Operation Oysterhood: Day Thirty-Four

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.


It feels counter-intuitive: 354 new cases, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the lockdown, death toll also rising by ten people, and on the same evening these announcements are made we contemplate and debate the move to level four. Yes, the details of the regulations hurt in all sorts of ways, they are also partly confusing, and they will have dire consequences for many sectors of the economy, but the bottom line is that no one is doing this to destroy the economy. This is an attempt to save as many lives and as many livelihoods as possible under impossible circumstances. And, I suppose, anyone who had been under the illusion that it is going to get easier from now on should have known better, because we have been aware for quite a while now that this pandemic is a PANDEMIC and that it is spreading fast and it is only a matter of time until it hits us with full force. It’s coming, slower than elsewhere because of our lockdown, but it’s coming. And it ain’t gonna be pretty. If we’ve learned anything from other countries around the world, it is that, in order to prevent massacres, we need to act fast and create as much time as possible between the beginning and peak of the infection rate to save as many lives as possible. Flatten the curve. That’s it. We might not like the finer details (I’m deeply sorry for all my friends who will be forced to buy cigarettes on the black market, but I will not fight for the legal sale of cigarettes now – c’mon! – this can’t be the most serious matter under the circumstances – there must be better ways to invest our energies in the near future…); they – the finer details – might be so much more than an inconvenience, but at the heart of all of this is scientific knowledge and the only virus-proof prevention measure we know: physical distancing.

I promised myself not to cry tonight. I am thinking about books, of course, educational and otherwise – my cigarettes. I will study the regulations very carefully and see whether I can legally use the postal and/or courier services to get Karavan Press books and books I have (co)authored or (co)edited to eager readers out there (most of the stock is with distributors who are probably not allowed to distribute anything apart from “educational books”, by which I am almost certain the government means “text/academic books”; but I do have some stock of novels etc. in my home…). Just in case you, Dear Reader, are interested in buying books directly from me, and the regulations allow me to send them to you, please place your pre-orders in the comments below or contact me directly. (I promise to consult with relevant parties that bind me contractually to the book industry before I make a sale this way. And Karavan Press authors will receive all their due royalties, of course.) Let’s see tomorrow what the fine print of the published level four regulations will say and how it can be interpreted legally.

Whether I can or can’t sale books, I will continue reading and writing them and supporting the book industry in any way I still possibly can.

However, and this has been clear to me from the start: during a pandemic of such proportions, I will NOT risk anyone’s health or life for a book. “I would prefer not to”, in the words of Bartleby, the Scrivener…


It seems like this day, before the evening addresses and announcements, ended not only a few hours ago but a few years ago. It was a good day despite back pain. The day began with kitschy skies and the cutest cheetah cubs.

With Salieri’s catssistance (a word that Penny Haw taught me – thank you), I finished reading Katherine Stansfield’s third novel The Magpie Tree and started her fourth, The Mermaid’s Call. Historical fantasy/crime fiction – purest escapism, written by a novelist with a poet’s sensitivity. Loving it.

I had a lovely Skype chat with my Mom and she showed me Myszka, her new kitchen (installed very professionally according to physical distancing rules this morning) and her tulips.

Myszka was not amused, but it made me very happy to see these two ladies today.

I ate pickled waterblommetjies for lunch. A taste of the season.


Before I sat down to work at my computer, I sat on the stoep with Glinka for a while and thought of all my friends who usually sit at my red stoep table to work or read or just relax when they visit. There was a moment in the day when my whole feline family was on the stoep with me today and I felt at peace.

The sun was so soothing today, especially since the nights are getting colder and the house is gradually cooling down. It turns into a fridge in winter. I need to fill up with mild sunshine until then.

I spent most of today wrapped in the wrap that my love bought for me at Oudrif. I need the comfort and magic of objects to sustain me through this time of transformation, loss and longing.


Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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