It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. You’re sitting in the dappled shade of a bushveld tree on a hot summer’s day, contemplating the view, beetles and bees buzzing lazily through the canopy above you, when all of a sudden, you hear a loud pop.
I’m writing about tropical islands today. Because tropical islands are not cold. I am not writing about Johannesburg. Because Johannesburg is cold. But that’s not my only reason for writing about tropical islands. As I will never tire of reminding you, I went to the Seychelles recently. I was looking through the photos this morning, because I was cold, and came across this one.
When I was young, I used to love watching wildlife documentaries. My best were the ones narrated by Sir David Attenborough, but most of them followed a fairly similar formula. A large, dedicated team of wildlife photographers would go out and, with incredible patience, over a period a year or two, collect hundreds of hours of film. Film of nature in its natural state. This would be pared down to a few hours of incredible footage which would be clearly and exhaustively explained by Sir David in his sensible, well-modulated, and inimitable voice.
The night has always been a time of terror for us. We are not built for it. We can’t see. We swapped our night vision for the ability to see all the bright, shiny colours that fill our days. When we were new in this world, we must have spent our nights huddled together in frightened little groups, hiding from the monsters that haunted the dark, praying to see another dawn, wondering if it was all worth it just to be able to see a really vivid shade of blue.
One of my fondest childhood memories is watching my younger cousin get attacked by a chicken. We were visiting his parent’s holiday house when we fell foul of the local rooster, a feathery behemoth with crazy eyes and spurs the size of a man’s thumb. The moment he saw us, he came steaming across the lawn, flapping and squawking like a banshee. We fled inside, breathless and laughing with terror. And that should have been the end of it.
I’ve just come back from paradise. I’ve been in the Seychelles, a place so beautiful that the people who discovered it thought that they had found Eden. The climate is warm but not dry. The achingly white beaches wrap themselves around rounded granite boulders bigger than houses and dripping, steaming jungles rich with palm trees and ferns. And all of this is gently embraced by the sea, a patchwork of blues and aquamarines and indigos. There is no better place in the world for a holiday.
I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I’m not out of ideas; it’s just that the kids are at home. Focus is a rare commodity when you’re at the beck and call of a hungry eight-year-old and a bored four-year-old. Then it came to me. Not from the shadowy depths of my imagination. From the internet.
I’m supposed to be writing the second part of a post about birds, but I’m finding it a little difficult to concentrate. I am, you see, preoccupied with thoughts about naked people. And my father-in-law. This sort of thing happens to me quite often. It’s a little disconcerting.
I’ve always found it difficult to focus. There is always some idle thought tugging away at the edges of my mind. It gets in the way sometimes. It drags me up out of the book I’m reading and thrusts me into another space entirely. It makes studying an ordeal. And it can get a bit tricky when I’m trying to write. It’s hard to rattle on about Oxpeckers when all you can think about is naked people. And your father-in-law.