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Sunday, October 06, 2002

What Might Have Been
Some bloody good stuff over at Swish Cottage, written 30 years after the author's family left England for South Africa (he returned to England when he was 30).

My uncle emigrated to South Africa when I was about 3. At the time it seemed as if he was going away for ever--my grandparents didn't have a phone, so other than one or two very brief trips back to England very early in his life abroad they didn't speak to him or see him for about 20 years. He married a South African and had a bunch of children. Now they've all "come back" to England.

I haven't seen him since he returned to Britain; don't want to really. He fully embraced the apartheid mentality--was always full of piercing insights into how people of various races smelled. My only memories of him--other than his visit when I was in my early teens--was waving him off when I was a tiny nipper, how stuck up my South African cousins were when they visited when I was 7 or so, the stuffed elephant he brought me on that visit (I was disappointed because I'd asked for a live monkey), the blue "aerograms" my grandma sent and received, and how I once got an extra Christmas gift when the present my grandma had bought for the South African grandkids was too expensive to mail to them. It was Mousetrap, a game that was fun as a concept but not terribly playable--especially by an only child. Still, it was a total score.