The Truth Will Out… (aka Tim to the Rescue!)

Rather melodramatic, but still true. Well sort of…

More than a year ago (on 18th October 2007, to be precise) I wrote a post entitled “Of universal truth…” in which I asked for the source of a poem I had read as a youth.

And today I received an email from Tim Neutel from the Netherlands (at least, that where his email originated).

Here, thanks to Tim, is the poem in original form:

The station is ominous at midnight
Hope is a dead letter
Time to change trains for something better
No local train now
Long since departed
Now way of getting back to where you started.

What impressed me more than anything, though, is the fact that I recalled it so well, if not quite perfectly. It had indeed made a lasting impression on me as I had mentioned.

And the source?

It was from a book entitled “The Night of the Fox” by Jack Higgins…

Thanks Tim!

Happy new year, and all that rot…

Hello world…

And a very happy new year to you all, friend and foe alike.

2008 had been much better to me than 2007 had been, but that’s not really saying much: it’s kinda like saying that a frontal lobotomy is preferable to having your head chopped off. That might be true, but we’d still prefer to avoid either of the two outcomes, won’t we?

So here I go again: I’m starting off the new year in a new job (quite literally, in fact: I’m reporting for duty on the second) which is kinda scary in the current economic market. I’ve had to buy a new car since some arseho “kind-hearted person” decided to torch my old one. Fun times…

Being as that may, I’m also starting the new year on a clean slate, forgiving all of those who had betrayed me. I might not wish to be friends with them, or mix with them even, but I do forgive them.

So… Have a happy new year all of you, and may love and happiness haunt your doorsteps.

Eugéne out…

Watershed Moments

Now I would hesitate to refer to myself as a professional when it comes to watershed moments, never having been paid for them, you see, but I certainly would have no issue referring to myself as an experienced amateur…

In the the last year much has happened to me, and only some of that had been good. Okay, to be honest; some absolutely awesome events had happened to me, along with some truly horrendous ones.

If nothing else, I have learnt a great deal about me; the person I used to be and the person I have since become.

I’ve learnt that I’m generally kind and gentle; I’ve learnt that children and animals seem inclined, to put it mildly, to be kindly disposed to me; I’ve learnt that I have drive and determination second to none. I have learnt that, when I put my mind to it, I can accomplish some utterly astounding feats; personally and professionally both.

I have also learnt that I still do not handle betrayal well at all. Of all the occurrences in my life, this one seems to gnaw at me, at my very being, most relentlessly.

Yet… Yet. I have also learnt that I have a much bigger heart than I had ever thought myself as capable of having.

Sadly, nearly all of these realisations have come at great cost; the cost of some heart-ache during moments of great self-doubt.

Yet none of these are what I would have considered real “Watershed Moments”. Critical turning points. I mean, make no mistake, all of them were part of the healing process, and in retrospect I embrace them all; they are all part of the history of the person writing this; all part of the experience that formed him and are all part of his strength…

No, the real watershed moment was the realisation I experienced when I managed to identify the source of the melancholy I had felt the whole morning.

You see, today is the birthday of a person who, until late last year, was the most important in my life; I used to go out of my way to make this day special. I know soppy, romantic, stupid… Call it what you like. That does not change the reality of it in any way at all.

The doleful feeling was my subconscious nagging at me for not having done anything special for today…

Once I had realised it, of course, the cloud mostly lifted. But more importantly, another cloud, one that had been lingering for even longer, also started lifting.

Before today I had been very anxious at the thought that I might never be able to fully trust again; never be able to give a girl a chance to fully come into my life and into my heart again. That the romantic in me had been killed off in a moment of brutal callousness.

I, now, no longer have that fear… The romantic in me is still here, very much still alive. He has merely been lying low, waiting for the right girl to come kicking down the doors to his hideout…

Just a Simple Little Epiphany…

I’ve come to the realisation recently that, quite frequently in the recent past, I’ve allowed the words of others to express what I had felt.

While there is nothing wrong with that per sé, and in fact much of the thrust of this post is given by the same sword, it is something to smirk at in me.

