What I don’t want for Christmas

What do I want for Christmas? That’s the problem. I trawl through all the colour supplements and circulars to find something irresistible, but nothing grabs my fancy. In fact, I find it easier to spot the items I would not like to receive on Christmas morning.
Top of my list would be a five-piece drum set with bass drum, snare drum, floor tom drum and two mounted tom drums as well as throne and cymbals but fortunately no amplifier. Also getting the thumbs down would be a soldering iron, unless it could mend bro-
ken promises and relationships that had come adrift through the year.
Definitely a no-no would be the ad for “two adorable Great Dane x Wolf Hound puppies”. We are not thinking of restoring the house or replacing the furniture and carpet just yet.
An extended wired selfie stick, available in assorted colours? Not a chance. I think the culture of taking pictures of yourself is horribly narcissistic as well as a recipe for depression, or a facelift, 20 years down the line.
I did react positively at the photo of a magnificent mountain bike. However, after using a pedal-assisted e-bike for my October ride in beautiful North Wales, it’s definitely retrogressive to have a bike that expects the cyclist to do all the work. Particularly up all those rough hilly roads in the re-opened upper Tokai Park.
The liquor ads did not raise my spirits much. Neither the rare and exclusive 25-year-old single malt whisky at R26 999; nor the handcrafted rooibos red gin with 2 x 200ml Fitch and Leedes Ginger Ale Gift Pack. Aah…but I did spot something that had promise – a 24 x 440ml case of light beers which, if nicely chilled could be perfect tipple to share with family and friends on a hot Christmas 

Wasting water wake-up call
An important side effect of the water restrictions is that people have suddenly woken up to how much water they’ve wasted in the years of good rains and full dams.
One woman never realised that she washed her hands so many times a day, happily letting the tap run while she did so. Now she puts a little water in the basin and dips only her fingers. She reuses the water several times, unless gardening or cooking.
Another has changed her modus operandi for running a modest bath. Previously she’d turn on the hot tap, disappear to get clothes from her bedroom and when she returned, the water was far too hot. On would go the cold tap and by the time the temperature was right, she’d used far more water than necessary.
Now she gets her clothes first and remains on standby when the taps are running. Later she uses a plastic jug to remove as much water as possible which, when cool, goes on her pot plants.
She told me that her husband was forever leaving the garden taps dripping. So she threatened to fine him R5 every time she caught him out. Now he’s the one who checks up on her.

Carols for Christmas
Not being able to be in two places at once, I missed Carols on the Common, a Parkscape fund-raising initiative on Sunday December 11 in the open ground next to the Tokai Pony Club Arena. About 300 people rocked up with picnic hampers, torches and blankets to celebrate the festive season in a spirit of community. It turned out so well that there’s a call for it to be an annual event.
The impressive musical line-
up included Caitlin Hallauer (dubbed the new Adele), Double Jeopardy’s Pete Marais and Nigel Martindale, the Westlake Marimba Band, followed by well-known carols and Christmas songs led by Tayla Phillips and her fiancé Phil Olckers.
Westlake’s Ntuthuzelo Gamedala aka Lawrence, who has videos on YouTube and is something of a celebrity, with several bookings in the Eastern Cape, sang three numbers to his own recorded backing while Nyasha Kumirai, the Zim soprano and fashion designer, impressed 
with her beautiful voice. She works with Sibusiso Joe Mangisa to run the Joesha Recording Company which enables local artists to record and publish their CDs as did the Westlake youth last year.
Visitors find it quite surreal to walk through several modest Westlake houses before entering, without warning, this fully-equipped recording studio.

Jumping ship
Our fortnightly trek up to Langebaan, via Darling for a change, was quite an adventure. Our usual route was blocked by the traffic chaos caused by the flooding on the M3. We jumped ship, so to speak, at the Newlands turn-off, used back streets to reach the M5 at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital kept going till we hit the congestion at the Koeberg Bridge before eventually reaching the N1, the N7 turn off to Melkbos and then the sign to Atlantis.
It’s years since we’ve been on that road with its numerous signs warning motorists of potholes and falling branches from the avenue of huge gums. The latter notice is about as useless as those showing a leaping kudu. What are you supposed to do? Park and wait impatiently either for 
the branches to fall or the game to run across the road? Perhaps it’s the kindly thought that counts. Fortunately we bumped our way past Atlantis to Darling without being bumped off, but we have no wish to use that direct road again.

After the party
He was on his way home from the office party when his car phone rang. His wife said “I’m so glad you’re in an Uber taxi. There’s a car going the wrong way down the M5.”
“It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of ‘em!”