Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Concert by Beryl Ensor-Smith

Mr Badenhorst must arrange a multi-cultural concert in this, another delightful instalment in Beryl Ensor-Smith's Prentburg series of stories driven by gossip and misunderstandings.

It was unfortunate that Nella Kritzinger was alone in the municipal offices when the call from the local counsellor for the area came through. It was also unfortunate that the counsellor, Brenda Dixon, inspired if not fear, then something very close to it in the breast of Nella and many others. An austere woman who did not hide her contempt for incompetence, Brenda Dixon's looks belied her severity. She was very attractive, which made her attitude even more disconcerting.

Nella started to shake at the first sound of her voice, and matters were not helped when Mrs Dixon chose to speak English although she was fluent in Afrikaans. Mrs Dixon's accent was the cut-glass kind and her vocabulary contained words unknown to Nella, who managed to stutter that both Jan Badenhorst, Administrative Manager, and Kobie le Grange, clerk, were away from the premises and only she, the telephonist, was available.

"Mr Badenhorst's meeting with the squatters over some problem and Kobie - that is Miss Le Grange - has the flu."

"Indeed? Then I shall have to rely on you to give Mr Badenhorst a message. A most important message."

Dismay swept over Nella and she quite missed Mrs Dixon's next comment. By the time she managed to get a grip on herself, Mrs Dixon was well into her explanation and Nella was too timid to ask her to repeat the part she'd missed. Instead she forced herself to concentrate and grabbed pen and pad to jot down the salient points.

"...on the afternoon of the 16th May, that's next month, and I'll be bringing with me four Administrative Managers from other areas as well as the relevant Member of Parliament. This is to be a team effort to improve race relations and I rely on Mr Badenhorst to make all the necessary arrangements."

What arrangements? Nella wondered and desperation drove her to enquire:

"What exactly must Mr Badenhorst do?"

Brenda Dixon's voice took on a tinge of exasperation. "I should have thought that was obvious. He must choose a suitable venue - in view of the numbers, his office will not do, it would be too crowded - and provide refreshments for participants. Please stress that I rely on him to have representatives from all the different racial groups in your area. This is to be a cross-cultural, nation building initiative and we want input from all sources. A concerted effort must be made to include all role-players." Meeting with stunned silence from Nella, she added irritably, "If Mr Badenhorst has any queries, tell him to contact me."

"I will," Nella whispered, and once Mrs Dixon had rung off, stared at her pad in a daze. Words leaped out at her. Venue, refreshments, different race groups, cross-cultural. Also something she had scrawled that was illegible.

She was still battling to make head or tail of it when Jan Badenhorst returned. He blanched when told that Mrs Dixon had phoned.

"That woman! What now?"

Looking at her pad, Nella's brow cleared. She remembered what she had written.

"Mrs Dixon wants you to arrange a concert with different role-players for the afternoon of 16th May. It must be cross-cultural with all the race groups. She also wants refreshments and says you must choose a proper venue. Your office won't do for so many people." Reading from her pad she parroted, "It's very important for race relations and nation building. She's bringing Administrative Managers from four regions and a Member of Parliament." Jan Badenhorst looked thunderstruck. "My God!" He then hastily apologised for the blasphemy.

"It's OK," Nella said generously. "She said you can phone her if you have any questions."

"I have lots but I'm damned if I'll phone her! That would make me look a complete fool in her eyes and she must already think me an idiot to tell me my office isn't suitable for a concert. We'll have to use the town hall."

"It could be fun," Nella said brightly, now that she had passed the problem to Jan, "the different races doing their own thing."

"Ha! Just how many different races does she imagine exist in these parts anyway?"

"Quite a lot. There's us Afrikaners, some English, the Coloureds, and the squatters on the banks of the vlei are a mixture of Xhosas and Zulus. Then there's the Italian family that own the dairy and those Chinese at the laundry. When you think of it..."

"I am thinking of it," Jan interrupted, "and I'm getting a massive headache. The amount of work this is going to involve... Did she say whether we're to charge for the tickets? I suppose not," he added as she shook her head, "seeing it's for nation building or whatever. How can that woman do this to me? Why did she choose our area for her shindig?"

"Because you're so efficient," Nella said soothingly, but ceased to feel quite so smug when Jan dictated a list of things he expected her to handle.

The news soon spread through Prentburg that Mrs Dixon had asked Jan Badenhorst to arrange an inter-cultural concert. Jan made posters on his PC stating requirements and asking for volunteers, stressing that Mrs Dixon considered participation essential for nation building. He also pleaded for a quick response, as he had just six weeks in which to arrange matters.

