I love birthdays. There is nothing untoward about making a right royal fuss of somebody on their birthday, I say. Especially when it’s mine.
So, when I was asked by Lovely One (LO) what I would like to do on my birthday, there was little hesitation in demanding an around-the-world cruise.
When her eyes had unglazed themselves, LO pointed out that, even in these modern times, very few maritime circumnavigations of the globe are achieved in one day.
Yes, I’m that old. So we went to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Cape Town City Ballet production of Les Sylphides and The Firebird instead.
This was huge for me. I don’t know about other Stanfordians but I tend to avoid the Big Mummy City like the plague. All that concrete. And those cars. Trendy people. With over-groomed beards. In a hurry. Yikes.
So I had nearly managed a full year of Cape Townlessness, a record of which I was becoming increasingly proud. It was deep-breath time.
And I certainly had to draw breath very deeply while entranced by the multitude of strange and absurdly colourful marine creatures which swam dutifully around the tanks for me on my birthday. The seahorses, jellyfish and those giant crabs with the facial markings of Samurai Warriors on their undersides particularly had me gasping like a kid who was turning seven on the day.
A crab with a sense of humour
Then, unfortunately, it was time to act my age. On to Maynardville for the ballet. In the open-air theatre in the middle of a park. It was astoundingly magnificent. Spoiled only by the oversized numptie in a black suit who found it worth all the trouble to trundle down the aisle to tell me I was not allowed to take photographs of the ballet. “It’s my birthday,” I said nicely, “and I’ve come all the way from Stanford.”
“I don’t care if you’ve come all the way from Buckingham Palace,” he retorted with irritating wit, his face menacingly contorted in the light of the moon. How rude.
LO emitted a just audible sigh. I behaved. And relaxed into The Firebird, an explosion of athleticism, grace, colour and mesmerising movement under the stars. And the inevitable mating ritual.
Call me a country bumpkin but is it not the case that all ballet, as with movies, theatre and most other performance art, is really about getting it on? Art imitating life and all that. And nature.
Because the sumptuously sexy dance theme of my birthday was yet to end. Homesick after eight hours in the urban sprawl, we decided against staying over and drove determinedly towards the mountain. And through the night, our path home to Stanford guided by the glorious illumination of the moon.
Upon waking the next morning at Hatman Mansions on Blue Moon, the first sound I heard was the mystical “grottling” of our resident pair of Blue Crane, swooping down for their daily posing aside the rainwater lake that remains steadfastly pooled on the fields.
I drank coffee and summoned again into my mind’s eye the beauty of The Firebird. Just then, the male Blue Crane extended his wings, dropped his head and minced over towards his beautiful “bokkie”, preening and prancing suggestively before her. She gave him the beady eye, swirled away in mock horror and looked skywards, eyelashes fluttering while she ascertained whether she felt a migraine coming on or not. They then stood stock-still and checked each other out for what seemed an interminable time before the mating dance began again.
It was just like the ballet of the night before. Blue Crane in tights. And it was just as beautiful.
Fred Hatman (AKA Howard Donaldson) knew he wanted to be newspaper journalist at age 13. He has worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the Daily News and Cape Times, both based in South Africa and Wimbledon News, Today, London Daily News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, all based in London .