Friday, October 31, 2008

Masturbation is Not a Victimless Crime

Sometime in 2nd year The Fat Guy with the Beard nicked a blank Rhodes University letterhead from Admin. He scanned the logo into his computer and soon we had a realistic, official Rhodes letter we could write whatever we liked on.

Unbecoming Behaviour
Our first letter was to the much loathed Justin Kretschmar:

10. November 1991
Rhodes University

To Justin Kretschmar (Student number 691K2365),

Our laundry staff have complained repeatedly about which appear to be on closer examination, semen stains on your bed sheets.

As you may or may not know, masturbation is a finable offence, and hardly behaviour we consider becoming of a Rhodes University student. Consider this your final warning, and please desist immediately.

If you have any queries, please contact Gwen Shaw, laundry department head, at block B, Jan Smuts Hall.

Yours sincerely

Derek Henderson
Vice Chancello

Kretschmar bought it hook, line and sinker. “How do they KNOW?” he screamed at his best mate Keith. 

How we laughed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Experiments in Electricity

If you heated up our African St oven to 180, then grabbed the metal door handle, it would bite you with an electric shock that buzzed your fillings loose, and zapped your whole body into break-dancing jelly. Playing with this was way better than studying for the November exams. We soon discovered that if you held hands, the shock could pass through several people. 

I came home once from a prac exam to find our digs and our hippie neighbours, the lentilheads, all standing in a circle in the kitchen, hands tightly held in a human chain. Slimer, the first in the circuit, grabbed the stove handle, and everyone yelped and did the funky chicken, in a sort a sort of twitching, sparking Van der Graaf conga. This entertained us for weeks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Were Your Best Songs of '90 to '94?

Here are some of mine, from the cool to the cringe-worthy. Let me know yours.

Depending on your response, the final compilation will be put up for download here.


AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Aerosmith - Janie’s got a Gun

Alannah Miles – Black Velvet

Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart

Del Amitri - Nothing ever happens

Depeche Mode – Policy of Truth

Depeche Mode – Waiting for the Night

The House of Love - Beatles and The Stones

The Human League - Soundtrack to a Generation

Lightning Seeds – Pure

Lloyd Cole – No Blue Skies

Love and Rockets - Kundalini Express

Metallica – Enter Sandman

Sinead O' Connor - Nothing Compares to You

The Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored

Tears For Fears - Advice For the Young at Heart

Technotronic – Move This

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Free Fallin'

The Wonder Stuff - The Size of a Cow



AC/DC – Money Talks

Angelo Badalamenti - Twin Peaks Theme

Blur - She's So High

Chris Isaak – Wicked Game

Electronic - Get the Message

EMF – Unbelievable

The House Of Love – Christine

James – Sit Down

Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing

The La's - There She Goes

Love and Rockets - No Big Deal

Martika - Love...Thy Will Be Done

MC Hammer - You Can't Touch This

Pixies – Where is My Mind?

Pixies - Monkey Gone to Heaven

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion

Seal – Crazy

Sting – All This Time

Suede - Metal Mickey

U2 - The Fly

U2 – One

Vanilla Ice – Ice, Ice Baby

World Party – Put the Message in the Box



The Beautiful South - You Play Glockenspiel, I'll Play Drums

Björk - Human Behaviour

Blind Melon – No Rain

The Cure - Friday I'm in Love

Faith No More – Epic

Faith No More – Midlife Crisis

Guns n Roses – November Rain

L7 - Pretend We're Dead

Lloyd Cole - She's A Girl And I'm A Man

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Pixies - The Happening

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge

R.E.M. - The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

Right Said Fred - I'm Too Sexy

Shakespear's Sister – Stay

Soup Dragons – I’m Free

Spin Doctors - Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

Stereo MC's – Connected

Tori Amos – Crucify

Ugly Kid Joe - Everything About You

Violent Femmes - American Music


Arrested Development – Mr Wendel

Buffalo Tom – Tailights Fade

Duran Duran - Ordinary World

Morrissey - The National Front Disco

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Where The Wild Roses Grow

Nine Inch Nails - Closer

Nirvana - Dumb

Pearl Jame - Jeremy

Pulp - Do You Remember The First Time?

