As I grow older I get more and more elaborate brochures aimed at undermining my confidence in my immortality. The most disconcerting I have received read: “Why not make your own cut-price funeral arrangements – NOW – and so save your loved ones the trouble and expense?”
The messages begin getting get blunter as you leave middle age. And plainly they hope you are neurotic.
A reader has sent me some personal ads that, she says, indicate that senior citizens have a sense of humour. I think somebody started it by placing a personal advertisement in The Villages, a Florida, USA, newspaper:
FOXY LADY: Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80s, slim, searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.
With the current eagerness for giving new names to South Africa’s towns, I asked Threnody Higginbottom, my secretary (I call her Miss Smith around the office) to find some columns from the 1990s when readers were invited to suggest probable meanings for South African town names.
Many of the suggestions received were too late for publication. But I kept them.
Saturday, November 24, is Birding Big Day (BBD) in South Africa, when thousands of people in various stages of insanity rise at dawn – some even at midnight – to twitch.
Twitch? This is a universally-accepted verb to describe the act of seeing how many bird species one can positively identify in a given time – usually 24 hours – within a radius of 50km of a fixed point. The BBD record stands at 276 identified in a day by a team of four in Zululand.