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!
Who – or what – will be gracing your walls for the coming 12 months?
Cute kittens? Beautiful flowers? Idyllic scenery? Exotic dream destinations ?
Oriental Art? Endangered species? Wolves and Wildlife?
OR: macho, bare-chested mighty Vladimir Putin (yes: that VP) Will you be gazing lustfully and dreamily, like a vast number of Japanese ladies do? There’s a surprise – who knew that the Russian Bear would set those hearts aflutter? For years Hello Kitty! was a favourite Japanese icon, at least of the younger adults. Perhaps as they mature they need something less fluffy?
We must thank our lucky stars that the Mighty Orange One hasn’t been persuaded to enter the contest of the calendars. Mind you, is it cool to compete in the Testosterone Test against your Best Buddy? Help me out here.
Let me rapidly report that my daughter’s annual wildlife calendar, featuring her photos from numerous bush adventures, is the only calendar in this house!
I’m still giggling about the inexplicable Japanese calendar favourite, so my opinion is skewed and totally unimportant anyway.
I wonder what’s on your walls?
Determined to make good my silent promise to myself about making more of an effort, there I was, on 2 January, briskly walking on the treadmill at the gym. Was this my New Year’s Resolution? No – not exactly; but acting on the need to become fitter, and to stick to regular exercise. I’m a terrific starter. Propose a new activity, and I’m super enthusiastic and get going with gusto. But. And here’s the sticky patch: I’m not a good stayer.
In view of my daily – sometimes twice daily! – dog-walking in December , which was quite enjoyable but somewhat leisurely because The Dog just had to sniff, and (usually) christen every tree trunk and pole we encountered, and my Village has a fair number of both. So the Dog Walking got me going again, and I didn’t do too badly on the treadmill. Nothing dramatic you understand, given my age etc etc.
I thought the Gym would be packed with people pounding off the Christmas indulgence, and while there were more people than usual., it wasn’t throbbing as I’d expected. Sure – more men sweating on exercise bikes, but I suspect that’s because they’re still on holiday. South Africa doesn’t really get going until the second week in January. Work ethic and productivity are not our strong suit!
While I’m all in favour of life reviews at year end, or setting goals in early January, I know from past experience that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for me.
I asked my New Year’s Day lunch guests what they had planned for 2019? One reply was to move up to the Silver category in Ballroom dancing, so that was a firm commitment. Another reply was to make more use of their new gym membership …. That wasn’t me, but another luncher. Another person is launching a new home business venture and possibly moving to the Southern Cape. Somebody else wants to improve their photography skills. Concrete goals, all progress related I note. Oh – one woman said this was the year she wanted to leap out of a plane, attached to a parachute, but I think she’d had too much champagne!
How about you? Any New Year’s resolutions? Personal promises and goals?
The university of Stellenbosch has created a department to market some of the incredible scientific advances that their scientists dream up. For example: an eco-friendly shark barrier.
South Africa’s Indian ocean coast is subject to shark attacks, and fatalities.https://www.portfoliocollection.com/travel-blog/south-africa-s
Existing shark nets are a mixed blessing, because other marine life gets trapped in the netting and perhaps, on balance, the nets do as much harm as good.
But the bright boffins have come up with the brilliant idea of an artificial kelp forest, which emits a small magnetic and electric current. I learn that sharks have very acute sensors located on their faces, and would sense the hostile barrier, and swim no further. Isn’t that clever?
Yet again, a kernel of new knowledge via my local radio station, Cape Talk Radio
I’m a huge fan of the award winning TV series Madam Secretary.
Not only do I enjoy the plots, which are always up to date and compelling, but the chief focus is on the fictional female incumbent of the USA Secretary of State Ms Elizabeth McCord. The fact that the series promotes a feisty, fearless woman in one of the world’s most challenging political roles, cheers me immensely. Especially in the current period of Trump turmoil in the White House.
I recall that in Series One, an episode showed Madeleine Albright mentoring her fictional counterpart with sage advice based on her own experience in the position. How’s that for authenticity? Ms Albright occupied the powerful and demanding position during from 1997 to 2001. She was the first woman to hold the cabinet post of U.S. secretary of state.
I’m well aware that TV series stretch and embellish fact, for the sake of dramatic impact. I know that TV stations/movie production companies all have a particular agenda they want to promote. I’m also well aware that I’m watching fictional events play out on my TV screen. This said, I am struck over and over again, by the frequent reference in the dialogue to the importance of upholding a democracy, and how Madam Secretary often says things like: It’s a privilege to uphold or contribute Public Service. OMG. I can’t imagine any South African politician saying anything remotely like that.
South African politicians, I am very sorry to say, seem to enter politics for one reason and one reason only: to enrich themselves. Public Service and democratic principle are a foreign concept to them so far as one can see. Our country has gone through a black period of corruption and maladministration for 9 years. At the moment we are gingerly creeping out of the stinking swamp and scrabbling for dry land and a public service driven by ideals, hard work and recognition that the citizens of South Africa have a right to a better life and clean governance.
Reference is often made to our Constitution , very recently composed in the late 1990s, and held up as the best Constitution in the world. Maybe it is, on paper, but in the real world our politicians flout it at every turn.
Elizabeth Mc Cord: please pay us a visit – we desperately need you!