It was the main topic of conversation at the next Sisters of the Church charity needlework session. Sarie Blignault's eyes shone with excitement.

"A concert!" she breathed ecstatically. The other "sisters" ignored this childlike member of the sisterhood. Her enthusiasm for things that aroused dismay in more sensible breasts was a constant source of bafflement to them.

"Jan visited Dominee Seibrand this morning," Miems Gouws told the others importantly. She was a deacon in the church and privy to first-hand information, which pleased her mightily.

"Jan told Dominee he's very disappointed in the response to his poster. He's had only two people volunteer, one being Christina."

That day Christina was absent from the sewing circle. She wielded a needle like a gardening tool and the results of her efforts left much to be desired, so she avoided humiliation by inventing a series of excuses on sewing days. Those present groaned aloud on hearing that she'd offered to sing.

"The other entrant," Miems continued, "is from that family from Britain, the Fotheringhams. Other than that, nothing! Jan told Dominee he's very disillusioned to find that the citizens of Prentburg are so reluctant to build the nation and Mrs Dixon will be too!"

"So that's why Dominee's asked us to try to work up some enthusiasm among the dorp volk?" Helga Swanepoel looked thoughtful. "Sisters, we must succeed! We can't have that Dixon woman thinking we're so lacking in talent we can't produce enough items for a decent concert."

"That's all very well, but cross-cultural?" Marion Klopper looked sceptical. "Who's going to visit the township, or try to involve the foreign families in the district?"

"We'll share the chore," Helga decided. "Sarie can visit the squatters. You can tackle the Faranelli's, I'll persuade the Wu family to participate and we'll get Christina to scout around for more Afrikaans talent. Suzie can involve the English and Elsie the Coloureds and the Jewish families."

Sarie had done some quick thinking while Helga was speaking. She was not quite as dim as was sometimes believed.

"That's not fair! It means the rest of you only have to see a few families, but there are heaps of different races among the squatters... you can't expect me to visit all of them."

"Oh, all right," Helga conceded ungraciously. She glanced quickly around and picked on another absentee. "Rina van Wyk can help you." After all, if a church sister wasn't there to look after her own interests, she could hardly expect someone else to do so! Besides, Sarie couldn't be sent into the informal settlement on her own. Regrettably Helga wasn't thinking of Sarie's safety, but rather that she was likely to get things wrong. Rina's presence would prevent any mix-ups.

When Miems Gouws got home, she was accosted by her old, rather deaf mother.

"You've been so long Miems. What kept you?"

"It was a long meeting, ma. A LONG MEETING," she yelled into her mother's ear horn. Ma Gouws refused to wear a hearing aid, much to the frustration of all who tried to communicate with her.

"Why?"

"Jan Badenhorst is arranging a concert. A CONCERT, MA. We had to decide where to find participants. In a town this size, there's limited talent. NOT MUCH TALENT."

"Hmmm," her mother looked sceptical. "There's no talent to speak of. Your concert won't last fifteen minutes if it's to depend on the gifts of the locals. Miems," she implored as a thought struck her, "please don't ask Willie Slabbert to play his cello. That would really be scraping the bottom of the barrel."

"He's given up, remember? GIVEN UP, MA. The only volunteers so far are Christina singing an aria and Gina Fotheringham doing a dance."

Ma Gouws had caught a word here and there. "Christina singing? That's worse than having Willie on the cello! No-one will come to your concert. What was that you said about the Fotheringham girl?"

"She's doing A DANCE, MA. A dance of the Devon Vales."

Ma Gouws's face creased with disgust. "Trust an English girl to do that!"

Miems was mildly surprised. "Who else? You DON'T EXPECT AN AFRIKAANS GIRL TO, SURELY?"

"I most certainly don't and sincerely hope Jan Badenhorst puts a stop to something so lewd!"

Miems was now very astonished indeed. "You know this dance, ma?"

"Speak up, Miems. You will insist on whispering. It's so irritating!"

'YOU KNOW THIS DANCE? YOU'VE SEEN IT PERFORMED?" Miems screamed.

"Of course I haven't, Miems, but I've read about it and so have you."

"I most certainly HAVE NOT!"

"Oh yes you have, daughter. It's there in the bible; Herod gave Salome the head of John the Baptist for that dance!"

"Oh, ma, you've got it all wrong." Miems looked at the set expression on her mother's face and gave up the struggle. She hadn't the energy to continue yelling.

