‘Think before you speak.’ I hate that line. ‘Engage brain before mouth,’ is phrase I had continually thrown at me. As a child, I was always told to do that and couldn’t. But after our recent visit to South Africa when we stayed with my brother in law (B-I-L) in Vereeniging, I can understand why it was drummed into my head.
Vereeniging, about 80km South of Johannesburg, is about the size of Bulawayo, and suits us just fine. Also, B-I-L has a plot out of town, and that also suits me fine. I find the noise in Johannesburg tiring and unpleasant.
BIL plays golf at the local course every Saturday, partnered by the same guy every week. They own a share of a ‘golf estate’ in Bela Bela about 250km away and go there regularly to play.
A week or so after we arrived, his partner invited him to pay at Legends (golf course) which is another couple of hours the other side of Bela Bela. The plan was to spend the night at Bela Bela and drive to Legends in the morning.
Wow, the lengths people will go to, to clout a little ball around!
BIL wasn’t over-enthralled by the whole idea. Perhaps he thought he shouldn’t desert his visitors? Or perhaps he had a bad feeling. In the end, however, he went, his golf partner traveling with him in his car…or bus rather. It’s a nice vehicle, if rather soft – B-I-L lent it to us last year to tour around South Africa.
Very happy to have the house to ourselves, we gaily waved him goodbye and set about doing all the things we weren’t supposed to do: ate his chocolate, and other fancy food, walked around the house naked and had wild monkey sex.
Pretty early the following morning, I was woken by a phone call, from him. Now here is a big surprise, he is such a scrooge, that he rarely uses the phone. In fact, he is such a scrooge, that he doesn’t even keep shampoo in his shower – he uses the shampoo at the golf course!
He opened with the line, “I’ve got a disaster here…A serious disaster.” Now this, is from a guy who, midwinter in Siberia, may say, “It’s a little chilly here,” or “That’s somewhat pricey…” about a 120 million rand holiday home. What could constitute a disaster? ….he’s had to spend money on breakfast, perhaps? No seriously, I imagined an accident – dead bodies strewn all over the place, or one of those mass murders you hear about so often in South Africa. My stomach dropped, I got a huge adrenaline rush. Disaster scenario’s raced through my mind. Maybe it was one of my kids – also in an accident. Or maybe family…
No, his disaster was simply that his car had broken down about 10km from Bela Bela (Warmbaths in the old days!) That’s it. No accident, no mangled bodies. His golf mates had caught a lift to Legends for their round and would see him later in Bela Bela. I flip into ‘fix it’ mode – I’m good at that. Phone around for a tow vehicle, organise the Vito to be towed to Bela Bela. Not long after, he calls to say his diesel tank (made of plastic) flexed when a rock hit it, and bashed into the fuel pump. It was totally shattered and the replacement part would take two days to get there.
Now I couldn’t possibly leave him sitting in Bela Bela all day, so I offer to drive down, keep him company until his partner arrived. Take photos of the scenery. I mean, I can easily drive through Johannesburg traffic at lunch time, hell, I even know where I’m going!
Traveling north along the N1 the Bela Bela off-ramp directly ahead, I get a whatsapp from him. This is it verbatim: “I’m drowning my sorrows at Panarotti’s opposite the Game…” I stare at the screen in horror and think, “brilliant. He is sloshed. Marvelous. That’s all I need.”
I don’t do alcohol in any form. At all. Nada. I don’t drink it, or buy it, or associate with legless people. And now I not only have to collect B-I-L from this Panarotti place, but negotiate him into my car and….oh boy. I imagined going into some dark dive, with any number of soaks propping up the bar counter, the smell of smoke and old timers and alcohol all pervading…I imagined oozing a loud, giggling B-I-L off a bar stool and guiding him outside…eeuw
My first thought was just to go up the off-ramp, turn right instead of left to Bela Bela, and just go back south! My second – I keep on driving North to Zimbabwe! That would be a solution!
I soon discover, Panarotti is a pizza place and no alcohol is served there. Not used to the heat in Bela Bela, B-I-L had to drown his sorrows with iced tea! Pity he didn’t ‘engage brain before he opened his mouth!’
So next time people, when you have a disaster such as B-I-L’s, please first think to say something like, “Everything is fine, but I have a disaster here…” And remember drowning your sorrows can have only one meaning!
What an expensive round of (non) golf!
I took some pics around Bela Bela. They weren’t great which is strange, because the area is SO African. Vast and endless and blue. On the way back to Zimbabwe we stayed over at Zebula – the photos are on my photoblog here:
This is B-I-L’s house at Zebula:
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