This is my favourite ever picture of me and my brother. It’s not a very flattering photo of me really but I think it demonstrates how much we love each other and that makes me happy.
I spent the last week of my holiday totally in the family zone. My family is pretty scattered so it’s rare that so many of us get together but I had two of my cousins, their partners, my mum, my aunt and my uncle all in one place. Although very little actually happened, it seemed like endless chaos. We ate way too much and talked ridiculous amounts of rubbish and reconnected. It was wonderful.
I also got a particularly amazing gift from my aunt. She wore my great grandmother’s engagement ring for years and I have always wanted it. It’s a gold and diamond ring in the shape of a flower from the 30’s that my aunt had made into a pinkie ring when my uncle passed away. This year she decided to pass it on and since I’m the only girl in the family, it’s been passed on to me. I haven’t taken it off since. Although I live in the constant terror of losing it since it’s just a little too big.
My trip home was the trip of doom. I will never attempt to fit in so many different legs of journey into one go. On Saturday morning we left Queenstown at 7am and drove two hours to East London, which is the closest airport and coincidentally where I was born. From there I flew to Johannesburg, where I had a good seven hours to fill before the next flight. Fortunately I was not confined to OR Tambo International and got to have lunch with my dad before popping into B and Dave’s housewarming party for a quick strawberry daiquiri and to return everything I had borrowed (from the photos it looks like it got a lot more rowdy after I left).
When I did get to ort (as my late uncle’s brother calls it), I had the fortune of getting to see Taigh who was also en route to London for an internship in Hertfordshire. I haven’t seen her in two years so it was a very noisy and excitable reunion. That was when the good stuff ended.
I got stuck next to a husband and wife and two small children in a four seater, which they’d expected to have to themselves. I managed to move a row forward and leave them to their chaos but I lost my aisle seat and ended up next to whisky boy, who managed to drink solidly for about 6 hours of the flight before snoring like a tank. Not that that mattered since not only the kids behind me but everyone of the about 20 kids on the plane wailed incessantly for the entire flight.
Arriving in Doha I attempted to sleep in a chair and woke up from my light doze to find a man staring at me as if he had never seen a human female in his life before. He did not break contact for a second. I probably should have told him to fuck off but the fight was out of me, so I moved. It was already a five hour layover, which I wasn’t excited about but when the flight was delayed by an hour and a half I briefly considered suicide.
Flight two would probably have been okay if I had slept at all in the last 24 hours but everything hurt and I could not get comfortable at all. By the time I arrived at Heathrow at 7pm, I felt and looked like someone who had been travelling across Eastern Europe by camel for six months. It was not pretty. Needless to say I slept like a corpse last night and spent most of today roaming around my house in my PJ’s and catching up on Doctor Who and Being Human. (Doctor Who… exciting but seriously, Russell one fucking concept at a time, okay? You can’t write everythingthateverhappenedincreation into a two hour special. Being Human… whoa dark! Not sure if George needs to be naked ALL THE TIME though. I mean he has a nice ass but the man must be getting cold!)
It is wonderful being back. Wonderfully cold and dark and London and since the city is pretty much my boyfriend, it’s good to be back in his arms. And I missed my little family here almost as much as I miss my family in SA when I’m away. It really is time for the invention of teleportation so I can be in two places at once.
Tomorrow work. Yay… well kinda. I mean I actually do miss working but somehow when I’m away I panic that I’ve forgotten something important and am returning to a mess. I’m sure this won’t be true… will it?
