2010-11-06 00:00

I SAW the Moses Mabhida football stadium going up, of course, and a startling experience it was too, that arch is the longest in the world, so it turns out, and I was quite sure it would collapse before the two ends met. But wondrously it didn’t, how wondrous its majesty, and just a pity that I was never rich enough to buy a ticket and see the inside. But I’ll do it now, thought I, while it’s not in use, and I’m off to catch the Berea-Beach bus. First to the ATM, though, to get a bit of folding money for one of those beachfront pizzas a true Italian wouldn’t feed to a dog. Me, myself, and I just love today’s junk food in the brisk sea breezes, which in my boyhood used to smell of yesterday’s meat pies and those horrible red toffee apples on sticks with cheap apples inside which your Italian wouldn’t throw at a dog. Now these breezes smell of Pizza Hut, and I’m all for progress.

But of course somebody’s been trying to open the ATM with an angle grinder and it is now kaput. I go to inquiries inside the bank to ask, what now? The dainty nut-brown maiden with a red spot between her eyebrows says to me: Would you like to take out a funeral policy? It only costs R60 a month, all included. I blink.You mean the hole in the ground and the box and the God-man to mumble one of his prayers? say I, and must I bring my own flowers? Well I don’t know, says she, I just work here. No thanks, say I, I think I’ll wait till I’m a bit older. She smiles sweetly. Okay, says she. I go to the gents and smooth down my hair with water and look at myself in the mirror. I look pretty spruce in my Madiba shirt and tekkies, dapper with my iMzimbithi walking stick. I shrug it off.

So I’m off to the Berea-Beach bus. It heaves to with a nice Zulu lady at the helm. Do you want to go to Addington Hospital? says she. No thanks, say I, the old snake park. SNAKE PARK! she exclaims, that’s MILES from Addington. No no, say I, I’m going to the Moses. The MOSES! says she, that’s in the wrong direction! No I’m not going to Addington, say I, I am just going for a walk. WAaALK? she gasps, shakes her head and gives me my ticket. The bus is pretty full, some folks are standing, I stand too and hold on to that overhead bar and get a nice balance. There’s not much to look at, standing up, but ’pon my soul the world would be a sorry place without flowers in bloom, the heavy perfumes of roses and frangipani in the spring, the music­ of Mozart and this girl sitting next to me, all snowdrifts and crisp white cotton and ... and ... she catches me studying her beautiful titties and blushes full pink, forehead to the lace of her collar. She thinks I am staring at her for bad manners, she stands up and offers me her seat. I mean don’t be stupid, there’s still a Comrades runner inside of me. I politely refuse. Other passengers are filled with sentimentality, they smile benignly on me, Oh go on, they say, don’t be shy. They insist, I sit down. The girl is now hanging on the bar. I hate her, I want to hit her. Teach me to peep at people’s tits.

But oh what a bracing day! From the snake park I hike along the beach where the water’s just receded and take off my hat and let the wind ruffle up hair and collar­ and tug at my Mandela shirt, and opposite the Moses I go to cross the road and saucily lean on my stick with ankles crossed as I wait for a gap in the traffic.

One of those beach cops on his 250 cc off-road motorcycle pulls up next to me. Are you all right? says he.

First class, say I, and how are you? No, okay, says he, but why have you got that walking stick? Because I’m going for a walk, say I. WAaALK! says he. He takes out his cellphone. We’ve got a patrol car coming this way just now, says he, if you like I can ask them to stop for you. What for? say I. Well, says he, er ... you look sort of er ... like maybe your ankle is broken or something, you know. He writes on a sheet of his notebook and hands it to me. That’s my cellphone number, says he, just you know, in case. Hey thanks, say I. I want to hit him.

It is all too much. I go back along the beach to the snake park. The Beach-Berea bus approaches, I flag it down and climb aboard. It is the same bus with the same driver on its return journey. But you’ve just got off! she exclaims, and anyway we’ve just come from Addington, you’re heading the wrong way.

I don’t WANT to go to bloody Addington, say I. No need to be impatient, says she, and you know you can get something for that dandruff on your legs, called tea tree oil, your chemist shop will have it, okay.

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