The romance of steam

313349_10151462319034658_2069594057_n

We live in an ugly age. Almost everything is cheap and plastic and disposable. And we are cheap and plastic too. Don’t be fooled by the glossy pages of the fashion magazines. If you want to experience the true aesthetic of our time, take a stroll through a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon. It’s not pretty.

I don’t know why. Back in the day, they used to do this properly. They had style. Ladies and gentlemen dressed for dinner. If a gentleman popped out for a stroll on a Saturday afternoon, he wore a high collared suit and a top hat. Continue reading

Advertisements

Learning to read

Lyle Krahn is an awesome wildlife photographer. He is not, however, a very sensible man. How do I know this? Well, the other day he set off into the frozen Canadian wilderness, on his own, on foot, to follow the trails of some animals because I told him it would be easy.

Lyle Krahn following some bad advice

Lyle Krahn off to follow some bad advice

Continue reading

That’s just not what we mean.

Elton John wrote a song called “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. He wouldn’t fit in around here. I wrote a post the other day about apologies, and a rather curious thing started to happen. People commenting on the post began claiming to be geographically sorry. Canada is a little remorseful. Australia is quite embarrassed and promises never to do it again. But the champions are the English. They are completely mortified and will do whatever they can to make it up to you.

The bulldog is the national dog of England. And it is very, very sorry.

The bulldog is the national dog of England. And it is very, very sorry.

Continue reading

Gourmet Cooking With 23thorns

I must confess to being a little taken aback. In my last post, I mentioned two minute noodles. Without any explanation. Sorry.

I try to be careful about this. If I am using words or concepts that I know are uniquely South African, I try my best to translate or explain. If that’s too tricky, I just avoid them.

This is why you will never read my absolutely fantastic post about the time I took 2kg of kudu biltong to a friend’s braai by mistake. He had asked me to bring the wors, and thinking he meant droewors, I decided to go for biltong instead. He actually meant boerewors. It was hilarious. We still laugh about it today. Luckily his wife had made enough sosaties to sink a battleship, and there was pap, so the braai turned out OK. Continue reading

Gulag Zen

My wife has a bit of a flair for the dramatic. Years of chronic drug abuse have left her emotionally unbalanced. This morning, I woke to find her standing fully clothed at the foot of the bed.

“I”, she said, fixing me with an unnervingly level stare, “am going out!”

“What’s up? Have we run out of milk?”

“No. I am going out. For the day. Alone.”

“But what abou….”

“I”, she cut in, “am going now.”

“Are you taking the ki…”

“ALONE!” her voice cracked like a whip and she was gone. Continue reading

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

I have resolved to get the full benefit of the WordPress blogging experience. This means that every now and then, I will step out of my comfort zone and try a new type of post. So far, I have done a deep and meaningful poetry post (People wept. Marriages were saved. Complicated teenagers selected the choicest lines to write in their journals.), and a rather technical photography post (this one was more for the experts than the common people, but I have noticed a subtle improvement in the quality of the pictures on WordPress since then. Coincidence? You decide).

Now it’s time to try something new. A fashion post. I have noticed that there is an entire subculture out there in WordPress-land who love to tell the world what sort of pants they are wearing. I feel left out. None of you have ever known what sort of pants I’ve been wearing. Mercifully, that is about to change. Continue reading

Parenting for Dummies.

About a year ago, in the middle of a short holiday at my folk’s place down in the bush, I drove over my son with a Land Rover. It was a very good day.

There was, of course, that white-knuckled, loose bowelled, heartbeat free moment that every decent parent should be familiar with when you think “Oh my God, I’ve killed my son! All the books said we weren’t supposed to do that!”, but a second later he popped up looking as white as a sheet and a little battered, and I thought, with huge relief, “Thank Heavens! I’ve only maimed him! Continue reading

Here be dragons

I have spent the last few weeks helping my wife package products for her new business. She’s not thinking small. When we fold boxes, we fold several hundred boxes. Pinch, fold, tuck. Pinch, fold, tuck. Pinch, fold, tuck. When we stick labels on room fresheners, we stick several hundred labels on room fresheners. Peel, stick, peel, stick, peel, stick. Right now we’re busy with several thousand cloth shopping bags. We’re folding them into squares and tying them up with ribbons. This is much more interesting. Fold, fold, fold, fold, tuck, wrap, tie.  Fold, fold, fold, fold, tuck, wrap, tie. Sigh. Fold, fold, fold, fold, tuck, wrap, tie.

It’s not exactly riveting, but eventually, your brain and hands click over into autopilot. I could fold boxes or tie ribbons while operating heavy machinery. It’s become like breathing. Which got me thinking about lizards. Of course. Not that the lizards round here are particularly good at folding or tying; it just reminded me that those who feel the need to talk about such things talk about the most primitive part of your brain as the lizard brain. Continue reading

Ribbit.

I can’t remember if there was ever a single moment when I realised that my family was not quite the same as other peoples’. I suspect it was rather a series of moments, and one of these had to do with a visit to the botanical garden in Pretoria.

The garden is huge, set into the side of a low hill. There are small patches of forest, beds of flowers, pockets of wetland, and large, rolling lawns. On the day of our visit, the garden was filled with people. There were young couples, wrapped up in each other and blind to the rest of the world; there were the plant-lovers, meandering slowly around the network of paths, stopping to examine the rarities in the garden’s collection; there were the birdwatchers, weighed down by cameras and binoculars, peering up into the trees.

But mostly there were families. Some had come to enjoy a picnic, others just a day in the sun. Everyone seemed to have brought something along: cooler-boxes full of snacks and drinks, bats and balls, Frisbees, even a kite or two. Not us. We brought along an umbrella and a handful of clear plastic packets. Obviously. Continue reading

Ways of seeing.

I used to think that I had an interesting sort of mind. One that saw the world in a different light to the unwashed masses. A unique perspective that set me apart. I used to think that this made me a special little star.

Then I arrived home from work to find my driveway full of opened umbrellas. Lots of them. Just lying there unattended, like an unanswered question.

England. Every day.

Continue reading