I’m almost two weeks into my holiday and what is occupying my mind? Is it the outrageously drunken New Year’s Eve I spent with B and Dave (and the very unpleasant recovery period)? Is it the constant teasing of my poor father over his advancing years and diminutive size (it’s how I express my love for the old fart and he knows it)? Is it the week B and I spent varnishing her bar and reliving our teens (Wayne’s World is still just as funny as it was fifteen years ago but I can’t imagine why I thought I looked good with a lesbian tow truck driver haircut)? Is it all the lovely dinners, lunches and moments I had with the Jozi crew and all the new and almost arrivals I met (Steve Biko, by this time next year you will be a real boy… watch out Mr and Mrs Hertenberger)? Is it Barb and my epic road trip to and from the Midlands where we sampled everything that South African radio has to offer (East Coast Radio and Radio 2000 – surprisingly good. Pretoria FM and Radio Kakkeranda – not so good)? Is it Ryan and Yvonne’s breathtaking wedding that put all the other weddings I’ve been to to shame?
No, it’s the sudden reappearance of Band Boy. Y’all remember Band Boy, don’t you? I was smitten, he vanished abruptly with no explanation… After 8 months of absolute silence, Band Boy messaged me… to “chat”, dredging up a whole bunch of feelings that I had boxed and forgotten about. I guess no matter how over something you are, having it explode back into your life is like having a scab ripped off an almost healed wound. Following the “chat”, I kind of understand why Band Boy vanished when he did, although attempting to communicate as if nothing happened was very difficult to deal with. I guess I’m just not sure what Band Boy wants from me and there’s also the confusion of his liquid facebook relationship status. One minute he has a girlfriend, one minute he doesn’t… I just wonder if his girlfriend, if there is one, knows he’s contacting me, even if it’s as innocent as I assume it is. Maybe it’s a crisis of conscience. Dude, you’re probably reading this. You’re forgiven. It’s over. I am incapable of bearing a grudge. I’m not mad at you anymore.
Fortunately, I am currently with my mama visiting my grandmother before we head off in the morning with my wonderful aunt (who I didn’t expect to see this holiday) in tow to Queenstown, where I can catch up with my remaining cousins, after seeing Thys today, way too briefly, and also see my uncle who is the final surprise addition to my trip. I can’t wait. With my mum, my aunt and I in close quarters, the hysteria has already set in and it can only get better.
This evening my mum is going back to South Africa and I have the feeling I’m going to be a little lonesome for a while after she leaves. The time that she has been here has reminded me very much of when I lived in South Africa since we used to spend huge amounts of time together. I will be going back to work tomorrow though so I suppose I’ll have all that chaos to keep me busy!
We’ve spent the last couple of days shopping… my mum is often more excited by the bags than what she’s actually bought… and chilling. We managed to find, what I think were the trainers of her dreams as well as a bunch of weird and wonderful music. Everyone who comes to visit is always amazed at how cheap our CDs and DVDs here are. That is definitely one way in which we’re spoilt.
We were also treated to a delicious brunch courtesy of Dom and Lucy. Lucy and I quietly ate all the ham when no one was looking and struggled under Dom’s instructions not to burst into song as his dad was working in the study. Probably not a massive struggle for most people but for the two of us it was like being put in a chokehold.
And our final big social event was the customary family, friends and other visitors’ dinner at The Olive Garden, where an impressively large group of my (and Hilton’s) friends showed up to meet my mum.
I have managed to get my mum addicted to The Mighty Boosh and Come Dine With Me (which Lucy will be impressed by). She keeps asking me when that show “where the nasty people cook” is coming on… lol!
My mum’s visit is reminding me that I am definitely my mother’s daughter. We have many things in common… some things that we are newly discovering…
We are both netaholics… the first thing my mum asked me when she arrived was whether she could check her email.
We both love to shop… particularly in Camden. I think my mum could just as easily stay in Camden forever as I could.
We both think Mat Devine is a genius and that he gives better advice than any of the so-called experts that magazines employ.
We love independent art house and international cinema and after I got my mum to watch Everything Is Illuminated, she declared that she now also has a crush on Eugene Hütz…
But of course, there is one thing we will never agree on… when I left this morning to go to work (following a mix-up with people’s holidays and meetings that had to be attended) my mum was watching MTV Base… the hip hop and RnB channel… the channel of doom. I’m not sure when the rock roots my mum gave me turned to the dark side but as someone call Chin-chingy or something equally ridiculous spat out lyrics about bitches and cars, I was (if only slightly) relieved to be heading to the office.
