Charles Darwin, in all his wisdom and voyages which, let’s face it, were probably full of rum, Malibu and party bonfires, could not have predicted the strange phenomenon of natural evolution observed in the Cape of Good Hope.
Ants are particularly curious creatures. They scurry around and climb things and are terrified of the rain. It’s little wonder that homo sapiens dwelling in the shadow of Patricia de Lille and Table Mountain have adopted similar behavioural patterns.
Capetonians love to climb things. All sorts of things. Trees and mountains and hills and rocks. And that’s not the only similarity. Ants, ever the social insects, are observed to communicate new territorial expeditions with one another. The same proves true for Mother City dwellers. But instead of releasing all sorts of odd chemicals and pheromones into the air like Darwin anticipated, we send information into the stratosphere and hope the nearest MTN signal tower won’t let us down (a further study in duo-organism mutualism, and another thing to eventually climb).
Ever-changing with the time, the law has adapted too. It’s almost as if there is a newly-developed Registry of Deeds for mountain climbing. If you’ve risen more than three metres above ground level, you must document your venture and send it off along with all parties involved and a clear indication of where you are for the sake of the rest of the colony. Submissions include “Lion’s Head with my babez”, “Table Mountain, sunrise, #nofilter” and “Look. A rock”.
Natural selection kicks in eventually. And Cape Town dwellers’ natural fear of the rain and propensity to head to higher ground and tell the rest of the herd about it puts them further towards the top of the evolutionary ladder. They lie above their direct competition – the low-lying Durbanites, who are often killed in floods if they haven’t moved to the Mother City.
A colony of ants will grow rapidly over time, and the most concerned individuals will relay messages to their queen. The Cape Colony is no different. It’s little wonder Queen Helen Zille is often cc’d in on outgoing images and hashtagged, to allow for her to easily pick up on communication efforts. Why Capetonians do this remains an evolutionary mystery.
If you’re ever looking to observe this phenomenon, you won’t need to climb anything or even leave the house. Already, you’ll find it’s all over your Facebook newsfeed.
For BBC Planet Earth, this is David Attenborough.
There’s a tiny restaurant in Spin Street or thereabouts called Bread Milk & Honey. It’s a small establishment which is frequented by busy people on their way to the office in the morning, craving a quick coffee, or by attorneys and the like in the area looking for a sandwich before vanishing back to work. I walked in today to see if my favourite waitress in Cape Town still worked there, a long-shot at best and fool’s errand otherwise. The walls were different – the beautiful painting of two hands I had always looked forward to seeing was gone. Different colours adorned the tables. But behind the counter, one thing stayed the same.
I stepped up to the counter she stood behind and she smiled when she saw me. I couldn’t help but grin back. We laughed and she said one thing which summarised the past eleven months for me. “You’re all grown up now.” Jokingly, I looked in the mirror alongside and made a gag of it, but I caught view of myself and remembered the vest and shorts I had last worn to the restaurant. I wore a fitted shirt today, with smart waxed-denim jeans, black shoes, my hair combed back, piles of paper in my hand and a pen alongside. Looking back, I have grown up and it took Primrose to remind me that a lot has changed in a very short amount of time.
It’s mind-boggling to think that I made such an impact on Primrose, and her on me, that after more than a year and a half of absence, we could still not only recognise one another, but remember our previous encounters.
After I had something substantial to eat, I asked her for one of Bread Milk & Honey’s dark chocolate tarts, which may just be a little piece of the best thing in the world. And with every bite I sank of that little chocolate tart, I thought back everything that had led to me growing up just a little bit more this year, and every year, since I moved to Cape Town as a teenager in 2009. I felt like Julia Roberts devouring pasta in Italy with such delight in Eat Pray Love, although I ate with much less gusto and far more emotion.
I thought about how blessed I am to be right here, enjoying this delicious piece of heaven, after everything that’s happening this year. I was grateful for everything – for knowing Stevan before he died, for the friends I’m lucky to still have with me, for a family and mentors and colleagues that have taught me things I could never have read in a book or stumbled upon on the internet. I felt fortunate that someone like Primrose could remember me after so long even though we know nothing about one another other than I drink Earl Grey tea and eat too many dark chocolate tarts.
