Operation Oysterhood: Day Forty

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



It feels Biblical, the forty days. Somehow. But I’ve had too many painkillers and Jägermeister to remember the story. I am not accountable for anything tonight. I should have asked the gentleman with the beautiful voice to talk to me about the Bible after all.

The day began with a documentary about the current Covid-19 situation in the US. It’s easy to point fingers, but this used to be my home when I was a teenager and I have many fond, formative memories from that time. It is horrendous to watch what is happening there now.

It astounds me how many people are fighting tooth and claw for their right to be infected with a potentially deadly virus. Not only in the US, but also here at home. I love all my surfing friends, but watching the surfers – some without masks, without any attempts at physical distancing – this morning in Muizenberg, I just thought: if it wasn’t for the fact that while attempting to kill yourself, you might kill others, I would have no issue with you trying.

I know watching news in the post-truth era is tricky, but denying the reality of over 250 000 deaths worldwide – within a few weeks, from one cause – must surely make one think twice about doing stupid things. Or not?

To calm the nerves, Salieri and I looked at dragons and hyenas. The former, we drew; the latter, we took screenshots of.

Please note that the dragon is guarding a book.

While drawing, I imagined that a few hundred years ago I would have been one of those people locked up in a monastery somewhere, copying ancient scripts and illustrating them with drawings. I wasn’t entirely sure whether women were allowed such tasks in the past, but I have been told that there were indeed such exceptions even back then.


For the past ten years, this has been the image to be found on my desktop screen. I took the photograph in the magnificent library of the Mafra Palace in Portugal. Whenever I sit at my computer, I imagine sitting at this desk, my sacred place for writing. I spent most of my day here again, preparing a manuscript for the printers, among many other less fascinating tasks. If all goes well, the manuscript will be ready by the end of the week.

I briefly left my desk in the early afternoon when the local printers contacted me about the manuscript I needed printed and bound for reading. They are located less than a kilometer away from my home, so I decided to walk to pick it up. The streets were nearly completely empty by then, so I felt comfortable about walking. The collection point in the company was also extremely well organised and it was nice to wave and smile with my eyes at people I know and enjoy working with.

On the way home, I encountered one person presumably walking to one of the shop nearby (the backpack was an indicator). She had a mask on and kept her distance. But then I also passed a teenage girl on a skateboard with no mask on, and I wondered whether she was doing this with the permission of her parents? What if she fell, crashed? Does she/do they expect strangers to assist a person without a mask in the time of Covid-19? Not that there are that many around to assist in the first place…

It is hard not to feel blue about the constant demand on choices one has to make to keep safe and the responsibility one has to take on, not only for oneself, but others who feel that their constitutional rights are being eroded because they can’t surf for a few weeks.

“Everyone who thinks the current COVID regs are arbitrary and stupid usually hasn’t logically thought through a) the pitfalls of any other option; b) the multiple other moving parts or people required to open up and police/monitor/clean public spaces + access” (Nechama Brodie today on Twitter).

I also long for the sea and I will get drunk on happiness the day I can walk on the Noordhoek Beach again. But until then, I wait. Patiently.

I took this photograph today, calling it “Out of the Blue”.


It was heartbreaking to read about another magazine giant folding today. Why is it that we only start appreciating these things when they are gone? I still buy magazines. I cannot imagine reading Country Life or Bona online. But we, the paper-loving readers are dinosaurs. We keep photographs of ancient libraries on our computer screens to keep sane.


Today, I ordered a few meals that can be heated up from Mr Delivery and treated myself to a decadent plate of sushi from the same restaurant for dinner. I love sushi, so this was a memorable reunion. HARU is reinventing itself during lockdown as a pizza place, it seems. So pizza it will be. And earlier tonight, I read the news that the beloved Alma Cafe is also reinventing itself for delicious food deliveries, so my two minute noodle days are over for now. If you live in Rosebank, Cape Town, or nearby, and have the opportunity to taste Retha’s (from Alma Cafe) lemon meringue pie, do not say no. Order immediately! It is the best I have ever tasted.

After dinner, I skyped with my Mom and my brother. He is visiting Mom for the first time in weeks. They have discussed safety protocols of being together in one house and both feel comfortable with the arrangement. They sat on the opposite sides of the largest table in the house while speaking to me and eating their dinner. Austria is reopening the country after an impressive lockdown, with relatively few deaths and not too many infections. And my family understands the severity of the situation and it gives me comfort to know that they are doing everything they can to keep as safe as possible.

On Austrian radio they were reporting the “Grenzewartezeiten” (border waiting times) with the traffic news today – that was weird to listen to!

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home (or in a library).

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


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