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Showing posts from August, 2017

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

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I have a solitary nature. That doesn’t mean I don’t like good company. In fact, it’s the type of company I prefer. It takes me a long time to get to know people and I’m not one for sharing about myself. But I’m here to let you know that the most amazing gift my 3 decades of life in the UK has given me is the friendships I’ve made along the way.  I’m not talking acquaintances. I mean those people you know will be there for you no matter what. A bit like family but with benefits which outweigh the frustrations.
I’m in the lucky position of having not 1, not 2, but 4 excellent friends who are the diamonds which make up the most excellent of friendship bracelets ever.  I used to have a 5th diamond on my bracelet. Sadly she died and left a void still waiting to be filled. Barbara Hartridge you are missed every day.
There is no order to the diamonds on my friendship bracelet. But I’ll start with Barbara as she’s no longer with us.  Barbara was a wonderful lady always willing to share knowledg…

Seed Pearls

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Television programmes in the UK were a wondrous revelation to me as in SA I had been fed on a steady diet of Maya the Bee and American series imports.  I revelled in British humour which made more sense to me than much of what I had seen back in SA.  Now I was introduced to the joys of Monty Python, Lenny Henry, Rising Damp, and many many more.
While watching the gogglebox I wasn’t aware I was undergoing a subtle blossoming of character. This was never more evident than when I went off to university in Salford. This was by no means a straight forward journey. I had to go back to school at the age of 20 as all the documents charting my educational achievements at private school were lost at sea. No, that’s not a metaphor. They were stuck in a trunk on a freight ship heading for Canada.
I went back to school to do GCSEs then A’Levels. All it involved was reading, something I already loved doing.  And then writing a bit about what I was reading.  It was here I first got the opportunity to …

Of Pearls & Wisdom

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As an ex South African, before I can delve deep into the benefits of being integrated into British society, I have to consider this question: What has Britain given me besides the side effects of colonialism?
Here is the list of answers I came up with:
The WeatherFreedom of speechA gateway to other countriesDr Who – specifically David TennantBuses every 10, 12 or 20 minutes apartThe courage to be who I really wanted to beExcellent period dramas on the Beeb & Channel 4Terry Pratchett & a truck load of other favourite authorsPriceless friendshipsMy teaching careerMy writing careerArgentine TangoLindy Hop

The main thing Britain has given me above all else is the ability to think on my feet.  This is crucial in the temperamental environment of the UK.  The first 10 years of my 3 decade stay in the UK was one of a seemingly perpetual winter – much like that of the Wall in Game Of Thrones if people need a visual clue. Thermal vests and leggings are now my bosom buddies. Sorry BFFs Bev,…

Three Decades

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30 years ago this month my family and I first set foot on British soil for the first time. Before that my only experience of Britain was through what I’d read in books, pictures in National Geographic features and shots of Big Ben or St Pauls in classic films like The Lady Killers. There was also a family photo of an aunt who, travelling through London on her way to Canada, spent some time in Trafalgar Square with the lions and pigeons.
This, in a capsule, embodied what I was expecting from London. At that point I had no idea about other geographical aspects of the UK other than that the Brontë Sisters hailed from Yorkshire, the creator of Sherlock Holmes was Scottish and Jane Austen lived in Bath for a while. They were all the names of places on an atlas and nothing more.
Little did I realise a visit to my mother’s London based sister would end up a lifelong British adventure involving going back to school at the age of 20, painting holidays in Perthshire, a university stint in Salford…

Only 5 books!

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Before we left South Africa 30 years ago, my mother lobbed a grenade in my lap. I was allowed only 5 books in my hand luggage.  No that’s not a typo. How on earth was I going to curate my extensive collection gathered since I first learnt to read?

She then reminded me that where ever we’d end up in the world there’d always be a library nearby. This was small comfort as books are and always will be my only security blanket. Would 5 be enough to temporarily wrap me from neck to toe? I had my doubts. I mean, I know those pages have heaps of thermal properties but … My choices would need to cover as many of my needs as possible. So I agonised for weeks and finally decided on the following books to sustain me while I endured the wait to cross library thresholds in the Promised Land:
FIVE: With One Voice – A Hymn book for all the churches (filched from school on my last day – SORRY!)
A strange one to be sure. But you need to understand why this book was part of my collection. It was the hymnal…