Home Opinion and Features Let’s be grateful for small mercies

Let’s be grateful for small mercies

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I admit I do not play baseball, but like many suburban house owners I keep a bat handy in case a stranger arrives and feels like a game

Picture: Max Pixel

At my age I am unaccustomed to being accosted by strange women. I was slightly surprised recently when a middle-aged lady rounded on me in the bank and pointed an accusing finger at me.

“You don’t know me,” she said, “but I know who you are and I just want to tell you, you’re a very silly man.”

I told her she was probably right and asked her what particular silliness had caused her to mention it.

“Every time you go away to the Karoo,” she said, “you write about it in your column. You’re advertising to all the burglars in town that your house will be empty for a while and inviting them to break in.”

Well, I confess I hadn’t thought about that. I didn’t know burglars subscribed to the Cape Argus, but I suppose our readers come in many varieties.

What I didn’t tell her was that I don’t actually do much writing when I am relaxing under the big Karoo sky. I tap out a couple of columns before I leave, then put away my computer until I return. I usually write a few Karoo columns after coming home too.

So any literate burglar who reads that I am far away might be greatly surprised to break into my house and find me sitting in my usual chair, hiding behind a wine glass and clutching a baseball bat as usual.

I admit I do not play baseball, but like many suburban house owners I keep a bat handy in case a stranger arrives and feels like a game.

We Cape Town folk are a sporting lot.

Actually, it’s rather sad to look around and see the barricades we have built around us.

One of the first things I notice when I travel in other countries is the lack of security. There are whole suburbs without electric fences.

Very few houses have stout burglar bars on the windows and I don’t see many signs advertising 24-hour armed response services.

I don’t for a moment believe that other countries are peaceful pools of law-abiding tranquillity.

They are rioting in France and armed gunmen are shooting fellow Americans with alarming frequency.

Refugees are fleeing from many war-torn countries where it’s become too dangerous to live.

I look at the world news and think to myself that a burglar alarm and barred windows may be a small price to pay to live here.

Our country may be under attack, but at least it’s our own politicians who are attacking us, and we are used to that.

And they may be robbing us, but at least they’re not shooting us. Yet. I guess we should be grateful for small mercies.

Last Laugh

In the lobby of a posh Johannesburg hotel a man was overheard describing his holiday. “In front of me were two elephants and there was a lion to the right of me and a leopard following me.”

A wide-eyed bystander asked breathlessly: “So what did you do?” “Well, at that stage the merry-go-round stopped, so I got off.”