Afrikaans apricots. Sort of.

Afrikaans apricots. Sort of.

Alas, I am left alone. Couple of days in, and Caroline’s absence from the home for a whole week is a darn shame on a cold winter’s night, but we are both being remarkably grown-up about it. While Caroline is drawing flick-book stick men with berets, while pretending to fill a sketchbook with intelligent elevations of eighteenth century Provence, I’ve already watched enough Top Gear on Dave to split my head gasket and indulged in splendidly serious World Cinema with Mark.

And that’s the interesting thing. Most of my finest chap-mates would furtively turn on Cold War documentaries and The History Channel and BBC Four World Music specials when live-in loved ones are away or not looking. If you are interested in another perspective on the Palestinian debate, for example, watch Sundance-applauded Paradise Now, about two young men from Nablus facing the prospect of becoming suicide bombers. Simply very good and very subtitled.

To be fair, I can’t think of much that my lovely wife and I don’t enjoy critiquing together. But one Top Gear a week would be enough for her, I think, and I’ve yet to convince her to snuggle up and watch Downfall, the much-acclaimed cinematic dramatisation of Hitler’s last days. I have too, I notice, left Tarkovsky’s original epic Solaris lying around conspicuously this week, two years after borrowing it from Jamie. Am I kidding myself?

Interesting thing, sitting here alone in the flat, little nose going blue as I refuse to put on the heating for a day with just me here, in the absence of the loved one, I’ve made some new friends quickasaflash, thanks to the superficial influence of the internet.

I promised myself I would restrict my Facebooking to real friends – actual people I interact with. However, today I had a friend request from a chap in Capetown that made me bend my rules.

Jaques Maclárn Peach wonders why he’s never heard of the name Peach outside his own circle, and why he’s an Afrikaans-speaking Boer with Scottish grandparents and a huge family peachtree crest with a mysterious motto in an alien tongue tattooed all over his arm. He pretty much seemed to be asking me: ‘any idea how I got here?’

I looked at the ribboned words around the crest on the picture he sent me. Not English. Not anything South African either. With huge communicatio-lingustic instinct, I immediately divined it to mean: ‘I abide in hope and abandon fear’ – or, as I broke it down knowledgeably for Jaques: ‘I live in hope, not fear.’ How cool is that?

I then immediately thought of having this crest tattooed all over my arm.

And then I looked into some Scots Gaelic, which I discovered this is likely to be. As poetic and noble as I’d like this hither-to unheard-of Peach family crest vision statement to be, it turns out it could equally mean: ‘Keeping myself in beer up in the glen, and enjoying the odd shank of heffer, stops me shatting myself’. And you think I jest.

What the hell was I doing looking this up? I was in the middle of a press production and trying to translate Scottish mottos into South African Dutch!

Thing is, Jaques’ story didn’t half sound like a story waiting to be unfolded. A series of buried links across the world. Perhaps a sort of Jason Bournemouth. And when I saw how many other Peaches he’d collected from round the globe in his quest to find a family, I felt I could do nothing but welcome him in.

He said: ‘it must be nice to have so much family’. I sheepishly replied that I didn’t bother with the rellies much – but my friends were as much family for me as anyone.
So make Jaques feel welcome in the UK, especially if you’re a Peach. Timewasting so sociably with the snapping social reflexes of the idle fickle is what we do best, so let’s keep it in the family. ‘Whether on the south coast, the south of France or South Africa, my circle of friends are all Peaches’ I assured him warmly.

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