'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Safari is the Swahili word for journey. We've been in Greyton South Africa for Christmas.

My mate The Artist-Blacksmith (A-B) with wife (Jude) and the two offspring (boy 11, girl 17!) came to Sarth Efrica for the first time. We decided to show them something of the place and one of the things is the obligatory game park experience. We opted for The Garden Route Game Lodge2 hours from our house. The main reason being it was just far enough to prevent 'the boy' being bored (having lost his ipod in a freak river/hire car incident the night before (maybe more on that later)) and it offered the BIG FIVE (still in small family numbers!). I must apologize for early overuse of parenthesis (it is a while since I blogged and am a little rusty). The BIG FIVE – actually the BIG TEN, as there were only 2 of everything (I think that's what still in small family numbers means) comprises (for those not in the know (sorry more bloody brackets (Nick help me here)): 2 elephant, 2 buffalo, 2 rhino, 2 lion (actually only saw the arse and tail of one) and 2 elusive mountain leopard. I would have suggested the substitution of 2 giraffe for the 2 leopard, but was not asked. Look - the experience was fine – bumpy rides on land-cruisers – meals in the boma – luxury thatched rondavel accommodation – attended to by 'the formally disadvantaged' ( Sarth Efrican for the coloured and black population) and topped the first day by sharing a land-cruiser with 'The Fokkers'. The Fokkers are just a bunch of people that you would not choose to be with in the normal way of things. Strangers thrown together by a lack of seats.

Now I tend to be a bit loud in company and I imagine sometimes crass and boorish (know thyself) but Father Fokker managed to shut me up completely – apart from my occasional mutter of 'forfucksakeshurup'.

Our guide had asked that we turn off our mobile, I mean cell (as they say in SA) 'phones. He should also have added and be as quiet as possible and only ask questions at suitable times. A-B and family were stunned into silence too; something we've been trying to do to Jude for years (joke?).

Father Fokker's wife and children were subdued. When I met her later on her own in the bar she volunteered that 'the one good thing about living with Dan was that she always knew from the noise where he was'. I think she'd read the expression on the back of my head whilst on the morning drive. Dan was a couple of hundred yards away at this point with two Americans (BIG SIXTH?)pinned against a wall saying 'The best route through Alaska is left on the R62….never wear blue with green…. Always carry a small knife… I'm an estate agent/travel agent/doctor .. you can trust my judgement.. would you like to buy a daughter off me?….

Dan felt the need to inform and assist. His questions weren't questions. They were statements of how much he knew. Even when he got things wrong, or was told something he hadn't said …. after such moments he would say 'of course - I knew that'.

His mother, Grandmother Fokker, had the skin and the laugh of a hyena (one of the BIG SEVENTH?). She obviously thought that her son was a born comedian and threw in the hyena cry at every opportunity. It was at least twice the decibels of any mobile/ cell phone, and probably the reason why the game kept well away. For a woman in her sixties born and raised in Sarth Efrica she was surprisingly ignorant of the local wildlife.

Two Blue Crane flew over. The Blue Crane is Sarth Efrica's national bird.

"Heh Heh Ha - Look at those ostrich – they are my favourite' brayed GM Fokker.

"They are actually Blue Crane – and ostrich don't fly" I inadvertently intervened.

"I knew that" said the son.

I pulled down my hat and did that scowl thing with the back of my neck

After dinner we were sat in front of the fire trying not to catch their eye and trying not to be animated or say anything that might need enlightenment. D F mistook our sullenness for boredom.

"Hey guys would you like to play charades?"

A puzzled look from A-B.

D F: 'It's a game? You choose a film, a book, a tv programme and mime it and then we guess what it is"

"We knew that" we chorused and went to bed.




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