It didn't take long for the news to spread through the dorp that Ma Gouws had it on good authority that a lewd, nude dance was to be performed by

an English girl at Jan Badenhorst's concert. Jan got to hear about it and was about to refute the rumour when he noticed that tickets for the concert were going at a faster rate than performance items were coming in. He decided rapidly that it was as important to have an audience as it was to have performers, so he merely smiled blandly when asked if it were true.

The "sisters" meanwhile, went about urging reluctant members of the community to do their patriotic thing. Suzie Lamprecht visited old Mrs Merton, one of the few people of English origin in the area.

"What do you expect me to do, Suzie? I've lived as one of you for more than sixty years and have just about forgotten that I have English roots."

"Can't you do something really different, Mrs M? What about maypoles and the like?"

Mrs Merton fixed on her such a scornful glance that Suzie withered on the spot.

"You really expect a woman of my advanced years to caper around a pole hanging onto ribbons? Forget it! Try old Davenport. He might be willing to make a fool of himself, but I am decidedly not!"

When desperation drove Suzie to ask old man Davenport, very hesitantly, if he would participate, she was vastly relieved when he responded positively, saying he would demonstrate semaphoring. Suzie had no idea what he meant but accepted with alacrity and, considering her duty done, went home.

Christina du Plessis, highly indignant at having been co-opted to such a menial task, half-heartedly approached a few Afrikaans people. Her sales pitch was as poor as her sewing skills and the best she could offer, when the "sisters" next met, was Koos Venter playing folk tunes on his mouth organ.

"That will have to do, I suppose," Helga Swanepoel frowned. "Fortunately I bumped into Oom Fanie at the supermarket and his boere-orkes will perform for us."

"It's not called a 'boere-orkes' any more. These days it's a rock band," Marion Klopper corrected primly.

"Piano accordions, electric guitars and drums are a boere-orkes in my book," Helga argued, "whatever you choose to call them!"

"Stop quarrelling you two," Mrs Merton snapped. "What else have we got?"

"The Faranellis will sing. I told them not on any account opera." Marion met Christina's outraged glance and added hastily, "seeing we already have an aria in the programme."

"Two," Christina amended, mollified. The others flinched.

"Well," Helga said triumphantly, "I've got the Wus lined up for something very interesting."

"What?" in chorus.

"They don't speak Afrikaans very well so it was impossible to find out what it's called, but basically, it's costumes and movement. Fans and gongs too... very exotic from what I can make out. We'll call it Eastern Magic."

"Then the audience will expect a magician," Suzie objected.

Helga looked sulky. "Eastern Mysteries, then."

"It sounds wonderful," Sarie said eagerly, "and wait till you hear what Rina and I have managed."

Rina took over. "We went to the minister of the non-denominational church in the settlement and enlisted his help. Reverend Motsepe was most helpful. Their choir will sing anthems and he says he'll get the Zulus to do a gumboot dance and the Xhosas some indigenous songs."

"Well done!" Helga said with relief. "You're an example to those of us who have come up with so little!" Here she looked pointedly at Christina and Suzie, but they chose to ignore this slight by staring blankly into space.

The Coloured community, visited by Elsie Fourie, agreed that folk originally from the Cape would don their Kaapse Klopse costumes and present an item, and the Markowitz family, similarly visited, decided that 15-year-old Miriam would play a Beethoven sonata.

"We'd better have the piano tuned," Mrs Merton suggested. "It sounds like a honky-tonk and Beethoven will turn in his grave if he ends up sounding like Scott Joplin."

Christina, who considered herself the epitome of culture, volunteered to get a tuner from Waterfontein. "These things must be done properly," she said portentously.

"Sisters, we're just about there," Helga sighed with satisfaction. "Things are really coming along very nicely indeed."

Things were also coming along very nicely as far as dispersing the tickets was concerned. Almost too well, as once the squatters were involved, it seemed the entire settlement wanted to attend, especially once they learned that tickets were free. Jan had to arrange extra seating back and front and both sides of the hall and borrow extra chairs from the country club.

He had had one rather unsatisfactory conversation with Mrs Dixon a week earlier.

She had phoned to ask whether he had received her message. Yes indeed, he had replied with dignity, and everything was well in hand.

"Just one thing," he said. "You specified the afternoon of 26th May. Wouldn't the evening be better for such an event?"

