Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pestilicence – Part 2

After ten years I tried again! This time I even attended learner’s licence classes – and I passed the test with flying colours, the first time round! The very capable Beebee Boone, the more mature lady who would presumably understand my hang-ups, was my next hapless instructor. I went on to fail the driver’s test two more times. Every time I attempted to execute my unique version of parallel parking, one or more of those diabolic white poles jumped up in my line of vision and fell onto the tarmac with a resounding thud! Don’t ask me why … And in my shock and horror I also once managed to let the car roll which, in itself, constitutes immediate failure – end of the test. Oh Beebee, Beebee so sorry about this boo-boo! At this critical juncture, my son reckoned I should throw myself on the mercy of Speedy Gonzales and his girl, Scheronda (she with the scrawny doggerel called Poopsie) – a most formidable trio. Speedy and Co. had a track record second to none. All their students pass. Full stop. No ifs, no buts. Well, thanks to me, this fearless former traffic officer almost had an apoplectic fit in the parking lot behind Shoprite just before my fourth driver’s test. All of a sudden I was a complete blank and could not remember anything about alley docking, parallel parking and/or the pre-trip inspection. Of course I sent the poles flying – again – in the course of my fourth and final test … And so I blackened poor Speedy’s name, besmirched his hitherto irreproachable reputation. Scheronda took me home in a huff, before I even had time to book another appointment … As time marched on relentlessly, I finally booked a few lessons with the charming young man, Valiant Prince, the son of none other than Bertie Bullfrog, the first instructor who tried to show me the ropes, more than ten years ago … Vallie and I really hit it off, and there was a glimmer of hope in my heart. And then my learner’s licence expired – again … Oh, I have shed many bitter tears about all these mishaps – especially when I failed my first learner’s and my fourth driver’s test. But I also learned to laugh at myself. I have a story to tell – hopefully a funny one. Come to think of it, isn’t a flaky fifty-year-old failure far more amusing than a whizz kid of 18, who passes without batting an eye-lid? And dear neurotic Poopsie loved me to bits. I would like to give myself the benefit of the doubt and believe that this scrawny little doggerel was an excellent judge of character, and that he came to the indisputable conclusion that I am actually a rather nice old bat, even though I should never drive a car, to quote my dad. To be continued – The amazing story of Cha Sa-soon
Pestilensie – Deel 2

Ná tien jaar probeer ek toe weer – woon selfs leerlinglisensieklasse by en kom die toets met vlieënde vaandels deur … Ek beland in die bekwame hande van Babsie Boonstra, die meer volwasse dame wat my “hang-ups” sal verstaan. Babsie het haar bes gedoen, maar ek dop nóg twee keer die bestuurstoets – en nóg twee keer is die vervlakste paaltjies in die jaart heeltyd in my pad. En toe rol die karretjie sommer ook op die koop toe, aldus die toetsbeampte, al wou ek haar nie glo nie … Ai, Babsie, Babsie – jammer vir die blapsie. Op dié perteks reken my seun ek moet die dienste van Speedy Gonzales en sy girl, Scheronda (met haar pieperige hondjie Piepsie), inroep. Speedy had skynbaar ‘n “track record” wat skrik vir niks – al sy leerlinge slaag – punt. “No ifs, no buts” … Wel, ek het Speedy en Scheronda se geduld tot die uiterste beproef. Die uwe het die arme man amper ‘n apopleksie besorg tydens ‘n oefening op Shoprite se parkeerterrein net voor my vierde toets. Daar slaat ek toe ‘n volslae “blank” met die gang- en par parkering, die driepuntdraai – en ek kan van ‘n voorrit-inspeksie net mooi niks onthou nie. En natuurlik het ek weer tydens die toets ‘n paar paaltjies gepiets … En so word ek ‘n klad op Speedy se naam, dien sy onbesproke rekord ‘n nekslag toe. Scheronda het my stroef en woordeloos by die huis gaan aflaai, vóór ek weer ‘n volgende toetsdatum kon bespreek. En terwyl die uurglas meedoënloos leegloop, beland ek by die jonkman Waldemar Prins, niemand anders nie as die seun van Kiepie die Cowboy, wat my ‘n dekade gelede probeer touwys maak het … Ek en ou Waldie het heel goed gekliek en daar het ‘n vonkie hoop in my hart ontbrand. Maar toe verval my learner’s weer … Ai, ek al bitterlik oor al hierdie mislukkings geween - veral toe ek my eerste learners en my vierde bestuurstoets gedop het. Maar dan vee ek maar weer die trane af en lag lekker vir myself. Ek het ‘n storie om te vertel – een wat mense hopelik sal laat laat lag. Want ‘n bedremmelde druipeling van vyftig is immers baie snaakser as ‘n whizz kid van 18 wat dadelik deurkom … of hoe? En watwo, ou Piepsie het van my gehou. Ek kies om myself die voordeel van die twyfel te gee en glo graag dus dat die miniskule, neurotiese brakkie kon aanvoel ek is eintlik ‘n heel gawe antie, al hoort ek dalk nie agter die wiel van ‘n mouterkar nie – om my pa verbatim aan te haal. Word vervolg – Die merkwaardige verhaal van Cha Sa-soon

