I have worked as a waiter, a hippie lost in Europe, a chicken farmer in the Negev Desert and a short-order cook at Dicky Chicky in Dizengoff Street Tel Aviv. I studied Philosophy and Theatre at the University of Tel Aviv. In Hebrew and spectacularly unsuccessfully. In South Africa I became a fitter and turner in a Dickensian steel factory. As a salve to my conscience I taught English at the Institute of Race Relations. I became a game ranger in the Okavango and finally found a home in advertising leading some big international agencies and some smaller ones too. My role has always involved writing and thinking, often in that order.
Our fine-polished maple dining room table bore witness to many of the great conflagrations of my family’s life.
My father, a man of severe habit, would insist on an unrelenting unforgiving routine. Dinner at 7. The meals predetermined by what day it was. Chicken and rice on Monday, fish and chips on Tuesday.
Silence was the key to peace.
We would gauge my father’s anger by how white the tip of his nose would become. And I, the persistent object of his disaffection would always stand ready to scarper at the very first scrape of his chair as he pushed it back.
I would find a place to hide. More often than not, in our backyard.
For there I would be able to sit with Tim and Minnie, the gardener and family maid, as they ate their sparse meal of dzadza with a tomato and onion gravy that they shared. Sometimes, as a special treat they would have Mopani worms in the gravy. On those days I ate carefully.
On summer nights they’d bring out the little wind-up Decca they had saved for, and we’d listen to the music of the townships.
It was a place of great sanctuary.
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