With the level of gang violence and murder in Ocean View, Kensington, and Lentegeur at the moment, I am struck by how differently I live. So close and yet totally removed. It is 7am and our front door is open to the street. I am lying in bed hearing people go to work, cats chasing each other on the roof across the road, and cars coming into town on Nelson Mandela Boulevard. Pigeons, seagulls, Egyptian geese and Hadedas all compete to be the loudest and rudest. Soon the construction workers, building the ugly little development on what was an empty plot/dumping ground in our street, will arrive. It has been amazing watching three double storey semis go up so fast. It has also been a joy to listen to this small building crew. They seem to laugh all the time.
But yesterday I was in a micro war. Remember the old man across the road who got his council friends to paint yellow lines in the road outside our house? And then a year later and a front page splash on The Daily Voice helped to get it removed. I haven’t spoken an actual word to him since. Well, Mr Hartley, that old man, was shouting yesterday when I came home in the afternoon. Someone had parked an enormous 4×4 in front of his driveway.
I have been sick, so I came straight inside, but was aware of his growing hysteria for almost an hour. I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided to go and see if I could help. Two houses down from his house, a house has just been sold. It is a beautiful renovation; the trendy grey signposting it as exactly that. As I stood in the road wondering whose gold 4×4 it was I saw three people on the stoep of the sold house and I charged over. “Is that your car?” I shouted. “If you mean the 4×4 then yes, it is mine,” said the tiniest little woman. At which point I exploded, demanding that she not park in front of someone’s driveway. The man, the estate agent, decided to come to her defence, and told me that since she had apologised I should back off. Bad idea. Once she had moved her monster I shouted at her about our street, and how we look out for each other, and white privilege and respect. Her reply was that she had been chatting and didn’t notice that it was a driveway when she parked. My brain started hurting. How do you not notice a driveway? How do you not notice the growing hysterical shouts of an old man in the street? For an hour? I will tell you how. His driveway and his shouts were entirely invisible to this woman, because she doesn’t give a fuck. Not one single fuck.
I shouted “Excuse me!” to the estate agent man who was trying to sneak away. It took three times for him to hear me and stop. “Who are you talking to like that?” I demanded. He went straight into defence mode. “Don’t tell me to come to you!” “Are you mad? I came to you!” “I felt sorry for her,” he whined, “she apologised! What else do you want? Do you also want an apology?” “Yes.” “Ok, sorry then.” He scuttled away and climbed into his shitty little two door and sped off.
Suddenly Hartley and I are allies again. He thanked me as I stormed back into the house. Through the open door I could hear him. “Thank you mam. Thank you.” Until our cat is in his yard.