Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Big Friendly (Page 1 of 9)

Telling the time by the passing of animals

When I met Big Friendly for the second date, Gally, my gorgeous white Taiwanese refugee dog, put her paw firmly on his bejeaned leg and chose him for her own. In time Big Friendly was claimed by Pablo, my ancient cat, who demanded that he pour fresh water into his bowl and take him to drink, and Bayla, the oldest Taiwanese refugee dog, and my first heart dog. When I fell in love with Big Friendly it was partly because of and through my animals.

When Bayla died I was in Grahamstown, and it was Big friendly who had to witness and manage her passing. With Gally we were both there. We are still scarred and raw from the death of Annie, Chassie’s sister and most unusual beloved cat, who was run over in the road outside our house on the one occasion she ventured over the wall. That was about seven years ago.

We know dog walkers from Gally and Bayla’s time, who too have different animals attached to them. Our Linus and Frieda, well known in the neighbourhood and on Facebum as our most beloved pups, will soon be five.

Our nephews’ lives are marked in animal time too, with those that were there when they were born, now gone or leaving, and new ones coming into their lives to mark their transition into puberty and teenage-dom.

Megan’s Head, this blog, is like the historical record of these things, and if that is the only reason to keep it going it is a good one. Frieda’s delicious face stares back at us whenever we open it up.

If you are an animal person you will know how to tell the time with the passing of animals.

Jewish Tart

tartI have known Big Friendly for almost 13 years now, and over those 13 years he has told me rapturously, in childhood fantasy memory, about his most favourite dessert, a thing called Jewish Tart. His ouma and his mom made it for him on very special occasions and it was his best ever thing. I always pulled a face when he spoke about it, because I am Jewish and I have never heard of or seen a Jewish Tart before. I thought that maybe his strange and wonderful family had given some thing this name, and they were the only ones. Like my father calling stupid, stingy people Peruvians. “Don’t be such a Peruvian!”

A month ago Big Friendly came home flushed and excited. It was a real thing! His aunt had posted the Huisgenoot recipe for Jode Tert on facebum.

Today we tried to make it. It is layers of round biscuit separated by a homemade custard. The biscuits are done and the custard (please may it still firm up) is cooling before we assemble it.

Jewish Tart; this bizarre South African thing made by Afrikaners, and now by me, and stirred by Big Friendly. This is the recipe I followed.


Just one of those paradoxical observations

Hands_older-and-younger_SMALLA tiny hand holds tightly to mine as I lift my 2 year old niece up onto the low wall in front of our house. The minute she feels safe she starts wriggling out of my grip and I have to hold her little wrists, my big fingers encircling them completely, because, “We can’t sit on the wall and not hold on.”

This love we (Big Friendly and I) have for this person is unique and delicious, and agonising. She has come with her parents to visit from Jozi, where they live, and it is always too short seeing her, how ever long it is. It is the paradox of love that makes us the perfect uncle and aunt when they visit us, or we visit them, or we go on holiday together. Heaven, right here on family earth. And it is a paradox that prevents us from uprooting our lives and going to Jozi to live with her, where we would not be these people there. Our hearts remain torn, and she is growing too fast, and we spoil her rotten, because we don’t see her enough. We squeeze her too tightly, and kiss her too often, and say “careful, don’t run” because our own hearts are in our mouths.

I love watching her turn to look at me and laugh. I love her dancing and singing (she is very, very clever). I love her slang, picked up fluidly from her father, and her kindness from her mother. I love her memory, and vocabulary and her powerful manipulative ways. I love that she trusts us, and wants to please us, and can sleep, and wake up to us. I love that she spent the day saying “I love dogs”, because we do, and we say so. I love that she is so funny, and finds me so funny too. I love that sometimes she cannot bring herself to say sorry, or please, or thank you, and sometimes it springs from her lips with ease.