"The evening? What on earth gave you that idea? Please arrange to start at 3.00pm and not a minute later. Although we'll be sleeping over at the Welcome Inn, we certainly don't want to finish after five o'clock at the latest!" she instructed.

At that time Jan was aware of only four concert items on offer. "I can safely say you'll be back at the hotel well in time for appetisers before dinner," he replied somewhat sarcastically, annoyed at her high-handed attitude.

"You've involved as many of the different races in your area as possible?" she asked, impervious to his put-down.

"We've involved ALL of them, even the Scots!" remembering the irate farmer from the fringes of the community who had marched into his office demanding to know why his family had been excluded from the "Cultural Initiative". Jan had placated him by saying that no doubt he was on the list still to be visited. Mr McKilroy harrumphed and said he would play the bagpipes while his wife did a sword dance. (Jan hoped they would be blunt and that the audience would be sober, as the thought of swords and possible drunken brawls started another of his headaches. He must remember to put up notices stating that no alcohol would be allowed on the premises, but who could stop anyone from imbibing before they arrived? The headache descended upon him like a thick fog.)

"The Scots?" Mrs Dixon queried, surprised.

"The Scots."

"Until the 16th then. In the afternoon," she added decisively.

Two days before the concert, Jan felt satisfied. The first draft of the programme had been printed, every last ticket dispensed, and the piano tuned. The church sisters would be serving tea to dignitaries and performers in the secondary hall, and sports club members had been inveigled into selling cool drinks and chips to the hoi polloi in the basement. A photographer would record every performance for posterity.

"Anything else you can think of?" Jan asked Kobie.

She hesitated. "We might need to buy a can of deodoriser."

"Surely not? It's up to individuals to see to their personal hygiene, not us!"

"I was thinking of the toilets," she explained. "There are only two for each sex and with so many people..." she paused delicately before continuing, "not to mention that most of the performers will be nervous."

Jan immediately got the picture. "Mrs Dixon might need to use the, er, facilities," he agreed. "Kobie, get a strong one, will you, and please make sure to visit the 'ladies' every half-hour and spray generously."

Kobie sulked. Why had she opened her big mouth? "Well, I can't do the 'gents'!"

"Nobody's asked you to. Mrs Dixon won't be visiting the 'gents'," Jan replied coldly. He had nearly had to go on bended knee to get both Kobie and Nella to do the tasks allotted to them. Thank heavens for the church sisters. Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined being indebted to what he had considered in the past to be a bunch of interfering women, but without them, he'd be up the creek without a paddle. (It must be all this talk of lavatories that had led him to that particular maxim.)

The afternoon of the 16th arrived all too soon. Jan drove to the Welcome Inn in the municipal mini-bus to fetch Mrs Dixon and her contingent, who had arrived just before lunch. The Member of Parliament naturally chose the front passenger seat, as befitted his station, so Mrs Dixon had to climb into the back along with the four Administrative Managers. This annoyed her as she'd have liked a moment with Jan to confirm arrangements, and she thought her status as a woman gave her the right to the front seat! Being a realist, however, she accepted the situation. They had dallied over lunch and she was somewhat annoyed with Jan Badenhorst for chivvying them on. The largest Administrative Manager had trodden on her foot in his haste to get into the mini-bus at Jan's urging.

"It's after three o'clock," Jan said plaintively. "Everybody's waiting."

So what? Mrs Dixon was inclined to ask. Had she not had to wait nearly an hour for the Member of Parliament before they could set off from Slangstroom? If she could accept that, these days, "Africa time" prevailed, so could Jan! She directed a look of cool displeasure at the back of his head, but he was too bothered about being late to be aware of it.

Once they reached the town hall, he rushed to open the door for the Minister, and with a brief "follow me, please", went ahead of the party, so Mrs Dixon had no opportunity to enquire why they were there.

The party trooped into the town hall, all somewhat taken aback to find it packed with people. Children played in the aisles and there was even a hen clucking beneath someone's seat. Were they taking a short cut to a room somewhere in the rear for their meeting, while these people waited for... whatever they were waiting for? Apparently not, as when they got to the very front row, Jan ushered them into the vacant seats. He chose to sit in the centre of the row next to the Member of Parliament and motioned to the others to fill the rest of the empty seats, so that Mrs Dixon found herself at the very end of the row, furthest away from Jan.

He had intended preceding the concert with a few words of welcome to the dignitaries, but as it was now 3.15pm and the audience growing restive, he motioned to someone in the wings to begin.

