Darkness Descends

A TLB – Tyrannosaurus Local Bugger-up – engaged in excavating a ditch down by the River, hoiked up an electrical cable, which had been down there forever. The substation took umbrage and all power supply was cut off.

As this was Wednesday morning fairly early, no big deal. Eskom does this on purpose on a regular basis. This was merely an accident. Not quite as exciting an event as a skeleton dug up by another TLB a few months back.

Dusk arrived but still no power. Take-aways were the order of the day.

In the cold of the winter dawn, we contemplated showers. Those with solar heated geysers no doubt smiled. Those with gym cards resigned themselves to exercise so they could shower, courtesy of Virgin Active. Those with neither just sniffed their armpits and carried on.

Thursday was cold.  Fortunately, we could make coffee on a long forgotten gas cylinder found in the garage.

Night descended! And the students had exams looming – how to study in the dark?

To the rescue came our own little Florence Nightingale. I counted 45 candles, two battery-powered lights and an incandescent gas lamp. The students were bathed in glorious, scented light. The dining room looked and smelt like a cathedral. I went to the piano to strike up “Land of Hope and Glory” but was promptly sent to my study by Florrie.

As I write this, by the light of my own three candles, I contemplate a long weekend of 17th-century existence. I really cannot see the laid-back crew working on the enormous transformer at the substation bringing forth light any time soon. What, you may well ask, was that TLB doing, digging down by the river.

It so happens that, no doubt caused by global climate change, massive ponds form in the hollow in Carden Street just over the railway crossing when we have heavy rain. Our Fuhrer, a man of high connections and a will of iron (not to mention his liver) somehow talked the NMMM (the local authority, aka No More Money, Man) into installing a drain pipe from the road to the River.

Nobody gave the idea of hope in Hades – but the project has started! It’s a miracle – mind you, his initials are JC.

Well, I say it is started, but it hasn’t ended yet. So far the substation has been blown up, and the lucky villagers are saving a fortune in electricity bills.

The ditch in which the pipe is being laid has got as far as the River. In my humble opinion, such a large operation to lay such wide pipes just to drain a puddle is only half the job.

Major lakes develop in the Lippstreu Garden when it rains hard for a couple of days. This is no good for brides who wish to have the finest day of their lives captured against the glorious foliage to be found in the Park. Beautiful wedding dresses just don’t go with gumboots.

Of course, it would be no easy task taking the pipe to the Park, underneath the railway track. I know they have an ingenious drilling machine that digs a tunnel like a mole.

The railway track was laid down in 1875. Millions of tonnes of rolling stock have compacted the earth beneath the line for close to 140 years. The mole better have sharp teeth! And going by the performance to date, a derailment is not out of the question.

Let’s assume the pipeline is finally laid down between the Park and the River. As we are probably entering a seven year cycle of drought the pipe will gradually become the happy home of rats, snakes and spiders; the detritus of the Park, grass cuttings, fallen leaves, Egret feathers and the like will soon obliterate any sign of its opening. It will be forgotten by all and sundry.

One day the heavens will burst up in the KleinWinterhoekberge and the River will come down in flood.

Now, our floods come in sizes. 2006 is the biggest size, and we don’t even want to talk about that. But smaller sizes like 2011, 1983, 1971 and many others do come up well over the Towpath.

When this happens next, and that is a sure as death and taxes, the new outlet pipe will be a metre underwater. The water level will be well above the rather low-lying Park across the railway line.

Imagine the River back washing into the Park! Out will come spiders, snakes and rats, followed closely by large crabs, spotted grunter and various fresh water fish from up country, and who knows what else.

The Lippstreu Garden will become a new fishing spot for our subsistence fishers. They won’t have to walk all the way to the River; they will take their ease in the lovely Park grounds, enjoy a papsak of wine while watching their lines, and sell fresh fish to Villagers. Welcome to the Deare Street Fish Market!

Categories: Close to Home


  • Phyllis Magda

    Hilarious, Frank! I think it’s time you leave your day job and go flat out into writing satire. Taking time out to read your blogs will make us ordinary mortals’ mundane jobs more tolerable! Can’t wait for the next one!

  • Keith Wattrus

    You got it wrong, Frank. TLB actually stands for Turning-circle Like Bugger-all. As I stare out across the pristine savannah grasslands that lie between our house and the railway line, there are now very severe indentations in said, occasioned by the TLB carrying out its TLB. And this in the exact area of grass that really collects rainwater during heavy rains, to the point where, I think, rainwater will actually flow away from the new drain and form a far larger mosquito sanctuary. Please ask JC to factor in a phase 2 for this whole exercise, that being another drain from the NMMM in the area so-described.

    And then, once Phase 2 is complete, and the TLB has by then totally ruined Alan Moore’s adjacent pristine grasslands, Phase 3 of the entire project will come into view. Tell JC it’s called being punished for your efficacy.

  • Tony Anthony

    Hi Frank,
    I see Phyllis refers to your article as satire. I would also consider it to be satire if was’nt for the sad fact that your article is factual. On a lighter note……. it also makes me think that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy exists after all and that we live in the land of OZ.

  • Sue Crear

    Hilarious and thanks for the giggle Frank, only gotten around to logging on now for a catch-up and reminisce about the day the lights went out – albeit for 36 hours – we had a similar situation some years ago in December if I remember correctly when we had a 36 hour outage – 2009 methinks. Horrors.
    Oh well, the candles came in use, as does gas geyser and the “every-ready” filled up gas bottles. Nothing like firelight from the fire-place which got dusted out for it’s lifesaving heating and glow which Liam studied by – well, tried too.

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