Saturday, 2 June 2012

SIXTH WEEK – The Reptile House

This week we discovered that we’re living just across the road from several boa-constrictas and a bunch of pythons.  There was a rabbit living in the park when we first arrived and we were told it was probably escaped food from the reptile house.  We think the rabbit has probably been eaten by now – beset on all sides by house cats, dogs and hungry men.  Still, people seem to be stubbornly leaving scraps of lettuce at the mouth of the rabbit’s cave.
The reptile house is incredible – two storeys of The Land That Time Forgot. Dinosaurs sleeping in little glass boxes.  Their scales so delicate and soft-looking, eyes slowly following you around.  The chameleons were my favourites – like a 3D Where’s Wally.  One was particularly curious, walking slowly back and forth along the front of the cage, tiny little lego-man hands grasping at the door; bulbous eyes spiralling in different directions like a proper little scaley drunkard.
There was a cage full of tiny little bright blue frogs and another full of tiger-striped yellow ones.  They all look like little hopping lollies, glistening with syrupy sweetness.  Good thing they’re in a cage.
Monique liked the snakes and has decided she wants an albino one.  Personally, the snakes are creepy – it’s odd that simply adding limbs puts me so much more at ease.  Until you add too many, and then I squirm again.

The other night to our neighbours for a drink.  What an odd night.  When we arrived our erstwhile grump was nowhere to be seen – instead, the door was opened by his towel-wrapped flat mate whose flabby chest had long ago given up the battle against gravity.  Behind him stood a voluptuous, heavily made-up young Arabic woman.
‘Oh, sorry! Didn’t mean to interrupt!’
But what exactly had we interrupted?  They ushered us inside and the young woman promptly started playing DJ with a large sack of Celine Dion albums.  They didn’t know when our neighbour would be back but poured us drinks.
Eventually the little old man arrived, like a dervish storming into the room, a million words a minute spitting from his mouth.  He’d taken a fall earlier in the day and his arm was wrapped in a grotty cotton bandage.
More neighbours arrived.
And soon food – creamy chicken salads, pastry what-nots, chips dripping with the grease of the chicken they’d been cooked in, hamburgers grilled just long enough to make absolutely sure you knew they were raw.  What had started as ‘popping by for a couple of drinks’ had turned into a proper banquet.  Everyone was talking, the Celine ballads were spinning round faster and faster, what were the connections between all these people? Another plate of food.  Had we actually just stumbled in on an old widower and his ‘petite amie’? Was the older woman married to the other man? Who was the blushing young bride? More food.  She’s definitely not Algerian.
When the conversation paused just long enough for me to ask about connections, all these complicated webs were brushed aside by a great big broom of Mundane.  Everyone here were neighbours.  The connections were the staircase and the corner store.
Lovely, but nowhere near as meaty and juicy as a raw hamburger.


  1. :) wow... kinda like reading the elegance of the hegdehog. i love your definate observations... the ones that make go .. yeah. you've inspired me to take my boys to the bell street aquarium soon

    1. If it inspires a trip to the aquarium, blog well done!
      Elegance of the Hedgehog is a cool book. Have you read 'Life a User's Manual' (I think that's the title)? It's similarly 'French'. About the inhabitants of an apartment building. One of them spends his life doing jigsaw puzzles - in a very complicated manner, making them first. You might like it...
      Hope you're well.