Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"...we will ride, way up high, where the cold winds blow..."
-The Horses, Rickie Lee Jones

right people, you would think that after being away for so long, the words and stories would be swirling out like dervishes. but oh no. The Dreaded Block has happened. again. plain, white and square. if i could just crack the surface. . . . it's all under there....where to start, really.

so once more, i scratch my head. oh heaps of ideas raise their arms with clicking fingers saying mememememememememeeeeeeee. i consider them. one by one. one being the spotty horse move up the hill. another, the second to last night of the year with all its magnificence and sickness. . . . . the horse move wins. and then i think. well, it would be this:




and this:

and then?

nah. yawn yawn for the rest of the non horse loving Universe. my father being one, (Belgians don't count), and maybe you, she thinks alarmingly. my dear father who, time and time again like a stuck record, whenever he hears a decibel vaguely similar to "horse" or "pony" or "let's go riding!" or "equestrian", pipes up gleefully, "Bloody horses. I tell you, man. Dangerous at the back. Dangerous at the front and uncomfortable in the middle..." and then with his nut brown eyes dancing, he balances his empty whisky glass on his head, which is the universal sign to fill it up. you feel like you've won something if you notice first.

i remember, when i was a teenager, absolutely horse mad, him loading my horse before the crack of dawn, the last morning star hanging in there to take me to another show. there was always drama. my mother would stand there shouting, " for christsake ron. calm down. just go away and let us do it!" as my fiery mare would lash out from the front and kick like a zebra from behind. my father would stalk angrily away muttering "Bloody horses!" yet as i tore around another round of looming jumps, completely out of control and beyond terrified, jumping over the moon, he was the one cheering like mad. as i stumbled back onto the grand stand, somehow clutching a rosette (probably for breaking a world record for fastest round ever) he would say,

"heh heh koeks! don't slow down. give it stick! hell. bloody horses eh? dangerous at the blah blah blah blah" and he would be the proudest person on the entire grandstand. beaming. beaming.

which makes me think, maybe this is the reason which drives me to do silly silly things. like the time i swung off the highest mast of a 1910 schooner off the zanzibari coast. to impress the crew? the crew who looked about 12 and their upturned faces the size of peas, from my height. as i perched queerly in the heavens (in my effing bikini), they shouted up to me, " you can do it princess..." "queenie to you darlings," i smirked back at them, as i grabbed the rope and stepped off, grimly forgetting the wise words of the nubile swedish mermaid caterers, "Never do it in your bikini," they crooned...

too late. i plummeted boulder like and tore into the sea, which was hard as a table by the time i reached it, bikini top warply wrapped around my neck, the bikini bottoms covering only half and my hair the wrong way around. i looked up to see my colleague taking photographs. bastard.

but i bet if my dad had been standing up there, he would have been beaming. beaming.

indeed, i am entirely exhilarated by the new horses. entirely. i feel like the luckiest vaquera on the planet....i am the luckiest vaquera on the planet.

and tonight, when i close my eyes, in my soft warm bed, staring at windows jammed full of my lucky stars, listening to the owls and the spotty horses rustling in the yard, i will think of a girl, a woman, perhaps just like me, on the Gaza strip.

Kitchen Board: Tuesday Evening 30 December 2008
Contributors: well, me, gabby, niamh. oh wait. yes. and veronica
Comments: actually, the board should look a whole heap emptier. i have been a busy little fish, you see.
toodely old pip, you. bisous, nostalgic old year ones, last ones xxx j

Saturday, December 27, 2008


hello! we're back. hoorah. horses dogs cats all alive and joyous to see us. we are fat, brown and smug with holidayness. (i know its not a word but its the truth). buoyant in fact. i loved waking up this morning hearing strains of musical swahili wafting up the hill, having the cats pounce wildly onto our bed. waking up at home.

it's been a while, eh? oh we've had the most splendid time. splendid.
zambia is always like going home. it's where i grew up. everything is so familiar and rich to my senses. evocative. ghosts on the wind. we didn't quite make it into The Bush. it's an african expression. the bush. oh we're going to the bush. what? which one, you might think. the bush is the wild. where the wild things are. so nope. we didn't quite make it there. but we hung out on the sweetest farm on leopards hill road, called sugar bush. nestled into a forest of brachystegia trees. sweeping lawns, horses, red dust roads, guinea fowl calling and wet smudgy rainy season moons. . .

we played the old cowboy songs. oh yeah. of course dylan, the stones, fleetwood mac, john prine. until dawn. until stoned and awake we sang the beatles to yup, here comes the sun... we loved each other all over again, laughed and remembered other times. my friend is pregnant with her third baby and felt as sick as . one afternoon, with a hot summer storm blowing outside, we lay on the bed, me supposedly to keep her company in between vomits and lashings of sweet tea... i fell into the deepest sleep i've had in years. i was rubbish company but met my ghosts of the past in my dreams.

it was nostalgic. my childhood rushing to greet me....those dark forests, the red roads, the blue very distant hills, the rain. the summer rain. . . and the smudgy moon.

