I have the Cape on me. Yes, Blue Bulls fans, I am tainted by the spirit of... whatever the hell the Western Province's team is called. My aunt bugled from yon Cape, requesting my sainted presence, and I acquiesced rather ecstatically. I am always game for a paid vacation, and that part of the Cape (Helderberg area, Strand/Somerset Westish) is the birthplace of awesome. Me, I mean.
I had a late flight, and as a result it turned into night while I was at cruising altitude. Fuck, that's my favourite thing. I have a great and only slightly deranged game I play when this happens, and it involves space travel.
airplane night view rj by Yaevans on Deviantart
Larger outposts are terraformed space-villages and post towns, established years ago by the Alliance as new dwelling places for those displaced from Earth. The single lights that hover between larger towns and smaller points are stars, supernovae and asteroid belts. If you look very carefully from the Oribital Pod you occupy as you are shuttled to your destination, you can clearly see that all of these terra structures are large portions of rock and earth, suspended in the heavens, with no tether to a planet or any kind of gravitational structure. They exist freely in the black, purpose-made and barely linked together.
Yes, I talk a lot of shit- I'm sorry, are you new here? Sigh, I know that while I'm waxing lyrical about my celestial journeys all you really want to know about is my celebrity lookalike neighbour, sitting in the aisle seat, all cool about being Tim Roth's doppelganger.
He was not quite so handsome as Pumpkin, and he did not once endeavour to tell Yolanda to be cool. I was rather disappointed, especially since he seemed to be very unhiply hyperventilating on take-off, and looked like he would have stuck his head between his knees if Kulula's seating plan had allowed for the space. I contemplated telling him about his supremely suave resemblance and perhaps asking if I could refer to him as Mr. Orange, but decided to go with the obvious alternative- pretending to be asleep so as to avoid having 1900 throw up on me.
Once settled in the Cape, my 17-year-old cousin Benji wasted fuckall time in suckering me into essentially writing a whole homework essay for him. How the kid got me to that point I have no idea- he's got some chops that one. I hit up my regular haunts- one orgasmic little bookshop on to Bikini Beach and the little curio shop next to it.
I have bankrupted myself many times over in this bookshop. It's my home-base. Room upon room of stacked up fire hazards, all lovingly waiting for me to whip out my meticulously ordered and categorised list of books I'm looking for. (Sorted by author surname and colour-coded for likely genre grouping. Seriously, I'm fucking insane, you should have seen my packing checklist for this trip.) We also went to the infamous Strawberry Farm / GLORIOUS DOOM OF A HOME-MADE JAMS & PRESERVES SHOP. No really, I walked into this place and immediately Whatsapped Brenda to announce my sealed fate.
Yes, as you'll discover, I harbour a deep and abiding love for the tilt-shift filter on my phone's camera. Hey, you can't argue with the results. Pretty.
I had to suppress the urge to hum Strawberry Fields Forever the whole time, but that's just my unique bit of weirdness. I looked around me in awe-struck wonder at all of the hundreds of jars of preserves and jams and marmalades, did some quick sums in my head, and mentally kissed my entire trip budget goodbye. Look, I'm going to have to say I did fairly well considering. I managed to walk away with only two bottles of whiskey marmalade, ginger marmalade, kiwi jam, a root beer and some honey-comb caramel sweets. That's fucking miraculous right there, AND three of those damn jars were souvenir gifts for people back home. Damn you Brenda, you had better be sure you love the hell out of me, or me and my spoon are diving into that jar of kiwi-awesomeness and cleaning house.
I stayed on my aunt's farm with her, her husband, three kids and my grandmother. This place is absurdly beautiful, being high up enough to look out over not only the Helderberg but also Gordon's Bay where it nestles up against the sea.
One drawback though: fucking birds. Everywhere. This place is overrun with airborne terror. As some of you may or may not know, I am bowel-looseingly afraid of all fowl, avian horror and every manner of feathered beast. Here you barely have to turn your head to come up against goose, chicken, swan, peacock or little bastardly lovebirds/lorikeets/some kind of tropical parrot. For some odd reason, all the animals that end up here (and there are tons besides the birds even- cats and dogs and rabbits, oh my) somehow manage to be saddled with names that eventually prove to be either factually incorrect or gender-inappropriate. Of the birds that live indoors (and gets let out to the big cage outside once a day, at which time you will See Loraine Run), they called Rosie, but- by virtue of being a speaking evil- revealed himself to be actually called Tinkerbell. They've had Isabelle and Mango, where it transpired that Isabelle was the male and Mango the female. They've had Zazu the bitch, and Hannah the tomcat.
