Archive for the coccooning Category

… I’m Toad, of Toad Hall.

Posted in coccooning on June 10, 2008 by moderngatsby

Instead of the usual benign reading that is mandatory for business management undergraduates I would, if given the opportunity, propose the biography of Rupert Murdoch by William Shawcross as a necessity. I first read it many, many years ago as I’ve always admired the man but it wasn’t until my recent foray into publishing did some of it become relevant. The set-back of a certain financial turnaround and recovery plan also made it more personal too. Just as NewsCorp teetered in 1991 like a cartoon character on the precipice of the abyss, a company that I was a shareholder of slowly disintegrated similarly last year.

From the outset it should be noted that the convolution of bad-luck all seemed to hit at once which crippled an already unstable but profitable company. It’s amazing what a client’s default of R7, 8-million rand can do to a company’s cash-flow! And while I shouldn’t compare skilled and semi-skilled workers to rats – the analogy seems appropriate – because as the ship hit choppy waters they all bailed overboard and looked for other jobs elsewhere. A company that is built on these kinds of men finds it hard to meet project deadlines and so spirals further downwards. By the time I was roped in to help sort out the problem, amputation was inevitable.

Topping this was my ending of a relationship. And so after assessing what little assets I had left, not forgetting my dignity, I realised I would have to change my lifestyle. So here I was, a 30-yrs old single gay man with no financial security but many life experiences behind me. Did that mean nothing? After all, heartbreaks and break-ups are the hardest kind of worth so shouldn’t there be some credit for enduring them? And if not, how do you retain a sense of value when you have nothing concrete to show for it? Because at the end of yet another failed relationship – when all you have are war wounds and self-doubt you have to wonder – what’s it all worth?

As pessimistic as that may sound, and I have been accused of that a few times in the past few months by friends long since forgotten, it seems appropriate at this moment. With no other desire than to connect on a personal level my only contact with the outside world is professional. And while that is at least something, the words that I wish I could say out loud are drowned in the silent screams of everything not being spoken. I am clinched by my own failure as the mirage of success shimmers in a fragile moonlight. I look at the past and wonder how in moving full circle I didn’t learn the things that seemed so important the last time around.

The coming two weeks are literally going to be a make or break situation for me both professionally and privately. To not admit that the fear of failure inside almost cripples me would seem a little too cavalier but the fear of not at least going out there and trying to recover seems almost as terrifying. I guess that the same could be said for love and relationships. We tend not to want to go out there and fall in love because we’re afraid of getting hurt. So instead we fill our lives up with things that don’t seem important at the time but really are. Because in life sometimes you win or lose the cards dealt out – but you will always have a handful of friends on which you can count.

And that’s got to be worth something right?


… principles of lust.

Posted in coccooning, Passion on June 6, 2008 by moderngatsby

 As I sat at the kitchen table, shrouded in a cable-knit cashmere blanket, the silence of the croft cottage was unsettling and yet comforting at the same time. Outside I could see the uncut grass in the field as it swayed and bowed waist high to some unseen wind while in the distance, under the grey clouds that hung menacingly, the semi-naked trees held firm their autumn foliage. A pot of Rooibos tea with ginger stands on the granite counter, the steaming aroma pungent and inviting but untouched. The piece of toast, only moments ago glossy with butter had already congealed while waiting to be eaten.


Depending on whom you asked, tomorrows match was either the most important game of the calendar, or the least, but as we were both old boys of our respective schools. The Bradley Cooper-esq guy suggested we brave the weather and travel down to the country, if not to support our schools, then at least to spend some time together. Which was odd because we had been spending an increasing amount of time together already – late afternoons and early nights filled with the unspoken understanding while he, enraptured with rare breed Tarquin’s and I, a foundling publishing empire.


And then, a knock on the back-door broke the deep thought/spell that had overtaken me. Unashamedly cheery so early in the morning, he stood there with a clutch of the morning papers, a litre of fresh milk from the dairy, 6-eggs and a small almond-shaped loaf of bread. ‘Thought you might like a little breakfast’ the estate manager said in that Boland bray that I so loved. The last time I was here I was invited to a local farmers’ party by he and his wife, I forgot myself to the music, numbing alcohol and the welcoming embrace lust brings in the cold of the early morning with a son of ‘martizburg college. Unfulfilled, I left satisfied in the morning.


