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Open Features: Sunday Afternoons

E M Macphailís story revolves around Sunday afternoon chatter in Joey.

Sundays I always go the the MacDonalds. Miemsie and my mom were best friends; they even went to the same school and when I came to live here in Joeys long ago she said no I must come every Sunday because itís no life for a young girl. Theyíve got a fantastic place. On Sunday afternoons we sit on the stoep and talk about when we were kids and what a fantastic climate we have and how the kaffirs are going to hell these days.

You only have to look around and see the MacDonalds have done OK. They have got a very big house. Itís called ranch style and inside very modern with Venetian blinds. The main bathroom is in sweet and everything matches, green and black. And you should see Miemsieís flower arrangements. Fan shape. She took lessons and she even buys the gladiolis and carnations from the shop. She doesnít just pick them out of the garden. You should see the ornaments in the display cabinet, like for instance glasses hand painted from Venice, Italy. Wynand, Miemsieís eldest, bought it overseas. We sit on the stoep in the sun and the kikuyu is thick and green for a morgen all around. You can see for miles and you wouldnít think you are near to a huge city like Joeys. And Miemsie did it all.

So OK there was the attorney Ė us kids used to call him Pielnek Ė OK you can say he was Miemsieís momís boyfriend. But how could he tell to buy this land when it was so cheap hey? OK so Alexandra was just smoke and stink but how did he know there are industrial rights also? And then he goes and leaves it all to Miemsieís mom. Like I told you they werenít even married. Yislaaik she was no oil painting that old woman and always so woes. She used to scare the living bloody daylights out of me. And Miemsie was lucky to sell most of the land when the price was up. She would never have got so much when the government took it over for native houses.

But Miemsie had bad luck also. Like when Wynand was in trouble in Botswana. He used to go there for hunting. That time when his gun went off and the kaffir got killed. The whole trouble was there wasnít any witnesses, just his word against the boysí. Man, Wynand looks just like his father. A big tall Englishman with a long nose, a bit red. But he was very good to Miemsie. I mean, like he didnít go on about her mom and Pielnek not being married. OK he was from overseas and he came here in the war. But nothing fancy, he was just ordinary, a Tommy and no job to go back to. But he did OK on the mines, got a bit drunk now and again, nothing much and was he good to those kids of theirs? Wynand and Raymond and their sister. Man I can still remember how I used to get the hell donnered out of me by my dad even before I could explain, but no, their father always asked a whole lot of questions first. And he neednít have worked so hard. Miemsie could have sold a few morgen now and again but no he wouldnít give up his job.

Miemsie and the kids only started farming here after Mr MacDonald died. It was a place where they could all live together and Wynand turned out to be a natural farmer. Natives costs nothing from Alexandra before all the factories started up. They used to take the milk and sell it in the township, no bloody nonsense with TB control like nowadays and they had their own vegetables. Man Iíve never seen anything like the gems and the pumpkins and the potatoes and the patats. Miemsie can still make the best fritters I know. They have it for dinner on Sundays.

Most of the ground is sold now and Wynand has to travel all over the place. He goes to Swaziland on business. And to that other place. Whatís it called? It used to be Basutoland. I donít know what sort of business it is but Iím not nosey. Itís not my business. And now he takes Raymond with and they even go overseas. They get on together those two, they tell jokes and they have a lot to laugh about when they come back. Which is just as well because their sister is nothing to laugh about. When I said Miemsieís mom was no bloody oil painting, well you can say that again about Miemsieís daughter and how. I suppose it runs in the family and everybody wonders how with a face like that she can even get a baby but not because she was too shy. What she didnít get up to when Miemsie went to hospital that time for womens troubles is nobodyís business.

When there was the big wedding for Wynand and Raymondís sister in the new house you should have heard the lekker stories. I mean even the best man stood up and told them and the predikant was listening too. Was that a wedding and a half? And you know a funny thing? She married a soutie also. And his auntie came from England for the wedding and she didnít look so bloody amused when they were telling the grappies. You should have seen the food and drink flowing like it was water. Miemsie did all the cooking herself with only the coon girls to help. Alone there was eight sorts of fish. Fried with chips, pickled, smoke salmon Ė personally itís not for me, it looks raw Ė snoek, Cape harders and I donít know what else besides. And there was bobotie and roasted turkey. And even salads. And at the end there wasnít nothing left. I wish you could have seen the people drinking brandy like it was tea. The band played so loud and never stopped once for three hours, jazz, vastrap, chacha, kwela and pack up your troubles in your old kitbag because the bridegroom was from England. My head was sore for two days after. And yes the bride didnít look any better in a white veil and Victoria bustle back dress with insets of hand-made lace and her stomach sticking out so far she couldnít see her feet when they danced the bridal waltz I bet. Shame Miemse tried to bring her up proper. I mean she taught her how to do canning and pickling and everything. So maybe she will settle down now. Like Raymond. Heís the quiet one and heís never been in any trouble since the police came and made enquiries when he gapsed a car. But Raymond was anyway under age.

No I really enjoy sitting on the MacDonaldís stoep on Sunday afternoons listening to Miemsie and them talking about the old days and how times have changed. But itís nice that we are all just still the same.


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