There's one cat still roaming the place, a glorious little black-and-white lovely with plush fur and a semi-flat face who serves as a hold-over from the last house they stayed in. Once when I was visiting them there, I found the little kitten in tatters (and a fair measure of her own poo) being terrorised by the dogs in the backyard. I cleaned her up and she slept on top of me the whole time I was there. I still think of her as something of a waste opportunity by having deciding to name her something as banal as Jazzy- at least she's not Harold. Well she's still hanging around, only now she's gone a bit weird. You stroke her, and she physically harms you when you stop because fuck that shit- you do not take your hand back until she says so. Hannah and his brother KZ (Kat Zonder Naam) are two massive gingers who occupy all of the bed at night to my genuine glee. There are the two little Maltese Poodles who shit themselves with excitement in my grandmother's flat (Cassie and Saskie); Bruno the dog that looks like a blanket; Bo the senile, deaf and cantankerous lab; Oskar the lassie dog they rescued years ago, and- fuck, I can't remember the other one's name. Well he's a boerbull with a tail that will put a dent in a car door once it gets going. This is really a Noah's Ark type situation- one that gives out fresh eggs every morning, so mostly very awesome. Mostly.
Now I can just about live with the fucking lovebirds and lorikeets and parrots, because although they are as likely to eat the flesh off your face as they are to politely request a cracker, this agent of Beelzebub is the devil himself.
She is a cockatoo about as large as a small dog, and if given half the chance, she will run around after you, snapping at your heels aching to chew through your Achilles tendon. I came down one night once everyone had gone to bed, and walked in on Aunt Olga in the kitchen, calmly preparing tea with the bastard child of satan on her shoulder like some deranged pirate. I stopped cold in my tracks, several strands of hair instantly turning grey. I tried to signal to her to wink or cough or something to indicate whether she was being held against her will and for me to run screaming upstairs for re-inforcement, but bafflingly she seemed to have gotten herself into this situation by choice. I tried to play it cool by pretending that my every sphincter had not just irreversibly contracted, but at some point the thing spooked at invisible ghosts and flew up in a gale of massive white wings and screeching to land on the (cursedly) off stove. I was mid-sentence explaining to Olga how to back up her harddrive to an external disk when I cut and run as though the instinct had been built into my very DNA like the urge to procreate madly with James McAvoy or the reflex that pulls your hand back as it touches the white-hot exhaust of a motorbike. (More on that in a moment.)
I was halfway up the stairs before I even slowed down, and I think Olga sensed my subtle displeasure, because I heard her shouting "Ok, you can just finish telling me tomorrow morning," from the kitchen.
OK, so, motorbike. Benji the cousin had his friends Serj Tankian and Eva Mendes over for much of the week, and was starting to feel something of a third banana by the arse-end of my stay.
They wanted to take a bike ride up the coast to Rooi Els, and out of what can only be sheer desperation, Benji asked me to hop on behind him. Me not being one to shirk a challenge, which this clearly was, I immediately welcomed the engulfing biking jacket and incurred the aforementioned exhaust-burn upon my fuck-you-finger searching for the mythical "handles" Benji was tossing on about. I settled on hanging marginally off his back for the duration.
|Cousin Benji doing what I call "Suave and debonair. Debonair and suave. Debosuave and Sabonair."|
Yes, that smooth motherfucker is me. Post finger-mutilation, by the way. I think I deserve rather impressive props for looking as hip as I do there whilst mentally hacking my right middle finger off. The route we took was breath-takingly beautiful, and since my grandmother and I had gone past there just days before in the car it afforded me the unique opportunity to acknowledge my awesome surroundings while allowing for moments of blinding panic as I realized that I was on the back of a small hunk of metal and plastic going 140 along a mountain pass. Here's a visual for you from the day-time trip me and the gran took. Benji, Serj, Eva and I took off late afternoon and the trip lasted long enough to take us past sunset, so I got the benefit of this view after dark.
When I took my helmet off on the other end of this splendour, it became immediately evident that the lovely wind that had been threatening but minutes before to set me adrift off the back of the bike like a parasailing idiot had rendered my hair into a dreadlock. Singular. I took about three quarters of my hair and five years of my life off undoing the mess. I remember spending a large amount of time musing deep things as the landscape whizzed past my head, earmarking some of my more linguistically impressive philosophical phrases for the blog. I have forgotten absolutely all of them. Lost forever to the Cape winds. Gone man, solid gone. The only things left are a couple of uncharitable thoughts after we stopped for petrol halfway through to discover that Eva's boot had been resting on their bike's exhaust and had literally melted itself heel-less. A very good adventure, all in all.
We followed this up by attending a ridiculously packed screening of the Avengers, which- by dint of being a die-hard Whedonite- I was obligated to see at some point. I was once again invited simply to offset Benji's third-wheeledness, but I don't mind by which means and motives I get to gloat about knowing what a Tesseract is as long as I get to do it. I was also the only one in a group that included two gamer-teenage boys who managed to recognise the Stan Lee cameo at the end, which saddens me for the fate of today's youth.
