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”.
A group of women at a seminar on “how to live in a loving relationship with your husband” were asked: “How many of you love your husband?” All the women raised their hands. “When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?” Some answered today, some yesterday, some couldn’t remember.
The women were then told to take out their cellphones and text their husbands: “I love you, sweetheart.” They were then to exchange phones and to read aloud the text message responses.
A letter I wrote to Brigitte Bardot 17 years ago is now doing the rounds on what I think is called the social network. In 1995 I wrote to Miss Bardot, that once-delectable, pouting French film star of the 1950s who, in later life, became an animal rights activist. It was after she made an impassioned plea to Nelson Mandela urging him to intervene in the dispute concerning elephant culling in Zimbabwe and Botswana that I picked up my Bic and wrote to her.
I was aware that it was difficult for people living in areas where elephants are rare, such as the French Riviera, to understand the problems of elephant overpopulation.
A South African expatriate, Pierre du Toit, now living in Havelock North, a village in New Zealand’s wine-growing region on North Island, was told as a boy that if he tunnelled through to the other side of the world he would end up in China.
China? Assuming he was living in Gauteng at the time, he’d surely have ended up in Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.