I have recently been through a, to understate it tremendously, rather painful episode. Betrayal cuts close to the bone for most of us, and when that betrayal is perpetrated by the people you love the most, and would thus least expect it from, the pain becomes… difficult… to ignore.

And yet… And yet there comes a time when you take a walk one day and realise that it isn’t nearly as bad as you had thought, that sometime during the recent past, things had… changed. Things had stopped being so very awful.

Now there is realistically no way that the nearly insurmountable breaches caused can be repaired without a ridiculous amount of effort, but you know, sometimes, just sometimes, burnt bridges should damn well stay burnt!

So, it might just happen that one day, a day very much like today in fact, you might pause away from work during lunch, during a sanity break, and realise that we live in a beautiful world; a world full of wonder, a world full of joy…

For most of the afternoon then, I have had What a Wonderful World playing in my mind…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying “I love you”.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Thank you Louis Armstrong… Much appreciated. Please take a bow to the wonderful audience…

Damn! I love being alive!

The Longest Time

If “Cold Wind Blows” is the one side of the coin, this classic from Billy Joel ever so eloquently highlights the other…

While the former covers endings and that sense of loss when something wonderful dies, the latter — this one — is all about that sense of great joy and wonder with life being oh so magical when you are falling in love…

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time

If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I’m so inspired by you
That hasn’t happened for the longest time

Once I thought my innocence was gone
Now I know that happiness goes on
That’s where you found me
When you put your arms around me
I haven’t been there for the longest time

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest
I’m that voice you’re hearing in the hall
And the greatest miracle of all
Is how I need you
And how you needed me too
That hasn’t happened for the longest time

Maybe this won’t last very long
But you feel so right
And I could be wrong
Maybe I’ve been hoping too hard
But I’ve gone this far
And it’s more than I hoped for

Who knows how much further we’ll go on
Maybe I’ll be sorry when you’re gone
I’ll take my chances
I forgot how nice romance is
I haven’t been there for the longest time

I had second thoughts at the start
I said to myself
Hold on to your heart
Now I know the woman that you are
You’re wonderful so far
And it’s more than I hoped for

I don’t care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
I want you so bad
I think you ought to know that
I intend to hold you for the longest time

Ah, yes. I remember now…

Soon. Very soon…

Cold Wind Blows

Sun don’t shine ’round here no more,
since my baby walked on out that door.
She broke my heart, make no mistake.
All I did was give.
All she did was take.
But don’t you know,
where she goes,
the cold wind blows.

Well, my baby told so many lies.
I couldn’t see through my blinded eyes.
She choked me up with her bad, bad seed.
Took the flowers I gave her
and strangled them with weeds.
But don’t you know,
where she goes,
the cold wind blows.

I ain’t gonna cry no more.
I ain’t gonna cry no more.
I ain’t gonna cry no more,
cry no more.

Sun don’t shine ’round here no more,
since my baby walked on out that door.
She broke my heart, make no mistake.
All I did was give.
And all she did was take.
But don’t you know,
where she goes,
the cold wind blows.
The cold wind blows.

I ain’t gonna cry no more.
I ain’t gonna cry no more.
I ain’t gonna cry no more.
I ain’t gonna cry no more.
Ain’t gonna cry no more,
cry no more.
Gonna cry no more.
Ain’t gonna cry no more.

Yep… ‘Tis o’le Gary from Dark Days in Paradise again…

What makes this interesting enough to post, though, is not merely because the sentiment expressed is indubitably true, but because it seems to hold true for a much shorter period than one would have though during the “Dark Days”…

I can still vividly recall the sentiment from the last couple of months — still remember the raw emotion — but the memory is becoming ever more distant.

Without even realising that it had happened, one stops “crying” and one start realising that the sun had never really stopped shining — that the gloom had lifted sometime while one was not really paying attention — and that it is now fast becoming a truly beautiful day!