R.E.M. – Nightswimming

Radiohead - Creep

Soul Asylum - Runaway Train

The Stone Roses - Fools Gold

Sugar - A Good Idea

Suzanne Vega - Blood Makes Noise

Toad The Wet Sprocket – Walk on the Ocean

U2 - Numb

U2 - Stay (Faraway So Close)

Violent Femmes - I Held Her In My Arms

World Party - Is It Like Today?


Beck – Loser

Blur – Girls and Boys

The Breeders – Divine Hammer

Bruce Springsteen - Streets of philadelphia

Buffalo Tom – Soda Jerk

Counting Crows – Mr. Jones

The Cranberries – Linger

Crash Test Dummies - mmm mmm mmm mmm

Crash Test Dummies - Swimming in Your Ocean

Crowded House - Distant Sun

Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain

Deep Forest - Sweet Lullaby

Enigma - Return To Innocence

Guns 'n Roses – Estranged

INXS – Beautiful Girl

James – Laid

Jamiroquai – Too Young to Die

Lloyde Cole -So You'd Like To Save The World

Oasis – Cigarettes and Alcohol

Oasis - Supersonic

Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror

R.E.M. - What's The Frequency Kenneth?

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Soul To Squeeze

Revolting Cocks - Do You Think I'm Sexy?

Sheryl Crow – Leaving Las Vegas

Smashing Pumpkins – Today

Stone Temple Pilots – Plush

Tears for Fears - Break It Down Again

Urban Cookie Collective – Feels Like Heaven


Monday, October 27, 2008

Uncle Ron and e.e. cummings

Ron Hall, or Uncle Ron, was my favourite English professor. Short, avuncular, and smiling, he had the twinkly sort of face that made you just want to pinch his cheeks. I went to his tuts two years’ running, and those whimsical, lyrical sessions in his safe, cosy study were one of the few tutorials I actually looked forward to.

Every Wednesday, at the after lunch English lecture, he’d read poems that students had recommended. The first one I recall was e.e. cumming’s “somewhere i have never travelled”, early on in first year. A fiftysomething husband, married for what then seemed an impossible number of years, he read what he called “this lovely little love poem” with such tenderness and timbre that at that green age, on that afternoon, I had a stirring of the idea of love that could span mellowed decades, not callow months.

somewhere i have never travelled
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

- e.e. cummings (1926)


A non-alcoholic version of The Union, Kaif was a between lectures (or avoid lectures altogether) way station. Somewhere you and your friends could nurse hangovers, sip a chocolate Sterie Stumpie, and surreptitiously watch your campus perves come and go.

Kaif was Rhodes Music Radio’s finest hour. Their daytime DJ’s filled the room with well-loved end of the ‘80s stuff like Tears for Fears, The Cure, The Human League; new ‘90s bands like the Stone Roses, Charlatans, R.E.M.; and loads of other familiar songs we had on the brain and on mix tapes back home in res. Four I remember being played to death in 1991 were Enigma “Sadness”; Seal’s “Crazy”; “All This Time” by Sting; and Martika’s one hit wonder “Love… Thy Will Be Done”. Hearing any of them today takes me right back to the pine wood booths, green topped tables, and the Great Field in the background.

I Never Lose At Ludo
A notice board on the wall carried various handwritten ads, and became the battleground of a libellous poster war between Dave Fair and Nick Gray. Dave’s opening salvo was a handmade A3 poster with the headline “I NEVER Lose at Ludo”. It carried on: “Yes! I, Nick Gray, will teach you the secrets of the Ludo Masters. Never lose at Ludo again! Contact Nick, at Piet Retief, Room 304 for REAL results.” Nick fired back with “The Smiths’ memorabilia and CDs on sale. Everything must go. Room 207, Piet Retief Res, day or night.” Dave won in the end.

Photocopy and Pass!
The photocopy machine in Kaif was the hardest working in the world. Every June and November lax students would queue up with towering piles of borrowed notes, hoping to photocopy all the lectures they’d missed, and cram their way through exams. Miraculously enough, this approach usually worked, leading to more missed lectures and more time lounging in Kaif.

Fuck McDonalds
A Kaif bacon burger and Crème Soda would stop a hangover at 20 paces, and a pack of Stuyvie Reds cost just R1.40. Good value.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

His Majesty's and The Odeon

His Majesty's
The only cinema in South Africa that you could smoke in. It must have been a hectic fire risk. It did eventually burn down, but I suspect the owner Sonny Sixfingers torched the place as an insurance scam.