The curtains opened to display members of Oom Fanie's "Rockets". Mrs Dixon frowned in perplexity. Were the musicians to start proceedings with the national anthem? She knew that inhabitants of some dorps were rather hidebound and could hardly object without seeming unpatriotic. She plastered a pleasant look on her face with some difficulty, but it quickly disappeared once the band began to play with great gusto and at a volume that tortured the eardrums. What was more, it certainly wasn't the national anthem they were playing, but something quite horrible... repetitive, with a pounding beat. Even worse, once they had finished, they played another, and yet another after that! Mrs Dixon leaned forward to try to catch Jan Badenhorst's eye. She wanted an explanation, and now! Appreciative applause from the audience distracted her, so that before she was aware of it, another couple had taken the stage.

It was the Scots, the McKilroys, both wearing kilts, he with the bagpipes and she with the swords. These were placed in position, the bagpipes droned and the dance began. Many from the informal settlement had never seen or heard bagpipes before and they watched agog, as mister piped away and his plump little wife's feet twinkled in an intricate pattern between the crossed swords, so that her rather substantial body seemed light as thistledown. (Mrs Merton was heard to say nastily that Mrs McKilroy's performance would have been more impressive had not her fat thighs twinkled too! Ma Gouw's mouth thinned when she saw the shortness of the lady's kilt, and she hissed "Sies!" before Miems managed to shut her up. Fortunately the bagpipes drowned out both comments to all but those nearest to the offending ladies.) This item, too, was received with great appreciation and it was at this stage that Nella Kritzinger woke up to the fact that she had forgotten to distribute programmes to the latecomers. She hastily doled them out and scampered back to her seat some way back. She had chosen it cunningly, knowing that out of sight was out of mind and Jan could not heap further last-minute chores upon her.

Mrs Dixon was still running her disbelieving eye down the programme when the Zulu gum boot dancers took the stage. She was furious. What on earth did Jan think he was playing at? The moment the rhythmic, well-coordinated dance ended, she stood up preparing to stalk over to him to demand an explanation, but she was no sooner on her feet than those around her stood up too, thinking she was giving the dancers a standing ovation. The Minister leaned across and beamed at her, applauding loudly. Mrs Dixon sat down again. She would have to forget about approaching Jan! She would try to locate one of the two women who worked with him to find out what was going on.

Looking around, she saw that Kobie was across the aisle from her, three rows back. As one concert item followed another, she tried to attract Kobie's attention, but whenever she managed to catch her eye, Kobie would look panic-stricken, dart from her seat brandishing an aerosol can and head for the double doors at the rear of the hall. Were the people in this dorp all mad?

Some of the audience wondered the same thing as they sat through two opera arias performed excruciatingly by Christina, and the sight of old man Davenport, gripped with stage-fright, semaphoring at great speed without a word of explanation. A message came through the ranks of township dwellers to one of the Administrative Managers asking why the South African flag was nowhere to be seen. His explanation that these were signal flags was relayed back along the line to the curious one, all nodding sagely. At the end of his item old Davenport got a surprisingly warm round of applause.

Other items met with differing amounts of interest. Polite applause for Koos Venter, the Faranelli's, the Wu's and the anthem singers. Awe at the talent shown by Miriam Markowitz at the piano had the audience clapping in the wrong places, between movements. The Xhosa songs and Kaapse Klopse item were enthusiastically received, but it was Gina Fotheringham's appearance on stage that caused a ripple of excitement among the whites in the audience.

Her mother was gratified and beamed proudly as Gina took up her opening stance for the dance of the Devon Vales, swathed in a long, diaphanous gown with a satin under-slip. With a high neckline and a hemline dropping nearly to her ankles, her dress was dotted with silk flowers and tantalisingly pretty. Tantalising because many in the audience were envisioning its gradual disappearance as one layer after another fell to the floor as the dance progressed. But those holding their breath became increasingly disappointed when Gina remained chastely modest, her dress intact. Such was their chagrin that once the dance ended, there was deathly silence in the white ranks. The rest of the audience started to clap but when they realised they were applauding alone, they too, fell silent. Gina fled from the stage in tears. Mrs Fotheringham was livid.

"She's won prizes all over England with that dance, has Gina. And here? Not even a decent clap. Disgusting, I call it, positively disgusting!"

Later Jan Badenhorst tried to smooth things over.

"It's just that the dance was something novel, unknown to the audience."

"Oh yes? You're trying to tell me they could understand all those songs in that African language? They must have, 'cause they surely gave those singers a hearty hand... but my Gina who's won prizes all over Europe? They're a bunch of yokels, that's what they are, nothing more and nothing less!"

