Category Archives: HUMOUR

FLASH FICTION


The following short-short is a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote some years ago. I’m re-cycling it. My pandemic boggled brain isn’t very productive at the moment and because my readership has also re-cycled itself over the years, the piece may be new to most of my current readers. Fingers crossed.

I’m currently in love with the short-short format: stories that come in at 500 words, or less.  So, to make a change from my book themed ramblings, I thought I’d introduce a dash of fiction once a month. I hope you enjoy this first short-short story. It comes in at 438 words. I’m keen to know what you think of the idea. I hope you like it, because I’ve got more, tucked away in my hard-drive.

I should add that this story was prompted by my recent viewing of the movie The Bourne Supremacy. Even if you haven’t seen the movie the plot is not that hard to follow.  Enjoy!

JASON BOURNE DRIVES A WHEELIE BIN 

Vroom- vroom- eee – skreeee – ka-dooom – vroom – graunch – skreeee: he’s wrenching the wheel left, the crappy old Lada taxi shudders with the strain, ricochets off a silver Volvo, slides on an icy patch, lumbers into an intersection, misses a garbage truck by a whisker, gathers speed on the downhill gradient – his foot flattens the accelerator pedal – sweat stings his eyes, his hands cramp on the wheel, he’s welded to the wheel. His eyes flick up to the rear-view mirror.  He’s lost the black Jeep, by some miracle he’s lost the Jeep!  Moscow’s snowy streets careen past.  He needs to get off this motorway, hide, lose himself, ditch this bright yellow Lada, fade in amongst the muffled walkers on the pavements, bury his hands in his pocket, tuck his chin down into his scarf, become another Tovarich.  He’s Jason Bourne.  He’s on the run.  He’s in Moscow.  Someone – he doesn’t know who – is chasing him  – could be CIA, could be Russian police, could be Russian Mafia doing the dirty work for his own side, could be … could be … possibilities swirl round his head.  His knees ache from colliding with the dashboard, his leg burns after the badly judged jump onto the garbage scow, a molten  glass needle stabs his right shoulder every time he turns the wheel, but he’s okay, he’s done it – he’s Jason Bourne and ….

“Jason!  Dammit – are you deaf? JASON !!”  roars his mother. “How many times do I have to – oh never mind – Jason! Focus!  its Wednesday night: the wheelie bin – you haven’t taken out the wheelie bin ! It’s the only thing I ask you to do, and every week it’s the same, nag-nag-nag, why do I have to nag you all the time? “

Jason Brown’s eyes slowly focus on the flushed face, take in the angry arms-on-hips-pose, vaguely register the pitched tone, the raspy breathing.

“Okay, okay – I’m doing it” he mutters, sliding off his bed with all the speed and grace of an exhausted  sloth. I bet Jason Bourne never had to push stupid wheelie bins around, I bet he never had a mother who yelled at him all the time, I bet ….

A red-hot pain at the back of his knees registers. He jerks round. His Mother is advancing on him, raised arm drawing back, ready to lash the sjambok against his calves again. There’s a look of cold fury that’s drawn her lips against her bared teeth, whitened her face, made the veins on her neck stand out like cables: Jason Brown runs like hell, runs for his life.

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MICROWAVE DEFEAT


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For years I’ve been loudly proclaiming the virtues of microwave cooking, and informing all who will listen, that I cook 75% of my food in the microwave. Soup and porridge are the exceptions, but other than these, watch me press that button, watch that turntable spin!
But today I experienced a disaster of note. I planned to make a baked milk pudding, incorporating angel hair fine pasta, and sago. I thought I’d be clever and cut down on oven baking time, by pre-cooking the pasta and the sago, before constructing the dish. The pasta worked like a dream. I’ve been cooking pasta in the microwave for years.
Now for the sago. I put the soaked sago into a microwave cooking pot, gave it 3 minutes at 100% power. All I wanted was a pre-cook. When I opened the pot ….. Eeeeekkk – what was this? A translucent, rubbery, faintly bluish mass met my startled eyes. I prodded it gingerly with a spoon, to which it adhered instantly in a rubbery, quivering coating. Ummmm ….. The general effect was of a strange jellyfish from deepest, uncharted  ocean depths.

 
No thanks! With difficulty I scraped the trembling, gluey mass out of the pot and into the bin. Let me tell you, the sago didn’t give up without a brave fight. It clung grimly to the spoon, and the plastic pot, despite prolonged soaking.
I can authoritatively state: You cannot, and should not, cook sago in a microwave oven.
You have been warned!

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YAY! COLOUR! [ZEITZ MOCAA CAPE TOWN]


 

I enjoy colour. Bright and bold or pastel and delicate.

So you will understand my lukewarm response to the Zeitz MOCAA’s super modern colour scheme of black, grey and neturals inside the building. The coffee shop on the 6th floor offers a superb view of the harbour and a slice of the city, but the table ware and china were yet again in that stylish palette. As you can see below.

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Anyhoo: having enjoyed my tea break I popped into the Ladies’ Loo directly thereafter and OH JOY! Look what met my startled gaze: COLOUR. And plenty of it. Whoever designed the interiors of the ZM cloakrooms  had a nice sense of humour. Don’t you think?