But now in a few hours we both had to be up and ready for lunch with the new headmaster of my old school. Accepted at the last minute, the offer to bring someone along was implied. And so, implicating the naked man still asleep in my bed, it was to be my first truth in 13years since leaving these Cape-Dutch walls. But after I left lunch, I took a wrong turn and found myself right back where it had all started. I had come to the midlands for a mini-break hoping to get away from lawyers and old-friends and most of all myself. But sitting on the fake set in the theatre my issues felt more real than ever. I couldn’t help but wonder no matter how far you travel or how much you run from it can you ever really escape your past?


Back at the farm, with the Bradley Cooper-esq guy out for a guided walk with the Boland caretaker, and with nothing to do I cleared out some old closets, no pun intended, and found a forgotten packing box filled with VHS tapes, cassette tapes and other souvenirs of holidays past. With a goose roasting in the oven, I broke a family tradition and started cocktail hour an hour early. With a slosh of whisky in a glass, a fire already prepared in the grate I had nothing but time to wait. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I let the moment wash over me and imagine what it would be like having someone permanent in my life to share moments like this with.


Eventually after the dishes were done, left over goose wrapped in cellophane along with the vegetables for the farm dogs in the morning we settled down with our bread and butter puddings and custard to watch one of the VHS tapes rediscovered that afternoon. As Kirsten Dunst and Huntley Ritter filled the screen with clever puns and cartwheels and dance choreography I realised that this evening was our first real night together. And as we snuggled up in bed, we talked about things honestly. It was he that reminded me that the past dictates the future. But he who masters the present controls the past.


And with that, as my racing heart started to calm, I nestled closer feeling his warm, still moist naked skin against mine under the down cover, closed my eyes and in the distance heard a dog bark and it seemed like home. This might not be real in the daylight, but for tonight, it felt as close as my heart would allow.

… uhm Houston we have a problem.

Posted in coccooning, Confession on February 21, 2008 by moderngatsby

Despite the fact that there are over 8-million people living in Jo’burg, it often seems to be an island surrounded my murky waters. Even more so when you’re in love and you feel ship wrecked and alone. Times when even the most resourceful survivor will feel the need to put a message in a bottle or on a certain voice mail just so that you feel connected with something bigger. Naturally I wanted to spend every waking second with the new guy but a voice of caution told me that I was perhaps getting excited over nothing.

Understandably people lead busy lives and even more so when your life is chasing targets set by other people. A few stray comments that seemed like loose threads have slowly weaved together an all too familiar pattern of a distressing picture. When a 37-yr old man, even though apparently out of the closest, chooses to remain ambiguously straight you have to wonder where the cracks are and what are being used to cover them. As much as I wanted to engage my new romance, he wasn’t done fully with his old one, and every part of me was telling me to break away.

And so in the early hours of the morning when I’m laying wide awake I turn to DVD’s to keep my mind off him. Perhaps an unwise choice of movies was a tale on how to lose a guy in 10-days. All the classic mistakes women, or perhaps emotionally immature gay men, make when they meet a man whom they would like to get involved with. As we reached 36hrs and still no response from my last text message I thought to myself that perhaps I had failed to get the message that he was sending.

The 1820-settlers had to wait up to 6months for a response from home. It had taken me 6-mnths to get the message that I wanted someone there to share this next and exciting stage of my life with. And as my heart still flutters with a week old romance I was even more certain that I couldn’t wait another minute. Are all these improvements in instant communications really helping us or when it comes to matters of love, I couldn’t help but wonder do actions speak loader than words?

The next day, as my eyes flickered awake and I sipped yet another cup of coffee, I tried to mentally prepare myself for what was going to be a watershed day of final meetings that will inform the future at my new company. Suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency I decided to take action. I knew I was breaking all the supposed rules which told me to be less available in order to seem more desirable, I called him to find out if we were still on for our dinner date at his place later that night. While knew I was taking a chance it was, after all, a calculated risk.

But as the phone rang and rang and rang and eventually went to voicemail I realised that this was the last message I would leave for him. As cute as he is, as funny and charming and sensitive a man I would love to have in my life there comes a time when you have to realise your own self-worth. He may have been the perfect Mr. Right-Now but somewhere out there is a guy like you waiting for a guy like me. And in a moment like that you realise that right now, you’re Mr. Right.

… thundershowers are predicted for most of the Highveld.

