I was born to be a duchess: A serious wardrobe malfunction!

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BY this time I had had enough of the smoke for one day and I was becoming increasingly worried about the fact that, if the right forms did not arrive from Orapa in time, I should have to survive for five days on R20.

I was so fed up that I didn’t even have the heart to go to the one place where I could shop on credit.

May I, at this point, offer a word of advice? Don’t ever try to get a small child, a collapsible pushchair, an over-stuffed hold-all, a briefcase, a handbag and a noseless toy dog down to platform eight at Johannesburg Station.

It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely bad for your health.

At the bottom of the stairs, while I was trying to sort out the pile of our belongings, Karen located an ice cream vendor and I had to part with 25 cents.

I have never ceased to wonder how a child, brought up in the Kalahari Desert from the age of five months, can smell out an ice cream man on her first visit to civilisation. It must be instinct.

The train was a completely new experience for Karen. She charged up and down the centre aisle a few times and then climbed, feet first, onto my lap. My white dress was now tastefully decorated with size four footprints.

At Benoni Station I phoned for a taxi. I couldn’t really afford such luxury, but I was simply too exhausted to haul my tired, collapsible, over-stuffed and nose-less entourage onto a bus. Two hours and eight phone calls later, the taxi arrived.

By this time, the only thing which was keeping me sane was the thought of a bath and a cold beer when I reached my destination. I arrived at John and Marjorie’s house, only to find the fridge empty and the bath occupied. John offered me a stiff brandy, which was very kind of him, but just about the last thing on Earth that I wanted. I borrowed his car and beetled off to the nearest liquor store. My first beer never touched the sides!

The following morning, I felt sufficiently refreshed to tackle the big city again.

I still had no money and my telex to Orapa had apparently gone astray, but a kind pilot had promised to locate the missing forms and bring them down on the next flight. Encouraged by the thought that I should soon have real folding money, I set out to buy photographic materials on account.

ln the train on the way back to Benoni, Karen decorated my cream dress with sticky finger marks and pink ice cream. This created a problem, as I had brought only two dresses with me and, owing to the presence of a gremlin in Marjorie’s washing machine, both were now dirty.

I had to borrow money to buy another one. While I was trying it on, Karen attacked a display rack and took three pairs of pantihose out of their packets. Luckily they were my size, because I had to buy those too.

I returned from the airport, clutching my precious forms, to find the washing machine being dismantled. The gremlin was finally located – panties in the pump!

The psychological effect of having three clean dresses and some money in my pocket enabled me to get through the next three days without being upset by anything which Karen did, though there was one embarrassing moment on the flight back to Orapa.

The lady in the seat opposite us was sleeping peacefully, when Karen suddenly decided to wake her up and tell her where her nose was. Five days of civilisation had not broadened her vocabulary at all. And she would have to pick on the mine manager’s wife!

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  AUTHOR
Susan Cooke
Features Editor

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