We – that is the six of us in the Tour de Farce cycling team that regularly explores Darkest Europe to bring back to Africa tales of the funny natives there – have a rule. Rule 2254/e says each member has only two minutes per expedition to talk of his aches and pains. This is because once one is over 50, one tends to go on about them.
But, as proprietor of this column, I observe no such limit and I can’t wait to tell you what happened to me last week.
One of the characteristics of the urban stockades that are springing from the ground like fungi around Greater Johannesburg is that they have become infested – yes, that is the word – with fluffy little white dogs. I think they are specially bred for townhouse complexes.
Among the Rottweilers, Bouviers and German shepherds my family has had over the years we’ve also had two of these – both were Maltese. The first was named White Fang and the other, Susie. The latter was foisted upon us by a daughter who married a man whose two Alsations had a poor tolerance for little white dogs.
SOUTH Africa has a new journal – Prufrock – a quarterly literary magazine aimed at connoisseurs of good English, those who can discuss the square root of Gordimer and Coetzee and who read articles in the New Yorker right to the end and who love free verse. Free verse.
I’m afraid I prefer verses that rhyme. If I want to rack my brain over cryptic stuff I’ll go to The Star’s “Double Crossword” – that often doesn’t make sense to me either.
Marion Raats who was a Joburg journalist back in the 1960s and now lives in Cowra, New South Wales, tells me that not far west of her is the Australian shire of Bland.
A shire is an Australian rural area entitled to its own council. The 6 000 denizens of Bland, says Marion, are fed up with being ridiculed because their place has, well, such an unimpressive name. Bland means “lacking any distinctive or stimulating characteristics”.