While there I also went to see Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with la grandmere and Olga Aunt, which was very cute but managed to shock the hell out of me by having itself scored by Thomas Newman. I idolise Newman like I do Tim Minchin, Stephen Fry and Tony Kushner (well OK, he's probably not quite on Fry's level, but then who could be? Pie Amet Fry, remember), and the fact that I didn't spot his distinctive sound was almost bizarre, and of interest to absolutely no one besides myself. I had a repeat of this feeling a couple of days ago when me and PiePappa went to see Hunger Games and the credits proclaimed the composer to be James Newton Howard. His score to The Village is one of the few things that might entice me to believe in towering orders of Seraphim, and yet somehow I managed to completely miss his presence during the movie. (Which was good too, by the way, if not all the hype I was hoping for after the book and the build-up)
We got the Hunger Games tickets for free since we had gone to see Titanic in 3D a couple of weeks before and they managed to fuck up the sound. Yes, yes, I know, and I also don't care- I love Titanic. You know this about me. I never saw it on the big screen, so I dragged poor long-suffering dad along to watch it with me, not so much for the 3D but for the big screen thing. I'm so pedantically sycophantic that I could recognise not only the exact shots that had been added for the new release ("Psst, Dad!" "What?!" "This is new footage!" "Shut up and eat your popcorn, I don't fucking care."), but also the single line that had been cut ("Take her to sea, Mr. Murdoch, let's stretch her legs.") and was subsequently bugged the hell out of when it became clear that half the orchestration and all of the ambient sound was missing. Also bugged me: trying to remember the word 'ambient' for half the movie and only being able to come up with the synonym 'atmospheric' until the scene in the car. We tried complaining, but it did no good, and after the movie I had to argue with staff trying to convince them I knew perfectly well where the music cues were and when they were missing.
Goddamn, I'm a nerd. And not even the good type, like Sheldon and Wolowizard. Just the sad type.
Anyway, where was I? Cape trip, oh yes. We had two 30 Seconds championships, of which I won one. It turns out my aunt is the worst cheat in the world, merrily moving her team's token up whenever she thinks she can get away with it, or altering the dice to reflect a more generous number whenever it was thrown. It was all very jolly and excellent, and we got a few gems out of the game, as one is wont to do. Adelle, the eldest girl- after having played out her 30 seconds and having been asked what else was on the card that she hadn't been able to explain- confusedly confessed to something called the "Monakko Grand Pricks" as being foreign to her. It might have been a "you had to be there" moment, but we all peed ourselves a bit laughing at that one. In the second game, Olga was furiously trying to explain what she insisted was "the name of the American flag!" Paul, her husband, was desperately shouting "Star spangled banner? Stars and stripes?!" to no avail. I managed to spot the problem about 15 seconds in, and had a head start on laughing before she eventually informed us that she had been trying to indicate The Union Jack. Benji also insisted on describing Mpumalanga as a country bordering South Africa.
And since it just wouldn't be For The Love Of Pie without a visit to the House Of Many Ills, I am pressed to mention the fact that I managed to evolve my ever-snotty nose into full-blown flu a few days into my trip. I spent the whole next week hunting down cough syrup, lozenges and other varying medications with no redeemable vice and complaining like only I can. Somehow the whole right side of my throat is still raw and my nose still running as though it was trying to escape. Phooey.
I made it back in one piece, naturally, but I must be the only person in the world afraid of flying not because of the actual flying, but because of the abject fear of accidentally getting on the wrong plane or waiting at the wrong gate and missing it altogether. It's virtually pathological, I can't even begin to tell you how absolutely moronic it is. I spent the whole day of my flight back worrying myself comatose because my bag would be overweight from the 203 books I had insisted on buying, and ended up faking flight-anxiety in order to distract the woman behind the counter at the airport. I successfully managed to divert her attention from my too-heavy bag with my Oscar level acting skills, but also shot myself in the foot in the process as she very helpfully put me in the aisle so I, the nervous flyer, wouldn't have to see the window. Double phooey. The couple who ended up sitting next to me were very nice, but baffled me by saying "Oh, that's an interesting accent, where are you from originally?"
Say the fuck what? "Pretoria." Cue the mild confusion as she tried to reconcile this with my apparently exotic brogue and backtrack with vague mutterings of "Pretoria accents."
Utana, got some shells waiting to wing their way over to you. And Judy, a postcard plus some stuff will eventually make their acquaintance known to you, if I can be moved to get to the post office. 'Twas a fairly lucrative trip for all.
And lastly, member of the extended pie-family Dirk is owed every congratulation that there is after having gotten his good self engaged last week! Yay! He thought I was making a joke when I said I insisted on being a groomsman, but he's going to get a sharp shock when I insist on showing up to the wedding in a tuxedo. I shall report on the engagement party after Saturday. I will say I do not relish going alone, so I am now accepting offers for accompaniment in the form of pretty boys, please. Someone get Benedict on the phone, he's going to want to get in on this.