i have also come to the conclusion that i honestly really utterly detest airports. especially dar es salaam airport. it's like walking into a sauna. no. really. it is. not a fan or conditioner works. finding your check in counter is lucky. never mind boarding the correct plane.

awfully smug passenger in dar es salaam airport checking into what he suspects is zambian airways: yes, well, i am flying to lusaka, he is going to new york and she is going to hong kong. i would like this bag to go to accra, that one to empangeni and that one to paris.

tired, overworked, couldn't care less, underpaid check in counter person in dar es salaam airport: oh i'm sorry we can't do that sir.

extremely smug verging on punchable passenger in previously mentioned location: why not? you did it last time.

you might well end up in ougoudougou (or flipping mogadishu if you're really unlucky) or even worse, left in dar es salaam when you were meant to get to lusaka... no-one bothers to hang up signs. or willingly give out information. it's just too damned hot. oh. and no-where to sit. zambia airways did it's thing. i would've knocked its block off if it had simply not arrived due to bankruptcy or something inconvenient like that. it was happily delayed for ouf, two hours. i harassed the air hostess with the mostess with irritating regularity. and gave her mamba eyes for the entire two hours. as if she was solely responsible for each singular delay in my life. (by the way air tanzania has been grounded for not living up to any known international air regulations IATA - something like 500 things were wrong with their planes, yet on they blissfully flew with one wing only.)

no. i shouldn't be so, um sardonic. in fact, apart from a little delay here and there, it was like, um, clockwork. really. and i am deeply thankful for our uneventful flights. really i am.

i still hate airports though....

on our way back from zambia we overnighted in bloody dar es salaam. hot as hades. still. doldrum like. no swaying palm trees here. and were driven, albeit chaotically, to pangani on the coast the following day, by mohammed himself, narrowly missing a head-on with an overloaded pineapple truck just passed bagamoyo. the wayward pineapple truck driver was still shouting at us from about 1km away...arsehole. like it was US on the wrong side of the road. mohammed amazingly kept a steady pace throughout our narrow escape from certain death. for us all. even as we surfed the steep curb. inshallah.

the coast was bliss bliss bliss. empty white beaches. no irritating fake rasta beach boys. in fact, barely a fisherman insight. we lolled about in warm blue water. we spent hours bobbing above reefs adorned with one blue star fish and a myriad of fish. we marvelled at fresh turtle tracks and sang like desert jinns around a bonfire on the beach.

god is great, i thought, alhamdoolelah.. . indeed.

and whoosh, here i am back up the hill. in the little pink house. with my life i left behind, standing in the courtyard like a fat old deeply responsible matron, hands on her hips, saying:

hello then! about bloody time too. well stop standing there staring at me like a useless holiday sloth. get ON with it...here's the list: new horses arrive tommorrow. no saw dust so get that too and we ran out of bloody horse shoe nails didn't we you bloody airhead. children need school uniforms and stationery and dentist appointments and new shoes and the fridges are dead empty.. git yer lilly white arse in there and to the kitchen board. AND WHAT ABOUT THE BLOG FER CHRISSAKES!!!!? and remember school starts on 5th of january and of course, you haven't done a bloody thing about it have you? you think you're going to get away with winging it again, don't you and....

on and on and oooooooooon she went...

i pushed her aside and wafted into my airy beautiful empty fridged house and decided to fire the old bag. and get a new one. a high hippy achiever one. who still loves revolutionaries. and believes in a perfect marxist world. and a responsive universe.

do the two match? she quietly muses.....

Kitchen Board: 27 December saturday night 08

Contributors: Janelle and Gabby.

Comments: pass.

and toooooooooodely old pip, you. glad to be home again. bisous comme toujours xxx j

oh and ps: i started smoking again. damnit. and i have lice.....she confesses in very very small letters....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

tricky days...

flip its nearly christmas and everyones birthdays..as well the obvious one. and haven't done a sodding thing about it. at all. and i suddenly realized that we are about to embark on a massive three week safari and that i wouldn't be talking to you for a very long long long time and thought it proper to swing by and say happy christmas y'all.

time is reeling along - it's like a marlin running with the hook in a wild ocean. well. right now my boat is being towed by this great fighting fish called Time, and i'm hanging on for what its worth. trying to slow the buggar down, tire him out. i'll catch up with him. you'll see.

so many things have happend. oh the play the play! you will hopefully be as delighted as i was when i tell you we had to be censored! we performed in front of the primary school and someone, no names mentioned, (not you jd in case you sometimes still visit) stormed into the secondary head's office shouting her head off that the entire play was a disgrace, filled with explicit sexual inuendos, that it was disgusting, that the whole thing would have to be called off because paying parents would be horrified and blah blah after repressed blah. she was outraged over MY group of girls who were reinventing the musical Chicago.

