Old School


By Sue Trollip

I was a pretend executive the other day. I had to fly to Johannesburg for a meeting with only my handbag. As I usually fly like a Kilimanjaro pack mule I was delighted by this new experience because there was no need for me to go anywhere near the baggage carousel. (Deborah Levy describes the baggage carousel as a ‘dead grey river’ in her short story A shining Light and I’ve lost enough possessions in the past to be most grateful to bypass that particular river.)

I decided against taking my laptop because it was too cumbersome and because Jo’burg is such a cold place that I had to wear most of my clothes for warmth, so I was already weighted down. My plans to take my e-reader were thwarted when I switched it on and got the lightening bolt screen so I hunted around for a paperback. Please understand that all this was happening at approximately 5am (one of my favourite hours when I am asleep). I couldn’t find anything small enough to entice me to lug it around for an entire day so I left sans reading material. That and a lack of caffeine (SURPRISE: I was running late) made my hands shake before I’d even left the house.

There was no other option, I had to go old school. Fortunately I am a bit of a notebook freak so I grabbed one from the drawer of good things (which no matter how many times I fill with chocolate, never seems to contain any) and an inspiring array of pens (this may account for why there was no time for coffee).

Although being a pretend executive sounds exotic I knew it was going to be one of those hurry up and wait days.

I should have had an hour at the airport to get my thoughts in order but because of roadwork at the first three interchanges on the highway I arrived four minutes before the gate closed. With my heartbeat pounding in my throat I parked, sprinted and boarded.

By the time I paused for breath I was already on-board the plane and in desperate need of coffee. Being on a budget airline that wasn’t an option (I am a wee bit of a coffee snob and cheap instant coffee does not thrill me) so I fiddled in the pocket in front of me until I found the Airport magazine and was thoroughly amused for the fifteen minutes it took for me to read through. Then I pulled out my pen and pad and got going.

When I arrived in Jo’burg there was no time for coffee as I had to board the Gautrain and it has a ban on food and beverages. Fortunately, being a lover of train rides, I was too thrilled to bother much but by the time I got to Rosebank I had about twenty pages of words and an irregular heartbeat.

Gloria Jeans was lit like a shining oasis in a coffee desert and I planted myself at a table, sipped coffee and covered more of my notebook’s white space with blue words.

The meeting was one that taunted my nerves and afterwards instead of letting myself get wound up I returned to Gloria Jeans and added a pink macaroon to my coffee order, then I whipped out my notebook and wrote until my hand cramped into a protesting claw.

The day did not go as planned, but at the end of it I had an almost full notebook of weird snippets, random asides and a decent amount of usable sentences. My next trip is due shortly and instead of bothering with electronics I’m planning to go old school again. If old fashioned ignites the creative sparks, who am I to argue?

Pictures courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net


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