Relationships

I am a worrier

I wish I was one of those people who lived blissfully calmly through life’s ups and downs. I am just not one of those people. I’m one of those people who leaves for work then spends the next four hours worrying I forgot to lock the door behind me. I have actually gone back and CHECKED halfway to work whether it was locked.

I stressed once the fridge door was open when I went away for a weekend.

The only thing that saves me from dying of an early heart attack (although this could still happen) is that I am also extremely forgetful. It’s like early onset dementia. I watched a movie yesterday I saw on the big screen not even a year ago. I swear I’d never seen it before but plus one rather irately pointed out he’d paid for tickets to take me to see it. Whatever. It was a revelation for me plot wise. I went with the BBC Sherlock Holmes quote that I didn’t have the time and energy to keep useless stuff in my head so something had to depart.

Currently I worry I fluffed a job interview as I was a bit wishy washy so he wants to stay in touch ┬ábut didn’t convert to an offer.

I worry that I will not get further interviews.

Or that I will and have to lie about going to them.

That I have been offered within my company to change teams which I dearly want.

But that if I do I will have to work longer hours.

But if I don’t that I will die of boredom.

It must be interesting to be one of those people who just lives and doesn’t over think things.

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Worlds apart

I flew from the south of the United Kingdom to the north of Italy this weekend. An hour and a half flight. Negligible. It takes longer to fly to Cape Town from Johannesburg. Admittedly, you often leave dry, warm Highveld weather for cold windy Capetonian gales but the differences between the areas weather wise is not immense.

It is astounding in Europe though how such a short flight can take you to a whole new world.

In this instance we climbed aboard a plane under grey skies threatening rain, sweaters on the ready. We climbed out to a hot muggy evening with a fat full moon glowing down at us.

We woke up for three days to blue skies of my childhood and a humidity that was not, making my hair stick to my neck while my face went shiny in the heat.

It’s a good reason to stay slim and sleek. You don’t notice extra kilograms when it is easy to wear more clothing to hide lumps and bumps. Moreover, you don’t feel the lumps rubbing against each other due to the clothing in the way.

In Milan however, you could feel your thighs sweatily squishing against each other, even as the back of your skirt seemed to get stuck to your bum. The locals loved it though. Deliciously permatanned, they made looking summery effortless. Moreover, they, like my friend with the slender legs, stepped out in the shortest of shorts with the abandonment and confidence of people who looked good and knew it (which is partly what made them look so good).

The mirror in our room was, however, I was convinced, skewed to make my legs look extra stumpy. Although I could see they just WERE visibly chunkier in real life next to my friend. My knee injury hurt when I walked with my cabin luggage on my back, thereby adding extra weight to it.

I am terrible at diets. But I think it’s worth considering losing a couple of kgs. Just to make movement easier. Its bad enough weightlifting as part of a ‘fitness programme’. No one wants to be lugging around extra weight that’s just made up of bits of them in the way!

And (postscript) we climbed onto the plane in blazing sunshine and heat. We climbed out under a miserable grey sky, shivering with cold. Welcome back to England…

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Filed under Holidays, memories, travel