Crocodile

Lurking there at the height of the flooding river. For days now he had shown off his massive predatory length – basking in the sun as the water rushed by.

Since growing up beside the Kafue River in Central river the crocodile was the only animal I was phobic about. As a young child they had invaded sleep with nightmarish regularity.

This Saturday afternoon I was waiting for a visit from a friend who lived in the nearby city. My brother had been away for 10 days on a walking safari out near the Luangwa valley. He needed time away from our game ranch, so I had been alone for hours. As there was not much housework to occupy Beauty the maid, I had told her she could leave early. In the morning she had been acting in a weird manner, talking out loud at the the back of the villa. When I asked her in a conversational manner who she was talking to, as I passed on my way to the other house, thinking it was one of the gardeners – she maintained she was singing. Although intuitively I knew it was not so, I walked on wondering vaguely why I did not confront whoever was there in the shadows. Later I would remember this incident after the appalling events; and it held dreadful significance.

They sauntered in from the bush with powerful nonchalance – up the steps and grabbed me before my brain could grasp the reality of the home invasion. Speaking in the local dialect I pleaded with them in a crazy attempt to reverse the inevitable. (I had never been afraid growing up in Africa. This turned out to be naive and left me vulnerable).

Wrestling me to the floor they soon stopped my speech by tightening the scarf around my neck.

A fleeting memory of a friend spoke of being mugged one time in the USA, prompted me. She’d said that she escaped by surrendering her wallet. The scarf choked me, but with garbled gasps I managed to convey that I would give them my money.

This took some time as the group were amateurs: 3 teenagers and two ringleaders. They dragged me around and threatening me with various scenarios.

I became immensely polite and over time directed them to what money I owned in cash; as they dragged me around the house.

The ringleader took time off to stare into my face, threatening me on several occasions. He was not happy that the big metal safe that they had crowbarred open contained less of the months wages for the game farm than he had hoped for. He terrified me by glaring angrily into my face and declaring:

“We will take you with us and throw you in the river!”

The massive Kafue  filled half the landscape.

Incredibly, my calm honesty and acting even older and more frail than I really was resulted in them tying me into a chair outside on the verandah overlooking the fields and water.

The banging on a brass knocker at the front door (which they had closed) resounded through the courtyard. Four of them sprinted to the bush.

I struggled managed to untie the looser bonds that I had pretended held me to the chair and walked slowly past the least efficient of the bandits to freedom.

Inconvenient ‘convenience’

Having studied “use of English” in order to be admitted into university in Great Britain in the 60’s from Africa, I read early on about brainwashing. Brave New World revisited Aldous Huxley showed me a frightening view of how I could have my opinions shaped if I was not wary.

As a result of that book, & living with a film maker of early advertisements in London – I use the mute button & more or less pay no attention to ads. That is unless I am trapped in a queue at a doctors surgery where we are forced to listen to ‘radio’ (commercial) please note the receptionists have headsets so are not so vulnerable.

Today I went to the local burger joint in a country city. To my horror I was subjected to an unending stream of incentive to buy buy spend etc… until I managed escape through the exit. Yikes they finally caught me!

Laundry

Doing my laundry in what my gypsy friend calls the best laundromat in Australia. She should know as she has been down to Tazzi from Queensland & everywhere in between – then accross to Western Australia & back. As far as I know she hasn’t been to the N W Corner – but I know she wandered as far outback as the Alice.

She buys clothes from the op shops in $5 bags which means she can chuck em when they no longer fulfill their purpose. However I assume she does do some laundry otherwise she would not know so much about laundromats.

As for me, I am attached to my old clothes. They become soft & carry memories – fond memories. I chuck out or recycle those that carry any heavy vibes from the past.

I enjoy the rediscovery of my warm winter woolies & long pants as the weather deteriorates into rain & or chill. the summer stuff is essential in Queensland when the heat becomes unbearable. That’s when I am prepared to pay big bucks for cotton (particularly white cotton) rather than synthetics. Also for the occasional real wool item for the extremes of winter.

While traveling overseas I frequently rinsed most clothing on a daily basis – especially as large old baths can be found in the big colonial buildings where I found hospitality.

TEMPING

I became a ‘temp’ in travel after some years. It was in Perth and a real job in the 80’s. OMG I was gooood at pickin up stray ends, fixing up messes, catching onto mathematical problems & generally stickin within the IATA guidlines.

My first big job for an airline had been working the International Desk for Ansett in the outback mine of Mt Newman. Big money was available, and as soon as I was qualified I found myself writing way out tickets for people going all OVER the world.

Had to be prepared to ask for help at every step of the way. Those tickets were HANDWRITTEN…I regarded them as my works of ‘art’. Lovingly crafted & agonized over.

London for the 1st time

Part of my soul journey was to become a travel agent & help peeps fulfill their dreams. This came about because I had had such odd experiences on my long journeys in different lands.

Even being picked up from London Gatwick in the 60’s turned into a mix-up. One party arrived at the airport & I was so grateful for the ride to stay with my friend who lived near Chelsea….At the same time however my mother had unwittingly arranged for my brother (with another friend in tow) to meet the Gatwick train at Victoria Station. I had presumably made the 1st arrangement.

These things happen to everyone!

SPEED

A Subtle point for Learner Drivers and later Defensive Drivers

Having held licenses on 3 continents (UK,USA, Zambia and the Antipodes) I became aware of the international road signs with the red ring and number in inside on white background.

All students are told that this is the MAXIMUM speed allowed in the area of the road.

MOST students (or have never really learned) that this is NOT the minimun speed.

The car coming up behind please note (who likes to push rather than overtake (and may be rich enough to afford a fine for speeding).

Overtaking

I am very lucky that my father was there when I was young and living in Zambia and learning for my license. Roads were not crowded in the mid sixties.

He stressed that in order to overtake safely it is important to stay well back for 3 reasons.

  1.  In order to have a clear view of oncoming traffic or not.
  2.  To have time to build up overtaking speed.
  3.  Then one can pull out and indicate only when sure to be able to have safe amount of time and speed to overtake.

Tailgating

This dangerous behaviour is so common it is unbelievable!

Most people will have had some kind of instruction before they received their license, except for those (assume nothing) who have bribed or bought it one way or another.

If they took a test to get their license – it is a reasonable expectation that all road code books tell the student to leave enough stopping lengths according to the speed of both vehicles. Logically, to spell it out – this is in case the car in front brakes suddenly (kangaroo, oncoming truck the other side of the road).