Thursday, 24 April 2008

Dagga flashbacks

I was a card-carrying dagga-smoker for most of my life, although you would never know it because I always forgot where my card was, dude.

Okay, I’m kidding about the card but not about the dagga. I loved dagga. It relaxed me and made me happy; it de-stressed me and made me dance; it let me sleep. (My sainted late mother, who was a very proper Scotswoman and never touched anything stronger than a glass of white wine, liberally diluted with ice, in all her life, learnt to love dagga, too, when she was dying of colon cancer: she sometimes preferred the dagga banana bread we made her over her morphine.)

I don’t do dagga any more. My teenage daughter is just way too fond of it and it’s not a good thing for a depressive (which she happens to be). So it’s no longer a staple in my house, and my jewelled dagga box now contains nothing more illicit than a few lonely Rizzlas and some pungent reminders of a time that’s passed.

But the dagga stories never lie down, do they? My favourite dates back to my leftover-hippie days in Noordhoek (the old Noordhoek, before the invasion of 4X4s and Woolies, when horses had right of way and surfing was king), when me and my then-lover lived in a rickety house clinging to the edge of the cliff, which became so waterlogged in winter that the paintings grew mould. The house was always filled with city-based escapees – in those days, driving to Noordhoek from Cape Town for the weekend was more or less as adventurous as heading for Dubai is now; in fact, I remember a Capetonian-born-and-bred friend not even knowing how to get there – we had to draw her a map.

We grew spinach and mushrooms in our garden – hey, that’s what people did in Noordhoek in those days, okay? And after we’d had a couple of joints, one night, I went out and harvested a bit of food for the party. To the mellow vibes of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, I chopped up the spinach, grilled the mushrooms, topped the lot with cheese, and presented it for dinner to the gathering. It was enthusiastically received and hungrily devoured.

And so the evening went on.

The next morning I woke up to the usual: a devastation of used crockery and cutlery, cigarette butts in every conceivable place, supine bodies wherever I looked, and the toilet blocked. Bleary-eyed, I put some music on the tape deck (yup, we had tape decks then) and began clearing up: gathering plates and glasses, stacking bottles, emptying ashtrays, putting clothes in a pile for later reappropriation, etc.

When I began washing up (no dishwashers then, of course: we didn’t even have electricity, only a temperamental gas water-heater that worked, apparently, according to the phases of the moon), I discovered some odd leavings on the dinner plates: hard, black bits mixed in with what was left of the spinach and mushrooms.

I looked closer: the mystery pieces were on all the plates. What on earth could they be?

When the truth dawned, I quickly scraped the plates clean and got on with the washing up, ensuring that all evidence had been eradicated before the first hungover party-goers began emerging from Nod. No need to freak people out, hey.

It was snails.

Our eco-friendly veggie patch was infested with snails, and the armful of spinach and mushrooms I’d gathered the night before – it was dark and I was stoned – was liberally studded with them. Wonderfully dagga-bevok, I’d gone ahead and prepared a meal of mushrooms, spinach and cheese … and a robust helping of garden snails.

Tellingly (for the effects of dagga) not one person ever commented on the unusually crunchy texture of the meal.

And I’ve never told. Until now.

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Muriel said...

After reading this post my father reminded me of his experience when he made up one of the mixtures for our mother's laced banana bread. 'I made a pretty stiff mix of the stuff and you know how it is, after you've spooned the mixture into the cake-pans you go back to your childhood and lick the bowl. By the time [his friends] D and K came by to pick me up to go to see a rugby game I was floating. If I could have spoken - they remarked later on how quiet I was - I would have asked them why someone kept moving the goalposts.' Nice one, Dad.

tonypark said...



God, my parents were more from the 50's generation (vodka drinkers, absolutely would never touch pot) and I was from the ecstasy generation. I'm not sure how we'll handle the "don't do drugs even though I did" conversation, maybe you'll bake me some banana bread before I have to have it. :-)

Muriel said...

Yup, Gray Matter, it's a tough one. I suppose we just have to hope our kids come through it. Like we did...