ED and ELVIS


Tuesday 10 August 2010: 3 years 11 months on …

Bucket lists have become synonymous with people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. I think the term comes from the movie entitled Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and I would guess it’s based on the English euphemism for dying:  to kick the bucket!

We all know what a bucket is – and so this phrase appears rather odd. Why should kicking one be associated with dying?

The link between buckets and death was made by at least 1785, when the phrase was defined in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “To kick the bucket, to die.”

One theory as to why, albeit with little evidence to support it, is that the phrase originates from the notion that people hanged themselves by standing on a bucket with a noose around their neck and then kicking the bucket away. There are no citations that relate the phrase to suicide and, in any case, why a bucket?

Whenever I’ve needed something to stand on I can’t recall ever opting for a bucket. This theory doesn’t stand up any better than the supposed buckets did.

The mist begins to clear with the fact that in 16th century England bucket had an additional meaning (and in some parts it still has), i.e. a beam or yoke used to hang or carry items.

The term may have been introduced into English from the French trébuchet – meaning a balance, or buque – meaning a yoke. That meaning of bucket was referred to in Peter Levins’ Manipulus vocabulorum. A dictionarie of English and Latine wordes, 1570:

“A Bucket, beame, tollo.” and was used by Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597:

“Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.” [to gibbet meant to hang]

The wooden frame that was used to hang animals up by their feet for slaughter was called a bucket. Not unnaturally they were likely to struggle or to spasm after death and hence ‘kick the bucket’.

Any which way. Last week, on Ed is in Wed© on AlgoaFM, Lance and I discussed the travelling that I had done and had been referring to in my blogs. He said that it reminded him of Dalene Mathee’s Kring in die Bos.

I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled extensively in my lifetime, both in Southern Africa and overseas. The bug definitely bit me when I became a Rotary Exchange Student to the USA in 1975. 

Lance then asked whether further travel was on my bucket list? I think my response was somewhere along the lines of “I would love to, but it’s not that easy anymore – both from a cost perspective and from a health perspective”.

Yes, bucket lists are easy to draw up when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. The difficult part is to action the list!

In watching the movie Bucket List and in reading various books by authors diagnosed with terminal illnesses, it is evident that it is essential to be quite wealthy in order to action bucket lists. In the case of ordinary everyday people such as me, and in many cases people who are even less fortunate than me, bucket lists are often unattainable. Hence the excellent work done by organisations such as REACH FOR A DREAM.

Bucket lists can also become very stressful items, especially in a family environment.

I have written before about trying to live normally in a world that has become very abnormal. Whilst I, at the top of each of my blogs, have a counter counting the extra time that I been blessed with since becoming ill, and cross off each day on the calendar as another bonus that I have filled with some or other activity, my family are simply going about their “normal” daily routines – work, school, play – and planning and living their normal lives (in addition to having to care for me!)

A friend said to me just the other day, “You are so lucky to be living the life that you now have!” I was originally quite p***** off, and replied that I would give anything to be healthy again.  But, in thinking about it, yes, I have been truly blessed with all the activities that I have been privileged to be involved in – things that would never have been possible had I still been healthy!

But, my thinking is not always that of my family’s!

In Industrial Relations, which I was involved in for fifteen years of my business life, one recognises the fact that conflict is inevitable in the capitalistic business environment.

Because the goal of the one party in the partnership is not the same as that of the other party in the partnership, there is constant feuding between capital and labour!

On the one hand, you have entrepreneurs and management trying to make as much profit as possible by utilising their labour for as long and hard as possible – and, on the other hand, you have labour wanting as much remuneration as possible for doing the least amount of work that is possible! Hence, all the strikes that we see as part of our daily South African business environment!

The same happens when you have a family where some are living and one is dying!

The goals are not always the same, and conflict becomes inevitable.

That happened again, this past weekend – the long weekend with Women’s Day being the public holiday last Monday. 

We had planned to go to St Francis Bay for the weekend. But, we had also been invited to go to Elvis Blue’s concert in George. My bucket list included the concert – the family thought I was insane to travel all that way to go to a concert – well, maybe I am!

And, as in industrial relation’s conflict, domestic conflict can also only be resolved through consultation, negotiation and compromise!

We agreed to go from Port Elizabeth to St Francis Bay – via George! For those who know, that’s like travelling from New York to San Francisco via London! And the party grew from two to four people – from Pera and I to the whole family!

So, on Friday afternoon, we left for George – with demeanour, body language and the lack of any other language in the car clearly demonstrating that there was some stress, and that all was not quite well in the state of Denmark!

Time was of the essence. We left at two thirty and the concert was due to start in George at seven. We arrived at Hermann and Sally in Knysna (where we would stay for the night) at five thirty, quickly changed (those that needed to) and left for George – another forty-five minutes down the road.

I knew the show was booked up, that seating was “first come-first served” and was stressing about having to sit on the floor. However, I did not know that we had reserved seats in the second row from the front, and so some of the stress was quite unnecessary  (isn’t that often the case?).

Well, Elvis’s singing was exceptional (and the supporting programme was good) and if he doesn’t win SA Idols this year, I am sure he’ll make it close to the very top. We all enjoyed the show and that helped to thaw the mood somewhat!

Then back to Knysna, where we spent the night. A full-on English breakfast was served, complete with handwritten menus, by Tayla (the youngest of the Kapp daughters) and her friend. When I came downstairs, I found them in the kitchen with their aprons covering their pyjamas. How different having daughters compared to having sons!

We sat outside on the deck, catching up, and savouring the beautiful surroundings of the Knysna environment. Alas, noon came to soon, and we headed off back to St Francis Bay (which is where, you will recall, we were headed in the first place!)

But Sean wanted to visit his school and hostel friend, David Bryant, in Plettenberg Bay. So, in the further interests of compromise, we agreed to make a quick stop there – just to say hello – and phoned ahead to say it would be quick – please, no lunch!

Well, Dave’s folks arrived home and almost convinced us to stay the night! But, after much chatting, numerous beers, glasses of champagne, chips and dips, and more and more visitors arriving, we eventually set off for St Fran at about five!  What a lovely day – often the unplanned, spontaneous things are just like that!

On the way back, we had a flat on the Tsitsikamma Toll Road. Thanks to Sean and Phillip (they could apply to work in Schumaker’s F1 pits) and the toll road patrol, we were able to get moving quickly again and eventually got to St Fran just after seven pm, missing the closing of the Spar by minutes.

Our neighbours, the Rishworths, were braaing on their deck, and so we joined them, as we did on Sunday afternoon for lunch, together with their other guests. And then Ken and Dorelle MacKenzie arrived for drinks . . .

Ndiniwe – I am exhausted – but the bucket list is not!

Monday morning saw Sean and I rush back to Port Elizabeth to meet up with Elvis and Lance in the AlgoaFM studio for a final interview before he heads off to Sun City. Good luck there, Jan!

What a show – what a weekend – what a victory for compromise!

We need another long weekend to rest – when’s that?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s