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No, I have not taken to dropping my aitches, nor have I adopted the urban noise that passes for music in some youthful quarters – as if I were the kind of guy who buys a Porsche along with a trophy girlfriend forty years younger….no, this is to report that my dear mother, 78 years old, went in to hospital on Monday for a hip replacement operation. She claims, like me, to be a fully signed up and devout coward, so we shared some gallows humour on her way in – she was planning to run off, she giggled nervously, they would have to catch her first! Visions of a little old girl, scuttling away over the hilltops, playing hookey from a troupe of white-coated nurses and doctors.

But instead, she gamely gave up, had herself driven to the Constantiaberg Clinic, and early on Tuesday morning went under the needle and the knife. By ten the surgeon, and then the anaesthetist, had called me to say the operation had gone well, she was waking up, and was on her way to High Care. By noon yesterday she had been moved from High Care to the ward for hipsters, as one might put it, and I was able to call her at her bed and have a short chat. Darned if she didn’t sound as plucky and chirpy as ever.

Last night I flew down to Cape Town, my last business trip as a director in the organisation where, for most of the past thirteen years (we pass over the past year in silence) I have happily laboured, as a labourer labours in the vineyards; and so tonight I will be able to visit the old duck, and give her a big kiss, and dash away the tears from my eyes when I see her.

And in other news: Rob reports from Canada that Canadian Immigration has confirmed receipt of my permanent residence application, and already it is on its way to Pretoria for processing. As my wife-to-be summed it up  – the move back to Emmarentia, in January; divorce in February; immigration application in March; house on the market and immigration papers forwarded to Pretoria for processing in April; and in May, I cut my employment ties and launch my boat out into the seas of independence.

It is shaping up to be quite a year.