I watch very little TV, almost none, actually. Friday Action Night and the odd Chic-flick Thursday on the couch don’t qualify as watching TV – they are the elements of my dysfunctional social life, induced by the limited number of interesting people in the world who are also fun (and funny) to hang around with, and not dead. And even if there were more interesting-fun-funny-not-dead folk around, you can’t go out every night. You have to stay home sometime and watch TV on the couch. Really.
But back to the TV. I watch TV series by the box set, but I hardly think that obliges a person to be licensed. In theory. So when I engage the couch on a Tuesday night at 19h30, having adjusted the bunny ears and jiggled the two-pronged plug, my burning fingertips gingerly caressing a glass of Graham Beck Railroad Red after a hard day of transcribing interviews, I expect to see Two and a Half Men.
But for the second… er… damn week in a row I am confronted with the cricket. Last week I spent the rest of the evening on the couch working on the laptop, keeping a nervous eye on us getting beaten by Sri Lanka. This week we are out of the Champions Trophy (oh Graham, that last one against The Small Misty Island really was a fine captain’s innings – well done) and I am watching New Zealand beat England. It is not fair, it is not right, and WHAT is the SABC thinking, making a deal that obliges them to broadcast the rest of the competition live when WE ARE NO LONGER IN IT? I am sure the entire world’s expats who preside in our lovely country have DSTV. Surely, having choked (apparently all teams choke I heard on David O’Sullivan’s show today) we can now get back to comedy hour?
WHERE is the SABC’s sports channel? Why can’t they get this basic thing right?
So I get to put something on my blog instead. I am making lemonade.
I drove to the Midlands (let no-one tell you differently, it is a five-hour drive to Howick) with Barbara on Friday. We spent a lovely day-and-a-half in Pleasant Places near Lions River, on the Midlands Meander, working with a view of a valley and a dairy. It sounds nuts but it was not, there are good if mundane reasons for our sojourn there. Anyway. John and Linda Hall run the sweetest establishment in a place you should ideally try and reach before night and mist fall. They understand the importance of crisp cotton sheets and a smart set of domestic animals that can entertain one during dinner. I can recommend it, and at R395 per person per night including breakfast, it is not very expensive.
On Saturday afternoon I had a perfectly chubby risotto in a place called La Lampara. It was an ego trip, really; I like to test the risotto in expensive Italian restaurants from time to time just to confirm that I am the person who makes the best risotto on the subcontinent, at least, and probably in the Southern hemisphere although I have never been to Australia, which does have a fine culinary reputation. But I would feel very confident in a show-down. Did I ever write on this blog that I once cooked risotto for the Italian ambassador and that his wife kept sending me a thumbs-up to the kitchen. I swear at one stage I saw her eyes roll back in her head with pleasure. (Just so that you know.)
On Sunday we drove back early to miss the Return from the Coast traffic after the long weekend, and that worked out very well. As landscapes go, the Midlands are remarkable, but I think at this time, my current all-time favourite remains the Northern Freestate. There is something profoundly gentle and reassuring about its vast expanse and modest geographical fluctuations, and its colours, and its alternating husbandry. I do love it a lot, and never travel on its highways without a vague longing and a pain in my heart.
Anyway. Things are very depressing with the cricket. NZ needs seven runs to win. They have four wickets in hand, and well, 23 overs in which to achieve this. I am so disgusted I may have to switch channels in a sec.
And then NZ won. How did WE lose against England? We thrashed NZ, no questions asked, and here they are beating England? And having suffered through the match, why do we have to go back to the presentation, if there is potentially some crime drama (or comedy) we can watch instead? Is that part of the SABC’s contract?
I surf the channels and come upon (OK, that might be a slightly grandiose description seeing that there are only four options) a local drama. In the scene, a woman is doing a presentation in front a crowd, looks like a press conference, and she says, “… our artists have become despondent, and many turned to crime…” I navigate back to Daniel Vittori speaking serious New Zealander-sports jargon without waiting to see what it was. Such dialogue can be contagious, I am sure.
Carl Becker’s Pierneef-interpretation exhibition is opening at the Everard Read on Thursday evening. He makes an actual living from his painting. I should ask him if he ever considered a life of crime. He was convicted, when he was a student, for some offence… but I won’t say what it was without his approval. Anyway, come and have a look, his work is amazing.
And that is all for tonight, I think. It’s nine, and if there is nothing on TV (cricket presentation is over) I may well go back to my transcriptions. No rest for the wicked.