Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Author Archive

Hunting for inspiration

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, November 12th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

As I brace myself for another job hunt in trying times, I am reminded of the first job I got in Edinburgh. Scouring the classifieds, I came across an advert for a marketing position “no experience required” (that should’ve tipped me off right there) and I duly applied with naïve enthusiasm. On my first day, I arrived early, smartly kitted out in my sharp business suit and heels (yes, I do own a pair). No one was around but I could hear loud shouts and clapping and cheers from the basement. I later learnt that this was a daily ritual to get all the “marketers” psyched before hitting the road for the day. At the appointed hour I was handed 2 large duffel bags and a “minder” to show me the ropes. On the job training, excellent. We spent the rest of the day schlepping our bags around the city, alternating between taking the bus and walking. One vicious old duck on the bus pointed a bony finger at us and said loudly “you’re no better than thieves”.

I made my debut mid-afternoon, when my mentor thought I was ready – or maybe he just chickened out, in a bar filled with merry men that had obviously been drinking for several hours, if indeed, they had ever stopped. I was trying to sell battery operated hopping, optimistic – more of a shuffle really – obviously not related to the Duracell family of bunnies, Easter bunnies – 8 days after Easter. You can let your imagination run wild at this point.

At the end of the day my feet were in agony, so glad to have worn heels, and my humiliation was complete when I got lost trying to get home. I think I started crying as soon as Graham opened the door. Needless to say, I did not return for day 2!

So I feel some sympathy – empathy would be presumptuous – then for the Jehovah Witnesses that go door to door, trying to spread the Good Word. The abuse heaped on them must be truly eviscerating. I went on a tour of Dachau concentration camp, a working camp rather than an extermination camp, several years ago, and learnt many interesting things – the relevant one here: many JW’s were imprisoned at Dachau (amongst opposition politicians, artists, homosexuals, gypsies and academics), and to regain their freedom all they had to do was sign a document renouncing their faith. There is no record of a single JW ever having signed such a document at Dachau. I find that inspiring.

Camping in

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

Graham took himself off to the Vumba for 3 days of competitive golf this past weekend and the kids and I were left to fend for ourselves. In our newfound freedom we decided to go camping on Friday night – in the front garden … we are so brave. As it turns out, our courage faded with the sun, and come bedtime we were inventing reasons to sleep indoors. Tyla won out with the most convincing argument about not being able to find the loo or the torch or the necessary daring in the middle of the night. So we shuffled sheepishly back into the house and all piled into my bed for a night of giggles and fighting for the covers.

On Saturday we ventured out to watch the fireworks display, feeling guilty about leaving the dogs home alone. We packed our picnic basket, the essential bottle of wine for me, some strawberries and cheese, and pizza for the kids. The children ran around like mad things for hours, then ate, then got a bit bored waiting for the fireworks to start. I felt no pain having anaesthetized myself sufficiently with Nederburg Baronne, the full effects of which only made themselves known, thankfully, when I got within spitting distance of my bed.

Sunday found us enjoying lunch at Aunt Jen’s with yours truly vigorously (an exaggeration) participating in animated discussion around the psychology of smell and how people will happily smell your wrist, but will balk when you hold out 2 fingers for them to sniff at – which ended in a fit of giggles. After food, and the vain exhortation to my children to eat (“I’m not going to cook anything for dinner you know” – ever hopeful) I propped my frail head against the sun lounger amongst the old folk and snoozed behind dark glasses, surreptitiously you understand.

I’m sure no-one noticed.

And stuff happens

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

I can’t sleep. It comes from dodding off mid-afternoon in front of the TV like a geriatric, complete with drool and gentle snore and ensuing loss of control of the neck muscles. My closed eyes were rudely prised open about an hour later by little, sticky, bored, fingers. Now I lie here harrumphing and unable to settle comfortably. I place my foot on Graham’s back and push, gently at first, and then with more oomph – because I’m bored too you understand and I want someone to play with. I giggle to myself, pleased with my mischief and because he’s tickling the offending foot. Poor bugger has to wake up at the usual time for work tomorrow.

