Thursday, July 31, 2008

karmic accountancy

Ok after Helen's post this morning it is clear that the phenomenon of 'karmic accountancy' needs further examination. (After all there may be 90 pence at stake.)

I just googled and found this on karmic accountancy here

'....If one acquires more than he has rightfully earned, he assumes a karmic debt. If one is cheated or robbed of that which is rightfully his, he receives a corresponding karmic credit. If a man's karmic debits and credits have not been balanced out by the time of his transition, that is, death of the physical vehicle, they are carried over until the next incarnation...'

Hmm it kind of goes off on one a bit - but maybe there's something in it? It wasn't something I'd experienced before.

Anyway as I prepared to fly out of the country last month, my passport was whipped away by immigration control and handed to an uncompromising looking official who called me over to a separate cubicle in Departures - where he proceeded to finger the expired visa and shout at me loudly. This was an hour before take off and for some reason I was giggling weakly inside (probably wrong I know) despite threats of imprisonment until the following Monday morning. In the end, the official fed a roll of paper into his rickety dot matrix printer and stabbed my details into his computer before presenting me with a notice of a fine - to be paid within 3 days. He scribbled something that looked like 'MISCREANT' and 'deposit + UK ticket' in ink on one page of my passport before handing it back, smiling. So I was 700 UK pounds out of pocket and I hadn't even left the country. I slunk on to the plane and fumed. Having a husband, daughter, house, company and even a permanently resident imported mother clearly didn't count. Plus I'd paid taxes. I calmed down as I tucked into the tiny but tasty chicken casserole and figured there are people in far worse migratory predicaments.

On the way back in I pushed the trolley through arrivals a little fearfully. I'd paid my fine, had the receipt plus a single ticket back to the UK. I joined a different queue from the rest of my family. Suddenly there was flurry of whistles from the officials at the front. They were smiling and waving, and ushering me over. They joked and bantered and barely glanced at the newly bought UK ticket. They stamped a temporary visa and I was in. Painless.
It was the next day when I ripped through the unopened letters that I came across the tax rebate notice - in rands but the exact equivalent of the cost of fine and ticket.

So maybe it's really just about payback - this karmic accountancy - when it feels wrong and stuff. What goes around etc. I don't know

So Helen that 90p. Hmm maybe there was a bus fare left off your tax return perhaps...?

Write Africa!

PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award

The South African Centre of International PEN (SA PEN) is pleased to announce a new literary award in Africa known as the PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award.

The award aims to encourage new creative writing in Africa and will offer talented writers an exciting opportunity to launch or develop a literary career.

One of the more financially rewarding literary competitions in Africa, the first, second and third prizes respectively will be £5 000, £3 000 and £2 000.

Nobel Laureate John Coetzee has agreed to be the final judge for the new award.

Full details are available here. Deadline is September 30th 2008.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

desk again

Helen tagged me with the desk meme, which I've already done some time ago. It still looks pretty much the same - a little messier maybe.

The photo is here:


Friday, July 25, 2008


Hello blog! There's nothing quite like being back, sitting down at your own desk is there? My head is still full of French phonetics after watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly on the plane from Frankfurt. Really enjoyed it - moreso after having attended the Harwood talk at Cheltenham.

After the unexpected additional costs* (fine + another plane ticket) incurred by my trip, I returned to find the taxman has given me a rebate that precisely matches the overspend*. Karmic accountancy - what's that about then?

Anyway back to work. Must start rewrites and finish off stuff and read and go to the cinema and be nice to the dog. Lots going on and all tinglingly exciting. I think.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

on my way

There’s a way people have in Cape Town – when they meet someone they know and want to keep on talking (but are in a hurry) – of carrying on conversation while walking in opposite directions, until they’re both out of ear shot. Talk drifts away in the breeze. No goodbyes. I quite like that.

So after nearly a month dashing round the country and catching up with numerous friends, I‘m thinking about packing. At last I’ve experienced the weirdness of meeting up with bloggers - getting a bit hammered with the delightful Helen, Potdoll and Lara last weekend (plus had a rather more sedate chat with engaging Elinor, the week before.)

Managed to meet my fab new half brother (and wife) In a way, I wanted to just sit and have a good stare and contemplate any shared traits from our father. There is an odd resemblance. Also made a quick trip to Havant to see an uncle I’ve not seen in ten years. After 15 years in the navy in his youth, he spent a frugal life either travelling the seas in self-built yachts or cycling across various continents. Now 73 he has spent the last 8 years building and perfecting what is likely to be a final yacht, all meticulously detailed woodwork – now moored on Hayling Island.

So no writing done at all, at all. But on the plus side – numerous photos have been sourced for the jazz book. Stunning ones of the Blue Notes when they first sought exile in London – looking all stylish and slim and in clingy cardigans and even one of SA's Mokaleng with Thelonius Monk.

So I’ll be back here. Yes I will. My hub says his idea of hell is 50 years working on the London Underground. I think mine is possibly 50 years in purified Cape Town.


Monday, July 07, 2008


wooo and what a whirl is July so far. Firstly a threat of incarceration prior to flying out of Cape Town (odd circumstances which I absolutely can not go into here) but something I still have to sort out pronto...

But the Screenwriters Festival* was a delight (as everyone has blogged elsewhere) - the highlight of my 3 days in Cheltenham was the Ronald Harwood interview. Met lots of lovely peeps - although my time was topped and tailed by the commute from Smethwick meaning that I mainly missed the early sessions and, come evening, didn't get to hang around much at all..

Since then have been catching up with family in leafy counties & scratting around in boxes stowed in garages for mouldy belongings and pieces of art (found some! ). Still have to meet up with others including not-yet-met facebook half-brother and old, old friends. Yes.

Laters peeps.

*can't seem to do links (or much else) on this mac