Thursday, 31 July 2014

Do you Wear Jeggings?

Do I dare?

I always took note when my mother disapproved of ladies of a certain age wearing clothes that in her opinion were "mutton dressed as lamb". Nowadays, it seems that anything goes, but does it really?  I've never been particularly interested in fashion myself, reasoning that it is an ephemeral industry which exists solely to give women complexes about their appearances - and to make money. I have believed in dressing in order to flatter the better aspects of my shape and to draw attention away from the worse ones.  This winter, everyone from six to eighty has been wearing 'jeggings', a cross between jeans and leggings, my daughter informs me. They are usually worn with calf-length boots and longer tops, although the younger, the wearer, the shorter the tops - not always to the wearer's advantage in my opinion.  But then the young must be with the 'in' crowd or face the consequences, no matter their shape. Up to now, I have steadfastly refused to follow the trend, even though I am starting to stand out as the lone shopper with the straight-leg jeans. I am even starting to feel uncomfortable in my comfortable clothes. Even the oldest ladies are looking good to me. Is everyone looking at me? Should I give in? Happily, spring is imminent. I think I can hold out until then.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Beauty Treatment - Pleasure or Pain?

Imagine this - 11 floors up

I received a voucher for a 'Moisture Boost' for my birthday at a fancy salon whose main attraction for me is that it is on the 11th floor of a tall building with a breath-taking view of Table Mountain on one side and a terrific view of our stormy sea and Robben Island on the other. However, I am not the type that goes often to such places of female indulgence: in fact I usually go once or twice a year, on Mother's Day or my birthday. Don't get me wrong, I don't look a gift-horse in the mouth and I am very grateful for both my daughter and daughter-in-law for my annual spoiling which compels me to go. The thing is, now that I am advanced in years, I don't like exposing my more intimate areas to these pretty, young things who administer the treatments. I can't bear to imagine what they may think. Also, I grew up in a family in which no female was ever known to frequent such places. Perhaps it was an age of austerity: my mother did go perhaps once a month to have her hair 'set' on rollers, but that was all I knew. She never went for a manicure neither did any of my aunts or cousins. I had to prepare myself as best I could. I read that the treatment also included an Indian Head massage (?). So be it: I therefore washed my hair, shaved my legs and underarms, painted my toenails and had a shower before I left the house. There was a slight incident before I arrived which made me worry that I might have sweated. I couldn't find my way into the building: it seems the entrance was actually below street level. (Why weren't there directions on the gift voucher?)  Next I felt obliged to tick off a group of young musicians for their bad manners re entering the elevator.  They barged in when the door opened thus creating a problem for a cleaning crew who were trying to get out with their trolley.The young men looked at me as if I were mentally deficient. I should have saved my breath.  Finally, I arrived, filled in a form, more comprehensive than if I was being admitted for a major operation, and was then escorted to the treatment room/torture chamber. 
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I have to admit the decor was tasteful, the lighting dim, the music non-intrusive and the 'operating table' warmed by an electric blanket beneath the tinfoil. The removal of my clothes was tactful, as were the towels, strategically placed to minimise any embarrassment. As my limbs were vigorously rubbed with what I can only imagine was grinding paste, towels were moved so as to preserve my modesty and I had no complaints. I would not totally say that I 'enjoyed' the experience, but I was able to relax into it. I must say, the cream applied was very effective:  I couldn't  get it off in the shower the next day.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Preconceptions can be Shocking

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I listen to a lot of radio and find that I form a completely unjustified mental picture of what my favorite voices look like in the flesh.  I have to say that on more than one occasion I have been shocked to find that these people bear not the faintest resemblance to my imaginings when I finally see them in other media.  I have even been wrong as to race.  Witness in another dimension a big mistake I made when reading "Half of a Yellow Sun",  that marvelous novel by a young Nigerian writer about middle class Igbo people, academics, teachers and businessmen and how they survive the violent birth of their new nation, Biafra in the 1960s.   For the first 100 pages, I imagined that the beautiful, young, black heroine was shacked up with an erudite English professor, who, (the book says), spent his spare time at the club or playing tennis or having dinner parties with colleagues. An older, gray-haired man, I imagined. Slightly odd, I thought, that his name was Odenigbo, but I regarded this as pure British snobby affectation. I was further backed up in my impression of him when in the first chapter, a young boy is brought from a neighboring village by his mother, to be his houseboy.  The professor's imperious attitude to the mother and son and their anxious and fearful attitudes to him cemented my thoughts. Only much later, did the professor's mother visit from the next village and berate our heroine for being a witch and stealing away her son,  did I finally click that the professor was actually a black man.  Amazed, I looked back at chapter one for clues: he was described as having a "dark' skin.  Suntanned, I had thought.  What does all this say about me? Perhaps the best that can be said is that I was totally ignorant about the Nigeria of the 60s.  By the way, it's a very good book.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why I won't get to see Oklahoma

