Operation Oysterhood: 31 July

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

— @HaggardHawks


Occasionally, a book cover is difficult not because of lack of ideas, but because the existing ideas are many and all brilliant, and it is nearly impossible to choose which one will be best for the book. The next Karavan Press title is in the making (cover reveal to follow soonest) and the author, designer and I just couldn’t decide on the final cover while communicating by email, phone and Skype for days. A meeting in person was suggested. I offered my garden and arranged a table in the middle of the lawn, with chairs around, but each a few meters apart. There was a tea and coffee corner. Between sips of our drinks, despite the distances between us, we still wore masks, and had the most lively and productive discussion about the design drafts and possibilities on the table in front of us. By a process of careful elimination, we arrived at two options and then debated those two again. Two hours into the meeting we had a winner and celebrated with a bottle of bubbly, still standing meters apart form one another while discussing the project and the final choice, which is stunning! (Even if I say so myself. And the bubbly was delicious – haven’t had any for weeks now and I was saving this bottle for a special moment.)

I managed to renew my car licence disk online, and it arrived in the post today, which feels like a double-miracle. I would have been ready to pop the bubbly just to celebrate this little everyday success. Not only the city, but also the post office delivered! Yay!

Emboldened, I rushed to the post office to send off some parcels for New Contrast. The rest of the day was admin, some editing work and tons of coffee, because last night wasn’t exactly blissfully restful. I had a nightmare about being robbed. And no matter how horrible it is, I had to admit to myself today that every time I leave the house, I expect the alarm to go off, and even though it would be really stupid of anyone to steal my one-of-a-kind car, every time I park it somewhere outside the garage, I also expect it to disappear before I return. Permanent high vigilance and anxiety levels. It’s exhausting. 

Yet, our troubled city is no longer the epicenter of the pandemic in South Africa, nor the murder capital of the country. Dubious crowns that had been passed on to other places. It’s impossible to celebrate such facts when one knows that others have to deal with these terrible titles. If only … But that is not how the world works.

My love treated me to a dinner of tapas from Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia today. I had to pick up the box he ordered at the restaurant. It was lovely to drive up there again and admire the view. After sanitising and list-checking, the restaurant staff walk you from chef to chef, each one explaining the little dishes to you and how to finish preparing them at home. It was such a surreal experience. I am getting used to all these new ways of doing things, and yet, there are these moments when I almost have out of body experiences and watch myself from a distance and think, ‘Is this really happening?’ Standing in front of one of the masked chefs who was grating fresh Parmesan onto one of the dishes I was about to take home, I just wanted to sit down comfortably at a table and order the food at leisure, have wine, wait for the individual plates to arrive freshly prepared from the kitchen, and admire the view and relax (it is this last component of the brief vision I had that seems unattainable for now). One day again … Today, I just memorised the chefs’ individual instructions, grabbed my takeaway box, added a ridiculously expensive box of bonbons to the order and was home before six.

It is only when I am alone at home that I feel a semblance of my reality restore itself to itself. Everything else has become surreal.

The end of July. The days are getting longer. There is still light at six in the evening, and I don’t have to wait forever for it to appear when I wake up in the morning. The balmy weather lifts the spirits, too.

And now, the leftover sips of bubbly, a page or two and a warm bed await. Good night.

Be kind. Stay at home. Wear a mask everywhere else.

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


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