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In February, President Thabo Mbeki gives his State of the Nation address. This is at a time when our nation is still grappling with erratic load shedding. The City Council has been threatening for a while to install switches in every single household’s geyser, to allow the City itself to turn off the geyser whenever they want. As I have a powerful resistance to such big brother scare tactics, we decide to take matters into our own hands. My resourceful hubby investigates the efficacy of a geyser timer by installing one himself. Of course, nothing is ever as simple and straightforward as it seems… particularly not when it comes to installing electrical equipment.
So I am frightened out of my wits when there is a massive power outage throughout the whole of Cape Town at the same time as hubby is up in our filthy and dusty roof, wiring up the new equipment. Thank goodness, the newspaper reports the next day reveal that it was a breakdown at a very important substation – nothing to do with us, I promise! Hubby’s calculations of how much electricity (and thus money) we will actually save, turn out to be somewhat optimistic. It has something complicated to do with the specific heat capacity of water. We adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
February is the month of romance, with Valentine’s Day on the 14th. The University of Cape Town’s annual fundraising event, the (in)famous – Sax Appeal Day happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Even the heavens get in on the act and send us a cosmic valentine. And my hubby surprises me with a very romantic Valentine’s Day breakfast at the fancy City Lodge at the edge of Pinelands.
Two friends join us for an evening at the Baxter Theatre, where we have a delicious buffet supper at the in-house restaurant before watching a side-splitting performance of Joe Barber 4 The People. The Joe Barber series has become somewhat of a South African institution – in fact, it is so hugely popular, that the shows are usually sold out and forced to extend their runs.
The “Continuing Education Programme” at the Pinelands High School in Forest Drive regularly offers classes on all kinds of topics. They are primarily attended by ‘adult learners’. This is the first time that I manage to register in time. I attend four inspirational and educational classes: One on the astonishing world of spiders, one on creating a butterfly mosaic, one on Nia dance and one on West African djembe drumming. As another educational activity, we spend an evening under the stars at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, looking for Saturn amidst the clouds.
February and March are the months of the Six Nations Rugby tournament, involving England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy. My obession with Ireland has fortuitously led us to Catú, an Irish pub in central Cape Town. Its name comes from the expression Conas atá tú, which means something like, “Hello, how are you?” Here we watch a couple of the games – Ireland against England Ireland against Italy, Ireland against France, Ireland against Scotland, Ireland against Wales, and Ireland against England, which coincides with St Patrick’s Day. Sadly, despite some truly valiant efforts, Ireland does not win the Cup.
The sanctuary of our house is occasionally invaded by cockroaches. My lion-hearted dragon-slayer responds to my hysterical shriek by rushing courageously to my aid, wielding a tupperware box and a sheet of cardboard with consummate skill. And a cute little gecko appears on our bedroom ceiling one night to hunt down all the pesky mosquitos that want to suck our blood!
Our kitty-cat is unwell and clearly in need of worm medication, so we dutifully haul her off to the dreaded V-E-T. Our friendly neighbours (the previous owners of Tuffkins) invite us over for dinner, and we spend a wonderful sociable evening together. They also tell us the heartrending story of how Tuffy entered their lives, and the story of the pedigree Persian cat who used to stay in our wendy houses.
We watch a handful of movies this month: Atonement which is based on a book by Ian McEwan about the devastating impact of a single lie. Iranian director’s Masjid Masjidi’s The Willow Tree is set in Tehran, and it is an exquisitely filmed movie about a university professor who gradually loses his eyesight and who has to adjust to a life of blindness. Reign over me stars Adam Sandler in a surprisingly decent movie that involves no slapstick, although there are some seriously funny lines. I really enjoyed the New Zealand movie River Queen about a young woman who travels up a river and lives with a tribe of Maori for some time. The music – at times soaring and almost ethereal, and at other times, ominous and thunderously war-like – was fantastic. Our last movie of February was No Reservations with tempestuously gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones and dimple-chinned Aaron Eckhart. It is all about the dramas happening behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens and the mouthwateringly delectable and lovingly prepared food that emerges from this chaos.