Wednesday, April 24, 2013


On our breaks, at the breakfast table, we talk about leaving the film industry, of what we'd do. Many of us dream of other things. But there are moments and there are people... they happen when you least expect it and make it all worthwhile.
The other morning just before daybreak, I got a lift with the props people on the back of a Land Cruiser. Sitting there in the crisp, cold air between the muskets and the hides and the arrows and the quivers. Up the winding mountain road, horses galloping ahead of us and horses behind. There's a row of pine trees where the lane is very narrow, so you brush against them and the smell stays with you. It brings back memories of good things.
Or waiting for the rain to let up and someone plays a song. We're stamping our feet anyway, because it's cold, so we end up dancing and laughing for a while, in a small tipi, on a mountain, at seven in the morning.  Thando...

At night I dream I'm being followed.

But, four more sets to go and then some time off.
A road trip. Open spaces, clouds and sheep.
Karoo my love.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Going Cuckoo.

Those flamingos, those mud-stirrers, those jokers. I expected to go there and find them gone, all of them, overnight. But they have left in dribs and drabs, the final few lingering like party guests who just won't go home. Bittereinders we say in Afrikaans.

Now we drive along a different road.
A mountainside on a farm. The gravel road meanders past ancient manor houses, horses, sawmills, trees all red and copper. The tractor drivers wave hello.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss croon please read the letter that I wrote.
I wrote it in my sleep.
And these words from Edith Templeton I can't forget: He will awake, will read, will write lengthy letters, and will pace the avenues amidst the drifting leaves.
There's no time for that and I miss it. Fourteen hour work days, small snatches of sleep inky with Indian life. The neighbor's blasted cuckoo clock follows me even while I'm awake.

Our Cherokee adviser could have stepped from an old Edward Curtis photograph.

Except he wears jeans, a black jacket with a scarlet lining and blue tinted spectacles.
He stares at the horizon a lot and tells us stories about warriors weaving hummingbird feathers into the manes of their mustangs.
Hummingbird has speed.
He says: Even your money comes from trees.
He says: I heard it on the moccasin express.
He looks around and asks if we have questions. He turns to me with eyes wide and says: Cuckoo!

Glamorous it ain't.  At the front door of my friend last night, she says only half in jest: I'd invite you in... but you're too dirty!

There's a storm a-brewing with gale force winds and lashing rain.
 The extras are in purgatory...

Friday, April 5, 2013


Within days, the weather has turned.
Every morning I see with relief that the flamingos are still here. Their feathers have faded to a pale, pale pink. Yesterday, I saw two herons in the morning mist... CAN playing on the radio: She brings the Rain.

Two weeks ago, my mother fell off a step ladder and broke her wrist. In her efforts to save me from worrying, I only heard about it while she was waiting to go into surgery. Sleepless nights.
I went to fetch her from the clinic and we stopped by her place of work - a frail care facility. I met a man in his nineties who has emphysema. He is bedridden, but so gracious, with a twinkle in his eye. A lady in her nineties - sprightly, reading in the sun. Then, as we sat down for a cup of tea, a bearded man came racing down the hill in an electric wheelchair. Raised eyebrows from me to my mother: "Oh, he's Italian."

On my mother's dressing table there is a line of photographs. I see my father in dreams, but it has been a long time since I saw his smile, like that, straight at the lens. Flanking him, my sister on her wedding day and a much younger me, holding a favourite cat, it's limbs akimbo.

One afternoon, as I was driving back from set at high speed, I had to brake unexpectedly and felt myself losing control of the pick-up. No life events flashed before my eyes, just my voice in my head, saying not yet, not yet. And then the voice of my father saying don't break hard, stab and stab.
With a sense of great longing, I drove over the Salt River and past the bus stop with the handmade sign: Madiba is God.

The days fly by: on set we are surrounded by horses, Comanche braves and 1840's settlers with cellphones, skydivers with flapping parachutes. At night it all jumbles up in my dreams. Easter with egg-hunting and the fragrance of lamb and herbs, and damson plums with insides like beets or kidneys or hearts.