Monday, April 7, 2014

Holey novel, holey road

I'm sure most of us have got an unwritten or half finished novel itching under our skin. I know I am not unique in this. I should take heed of that thing that was going around Facebook a while ago. Rules for writing a novel. 
Think of an idea for a novel.
Write it
 or summin like that anyway. 

Mine is very much like the road that is being built near our house at the moment. They started off with great enthusiasm and gusto. All the equipment, the planning - with their funny little dumpie levels and lumo jackets. They made diversions and brought in lorry loads of gravel and cement and tar. And then it all started crumbling. The enthusiasm lagged. The diversions got so waterlogged people had to drive on the half finished road, buggering up all the work that had been done so far. They've done some very good sections (even tidied up the sides of the road when they've finished) yet there are stretches that are still muddy and bumpy and all dug up. They're getting there though, soon it will be finished I'm sure. I'm not sure what they're going to do when they get to our turn off, right by a karongo where they can't make a diversion. Maybe they have a plan. Maybe it'll come to them at the last minute. 

I'm hoping the same can be said for my very unfinished book (with a couple of completed sections somewhere in the middle). I am reminded of it every time I drive the road tho, so maybe that's the impetus I need to keep going. We'll see. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tidying Procrastinations

Tidy tidy tidy.

Long overdue.

When we first moved here 6 years ago we had so little. It all fitted in the back of our Land Rover.

And now we have so much Stuff, spilling out the seams of our little pink adobe house. We move into a bigger house in July and no doubt we'll have even more Stuff to fill that house too.

My parents-in-law were in the army and had to move every 2 years. Get rid of what they needed, pack up and move on. My side of the family don't have much truck for Stuff either. My grandfather lived in a little wooden house with very little. My parents are the same. And we don't have anything fancy. Au contraire. But somehow we have a collection of Things. Broken torches, bits of old tap, pens that don't work. I'm doing a big cleanout right now and it feels gooood. (Actually right now I'm writing a blog. Procrastinating. It's a strength of mine).

Any clothes that I haven't worn for a few months. Out! Out! Out! (I have a mitumba* problem though, so my clothes seem to just multiply, like amoebas or something. Or like those exotic plants that you cut back and they just grow back twofold, with more vigour).

Tidying up the office now and I find papers and files from when I gave birth. Remembering the squished purpleness of those little sausages. Thinking they were so very perfect and adorable at the time. And you look at pictures of their newborness now and realise how damn ugly and last-tomato-in-the-fridge they were. Still perfect and adorable but ugly-perfect and adorable! Midwife reports, vaccination certificates. New life admin.

And I find a notebook. Big and black and sturdy. I peel back the cover and feel a stab in my solar plexis. Lots of little notes and drawings and plans. Some in my hand, some in Musa's. Drawings on how to make a lifesize elephant with two actors inside. Scrawled notes in Musa's hand on human-wildlife conflict plays that we performed. Parts of a radio drama script we wrote. Scribbled actor IOUs and little mini budgets and timetables. I miss him so.

This one I shall keep.

And now it's time to get back to it. Lets see what other little treasures I can find.

*mitumba - second hand clothes from the market

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ode to Jesse

Katete river picnic

Warning: over-sentimental gush coming your way. Humour me will ya? (or just skip to the pictures, that's also fine).

Pontoon over the Luangwa River

Jesse and I were meant to be. I first saw her parked in the dusty carpark at Kapani and I said to the person I was with 'I want that car'. She was nothing special, really, but I fell in love immediately. An ex army series III landrover  that a pilot had recently imported from the UK. She was painted matt black with white squares on the door. I coveted her for a moment, sighed, and moved on.

My grandfather - who was such an anchor in my life - was dying at the time. He had recently been flown to South Africa for treatment and a couple of days later I caught a lift to Joburg in a little aeroplane to see him and, as it turns out, to be with him when he died. It was a little eight seater plane or even smaller, I forget. When I got to the airport I saw the car again, parked under the shade of the flamboyant tree, all smart and proud. Turned out one of the pilots who was flying us to Joburg was the owner.

I bumped into him again a few months later, after my grandfather had died, and mentioned his car - he told me he was selling it.