I broke my toe. At least I think it’s broken but it’s hard to tell. I am reluctant to wiggle it despite all the encouragement I am getting from my family. It’s the little one, right next to the baby toe, and it’s turning blue and purple and growing into a fat, short sausage. It didn’t have a great deal of movement to start with, not like Houdini who was apparently able to thread a needle with his toes – a skill which, when added to his ability to pick up a needle using his eyelashes, helped tremendously with getting him out of those prickly positions he found himself in. Anyway, the broken toe is a result of trying to move heavy equipment with it, and at speed – no Zumba on Tuesday then.

I find myself sitting in the dentist’s chair, although sitting is not the best word. My buttocks are tightly clenched, my hands are white-knuckled gripping the armrests, and my feet are tense. Even the hair on my legs is bristling. I haven’t shaved – summer can be so tiresome. She tells me to open my mouth and I follow the directive with reluctance and a little difficulty because my jaw is rather stiff. 15 minutes of general chitchat follow as she distracts me from myself. Long story short, the last of my wisdom tooth was extracted fairly painlessly after the surprise attack of anesthetic. Only a minor cracking of the jawbone due to stubbornly bent root, nothing to worry about …

Having read this you probably think I’ve had a shit week. But you’d be wrong. It’s been fun. Full of life. And the stuff that happens when you have other things planned.

Sex, shaving and one for the road

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

In a misguided attempt to add some zing to my sex life I decided to shave my “bits” …  so Saturday morning found me doing a myriad of contortions in the bathtub, wrestling with shaving cream, my legs and the razor, the kids happily distracted by an hour of cartoons. Yes. Not the brightest idea I ever had. I didn’t cut myself. So there’s a plus. I also chose this day, of all possible days, to stop taking my antihistamines – I’ve been taking one every day for about 2 months to beat my hay fever into submission. And because I feel like I’m giving in by taking them at all, I thought I’d take a short break and test if it were actually necessary. In the big scheme of things, you understand. (I am also reading a book called “Don’t sweat the small stuff, for moms”). As it turns out, it probably will be a day I will remember five years from now.

At 9, a friend dropped off her son, and we went along to spend the day at a local school’s fun fair. The kids had a great day going down water slides, riding ponies, entering the colouring competition, pinning the eye patch on the pirate (an exciting variation to tails on donkeys) and racing around the obstacle course. I searched in vain for a patch of shade and ended up slowly roasting at 30-voetsak degrees amidst a small mountain of juice bottles and hats and clothes and towels and swimming costumes and balloons. One of which popped – I was not the most popular parent of the day. It might even have been on my cigarette – which I do not own up to!

Needless to say by 3 o’clock that afternoon I was a mass of snot with swollen-shut red eyes, sunburn, and the urge to scoot across the grass like a dog with worms (very itchy bits!) or rub myself up against a tree (obviously not fussy). 3 Castle Lites later, toilet roll (helpfully supplied by a concerned parent) clutched in free hand, a possibly erroneous feeling of control descended … the Castles are not so “Lite” after all.

Later Graham, happily home from work, cooked dinner for our unexpected guests while I threw back a vodka and coke (or two) and had a satisfying scratch. True to form, by the time I had eaten my dinner, with some fantastic red wine, acquired at the recent Big 5 Wine Festival, my eyelids were drooping, speech was slightly slurred and my enthusiasm for the rest of the evening seriously compromised.

I’d like to say the sex was worth it. But Graham came to bed eventually to find me snoring gently, my choice of adjective I must admit, fully clothed, a burst balloon at my feet – must’ve been the lone survivor.

Diary of a mad woman

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

8 July
Returned to Harare from Hippo Pools tired, dusty and delighted with all our treasure (pods, wild fruit etc for Daniel’s nature table at school), to find that ZESA had blown the borehole over the weekend and we had not a drop of water in the house. Peachy.

