A weekend away

I think the final count was something like 27 bottles of wine, eight bottles of vodka, four bottles of whiskey and a couple of beers.  We were 12 for the duration, but a bunch of extras joined in on Saturday.  I cannot quite believe the numbers as I did not do the calculation myself, but generally they are uncontested.

The weekend was always going to be a decadent one.  But we were celebrating not only Bridget’s birthday, we were saying cheers, in a way, to her childhood home and the place of many rites of passage.

I brought Jack*, thinking at the time that I may well find eight hours to spend on getting my abstract right and fixing my essay on the tabloids.  We were, after all, going to be in the company of hard-core party vets who were bound to sleep until mid-day.  On Friday night I retired at ten while feeling still fairly sober.  Of course when I got to bed and the spinning started, this turned out to be an illusion.

As was the notion that the HPV’s would be lying low until after lunch.  The girls must be admired especially.  It is unbelievable how much stamina and resilience can be packed into a size twenty eight pair of Diesel jeans.  Perfect highlights, big glasses and a couple of runny eggs later, they were as ready to go as three-year old fillies on race day at Turfontein.  Chomping at the bit. It was amazing. The fact that they looked like famous rock-stars to boot was particularly infuriating. Give or take five years we are about the same age. How DO they do it?

But I like them a lot, and it would not have been gracious to sulk.

Anyway. We had Bloody Marys at ten, shots of vodka at eleven, and opened the first bottle of Krone shortly after that. This was followed by a bottle of Villiera Brut Rose. Then we abused all colours of wine for the rest of the day so it passed languidly in a happy haze. Lunch was prawns and boerewors… after lunch I made the Gateaux Laurence.  (I should just call it The Cake. As it stands, it sounds very complicated when it really is ridiculously easy to make). The final election results came in. Michael pointed out that the two-thirds majority-thing was a bit of red herring. We could not quite figure out why it had been such a bête noire.

We chose not to try, and instead we retired to the lounge and played Agatha Idols. I was Jana from Killarney, I sang Janis Joplin’s (of course) Bobby McGee and won the first round. I was very proud. Later I told Brad that to this day I have a secret yearning to be a doo-wap girl. (We sang Happy Birthday many, many times.)

In the early evening we lit the fires and ate the cake, incredulously, in tiny slices, while it was still slightly warm, and before the chocolate icing had set. It was delicious. Even Bridge ate some, and she does not have a single sweet tooth in her mouth.

Some went to bed late, some early.  

Sunday started with more of the same, except that there were newspapers. A few wandered off to the Coach House for a classical music recital. I stayed in the room having fought and beaten various challengers to one of the two copies of the Sunday Times that were floating about. Later I walked through the famous gardens of Kings Walden. At the end of my stroll I found Bridget and Paige on the stoep under the dead tree and we opened up the last bottle of pink bubbly.

And so the last day started.  People came back from all over and we ordered pizza for lunch.

There is something profoundly lovely about spending an entire weekend either pissed or pleasantly hung over. Events have more meaning in the moment, and are funnier in retrospect. It was also great to reconnect with people I have not seen for years.

It occurred to me, for the first time, that if friendships were organic… eh… organisms, and if they had, as a result, a limited shelf-life, surely then by the same token, they should be recyclable? I wondered about old friends and things that come and go, and come back again.

It was a great weekend.

* I have decided to find a name for the laptop, as I spend more time in bed with it (I especially love the morning lie-ins on the weekends with the newspapers) than I do with an actual man.  I am trying “Jack” for the moment.


On writing #2: S is for Solent

An adjective, (I know, it’s turning into a bit of a thing), “solent” is descriptive of the state of serene self-knowledge reached through drink. We are back with Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, and only because the Deeper Meaning of Liff has to go back to its owner this week. (Now there’s a blog – “OH? You wanted that BACK?”) And because there has been a second entry for the competition. Yay.

Anyway. I love “solent”. It is the moment in which the burrs of what one’s done with one’s life-so-far turns into sought-after dalrymples (dalrymple, n., the things you pay extra for on pieces of hand-made craftwork – the rough edges, the paint smudges and the holes in the glazing), with meaning, and so on. This is very useful when the expected results of the necessary changes one had to make to ensure one’s long-term happiness are very slow in materialising.

In a sentence: “Macy secretly regretted and often denied the many revelations she shared with Pooky in what she would call, many years later in an award-winning memoir, her Solent Period.”

In spite of the ridiculous amounts of fun that they can generate, adjectives have been maligned a lot. Very much like cocaine, come to think of it. LC once said to me that if you need an adjective, you are not using the right noun. Ben Yagoda is even more damning. His book on The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse, is called, When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It. If I was an adjective I’d be drinking a lot.

Moving on (or back, if you like) to the competition. I am determined to announce a winner at the end of May, so the closing date for entries will be, eh, 30 May. So there is still lots of time to work with:

  • swanibost – “completely shagged out after a hard day of having income tax explained to you”
  • duntish – “mentally incapacitated as a result of a severe hangover”
  • climpy – “allowing yourself to be persuaded to do something and pretending to be reluctant”

I told Susan about the competition (oh must send her an e-mail) and although she co-wrote The (“thee”) Book on how to write a great research report (with the fabulous Barbara English, called Putting it into words) her first reaction was… “oh, that’s difficult.” When true wordsmiths consider it a challenge…

But do not be afraid.

As inspiration, here are the first two entries.

From Hardspear, we have… Continue reading

Too little too late

It is not a good thing when Friday inspires the kind of dread in you that is only matched by dreaming that you need to run away from terrible danger and you cannot feel your legs.

It is already after lunch, I am going for drinks at Giles at 4.30-ish, and I aim to squeeze in a session at the gym before I go (on account of the fact that I have become enormously fat since I turned 40 and alcohol consumption is simply one area of my diet where I cannot reduce my calorie intake because whisky makes me feel better than chocolate).

That leaves me 45 minutes in which to completely plan a two-day TV shoot next weekend, make a sizeable dent in the reading I have to do for my assignment due on the 9th, prepare for class next Thursday, write a blog and speak to Barbara about holding the fort while she goes away next week. Fortunately I read all the TV documentary treatments for the mentorship progamme this morning, or I really would have had a lot to do.

This is clearly ridiculous. What can anybody achieve in 45 minutes? Forty-five minutes cannot possibly claim to be AN ACTUAL amount of time, honestly. Nothing meaningful can be achieved in its duration. In fact, things you can do in 45 minutes should not make it into the history books and probably not even onto the list of things you will remember when you are old.

For example, it is barely enough time to have impromptu sex on the dining room table, if there was anybody around to have such sex with. I could call someone, but he is likely to promise to be “five.. six minutes”, and only arrive an hour later after continually swearing on the phone that he is “on his way” and “already in Parkhurst”.

I suspect that randomly available 45-minute instalments in the course of the average day is the reason why Continue reading