The danger of a diet high in fried foods is as perilous to décor as it is to the heart. Grandy favours a fried lamb chop or a hake and chip platter above all else. Proof of this was discovered on the wall behind the stove in my new home. The fat-splash residue resembled nothing so much as the barnacles on the side of a neglected boat. My budget didn’t allow for me to get a chap in to sand the walls down and repaint the room, so the only option was for me to drag out my faithful Handy Steam Butler (Mister Jeeves) and tackle the job myself. Here in South Africa, especially in the local black townships, generations of shack dwellers have papered their homes with magazine pages or – with the now iconic – labels of famous brands. This décor genre has become known as Mzanzi chic, but I suppose generic versions of this are to be found in slums the world over. It’s a style I’ve always loved, but it needs a compact space to be truly effective. My little cottage is exactly snug enough to pull it off. Over the years I’ve collected lots of truly RSA artifacts and have been a loyal customer of local store Art Africa for ages.
With Jeeves having done his steamy job, I set to tearing pages from my collection of about 20 years worth of food magazines, invested R54.00 in a packet of wallpaper glue, set Dave Brubeck on replay on the CD player and got going, after a well-deserved coffee break.
It took me ten hours of up-and-down-the-ladder elbow-grease to complete the job and I was stiff as a plank for days afterward; my legs and shoulder took a lot of strain, but I’m pleased with the results. My little home is taking shape and I try not to dwell on the impermanence of the situation. All of this is the situation for a year at best; we shall simply have to see what happens when it happens.
My loneliness is something I didn’t expect as a side-effect of the dissolution of my marriage. Weekends are the worst, but I know that things will improve once I find a job and make a new social life for myself. Catching sight of my husband and daughter setting off, laughing, on a jaunt yesterday, possibly to see a movie and almost losing my beloved Lulubelle (long story, another time, another post) set me awash with self pity. I have not learned yet how to ask for help from my friends, I guess I need to set Mister Jeeves on scrubbing off a bit of my pride. Instead I looked too deep into a bottle of Shiraz and simply got a guilty conscience for my efforts.
I am pleased to report that I have regained custody of my chandelier. Carpe-the-bloody-Diem, as my friend says. Onwards and upwards, I embrace all the clichés this week, especially that old chestnut; this too will pass. (Thank you for that one, Count Czardas!)