How much is too much for a good school?

Cape Town – Every week I am supposed to write a column.

And this week, it appeared that my ideas folder had run dry.

That’s partly because I am much pre-occupied with the dreadful, all consuming task that besets the parents of Grade 7 pupils: the finding of a suitable high school.

We did some research and went to some school open days last year (on the sensible advice of a friend, who said that helps ease the pressure when you hit Grade 7) and have found a school we love – and our son has been given a place there. Continue reading

Can you do vitiligo, Joseph Fiennes?

In the summer my son Jak turned four, he started to develop strange white patches on the skin of his neck.

Over the course of several weeks, the patches spread to his chest and right arm.

The paediatrician was a little flummoxed and put in a call to a dermatologist. It was, she said, vitiligo.

And so began our journey with a rare condition that most people know nothing about.
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Who is the real idiot behind the wheel?

This week I was waiting on a pavement in the Cape Town CBD, waiting for a lift.

A car moseyed up one-way Long Street, slowed, stopped. Reversed ten or twenty metres, made a right turn and proceeded on its way. Luckily there were no cars right behind it, and all was well.

I smiled, thinking: “Only in South Africa…”

And it is amusing, in its way.

But really it is indicative of all that is wrong on our roads, where this festive season 1 755 people were killed.
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Here’s to 2016 – without magic

Our two new kittens.

Our two new kittens.

Cape Town – If conventional wisdom is anything to go by, 2016 is going to be a bad year for me.

The year is only two weeks old and already our family has been hit by irritating, unforeseen or worrying events.

On a visit to the beach, our venerable travelling backpack was stolen while we were in the water, and along with it my purse (complete with driver’s licence, ID book and bank cards) and cellphone. (I know, I know, dear reader. What was I thinking? I was thinking I had two children with me who wanted mochas after the swim and the coffee shop was at the other end of the parking lot, and just this once I would take it all to the beach with me. Self-evident moral: never let your guard down).  Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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?”
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Racism: stop shouting, try listening

This column was first published on IOL, where I worked until November 2016. It is republished here, using the same date.

Cape Town – If a young black woman told you she didn’t particularly want white South Africans as friends, what would your reaction be?

If you were white, you might be offended.

If you were black, you might agree with her. Continue reading