Tuesday, February 24, 2009

waiting in the dark....




i'm sitting here waiting for my hair to dry.
my body aches for bed.
but GK (granny kidson or, as we fondly referred to her as, The Blue Headed Lizard) told me i would get "brein siekte" (brain sickness) if i ever went to bed with my hair wet.
i know it's all bollox. but still.
she also told me never to swim for an hour after eating or i would get cramps and drown.
and never let a cat sleep near a baby or the baby would choke on its fur and die.
(oh no. that was granny martha)
and spell chocolate and you'll get one...
what are grannies like?

so i'm sitting here waiting. waiting.
at least i have electricity tonight.
last night i sat next to a tiny candle.
with a whispering wind. a dark night and the cats on edge.
i sat. thinking. waiting for the lights to come on.
which they did.
briefly.
at two thirty in the morning.
when i was fast asleep.
and everyone came on together.
in a rude blinding flash of light. while i went spastic with shock.
wicked lights.
don't you hate that?
i just couldn't be bothered to get up, stumble downstairs, trip over a cat and turn them all off.
TANESCO did it for me, five minutes later.


i really shouldn't be here you know. boring you like this.
but there isn't anything else to do.
so fuck it.
bare with me, will you? you see. this is how you lose Followers..not that i had too many of those anyway...don't leave me this way, i can't survive, she croons. i'll lead you in circles. and the road will never end. exhausting, rather.

i sat in the dark and drank whisky. not too much. only about three.
then started taking honest self portraits with my camera.
bloody awful.
but it was an interesting exercise.
staring from a distance at myself, a long nosed crone, and still thinking after 42 years, my god, do i really look like that? is that me?
how weathered.


i used to stare at myself in the mirror and scare myself silly when i was little.
distorting my face into horrific contortions and then running down the dark corridor imagining the image had leapt from the mirror and was after me. moving as fast as wind, snapping at my heels, slicing through corners and doors and shadows. my heart in my throat and feeling nauseous with fear.
how heavenly the sitting room was, with the lamps, and my mother sitting reading Birds Of Southern Africa, held to the side in one hand. her glasses perched on the end of her nose, bare feet curled underneath her corduroyed bottom, and the clink of ice on glass as she quietly had another sip of her whisky. everything was always completely fine again. completely fine. i caught my breath and the demon melted back into the mirror. until the next time.


sleep seems to evade me lately. how annoying. i adore dreaming. i dreamt of evil bush pigs on my car bonnet last night. one stood glaring at me with burning red eyes, snarling. they were hunting lions. what was that about, i wonder? scary threatening devil beasts. On My Bonnet. and then suddenly i find i am in a gypsy camp bumping into ghosts of the past. and then BOOM. the lights came on.

in that same corridor of long ago, i once hid, behind the shower curtain, in the dark, waiting menacingly for GK as she hummed to herself, shuffling towards The Blue Loo (the other one was The Pink Loo). i crouched behind the shower curtain, a statue but for my pulse which was thumping as loudly as a generator. i waited. and waited. i leapt out at the most perfect moment. my granny almost had a heart attack. it really scared me. my mother didn't even have to shout at me.

the blue loo and oh. my. god. Fat Pat. a 60 something spinster farmer, square, large and obnoxiously brilliant at bridge. she either wore hibiscus red or fuchsia pink wax on her lips, large thick spectacles and a moustache. she was fierce. (but not as fierce or as thin as nora, her mother). she filled the space of her tiny car and loomed menacingly over her terrified steering wheel. she won prizes for her sponge cakes at the Heatonville Women's Institute. no-one crossed Fat Pat. was it a farmers meeting at home? was it a rain party after another drought? or was it one of those unplanned piss ups? i forget. (we never had security meetings...we still had party lines in those days and no radios or electric fences) but what i do remember though, is that it was raining and there was no electricity. Fat Pat disappeared into the blue loo. shortly afterwards, we heard a piercing scream, Fat Pat exploded back into the room, bouncing off walls, crushing people and stools along the way, operatic and irrational. at that precise moment, the lights came on. there she stood, her bloomers around her ankles and her spectacularly large and lunar bottom on display. gripping onto this pimpled lunar landscape was our cat, growl tiger, who looked spiked and electrified. he had been having a quiet drink from the blue loo, when Fat Pat had calmly lowered herself upon him. poor growl tiger. he was never quite the same after that.

sorry, what was that? have i seen what?

oscars? what oscars?

TELEVISION?


WHA-? INTERNET???

right.

right.

no kitchen board. as it's blank. yup. dealt a swift blow by a multi tasking domestic goddess. well. actually. thanks to amneey. who completely keeps my life together. thank-you amneey.


