‘Everybody’s got a hungry heart,’ Bruce Springsteen sings – Rob and I love The Boss, and this is one of his great songs. And these past few days, one particular ‘hungry heart’ – mine – has dined rather well, I have to say. Literally, as well as figuratively.
The literal part is this: braised springbok shanks, which I marinated overnight in wine with shallots, garlic, rosemary, juniper berries and lemon zest, and served yesterday, together with mashed potato with parmesan, and a salad with rocket, watercress, spinach and baby beetroot, at a 25th birthday lunch for Eve and the family. Kathy made individual chocolate soufflés for desert – light, dry, perfectly rounded and perfectly risen – all of which we washed down with plentiful supplies of wine – A 2002 Grangehurst Nikela, a 2000 Baron Philippe de Rothschild that Eve had been given for her 21st birthday, and more plonk than I care to remember. There was, by the end of this feast, neither a clean plate nor glass nor pot nor pan in the house, until Eve, bless her, took it upon herself to do some clearing up. Otherwise, I had promised, I would simply have moved out of the house for a few days, until Grace had been.
I can hear Rob now, tut-tutting off-stage about my white South African ways – and in this case, at least, I have to admit it: I hate doing the dishes, and am only too ready to leave them for my poor helper. I suspect Ms Pazdro may have a little house-training planned for me, especially if we are going to spend part of our time in Canada!
But, one must have a few small faults, non, if one is not to become wholly obnoxious?
It was a perfect day – warm, sunny weather, blue skies, and warmth and love to match, from the children. And Eve was thrilled with her camera – my Nikon D50, with two zoom lenses, a tripod and bag. I would love, I have to say, for one of my children, at least, to turn out to have a passion, and an eye for, photography: a love my grandfather Pooch cultivated in me, with gifts of cameras as I was growing up, and a love I shared with my father, too. One of the few things, in fact, that my dad and I could safely talk about, in those strained and difficult years we so foolishly allowed to come between us before we both grew up and got past it.
Talking of getting past it, Friday was my farewell party at the NBI – a cocktail for the staff and management team, to which my old colleague Ros was also invited, and my two daughters. Somewhere in our hungry hearts, I imagine, we all need to feel recognised and appreciated, and the moments when this happens are meaningful and special to us. The NBI, let me say with gratitude and deep appreciation, really did me proud. There were generous words from the CEO and a warm and heartfelt offering from my colleague, Judith; many kind words from friends and colleagues; and from Gillian, who with her team of helpers had organised the event, a reminder more than once that the whole affair had been organised with love.
It was. It was evident, there, in a dozen thoughtful touches – the delightful singer, Kirsten, who played and sang my favourite songs: Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Renee Olsted and others; in the presence of Ros and my daughters; in the good food and good wine, and simply in being there and having my years as a Director of the NBI acknowledged. There was a very special gift for me, too – a Mont Blanc ‘Starwalker’ pen, aptly named, I thought! I said to Marianne, as she admired it, my next big challenge, to myself, is to publish my novel, adding, jokingly, that when I did, she would have to buy a copy. She would, she promised – and she would fly to Toronto, if necessary, to have it autographed. There was a very generous gift voucher, too, which I only realised later that night, after I had got home, finally, happy and exhausted.
I talked with Rob, and she felt I should spend some of the money on myself, which I have done. But I have told her I want to keep some of the money for us, too, and for the home we will be creating together – the new life, that we are finally beginning.
Kathy told me on Sunday that Gillian had told her, at the party, that the only thing she was sorry about was that Jonathan, and Rob, could not be there. Thank you, Gillian, for thinking of that. And I have to say, I felt it, too. With Rob there, and Jono, this hungry heart would have really been replete.
But I have a deep sense, as I think of these past days, of my many blessings, and the many things I have, still, to look forward to. In August I will visit Rob in Canada, and meet her family in the US; and then I will bring her back with me, to South Africa, stopping off in London along the way to spend a few days with Jonathan and Hayley.
Everybody has a hungry heart; but every now and then, one finds the heart is full.