A Storybook Love…

He was just sitting there, staring at the sea. Nobody quite knew what to make of him, the strange old man. But they considered him harmless. He was there every morning. As regular as clockwork; sitting there sipping his coffee from his flask at dawn, having his sandwiches, always the same – brown bread with little butter and lots of jam, at tea and then leaving at lunch.

He was obviously waiting for something to come from the sea, obviously waiting for something or someone. Nobody wanted to ask him, not because they were afraid of him, but because he seemed to have an ineffable air of sadness; a need to to be alone with his thoughts.

One morning he wasn’t there anymore, though. That surprised everyone, as anything unusual happening invariably seems to. Nor was he the next day. On the third, though he was seen again; but not sitting watching the sea… He was standing on the patch of grass next to the bench that had been his point of vigil for so long. Looking at the people milling about, an occasional smile on his face and the sadness seemingly replaced with a quiet resignation and occasional flashes of optimism.

And to their surprise the regulars, those curious ones who had watched him but were too timid to approach the old man, realised he was not all that old; it was sadness that had drawn the lines on his face, not the years.

Eventually one of them, the one who had thought he knew the man the best, finally broke down and inched closer to the man, failing to note the amusement now shining in his eyes. “Erm…”, he started, “so it’s here? It came? Whatever you were waiting for?”

With a wry grin the no-longer old man’s reply was heard, a reply that really confused some of those around him; having no frame of reference for his thoughts…

“No friend. All that came in the end was realisation. Realising that if this wasn’t a Storybook Love, it was because it never was written into the story. Realising that if I want a Storybook Love, I might have to go read another book. And finally realising that there are actually other books that might be even more worth reading…”

Resolutely Wishing For…

When I initially decided to write this post, I had thought to keep it sweet and short, wishing both my friends and enemies the same thing: may 2008 bring to you what you deserve…

Up until a couple of weeks ago, that would still have been my stance, but one of my resolutions for 2008 is that I will attempt to forgive those who harmed or hurt me. Some of it was malice, some of it sheer callousness and some of it cowardice; but in the end it doesn’t matter. Sadly I can not forgive them yet, but at least now I can see that I will be able to in a while. That is a good change.

Strange things, resolutions. People seem to hide from them or ignore them. Yet the new year is the ideal time to make changes; though, to be honest, since every day is the first of the rest of your life, every day is the best day to make changes. New year just makes it easy to draw a line in the sand.

So, my resolutions for 2008:

  1. Work towards and achieve being able to forgive those that had hurt me. Malice, Callousness or Cowardice makes no difference. I’m doing this for me.
  2. Allow love and happiness to find me. Allow myself to go find love and happiness. Yes I need to get over some hurt first, but it is a whole damn year!
  3. Make sure that my weight-loss keeps on track. I’m doing extremely well so far; I should reach the second-last of my goals in time for my next birthday…
  4. Spend at least six hours a week in the Gym. This is going to be tough, since I’m way unfit and even further out of shape. I’m not even properly round anymore, fercrissakes!
  5. Make my new company damn glad I joined them. Yes, I know I’ve already added more value than they had expected, despite the fact that I had been living under a very dark and heavy cloud, but in 2008 I’m going to astound them!
  6. Get out and enjoy the countryside and nature more. Go and see and experience new things and new places. I’ve spent way too many hours inside in recent years.
  7. Bring my friends closer again. During my time of pain I had rebuffed them, and it time to fix that. Sorry guys, I know you were there for me, but I could see squat through the pain.
  8. Achieve at least some of my professional goals. I’ve put some of them off for far too long already.

Yes I know. Plenty. But fortunately most of them are in motion; they’re not here so I can start them, they’re here so my friends can hold me accountable if I stop working towards them…

And then my wishes. Relax, I won’t wish that everybody will get what they deserve…

Someone who used to to be my very best friend in the world parted from me shortly after saying these words: “Sometimes, love just isn’t enough”. To her my message is: “It certainly is… All that is needed is real love”. And thus I especially wish this for her with all my heart: that she will find somebody to truly love in 2008.

For the rest of you, I wish one of two things: that you realise that you have already found your true love and then make then extremely happy that you had, or that your true love gets fed up waiting for you and comes to find you… For in the end, as I had said, love is more than enough.

