Archive | March, 2013

A 12th unniversary gift

17 Mar

Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary. Never get married on a day famous for other things, by the way. If things don’t last, you will never forgot your ex-anniversary. Perhaps unniversary is a better name for it. The tradition says silk or linen; I got something much better.

My favourite sound in the world is the call of the guineafowl. It’s not especially melodious or pleasing to the ear, but in those shrieks and clucks and chrrrrrs are all the complex allure of Africa, infinitely lovely. Also hopelessly guilt-ridden and heartbreaking, for those of us whose ancestors arrived after a long hiatus from the place our DNA reminds us we all call the motherland on boats, uninvited.

There aren’t too many guineafowl left in Johannesburg. They need space and undisturbed grassland, and freedom from cats and dogs. I’ve never known them in the garden, until now.

A few months ago, a pair of them moved into my grandmother’s garden. I moved in with her after we agreed to get divorced, and somehow it never made a lot of sense to move out. The garden is one of the reasons I stay. I’d rather have ponds and trees and lawn than noisy neighbours and thin walls in a Summercon complex.

Where they came from, I don’t know. I assumed they were the domesticated kind, escaped from another garden. They stayed, clucking companiably with the eight Egyptian geese who also share our lawns. Every now and then my 87 year old grandmother, who hates the geese, likes to brandish a broom at them. It keeps her on her toes.

Later, one of the guineafowl disappeared and I worried that it had flown off, hit by a car, or attacked by a dog. Perhaps even been eaten. Today I understood why. She’d been sitting on eggs. This morning I saw the two of them together again. They were followed by eight chicks, exotically striped for camouflage. Striped little things peeping and shrieking in their parents’ twin wakes. They’re amazingly loud, when you get up close. On Monday, I watched remarkable Veldfokus footage of a duiker catching and eating guineafowl chicks; I hope ours stay safe.

The guineafowl chicks in my garden look exactly like this.

Their parents keep them hidden, which is wise given that Egyptian geese are known to attack and drown other birds. This afternoon, I found a weevil-infested box of couscous in the cupboard and scattered it on the lawn. Tomorrow, I will buy wild bird seed to help them along. They have a growing family to feed, and though we don’t use pesticides and patches of the garden are an overgrown paradise for birds, 2 acres of Bryanston probably isn’t enough.

I could read all sorts of signs into this. About Africa, and rebirth, and birds, which can fly – even guineafowl.  Or simply hold onto the fact that it is possible to take such pleasure in little things, in the endless, irrepressible exuberance of life itself.

I could not have asked for a better unniversary gift.

Not So Fine

6 Mar

Screaming green is generally not a popular colour for cars in South Africa. We tend to go for white because it has better resale value. (It’s also practical in a hot country, and more visible on the road, something I learned all about after driving my black Fiat Stilo with lights on in the pre LeadSA era.)


Who knows why any sane person would buy a VW Scirocco in a shade calculated to make an otherwise good-looking car resemble an African giant bullfrog. Was it a special deal? Were they not prepared to wait for the colour they really wanted? In any event, the owner has clearly decided to hell with it, and made the car even more obvious with a curiously mismatched doucheplate.

O SO Fine

Spotted in Woodmead.

Not really all that fine, really.

White Trash

4 Mar

Collecting doucheplates is a favourite hobby of many bloggers. I usually don’t  have the time to take a shot of the ones I see, but every now and then the traffic is slow enough to make taking photos of doucheplates safe. This is one I spotted on Witkoppen Road:

White trash


I’m assuming the W is short for “white”. I was once called “cheap white trash” by a woman in a Sunninghill Summercon complex who assumed I’d taken her parking spot (the quote, in context, was “Go fuck yourself, you cheap white trash”). A red Suzuki Swift isn’t the obvious vehicle for this plate, which would be more appropriate on, say, an avocado green Ford Cortina, an orange Ford Focus ST or a blue Subaru WRX with gold rims. A Suzuki Swift is too ordinary and inoffensive.

Mind you, the doucheplate I had when I drove a black Fiat Stilo probably confused everyone. It was MARMITE GP, inspired by a name I used on a chat forum. Hey, I worked in advertising and I was trying to look more interesting.

What this guy’s excuse is, I don’t know.

Black Power Alert

4 Mar

After years of electricity shortages, we’re used to getting these alerts. Still, it’s tempting to read something like this and observe that it reads like something a news24 commenter would come up with.



Black Power

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