2018: Just another year. Or was it?

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The last day of 2018 was like no other of the year.  Not for the obvious reasons like the heat and the Dutch tradition of Ollie Bollen followed by a fabulous evening during which a bunch of us said farewell to a year that did not have much to recommend it.  What made this new year’s eve different from any other, was another farewell.  Of a human being who had a great deal to recommend him.  Larger than life, a product of, and a lover of, Africa, who had been born in Zambia, spent much of his childhood in Botswana, studied and taught English in South Africa and more recently, in Namibia.  He loved not just teaching, but the English language and literature.  A love he and I shared and which he somehow infected in his initially unwilling pupils.

A selection of Herbie’s books. He had an ad hoc stall at the market – he didn’t see himself so much as selling books as sharing their contents. He had read each and every one and could match a most unlikely owner with the perfect book.

He left an indelible legacy.

A delighted Herbie, four years ago, with tickets for his pupils – to the McGregor Poetry Festival Photo: Karen Ward, Facebook

I said larger than life because Herbie was – literally and figuratively.  He loved food, especially my koeksisters.  He could sell 50 of them in less than an hour – just because “they are fabulous;  the best.


“You just can’t not have at least one!”

He smoused** them with flamboyance and grace – as he led his life.

At 55, Herbie was the same age as I.  I don’t think of myself as 55 going on 56, let alone old.  He is the third young person to have died in our immediate circle this year.  All shockingly unexpected.  The first two were young women, both of whom died in motor vehicle accidents and which I wrote about here and here. This death, too, an unfortunate accident.  He choked at a dinner with friends.  It’s a bit like a story line from a B-grade movie – unbelievable.

As I reflect on the year that has passed, the things that stand out for me are difficulty and death, including of our first fur child together.  Not just for me, but for virtually everyone in my immediate circle, so much so that it’s difficult to identify moments that were really happy.  One happy space (other than my kitchen) in which I learned about a new type of friendship, was on @steemit and particularly @steemitbloggers, when I was hacked.  That story really did have a happy ending, and I remain grateful and indebted to all those who helped me through this.

Happy moments are the way the year ended – with friends who are family – here for Christmas and then New Year’s Eve which was shared with people I care about and enjoy.  We had all had our own “years”.  The consensus was that 2019 simply must be better.

We will make it so.

There are some who say that the universe will be more benevolent this year.

I believe it will be.  I choose that.

I wish that choice for everyone as we face the first Monday of the New Year tomorrow.

I am usually the glass half-full (of wine) girl, but towards the end of last year that glass began to run on empty.  We ate and drank over Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, in addition to saying farewell to Herbie, we ate, drank and danced to live music to see in the first hours of the New Year.

It was the best way to shove the old year into the blue and face the new: with my glass half full (of wine), spurred on by the first full shot of Tequila I have had since 1984 (a story for another time – perhaps).

After a little break, including a festive season that was most definitely not restful, but full, with people I love, my glass is more than half full again (and not just with wine…or tequila).

Here’s to wishing one and all, a year that is kind, happy and fulfilled.

* isiXhosa for “definitely not”


There it is – until next time
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma




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