Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Idler, Thursday, December 27, 2018

Festive season -



WE TAKE a festive breather in anticipation of Hogmanay. A rundown follows of personal experiences so far.

Christmas Eve – Spent in Maritzburg in the company of mostly much younger relatives, including a girl in her early teens who entertains us with Christmas tunes on the flute and her younger brother who accompanies her on the saxophone.

This is astonishing talent. The boy has also received from Santa a battery-driven equipage known, I think, as a "hoverer", on which he propels himself about the house, at the same time playing the saxophone. This is a lad whose future as a busker is assured.

I am slightly embarrassed to be loaded with gifts consisting mainly of bottles of wine or whisky. Does this say something of my reputation among my own tribe?

Christmas Day - This turns out to be a day of solid tradition – conviviality, camaraderie, good cheer and lovely grub - as well as a day of new discoveries.

I have wielded the willow against the Kloof Crickets at their ground; the same against the Zululand Cane Rats, and other sides, at the ground of Kloof High School. (This was for the Durban Press XI).

Such encounters have invariably ended at the Stokers' Arms, in Kloof Village, vibrant occasions indeed. But I had never before ventured much further into the hinterland of Kloof Gorge where – much as the old navigational maps of the oceans used to proclaim - "here be monsters!"

On Christmas Day I drove for the first time through the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, to discover an absolutely exquisite jewel of indigenous forest. 'Twas an uplifting discovery, so close to human habitation.

Then the long climb up out of the nature reserve to a spot where our host has a house that looks out with a stupendous view over the Gorge. Breathtaking stuff.

But the second discovery lay elsewhere. It is something not just of great beauty but of profound social, psychological – possibly even marital – significance as well. All of it positive.

It is known as Open Plan. Our host has converted an old, traditional house by knocking out the internal walls so that what was once the kitchen is now a central feature of the entertainment area.

Everything happens at the newly installed service bar. The gals dance around it to loud music as they go about preparing the repast, wiggling and jiggling their bodies in the most interesting way, while the lads look on.

This is something entirely new. Obviously it always used to go on in the closed-off kitchen, while we lads sat about outside, oblivious of what we were missing as we discussed cricket and other topics.

Now it's out in the open. Suddenly we lads are right there in the scrimmage, along with the gals. It's healthy and uplifting. Vive la Open Plan! Vive la Wiggle-Jiggle!

A wonderfully entertaining Christmas lunch, to be sure. Conversation flows. A lady in her nineties confides to me that she plans to parachute into Croatia in a month or so. Or did I tell her that? Yes, vin rose is a great social lubricant.

Boxing Day: Recovery. Reflection. Also a resolution to discover, when I have the time, what it is that the Changeniks call Boxing Day these days.



ONE from the Christmas cracker: What do you call a group of singing dinosaurs?

A tyrannochorus.


Last word

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.

John W Gardner

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