Dear South Africans,
My 2 year anniversary of living in the beautiful city of Cape Town is coming up. Can you believe it? It's been a roller-coaster ride of pleasantness and delight. You've been so kind, so welcoming and made me feel at home. We're friends now, right? Yeeeah. I thought so- great!
And friends must be honest, mustn't they? I feel the time has come to be honest with you. I couldn't have said any of this before, a Johnny come lately. But now, things are different. My whole family say "ja" instead of yes and my children's vowels are all messed up. I'm almost one of you. Almost.
There are several topics upon which I feel we need to have a discourse, but today we'll just start on one.
The subject of heating and insulation.
I can feel you all tense up, start whining and saying: "but the winter's so short". Short it may be, in comparison to many other places in the world. But there is a winter and you know it. I know you know because of the clothes you weather (c.f. fur lined coats and winter boots in April) and because of the whinging you do when I see you. You wrap up like human sausage rolls from the moment you roll out of your icy bed, you refuse to go out at night because it's too cold (for readers from overseas, if the night time temp hits 7C in the dark hours of the night, that's really very low). I come to your houses and there you are, all padded at all times of day(if someone didn't know it was cold, they'd think you were wearing an outfit to make sure you didn't catch yourself on any sharp edges in your house) or, alternatively, shivering because of your winter/heating denial. And I'm not talking about middle-income people who might not be able to afford it. I'm talking about people living in homes that Middle Eastern dictators aspire to. Really.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not denying that 15C (a revolting low in winter!) feels very chilly after 27C for 3 months straight. I'm just suggesting you do something about the chill. The winter is "only 3 months"- a quarter of year wearing extraordinary amounts of clothing. Indoors.
I introduce to you the concept of...drum roll.... insulation and heating in your home!! As hardly anyone seems to know about it, I reckon a lot of South Africans are googling the terms as we speak! I reckon I could be the market leader on this. Make my fortune, retire early, perhaps. The possibilities are endless.
Or maybe they're not. maybe you've thought about it and decided against it. Maybe you feel that living in Africa, it would be an affront to international perception to suggest we sometimes get chilly here in South Africa.
Linked to this, I have a theory as to why so many South Africans live in London. Nothing to do with worries of political stability, economic opportunity or the lure of living in Europe. And we know it's not for the weather (especially at the moment, yikes!). I reckon that a certain percentage are so overawed on arrival by British engineering (central heating) that they feel they must stay (warm) surrounded by such invention. They need never be cold again(indoors, anyway)- imagine that!
This letter to you is really saying: it doesn't have to be like this. You CAN be warm without looking like a sumo wrestler for 3 months. Waddling due to over-clothing is optional in the modern world. Give it a try!
Me (sitting in my warm, insulated home wearing an acceptable amount of clothing for indoor purposes).