With all the hype around the American elections and Brexit, I’m reminded of a vote which took place in our neighbourhood in the early 1960’s.
My parents used to help out at the polling station which was set up in the Scout Hall in Wychwood, Germiston, together with their friends and neighbours, Arthur and Megan Otty, who, like my parents, were supporters of the United Party.
At this particular local election, it fell to Arthur to fetch voters who did not have their own transport. Arthur drove up and down all day ferrying voters to and from the polling station. By just after 4.30 p.m. he thought he was done for the day when he realised he had forgotten to fetch Mrs Beech. But, as it was less than half an hour before the polls were due to close, he also realised that it was not likely that he would be able to get her there in time to vote. Arthur was tempted not to make the effort but, after a bit of coaxing, he decided that he would give it a try, so off he went.
He did his best and in this case, it was good enough! Arthur arrived back a couple of minutes before the polls closed with Mrs Beech in tow, who was a bit grumpy at having been forgotten. She told anyone who would listen that she had waited the whole day to be fetched. Fortunately, she managed to cast her vote just before cut off time. Arthur took her home again wondering if he should have bothered after getting an earful from her.
Then the counting began.
The two parties were neck and neck and this went on until all the votes were counted. It was cheers all round when the United Party beat the Nationalist Party by just one vote!
From then on, Arthur frequently told the story of how he single-handedly won the local election for the United Party.
Henry lives at Crocworld near Scottburgh on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal and, at the grand old age of 116, is believed to be the oldest Nile crocodile in captivity.
Fun Facts about Henry:
He was born around 1900;
Henry weighs about 500 kg;
He has 6 wives;
Henry has fathered about 10 000 children.
Henry is a man-eater. When he was in the wild, a Botswanan tribe asked Sir Henry, an elephant hunter, to kill Henry. But, when Sir Henry captured him, the tribe reduced his death sentence to a lifetime in captivity believing that would be harder on Henry than a quick death. So, as penance for his crimes, Henry has had to endure captivity.
When my granddaughter visited Henry and was told that prior to his capture, he had eaten several children, she said, “Wow, he’s pretty cool – but those poor children!”
My husband recently attended a Zulu party in KwaZulu-Natal where we live. He took these photos which show the joy of the people as they celebrate a 21st birthday and engagement. (Photos : BWP Pieterse)
Monkeys abound in our neighbourhood. They jump on the roof of our house, they eat guavas off our tree and, on occasion, they have come into the house and stolen our fruit from the fruit basket. They are such a nuisance. Some people have even resorted to poisoning the little creatures which I find disturbing and cruel.
A letter of complaint was published recently in our local newspaper saying that these animals should be “stopped”. The rant was a repeat of the complaints by the locals and included suggestions for the eradication of the monkeys.
A couple of days later another letter was published, which gave me something to think about. This letter contained a voice of reason which pointed out that the monkeys were in our neighbourhood first. We came in and cleared the land, removing the banana trees and other sources of their food. We built our houses and simply expected the monkeys to go away. Well they have nowhere else to go now we’re stuck with them.
So we allow them to eat fruit off our trees but we make sure they don’t get into our house where they can cause havoc.
We all have to make sacrifices for the sake of harmony and if that means allowing the monkeys some leeway while taking care to restrict the damage they can do, it’s ok by me.
Recently there was a massive hailstorm in Pietermaritzburg. Hailstones, the size of golfballs, came hammering down. They damaged cars, gutters, roofs, windows and terrified the animals. After the storm had subsided, we noticed a hadida (ibis) walking around our garden with a damaged wing.
There have been hurt birds in my garden before and they mostly just need time to rest before they go on their way again. The bird was still there on Saturday and spent the day pecking at worms. We put water nearby and left him. Fortunately our little dog was completely unconcerned about the bird so it was free to wander about.
When I went to collect the newspaper on Sunday morning, I searched for the bird. I was relieved that I couldn’t find it and hoped that it had recovered sufficiently to move on.
Then I looked into the swimming pool and my heart sank. The hadida was floating on the surface. The bird must have managed to get over the fence and somehow fall in – it couldn’t help itself because the hail had broken one of it’s wings.
Last time a hadida died in our garden it crashed into the outside wall of our double storey house. On this occasion there were two hadidas flying together and the one flew straight into the wall. It died instantly. I believe these birds mate for life and its mate circled our house for ages, screeching in distress at the loss of its partner.
The mate of the bird who died in our pool must be grieving over the loss of its missing partner. Collateral damage caused by global warming and man’s inhumanity to our environment.
”Global warming isn’t a prediction, it’s happening.” James Hansen
I’ve been through a difficult time lately. My mom has been ill, amongst other things, and I’ve found the last few weeks a struggle. So much so that, sadly, beauty has eluded me.
I realised that it was time I counted my blessings again and high on my blessing list is the consistent comfort of Dusty, our little Australian Cattle Dog. Without question, the friendship of a dog is one of life’s most beautiful gifts. Dogs bestow loyalty, asking very little in return.
There is usually a lot to consider before taking on the responsibility of a dog but sometimes one comes into your life and the decision just makes itself. Dusty arrived by default. He was a stray and, in spite of our efforts, we were unable to find his owner. So he stayed and I am grateful.
It took us a while to understand the breed, having been used to German Shepherds but we read the breed standard and slowly learnt to ‘read’ Dusty. He has some funny quirks – he used to herd our German Shepherd into a corner, much to my dismay but he believed that to be his job and rightly so, as he was bred to herd. We had to gently discourage him – the sight of an elderly German Shepherd being herded into a corner by an enthusiastic youngster severely compromised her dignity.
Fortunately, my mom is doing better now and so am I. Beauty is coming back into my life helped by the presence of Dusty, my uncomplicated little companion.
Dusty, our Australian Cattle Dog, with Sable, our German Shepherd (Sable died last year)
When my daughter’s German Shepherd died, she found their new family dog at the SPCA. My granddaughter is fortunate to have Keira as a friend and companion