Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Belonging to Africa part two

Anyhow that seems ages ago as back here in Cape Town as we are now languishing in a rather splendid guest house and are being Cape Town tourists; we spent a whole day in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (see which are on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. The gardens are about five and half square kilometres in size and houses amongst other things a research centre, environmental education centre, an exhibition centre that was hosting the fabulous ‘Untamed’ exhibition which conjoined the work of Dylan Lewis (sculptor), Enrico Daffonchio (architect) and Ian McCallum (psychologist). The gardens were also playing host to a group of students who were dressed as individually as they could muster to show they were all individuals which homogenised them straight away….bless. Students are the same the world over, these like any others were being ‘outrageous’ and not caring what us old gits were thinking or doing as long as we were outraged.  It made me think of my lovely Kate, I hope she is out being outrageous. As we were in the city we also decided to avail ourselves of a bit of culture and went to see ‘Midsummers Night Dream’ which was playing at the Artscape theatre.  We did our usual getting lost on route, but by virtue of our gift for just ending up in the right place we drove the wrong way (‘we’ being me) into a car park designated for theatre staff and patrons, luckily the watchman was generous enough to see that as we were there and it was hassle to drive out again for a small fee he let us stay. The production of ‘Midsummers Night Dream’ was ‘contemporary’; the first half was slightly confusing as the actors had to act alongside laser lights accompanied by high pitched voices (which were supposed to represent fairy folk) and the stage got busy enough to set off an epileptic. The second half saw most of the actors rolling around on the floor and stripped to their very flimsy underwear, most of the references to Bottom alluded to the fact he now had a huge donkey sized penis. All a bit odd but the enthusiasm with which they acted made it highly entertaining. Afterwards we retreated to the luxury of the guest house and the free evening glasses of port and chocolates.  On our last night staying at Jambo guest house we had drinks with Mina and Barry and met some of their friends, these were two elderly (78 and 79) Brits from ‘sarf’ London whose names were Ernie and Carol. Ernie used to be a dress designer and ‘knew everybody darling’ ; he was extremely camp but still took the chance of rubbing up against my arse when I tried to get past him to sit on the sofa. I generously decided to put his friskiness down to the fact he had a bolly eye so perhaps couldn’t see too well and I thought he might have Alzheimer’s.  No not because only men with Alzheimer disease might want to be inappropriately frisky but he had real trouble remembering our names, where he had put his drink, his pizza and his car keys.  Upon leaving Jambo Guest House the following morning we had perfect weather for a spot of hill-walking .  This sounds more adventurous that it is as there is a steep but very accessible route up the Platteklip gorge which goes all the way to the top of Table mountain, you do need to be reasonably
fit though as the mountain stands 1,086 metres (3,563 ft) tall.

Friday 20th April
We are back camping and are in a place called Millers Point, this is on the north east side of Cape Point, it is fucking windy as fuck. It is too windy to cook food so we are having crisp butties and drinking beer, nice one. The view is pretty good though as we are right on the Indian ocean and we have penguins and baboons for company, I don’t like the baboons.  The penguins are funny creatures, they have pinkish fur around their eyes and they come up really close to you and smell a bit (though not as bad as the seals).
Ah but I am getting ahead of myself….sorry…in between getting here we went to stay with the der der derdle der……. SHARPEY-SHAFFERS! …..yes these people really do deserve capital letters.  John is a world famous super-duper nuclear physicist into all sorts of splitting atom type shenanigans and Sylvia is a retired nursing sister and one time Liverpool City Councillor who worked her socks off during the 80’s (time of the infamous Derek Hatton!) Meeting them separately would be an eye and ear popping experience but together they are like a tsunami of intelligence, intense, provocative, funny, generous and absolutely fabulous.  They reside in a posh suburb of Somerset West, as their guests we have been given an ensuite room of our own and are encouraged to come and go as we please, use the pool, walk in the garden and just chill out. I did have a swim in the pool but it was one of those ‘ice lolly up your bum experiences so haven’t been in again.
John and Sylv are supposed to be retired but in reality are busy doing research, writing papers, reviewing faculty standards (John) and volunteering and fundraising for the local hospice and in local library (Sylv).  They are great hosts, they carry on more or less with their schedule and we with ours and we bump into each other at mealtimes.  We take it in turns to cook and James gets nicely drunk with John whereupon they grumble about bossy women (me and Sylv) , meanwhile me and Sylv talk about the NHS, Liverpool, Eddie Izzard and costume dramas. Sylv can talk as fast as machine gun, she is sharp witted and doesn’t suffer fools at all.  While here went with Sylv to the cinema to see ‘The best marigold hotel’ (gentle love/comedy with Judy Dench and other glitterati I can’t remember the names of) and a local amateur production called ‘Dirty Money’, the latter was surprisingly quite agreeable. The production was in the local community theatre, all white SAFA respectability it was a caricature night out enjoying what the well-to-do do.  John didn’t come to either social events instead he harrumped and grumbled and disappeared into his study to complete a research paper. 
We only intended on staying a few days with the Sharpey-Schaffers as we didn’t want to impose but the day we left they surprised us both by asking us to stay longer, we couldn’t as we wanted to wander back out into the wilderness but we did promise to come back to them before going home. We were so touched by their kindness, we had only been able to meet them at all through the random act of kindness of a mutual friend of mine (Pam) back home. John said ‘well you know we stay with other people as I travel a lot and it all works out you know, the helping just gets passed around’. He should know he is super scientific and probably has an equation to support this statement.
But that was last night, and here on the windy enough to bend the tent poles coast we have made a plan, this involved walking on Cape Point then heading up the West Coast of South Africa to the Cederburg mountains. James was a very happy bunny.