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pestilicence – Part 1

The following is based on “Vonke, fiasko’s, vrede en vreugde”, a talk I gave at Durbanville High School on Friday evening, 18 October 2013. I translated this woeful tale into English, so that my English friends can share in my misery. Happy (or shall is day sad) reading! When I was a little girl, I often heard my father saying to my mother: “That child (meaning, of course, yours truly) should never drive a car. She has no road sense.” I believe he really had my safety at heart – he often saw how I wandered about in the streets, my head in the clouds, talking to myself. I was not even allowed to ride a bicycle while I was at school … But even on foot, I managed to baffle and enrage motorists every time I crossed a busy street without looking left and/or right. And here I am today, a geriatric hippy, with two learner’s licences (expired of course) after a total of five attempts, four failed driver’s tests, three cars later and divested of thousands of rands – and still I have no licence! The first twenty-plus years après school, being unlicensed was not much of a problem. In Stellenbosch, and later in Paarl, I was within walking distance of everything and everybody and, when necessary, I jumped on a bicycle or train and I even embarked on the odd taxi journey! But when we moved to Durbanville, I was stranded, especially with kids who had to be fetched and carried. Thus friend and foe started encouraging me with renewed fervour to please try and get that dastardly licence. But it took years and years before I could pluck up the courage … At 40 I failed my first learner’s licence and at 41, during my first driver’s test in Citrusdal, I spectacularly sent a number of white poles flying … I must admit that I have had excellent instructors, enthusiastically recommended and praised to high heaven by those friends and foes already mentioned. As in: he is absolutely fabulous with the most difficult of cases; if she could teach my sister to drive, she can teach anyone (even a lobotomised mouse, by implication); all his students pass , she is a more mature lady, who will understand your hang-ups … he taught all three my daughters, and they all passed the first time round … Ja well, no fine … Bertie Bullfrog was my first victim – he came very highly recommended by the traffic officer who kindly granted me my first learner’s licence. After a breath-taking performance during our first lesson, poor old Bertie was quiet for what seemed an eternity. Then he coughed and sighed: “Look here old girl, this is going to take a very long time – I would say about 57 lessons.” When he beheld my crestfallen face, he quickly added: “The international standard is your age plus 17 more lessons. In your case, 40 + 17 = 57!” I could sense that he thought even this would not be nearly enough. “You must tell me whether you want to do this or not.” (While he looked as if he wanted to run away.) “I will be very patient with you.” To cut a long, rather painful story short, poor Bertie’s patience and sparkling sense of humour did not reap benefits. Encouraged by a friend, I enlisted the help of Wild-Wild Winnie of the Western Cape. She laughed uproariously when I told her about Bertie and the projected 57 lessons: “My dear, you’ve been had. That man caught you hook, line and sinker.” Cheerfully she promised to sort me out in no time at all. Famous last words. During our first lesson she was speechless, I saw her balling her fists, knuckles turning white, because my left was right, and my right was left, among many other things … A few times she yelled anxiously. … Well, when it was almost time for my first driver’s test, she announced rather unexpectedly that she was on her way to America to visit her son, but that she would hand me over to one of her colleagues. Which I kindly, but firmly declined. And that is how I ended up in Citrusdal, where a friend’s sister lived next to a really nice “speedy”, who would no doubt “give” me a licence. But on that day, even the nicest speedy on earth could not have let me pass me with a clear conscience. The kind soul apologised profusely because I had to return to Durbanville without the desired licence in my hand, while he glanced surreptitiously at all the horizontal poles in the yard … (To be continued – The heroic efforts of Bibi Boone, Speedy Gonzales, Scheronda and Poopsie and, finally, Valiant Prince)