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Considering that I absolutely love musicals, especially the old ones, it's been something of a disappointment to me that my husband has no time for them.  He just can't understand that people can stand on a stage and sing to each other when they should be talking. And the dance routines leave him cold. Likewise he cannot understand the attraction of ballet (no talking at all!) and I don't need to mention his stance on opera, especially not since I slept through most of the last one.  However, it was my birthday this month and there is a production of Oklahoma at our city theatre - with a cast of 70 and a full orchestra. Bliss could be mine, if only...  I know he would have gritted his teeth and agreed to go for my sake - but I left it too late to get tickets. Well, usually there is nothing on in the winter month of my birthday here (I've given up looking, all the shows usually seem to be taking break).  Also, we went out to a pizza restaurant of my choice last night and predictably, he chose the worst thing on the menu and refused to either eat it or pay for it  (very dry chicken schnitzel). He ended up sharing my son's pizza and looking martyred. So that's it for this year: on the plus side though,  I control our family budget which usually means I decide there is no need for me to have new clothes unless they actually fall apart. The last time we happened to shop together though, I found two shirts I liked and hubby insisted I get another 4, pointing out (justly) that all my clothes are very long in the tooth. So don't get the wrong impression: he's a lovely man in many ways.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


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I think it's quite interesting what people forget to pack when they go away in a hurry.  We had visitors this week-end at our other house, and in our hurry I forgot my moisturizer and my husband forgot his aftershave.  My visitor forgot her hairdryer. We had clothes, essential meds, our books and our reading glasses though - and lots of food. I also forgot my house keys  (my husband had his), because they were in my knitting bag, but as my friend doesn't knit, I had left that bag at home. Can it be that items of vanity are at the bottom of all our lists of priorities? What essentials have you forgotten to pack?

Friday, 18 July 2014

2nd Childhood? I hope not.

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Last week I spent two days at my daughter's house as a favor, looking after my 6 year-old grandson and his little sister, 3, so that my daughter could enjoy a well-deserved short break away with her husband.  Did I forget to mention the deal also included their bouncy, mouthy,  six-month-old American staffie?  Suffice it to say that by lunchtime of the second day I was pretty tired.  At one point, while the children charged around one of those play areas, so thoughtfully provided by family restaurants, featuring wooden structures to hang/climb on as well as the usual swings and slide and while I gratefully sipped my mega-cappucino, I chatted to the repair man, busy replacing the large nylon net. He told me that its not actually the children who damage the equipment - it is their parents, or more accurately the dads,  who after a few beers and a good meal, get all silly, go outside and launch themselves down the plastic slide and generally lark about on things that were never intended to take their weight. The gentleman told me that once, exasperated, he had asked the security guard to take a photo of this happening, which the owner of the restaurant eventually received via e-mail. Not that he did anything: business is business. More interestingly, when the children's energy was not yet exhausted, we went from here to another (expensive) indoor play area, equipped with very big jumping castles and sundry other things.  There was a coffee shop and toddler play area adjacent, so I sat with another coffee and to alleviate boredom, I picked up one of the books provided for the littlies.  It was a big, cardboard one - each page a gorgeously bright primary color, each filled with all kinds of things/animals of that color. Each page asked one to find e.g. 3 green peppers,  4 cup cakes, 5 monkeys etc. I thought this would be a breeze but was very surprised to find how long it took me to complete.  I was almost defeated on the red page - couldn't find "1 red parrot".  It took me ages until I sat back, took a more global view and realised it was staring me in the face - the biggest thing on the page. All the objects were different sizes.  I see that my granddaughter was much quicker than me:  maybe it's all about one's preconceptions and frame of reference. She didn't have any.   Back at the house, I managed to persuade both children to play snakes and ladders. But not for long: M was soon back to his video games and the little one - into my make-up.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Language of Love

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I had the pleasure this week to hear the beautiful voice of Dietrich Fischer-Diskau on the radio singing Lieder.  Then I heard him sing something of which 90% of the words were, "Ich liebe dich"  which he pronounced, "Ish.."  When I learnt German at school, we were taught the more gutteral pronunciation which I am afraid I much prefer although it does remind me what a hard-sounding language German is to a non-German ear, especially the language of love.  How much more soft and gentle does, "Je t'aime," or "I love you" sound to you?  But then, if I were German, "Ich/Ish liebe dich", would be music to my ears. I wouldn't mind finding out how the endearment sounds in all sorts of other languages. It would be interesting to hear which sound rough and which more caressing to the ear. Perhaps though it's all in the eyes and tone of voice and body language rather than the words themselves.