And so my life with Jesse began. I scraped together my earnings from working a season in safaris and, with a little help from my dad (Thanks Ray. He's actually called Vic but when it comes to money he calls himself Ray. Ray will pay!) I managed to buy her. For the first few months I polished that car til she shone like an alien spaceship. I was like a ninja with those rags n polish. Wax on wax off. Oh no, that's something else. You know what I mean though, right?

I went to the capital to pick her up. We met at McGuinty’s to hand over the papers and keys. McGinty’s, as the name suggests, was one of those pretend Irish bars at the Holiday Inn, complete with leprechaun and 4 leaf clover deco. What is it with that? Anyway, watering holes were fairly few and far between back then, so it was something of the local hang out. Huw, my boyfriend at the time, and I got into a major messy public fight that night. I look back on it with a mixture of red-cheeked awe with a twist of cringe. There were accusations, there was shouting, tussling and falling over. None of it my fault, of course! And yes, all compounded by copious amounts of booze. Getting that car was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Huw. We’d been together since I was 18 or 19 and I guess the car symbolised my new found freedom, in more ways than one.

We drove her from Lusaka back home. I named her Jesse. As in Jesse a boy's name but somehow with time she morphed into a girl. It happens to the best of us.

She was with me through the labour pains of setting up my theatre company. Piled high with actors and bumping along the rough roads of Nsefu, Kakumbi, Masumba and Jumbe. She worked overtime. We all did. Sleeping in dusty back-of-beyond villages, researching, rehearsing, performing. She was a changing room, a backstage, our transport. Everything.

She was also the perfect sundowners vehicle. The gameviewing seats were part of my payment working a season as a safari guide .I look through my photos now and every single one of them has a bottle of beer or wine on the dashboard. If it's not visible then I'll bet you my life savings (you'll be RICH!) that there's a cooler box in the back filled to the brim.

Spot the beer

Dodgy, DODGY pose, and for that I apologise!

And that, my dear lone and  patient reader, is my life with Jesse. And now I'm looking to sell her. Ouuuuoooooccchhhh. Rip her from my sweaty clutches. Hey it's okay, the car will go but the memories will not. (unless I get a severe knock on the head and find myself in a soap opera with amnesia. In which case I'll have this blogpost to remind me)....

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Stuck Record

Yes I'm still here.

Yes I plan to blog more.

No maybe not right now.

I'll be back tho, I promise!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Excitement in a small town

Every corner you turned in the last few days you'll have heard talk of The Big Plane on the Small Runway.

'It was an emergency landing, they were running out of fuel'
'They got diverted to the wrong airport'
'The pilot got the wrong airstrip, he was meant to land at Kilimanjaro but turned the wrong way'
'There was a broken down plane at Kilimanjaro, he had to land here'
'I spoke to so-and-so who was on the plane...'
'I heard the comms between the pilot and the tower and....'

etc etc etc. Everyone a different story, everyone the expert.

The long and the short of it is that I was driving past the little airport on my way home the other day and saw this. No double take necessary. BAM, there she was! She stood out like a steak at a vegan party.(Vegans have parties? I hear you ask....Hmmm)

(This pic courtesy of umm, I forget - off the internet. Thanks and hope you don't mind whoever you are!)

This little airport usually services very light very small aircraft for tourists going to the Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti or Zanzibar. Planes like this

As I drove up the hill to our house I could still see it....

I believe what happened was that there was indeed a broken down plane on the runway at Kili. The pilot (of the big plane) was told to circle in the holding area and when he was told that it was clear to land he went the wrong way, and landed here instead of Kili.... I guess a full investigation will take place as to what actually happened.

Aaaanyway, the CROWDS of people for the next few days was unbelievable! It is usually a very quiet little road, gently ambling past the mountain but for the two days that the plane was on the ground was like Glastonbury or something. Without the rain.

The 200 plus passengers were stuck on the aircraft for 3 hours or so since there was no stairs big enough to get the off! Eventually they used the emergency slide I believe. 

There was much speculation as to how the plane was actually going to take off since the runway is way to short for a plane of that size. Rumour was they were going to take off at 6 in the morning. So I went over to the neighbour's house at dawn to watch. Keen eh? I have a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

 See Mt Meru in the foreground and Kilimanjaro behind?