 

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My fave is the red. I was blown away by the vivid colours – now I want a tomato red throne in my own bathroom at home!

 

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UNEXPECTED LOCKDOWN DILEMMAS


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A caller to our local radio station, Cape Talk, phoned for help.
She reported that her tin opener had broken, just as she was about to open a tin of beans. What to do? She’d stocked up on tinned goods. The family were waiting impatiently for supper.

 
So she rushed to her nearby supermarket to buy a new tin opener but discovered the kitchen gadget section was red taped off. She argued valiantly with the floor manager that a replacement tin opener was an Essential Item, and therefore permissible. But he wasn’t having it, and chased her away.

 
She returned home, frustrated. Now what? Aha! Cape Talk listeners always provided the answer to everything. So she phoned in. Sure enough, within seconds of having her plight broadcast, a brisk lady was telling her to use her Swiss Army knife. Not quite adding: pull yourself together woman! But her tone said it all.

 
Of course! Everybody has a Swiss Army knife, or a rip-off version, in their house – don’t they?

 
In case of desperate times, makes sure you have a Swiss Army Knife available. It has more gadgets concealed in its chunky metallic innards than you ever dreamed of. Plus, and this is the really good one, it has a thingy which extracts stones from horses’ hooves. What more you could possibly want?

 
The moral of the story is: always hide a back-up tin-opener and a box of matches in the back of the kitchen drawer. Would you believe I once worked for the Boy Scouts of South Africa? Always be Prepared was the old motto. Not a bad idea.

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WOMAN v.s BLACK PLASTIC RUBBISH BAG


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I am overwhelmed by the pandemic, I just need a little light relief. So that’s why I’m posting this piece today, written earlier in the year. Trivia, and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, but … we all need a break.

These damn bags defeat me every time.
Despite the fact that I have opposable thumbs, a 1400 gram brain sitting inside my skull, and belong to the species that has travelled to outer space, removing a fresh black, plastic bag from the roll of new bags, and unfolding it to put into the kitchen rubbish bin always turns into ten minutes of sweaty frustration and bad language.

 
For openers, tearing the bag off the continuous roll is a challenge. Yes: there are perforations which – theoretically – tear along the dotted line and liberate one black bag. Except the perforations often don’t cooperate, causing me to hunt for scissors, snip it off, and (usually) succeed in creating an unwanted hole in a brand new bag. Sigh. Let’s try again. Maybe Bag #2 will permit me to remove it from its parent roll.
Okay. So now I have one creased new black bag in my hand. But now to unfold it. Umm. Where do I start? The folding pattern would baffle an Origami Master. The folding mechanism in the plastic bag factory must have been designed by goblins or aliens. Take your pick. Finally I persuade the folds to unfold, and voila, a new bag ready for the bin.

 
Except there’s one final test. You’ve all been baffled by this one, I’m sure. How to persuade the bag to open? Pull, tug, shake, rub, do what you will, you cannot get the two layers of plastic to part. But there’s a secret. And I will share it: lick your thumb and forefinger, and now rub the top join, where the bag should open. It just might! Success, at last!

 
Another precious ten minutes sliced away by time, into the garbage bin of my life, which I begrudge. I could have been occupied with something pleasant like reading a book, or something useful, like sorting out my latest credit card bill, but no: ten minutes wasted in Round # 493 in the uneven contest of Woman v.s. Garbage Bags. And don’t ask who won. Grrrhhh!!

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MY FAVOURITES at Investec 2020 https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


This year, the textured items and the very colourful items were top of my list.

When it comes to colour, who could resist this vibrant display put up by Kwa Zulu Natal artists. The juxtaposition of the hot curry reds, oranges and yellows offset by the contrasting tropical greens and sky blues, screamed DURBAN at me. For northern hemisphere readers, Durban has a huge Indian population and is renowned for being Curry Central!

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And how about this Marion Arnold wool tapestry, Untitled, 265 x 377 cm, Rich colours somewhat reminiscent of a Pierneef landscape .

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t include this stunning display of traditional artist EstherMahlangu’s traditional Ndebele art work. Would you believe she uses a chicken feather as a brush?  My pic is a poor one, because so many viewers were constantly blocking my shot, but it’s the best I managed to get. Take a moment to follow the link: what a fascinating story.

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I enjoyed the next  work : textile wrapped fighting sticks and spears – I don’t know the title or artist, but I enjoyed the colours and textures

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Then I found this bold orange and yellow and black work, which ticked the colours & textures boxes very neatly. It was executed in leather and, I think, fabric; I was so enchanted by the colours and shapes, I forgot to take a pic of the signage It had a sort of snakes-and-ladders feel to it.

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TEXTURE
A charming crocheted gecko caught my eye. I don’t want it on a wall in my house, but I thought it was fun.

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Appearances can be very deceiving. I thought the next exhibit  was a woven fibre work, but not so. Paper beads, mounted on bark cloth. What a surprise! Usage of very Africa materials.
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I enjoyed this set of 8 pictures, executed by a woman from West Africa, using natural fibres and seeds to create the textured effects.

