By the grace of Harare’s finest…

I don’t normally eat before or during a performance. I am also prone to going on the odd walkabout from time to time… no matter how unfamiliar the terrain may be… This has led to what some people may categorise as odd behaviour. There was – for instance – one isolated time when I was hanging out with one Josh Ansley in Cape Town in a particular bar at a particularly late hour and found myself walking back to our Barnyard Theatres cast house which wasn’t necessarily far – I just got horribly lost and a walk that should have taken about 25 mins ended up lasting about 2 hours. I was also carrying my electric guitar case with me so this may have made an odd scene at 2:30 am along the main road in Bellville… Odd – I smirk…

Having said that, on July 23 2015 I was performing Memoirs: Simon & Garfunkel at The Venue in Harare. The show was very successful with sellout crowds over 3 nights. We were housed at Pete and Kate van Deventer’s place. If you’ve ever had the privilege of being Pete and Kate’s guests, you’ll know that their hospitality is the stuff of legend. The food at The Venue is always top class. Before the show started Hansie Roodt (my co performer) and I were offered food, which he wisely accepted and I predictably turned down.

Upon arriving back after the show at the granny flat we were housed in on the large residential property, I realised that I hadn’t eaten and also hadn’t had time to stock up on ‘post show munchie items’ such as the Engen pie or the standard packet of NickNax – a particular personal favourite. I had had a few post show beers (as one does when in Harare) and didn’t think that I should be driving, so I set out the security gate in the leafy Harare suburb (one may be forgiven for thinking that you are in fact in somewhere as nominal as Morningside in Durban – such is the level of familiarity in the flora and street lay outs). 

I made my way up the hill – perhaps stumbling slightly (blame it on the potholes) – made a left at the T-junction down the hill towards the city, cut right through a clearing which appeared to cut the corner to the main road in the general direction left, to where my slightly inebriated intuition assumed there most likely would be a 24 hr 1-stop shop, where munchie heaven may be located. 

Once through the clearing and in no small measure concentrating on putting one foot straight in front of the other – on a mission!! – along the jagged surfaced side walk, a white old Nissan sedan pulled up and slowed down right next to me, and a generally friendly African “Good morning” floated out from the driver’s rolled down window. As I looked I made out that there were about 6 people in the sedan: 1 driving, 1 in the front passenger seat, and a further 4 squashed into the back seat next to one another, of which 2 were most certainly female. I could vaguely make out that they were all clothed in what seemed to be some sort of uniform complete with badges – but nothing too intimidating. The driver politely enquired if I needed a ride and where I was going. I continued to tell him about my determined search for the nearest 24 hour shop and he eagerly offered that he knew where one such destination was and that I should hop in.

I took one look at the already compromised seating arrangements and as politely (and audibly) as I could indicated that I don’t foresee that there would be space for me, and that if he could give me some sort of idea as to where he had in mind to take me I’d be eternally grateful and hence on my merry way. “No, there is lots of space!” he insisted and gave some instruction to the back seat inhabitants. The back door opened and a voice said: “On my lap”. I bent down to do my best at getting in and noticed the one female having already moved onto the other’s lap. I continued onto a male lap, barely got the door closed, and we were off. What followed was a 5 minute car ride filled with pleasant small talk about where I’m from and my purpose for visiting Harare. It turned they were actually active members of the Harare police force on a general patrol… All 6 of them, in an old Nissan sedan dated to roughly the mid 80’s! They were unbelievably friendly – not to mention accommodating!

We arrived at a bustling Shell garage where I conveniently purchased 2 pies, a packed or two crisps and a soft drink. They waited for me outside and drove me all the way back to where I was staying at Pete and Kate’s place. They dropped me off with boisterous and hearty greetings, wishing me well and a pleasant stay in Zimbabwe. Awesome! When I got up the next morning and had made my way to the main house for coffee and breakfast the entire staff were pointing at me and giggling – I obviously had no idea why… Later Pete and Kate joined me and enquired into the tale they had been told by the night shift security staff regarding my walkabout the previous night. Pete couldn’t stop exclaiming and Kate thought I was mad! I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but Pete asked me if I could put my experience into written form and send it to him. I never got around to it, but here it is now. Sorry it’s a bit late, Pete!


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