And it is a paradox, of a kind, that people say what wonderful parents we would have made, with a sad tone; too late now. And I have to remind them that I didn’t want to have children in the first place, even though I probably might have been a rather good mom. The one thing doesn’t necessarily go with the other. But when I see this person, and imagine her as mine, in some way, like us belonging to a tribe, she is my daughter, and I her mother, and all mothers, even the one I never had.

This is the final post in our series of tandem blog posts. I think they have been truly fabulous and special. Please read the next one, with the same title here.

Dave Luis:


Chassie is Back

Photo on 2015-10-15 at 6.34 AM #2Thank you each and every one of you who messaged, shared, called, came to look in gutters, gave advice, support and comfort. Chase is back home, and lying at my feet, after a dramatic search and rescue. My life and heart can return to normal.

For those of you interested, here is the long and boring detail of what happened. I now know that it can happen to anyone, with any type of cat, even a fat, 8 year old, layabout, Big Lubowski personality. Brenton went to call Chassie in (on Tuesday evening), as he does every evening at about 7. I had left 10 minutes before to go to the Alexander Bar to watch the CityVarsity 3rd year final work. I got home at about 9pm to find a frantic Big Friendly on the stoep and no sign of Chassie. At first we thought that he might have climbed up into the engine or bumper of my car and driven with me to the theatre. Our worst and most paranoid fear. The one we visualised endlessly, the whole of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

All the obvious things were done. Vets, animal shelters and groups were called, emailed, and face booked. Posters were put up and flyers made. Big Friendly did the rounds, looking for a body. At 5pm yesterday we took our flyers and started going door to door in the neighbourhood, and our neighbours were sweet, and concerned and attentive. Some people felt sure they had seen him. Our last stretch of the search took us to the street behind and parallel to our one (we share an alley between us). People there told us there were lots of cats in the area. I saw a few in an alleyway and kssed to them. They perked up alertly. And then we heard meowing from across the road. It was clearly Chassie’s voice. It took a while to identify that he was hiding in a gap between two sections of a roof, and he was terrified, but, clearly, recognised our voices. I waited with him and spoke to him while Big Friendly walked home to fetch our long step ladder and the cat box (genius idea) and then there we were, hoisting our ladder onto a stranger’s house and coaxing Chassie into the cat box.

He was dirty, ravenous and terribly needy. I hope he has learned his lesson. We tried to read him the riot act but he just started purring, and hasn’t stopped since.

I have a lot to be grateful for, starting with his return. But then there are friends, family, animal lovers, neighbours, organisations and total strangers who helped. Thank you. Chassie is home (and may never be allowed out again).

Tonight You’re Mine Completely

Big Friendly (my husband, for those of you who have come to meganshead only recently)  and I started the slide down the slippery slope almost three years ago when we got our pups Frieda and Linus. Up until then I had been successful in keeping our past animals off most of the furniture and all of the bed. But with the arrival of ten week old Frieda and Linus all resolve, reason, and general clarity disappeared. Now everybody is allowed everywhere all of the time.

I had a bad bout of flu this last weekend, which kept me in bed (even though it was our 11th wedding anniversary on Saturday) most of the time, and this is basically what it looked like. sickbedmashup


Sometimes there were more, and sometimes there were less. But, if I was in it there was at least one other being on or in the bed. At night, when Big Friendly was in it too, there was another cat added to the mix. Jasmine now sleeps between us, while Chassie stays close to my feet.

When I got up to wee I would come back to this. coneheadandcat


Or sometimes this.closeupsnuggles



Honestly, I am totally used to it. Some mornings Big Friendly and I have to pretend we are still sleeping because the slightest noise means we are up, and then Frieda and Linus, who have been draped over the couches, bound into our room, jump onto the bed and stand, sit or lie ON us.

When Big Friendly gets up to make coffee I have an ‘animal and me’ lie in.