Ma Gouws was the only one present who was satisfied with the lacklustre reception given the dance. Other members of the audience exchanged shamefaced glances, but she said:

"I'm glad Jan had the sense to insist that the girl stay decent. It's a pity he didn't do the same with that other English with the short skirt." She was quite unaware of the insult to both Scots and English by confusing the two and would not have cared had she been told.

So ended the concert. Mrs Dixon had calmed down somewhat by that time, particularly as the four Administrative Managers next to her had clearly enjoyed it. (Far better than sitting through some dry meeting, they thought.) She nevertheless still intended to take Jan sternly to task for going off at such a tangent instead of following her instructions. That is, until the Member of Parliament walked onto the stage and addressed the audience. "I arrived here this afternoon expecting to attend a meeting geared to improving race relations. Instead of words, I've seen action. All of you here together, participating both as performers and audience. I'm very impressed; very impressed! It is this kind of spirit that will see us succeed as a nation and you've been an example to us all. Mrs Dixon," turning to her, "I commend your initiative, and Mr Badenhorst," turning to Jan, "the wonderful way you have put it all together."

Warm applause for the Member while Jan, waking up to the fact that there had been a misunderstanding of mammoth proportions, smiled apologetically at Mrs Dixon. She grimmaced wryly back. She was as much to blame as he for the confusion, having left a message with that scatty, adenoidal girl instead of dealing directly with him. Fortunately this time it had ended well, with both of them winners, so what point in kicking up a fuss?

They trooped off to the secondary hall to share with the performers the delicious refreshments supplied by the church sisters, and the audience went to the basement, where a party quickly developed. Despite the prohibition on alcohol, spirits were (in some cases suspiciously) high. Good nature prevailed and although the noise level rose and the sports club members had difficulty in persuading people to go home, Jan's concern that the swords might trigger aggressive instincts proved groundless.

For some months afterwards, the concert was the main topic of conversation in Prentburg, particularly after a reporter from Pretoria got wind of it and came to interview Jan Badenhorst. A flattering account of the concert appeared in the newspaper, and was pasted onto the municipal notice board for all to see.

Surprisingly there was also a picture of Gina Fotheringham executing a graceful leap. Jan Badenhorst had quietly persuaded the journalist to use it in an effort to appease the Fotheringham family. In this he succeeded. Mrs Fotheringham, with encouragement from Jan, now chose to believe that everyone had momentarily been struck dumb with admiration by Gina's exceptional talent.

As for the dorp volk of all races, they grew smugly self-satisfied at the example they had set the rest of the country. Had not the Minister himself praised them for their eagerness to build the nation?

5 comments:

  1. And it all works out in the wash, so the saying goes. ;-) Aside from the underlying - or maybe overlaying - humor in your works and the well developed characters in each, as someone far removed both in time and distance, I really enjoy the contnuing "peek" into the Sisters' world, as it is completely foreign (in every sense of the word) to me. Not to mention fun. This one reminds me of the movie "Brasil" in which the simple mistype of a single word sets off a domino effect, leading to a chain of unintended events. At least here, the Sisters are the secret heroes, and - to repeat - everything works out in the wash. Nicely done.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jim,
    Good to hear from you! Glad you enjoyed the story. I must say, living in SA with its diversity of languages, cutures and races is interesting to say the least. I love this country with a passion!
    Best wishes,
    Beryl

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bureaucratic attempts at public outreach are the same the world over! Poor Nella's experience answering the phone and trying to scribble detailed demands for upcoming events reminded me strongly of my days as a measly State Department intern..

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're right, Abby! Some things are the same


    You're right, Abby. Bureaucratics everywhere tend to have little patience when dealing with underlings. Thanks for your comment.
    Beryl.



    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Beryl
    I enjoyed reading, it really made me laugh. I had to read twice though; including the Fotheringhams, the Faranellis, and the McKillroys there are 26 characters to absorb - which is what builds the wit and humour.
    The question I find myself asking (as reader) is 'who's story is it?' If it's Nella's then I would like to stay with her more, and share her inner feelings about the craziness of the situation rather than it being 'reported' by an omniscient voice. That way it would be easier for the reader to figure out each character, and the humour would be even stronger.
    I love the alliteration of '...coloured community from The Cape donning their Kaapse Klopse costumes,' a truly frameable phrase!
    Well done!

    Brooke Fieldhouse

    ReplyDelete