"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Monday, 24 October 2011

there are places i remember

This song has been in my head the last two days.  It is one of my favourite Beatles songs because it has good lyrics.  Never one to complain about their voices and melodies but their lyrics sometimes left much to be desired.  This is yet another of the subjects that gets me into trouble with my loved ones.  Don't ever mention the name Elvis to me - he is up there with Michael Jackson (actually they are both poking coals with Lucifer making music to drive all the dead bad beings down there crazy), Mariah Carey, Lance Armstrong and the New Zealand rugby team (but not their cricket team, they are pretty cool) as my least favourite people.  However, the English cricket and rugby team, Nick Faldo and Lawrence the Great (Dallaglio) are right up on a pedestal with Dave Matthews (who does a better version of this song than the Beatles).  Well, I think so.  Take a listen and then I will get on to the real story behind this post.  

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Last year sometime Michael was helping his aging and forgetful mother list all the places she had lived, starting with where she was born.  The list was extensive.  Her father was a minister and they were moved around a lot.  She and her husband (the late Rev. Theo Kotze) were also in the ministry and moved around South Africa before living in exile overseas. They came back to South Africa after Mandela was released.  If I recall correctly she had lived in more than 20 different homes.

On the other end of the scale, my world is very small.  Yesterday I went around taking some pictures of the places where I have lived and, although I did not measure the distance, I have never lived more than approximately 4km's from where I was born at the Mowbray Maternity Hospital.  Three homes in the Rosebank area took me to my teens, then a move when my mom remarried to the Red Cross Hospital side of Rondebosch Common.  John and I moved into a flat on the mountain side of the common, then to a cottage in Rondebosch East and to Parry Road, Claremont, the only home the boys knew until I got divorced in 1999.   A short stint in a small flat next to Westerford, a move to Albion Road and now St Denis Road.  OK, 8 homes is a fair number but it is the fact that I have never ever moved out of the area, for anything that is unusual.  Schools were also all within the 4km radius.

Now as I am sorting through the photographs from yesterday there is one picture that sucks me in. 

Albion Road. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love our house in St Denis Road.  It has been changed to how we want it, I have the perfect sized garden to work in and manage, everything works (except the hot tap in the en-suite shower), I love the way the light comes into the lounge through the blinds in the morning, the courtyard is a small oasis and I am happier than I have ever been.

So what is my love for this battered little tin-roofed cottage next to the railway line where the cupboards tremble and plates chatter every time a train pulls into or out of Rondebosch station all about?  Michael and my mother don't understand it.  The cottage is dark but not too dark.  It is lovely and cool in summer and not too cold in winter.  You have to negotiate certain floorboards in the dark, the electricity trips far too often, the kitchen floor is subsiding and the door frames are warped. Nic now lives there and, for my sins, I now have the role of landlady.  Whenever I have had the opportunity to "pop in" to sort out a washing machine or a roof leak and even although it is sometimes a mess, I always get a good, coming home feeling as I open the front door.

I know the boys feel the same as I do and now that I am writing about it, I am understanding my own feelings about the house better.  Albion Road was the first home of my own (even although I do not "own" it).  It came at a difficult time of our lives but from this rattling little cottage at the bottom of the tree lined road so many good times were had.  We all learnt so much.  For the first time in my life, I was in control (the boys will challenge me on this one).  Our home became home-from-home to so many of their friends, there was a stack of mattresses and on Sunday mornings, Matthew would do a head count of bodies on beds all over the house.  He was 12 years old and so chuffed to have Gareth and Nic's rugby mates sleeping over that he would hide his chocolate Pronutro away from them and proceed to help me make bacon and eggs for his rugby hero's.

The dynamics of the house changed over the years.  Gareth went off to the UK for 2 years, Nic had a gap year in America and the UK.  Nic came back, Matt left to have his gap year at Clifton College in Bristol.  They all came home and went off to study and to work.  Matthew and I left the older two behind when we moved in with Michael to St Denis Road.  Things kept changing but never too much.

Gareth lived there after I had left with Nic and his friend Grant, Nic is now there with three friends including Bob, his great friend who had left but got "homesick" and returned.  It is a house that you cannot quite put your finger on about what makes it special.  James has not been living there for long but is making changes and enjoys fixing and making things.  He has re-established the garden and so proud of it that I have promised that I will take some pictures and let you all see his work, soon.  I have realised that a home does not have to be perfectly decorated or built to make you happy. It is how your home makes you feel physically and emotionally that is important to your happiness.   I have wonderful memories of my time in Albion Road.  Always feeling safe, walking Rusty our staffie up the road late at night.  Watching the boys walking off to school in the morning (and never having to negotiate the traffic).   I will always be sentimental about number 47.

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Well said John Lennon wherever you are.  I really hope that you are not having to endure "Love me Tender" or having to learn how to moonwalk!!  You surely should have been forgiven for the words of "Love, love me do", but on further investigation ......

God is a concept, By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I'll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I don't believe in magic,
I don't believe in I-ching,
I don't believe in bible,
I don't believe in tarot,
I don't believe in Hitler,
I don't believe in Jesus,
I don't believe in Kennedy,
I don't believe in Buddha,
I don't believe in mantra,
I don't believe in Gita,
I don't believe in yoga,
I don't believe in kings,
I don't believe in Elvis,
I don't believe in Zimmerman,
I don't believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that's reality.
The dream is over,
What can I say?
The dream is over,
I was dreamweaver,
But now I'm reborn,
I was the walrus,
But now I'm John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over. 

-  perhaps you are playing poker with Lucifer.

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