Day 595 – Goodbye, Pam

Granny Pam died this morning after a short illness. We’re all shocked and heartbroken, but at least happy that it was peaceful and relatively quick. While medical science is amazing, she was unable to continue, even with its best care and help. There’s no easy way to deal with these things for family and friends; they are just inevitable events which – fortunately – are often few and far between for most of us. It doesn’t make any of this any easier right now.

She was intensely proud of her family: of her son, her daughter, of her grandkids and of their achievements. One of the last times that we managed to get them all together yielded some wonderful photographs which will last forever and which will always be a reminder of just how happy she was when she was with her family.

I’ll miss her terribly, and at times like this, of course it’s always best to think back to the happier memories that I have of her. Picking up the kids from her place after work on a Friday evening. The regular offer of a cheap and terrible glass of red wine while they finished their dinner, which was always somehow running half an hour late. Her full-on interrogation before letting me – some Johnny Comeover – through her security gate when I came to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage. Our often intense, but always good-natured, debates over the little things in life, like the existence of God. Her amazement that I could be so patient while trying to teach her how to use her computer. I was also amazed, if I’m honest.
We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we always respected one other. It’s so very sad that she won’t be around any more.

Lockdown wasn’t kind to Pam. She struggled with the enforced lack of freedom, and missed seeing her family as much as she would have liked to. Then, when she got sick this time, despite having fought and won several such battles in the past, it was just too much. As the sun rose and the birds started singing this morning, she quietly slipped away.

I hope she is where she wants to be.

Day 593 – Bounce

After a fairly horrendous night of sleep, which left me expecting to be in pieces today, I appear to have bounced back somewhat.
Who knows what my immune system is doing? Who knows how I’d be feeling with fewer drugs in me? Or more drugs? Or different drugs?

Who is even keeping score anymore?

It’s weird, and inexplicable, but I’ll take it.

And I have taken it. I managed to get almost a million* jobs done this morning which had previously been hanging over me for the past few weeks. The ‘to do’ list is much shortened and things are looking neater, tidier, cleaner. Fitter, happier, more productive.

Sure, reality will prevail by 8 this evening, I know: my legs are already telling me what’s coming (and they know their stuff). But as an unexpected bonus, the last eight hours or so have been pretty good.

* actually only a very slight exaggeration

Day 592 – The man near the ATM

It’s just before 9am on Monday morning. Pseudo-posh shopping centre (yes, that one) in an affluent Cape Town suburb (yes, also that one).

I’m drawing money at an out-of-place ATM.

This isn’t a risky one. There are people around. I’m inside, past security. It’s Monday morning, the criminals probably had a busy weekend and they’re likely sleeping in.
Still, I keep my eyes and ears peeled. This is, after all, South Africa.

I become aware of an old guy shuffling around the lobby, talking on his phone. Everyone else has people to see and places to go, but his attention is solely on his conversation, to the exclusion of all else. He’s a much better target than me if anyone was on the rob this early. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Bernie Sanders.

Where are you?

he asks his correspondent, as I type in my PIN.

And where have you been?

as I request my cash.
I’m guessing that they’re sorting a number of errands at the centre together.

And then, as I glance around before taking my money, our eyes meet and he fixes me with a distant, yet powerful gaze.

And where are you going?

His voice echoes across the bustling concourse and pierces deep into my inner being.

It’s the big one. The final query of the existential trifecta.

I take my card and my cash and briskly walk away, deep in thought, considering where any of us are actually going.

Sadly, for me, it was just Pick n Pay.

Day 591 – Power station being robbed of R100m fuel oil each month fails to deliver much power SHOCK!

Or rather no shock, because no power, amirite?

I’ve been looking at some facts and figures online (when I can, thanks to this infernal, eternal, often diurnal loadshedding) and have made an amazing discovery.

Published a couple of days ago, this slide, presumably from a presentation about the horrific state of our dirty, broken national power grid:

…in which you might well note Tutuka Power Station stuck in bottom place (Kusile isn’t properly commissioned yet) with a somewhat ropey Energy Availability Factor of 34.34%, and this document, released on twitter yesterday evening:

…in which Eskom announces the arrest of several individuals for alleged theft of R100 million worth of fuel oil PER MONTH from [checks notes…] er… Tutuka Power Station.

I mean, amongst a plethora of other questions, “How the hell did no-one notice?” has to be right up there. Or is this merely a drop in the metaphorical Mpumalanga fuel oil ocean? How much fuel oil do you get (or not get, I guess) for R100m each month?

I’m no expert in these sort of things, but could there… could there possibly… be any sort of connection between these two pieces of information?

I guess we’ll probably never know.

Day 582 – Are we done yet?

I’m a bit finished. It’s 11am and the 10,000 steps for the day are done. Last night was a rough one, with kids up until all hours and everyone is suffering this morning. I’m being propped up by instant coffee and the opiate patch on my arm.

Oh, and the knowledge that I got my Chukka Partridge photos.

Ferry back today, but only just as it almost got pulled because of rough seas and we almost had to stay another night. As it is, we’re in for a bumpy ride this afternoon.

Again, it’s been an amazing trip, but I’m ready to see the family and sleep in my own bed tonight – hopefully without 2:30am shenanigans from any errant 12 year olds.