Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce



With Kimberley at The Great Gatsby. 31 May 2013

So many of the local events that interest me happen within a short time span at this time of year : Art in the Park, the Comrades Marathon, the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s Concert in the Park and, in years gone by, the [Royal] Agricultural Show.

My interest in the Comrades Marathon has largely to do with the fact that I more or less grew up along the route, starting in Botha’s Hill as a child, being down the road and around the corner at Inchanga, living across the road from the finish in Pietermaritzburg soon after we married, and now living within groaning distance of Polly Shortts. For a couple of years we travelled the route between Drummond and Cato Ridge twice daily in a school bus. TV coverage gives me a glimpse of numerous old haunts in one brief orgy of nostalgia.

‘The Show’ goes on but I have missed more than I’ve attended in recent years. The lustre would inevitably have waned as I was still well entrenched in junior school when we first started going to it. As a young adult there was something to prove in frightening oneself senseless at the amusement park but, for some time now, if I have to entertain onlookers I would rather it be by the manifestation of the inward workings of my head than the outer. Interest increased again after Kimberley’s birth as one can never tire of seeing the wonderment in a tiny person’s face as they absorb new sights and sounds. Once she grew big enough to go with her friends I missed many years. Then, right out of the blue, a few months ago she asked if I would accompany her this year : her studies are likely to see her relocate in the new year. One of her special requests was that we acquire donuts from the Dodo’s stand. They had been a family tradition since Kimberley was small which will be no surprise to many Maritzburgers. Others included chocolate fudge from the Fudge Lady and, later on, beer from the Foaming Tankard. The first two requisites were easily met but the Foaming Tankard has gone the way of many landmarks. The site is now incorporated into the fairground. We took a shortcut along this route and only a few minutes after we emerged I saw three paramedics weaving their way quickly through the crowds back the way we had come. One could see from their faces that it wasn’t a routine stroll but we only heard shortly after arriving home that a five year old boy had died on one of the rides minutes after we’d passed. Ironically, one of the Show’s few other fatalities (Chuchin the tightrope artist) had fallen to his death in the arena less than a hundred metres away two days after we’d marvelled at his performance in 1984.

The day after going to the Show Kimberley and I went to see DiCaprio’s The Great Gatsby together. It had been prescribed reading for both of us in our matric years, albeit thirty-two years apart. Kimberley took the photo above while we waited for the movie to begin. Being more familiar with the earlier version starring Robert Redford, it took me a while to get past the distraction of the 3D format, but on the whole I think I absorbed more from the recent remake.

However I occupy myself once she leaves home, it isn’t going to be the same. I suppose that’s what circles are about. Hopefully Dodo’s donuts will  not go the way of their namesake and one day we will be able to incorporate the following generation into the tradition.


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