I LOVE BREAKFAST!!
Sorry. Just had to get that out. But I really, really do. It’s been two very, very long days without solid food and boy, did it taste sweet this morning. It even took the edge off the fact that I woke up to discover that it rained last night and got muddy feet when I popped out to .. ah .. water the bushes. Des and I popped into the Casserole first thing for a big, fat fry-up and every molecule was heaven. Talk about a Big Yellow Taxi moment!
You know what the Chillage has become? The set of Three men and a little lady. I’m serious. It’s amazing what three Dads and no Mum will do to the atmosphere of a house. It’s a non-stop party for Ava; coffee-table football, enormous dinner portions, back-to-back movies, wisecracks, beer.. it’s terrible; I’m sure she’ll grow up all weird or something. Yesterday I got home from work to find that the dorm was full of new arrivals, most of whom were sat with Des in front of the first of five rented films and Ava cavorting naked on the couch, trying to brush everybody’s teeth with a plastic fork, and giggling hysterically whenever a particularly intimate or dramatic scene unfolded on the TV. Apes waged war on screen and Noel waged war in the kitchen with steamed vegetables (someday he’ll make a great wife) while I attempted to figure out how we can fit more than three cars into the Chillage car park with everybody still retaining access to the road. I am convinced that this conundrum is beyond the scope of human geometry; even watching K-PAX failed to give me any celestial insight and eventually I gave up when Skinny the cab driver parked all wonky, just inside the gate.
Noel also took the liberty of supplying chocolate for dessert, which only made me hungrier (as it was, I was at this point convinced that Planet of the Apes, K-PAX and Ali consisted of incessant meal scenes) and when I saw him tucking into ice cream I nearly throttled him. However, just as I was looming out of the darkness like Mohammed Ali’s impression of George “The Mummy” Foreman, I realised it was just a cold baked potato, checked myself, and tried to make it look like I was reaching for a drink of mineral water. Man, have I learned to loathe that stuff. If he did notice, he graciously ignored my crazed thrashing about.
Desmond’s on top form as usual. When we went for lunch in town the other day, he announced that he was going to start a blacklist of songs that should never be played in public; first up was the miserable assortment of wailing eighties nonsense they played to us in Jazz Friends. Then, the night before last, he banned all tapes belonging to the maid, Lindiwe, who for some odd reason appears to own nothing but bootleg Fleetwood Mac compilation tapes, which she puts on full blast while she’s cleaning the house. Desmond is worried that she is a bad influence on Ava’s musical taste, but I think it was the French rap on the radio that put him over the edge.
“Sod this,” he cried out from the sofa, gesticulating wildly with a smoking Camel in his fist. “Tapes, CD’s, radio.. I’m done with it, yeah? I just refuse to listen to this rubbish, now. If somebody wants to put a drum kit on my coffee table and start giving it loads and singing like a maniac, I’m into that, but this recorded crap is out!”
I should explain two things, however, to reassure you he wasn’t on acid (although I don’t know why that would be so shocking for big D). The first is, the Chillage coffee table is perfectly big enough to stand (or, indeed do many other things) on, with or without a drum kit, being around nine by five feet in size. Also, technically speaking, the night before we arrived, a reggae band called the Black Roses did, in fact, whack a drumkit on said table and sing, although whether they were maniacal or not I cannot say, being as I was in Johannesburg at the time. However, the theory is sound.
You want to know something else I love about Swaziland? Tough, I’m telling you. You can buy a two kilogramme sack of Nik-Naks. And I don’t mean a multi-pack, either, I’m talking about a giant, five foot long, six inch diameter condom, filled with lurid pink salty-sweet crunchy things. In fact, you can buy a large number of them; they are simply stacked up like sacks of potatoes in a corner of the supermarket. It’s amazing! I love it! You can’t buy a working mobile phone in this country, but you can buy enough crisps to make every single child at a whole wedding sick.. all in one easy-to-carry bag! Imagine walking around a 10th birthday party with one of those slung over each shoulder, topping up salad bowls as if they were grain hoppers on a train.. the children would be following you around as if you were the pied piper of high blood pressure. Brilliant!
Today was Lindiwe’s birthday, and, true to form (i.e. in a house being run by three men) she had to tell us when she arrived. Of course we all acted as if we knew and then held a crisis meeting as soon as she went into the kitchen. Primed with all the spare cash we had, I ordered a cake from Carlos as soon as I arrived at work, and got them to pipe her name onto it. During my lunch break, I nipped into town for candles and then met up with Des and Cecil. They distracted Lindiwe into the garden, Desmond spontaneously complaining about the terrible mess the leaves had made, or something (apparently he ran out of steam when he heard himself demanding why there were still beer bottles in the fireplace) while I burnt my fingers lighting a whole bunch of candles.. dammit. Still, once I’d remembered to start on the side furthest from my lighting arm and work my way back, it was light work (no pun intended) and after a rousing baritone-deaf chorus, Lindi, poor woman, nearly burst into tears. Of laughter, happiness or musical anguish, I don’t know, but it was a very special moment.
Ava ate too much cake and got very excited, then looked a little peaky in the car back into town. I dropped Lindiwe home and then promptly got stopped by a bored cop for nothing in particular, who couldn’t be bothered to nick me when I didn’t have my license. Irrepressible good mood? You bet your ass!
It’s good to be back in the saddle. The jogging, however, you can keep.
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