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.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Decapitating Barbie

They’re funny ol things, our children. In some respects my first born, Lara, is just like me – that stubborn gene has pushed its way through the generations refusing to get watered down with time. It sometimes feels like walking smack-straight into a glass door coming into contact with her willfulness. And her stubbornness against mine is like the clash of the Titans (I’m not convinced that’s the right metaphor but it sounds good).
We have lots of other things in common; we’re both pretty quirky (sometimes downright odd), when we are focused on something no amount of enticing conversation or shouting will break our concentration and (I’m told) we’re both super-melodramatic.

Where we differ however is the girliness, the pinkness if you will. When I was a little girl I was desperate to be a boy. Desperate. My best friend was a boy called Johnny and we’d have weeing competitions up against the fence – him with his willy and me with my makeshift one – a dishwashing liquid bottle full of water. I had serious penis envy. I made up a song that I sang through most of my childhood:
‘I wish I was a boy but I’m not one really,
I wear boys’ clothes but I’m not one really,
I act like a boy but I’m not one really…’ and so on ad infinatum

My daughter however is a princess. A full-blown, pink (dark pink, please) long haired, fluttery eyed princess. She wears the same dark pink ‘one heart thing’ ballerina dress every. Single. Day. If for some reason that one is out of circulation (like ummm being washed?) then she has a 'many heart thing' on standby. Another ballerina type dress but this one pale pink with many hearts making up a big heart in the middle. It's second best because it's not dark pink and because it doesn't have built in chuppies (pants). But in a fix it will do.

It was her fourth birthday last week. She wanted a ballerina/princess cake. Oh how I laughed. Themed birthday cakes are not in my repertoire of skills. Nor is baking, frankly. Then a friend said it was really easy, just make a cake, decorate it pink and stick a Barbie on the top. She even lent me a suitable baking dish thingy. So we gave it a go, my daughter and I. It wasn’t much to look at if you compare it to some and it tasted pretty odd. As I say baking is not my forte (I have other talents) and the butter for the icing was pretty cheesy but I was mightily impressed with the outcome. We had to decapitate Barbie (actually cut her off at the waist – is there a word for that?) which I must admit was possibly more satisfying than it should have been. And taking her torso out the cake later, all covered in red-pink icing was really quite deliciously gruesome.


She looks rather terrified, doesn’t she? But I suppose I would too if my hair was that flammable and had candles in such close proximity….

....and after. 

I hope I haven't set a precedent (the cake baking that is, not the barbie severing)... 

The long abandoned picture window. Now our view is not only blocked by thorn trees but also a great big trampoline! Lucky lucky Lara got a trampoline for her birthday from my parents-in-law. Gertu, Julie and I were all gung-ho about setting it up. 'We can do this! We're girls but just you watch, we don't need any help from any men!' Until we got to the brute force bit and I sheepishly had to wait for Mark to come back from work to finish it off.