Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce

Archive for July, 2015

Balls of Steel

Although our friendship only lasted for a few years because he stubbornly went ahead and died aged fifty-four, a chance meeting at work brought Richard into our lives and has left both Kimberley and me with untold happy memories. It was the kind of relationship that offered support when most needed, tendered really sensible advice, wasn’t afraid to be honest when necessary, generated a lot of mutual laughter, and is really in a class of its own. In one of the conversations that helps when I’m feeling down, Richard said he would always remember me for my sense of humour, ‘fantastic’ eyes, and memory of an elephant. He also remarked from time to time that I had balls of steel. This of course led to rounds of jokes based largely on bad puns and not the suggestive humour one may imagine. Brass monkeys featured and are just an example of the way our conversations unearthed fascinating trivia.

A recent chance remark brought back memories of an unrelated conversation which I sometimes marvel at undertaking and would undoubtedly have led Richard to reaffirm his opinion.

In the time before wedded bliss turned to wedded mis, we had a crazy half-Siamese cat named Wally. His time with us was also limited but, to this day, we have no explanation for his disappearance. One night he was with us as we stood in the driveway seeing off some visitors, then we never saw him again. There were few stones left unturned in trying to find out where he was. For years afterwards I would follow up on vague leads in the hope of recovering him.

On one of these occasions I loaded up a thoroughly deceased Siamese lying on the side of Murray Road and drove him to our long-suffering vet*. Apart from the body being stiff, there was a red maggoty kind of centipede cavorting in one of its eye sockets. This was about two years after Wally left. The body I took to the vet had much fainter points than Wally and I really needed to know if death could cause pigmentation to fade. Needless to say, it was next to impossible for the vet to say with any certainty whether or not this could have been our cat. But I did succeed in grossing him out, as a remark overheard by chance on my way out indicated.

The conversation which I am certain Richard would have enjoyed was the result of another sighting. A lady phoned from a neighbouring suburb in response to one of our many posters and advertisements. She was attempting to catch a stray cat in her area. The real catch in this story is that the wily cat was proving to be extremely elusive and the only identifying feature she could give me was that in the faint light of her torch he had discernibly huge testicles, visible on each occasion as he disappeared over her garden wall.

My dad tends to think I’m too independent for my own good but life events have taught me that if something needs to be done I might as well get on with it myself – so sometimes I just take a deep breath and get the ball rolling before I get cold feet. If there really are such things as premonitions our vet would have left Pietermaritzburg many years earlier than he eventually did.

Having dialled the number and been put through to him I had to say something, but in those days still had something approaching sensibilities. Time and experience has long put paid to that luxury. The monologue ran something along the lines of “We brought our Siamese cat to you to be neutered a few years ago. As you know, he is missing but a lady has seen one she thinks may be him. The problem is that she has only seen him at night and can only identify him by big body parts.   Um.   Um. When you neutered him, did you actually remove pieces or just severe the connection? Could they have grown back?” I don’t often have a wish to be something insect-like, particularly not a fly, but on this occasion I wouldn’t have objected to finding myself lurking on the vet’s office wall. While his exact answer is beyond recall, the words were to the effect that it was not our cat. His voice was rather indistinct.

* If you are anything more than remotely acquaintanted with us, you will understand my long-standing joke that over the years I have paid for a large part of our vet’s Land Rover.

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Fifty is the New Thirty

I freely admit to loving my (limited) experience of the ‘fifties, which is just as well as I intend to stick to my maxim that the best part of old age is denial – no matter how much experience I clock up. The most noticeable tribute to passing time is the slothful approach my body adopts to the snappy mental commands I issue from time to time ; for example, “get up from the pool paving and fetch another drink” tends to be interpreted as “roll over soonish, when no-one is looking hoist your bum in the air and get one leg under you – ow, not like that – and p-u-u-s-h ; ag, just ask Kimberley to fill your glass”.

Less obvious to the casual observer are the unforeseen twinges. Like the one I’ve had in the base of my left thumb for a few days. We are having a cold front but the twinge persists even while washing dishes in hot water. So far I’ve borne it stoically but my response reminds me strongly of my grandfather. Who else remembers the Reader’s Digest’s endless series of publications in the ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies? In this context I refer to their health books. Pa became hooked on them and so early on I discovered the dangers of reading too much about symptoms and possible causes. I do not criticise as Google still tells me things I don’t want to hear and are not easy to forget.

The first explanation for the offending hand to occur to me was probably triggered by experiences of friends and colleagues. I prefer a more poetic approach : despite my fortitude, the inclination to bitch to all and sundry  points to carp-all tunnel syndrome. This layman’s diagnosis is reinforced by the all-consuming attention it seeks, possibly making it carp-all tunnel vision?

Fortunately my brain was quickly able to talk itself out of this first diagnosis by recalling the remedial procedures undergone by the erstwhile colleagues and late friends. If the latter were removed from this  mortal coil because of blocked passages, the chances of these being both manual and digital rather than arterial is remote.  On the other hand (unintentional, I assure you), the finger  in which the cat excavated two years ago remains pain free. Considering the abysmal state of my medical aid, this does give food for thought. But I would need to have a whole host of drinks before undergoing that again. Unless it was the rabies shots that did the trick.

The possibility of tendonitis has occurred to me but at this stage the rather isolated symptoms have narrowed it down to a colloquially “blerriesorefum”.

As my ‘thirties were spent inexorably approaching and then recuperating from a divorce and I cannot imagine what I did with my ‘forties, I’m revelling in my ‘fifties  and neither they nor I are going to be remembered for being a pain in the thumb.