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Our City is no place for unbottled gherkins

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GREY MUTTER: Perhaps the condition of our city and our country upsets me so much because somewhere, etched deep into a happy part of my mind, is the picture of a place where everything was working efficiently and everyone was, more or less, well behaved, writes Lance Fredericks.

Picture: Artur Pawlak from Pixabay

I MAY have mentioned it before but my desk, in my home office, is a disaster area. Every now and again – every month or so, that is – I look at the clutter and anarchy on the desk and I decide to tidy it up.

It takes a while, but finding things like my lost floss and missing tin of Zam-Buk makes it a worthwhile exercise. I always find myself wondering why I didn’t just return the floss to my toiletry bag and trying to remember if I actually sat in front of my workstation flossing. Yuck!

The floss question is still a mystery; that along with what the Zam-Buck was for.

However, I hasten to add, that in all the chaos, I know exactly where everything is on that shambolic desk. I know where my red pen is, as well as the green one; and no, they are never lying together. Need the highlighters or the earplugs? No problem; I know where they are too … I may need to lift a book or shift some papers, but the items I am searching for are geographically in the general area where I left them.

In other words, my chaos leads to greater efficiency.

My romance with clutter is so bad that one day someone did me a favour by tidying my desk for me. I have to say, it looked amazing, but I felt like someone had kicked me in the head. I could not find a single thing for days after. I mean what monster puts all the pens together in one plastic container? And where did you hear of having all papers in a neat pile on one corner of a desk? Had the world gone mad?

For me, looking for something in a place I last saw it and not finding it there leaves me a little bit traumatised. In fact, it gets so ridiculous sometimes that if a container in the refrigerator or a cupboard is turned with the label facing the other way, I may not even see it; I suppose because I open the fridge or cabinet with a preconceived picture of what I am looking for, and how it looks, and if the pictures don’t match up, my brain short-circuits.

It’s as if, for me, tidiness and order should take second place to certainty.

No wonder I sucked at playing hide and seek. Because all my cousins and friends needed to do when I was seeking was pretend to be trees, pets or garden implements and I would walk right by them.

Now, the fact I am so happy with my ‘deurmekaar’ desk leaves me wondering why I would be so unsettled in a city that’s in a similarly shambolic state. Should I not be comfortable with the fact that the Diamond City looks like a lump of coal?

The only thing that makes sense is that the condition of our city and our country upsets me so much because somewhere, etched deep into a happy part of my mind, is the picture of a place where everything was working efficiently and everyone was, more or less, well behaved.

I drive around Kimberley these days and it’s as if I don’t know the place. Now, besides the leaking sewage, the damaged roads, and the occasional burst pipes there’s something else that is unsettling me …

What is happening is that people who are brazenly and blatantly breaking the law are beginning to believe that they have every right to do as they please. I was stared down by a pedestrian the other day; he was crossing a busy road, against the red light and I hooted to alert him to my approach. He was livid! How dare I expect him to wait at a red light?

Another time, I was driving through a dark, dark area, and I had my car’s high beams turned on. A young man on a bicycle – wearing dark clothes and without any lights and reflectors on his bike – insisted with animated and angry hand gestures that I dim my lights, probably because he found it uncomfortable.

And on the more smelly side of this problem is the fact that the term ‘restroom’ is almost obsolete; the other day, I drove past the Henrietta Stockdale nursing college in broad daylight. A young man, well dressed and impressively groomed was standing and urinating against the college’s wall. When he was done, he simply zipped up his trousers and got into his new Japanese hatchback and drove off as if it’s acceptable.

Then, last weekend, I was at the Flamingo Casino to pick someone up. However, before I got out of my car, I had a few messages I wanted to read on my phone. While I was busy, a car pulled up next to me. A gentleman, probably in his late-forties got out and started to unzip his trousers, whilst casually looking around.

Then he saw me, and I nodded a friendly hello, which made him quickly return the gherkin to the pickle jar and casually walk to the casino where there are clean and hygienic restrooms with urinals, soap, water and hand-dryers.

So pardon me for being a bit of a hypocrite, being OK with the disaster area on my desk, yet at the same time freaking out at the chaos in what used to be a pretty awesome little town. I still hope – maybe because I am a romantic at heart – that it’s not too late to fix this mess.

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