And then as a final, final thought: Love, peace and happiness to you all. Good Riddance 2007; Roll On 2008!

Reflections on the Falls – Day 2

As Themba’s stentorian snores had lulled me to sleep the previous evening, so they not so gradually brought me to a none-too-gentle awakening. Yep. Still here…

With some caffeine fuelled enthusiasm I had decided that a shower was my first order of business. Alas, no, the miniscule alcove had not over-night magically assumed more generous proportions, no. Oh well, at least I got to leave it cleaner than I had entered it.

After dressing I wandered down to breakfast. And a surprisingly good one at that as well. The cynic in me immediately started wondering what the catch was… The place had not so far managed to fill me to the brim with confidence in their ability to play nicely.

Playing tourist time: Victoria Falls. Truly majestic. Or probably would have been if there was anything actually falling… Okay, that’s a bit unfair. The parts of the falls where there was falling water to be had (not an unfair expectation of some place proclaiming to be a waterfall I would have though, myself) was maybe excessively waterfall-y. Rather damp and everything. And quite high, at 100m plus… Okay. Effing high. 33 Storeys is a bit higher than I feel like falling down from. I did pick up on one thing though. Apparently I’m not really afraid of heights.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel for a blessedly cold beer. And the news that the airline’s licence had been suspended. We had to buy a new ticket. And we got to spend another day at Vic Falls. At our own expense. Oh. Joy.

Nothing but to do but continue with out event-packed afternoon. The elephant-back safari. Something I, as someone who had been reared on Kipling, had been quite looking forward to. And we were only half-an-hour late, too. An auspicious start indeed. We arrive in time for refreshments: anything from Lemonade, Sprite or Water. Unless you happen to want water, that is. But the tap’s in the loo if you would like to go get some…

Finally we were deemed ready for our great adventure; after we had been convinced to sign the indemnity form. It was at this point which an alarm started sounding in my head. Any venture requiring new clothes or indemnity forms are suspect by definition, in my opinion.

The real trouble started when one of the smallest elephants were brought closer and I was entreated to mount the bastard thing. All was fine till the denizen from the lowest of the hells started moving and the saddle started slipping to the side. “Now this,” I thought to myself, “is simply not going to end well.” Which I then promptly proved by valiantly holding on to the reigns which in turn was quite sturdily fastened to the saddle; which in turn decided that there was no way in hell that I would be staying on that damned elephant; it quite gracefully turned on the barrel of said elephant.

Themba and I — yes the very same Themba — now both got dumped, quite ungracefully and very damned hard, on the ground. From there we got to experience quite a unique view of elephants. An encounter I would have preferred to forgo and would really not recommend.

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An earnest attempt now got made, after we had been patched up somewhat and the saddle had been actually cinched, to convince me to re-mount the elephant. Now I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but stupid ain’t really one of them. There was no way, on this green earth, that I was getting back on that damned elephant!

Limping, I made my way to the cooler box, and promptly did my utmost (with eventual success due to Themba’s kind assistance and thorough command of Zulu) to convince one of the rangers that we truly deserved a couple of cold beers.

Nursing a cold beer, a bruised body and my equally bruised ego we find that one of the rangers left to “baby-sit” us is the chief lion trainer for the safari-outfit. Apparently they become unmanageable at two years of age, so the oldest ones he had were all seventeen months old. If you had never seen a seventeen-month-old lion from close up, take my word on this: that’s one big pussy-cat!

Eventually supper-time arrives and I frantically try and find a reason to skip going to “The Boma”. I wasn’t at all too certain that I would survive whatever was in store for us now… In a way what we run into at supper was both better and worse than I had feared… The food was edible. The entertainment was fairly decent. But the “interactive drum experience” (just known as “drumming” to us ignorant South Africans) was a total wash. Well, for me at least. I was sitting at the table in too much pain to go fetch some ice-cream and some over-enthusiastic personification of evil (damn those extroverts!) expected me to be all eager and enthusiastic at the prospect of energetically beating a drum? I was so sore, I couldn’t even lift my beer to my mouth!

