CAPE TOWN Dec 14th
It has been quite refreshing and relaxing in the absence of any fixed agenda. It turns out that Charterhouse are here on tour and were at Bishop’s today, so John and I spent a couple of hours on Sunday watching them get well and truly slogged. They had, I suppose, just come from the coldest English November of all time but it was a fairly ordinary performance. They were at Wynberg yesterday and were almost equally spineless in the hour we were there in the morning. The home coaches loved it, of course. It gave them full opportunity to be as disparaging about English cricket as possible, with the weedy public schools coming in for particular opprobrium. There are no Jacques Kallis cricket scholars at our schools ( Wynberg has 4-5 named in honour of its most well-known old boy ), which is always conveniently forgotten. It was especially odd, therefore, to be actively supporting Harrow for the first time when we moved across to Bishop’s yesterday afternoon and good for the old country that Harrow won comfortably.
We drove to Spier for lunch on Sunday. This is a vineyard with additional activities for the family and it has a very good, outdoor, eat-all-you-can for £20 braai. It was warm, it was sheltered from the wind, the food was plentiful, if almost entirely designed for the carnivore and it was fun to be in the company of the Knights. It will undoubtedly be somewhere we will all visit when we get the chance.
The most surreal experience was attending a service of nine lessons and carols at a packed church in Kenilworth on Sunday evening. Nobody was wearing a sweater, the doors and windows were wide open, many of the punters had brought bottled water and we were singing songs about midwinter and cold. When it comes to it, the whole business of being in a warm place on Christmas Day itself will probably not be that difficult to manage but all the attendant paraphernalia ( trees, decorations, lights etc ) seems a little out of context.
I was at Matthew Pearce’s house for supper last night, being an additional guest at what was principally a get together of his in-laws. He was at Wellington in 1994 as a gap-student and has been over a few times since. His career in journalism took him into broadcasting and he has just landed the job as the number one rugby commentator following on from Hugh Bladen, the SA equivalent of Bill McClaren. Matthew was 100% the same bloke as I remember, with an easy charm and a way of relating experiences that is self-deferential and inclusive. There was one lapse into Zafferdom when we talked about the Rugby World Cup next year, which he is convinced South Africa will win. Otherwise it was really good to spend more time than I usually do, i.e. not just a quick pint, with him.
I was, as ever, the recipient of lots of advice from the assembled company, not least as to the merits of buying a property in Cape Town and spending November to March here once I have retired. Property is the only thing that seems to be less pricey here than in the UK. They were all quite surprised when I suggested this. Accepted wisdom is that Europeans all make a killing when they come out which may have been true 2-3 years ago, when there were 15 Rand to the £, but is not so much now that the exchange rate is down to 10.8. Anyhow, I have a feeling that idea will be just another in the list of nice ideas I have accumulated these past few months, none of which will ever see the light of reality. It is so enervating, though, to have the mental space to have ideas and if nothing else, that will be one hugely beneficial long term spin-off of my time away.