"oh what will the fathers say?" she bleated on.

um. what about the mothers? i wanted to say afterwards. what did you expect a bunch of 16 year olds to perform? the fucking sound of music in striped pinafores?


i was stupified. What was even more gobsmacking was that she didn't raise her sexually repressed eye brows in the first section where the Nigerian Girls gyrated completely explicitly across the stage. oh no. that was ok apparently...you know, them being africans and all....suddenly i loved and adored the play. this was art. it created ripples. it exposed. isn't that what good art does? anyway. last night, it was excellent. i was so proud of all of the kids. they pulled it off impeccably and everyone loved it. ah. ah. ah.

so. phew. the play is done. and it was magnificent in the end. i am so glad i hung in there. when is the next one?

school breaks up tommorrow. we head to zambia en famille on monday. but BEFORE that:

1: friday afternoon end of term tea party at c's house ..have i ever? but i know the cake is going to be unbeatably delicious. definitely worth the sacrifice. and everything will be so proper and safe and comfortable. lovely. crisp mint lush lawns and white linen and silver outside.

2; friday night: staff party (last night i allegedly made drunken promises to the music teacher that we would be performing Georgia, Summer Time, Autumn Leaves and I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas vocals: me, keyboard: him. this is simply so not going to happen tommorrow evening. what on earth was i thinking? i know what i was drinking.)

3: saturday morning: recover. squeeze in one more ride if it doesn't rain. take the white merc out for a canter or three...clear the head.

4: saturday afternoon: hair salon. last desperate attempt to look young and vibrant before i attend farewell party for friend getting divorced from psycho ex friend. it will be an emotionally high charged afternoon undoubtedly. i will be late because of salon.

5. sunday morning recover. start long and hard thinking packing for safari, packing up the house, getting all the kids packed. lunch time at the H's to see visiting brother from Europe.

6. sunday evening: rush to music festival in the fever trees - perform solo. (note to self: insert in all of the above - guitar practise.) finish gig. drop into bed exhausted.

7. monday morning: leave for zambia. then dar es salaam then pangani at the beach then home on 26th december.

whew. and before ANY of the above: pay TANESCO bill, truck of murram, truck of sawdust, landrover full of horse food, blah blah and on we went.

AND on top of 4 horses (soon to be 7), 4 dogs, 3 cats - there are now 2 hedghogs trotting about the house...they are the darlingest little pin cushions i have ever laid eyes on....i tried to take a picture for you - the darlingest little creature eating from the cats bowl. . . but he scampered away too soon.

and lord above, i haven't even started on the great recession....

so my blogging bestest, it might be a while before the next time.

unless i can squeeze in some blogging between now and monday.

i am going to skip kitchen board. not because there isn't anything on the board, but because the gate is locked, i can't be fagged to open it and it's certainly my bed time. . .

so instead, tooooodely old pip until next time. merry christmas and all that malarky. bisous, cheeky ones under the holly... x x x j

yeah happy christmas. . .

Monday, December 1, 2008

crazy moon...

...the moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild... Sylvia Plath

so safari craig called us from our monday evening busyness (i wrote it with an "i" but then it doesn't mean the same thing at all...as in each being busy in our own things) to the door.

we looked up, all crowded around at a crescent moon perfectly framed by jupiter and mars. (well some say its venus but it looks dusty and red to me, so i say its mars. bets are on.)

safari craig says, " you can't have two planets so close together, man!?"

"who says?" i think. who says?

all crowded together, my children so close to me. me secretly smelling them. and loving them. and watching the moon and knowing how desperately fortunate i am. i have everything to lose. everything.

how perfectly extraordinary.

and i saw one of jupiter's moons. safari craig doesn't believe me. but i did. at two o clock. it was hard to see in the binoculars because the planet was so close to our moon.
it was hard to hold my little camera still. sometimes i didn't. most of the time i couldn't. so the same picture above came out as a three moon shadow below....

it made me think of this philip larkin poem called Far Out.

Beyond the bright cartoons
Are darker spaces where
Small cloudy nests of stars
Seem to float on thin air.

These have no proper names:
Men out alone at night
Never look up at them
For guidance or delight,

For such evasive dust
Can make so little clear;
Much less is known than not,
More far than near.

i, on the other hand, am deluded enough to think that most things as in people, animals, weather, plants, hair length, birth, death, love situations, you know, Things, are mystically influenced by, amongst a world of other Things, the position and alignment of the moon, stars and planets. how, i have no clue. yet i am so sure of it. and i have not yet begun on love matters and looney moon Things to which i am hopelessly devoted.

that and chocolate.

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: 01 December 2008

Contributors: Janelle

Comments: you see? shopping all done this morning. some things we forgot, though. because maybe we were talking too much. or acting too clever in the bank which made us lose the shopping list...

tooooodely old pip then. bisous. oh yeah, crazy moon ones. lots ...xx j

oh and ps. how could i have forgotten? i thought of you when i spied this beautiful new blog, by eliza that i know you are all going to love and be totally be inspired by. she's a new girl in the blogosphere....take a peek... http://eliza-pix.blogspot.com/
she's a travelin' gypsy princess...

and pps: i also forgot to tell you how i nearly had a punch up with an octogenarian at the restaurant opening after too many vodkas and being overwhelmed with joyousness. oh yes. it was over capital letters. he was incensed.

righto. off really now.


ppPs: which made me wonder if you even get past the Kitchen Board....in which case...

right. i'm gone.