Dear Ma,

Happy ??th birthday! A public declaration of your age was not, perhaps, the present you imagined receiving – or wanted – from me. I apologise. But I hope that here, on, you can tie together the many strands of your ecclectic self and share your wisdom, which has helped me so often, with a more appreciative audience. I have a few categories to suggest: being a ?? year old techie, travels to visit your children and other strange people, the advantages of omniscience and, finally, being African. I’m sure other people who know you in other ways will have categories to add to the list.

I wish I could be in Cape Town – or Ballater – to celebrate the day with you. My landlord, Mr Qiu, is a little dumbfounded by Claire and I living next door. When he comes over, to fix drains, give us bills or shout, “Ni (Your) Chinese vely good!”, he also sometimes talks about his daughter, who you’ll probably remember lives in Adelaide. That she should be there, in the land of English speaking white people and us here seems absurd to him. Perhaps he’s right. Modern technology – things like blogs, skype and facebook – hardly compensates, but perhaps a story that has waited ?? years to be told will begin here.

I hope you have a wonderful day – I’m sure Will, who sent me all the photos shown here, will make sure you do – and an even better year.


P.S. Can you guess where the photo at the top of the page, which I’ve used as the site’s banner, was taken? A clue: you, Megan and Claire are in it.

P.P.S. You can change the strapline, “Omniscient mother, scholar and whisky drinker,” easily. Just go to general settings once you’ve logged in – but you already knew that.