When I am unwell, I sleep like Rip van Winkle. Centuries pass and I wake up all foggy and wondering if I missed anything important.
The housemate is feeling better, full of beans and pink-cheeked, charging around doing good works. While I have bronchitis and lie in bed reading all about the French writer Flaubert who suffered from boils, syphilis, cold sores, apoplectic fits and petit mal epilepsy. He didn’t have access to broad-spectrum antibiotics and an attack of influenza in 1870 kept him in bed for three months. I expect to be better by tomorrow.
I am grateful to be sober, but the important point about gratitude is not that we feel it but how we express it. I miss being able to be of service in so many ways.
All I want in my life is an authentic Moroccan couscousier. A sieve-like pot suspended over another pot of boiling water to produce perfect delicately flavoured couscous. I recall feeling this way about the Vietnamese bamboo steamers which I rarely use, and a curved chopping blade or mandolin that makes me nervous.
We were offered a new place to stay but had to decline because it is too expensive and I am reluctant to move until Una has recovered from her knee replacement.
The ghost of the local farmer killed in a car accident the other day has been seen by several villagers. In life he was a sturdy red-faced man who swore heartily and liked steak and potatoes, rugby and plump heifer calves. Now he is floating through farmhouse walls, appearing on staircases in a dim blue light and sending odd messages to the living. ‘Tell my wife to get herself a leather coat for the autumn,’ says the ghost. ‘Things are very different here and move more slowly.’ As is the custom in country places, older villagers go out to tell the bees that someone has died. This is an old German or Dutch folk tradition brought to the Cape Colony in the late 1600s. Our fierce gold and black African bees are proprietary about the living and the dead.
It is still raining and very damp, pools of green water shining like grassy mirrors. The hadedas or ibises and blue cranes love this kind of weather, they go fishing in the water-logged fields across the road. In the distance I can hear thunder and lightning in the mountains, the air smells rankly of sulphur tinged with salt, sea breezes blowing inland. The landscape awash with rainwater, horizons all misty and grey, trees and fields blurry and soft under cumulus cloud formations.
My computer is acting up and the Internet keeps crashing. No Yahoo access and my browser is eight years out of date. Time for Rip van Winkle to go back to sleep.