As Grahamstown was the end of the line of the movie circuit, the reels had been spliced and repaired over and over by the time we saw them, so often movies we’d seen the whole of elsewhere on holiday would have huge gaps left out of them.

Best Movie watched at HM: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. With Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio at their all-time best, it's a movie anchored in that time and place.  So funny, sad, and redeeming. I still cry like a schoolgirl at the end, everytime I watch it.

The Odeon
Very run down, very ’40s. I always imagined people there during The War standing to sing God Save the King before the feature started. The chairs were fantastically uncomfortable, stuffed with what felt like high heels and horse hair. Luckily you could bring pillows and duvets, and bunk down for the Tuesday night R5 double feature.

Best Movie watched there: Seeing Clockwork Orange for the first time, stoned. The celluloid kept overheating and catching fire, melting the picture to a mushrooming ball of blinding white. They’d put out the fire, tape up the reel and carry on, until it overheated again. It definitely added a certain something or other to the whole mind-blowing experience.

The cinemas were both mouldy, manky, with lots of surfaces sticky to the touch, but they showed an eclectic mixed bag of the movies we wanted to see - milestones that shaped our burgeoning view of the world - and technicoloured our memories.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Res Balls

Rhodes balls were an exciting opportunity to dress up, see all the other bright young things, and get shit-faced in formal clothes. 

Free Stuff
Complimentary Winston cigarettes on every table ( the Surgeon General’s Warning was years away), free Overmeer box wine, which was somewhere up the food chain from ZimSoc wine, which would have you stripping paint if you licked a wall. Overmeer was drunk by crusty art students at Grey Dam, which is all you need to know about it, really.

Overmeer Nemisis
Lee, for some misguided reason in the skewed hamster wheel of her female mind, was passingly keen on me on me in first year. She invited me to the Drostdy Hall Ball. I liked her, but not in that way, but dutifully I arrived at her Res on the night to escort her. Lee came down, looking winsome in a satin blue dress. We arrived and sat down in the Great Hall, which was done up in some ham-fisted Andrew Lloyd-one-thought-of-him-and-instant-erectile-dysfunction-Webber theme. We chit chatted enjoyably for some time. As I’d blown my week’s allowance on cigarettes and Kaif burgers, I got stuck into the free box wine. Some time passed, then… I remember nothing. 

Darkness and Polaroids 
All went black. I must have left the ball early, as I have one or two blurry mental polaroids of evidence from the rest of the evening. Exhibit A: A shifting forest of peoples’ legs. Exhibit B: Looking down and seeing my feet lurching down the centre line of a tarred road. Exhibit C: Stairs and a few sickening thuds. Exhibit D: more blackness.

Take This Cup from Me Lord
I woke up in my clothes, opened my eyelids with a screech like peeling flypaper, and prayed to the God that delivered the Isrealites from Egypt, and comforted Daniel in the lions’ den, to take this anvil of a hangover from me.

Anne Frank
”Lee’s going to fucking kill me!” was my first gibbering, terrified thought. So, like a man, I hid in my res room. My neighbour, Sausage, slid slices of res hall bread under my door from time to time. This furtive Anne Frank existence went on for some days. Until Lee came and found me.

“Get Out of Jail Free” Card
“Tim, about the ball…” She said. “Yes….?” I squeaked in terror, from under my duvet. “I hope you had a good time” she sighed. She went on, “I’m, so so sorry, but I had to leave at by nine. I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye, but I was really drunk. Kate took me home.” “Uh….huh…?” I said, peeking out from my duvet, like a prairie dog peering out from a man-hole. “Yeah. You looked okay when I left though.” She admitted. “You and Richard were playing coinage with the box wine, as I recall.” She blushed, and turned to leave. I sat up perplexed, scratched my head, and stared at the door as she closed it behind her. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bible Study

Taped to the Africa Street fridge:

Leviticus 10:9. What an abomination of the sight is a drunkard. And lo, they shall waketh with wounds they know not from whence they came.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Girls' Res’s

Common Rooms
Intended as lounges for chaste discourse and the 30 centimetre rule, girls’ Res common rooms were generally austere as a Methodist church. They lacked the empty beer bottles, overflowing ashtrays, and continuous “westerns” (pornos) on TV that made guys’ common rooms so endearing and so reassuringly like our res rooms.

