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!