Things I have learned from being retrenched (twice)

In 2002 I was at last pregnant

After two years of fertility treatment, we had done it. Things were going well. We owned our own house, our relationship was strong, I had a good job. I was worried about how I was going to manage a baby and a career but I thought I would figure it out.

That was not how it was going to pan out, though.

At about the six or seven months mark of my pregnancy, I found myself in the boss’s office being told that my job was being made redundant. I was given a good package and a generous baby shower, and shown the door.

My therapist was a little unsympathetic, pointing out that being retrenched was not as bad as, say, losing a baby. With hindsight, she was of course right.

But retrenchment is not nothing, either.

When breakfast becomes deskfast

Plates of food and mug next to a laptop

Breakfast at your desk. Picture: StockSnap, Pixabay

I ate breakfast at my desk today, as I have done on most work days for the last 20 years or more.

This is because of the odd hours dictated by work in online news (and, where they still exist, by afternoon newspapers). And these odd hours are one of the things that most people don’t grasp about journalism… that in order for there to be something to read, someone has to have been up and about making that something to read.

Years ago, an acquaintance was expressing outrage that his morning newspaper was not going to be available on December 26. When I pointed out that for there to be a newspaper on December 26, people would have had to be working on December 25, he was genuinely taken aback. He had never thought about what it takes to make a newspaper.

7 ways to a less cluttered house

Cape Town – When my niece was in Grade 2, she needed an empty shoebox for a project.

Picture: freeimages.com

Picture: freeimages.com

This should have been simple – but it wasn’t.

Neither my sister, my mother nor I had such a thing as an empty shoebox. I had to ask a colleague (who has beautiful taste in shoes) to bring one to the office so that the school could get its project. 

How to fail at being middle class

Tigger asleep and blissfully unaware of her unvaccinated status. Picture: Renee Moodie

Tigger asleep and blissfully unaware of her unvaccinated status. Picture: Renee Moodie

I took my cat to the vet yesterday, for her vaccinations.

Now this is not unusual – but it is for me. This cat has not in fact been vaccinated since 2005 – and neither had any of the other late lamented animals in our house.

When I confessed this fact to a group of friends, there was a pause and a small intake of breath all round.

Why we love old recipe books

When I was little, I had a dream.

I would sit on the floor with my mother’s copy of the Royal Hostess recipe book (“South Africa’s own cookbook” it said proudly on the cover) and wish with all my heart that my mother would one day make me the Royal Rondawel cake.

The 1952 rondawel cake

The 1962 rondawel cake

Now that I am a mother, I understand completely why she didn’t ever make it. But I loved everything about that picture: the colours, the little Father Christmas, the hint of a present in the corner.

At a recent gathering, one of the women present said to her sister (my friend, also present) that the cake we were eating tasted just like the apple cake their long-departed mother used to make. “I still have the Royal Hostess,” she mused. “I wonder if that recipe is in there?”