From Sweetie to Bull Dyke
Just being on door duty could make the most pleasant girl seem intimidating as an anorak clad, women’s’ rugby team bull-dyke, jealousy guarding access to the threshold. Buzzed on the squawking intercom, your paramour would run down the stairs and at the landing, breathless and winsomely flushed. She’d nod at the imposing lesbian, who’d frowningly scribble something in an A4 book. Your host would take you by the hand into the world of pyjamas, droning hair dryers, and muffled, tinny music behind closed door after closed door.

Fluffy Ziggurat
Anneline’s Pringle room was a perfume-scented menagerie of fluffy toys, piled on the bed like a Cardie’s shop avalanche. A “Hard Man is Good to Find” beefcake poster hung on the wall (I have not the words).  I tip-toed in and tripped over a hairdryer diffuser the size of a loudhailer. Foolishly I flopped back into the ziggurat of stuffed toys and nearly drowned. Eventually, all the toys were relocated, and the bed was cleared and romp-ready; except for “Mr Snuggles” – a fave childhood teddy bear of renown, apparently – who sat on the nightstand and gazed at us with dead, cold eyes while we snogged. At some point of the grope I swatted him onto the floor. I never returned to that room. Anneline and I relocated our late night trysts to Mountain Drive and Settler’s monument. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Restless Spirits

For some of us from that time, there’s a dust in our hearts that’s never settled. Our spirits are restless, always scanning the horizon, chasing a remembered depth of friendship, love, or fulfilment that’s always just over the hill, round the next corner, or a plane ride away. It’s hard to articulate this malaise, but its there, real as hunger pangs.

Maybe there’s just too much mental energy still racketing around our minds. It could be we read too many books, spread our love and friendship with reckless abandon, or drank from the well too deep. Leaving that bubble coterie marked me with a profound sense of my aloneness in the world. Even through the mellowing of adulthood, the hunger persists. 

Sometimes the small work triumphs, shallower new friendships, and sane, pragmatic relationships of now hold up like a faded photocopy compared to those bright, shining times, idealised in recollection. Rhodes was heaven and hell, but sometimes I brood, and wonder if I was at my best in those years, with those people, in that place.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Random Polaroids

The African street roof. Lisa, an angel in tousled blonde ringlets, toking on a finger-thick joint, bobbing lazily to Cypress Hill’s Insane in the Membrane.

The drive home from Shelly’s Cove, on a winding, cracked tar road. Hand out the window sill, sculling the cool breeze. Sand grit sprinkled in our hair, saltwater on warm skin. Burning orange sundown on rolling hills stubbled with prickly pears.

Trudging to St Peters for morning lectures, walking behind barefoot hippie girls with kikois wrapped round their winsome swaying hips. The dew-wet grass strewn with cherry blossom petals sticking in pink confetti to the soles of their feet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vomiting Stories: A Tiger on His Face

One night, after a particularly gruelling session of coinage at the Union, Merve the Perla leopard-crawled back to his Cullen Bowles Res room, and passed out on his bed in his clothes. At some dark hour of the night - as he slept - he “parked a tiger” (vomited) on his face. With hindsight, the vom dried hard, gluing his eyelids shut. He awoke next morning with a grunt that became a scream as he realised with horror that he couldn't see, and thought he’d drunk himself blind.

His neighbour, Crapolini, heard the blundering thuds and sobbing, and yanked open the door. I don’t like to imagine what Merve’s face looked like, but with a wet towel and some elbow grease, Brother Crapolini restored the gift of site to Merve. Verily an orientation week miracle.

Digs Pig

As new digsmates in 67a African Street we couldn’t afford a dog, so one day on the way back from Port Alfred we bought a piglet for 20 bucks. We thought we’d got a bargain, but from the get go Morticia was an abysmal failure as a house pet. In the wee hours we’d be woken by her squealing like someone was trying to rape her in the garden (Ollie?), when all she wanted, it turned out, was more butternut and potato peels. she could not hold her lager (apparent after she vommed on a Pringle debutante’s high heels); she head-butted anything that moved, including Hay-sus passed out on our kitchen floor; and cost us a fortune in sun cream every time we took her to Kenton, where she burrowed deep holes all along the beach at Shelley's Cove. Eventually we lost patience trying to teach her to lie flat on the baking tray holding an apple in her mouth, and sent her back to the farm.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Still, breathless summer nights with just the moon to see by. We’d hide in the shadow of the Rhodes pool wall, shushing in drunk whispers. Get a leg up, skin your knuckles and scale up the rough, lumpy stone slab stone wall, to the broad top. Catch your breath, then haul the others up, one by one. Once on top, we had to do a single-file tightrope along the wall to where we could jump off safely into the soft grass. Once over, we’d shed our clothes, and tip toe barefoot to the pool, each gingerly choosing their moment to jump in.