Pestilisensie Deel 1

Die onderstaande treurmare (en aflewering wat daarop volg) is op Vrydagaand 18 Oktober 2013, in effense verwerkte vorm (getiteld “Vonke, fiasko’s, vrede en vreugde”) aan ‘n verbysterde, kopskuddende gehoor voorgedra. Die geleentheid was die jaarlikse Vonkelvrou-geleentheid van die Hoërskool Durbanville. Toe ek nog baie jonk was, het ek telkemale gehoor hoe my pa vir my vrome moeder sê: “Daai kind (dis nou ek) moet tog nooit agter die wiel van ‘n mouterkar beland nie, want sy het geen ‘road sense’ nie.” Ek glo my pa het werklik my veiligheid op die hart gedra –– hy’t immers gesien hoe ek kop in die wolke in die strate rondwandel, al pratende met myself …. Hy het my selfs verbied om fiets te ry terwyl ek op skool was. Ek moes dus maar vir dapper en stapper inspan, maar het steeds heelwat motoriste se bloeddruk die hoogte ingejaag as ek ‘n straat sommer net blindelings oorsteek. En vandag is ek kort duskant bejaard, met twee leerlinglisensies ná altesaam vyf probeerslae (wat natuurlik reeds verval het), vier doppe (soos in bestuurstoets dop), drie karre later en derduisende rande armer – en steeds het ek nie ‘n lisensie nie. Vir die eerste twintig-plus jaar van my naskoolse lewe was dit nie juis ‘n probleem om ongelisensieerd te wees nie. Op Stellenbosch, en later in die Paarl, was ek binne loopafstand van alles en almal en, wanneer nodig, het ek flink op ‘n fiets of ‘n trein gespring en soms selfs ‘n taxi-bussie aangedurf! Maar in Durbanville het my turf begin sit, veral met kinders wat rondgekarwei moes word. En dus het vriend en vyand my met hernude ywer aangemoedig om tog maar daai lisensie te probeer kry, my pa se aanvanklike bekommernis ten spyt. Maar dit het jare geduur voor ek die moed bymekaar kon skraap … ek was 40 toe ek die eerste keer my leerlinglisensie gedop het, en 41 toe ek etlike paaltjies op Citrusdal se toetsterrein in hul maai gery het! Ek moet bieg dat ek werklik goeie instrukteurs gehad het, geesdriftig aanbeveel en opgehemel deur einste vriend en vyand. Soos in: hy verrig wondere met die moeilikste gevalle, as sy my suster kon leer bestuur, kan sy enigiemand leer (selfs ‘n bôjaan, by implikasie), al sy leerlinge kom altyd deur, sy is ‘n meer volwasse dame wat jou “hang-ups” sal verstaan … hy het al drie my dogters geleer, en hulle het met die eerste probeersdeurgekom andekom … “Ja well, no fine …”

Arme Kiepie die Cowboy was my eerste slagoffer – met die grootste vrymoedigheid aanbeveel deur die beampte wat my eerste leerlinglisensie aan my toegeken het. Ná ‘n asemrowende vertoning tydens myself en Kiepie se eerste les, het hy lank stilgebly, en toe gekug en gesug: “Kyk ouvrou, met jou gaan dit la-a-a-ank vat, seker so ongeveer 57 lesse!” En toe hy my afgehaalde tronie sien, voeg hy vinnig by: “Die internasionale standaard is jou ouderdom plus nog 17 lesse. Dus: 40 + 17 = 57.” En ek kon sommer sien hy dink selfs dit sal nie naastenby genoeg wees nie. “Jy moet net sê of jy kans sien.” (Terwyl hy lyk of hy eintlik wil weghol.) “Ek sal baie geduldig met jou wees …” Om ‘n lang, spannende storie kort te maak, arme Kieps se geduld en sprankelende humorsin het nie vrugte afgewerp nie.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Joined at the hip

There was once a chubby little roll that nestled in a comfortable hollow above Dory’s hip. A similar deposit nestled above her other hip, which meant that there were in fact two rolls!

