About a week ago two frustrated lesbians (S – aged 70, and G – 69), Hot Chick and Wineou had a slightly different Saturday afternoon. The girls who don’t go for guys will be referred to as S70 and G69 in future (they live in the same block of flats as Hot Chick, and have been friends of hers for years).
We started off by attending the firing of two muzzle-loaded cannons outside the Chavonnes Battery (www.chavonnesmuseum.co.za) at the V&A Waterfront in a belated celebration of Heritage Day (also known as National Braai Day). I was given the honour of helping the expert load the cannons, and was then allowed to fire the first one. In case global warming should cause such future havoc that we no longer have the ability to shoot each other with modern weapons, I now know exactly how to do it in the ancient way.
I won’t give you all the trade secrets but can reveal that the final stage of the process is to pour dry gunpowder into the vertical vent that leads to the charge that has been rammed into the barrel. A long wick is attached to a stick ending in a piece of wire, and the end of the wick tied to the wire is lit with a match. One has to stand on a precise spot at an angle to the gun, close enough to do the deed, but far enough away not to be hit by the considerable recoil of the cannon or to be singed by the 6ft flame that shoots up from the vent, or burnt to a cinder by the massive 8ft flame that simultaneously comes out of the front of the thing.
This is not normally a difficult task, but Wineou’s hand developed a slight tremor, and pouring rain put the wick out. Eventually the patient cannon master resorted to sticking a cigarette in his mouth, lighting it and giving it a couple of enthusiastic draws. Before the downpour could dampen it he attached the smouldering ciggie to the wire, and Wineou managed to make the cannon go bang while shouting instructions to Hot Chick to capture the event on his cellphone.
The result was an exceedingly arty picture of her thumb.
Afterwards Willem Steenkamp treated us to an hour-long, fascinating tour of the battery and we learnt everything we could wish to know about guns, batteries, sailing ships and the early history of Cape Town. Willem (tall and 70ish, an army major, ex-journalist, author, military historian, tour guide and brilliant raconteur) would be pleased to know that S70 later remarked that, if she were that way inclined, he was the sort of chap she could go for.
Hot Chick had told me that on a previous excursion to the Waterfront S70 had developed a desire to get away from poncy places and sit down at a pub and have a beer and a sausage. After traipsing around for hours they had come to the conclusion that Cape Town has every type of tavern under the sun, but not one that gives that simple combination. Incidentally, Cape Town used to be known as The Tavern of the Seas.
So, while the rain got stronger, I led the trio to the nearby Paulaner Bräuhaus. There we downed flagons of German beer, and snacked on sauerkraut and a variety of sausages and frankfurters; and realised that bangers and beer are possible if you know where to go. S70 began to mellow after a bout of invective about G69 – an office-bearer in the Anglican Church, who admitted to her desires and was prepared to share her flat, but not her bed, with S70. She commented freely on the standard of talent in the room, and made acerbic observations about our dusky waitress who did not have the heaving, creamy bosoms, or snappy service, she expected at a German beer-house. It was fun to sit in a pub with a couple of girls who were just as keen to look at the other girls as I was. Hot Chick endured this with a bemused expression.
It was a bit of a change from the atmosphere and fine dining we’d experienced recently at Gordon Ramsay’s maze restaurant at the One&Only.
The lesbians left, and Hot Chick and I went to see the animated movie Up. We are not fans of fantasy, animation or violence. But Up, and District 9 – which we’d seen the week before – were two of the finest films we’d seen in a long time, despite being full of the things we thought we didn’t like. I think only a South African can fully appreciate the humour and pokes at the past that occur in District 9.
Two weeks beforehand, on a soft spring day, I met a mathematical clown on top of Signal Hill. She is visiting us from England, and helping children in poorer areas to appreciate maths and science by using props like balloons. She was happy to pose for the camera.
While enjoying a marvellous meaty meal with friends and family on national
braai day (24 September) Hot Chick announced that she and her female friends, who used to be keen surfers, are thinking of taking up the sport again. The desire was sparked by a walk she and Sue took along the beachfront at Muizenberg. There it is now possible to hire all sorts of boards as well as wetsuits. And get lessons from one of four surf schools, including one run by model Roxy Louw.
I might join them.