(amneey LHS)

oh. hair is dry. the mosquitoes have gnawed off my left foot leaving an itchy stump. the lights are brightening and dimming with an alarming regularity and familiarity. to bed to bed i must go before i am caught in the dark again....



so toodely old toot then, You. bisous bisous, comme toujours....dark ones....X.x.x. j



PS: i just want you to know that i have waited precisely TWO ENTIRE days to post this. because TANESCO blew up my radio for internet....its fixed ish..but could implode at any given time....i'm out of here before it does...cheerio.






























15 comments:

nmj said...

Grannies are the same worldwide - with us it was don't go to bed with wet hair, you'll get pneumonia; don't eat bananas before you got to bed; a swan can break your arm with its wing (i grew up terrified of swans, we had a lot near us).

i can feel those pesky mosquitoes, from here.

Mud in the City said...

It was worth the wait!

I think Grannies all read from the same How To Scare Children book. I can relate to the instructions regarding wet hair/swimming after lunch/dangerous swans etc. Somehow life and its dangers seemed simpler then.

LOVE the Fat Pat story. I'm feeling for your poor cat. That's a shock no feline deserves!

Janelle said...

and on sundays clean your elbows with lemons before sunday lunch...and those elaborate thank-you notes to Daphne for the sunday lunch, in dark lounges on rainy days, cockatoos in cages, dry white sherries, and the clock ticking loudly while i studied the chintzy couch covering, trying to remember how to spell....xxx j

Tessa said...

Fat Pat and The Cat. Snigger, snort, snuffle. Janelle, now you know what to do on dark nights waiting for your hair to dry? Sip your whisky with clinking ice and flicking lights (or do you, like Bwana, cringe with horror when offered ice in your golden nectar?) and write a little book about bottom clinging cats - all in verse, mind you. And illustrate it too. Yes, I see it now, in neat rows on shelves in bookstores the world over. Looking very pleased with itself.

My grandma told us that if we chew gum and accidently swallow it, it would wrap round our hearts and we'd DIE.

nmj said...

lordy, we believed if you swallowed gum it'd stick to your appendix and you'd die... coming not from our grannies, from our school chums.

Nao said...

You are a great writer Janelle. You completely suck me in with one fabulous story after another. Love the image of you as a child scaring yourself in the mirror, I can relate all too well. Your words always celebrate our humanness. It's wonderful.

Janelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janelle said...

sorry. had to delete a comment from an irate granny. telling us that if we stared at the screen too long our eyes would turn square. i mean, really.

Lori ann said...

hmmm...well, i'm a mum and a granny and i guess i've not been doing my job well since i've not said anything to scare my doodles, i don't think??

Janelli, you really have no idea how brillant you are and how special your blog is, do you?and will you please stop scaring yourself honey? oops, now i'm sounding like a granny!
xoxoxoxoLOVE,lori

Jeannie said...

Never ever boring... never knowingly undersold except by yourself! I love your musings. I sympathise with the lack of electricity - it happens here A Lot too. Pooh.

Miranda said...

haha, you funny lady. Remember Bonkar calling Pam a stupid bitch for having wet hair at night?

Val said...

love love love your blog and your wonderful spontaneous free writing! hope you wash your hair often and have to stay up waiting and writing :-)
Fat Pat and the Flat Cat - something Dr Zeuss never thought of!
your stories trigger so many memories of my own. That jumping out from behind curtains thing...is it a phase? do your kids do that?
"heart thumping like a generator" brilliant!
oh - too many vibrant word plays to quote them all here.....
The downside of long awaited rain - is the power supply freaking out....dammit. always a shocker when the lights come on in the night!
thanks for the smiles xx

karen said...

oh janelle, what an amazing lot of info, and descriptions, and evocations - i absolutely love this post, and the pics as ever! Hope your power problems don't go on for too long :) x

Reya Mellicker said...

Holy Christ! You're 42!! WOW. Whatever you're doing, Janelle, you just keep doing it.

Is that a true story about the cat and the loo and the lunar bottom? If so, there is no better story. Never. Not ever.

Janelle said...

ah THANKS all my blogging buddies!
lori - now its only sirens in the night which scare me...and dogs barking..and running feet under the moonlight...oh and the odd spook....otherwise..i can do what i like in the mirror and i aint scared...xxx j

hey jeannie..no power all week-end..very tedious...but there to help me be accepting and patient and go to bed early! x


mo...yes! i do! heh heh heh! xxx j

val! thanks for sweet words...yeah. where did you grow up? xx

karen...well yes. power problems and tanzania go hand in hand...always...bloody useless...someone stole all the money which was supposed to be used to stop all these problems...now he just sits a richer man up in monduli and nothing was done...same old same old...xxx j

reya! yes! jesus christ eh? you funny lady!? i will confess i do all the things you SHOULDN'T do...and if you look close up i look 52...xxx j