Later, with the pain mostly under control due to some decent painkillers (as opposed to my faculties, for much the same reason) I eventually stumbled off to bed; dog-tired and hoping like hell that I would I fall asleep before the painkillers wore off. In fact, I was also so doped up that Themba could have snored all he wanted, he could have started a fire-fight in the room for all I cared, that night I was going to sleep, damn it!

There were some upsides to all of that, fortunately. The day had been so “eventful” that I had little time to reflect on anything. I had been so busy wondering what new “adventure” awaited us, that there had been no time to think about “home”.

Reflections on the Falls – Day 1

“Now, I’ve been to some dodgy places. No, I mean some really dodgy places. But that was behind me, I was convinced of that. I knew that that was history. Which doesn’t explain why I am here. No, it really does not.” These were some of my very first thoughts at seeing the Airport after landing…

It was bad enough when the Airline grounded all flights. Fortunately another Airline decided to honour the tickets. Sort of. After giving us a decent run-around for an hour, we’re informed that, instead of flying into Livingston in Zambia as we were going to, we would now be flying into Vic Falls in Zimbabwe. Ah well, close enough, I suppose. It then got a whole lot worse when the person organising the flight, the one with the transfer vouchers, with the paperwork, the money to pay for the hotel, managed to miss it… Not his fault really, since he would have had ample time to do all he needed had the Airline not decided to lose an engine a while ago, but still; it worried.

Here on the other side another, new, comedy awaited us though. Somewhere, somehow, one of the bags got lost. All got checked in together, and all, but that one, had made it. One managed to “get lost”. But of course it would… It was on Friday. Bag number X000013. It was doomed from the start…

Thistry we wandered to one of the shops. Paying a mil-and-a-half for anything freaks me out just a tad. Maybe a house is still okay, but a bloody ice-cream? Well, to be fair, that translates to just over R333 at the official exchange rate. For a bloody ice-cream? Now, I’ll readily grant that I haven’t bought any ice-cream in a while, but I would have considered R15 to be a tad expensive but understandable: I mean it is an Airport after all. But that’s no excuse for more than a 2222% premium, is it?

We finally got to the hotel, not at all certain of our welcome, since the person who had organised it all is the only one not available to explain to them that it all had, indeed, been organised. Thus it’s just another place, with another adventure awaiting us on this day from the nether realms. I get to share a room with Themba. Themba is okay. I like the dude, I really do. But not enough to share a bed with him okay?

Paying for beer at the local pub proved to be another adventure in itself. One pays in rands for prices quoted in Zim dollars to then get US dollars in change. Most unfortunately they don’t accept coins, ever so sorry. A nice little racket, of course, since it means that everything gets calculated in multiples of R6.77. And then rounded up. As I said, a nice little racket indeed.

Finally it was time for our first “activity”. A sunset cruise. Now it was time to experience the wilds of Africa with man in his natural habitat. On the deck of a barge with a cold beer in his hand. And I certainly experienced lots… Hippos. Crocodiles. Bottom of my beer glass. To be honest I saw way too many of the last for personal comfort; I got too close to the grim reality of it, if you will.

End of the day arrived, and we promptly moved on to Supper-time at “The Makuwa-Kuwa”. Which is great; that is, unless you feel at all uncomfortable at the idea of paying $25 US for a fairly common South African Cabernet. R100 I would’ve been able to justify to myself, but paying nearly R200 for a R50 bottle of wine was a lot, if you’ll excuse the pun, harder to swallow. Being forced to be honest, though, I would admit to the food being very, very, good. Deciding to simply avoid the wine, I’m starting to feel a bit better about this venture. Until, that is…

I went off to bed quite looking forward to a well-earned night’s rest after quite an eventful day. Fortunately it had taken only a modicum of brute force to separate the beds so I wouldn’t find myself sleeping close enough to Themba so that I would end up feeling obliged to make him an offer of marriage. Unfortunately, though, it soon became evident that Themba snores for the First Team.

Great. Just effing great…