Louisa Whitelace

2009-08-22 00:00

WHEN you get old and mature and dignified, life presents golden moments of great moral beauty, a great glorious panorama before the inner eye, wondrous moments of intellectual challenge and the thrill of discovery. In the past tense, that is. Why, I clearly recall a hithertofore unbeknownst transmogrification at the age of thirteen, which is to say a metamorphosis, I was no longer an ugly dark brown mindless chrysalis but a brand new big bright butterfly wafting my vivid wings in the spring sunshine.

Up, up, and away! I would buy a hundred yards of stout fishing line and build a huge colourful kite and fly it at three hundred feet to celebrate Flight of the Spirit. A proper theory-of-flight kite, this, a flying machine, none of your little-boy tissue-paper-and-split-bamboo stuff. Benjamin Franklin was clearly the kite man, everybody knew how he had flown one into a thunderstorm with a metal key down this end of the line to see if he would experience an electrical discharge. I looked him up in the school library. Lucky he didn’t get vapourised, the book said, because his best thought came after this early science. And there in amongst the best thoughts was this quotation: Beer is the living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. The truth of it! I was obliged to rest my forehead upon the table. I knew about Jewish boys after their Bar Mitzvah having a glass of wine along with the men at lunch on the Sabbath, but this was universal, man!

The kite is forgotten. I speed home hot feet to construct a small bar in the loquat tree with a comfy seat on a branch and a small cupboard for storage, concealed amongst many leaves so my ma can’t see me at work on her Castle lager. A few stray planks and a bag of nails do the trick, the tree is tall for a loquat, I have a fine view of the neighbourhood. I nick a quart bottle plus a big glass tankard and I’m up the tree to the comfy branch where I top up and survey my new realm. Next door down there Louisa Whitelace is hanging up her family washing, nappies and table cloths and stuff and an XL rugby jersey. Over here my sister Polly is pegging her underclothes on the line: bras, minimal broeks et cetera. I take a complacent quaff of beer. I take another. And suddenly the first one arrives wham! where all the glands are, there is a sudden rush of hormones to where the imagination is and I imagine Louisa Whitelace in my sister’s underclothes! I clutch at branches lest I fall from the loquat tree. The second quaff arrives amongst the glands and I imagine Louisa Whitelace out of my sister’s underclothes. I take a further good pull and shut my eyes to cleanse the mind. In vain; I now perceive Louisa going about her housework stark naked. Into the bedroom. She is old enough to be my mother, I mutter. If she had become sexually activated at thirteen that would make her twenty six. Mathematical madness drives me from the loquat tree.

But Satan has got into me. As he got into Hansie Cronje whilst Hansie lay sleeping, via the tochis. Every day I am up the loquat tree to embellish the lewd sexual surrealism. I seek expression in song. My ma emerges from the kitchen. In God’s name, she cries, what next? Why are you singing love songs at the top of the loquat tree? You’re as loony as your bloody father, I swear it. I sing: Could my heart but still its longing, only you can tell it how, beloved. My ma cries: Get out of the bloody tree and come and eat your bloody lunch. So I swing down branch to branch and bounce into the kitchen and there stands … there … stands … Louisa Whitelace. In the flesh. She smiles at me and twinkles her blue eyes and looks straight … through my outsides … at all the lechery inside.

I am obliged to sit down. I gasp, paralysed. She steps daintily across and gets her fingers in my hair and ruffles it up and murmurs Ag foei tog, Herrilt het my so lief (she was Juffrou Grobbelaar before marriage, see?). I bite my sandwich, I bite my tongue. Excuse me, I say, and go outside to cough. She is showing my ma how to roast a leg of mutton with garlic. To this day she is present whenever I smell the stuff.



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