As we enter into Porterville and slowly drive down the main road Helen asks me what day it is? Fair question. When you’re on holiday the days blur into each other. I tell her its Thursday. “Oh!” she says, “for a moment I thought it must be Sunday. Where is everybody?”
Another good question. Its mid-morning, on an oven-hot day, 40 degrees Centigrade, we later discover. Not a car in sight. Way down the street, one man leaning languidly against a wall, smoking.
We locate my artist friends’ home, and spend two hours outside, sitting under a shady pepper tree, feasting on tiny sticky figs, a selection of cheese and crackers, and absorbing gallons of tea. Our hosts are seemingly unfazed by the extreme heat and enthuse over the benefits of living in a tiny country town. Peace and quiet, minimal crime, spacious properties, lower cost of living, and still within a 90 minutes drive from urban fun in Cape Town. Plus a weekly farmers’ market, which truly is a local affair, and the source of today’s figgy treat.
They assure us that the extreme heat is only for 6 weeks or so, and the rest of the year is very livable. I’ll take their word for it.
Driving away with the aircon going full blast, we paused briefly to take pics of an extraordinarily grand church, which reminded me of a wedding cake. My attention was caught by the pillars. But heat fatigue curbed our enthusiasm for more sightseeing and happy snaps.
I live in a gated Village for those who are over 50 years old. So far, so good. Consequently we are a mixed community of those who still have jobs or careers; those who are in their mid 60s and upwards, and the very elderly who truly are geriatric.
New neighbours moved into the house opposite mine, mid December . So far, so good. Christmas is over now. All the visiting families have departed, we are into the early days of 2019 and New Neighbour turns out to be a D I Y fan of note. He hammers, bangs, and wields his electric drill with gusto, literally from morning ‘til night. What on earth can he be doing? Re-fitting the entire damn house with new cupboards? I happen to know the house has more than adequate cupboard space.
What’s equally baffling is that he’s over 80 years old, and quite stooped. When I met him in the street he gave me a tortoise grimace and pallidly shook my hand.
Sir: you’re supposed to be relaxing on your verandah with your cup of coffee, or snoozing in front of the Sports Channel on TV. I’m told his wife is a sweet lady and from the little I’ve seen she doesn’t fit the profile of domestic tyrant raising hell over the lack of cupboards. For goodness sake, there’s only the two of them, not a family of ten!
Who knows? Meanwhile, I’m gritting my teeth and muttering : live and let live . Trouble is, our houses are jammed very close together. So any noise is shared noise. Yay.
Dear previous neighbour: don’t you want to come back to my street? I never really appreciated the excellent qualities of a nice sedate older school teacher until now!