Harry’s very happy

Here are three videos of Harry the African striped polecat (with cameo appearances by Balu and Dube).






Dube’s doing just fine

I’m posting these links to videos mainly for Clyde, whose gift to us was Dube the silkie chicken, to prove that she’s alive and well, and settling nicely into her new home. (Clyde’s SMSes to me usually say, ‘How did Dube taste?’ – he’s clearly doubtful that she’s survived!)

This one links to a video of Floss the cat, Dube, Balu the dog and Harry the striped polecat hanging out in the garden:


This one is Balu herding Dube (Balu’s self-appointed main job, which she takes very seriously):


And this one is Balu and Dube having a companionable dinner together:



High heels: why?

I was watching War of the Worlds last night, and my irritation with Tom Cruise (which is infinite and unending) was momentarily overshadowed by my disbelief at Rose Byrne’s character running away from the impending apocalypse in high heels.

Coincidentally, next up on my DStv agenda was the series Body of Proof, in which Dana Delany (looking fabulous at 56) plays a no-nonsense medical examiner – and whose credibility is, in my opinion, seriously undermined by the way she totters around on skyscraper stilettos.

Maybe it’s because I’m unusually tall for a woman, but I’ve never got high heels. Historically, there was always a reason for wearing them: high heels helped ancient Egyptian butchers to walk above the bodies of dead animals; in the Middle Ages, high heels kept the walker’s feet out of the filth that littered the streets; horse-riders have worn heels for centuries, to keep their feet from slipping out of the stirrups. In ancient Rome, prostitutes (who operated legally) were identified by them – and it seems that, today, we’ve returned to this fleshly flag.

Today, high heels are worn almost exclusively as a sexual prop – they force the body to tilt, thus emphasising the boobs and bum. But they create a wealth of health problems, from mere discomfort to serious deformity – and that’s not even to mention the staggery gait they force the women wearing them to adopt. (I haven’t ever – not once – seen a woman in heels walking comfortably.)

Perhaps Delany’s other sexual ‘props’ go some way to explaining why women wear heels: in the TV series, she wears the most ridiculous false eyelashes (so unnaturally and distractingly dark and fluffy that I often forget to notice what the actor is actually saying or doing); and her hair is the kind of long and flowing that would without doubt contaminate any evidence in the bodies she examines, no matter how many pairs of surgical gloves she wears.

Now, I’m not saying that our TV heroes should be butt-ordinary folk; to the contrary, I expect my movie stars to be unusually blessed in the looks department. But suspending disbelief – and especially in a series like Body of Proof, in which a woman is portrayed as a strong professional operating in what has historically been a man’s world – can only go so far.

To put this into perspective, I sometimes imagine I’m an alien landing on Earth for the first time and having a completely unfettered look at its denizens. In the male population, I’d almost certainly wonder at the vast array of hair options (from completely bald and clean-shaven to as hirsute as a baboon) and, of course, what ties are for. When it comes to the women, however, I’d have a long list of puzzles to work out, from why they paint their faces in bright colours to what they can possibly be trying to achieve by staggering around in high heels.

danaActually, even as an Earthling, I don’t get it.


Left: You’ll almost never see Dana Delany standing in any stance other than this – with her legs crossed at the knee or calf – because her ludicrously high heels would make any other pose look exactly as unnatural as it really is.

The stupidity of prank phonecalls

When my bestie, Mandy, and I were young, we used to play a game we called ‘trick phonecalls’. This involved abusing the family phone to call some ordinary hardworking citizen and lead them down the garden path in some or other way – usually so crassly and obviously that they cottoned on pretty quickly, became annoyed and put the phone down on us. This absolutely thrilled us because we were, after all, kids.

Then we grew up and stopped playing trick phonecalls.

As an adult, I’ve never understood the ‘humour’ in a fully-grown human being phoning someone and – ideally – driving them to fury, hysteria or tears in the name of ‘fun’; when it’s widely broadcast to a huge listening audience, I find it genuinely disturbing. And when the perpetrator finally reveals himself, the obvious combination of relief and humiliation-in-hindsight the victim usually displays is as cringeworthy as the call itself.

My distaste for trick phonecalls aired on radio grew so strong that when Kfm – the station my radio is usually tuned to – began airing Darren ‘Wackhead’ Simpson’s trick phonecalls in the mornings, I re-tuned to another station.

Now, finally, someone has killed herself in the aftermath of a trick phonecall. While I hesitate to believe it was only the ‘shame’ of being the victim of a stupid and childish prank that drove nurse Jacintha Saldanha to suicide, the timing is interesting. Perhaps it was just the last straw?

I’m not a big believer in too much legislation (and anyway, in this country, the mere fact of having legislation in place almost never means it will be adhered to), I do hope South African radio stations have taken note of what happened in Australia, and will ensure that Simpson and his ilk don’t get any more airtime.

Give and take

It’s always nice to realise that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. In the case of my recent bad car karma, Marianne and I ended up driving what she dubbed ‘the Karoobuster’ (and I called The Tank) to Nieu-Bethesda and back. It was a loan car from Toyota, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise – amazingly comfortable over long distances, it practically drove itself, and it was very light on fuel.

Toyota lent me the Karoobuster because my brand-new Etios, which was broken into in August, had to languish for three months while they waited for parts to be imported to repair it. I was furious that the break-in happened six weeks before I was to get my insurance bonus for five claim-free years – and more so because when my camera was stolen from my house late last year, I chose not to claim for it and rather to wait for my bonus to pay out. But what happened was, because we waited so long for the parts to be imported, the claim wasn’t actually paid out until after the no-claim deadline, so I got my bonus after all. Win!

Clyde and HelenThe other collateral damage at home during my absence in the Karoo (aside from my daughter crashing my son’s car) was finding, on my return, that half my hens had disappeared – including Goldie, who’s been a fixture in our lives for several years. I told my friend Clyde about this, so, last weekend, when he came through to Kasteel to cook for us (he’s a chef – at left, he prepares deluxe chicken burgers for a crowd), he brought with him a young silkie to supplement my diminished flock. We’re hoping she’ll turn out to be a hen, not a rooster, and have called her Princess Dube (after Lucky Dube) in the interim. She’s very tame. She’s also amazingly ugly but we’re assuming when her adult feathers grow in she’ll become better to look at. She’s living on the verandah at the moment because Cornelius, the bantam rooster in the existing flock, has a vicious small-man complex, and attacks her (presumably because she’s the only fowl in the garden smaller than him).


All four resident cats have accepted her without question, and Balu’s border-collie genes have kicked in, and she herds Dube without cease. I’ve had to separate them for a few hours a day, otherwise they’d both die of exhaustion.

Our zoo was also diminished with the death of my darling Sara, but has grown to the tune of one baby African polecat, called Harry (below left). My daughter picked him up on the road, near death, and nursed him back to health. He’s got a giant personality and a big voice, and isn’t afraid to use either. Balu is terrified of him, although he’s barely the size of one of her paws. (In a weird echo across a generation, I had a wild pet when I was about my daughter’s age and living in Botswana – a tree squirrel, below right.)


There’s a 30-second video clip of Harry being ridiculously cute here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIIPFti-qDQ&feature=youtu.be