So, every now and then I get to stay in a hotel room when I travel for work. When I close the door behind me I am utterly alone. No furry body follows me to the bathroom and watches me pee. No feline meows at me to open the shower door. There are no bowls to be filled, no cones of shame to take off or put on, no beady eyes asking for strokes, no Jonesie the part-time cat demanding to be let in then let out then in again. And when I finally climb between the sheets of the standard king in the hotel room, that whole bed, for that night, is mine, completely. There is no fur, no spit, no bloody speck from where Linus chewed his paw. No pulled bits of blanket where Chassie or Jasmine kneaded there furry heads off. No stinky dog or cat breath on any part of my body. No warm but immovable lumps making me contort into an unsleepable position. I say to myself with a gleeful sigh, “Tonight you’re mine, completely,” to a bed. I breathe. I flick through the channels on the hotel TV. I read a few lines on my Kindle. I turn off the light. And lie there. Awake. Alone. With all the space in the world, and missing each warm body.

This post is one of nine tandem blog posts, all with the same topic, and all released at the same time. Please check out the other offerings by these amazing writers.










Growing up – with Bruce Springsteen

I remember this. Lying on the floor of my friend Selly’s bedroom floor in a Jozi suburb in 1980 (I was 15) and him playing me The River. I didn’t know what a union card was in the song but I imagined his brother’s car, and that drive to the river, and lying on those banks. That was my first date with Springsteen. I bought the double LP and then went backwards in time to catch up.

I remember me and Lance and the endless debate about which Springsteen song was the greatest. I swore for Badlands then, and second Thunder Road, while Lance swore there was nothing ever greater than Born to Run. We agreed that his most under appreciated song was Mary, Queen of Arkansas and we went back to study the lyrics. “I don’t understand how you can hold me so tight, and love me so damn loose”.

I remember this. I remember news that he had married a model and I turned my giant framed poster to face the wall in mourning.

I remember a windy Cape Town night. My ‘varsity boyfriend Nick and I drove his mom’s bakkie to the Goodwood showgrounds for some fair. We got out and the sun was setting. We could smell manure. Nick was wearing a checked shirt. Nebraska was playing over the tinny loudspeakers. “Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe evrything that dies someday comes back, Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic city”.

I remember this. Making forever friends with Robyn and us screaming the lyrics of No Surrender “Blood Brothers in the stormy night, with a vow to defend, No retreat no surrender”. I remember her singing perfectly “Through the wind, through the snow, through the rain, you got my, my love, oh girl you’ve got my Loooooove, heart and soul”, from the bootlegged live show of Drive All Night that we had on cassette and finally on vinyl too. “When I lost you honey, sometimes I think I lost my guts too.” By then I was in a relationship with Springsteen.

I remember this. My longest friend Mark Austin buying me the box set of Springsteen Live 1975-1985 and it being my treasure. I still have it, tattered but beautiful, today.


I remember the drive in another bakkie in 1988 and an all night wait at the Beit Bridge border to the best day of my life Amnesty International concert where I loved Springsteen with 70 000 other Africans. I remember his speech, and his black jeans and waistcoat, and twisting and shouting into the Harare night.

I remember feeling almost dead and broken hearted after a big love ended and having an anonymous friend post this in the Mail and Gaurdian, to me. “Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night”.

I remember this. My first date with Big Friendly. I had just fallen in love with Worlds Apart. I was about to fall in love with Big Friendly. I was singing “Sometimes the truth just ain’t enough, Or is it too much in times like this
Let’s throw the truth away we’ll find it in this kiss, In your skin upon my skin in the beating of our hearts,
May the living let us in before the dead tear us apart”.

I remember Heather and Mark singing to Big Friendly and I as we got married and walked through the trees, “Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead, There neath the oaks bough soon we will be wed, Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees, I’ll wait for you, And should I fall behind, Wait for me, Darlin I’ll wait for you…”.

There is more. So much more. I made Candy’s Room for you. I was Crazy Janey. I was on Fire. I sat at the campfire light and waited for the ghost of Tom Joad. I ran on the Backsteets. I blew away the lies that left us nothing but lost and broken hearted. I stood in the Working Line. I went with you down the Tunnel of Love. I entered Lucky Town and even played Roulette.

I love you Bruce. You grew me up and made me love words and music and men and other people.


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