11 July
Graham is reading a book called “Living with a Willy” in preparation for his “birds and bees” chat with Daniel (in about 6 years time! We might be a tad premature methinks – no pun intended). I’ve read it already. It was a gift and I was overcome with curiosity. The author has 101 euphemisms for the word “penis”, most of which make me blush.  We might just chicken out, and give him the book to read himself!

13 July
Adult diapers – you’d think they would come up with a more discreet, attractive name? – usually the preserve of the aged, would I think do well for people who have given birth to one or more children (naturally) and suffer from hay fever. Hay fever characterized by violent sneezing – in the early hours of the morning – when you are likely to have a full bladder anyway – and you are understandably reluctant to get out of bed, it being the middle of winter… I’m assuming here, having no personal experience to draw upon, just a guess …

16 July
I am reliably informed that the new, “in” term for kissing is “lunging”. Sounds quite aggressive. I would be inclined to protect my tonsils against the inevitable onslaught if such a proposition ever arose. Yes, we can agree that it is unlikely – my lunging days – inept slobbering – are over, for which I am quite grateful if a bit nostalgic …

The joys of camping

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 by Tina Rolfe

The weekend (already ambitious – it was just the one night), found my family camping at Hippo Pools.  There was some grumbling on the part of my husband … “mutter, mutter, who had the bright idea to go camping in the middle of winter? Rhubarb, rhubarnmnbkfferitsgbv@$!&*!! … But we were pretty much swept away with the kids’ excitement.

We all squished into grandpa’s car. Grandpa passed his license back in the day when licenses were licenses and they couldn’t be purchased for cash, and grandpa has his vehicle serviced every 5 minutes by a genius.  Anyway granny and grandpa happily in the front seat, mom, dad and 2 squirming kids in the back. Oh happy day.

Did I mention that grandpa does not make potty stops, not for man nor beast nor 5 year olds? The need to go to the loo made itself known around Bally Vaughan somewhere – not even half way to Hippo Pools. Luckily, after turning onto the dirt road, grandpa pulled over to study the map and we all dived out of the car with alacrity. The boys and the kids went, us older girls prudently waited for the ox cart and passengers to pass by. The spot was not chosen for its seclusion, it appeared to be just round the corner from the local bus stop and unfortunately we seemed to be a bit of a novelty, so the oxen were not motivated to put foot. Equally unfortunately, grandpa was. So into the car again, this time on a corrugated dirt road, bouncing happy child on my lap (read: bladder), face pressed to the window in the hopes of spotting an elephant, for another hour and a half, at least. I gave the passing buffalo (with baby) less attention than they deserved it must be said. Short shrift was made of the National Parks Officer who wanted to chat at the boom gate on arrival. I led the charge for the bathroom with undignified haste (and I may have elbowed one or two elderly folk out the way), only greeting the staff on my way back – the nature of my urgency was no secret.

The rest of the day was spectacular apart from the fact that the fish weren’t biting (“too cold” I told the kids sagely, like I’m the expert).

And then it was time to go to bed.

I was sharing a tent with my daughter, and the boys were right next door. Bad mistake, in the middle of the night every sound was amplified – I won’t elaborate. Before I could succumb to sleep however, I was viciously attacked by my sleeping bag and we did wrestle for some time before I beat it into submission by opening the zip.  All the way.  At which point everyone was awake, sleeping bags make that swishing noise when you move, it’s that plastic-like fabric on the outside, so loud … Then my feet were cold, as my makeshift mattress (garden chair cushion, I kid you not, which I was reluctant to pack I might add – my sum experience of camping as an adult consisting of the beaches of Mozambique …) didn’t quite make it that far. So the spare blanket went into keeping my toes off the freezing floor. Then pain, such pain, my hip bones drilling into the ground – it was impossible to sleep, so I tossed and turned and had short hopeful conversations with everyone I woke up … until Graham got up at 4:30.

I heard him stop and hold his breath, then the hippo moved off, he exhaled, and I asked him to put the kettle on (and he wondered whether I loved him at all).

When everyone was up, we all took turns fitting our feet into the hippo’s footprint left on the muddy bank.

‘Twas quite a beast.