The Long and Winding Road


Spring weather in the Midlands is predictably unpredictable. One minute we are sweltering in 30ºC temperatures and the next thing you know we are shivering as the thermometer drops below 10. Fortunately the cold weather brought much-needed rain that has coaxed the garden out of hibernation. The colouring in has begun.

My son Alex phoned me earlier this week after he had written his final exam at uni (touch wood). Four years ago when we dropped him off at “Die Withuis” (Simonsberg residence), he looked so forlorn that my heart broke as we drove away (I’m sure, with hindsight, that I was projecting my own angst onto the poor lad). And now he has just finished his accounting honours degree after having had the best of times in Stellenbosch. “I can’t believe it Ali, it seems like just the other day you were starting your studies” I exclaimed. “I know, it’s depressing” he replied “they say these are the best years of your life and now it’s over”. I assured him, jokingly, that it was all downhill from here on. Little does he know of course, that if he plays his cards right, it only gets better – it just won’t ever be the same.

Although I’m aware that most of the time when I look back on my youth it is with rose-tinted glasses, sometimes, especially when certain music prompts wonderful memories, I pine for the fjords of my early years. No band has the ability like Traffic does, to transport (?) me straight back to a specific place in time when I was a young teenager, when life was still quite simple and laid out in front of me like a long and winding road.

Traffic has always been one of my all-time favourite bands. Steve Winwood’s beautiful soulful voice and Traffic’s distinctive sound always manage to stir an incredible sense of longing in me, an ache for when I was gloriously young, unaffected by time and carefree – it’s a “lekker eina” (sweet pain) feeling.

Would I still go down the same paths knowing what I know now? Was I always destined to be this person that I turned out to be? How random were the changes that happened in my life? And what the bloody hell happened to those years between then and now?

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?

C.S. Lewis

 Since moving to the country I have become more philosophical about ageing. I have discovered that the ebb and flow of life here is more tangible and that there is a resolute rhythm that I never noticed when I lived in the city. The swallows return, the spring rains come and brown turns to green. I have a sense of change being something that one anticipates and celebrates; it doesn’t feel as random as I used to think it was. I suppose that I will always look back on my youth with nostalgia but instead of yearning after it, I would like to think that it prepared me for now. No matter how old I am, the road will still be  winding on ahead of me, with new distances to travel. And who knows, the best could be yet to come, if I play my cards right!

I couldn’t choose a favourite Traffic song for this post, but I did find this video showing Steve Winwood as he is now, looking good and  with a voice that still sends shivers up my spine.

steve winwood, then

steve winwood, then

and it's not just us getting older

and it’s not just us getting older

more rain on the way

more rain on the way

what's for supper

what’s for supper?

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5 Responses to The Long and Winding Road

  1. michele harpur says:

    Really enjoyed this Cath. All so true. A theme that has occupied my thoughts a lot recently. On reflection I seemed to have wasted a lot of time having extreme fun and not taking life and career seriously at all – life was always just there for enjoying (“Love the one you’re with” seemed to feature big!). And now I am here, no fancy degrees or career history, but doing and discovering things every day. I commented to my ‘one and only worker bee’ Lee’ just yesterday that our office always seems like adult nursery school. We laugh continuously, piss off the other business tenants on our floor with loud sneezes and screeches (idiot does have a sound studio with no sound proofing!), do most things for free because we like doing them, and only remember the purpose of each day is to make money as we close the door at the end of the day. Change anything – yes, lots and lots. But not that feeling that I have when I close the door and wind my way to see my cutest little grandchild Oli. Or get a WhatsAPP from some arb person in PE saying “I got your number from XXX and can you help me with a learnership”. Or, like today, accompany my beautiful daughter to the dressmaker to design her wedding gown for the wedding in May next year. Wouldn’t change those. Cheers!! (and a lot of Traffic around recently indeed!)

  2. John Brewer says:

    Hi Cathy and Peter. Just to let you know some news from Belfast. Gwyn – Peter’s godson – became a father again on 6 October, 9lb 3oz baby boy Tobias Daniel Charles Brewer. Makes him sound like a firm of solicitors but the middle names are after his great grand fathers, my father being Charles. Mom and baby doing well. Tried to send an email with photos but Peter’s old card email doesn’t seem to work. I love to hear your news. Love to Peter.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi John, thanks for the comment. CONGRATULATIONS on becoming a grandpa for the second time. Please send our warmest wishes to Gwyn. I have noted your new email address and will send an email so you get Peter’s new address – we are looking forward to seeing the photos. Will write soon, love Cathy

  3. Chris Ammann says:

    I liked the CS Lewis quote. I know it’s so obvious I’m reluctant to express it, but I often find it curious that I can look back at my 20s as if they were yesterday and can see the unbroken path that led from there to here in a blink of an eye yet a person in their 20s cannot possibly imagine themselves pushing 60. But I can look at them and see the acceleration of time that can whisk them from now to then just as fast. I look at the ageing process with a jaundiced eye and greatly admire your optimistic outlook. Loved the later Barleycorn.

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