Baboons among the books

By Jacqueline Dowling

Book Fair 2011 was a huge success; they said. Everyone who visited it over the two days said it too. So it must have been a success – stands to reason.

But for those of us involved in the gestation of this, to date, unique happening in our neck of the woods, it presented interesting challenges. First off there was the possibility of a Cape winter gale complete with hail, sleet, rain and whatever the Antarctic hurled our way.

No problem we all said, we’ll hold it in the nature reserve and hope for a sunny week-end – so we did. Books firmly under cover in picturesque stone huts, picnic tables under the trees and plenty of ladies in pinnies brandishing tea-pots, and platters of wicked things to eat.

We held our collective breath, crossed fingers and didn’t watch the weather forecasts or even mention the possibility of anything but warm sunshine, birdsong and spring buds.

And that’s exactly how it turned out. Brilliant days, early budding fynbos, carpets of daisies as far as the eye could see; a backdrop of newly green and majestic mountains, with waterfalls flowing into streams – perfect.

That’s what the booksellers thought too: they sold many books and everyone had a great experience in beautiful surroundings. All, that is, except the ladies in pinnies who fell prey to the local baboon troop.

Grey furry bodies bundled into the kitchen, shrieking in excitement and in anticipation of a fabulously free feast. And they managed, perfectly – several plates of sandwiches disappeared up the valley, whole cakes grew legs and followed suit. The tea tables experienced a flurry of hastily filled mouths and stall-holders were left speechless.

Just as suddenly it was over. Peace reigned. Refreshments replenished and service re-commenced. Book sales continued: business as usual.

It was a huge success. Everyone said it was. So it must have been.

Then why, I ask myself, am I not in a frenzy of pre-Fair 2012 nerves this year?

Probably, and only because of the uncertain weather conditions you understand, it will be held in a large auditorium complete with doors, windows and no trees!

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