Posted in coccooning, Lyrics - Madonna, My Great Love, Self-Truth with tags on October 3, 2007 by moderngatsby

In the darkness of a humid Highveld evening I smelt it before I heard it. The spring rains had come finally and in the morning I would wake to a different world. The constant rain-drops levelling the ground, the scrapping of the Jacaranda tree on the tiled roof-top, and the dripping of the rain on the slate tiles outside lulled me to sleep after a long tiring day. There is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of rain and waking up to the slate-grey morning when everything is soaking wet.

After the past few weeks of unbearable heat it was a welcome change and coincided with another change as well. Slowly I’ve started coming out of my cocoon again and reconnecting with friends, family and familiar places around Jo’burg. That plus I’ve started taking my mountain biking a little more serious now as well and that requires me getting out and about. Fair enough it’s with my iPod, my soy latte (just to kick start the day), and a determination that after promising change every summer – this time it will eventually come.

I think this determination started a long time ago but really hit home with a friends wedding a few weeks back in Pretoria. An amazing experience to be sure but somehow it floated above me and the full impact of the words spoken by the priest was lost. But at the end of it all it wasn’t about me but about her. As I saw her standing there marrying the best man in her life I knew that someday the rocky road that they had to travel on to get here was so worth it. Nothing in life comes easy but they made it look so good.

Slowly the wheels of fortune have started to grind in my favour as I’m starting to get enquiries for potential work. Having just completed a major tender for one of the steel mills the distance between start-up and operational company is just a few weeks away. The longer I have to think about company strategy and what the long-term potential could be the more options open up to us. But we need to get past that first speed bump before we even start thinking about accelerating anywhere.

The other night the movie ‘De-Lovely’ was on and I realise that perhaps the cruellest thing would be to get married. Knowing the kind of person she is I know the kind of person that I am. I do think that we’d have a long and happy life together but fulfilment is something from within and not without. The future is still unknown but what I do know that tomorrow is another day and all I can do is live today as best I can. Sometimes that’s all I can ask of myself and those around me.

As I sat watching the rain the other afternoon, I know that “… waiting is the hardest thing (It’s strange I feel like I’ve known you before). I tell myself that if I believe in you (And I want to understand you). In the dream of you (More and more). With all my heart and all my soul (When I’m with you). That by sheer force of will (I feel like a magical child). I will raise you from the ground (Everything strange). And without a sound you’ll appear (Everything wild). And surrender to me, to love.

… touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it, turn it, leave it, stop, format it.

Posted in adventure sports, coccooning on September 18, 2007 by moderngatsby

Trust me,” he says, “we are just as lazy as somebody else.” Words of a salesman that ricochet around my brain as the courier van reversed out of the gate, leaving me with my new Principia Rex bike and a feeling akin to buyers-remorse to boot. I had bought it about 2mnths ago when my bank-balance was a lot higher than my resolve to cycle my way back into some kind of fitness. I figured it was easier that hitting the pavements and running slowly.It couldn’t have come at a worse time. A roller coaster week that has you working to the bone one day and sitting with nothing to do the next, I have found comfort in Earl grey tea and eating. There were whole four-season pizzas, upsized burger meals and endless cheese/rocket- salad sandwiches that took the edge off the stress. That and endless reruns of The Godfather Trilogy of movies. Oh and the House of Cards trilogy too.

So, after an impromptu breakfast with my parents at my Mom’s favourite new shopping centre I called up a friend to take him up on his offer of joining him on his outride that afternoon. I put the bike into the back of the Land Rover, un-wrapped the riding helmet, searched for my protective glasses used for polo and headed out to his townhouse on his partially developed golfing estate. Since I was passing my favourite barista, I had to stop in but instead of my usual latte I got the frozen version instead. Less calories and fat I’m told.

I arrived at his place, my first time there, and marvelled at his view of a recently converted wasteland into a very attractive golfing estate on the East Rand with its own boating club to boot. We headed out towards the agri-holdings and the rough and tough terrain. I could taste it on my tongue, well the grit anyway after my first tumble, and it had a taste of me with an oozing knee scrap. The first 5mins were the toughest and the remaining 55mins akin to torture. But as Busta Rhymes sang on my iPod, “… touch it.”

At the end of it, despite the bitching and moaning, I know that tomorrow I will be sore but sated. This is the first step towards something that I need desperately. A kind of physical discipline needed for achieving my newly set goal of triathlon. Not that I imagine myself being an Iron-Man but at least it gets me out of staying in bed for whole weekends at a time doing nothing but watching reruns and overeating.