Stars and Sky Below
On nights like that, the pool lay mirror-still and black, reflecting the stars like a rectangular hole in the universe. On the diving board, gazing down into the watery stars, it felt for a moment you could dive and plunge into the night sky. Once you leaped, that held-breath moment in mid-air felt like a split-second vacuum between two worlds.

Water Babies
Splash! The water’d envelope you in a whoosh of carbonated bubbles, tickly and friendly on naked skin. In that moment, I’d never want to come up, just tumble weightlessly and play in the silent water, like a child in The Water Babies.

Break the surface with a wipe of your eyes, and swim over the others. We’d talk in a reverential hush across the still water, our bodies floating light as whispers.

Back to the World
At some unspoken moment, the spell would break. We’d climb out and haul our wet bodies into dry clothes. Wet hair and tingling skin in the night breeze, we’d walk home grinning down the leafy streets, a breathless exhilaration singing in our quickened veins.

"Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday"
- R.E.M, Nightswimming (1992)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Full Moon Halo

Some nights, usually in autumn or early winter, the Grahamstown moon would come out with a shining silver halo. Something to do with ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, apparently. If the moon was a ping pong ball, the halo would circle it wide as the outline of a soccer ball. The sky inside the halo was always slightly darker - like an iris - giving the phenomenon the look of a huge eye looking down on the town.

Those were crazy mad moons, bathing everything in a breathless, alchemical energy. On nights like that, you felt quicksilver running in your veins, and could almost hear the music of the spheres. 

On thos nights, all bets were off. The whole town went a little unhinged: boyfriends and girlfriends fought, dope-heads lay on roofs and smoked themselves into the bejesus belt, drinkers main-lined tequila and ran amok among the hedgerows.

I haven't seen the halo anyplace since. Have you?

Rodders and the Cupboard

Chem Major, Monday, 9am. A particularly wet behind the ears first-year Rodders was sitting in the middle of a packed auditorium, waiting for his first accounts 1 lecture.  A few minutes into the proceedings, Rodders realised he was mistakenly in an accounts 3 lecture, and needed to leave. With many awkward apologies he clambered past chair after chair, like someone sheepish and late when the movie’s already started.

Ignoring the hundreds of eyes on him, he strode down the main stairs toward the 2 main doors at the exit, scuttling right past the professor. He chose the left door, opened it and slammed it behind him. Outside the lecture had halted to a stunned silence. In the dark interior, Rodders realised he’d walked into the built-in broom cupboard, not the adjacent exit door. He stood blushing in the gloom, torn between whether to just hide there ‘til the end of the lecture, or brave the ridicule and come out. The stunned silence outside had risen to a murmur. After about 10 minutes’ agonized deliberation, he opened the door, and ran, head down from the lecture hall, to roaring laughter and a standing ovation.

Kindred Spirits

At high school, I’d always felt like a lonely round peg in a provincial square hole. Most of us came to Rhodes to be somewhere we hadn’t. Far away from the apron strings, curfews and embarrassingly square home towns. In the first weeks of Rhodes, I discovered a gratifying amount of round pegs, generous kindred spirits open to all and everything. 

Idea Soup
We gathered in packs, searching for who we were, and who we dreamed of becoming. Sitting on the floor in each other’s Res rooms, we’d talk ‘til late about the new ideas and feelings bursting through the floodgates of provincial high school frames of reference. It felt like wading through a thick soup of new ideas and sensations. We swapped music tapes, lent new books, and together watched mind-blowing films never screened in our small towns. Our teenage shells were cracked open liked fresh-boiled eggs, and what seemed like a kaleidoscopic Encyclopaedia Britannica poured in.