No matter where in the world I end up running to for a morning beverage, for lunch before vanishing back off to work, or to yet another meeting I will never forget Primrose. I’m all grown up now, she told me. But I won’t forget where I came from and the people I’ve had the privilege of meeting along the way. And like that little dark chocolate tart, I’m going to continue to savour every second of every opportunity in life – before ordering several more.
In case you missed it this morning, Patricia - the woman who may or may not be living inside my head - decided to track and document a trip on a University of Cape Town Jammie Shuttle for an audience of two to three live readers on Twitter. This is what we have to report:
10h27: No weird looking people at West Stop - Hiddingh Jammie must have just left #jammiechronicles
10h31:Driver has left the Jammie and walks into Leslie Social #jammiechronicles
10h35: Driver is back. Performs an excellent roll-start before narrowly avoiding a goose in the road #jammiechronicles
10h36: Currently driving on both sides of the road. Toyota Tazz on the left has since mysteriously disappeared #jammiechronicles
10h37: Driver now on the phone to loved one/debt collector. Difficult to tell#jammiechronicles
10h38: Driver currently putting the ramp back in offramp #jammiechronicles
10h40: Driver currently hooting at imaginary things. Still don’t know why the windshield wipers aren’t on, given the rain #jammiechronicles
10h41: Driver stops at orange light. Everyone is confused#jammiechronicles
10h42: Vicious right-turn, littering the floor with students #jammiechronicles
I should know better, I should know better, I should know better,I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, WHERE IS MY RED BULL, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better, I should know better.
The neighbours are probably reading this, so I’ll make it quick. They’ve taken the casserole dish. And they’re showing no signs of giving it back.
Yes, there are a thousand more important things to worry about in the world. Michelle Obama has a potentially gay husband, Cosatu is at the DA’s throat and it’s cheaper to mail your car to wherever you’re going than actually drive it. But enter the humble kitchen. Step into a world where you’re meant to have control over everything; where anything you do is determined by you and you alone - and Ina Paarman.
Now add several terrorists.
I mean okay fine, I borrowed their flour a few weeks back, so what? Flour is readily available all over the show and (much to my surprise) they were harbouring several different types of it. Often I wonder where they found such contraband, but that is a story for another day. I’m not giving the Snowflake back. Never in your wildest dreams. But in the meanwhile, I will say only this. I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war, and I will not negotiate with terrorists. I am a hostage in my own home.
Give me my dish back, or feel the full force of my singing in the shower.
Below is an actual kitchen query I submitted to Nigella about her penne alla vodka, and how a humble pasta made several adults think they were in Vegas for the night.
My name is Nick Corbett, checking in from a wintry Cape Town in South Africa. Last night I prepared your penne alla vodka, and I’m not sure I got the recipe quite right.
I managed the sauce base just fine, having spent most of Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon ensuring the onion was chopped just right. As you envisioned for the dish, I prepared it several hours beforehand. The penne was perfectly al dente and the butter cold and cubed, as needed. I poured the vodka into the drained pasta with the butter, added the sauce, stirred and served in a warmed dish to several hungry house guests.
They loved the dish. With every mouthful, the conversation in the room grew louder and louder and the boisterous men began to guffaw. However, things began to get out of hand. Plates were thrown against walls and glasses were smashed on the tables. My guests began dancing on the furniture, and hooking up with one another. Someone put the jukebox on – Physical, by Olivia Newton John. Clothes we removed at a fiery pace. Everyone ran back to the pot and began shooting penne in double shot glasses. And the drunker they got, the hungrier they became.
I don’t know what happened next. The following day, everyone woke up naked in the dining room covered in tomato. No one remembered how they had got here or what had happened. Steers burger packets lined the floor and chips fell here and there from the ceiling.
Did I perhaps miss a step?