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Artists come up with the most innovative ideas. Here’s a work, executed on graph paper, in crossstitch. The shadowy images in the work caught my eye.

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I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at the texture in this work. It had a lush, rich texture, akin to velvet turned into shag carpeting. I was fascinated. When I drew closer to the work I was stunned to discover it was composed of … wait for it … “toothpicks in polyeurethane sealant in pine wood frames” by Chris Soal. Talk about appearances being deceptive!
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Watch this space: more pix in a day or two. We’re not done yet – it was a big exhibition!

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THE ANNUAL INVESTEC CAPE TOWN ART FAIR – February 2020


This weekend I visited the Investec Art Fair  – my annual treat. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

What a feast of art across a wide spectrum: photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, prints, art books and more besides. Obviously the theme is African Art, but artists from the diaspora and Europe were also on show. It really is an international exhibition. This year one of the themes was to exhibit emerging artists, not only from Africa, but, including artists from the Middle East, North America and Europe. So here are my photos of some of the works that  blew me away and that I enjoyed. I’m splitting the pics into separate sections , which I’ll post at intervals, otherwise its too much to take in and appreciate.
So: at the Investec (the sponsors stand) I found this multi-media statement :

 

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And an installation, which – for once – I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of installations.

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I don’t think I would be tempted to try sitting on this sofa, it looks both flimsy and uncomfortable, but if the sign were not there, trust me, some idiot would be lowering their rear end on to the item!

 

You know you’re at an African art exhibition when you see this:
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That ubiquitous football. Africans love football!

Another ubiquitous feature of the African landscape: goats. Although I have mixed feelings about this artwork. The human figure with goat hooves left me with an uneasy feeling.

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Another Art Fair post will follow in a day or two. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen thus far. The show was big, and I only photographed items which appealed to me, so my pics are a very individual view.

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NEW YEAR EXPERIMENT #1


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One of my sort-of-rezzes that are not actually resolutions, you understand, just vague plans, misty promises, wavering pledges, is to tackle unfinished projects and finish them. I’m a brilliant starter, filled with energy, enthusiasm and vuma*, but as a finisher – not in the same league. We won’t even mention the outstanding 30+ year tapestry hanging in my cupboard, about half done. In my defense, it’s a very long tapestry. But I’m rambling.

 

So I haul out the brand new waffle iron, that’s been languishing at the back of a kitchen cupboard for over a year. I adore waffles, and the waffle irons were on sale. Fantastic price. What more can I say?

 

I dusted off the gleaming red appliance, dug up a recipe and looked forward to waffles for supper.

 

The results, I have to say, were not good. The iron works well on the one side, but unevenly on the other. Sort of toasty brown on the right, and patchily brown on the left. The texture, I am sorry to report, was akin to a soggy doormat … nowhere near to the light, airy, crisp golden waffles I was hoping for.

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Clearly I need a lot more practice. And possibly another recipe. Any offers?

  • vuma – energy, get up & go

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JANUARY BELT TIGHTENING


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This is the month when we’re tightening our belts, usually financially; but also at  the other end of the spectrum we’re slackening our belts ,and wondering why did we eat  yet another slice of Christmas cake? Because its delicious, that’s why! But of course, those extra kgs come to roost, generally around our mid-sections.

So I offer a few thrifty tips, none of them exercise or gym related.

On the topic of food, there’s  the idea of Meatless Mondays,  don’t explain, apologise, or introduce  it to the family, just do it.  When they moan, ask if they would like Christmas gifts in December 2020 ? because this is the first step toward that target.

Obviously fast food deliveries to your door is a no-no.  And a blanket ban on fast food at any location, for that matter. Its expensive, and  unhealthy, as  we all know, don’t we? Not to mention soggy and lukewarm. Yuck.

Lastly  here’s the cracker: Do not go to the January sales. Unless you have a specific object in mind, and have been saving up all year for that  big purchase e.g. a new fridge or a TV.  Sale buys are often disappointing or rash, once reviewed soberly at home, away from the frantic grab and run of sales. And you will have spent more money you don’t actually possess. See the agitated smoke rising from your credit card? I rest my case.

Happy January!

 

 

 

 

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CHRISTMAS IN KWAZULU NATAL


When I leave King Shaka airport, there’s no question that I’ve arrived In Kwa-Zulu Natal. I’m still trying to get my head around the combo of Zulu dolls next to reindeer, but ’tis the Season of Goodwill, so this is no time to niggle.

 

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As is normal in December,  the Summerveld area is either shrouded in mist, chilly and drizzly or else blazingly, tropically hot. I can’t say I enjoy the Mist Belt climate. Sunny, windy Cape Town suits me better!

 

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The family wear silly Christmas hats, festive cheer abounds, and a good time is had by all.

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The cherry on top of my Christmas visit was having the resident cat cosily curled on my pillow. Such a  relaxing pic!

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I hope your Christmas was equally relaxing and /or wildly festive, whichever is your   preference.

And now its almost time to say: HAPPY NEW YEAR!  May 2020 be a peaceful and happy year.

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