After the reunion, I flew to East London to meet my mom and my aunt René. For the non-South Africans, East London is actually a South African city… in fact it’s where I was born. Why they decided to name it after EAST London… I do not know. If I was going to name my city after anywhere in London it would probably be Camden. Apparently there is a Camden in Sydney. Every now and then the Aussies do have a good idea.
Anyway… East London is the closest place to where my family lives that has an airport. By chance my cousin, Thys, was also in East London for the night. He’s the lead guitarist in a band called Southern Gypsy Queen and they are permanently on tour. I haven’t seen Thys in a good couple of years so it was awesome to catch up with him. As with any gathering of my mom’s side of the family… we talked music.
My mom and aunt help my other two cousins, Brend and Roy run their Bed & Breakfast, The Black Swan, which is in Queenstown (about 2 hours from East London). Brend is the drummer for about three local bands and Roy is a magician. We’re a creative bunch. We decided that, although there was plenty of space, my mom, René and I should share a room. We’re like kids when the three of us get together and there was much giggling and sharing of cosmetic products and photos of anything and everything.
Being in Queenstown is very much like going back in time. It is still de rigueur for “gentlemen” to wear rugby shorts and hiking boots… even to dinner at the á la carte restaurant that is part of the Black Swan empire. Also it appears that a well-cultivated beer belly is the height of sexiness. Given my taste for skinny, tattooed, indie boys with long hair in tight jeans, I would probably be even unluckier in love than I am in London if I were to relocate.
It felt like way too much of a drive-by visit. I felt like I didn’t see nearly enough of Brend and Roy or their lovely partners Lindy and Anneke. I would particularly have liked to see more of Anneke since she officially becomes family in December when she and Roy get married. Unfortunately I do not have the leave or the money to be at their wedding but I did leave behind a canvas print of my favourite Banksy for them to put in their house and hopefully remember me by. I already miss everyone.
There really is no rest for the wicked and I went straight from the airport to a dinner arranged by the lovely Bronwyn, who is practically my social secretary. The girl deserves a medal for everything she does! We went to Primi Piatti, where there were an alarming number of birthdays going on around us. They like birthdays at Primi and there were borderline riots going on at each table. It was particularly nice to see my awesome friend, Russell, who has filled out alarmingly since I saw him last year. He has most definitely blossomed. You go, girlfriend *giggles* Bronwyn’s boy, Dave officially gets the “shot monster” award for enticing us into sampling quite a number of different alcoholic concoctions. Beert, La G’s boy gets the lightweight award though… I have no idea how he managed to be that much more sozzled than the rest of us.
Thursday was an even bigger whirlwind. I started out by having coffee with Donna, who is my oldest friend. We lived on the same block from when we were four until we were 23. Don is expecting her second bundle of joy in a month’s time so it was awesome to catch-up and find out all the details about the little girl who is about to enhance her happy family.
From there I went shopping with La G and then had a few vinos with Imogen. Imo and I were chatting like we had never been apart and of course there was much giggling, ranting and smoking. I am glad to report that Imo is as bubbly and full of life as ever.
My final stop was the end of dinner with La G’s diving friends who get the second shot monster award. I am impressed with how much partying was going on for a Thursday night. They were all so much fun but I couldn’t keep up. I take my hat off to La. The two of us reconnected with our teens and shared a room, giggling until 3am. I got to sleep until 9 but she was in the gym at 6.30. Dude, you are DEDICATED!
Dawn arrived on Friday morning and we popped past Kirsty’s house to see her wedding dress and the bridesmaid’s dresses before retiring to Dawn’s house to crash out spectacularly. A special thanks to Colleen, Dawn’s mom, who put on a delicious dinner for the two of us and momming us back into childhood. Sometimes that is exactly what you need.
Stay tuned for the wedding and the return journey tomorrow.