Emotional Hand Luggage
As well an expanding shared world of ideas, later into the night and many cigarettes later, more vulnerable feeling were laid on the table, in a candid sharing of regrets, hopes and fears. Things like our parents, how the distance from home had thrown their shortcomings and their effect on us into sharp relief. We’d vow not to repeat their mistakes. Most excitingly, we talked about girls, these beguiling, confounding creatures that a lot of from all boys’ schools were just discovering. These were not drunken confessions, but sober, earnest moments of trust. We’d wake in the morning feeling a bit bare, but knowing what we’d shared was in a safe place. 

After the tight-lipped constipation of school, it was a revelation to finally find people with the same dry sense of humour, and who knew Monty Python! I met so many people who saw hilariously saw things from such an odd, hilarious point of view, you’d wonder what they were on. Our easy bond was a daily, irrepressible sense of humour, shared jokes that’d have you throwing your head back with laughter and giggling ‘til your stomach ached. 

We Learned More from Each Other Than From Our Lecturers
After the mummification of high school, my life began for real in the first weeks of Rhodes. Revelations, insights, and friendships for life were shaped in those early few months. As Prof. Brookes, my art lecturer said, “Students learn the most from each other, not from us”.

"Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young."
- Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, October 6, 2008

Young Love

I remember us, lying like spoons, side by side on my single Res bed, her warm breath on my cheek as she slept beside me. We’d wake in the morning with yawns, caresses and some of what Prince sings about. I liked my body next to hers, it felt trembling and new. The feel of her smooth warm skin and the trace of her bones, like a map of all the places I’d never been. Kissing her was like coming home.

Just Nadja’s presence in a room would make my blood run thick and hot like warm honey. Going out with her on my arm, knowing that at the end of the night I’d be the one she was walking home with, made me feel like I’d a million in the bank.

Flowers, Letters, Mix Tapes
I schemed up lots of ways to make love stay, like the time I conscripted all the Lentilheads - our hippie neighbours – into gathering sackfuls of yellow daisies so I could carpet Tank Girl’s bed with them before she woke up that morning. I guess I was trying too hard. She closed the account a fortnight after that.

Elsa made me a bunch of paper cranes for my birthday, and on holidays apart would send me heart-leaping letters that left me in a condition of swoon.

I perved Nadja slavishly from afar, and made countless mix tapes in my head to her before we’d ever been introduced. Those songs can still recall the smell of her perfume, and the feel of her hair against my cheek.

I Love You (But You're Boring)
Being in love at varsity could be smothering at times. So caught up in love with each other, you could just skip lectures, shut out the world and stay in bed for days, like John and Yoko. The town was so small, you were always out together. This familiarity inevitably bred contempt, and some spectacular screaming matches.

I Don’t Know Why I Love You
I took part in some bloody evil fights. One involved throwing a shelf of wine bottles at a bedroom wall, another had me chased round a kitchen table by a carving-knife-wielding bunny-boiler , and another left me foetal and whining for help as Stevie kicked me round the curb on New street. She wore Docs.

This one sticks in my mind. At a Pony Club party, Nadja and I had an argument. In between verbal doses, while she looked the other way, I dashed to my car and sped off back to Grahamstown. Not fast enough, headlights in the rear-view zoomed up; she’d had grabbed another car and given chase. A fraught, high-speed cat and mouse chase ensued through the campus. Try as I might, I couldn’t lose her, so I pulled into the car park, and sprinted into the darkened recesses of Res, with her close on my heels. I dived into Gary’s room and hid under the desk. Down the hall I heard Nadja looking for me, tearing open and slamming res room doors, closer and closer, like incoming shell-fire. Gary’s door flew open, “You Fucking Son of a Bitch!” she screamed, and went for my eyes.

Nothing Compares To You
Break-ups at that vivid, young age were bloody awful. I would dig up all the saddest songs I knew, cry myself blind, and wallow in my own melodrama for days, occasionally surfacing from my room to drink heroic amounts of whiskey then descend into slurring, impotent rage at womankind. I’d whine about quitting varsity and becoming a bell-tower sniper. I did eventually I manage to get my degree though, so I guess I made it through.

Stay (Faraway So Close)
I guess once a relationship starts, on some level it never ends. It just carries on. Maybe you got married, maybe you broke up earlier than you did, maybe you shagged her sister. Whatever. Somewhere someplace else, those feelings never stop, they keep just going on an on, like a million flickering TV shows bouncing off the satellites, beaming into space.

Wherever they are, I hope they’re singing now.