The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       December 2001      Number 12

Failure and Music - A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Somewhere the sun is shining
Somewhere the people shout,
But there is no joy in Sandville,
For the Players have struck out!
(with apologies to Casey & Mudville,
the town I was born & raised in).

Polly & I were going to be minor participants in our first ever Christmas Pantomime (a strange British custom where a fairy tale is combined with music and slapstick, the prince is played by a female and the old crone is played by a man etc. -- nothing to do with "mime"), but due to managerial and financial squabbles it has been cancelled. A real pity -- I thought "Snow White & the 7 Dorks" with the lead played by the darkest girl in town was great. I fear Capital Players may be doomed.

At least the Music Society is still functioning. We managed to put on a Christmas show called "Music, Marimbas and Mince Pies" which went well. It was a bit weird in combining Faure's Requiem and Britton's Ceremony of Carols with harp, violin and vocal solos. The marimbas were played by a primary school group during intermission while the audience dined on the traditional British cupcake-sized mince pies and wine. We tend to mix up traditions here.

It has not been good weather for field work. We have had extraordinary rain, lightning and hail. The offices downstairs at the museum are under 4 inches of water. I suspect all this water will wend its way to Mozambique via the Limpopo and you will be hearing of more floods there. Botswana is very green right now, even out in the Kgalagadi. We had a collection of plant specimens from Khutse to look at this week - only three succulents (Sarcostemma viminale, Talinum arnoti and Raphionacme burkei) but I've learned some interesting uses. The Raphionacme tuber (which I knew was an emergency water supply, but a bitter one - see "The Gods Must Be Crazy II") is best used with the silver cluster leaf (Terminalia sericea) which I suppose neutralises the bitterness. I managed to visit a small rocky area south of here on the 16 of November and found Huernia longituba in bloom. I also found Orbea lutea and Huerniopsis atrosanguenia, but not in bloom. The area abounds in Euphorbia schinzii, a Cyanotis species, Ipomoea bolusanthus (in bloom) and various lilies including a tiny one with pink fleshy bulbs which I haven't identified.

Next we will have two camps.

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