They were extremely happy, but Dory was not. As the rolls expanded, due to very frequent lunch-time visits to the Food Lover’s Market and kissing the wine bottle at night, the number of options in Dory’s wardrobe decreased drastically. As she had to acquire more and more flamboyant caftans to cover up those rolls (who thought they were at the circus), the “thinner” clothes were relegated to the very darkest corner of the closet.

She tried to get rid of those rolls – any which way. The Heart Foundation Diet, the Dukan Diet, Simply Slim, a Chinese remedy in a green box, and a myriad other methods that were “guaranteed to work” … to no avail. The rolls did not budge. Granted, sometimes they did get slightly smaller for a short while, but then they  just increased again with a vengeance!

Their excuse, their reason for such tenacity – we can’t leave, we love Dory too much. Dory and us, we are joined at the hip!

In a cold and cruel world, who could deny such devotion?

                                                  Vector of a Cartoon Fat Woman Doing Yoga in Her Bikini - Coloring Page Outline

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Common sense
Dachshund Dancing Duo Dachshund Art
Mr Practical Matters had two adorable little dachshunds, aptly named Sound Judgment and Good Sense, aka Common and Sense.
These musketeers were like three peas in a pod – on the same wavelength and on the same page. They even went to the same party. Granted, it was not a very exciting party at all, as all three very level headed. But it was a party nonetheless and, most importantly, the same one!
They never sweated the small stuff, did not get bogged down by unnecessary details, not once did they stoop to analysis paralysis. They did not get side-tracked, it was impossible to lead them up the garden path and they were oblivious to the charms of even the most accomplished of red herrings. They did not nit-pick, and instinctively knew how to separate the weed from the chaff. Under all circumstances they stuck to the facts of the matter, their minds were clear, their eyes fixed on the scoreboard ... They were just SO cool, calm and collected, unanimously coming to the same, logical conclusion – always.
Once Practical Matters, who thought he was safe in the privacy of his own study, did succumb to the temptation of vociferously praising, lauding and applauding his two little acolytes for their sound judgment and good sense under even the most trying circumstances. Common and Sense were overcome by this rather unexpected accolade and started dancing around on their hind legs, wagging their tails, rolling their eyes and flapping their tongues. They even took hands and did a little jig.
In a touching grand finale, Common jumped onto the window sill, opened the window with a flourish and was just about to burst into joyous song, when he was intercepted by a passer-by, who suddenly belted out: “How much is that doggy in the window?”
And then Common and Sense went to pieces very, very quietly …

Sunday, 9 June 2013

"Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater"


Long, long ago in  ancient Petlokatapolovski, a whole generation of particularly nasty little baby boys saw the light – courtesy of the God of War, Strife, Conflict and General Nastiness. Right from the start they drove their poor mothers up the wall, their dads to drink, and their sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents, not to mention pets, animals (indeed all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small) up the creek …

Eventually the exhausted mothers were on the verge of a massive, nationwide breakdown. They tried everything to calm down the boisterous blighters, apart from corporal punishment, that is, as they were mortally afraid of their offensive offspring. After tearing their hair out, beating their breasts, pouring ash over their heads, they decided unanimously to throw their babies, with the horribly dirty bathwater, into all the rivers criss-crossing the ancient land, so that the kids could have a romp with the crocodiles, alligators, hippopotami and, of course, the odd dinosaur. The mothers desperately needed an hour or two to rest, recuperate and gather their strength for the next round of mothering.

But alas and alack, these indomitable infants terrorised and traumatised the mighty river creatures to such an extent that a massive, thunderous roar went up in  ancient Petlokatapolovski, reaching the furthest corners of the land, echoing and reverberating from rock and mountain top: “MOTHERS, PLEASE OH PLEASE, DON’T THROW YOUR BABIES OUT WITH THE BATHWATER!”