Sunday, May 31, 2015


This is the time that I look forward to, when I work. Nowhere to be, no alarm clocks. Nothing much to worry about, besides getting the bread in the oven...

I end those films deeply weary. I don't give myself the chance to get ill when I'm working and invariably get the flu straight after.

When we do the work we do, personal things heap up - I'd like to write more - there are unfinished posts in my box, there are photographs I had plans for. There is a pile of mending on the chair. I think of the doctor who laughed when I asked him if he did any other sewing - his suture was so neat and his method so meticulous. He laughed and said: No, just skin.

On my external drive I found these photographs the other day, from some years back and two cameras ago. Coffee with friends. The cake was delicious - it was their wedding cake a while before that. Similar to panettone or colomba, but better. Light and fruity with a sugary crust.

I spent some time looking at their collections, so lovely.

And I think that I haven't seen them in a long time and I should change that. A year ago we stood in the park watching a band play soul music and looking up, we saw a boy and a girl up in a tree, kissing.

The rain is falling at a slant, birds are stripping the last dark berries from the myrtle. It was time for the first fire in the grate last night. Bones and muscles will knit and scars will fade.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Heaven is a place.

While Tannie Sylvie has a bathroom built in the old house, we have to stay elsewhere. My first thought was - how will the birds find us? I needn't have worried.

They were there in under a minute. 

For several days, behind the boat shed, a coppery mole snake lay in the sun digesting his dinner.
I surprised an eland one night when I went to toss an avocado pip into the bushes. We shone a torch and there he was, rising out of the mist. He regarded us solemnly, small puffs of warm breath escaping as he chewed. Then he turned and slowly walked away. Beyond him stood four more. It made me smile lying in bed and hearing their hooves on the concrete floor of the veranda.

The squeals and whistles of francolins, the honking of the flamingoes on the lagoon.

Just before we left I put out a ripe guava and a gang of speckled mousebirds landed for the feast. 

A rorschach test, just for us.
It was hard to leave.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ode to Guava.

One day in my twenties - after travelling through Europe for a year, I followed my nose from the pavement outside Harrods in London, all the way to the hallowed food hall. I stopped in front of some badly bruised fruit where I stood and wept a little. They were so expensive. And I missed home.

We were staying in a squat in Leytonstone, with an artist who kept strange hours. He was a very nice man, with two dogs he'd rescued from the animal shelter in Battersea. They tore around with their tongues out, forever grateful.
In the back yard there was a very deep hole - an abandoned art installation. Mostly Jesse daubed on large canvasses on the floor.

I decided to cook a big dinner. We happened to be at the Portobello Road market as they were closing and huge boxes of produce were flying though the air at very low prices, along with a good dose of cockney cursing. Mine for a pound, a box of beautiful black eggplant became moussaka. At Sainsbury's I found some canned guavas from Thailand - forty pence a tin.

I served them for dessert, with Bird's custard.
When you grow up eating guavas, you learn to chew them without crunching down on the pips. It's not something you think about.
Jesse's girlfriend - a new arrival from the coast, sat chewing those pips until all the hair stood up on my head. No amount of explaining made an impression.

The next morning she was gone. Skoonveld. Jesse told us that as a matter of principle, she refused to spend another night in the same house as Those South Africans. We had been painted with the broad sweep of a brush as racists. And we ate weird shit.

The tallest man in the world and I have both been under the weather.   We've still to get that holiday feeling. A box of guavas helps. You can smell them from the front door, all sweet and sweaty.