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Jo'Burg Days: No Time To Play

…I scuttle between tv and kitchen, keeping an eye on steaming pots, boiling kettles or roasting pans. It takes skilful juggling to keep everything on the go without burning the bottom out of good stainless steel saucepans…

Barbara Durlacher’s early evenings involve split-second timing as she tunes in to must-see TV programmes and cooks a meal.

The days of husbands, children, homework, even housework, are long gone, but don’t worry, I still have to MOVE like all those bedevilled woman, the ‘trying to be mothers’, lovers, wives, and office supremos between the hours of four to seven every day.

No longer the poor Mum who, the moment she walked in the door, and before she even had a chance to go to the loo, had to placate her fretful children pawing her like puppies, wanting her attention and love, wailing remarks like “Mummy, can you listen to my homework?” and “Mummy, she was so horrible to me today!” and “Mum, I must have a new hockey stick – by tomorrow!”

Instead, I have to contend with my SOAPS, and then the NEWS!

Split second timing is necessary every day from 4pm to 7:30pm. To make it work I have to get every duck in a row in order to get through all that has to be done without missing a beat with non-stop, “Absolutely-Mustn’t-Miss” programmes.

At four, there’s the ‘Antique Roadshow,’ a feast of items. A bit of old junk rescued from the attic or an heirloom which the experts identify and price, sometimes finding an exquisite treasure or a long-lost museum piece. Couldn’t possibly miss that!

This is followed by a variety of nondescript half-hours, occasionally “How Clean is Your House?” a real frightener, guaranteed to put you off cleaning, or dusting behind the pictures, for life. Occasionally, we have the one on how to train recalcitrant pets, with a lady in black leather cracking the whip. Glad I’m not the pooch, but she always manages to subdue them and put them on their best behaviour, as well as teaching the owners that most of the trouble is actually caused by their naughty lack of discipline. “Bad owner. Down, down!”

This half-hour break gives me time to quickly brown the meat, chop the veggies, or pre-heat the oven. Then a quick dash back to catch the wonderful “A Year at Kew,” which traces the behind-the-scenes activities of this world-famous botanical garden, as we follow the travels and hard work of the senior scientists collecting rare and endangered species from the some of the most inhospitable places in the world. We see the specialists pruning a three-hundred year old oak, or anxiously waiting the delayed blooming of the biggest water lily in the world; the one with the foulest stink.

“Doctors,” follows next, a real soapie about life in a busy doctor’s surgery, following the life and loves of staff members and patients. Less obviously artificial than “ERM”, “Casualty,” Holby City,” and other stimulated hospital dramas it carries subtle messages about life and love. This makes it, for me at least, compulsive viewing.

In between, I scuttle between tv and kitchen, keeping an eye on steaming pots, boiling kettles or roasting pans. It takes skilful juggling to keep everything on the go without burning the bottom out of good stainless steel saucepans!

A fast channel change and six thirty brings “Isidingo,” the popular South African soapie about “Everyday folks, Everywhere,” with Barker, Lee, Cheryl, Lettie, and Co firing on all sixteen cylinders. They never miss a beat and are always ready with a topical ‘comment for the day’ as well as top-class acting and brilliant writing – how on earth do they do it, if they only record two or three times a week?

Then, just time to dish up and put the steaming food on the table before the clock touches seven and the logo for the News comes up. More politics, murder, and more corruption and theft – so, rather than spoil my good dinner, I switch channels again and travel the world seeing places I would never dream of visiting …

Ah! The charms of DStv!

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