Petes Weekly: On Arriving in South Africa
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On Arriving in SA

I arrived back in Cape Town this week. My first port of call was to find a meal that cost less than a BMW 318i, which was the cost of two McDonald’s burgers in Oslo on Sunday.

Anyway, I was feeling happy after Lufthansa had just told me that they had lost my stuff again. Unlike the last time they lost my suitcase in late April, this time they genuinely had no idea where they might have put it. And as a frequent lost suitcase client I was no longer entitled to a benefit baggie housing an oversized T-Shirt and a toothbrush.

This time I was travelling with the son of Mrs Carruthers, en route to spend a month with his other Dad, and the bag held all his worldly possessions. As is the way of young men, he had ignored my requests to keep the valuable stuff in his carry on bag. So his PC was walkabout, as was the brace that stops him from looking like a unicorn. It turns out that Lufthansa had outdone themselves this time, with ten bags missing from LH572. And I was deriving some psychic joy from his embarrassment.

I had also just survived a SA haircut. I cut my hair here because the cost in Norway is NOK 350 for a quickie – 20 minutes with a machine. (That’s about R600 in real money.) In chatting to Lizo about the style I wanted I may have mentioned that in Norway they do not cut eyebrows, and do not even get started on hair in your ears.

“Sit back and relax,” he said. I lay back, closed my eyes, and listened to Bruce gently singing Philadelphia. SA is a fine place to do just that. A few seconds later he had stuffed a hot and sticky telephone pole into each nostril, as well as into each ear. I was a little concerned. This certainly was a first. Fortunately I could still breathe out my mouth.

Not much use asking what was happening because I could now hear nothing. I did look a little startled with eyes wide, and earbuds sticking out of every facial orifice. No real man should have to stare at himself in a mirror for more than 15 seconds anyway.

But I had a suspicion about where this might be going. The smell of the unction was slightly minty, and reminded me of many hours smelling this hot scent as the various women in my life had tried to remove hair from their various places, sadly without asking for my help.

At this point Lizo grasped the earbud in my right nostril and ripped the whole side of my face away. I am not sure if I screamed, the V&A Waterfront came to a halt for a minute. He proudly showed me the result, 55 years of internal growth, and me with a hairless nostril that would do a woman proud. At least, that is what I would have seen if I was not crying so much.

“Don’t be a cry-baby,” he said as he ripped my soul out though my left nostril, along with enough hair to assemble a judges wig. Even now, as I write this, tears dribble down my cheeks.

He had to chase me around the chairs to grab the two poles sticking out of my ears. I would have made a clean getaway were it not for the black straitjacket I was locked in, cleverly disguised as a cover to protect my clothes. He tore these ear-poles out simultaneously and my head exploded.

And that’s why I like SA. Today, sitting at a Green Point coffee house, garnering inspiration from the ambient chatter and the passing parade, I am utterly confident that I will not need to trim my ears or nose for the next decade. We South Africans might sometimes lack finesse, and we might not be be garnering the gold medals in the corruption Olympics, but when push comes to shove, we sure can make a plan.

My day was made complete when I noticed that the midsummer temperature in Oslo on Tuesday was identical to the midwinter temperature in Cape Town (aka paradise) in the middle of a storm.

Warm regards
Peter Carruthers

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