There's kili. See the plane bottom left? 

In the end she didn't take off until noon, so I missed it as I had to be in town (I HATE missing out on this sort of thing!) There were more than 1000 people watching apparently and lots of friends videoed it so I didn't feel toooo left out! 

Here's a couple of vids from youtube here and here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Oh hi there. Hello?


Agh, that's okay, I didn't expect a response anyway.

Hey, guess what? I'm on holiday! For a whooole month. And also guess what? I'm now a qualified teacher! (Hence the holiday!). Did I tell you that I've been studying to become a teacher? I know I've been super quiet this year. I've missed this spot. My little brain spill place. Ugh, that sounds gruesome. You know what I mean though, right?

I've just had a look at my sidebar thingy on my blog and see an alarming pattern. I started blogging in 2008.
2008 -  97 posts
2009 - 80 posts
2010 - 52 posts
2011 - 45 posts
2012 - 16 posts
2013 - 5 posts.

Must do better. Because I like it here.

This time last year I wrote a summary of my 2012. I wrote about how we had to drive up to Nairobi for my little 3 month old boy to have an operation on his temple. It was a small op, very routine (for a little blood vessel that had popped out of his skin and bled and bled and bled and bled), but it ripped my insides out having to see him go under general anesthetic. I wrote about ummmm, I can't remember what else I said actually  - 2012 seems such a long way away!

Anyway, I had this post ready on my computer to send next time we had internet access (we were in Zanzibar). On New Year's eve, though, my computer got redistributed. A 'very naughty man', to quote my daughter, cut the gauze to the little house we were staying in and dragged my computer and camera out the window with a very long stick. I love how kids interpret the world. The next morning we were looking at his tracks in the sand, reenacting the scene, having fun being detectives. This is the shard of glass he used to cut the gauze. This is the stick he used to drag the computer. These are the marks in the door where he must have used a crowbar to try and prize the door open. Lara however, was telling everyone that a very very tall green monster had tried to bite through the door with his teeth!

My point of this is that the 2012 recap of the year went with the computer. I'm fine with that.

So now for 2013. Shew, I've already written quite a lot though, haven't I? Let me save this for another day.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Whatever Happened to my Giraffe Skin trousers?

An old friend recently had his 50th and all his mates got together to write something up, put together some pictures etc together that was made into a book. This was my contribution.

When I was a little girl I had a friend called Jake.

Sometimes we’d go shooting guineafowl, or just head off behind the pan, lean up against a warm red termite mound and do some good old target practice. He likes his guns does our Jake. I marveled at his homemade gun rack in his little wooden-upstairs house, all the guns standing to tired attention like soldiers. The whitewashed walls of his little cowboy house, set on the banks of the hungry Luangwa, with pictures of injuns and piebald horses. Strips of leather here and there. I was amazed at his handwriting, how small and neat.  He gave
me a pair of cowboy boots. I wore them through.  And that pink little knife I'd wear around my neck. Remember my pink knife?

One day Jake came to the ruins and said to me ‘lets go for a bike ride to the island’. So we set off, Jake with his pump action shotgun in a homemade leather sheath strapped to the side of his bike, me on my Suzuki 185 that I’d painted black with an 80’s shocking pink stripe (cringe). So we set off across the dambo and into the ebony trees on the other side, under the winterthorns that catch the light in that magical way.

And in a little clearing we saw a fresh giraffe carcass. All noble and dignified and… well… dead. So we stopped, propped our bikes up on their stands and studied this creature, all teenager-esque gangly legs and loose skin. Jake pulled out his knife and started skinning it. As you do. 
‘I wonder what giraffe tastes like’ he said
‘Pretty good’ I said, gnawing on a bit of rubbery nyama.

So we skinned the giraffe’s legs and they made a most excellent pair of trousers. They fit perfectly. I pasted them onto my legs, and strutted around the clearing proudly, I know the fashion houses of Paris and Milan would have been jealous of those trousers. They were a little sticky and pretty heavy but for a brief moment I was Queen of
the Catwalk.

And we hopped back on our bikes with my new trousers slung over the handlebars and when we got back to the ruins we hung them up in the old sausage tree to dry.