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South Africa was in flames, everything was lost. Am sure it was getting too much for many of us.

The week started with those horror pictures and stories being shown non-stop by the television news channels. South Africa was in flames, everything was lost. Am sure it was getting too much for many of us.
I got the mutters, nothing unusual there. I invoked my rights as head of the household: “Pack our bags, pet. We’re off.”

The CO just looked at me and shrugged: “You can go, I’m staying, adios, amigo.”
I made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “Listen: Our name has come up for a council flat in Grimsby (or was it Salford?), you can get great cod in Grimsby. We can watch Manchester City live three times a week if we move to Manchester.”
She was unimpressed. “Bye, and shut the door behind you.” She does have a way with words.

It Must Be Jelly (‘cos Jam Don’t Shake Like That)

Okay, but let’s get out of the house, we’ve been cooped up too long, I said.

The CO actually agreed, besides it was a gorgeous day.

Our drive took us to the Hibiscus Mall, Margate. The ATMs were still intact.

We sauntered around and found ourselves at the supermarket.

What’s this? No queue. We were like two kids in a sweet shop.

We stocked up with essentials like chocolate, potato crisps, peanut butter, jellies, fizzy drinks.

Unfortunately, no HP sauce was available.

We bumped into another masked raider, her face covered, who somehow recognised us.

“Aren’t we lucky living here and not in Durban?”, she called out. We couldn’t disagree.

Point of No Return

We reached the cash-point. The sign read: “Cards Only No Cash”.

We had only cash on us. A young couple in front of us said: “We’ll pay with our card; and you can give us the cash.” Deal done.

I thought to myself: “Only in South Africa”.

Sand In My Shoes

Next day, having acquired a taste of freedom, we decided to go for a drive-around.

Things looked quite normal, no sign of ‘the troubles’.

The CO and I decided to do something we haven’t done for a very long time. Hold it, hold it! We went to Ramsgate beach for the first time since moving here six years ago.

What a delightful (and novel) experience, strolling along the beach with the sand under our feet. Thought: we must try this more often.

Unfortunately, the CO slipped on a wet rock – no injury, just wounded pride and a wet derriere.

In an instant several people were running to her, asking if she was all right and to see if she needed help. I thought to myself: “Only in South Africa”.

Ramsgate beach was its brilliant best. There were sun-worshippers catching a tan, people having picnics, children playing in the sand, building sand castles.

People were really enjoying themselves, laughing. Friendly faces.

I asked myself: where’s all this turmoil, disaster, chaos, looting we’ve been ‘ear-bashed’ with?

It was paradise on earth. I thought to myself: “Only in South Africa”.

The Comeback Kid

Emboldened by the events of the previous two days, I made a ‘come back’ walk along Lilliecrona Boulevard, Uvongo, figuring the coast was clear.

Familiar faces, people who had been on nodding terms in the recent past gave a friendly wave, burst into chit-chat, giving the thumbs up.

It was a lovely feeling, South Africans agreeing that we had been put through the meat-grinder, but had got through, smiling thru’.

I thought to myself: “Only in South Africa”.

I met a couple of ‘okes’ wearing Manchester United gear. It was too much to ignore, so called out to them: “Well, you two are safe in those United shirts, nobody will steal that rubbish! There’s no call for United shirts these days.”

They came back at me: “Manchester City? You don’t follow that rubbish team, do you? We will be the winners next season!”

I got the last words in: “You think so? No one will beat Pep Guardiola and my beloved City!”

It was all good banter; everyone enjoying their place in the sun. I thought to myself: “Only in South Africa”.

Relief Is On Its Way

We are an amazing lot here in this blessed, but cursed, South Africa.

We had several calls from friends, both in South Africa and overseas, asking if we were okay, and if they could send foodstuffs to us.

We were overwhelmed with such spontaneous kindness was being offered to us.

We politely replied we were fine, but added that I, personally, was running out of HP sauce.

Life is not worth living without HP sauce. I was down to my last two bottles.

No matter, friends in Cape Town are coming to the rescue. I will survive. Watch this space.

We’ll Meet Again

Before taking the airs along Lilliecrona, I drove to the nearest supermarket.

What’s this? No queues. Foodstuffs, bread and milk on the shelves, but, again, no HP sauce.

The manager commented: “We’ll be fully up and running in a couple of days.” He added: “This is the best place to be in South Africa, here on the South Coast.” Again I couldn’t disagree.

The petrol station nearby was doing normal business. No queues for gas. Life is getting back to normal, friends.

See you, Rob.


Article written by: Rob Fidler

Photo credit: South Coast Herald



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