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South African Silence

The View from Jen's flat in Durban

Recently I always seem to be apologising for silences (not something I am normally known for) but while we were away in Ireland we heard that my sister had even taken very ill in Durban, South Africa, and we had not been back home many days when I decided to fly out to see her. Cripplingly exorbitant internet costs if I were to use my English phone or iPad while I was there meant that I was forced into uncomfortable blog, website and Facebook inactivity.

A return visit to Africa has long been a dream so it was sad to find myself going back on a flying visit to a much-loved sister in hospital, returning home without having seen much more of Africa as such than Durban Airport, our friend Jen’s flat on the Berea and the Entabeni Hospital where my sister is. She is being well cared for in what appears a terrific hospital, very clean and bright with lots of staff, and I was very kindly looked after by our friend Jen with whom I stayed and who helped make the few days as pleasant as they could be in the circumstances.

It is Durban’s winter, and the days were very pleasant, more like a fresh summer’s day when one is still glad to have a light cardigan on and in fact when I returned to a moderately sunny and warm Parwich in ‘mid-summer’ I found no change at all in the climate. Everything seemed bustling and prosperous, the roads extremely busy, the gardens lush and the birds strident! Watching the news on the television one day with my brother-in-law I was amused to hear the (lady) Minister for Education being berated for what apparently is a serious text book crisis in the South African schools. ‘Why do you ask me about text books?’ she asked indignantly. ‘I know nothing about text books – I am in the Minister for Education, and a good one. Don’t ask me about text books!’. The same message I felt one might get from some ministers in this country, but rather more bluntly put…

Meanwhile, John had done a stirling job coping in my absence, including hosting a party which we had arranged and didn’t want to cancel. However, neither he nor Janet touch my computer (John has his own which is pretty much just for emails and his photographs and Janet is computer phobic) so I returned on Sunday to literally hundreds and hundreds of emails etc which i am gradually wading my way through. Soon everything will be back to normal (shouldn’t say that, I feel tempted to revert to the old-fashioned ‘DV’ or the even older-fashioned ‘If I am spared’!) and hopefully the posts will appear more regularly.

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