Thames House II

That night we watched Babylon AD on eTV and Taga had organized some sweets and chips for us.


Next morning I woke up with a bad cold, I got some “illegal” tablets from Dee. I guy called Raj that I had noticed at an outside meeting on Friday came to hold our meeting. Old tough gangster and I would bet he has an interesting tale to tell. He mentioned a bit of it, he has been stabbed and shot countless times, he did not mention how many people he had stabbed or shot… He focused on me, stared at me intently, then asked about my 3rd eye. Shit, not since I was with Charmaine and her Holistic friends has anyone asked about that! I was non committal and he said, “We will talk again.” I was rather glad when he went on to talk to one of the other guys. Just after he left another new arrival, also an Indian guy, well he will like the food! And true to form we had a spicy beef stew and pap for supper, I never knew Indians knew how to make pap!  Then again one should never stereotype, the new guys name is Stanton. Taga had made banana bread that afternoon so we has desert. That night there is an NA meeting in the room at the back. I do not really like NA meetings that much, for many reasons. One guy that I have seen around, and heard talked about a lot is Manny. The talk about him is never good, everyone believes he is an asswhole it seems. He proves it at the meeting, by doing what I saw Dougie do many years back. When it comes time for donations he pulls out his wallet, takes a huge wad of R100 notes out and goes through them for a R10 note. This in a room full of people struggling, not only to get clean and sober but financially as well, so the talk about him seems correct. He is The main man in the Lanasia NA as he has more clean time by far than anyone else, 10 years, the closest to him is only 2.


Our meeting the next morning was a waste of time, it was no meeting at all; it consisted of a running commentary by Taga of how clever and cunning he was while on drugs. This is his problem not mine but causes the Gypsy to want to travel. No, I will stay here the whole two weeks. Another new arrival, Martin, he is a Coloured oke.


Later the guys were talking how much money some beggars make at the robots in Lanasia and I had an idea. We have a beautiful mix of the races here, so… what if.

We take one White, one Coloured, one Black and one Indian, we make up a sign, “This is what the Rainbow Nation has done for us!” Then we stand at the robot is really awful, dirty and torn clothes? I believe we will not only make a fortune but get ourselves on TV too! The guys love it, but to talk, not do. Bangbrooks. Then a really pretty Indian girl came to visit Taga, and everyone knows how much I like pretty girls. That night there was some or other committee meeting in the lounge and Room 3 became a meeting point for all the inmates. The noisy young guy came and gave us all a haircut. Then the old guy that had done the cooking (the hot chicken) was booked in, I had heard David and Russell say they had seen him drinking in his car. Shame, he did not speak much either, I think his English was bad, but he seem like a nice guy.


I finally met the owner of Thames House, Jakes, he was too once a gangster and then got sober and opened up Thames House. A very charismatic man, but like the other gangster, Raj, he stared at me a long while. He held a meeting in the lounge and I saw that Taga was his protégé, being groomed to take over Thames House one day. Taga underwent a complete personality change with Jakes around. Taga for all his shit could quote the whole AA Big Book chapter and verse. If you had a Big Book, you could open it on any page, read a sentence and Taga would tell you which page you were open on and recite the whole page. He also seemed to grasp the concept of the Big Book very well. Jakes would have fucked him up if he heard him when he was in his bragging mode. I also met Taga’s cousin, he has a horrible job; he deals with the rapes in our schools. He had to deal with two cases that day. Salute. A good, brave man.


There is an irony here, I have plenty of blankets and am sleeping with a roof over my head but have bad flu. A few weeks back I was sleeping outside in the cold, so cold in fact that my Coke bottle filled with water was frozen in the morning, and I did not get sick. Vee has his birthday, he turned 50 in a Recovery Centre, Taga made him a carrot cake for his birthday, food is short in the house again. Then we watched a Leon Schuster movie on TV, not the best birthday Vee has ever had I bet. My smoke run out and the guys do not share nicely here, I always give when I have got but the favour is not returned; I am actually the odd man out again. I wonder for the millionth time why this is. Vee is also an odd man out, but he makes it like this. Taga is out and Vee just helps himself to the pantry and makes supper just for himself. Stanton who has taken over much of the cooking and has permission to use stuff in the pantry makes supper for us all. Wendell’s family, that are visiting again, eat with us. Taga arrives back and does not seem to have any problem with all this. Babs gets back and has huge problems with this free for all, he shouts a lot, I just go to bed.


The next day I am in a bad headspace, I have lost faith in this program and just want to fuck off. I worry about my lost ID and stuff, a lot. Fortunately Gordon comes to visit at about 11am, but he has no good news for me. Patience, the lady that phoned Evonne and told her she found my ID and Passport is no where to be found. The police station commander just fobs Gordon off, my stuff was never there. Good thing is he brought me two packets of cigarettes, I will not share these. I watch Footloose on a DVD then a comedy on eTV. My roommate, Ken, leaves the centre. I go to bed early.


I am now at day 11, and my feet itch more than ever. Another new guy comes in, Lee Roy, he is very young but also very keen to fix his problem. Then another;  an Indian Muslim by the name of Zak. Two things make him unusual, first he is a heroin addict, I have not, over all the years, met too many of those. Second is his faith, again in this business I have seen only one or two of them in a program. Zak buys Coke for everyone; he seems to have a lot of cash. Seems being the operative word here.  Zak is moved into Room 3, the room Wendell and I are in at present. Tada stays in the room talking to Zak till well past 11pm. The next morning Zak is gone. So is Wendell’s expensive jacket and cell phone. He went through the whole booking in process so his ID is on record, his family left 5 bags of groceries as well; so we have not only milk but also butter for our porridge at breakfast.


On the 13th day a beautiful Indian woman arrives, a body to die for! The guys come and find me in order to introduce us as she wants to join either the police force or the army. I have forgotten her name. At present she is doing social services in order to add it to her resume; she is here to hold the 10am meeting. Tada interrupts her once or twice, she stops the meeting and really gives him hell, feisty little thing. She holds an informative meeting, first one in a while. Then she cooks us lunch! Pasta, mince and curry. She ends up staying the whole day, playing volleyball with the guys in the afternoon. I do not like playing games so sit on the veranda wall watching, her or course. Every time she hits a good shot, or what ever you call it, she flashes me a very sexy smile. Wrong place, wrong time, sadly to say, I liked this woman. That evening my friend Grant phones Tada and tells him that he will pick me up after 8pm tomorrow.


The last day; not much to pack and just did the routine stuff. Wendell and Martin made kites out of A4 paper and we spent the afternoon playing in the field across the road. That night it is baked beans and bread for supper, Tada has decided we cannot use Zak’s families groceries. Whatever. Grant arrives, Lee Roy insists on carrying my one bag.   With everyone I saw leave the rest of the guys barely notice, the guys have lined up on the veranda and sing a song for me as I leave. This surprises me, perhaps I fitted in more than I thought.


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