Forgot to put a title in yesterday. That’s what comes of hitting reply all in emails! Titles are important. Karen K taught me that – we met online in 1995, over our common fascination with the Xena Warrior Princess series, and the associated fanfic that grew up around it. We’ve have been emailing almost daily ever since. I need to mention this because people often diss the value of internet friendships, yet Karen has been there for me as staunchly as anyone. Through fun times and dire she’s always been a voice of reason and an acute observer of the ridiculous. She’s also a gifted comic and producer of three films. And she and her partner, Paris, actually came to visit SA on the strength of that friendship and taught me the what can be achieved with ingenuity and primitive technology in Hluhluwe – the joys of frozen margaritas with ice from a gas powered fridge.
Most of what I know about writing I learned from Karen when she kindly offered to proof-read my M dissertation, when I couldn’t make sense of my supervisors comments – largely red ink lines diagonally scratched through pages and pages of my painstaking work with no explanation. To be fair it was rather horrible, now that I think about it – my writing, I mean. I was trying to sound clever and stringing words together that sounded what I thought was academic. Just one comment Karen made changed everything for me – she identified one sentence in a screed, and said, “This is the power sentence – this is the attention grabber – this will make your audience curious.” Since then I’ve used that notion often in commenting on written work. It talked to audience, structure and moving my reader. Such a succinct point yet carrying lots of questions to me about what I wanted to really say and why. Don’t ask me why I never got that message through my undergrad years, it’s a mystery.
To give you an idea about the fun of emails with interesting topic lines, her last 4 have been “moxie mixture” (keeping your chin up in tough times and life ups and downs), “sir prize” (authority figures and windfalls), “sin kro” (we hit send at exactly the same time), “lo kee” (twin themes – low key and chemo).
Which all goes to show that there’s always something funny, wierd, alternative happening. Pat and I have been enjoying the re-runs of Keeping Up Appearances:
This one from today’s episode (The Candlelight Supper) gave me a good endorphin rush. Hyacinth, played by Patricia Routledge is so the snob. Poor old Richard her husband is roped in to polish the silverware for the candlelight supper…Hyacinth: Don’t grunt when you polish, Richard. I can hear you breathing, dear. I don’t think it’s quite nice to hear people breathing. You’d think by now evolution would have replaced our unfortunate bodily functions with something a little more tasteful. I suppose it was perfectly adequate for primitive peoples, but really.
Richard: Well, we are merely mammals, after all.
Hyacinth: Richard! What a thing to say to somebody with a solid silver self-cleaning sauce separator.
The body functions comment was very appropo. After three or four days of constipation, this primitive person gets really excited when something happens down below, even though it feels like I’m laying an egg. It calls for high fives at number 32. Unlike Hyacinth, I like the sound of people breathing – particularly me!
Another laugh was this one from my sister, Louise – I think that it got the old belly working. I did a clean out of my clothes today, passing on lots of clothes that I don’t really like and won’t wear, lots of t-shirts from walking races. You already understand that ‘getting the t-shirt’ is quite important to me – so I had a lot of them. I’m down to the 15 that I like the best. I actually finally chucked out a yellow and pink flowered midriff tying top that I bought in 1982 – and which still fitted, may I say. Yellow was never my colour though I love it to look at – thank goodness the yellow and blue polka dotted bikini that I used to wear under it got lost along the way!
The cartoon made me think that Pat and I need to arrange a couple of days at the beach and to go fishing if not sunbathing, and reminded me of the very funny link that Chrissie sent to a UK tabloid story,
about a woman diagnosed with cancer who spent all the insurance money on enjoying her time with her family, then discovered she was cured and had gained 4 stone – so she was broke and fat. Isn’t it strange what tabloids think is important? Pat and I have a running joke, for 20 years, when we have financial worries, I always say “We have a tent and there’s a nice flat patch at the bottom of Cowies Hill”. The real joke is that Pat doesn’t like camping and the one and only time I tried to surprise her by organising a camping weekend at Winklespruit (we were really broke then). I managed to leave the key to the car boot at home. (Which tells you how old the car was – my dad’s old 316 BMW – the boot key was different from the ignition key. Which meant that we had to trek back to Morningside and ended up trying to put the tent up in the gathering dark.
(Bertha, the BMW, often needed a push start to get it going, as those of you who were around then might remember. I’d often have a wagonload of Child Care students going off to work with the juveniles at Westville Prison pushing me down Mansfield Rd! Didn’t think then of the risk I was taking on, and the lack of insurance – we didn’t have a policy to cover those experiential learning issues at Tech then. I don’t know if we have one now. It’s a thought. Life definitely got easier in my 40’s.)
In the event, Pat batted her eyelids at some hunky Vaalies and got them to put the tent up for us – which totally offended my already sulky feminist sensibilities. So the tent has been retired and mouldering for 20 years, I have no idea if it is still operational. Anyone want a tent?