Judging Holiday Homes By Their Books

Holiday homes trellidoors
Big ass rich people doors

Thank you all for your kind comments regarding the break-in at our holiday abode. The alarm went off again in the small hours of Tuesday morning this week, so it seems like the local crims get their exercise jumping over our walls. No wonder the John Boyega lookalike was in such excellent shape. I have now taken to locking all the trellidors and every possible door I can every night to ensure that I can sleep. I have included a picture of said trellidors so you understand my pain. The thing about having this big-ass rich-person house is that it needs some big-ass rich-person security to go with it. I want electrified razor wire with some armed guards that look like Ryan Gosling/Idris Elba and are trained in some violent martial art.

During our visit to the police station, the nice sergeant who painstakingly wrote out my account of the break-in asked if I had seen where our robber had gone.

  • Me: How could I see? I was locked in the damn bathroom.
  • Sergeant: You didn’t chase after him?
  • Me: *laughing hysterically* No. In Joburg we do not chase after robbers in case they shoot us or iron our faces. We’re weird like that.
The sergeant then assured me that people don’t shoot you in Plett, they just like to part you from your possessions – but in a very nice way.

See, I was right, they do have a better class of robber here. The constable who was helping the sergeant was very interested to know what TV shows I wrote for so I was a bit wary when I got a call from the police this week, thinking that this was the police offering to act in one of the shows I work on. But no, the kind person on the phone was just checking up on me which I thought was incredibly nice of her.

It’s interesting how you realise all the stuff a holiday home is lacking when you live in it for a while. Besides the Ryan Gosling/Idris Elba armed guards, this one doesn’t have a First Aid kit (and neither did our hire vehicle) which I realised after I managed to burn myself on the oven on Saturday night. To be honest it was a miniscule burn but what freaked me out is that after the initial pain, I couldn’t feel a damn thing and the skin was white and charred rather than blistered. This would not have normally been an issue except that I made the rookie error of googling how to treat burns and then read that white charred skin indicates a third degree burn and a third degree burn should ALWAYS be treated at the emergency room.

With my BFF Jane Thomas at the Deck in Plett
With my BFF Jane Thomas at the Deck in Plett

I then got myself in a complete state because we had all been drinking wine and how would anyone be able to drive me to an Emergency Room, where even is the hospital here and how humiliating to have to present my miniscule burn to them because I had read on Google that you HAD to go to the doctor with all third degree burns.

I even googled MINISCULE THIRD DEGREE BURNS but I got the same answer and became more concerned about treating the burn in THE CORRECT WAY than the burn itself.

Luckily, my BFF’s husband told me I was being a stupid tit and that he had had plenty of burns where the skin was white and charred and I should shut up and drink my wine. So I did.

Google is not always your friend #justsaying.

Yes, we had friends staying over the weekend and then the son arrived on Sunday. He’s been doing puzzles and investigating all the board games. Last night we played a Scrabble rip-off called Spelldown. Not sure if I can blame menopausal porridge brain, my need to be creative rather than accurate in putting down words or perhaps I am just a bit thick, but I regret to inform you that despite having a master’s degree in English AND being a writer, I was beaten by an MBA and a second year Health Science’s student.

Scrabble rip off
Scrabble rip off

Whilst we were busy playing rip-off Scrabble, the son was examining the bookshelf. We found some interesting stuff, which made us exceptionally curious about whom this house belongs to and the history of it. There was an article about space exploration from the year voetsak with a number on it. ‘Call it!” instructed the husband to the son.

Sadly, we got a ‘the number you have dialled does not exist’ response. Imagine what fun it would’ve been if we had got through?

There was also a copy of Lorna Doone that had been presented to one Petronella in 1946 from the girls at the office. Who was Petronella we wondered, an old relative? I then told the son that his great grandmother was named Magdalena Petronella. I thought this was an interesting nugget of family history, alas he only seemed deeply concerned that his great grandmother had been called Magdalena which was pronounced to be a particularly heinous name and one that should, under no circumstances, be passed down. Personally, I rather like the name.

Holiday home books
More popular SA fiction required

Other gems included a copy of War and Peace, I know I once attempted to read Anna Karenina as a kid but never took to it, but I don’t think I ever tried W&P. Doesn’t seem like whomever owns this place got through it either. The bookmark in it is dated 1985 and sits in the halfway mark of the book. I think the house is owned by people who love reading as there is quite a wide variety of books and some of them are pretty old. I like that.

The sad thing is that there are not many books by South African authors (I’m talking popular fiction – there are loads of bird books and Nelson Mandela quote type books) the closest is The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins (yes, I am claiming her for Zimbabwe) so I may well leave a couple of my books here to get the ball rolling.

I definitely am guilty of judging people by the books they have in their holiday homes.
My Octopus Teacher
My Octopus Teacher

Too many Harlequin romances, you will be put into the slightly thick, not capable of winning rip-off Scrabble category with me. Too many weighty tomes, you will be directed to the pretentious, bore-athon War & Peace Section. No South African books and you will be sent to the naughty corner with the People Who May Not Have a Braai on Heritage Day. Best to have a nice mix of everything to make yourself look sufficiently well-rounded in your reading habits.

Once again, I have nothing to recommend on the TV front (too much drinking wine and staring at the ocean) although the Jozi Film Fest is still on until the 20th and I’m seeing good reports on both the Octopus doccie and Cuties on Netflix. There was an absolute furore over the way Cuties was marketed but apparently it is worthwhile to watch. Wouldn’t it be lovely if people did a bit of research or actually watched the damn film/read the damn book before weighing in with their nonsense on the socials? One can but dream.

In bookish news, the international rights to Fiona Snyckers’s fantastic Lacuna have been sold. I adored the book and am thrilled about this.
Holiday Books 01
Holiday Books 02
Discovered Raka Skipper at Woolies here. Delish and only 89.99 SA Ronts
Discovered Raka Skipper at Woolies here. Delish and only 89.99 SA Ronts

If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to. It’s a searing and often hilarious response to JM Coetzee’s Disgrace. Zimbabwean author, Tsitsi Dangarembga has been shortlisted for the Booker with her novel This Mournable Body which is FABULOUS, particularly as she recently spent some time in jail for her protest action in Zim. Zim jails can definitely be put in the Not Fun Places To Spend Any Time category so Tsitsi deserves some good news. Sue Nyathi’s latest book A Family Affair is out in October and cosy mystery The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle which is the pen name of lovely friends, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel is out in December but you can pre-order it. Pre-orders are HUGELY important to authors, so please go ahead and order Sue and KG’s book NOW.

I am still reading the Beetle book, but because I am a book slut, I’ve got a couple of side pieces on the go: Cop Under Cover by Johann van Loggerenberg and The Hit List by Holly Seddon (thank you, Amy Heydenrych for the recommendation!)

Both are RIVETING. Holly does a lovely podcast with author Gillian McAllister called The Honest Authors podcast. It’s extremely entertaining and full of useful tips about writing and getting published.

Happy Heritage Day everyone! If you’re going to a braai on the 24th, think about taking a South African Book AS WELL as a bottle of (South African) wine because signed books do make the best gifts. Happy reading! xxx