Home thoughts from abroad. Or abroad thoughts from Home. Or something.
Chapter Twenty-five: hovercrafts and eels, with no bouncy-bouncy
Being a series of letters and postcards to Ankh-Morpork from two recent school-leavers on a gap year touring the Howondalandian (or Klatchian – it depends where you're standing) continent.
Our Princesses are still travelling, having picked up a Knave.
Damn, I may need to revise an earlier chapter as there's a seriously out-of-sequence bit in one of them. I just didn't realise it would take this long to get them over the kaplyn into Smith-Rhodesia. So an earlier extract from Rivka detailing their arrival there needs to be moved. Headache. Ah well.
EDIT: minor changes for internal consistency, spelling revised in places.
Now read on….
From the journal of miss Rivka ben- Devorah (Black Widow House) Licenced Assassin. A traveller in Cenotia, Klatch, Ymitury, the Sub-Nef, and the Great Plains, becoming a honorary member of the Ogglala Sioux Nation with the warrior name of Prickly Pear Girl, alongside her friend who was given the warrior name of Ginger-With-Freckles. Now after many adventures in the jungle and pursuit by many annoyed people with assegais, on the brink of becoming a guest in, err, Smith-Rhodesia.
At this point in the story, in "Treetops", the Greystruck Treehouse and Ankh-Morporkian Consulate, near Smithville, Urabewe and the Charitable Mission Hospital Of The Spiteful Sisterhood Of Seven-Handed Sek (and Omnian mission).. Awaiting Horst Lensen being well enough to travel and negotiating passage by water with a very singular captain.
The Year of the Bewildered Raccoon. Later in August.
We were passing the time here waiting for Horst Lensen to be well enough to travel. Igorina's intervention and the miraculous speed of Igor healing have made a massive difference. He is aware of his surroundings, sitting up in bed, and blinking with wonder at a new and far better developed pectoral region than the one he originally had. And damn the man, he really does have a good male chest on him. Nice pecs to begin with, even better ones now, after Igorina unpacked her ice-boxes and got to work.
Mariella is sitting up with him providing nourishing soup and some terse conversations in Vondalaans are happening. I am listening in and improving my fluency in your language from what is being said. There are a lot of silences that convey a sort of unspoken meanings – what the witches call "spill words". Mariella is refraining from using words like "bliksem" and "pielkop" and is forcing herself to be concerned and polite, as a good nurse should be. I am not letting on to Lensen that I can understand a fair amount of what is being said. A lot of unfamiliar and new words are working themselves out in context. I am also picking up differences in accent and dialect between them. Lensen's home town of Bitterfontein is a long way away from your Piemburg, in fact on the opposite side of the nation in the Turnwise Cape? I gather it is a more settled and "safe" area a long way away from the sort of troublesome border Piemburg is practically on top of. Also that the Lensen family are very well-off, with large vineyards and wineries.
Farmers dealing with grapes and wine-making do not really have to think all that quickly, perhaps. Grapes are not as mobile or potentially unpredictable as large draught animals, or indeed attacking Zulu impis.
It is clear to me that somehow Horst Lensen has been changed by his recent experiences. He is currently quiet, subdued, thoughtful. Not the bumptious oaf from School who would shout loudly, act before he thought, attract trouble and censure, and basically offer a continual walking reminder of exactly all the reasons why people like you, Mariella, and Heidi van Kruger, chose to leave Rimwards Howondaland and make your way in life elsewhere. I know Rimwards Howondalandian men are not ALL the reason why you chose to leave and some, like your Uncle Pieter and your brother Danie at his best, can be intelligent, pleasant, and even quite clever. Your cousin Julian is an EXTREMELY attractive and desirable guy and I like him very much. (I do know another woman has claimed him, though!) Your father has a certain rough-hewn charm and fundamental decency, and you warm to him – but he is possibly a Rimwards Howondalandian man taken up to eleven and then some way beyond. But on the basis of Horst Lensen as an exemplar of what is typical, the idea of actually living with them, and ending up married to one, must be a good incentive to any intelligent woman to get up and go!
I am still trying to work out the change in him. Perhaps the trauma of nearly dying really does change a person for the better, as we are told. Time will tell as he recovers – the original charmless boor, with a small "b", may re-assert itself as he regains strength and vitality. I know one thing – Mariella will never stand for that. I know her too well.
I left them to working out their differences. Mariella has already told me, in as many words, to mind my business. I suspect there is a certain sensitivity here. When he took her hand and she didn't slap it away as I suspect she might have done in normal circumstances, I decided the chaperone should discreetly leave them to it. After all, he was still ill in bed and if he gets too presumptuous, your sister can easily deal with that.
Outside in the town, in what passes for a village square where much business is concluded, I encountered Lady Jane, who was taking her pet for a walk and surveying her parish.
"Hullo, m'dear. Is the invalid better?"
I indicated that he was and gave our hostess an update. She smiled knowingly.
"They say the patient falls in love with his nurse. According to nurses I know, it can be the other way round too. Watch those two, m'dear. Little sparks start big fires. And I'm guessing the three of you are going to be travelling together. Could be nothing, could be something."
She laughed a little. I observed her pet with interest as he groomed himself.
"I keep an eye on these chaps. Wouldn't say I breed them or anything, but I have done my bit to steer the right males to the right females and nurtured a few litters of kittens. Just to improve the general stock, sort of thing. I keep a stock-book back at Treetops. Which males fathered which cubs on which females. Goes back a few years now. They trust me, which is nice!"
Yes. Like Lady Sybil Ramkin, Lady Jane Greystruck has a passion for pedigree animals. In this case…
"Which is sweet of him, as I'm wearing his grandfather. Waste not, want not!"
The leopard, or it might have been a cheetah, looked up at me and – I think – purred. The sound came from the same general sort of feline area, anyway.
"Tickle his belly, he likes that. Don't worry, he's an old sweetie, really!"
I remembered the old lion at the Zoo, Klarenz, the one with the cross eyes, who you raised from a cub. I trusted her and petted the leopard. He purred appreciatively, if you can call a nose like a band-saw "purring", and did the cat thing of rubbing up against my legs. Your Maine Coons will probably be as insistent and just as capable of knocking somebody off their feet when they do the rubbing-against-legs thing?
"I've spoken to a few people." Lady Jane said. She looked round to see who was listening and her voice lowered.
"Word on the jungle drums is that the Zulus are sending a big patrol out this way." she said. "Not sure what they want, but I can hazard a guess. Might be best if you two gels grab your bags and get the boy geed up to move. Quickly. Not ideal, I know, but you really do need to get a shift on. Do not accept a lift from the Klatchians, bee-tee-double-you. Captain Sinbad who runs the dhows here has heard there's a reward on your heads after a certain fire in Klatch. Careless cigarettes cause damage, don't they? If he can knock you both on the head and run you away in chains, he will do. Ghastly man. Look, I've got you an introduction to a chap. Utterly venal and it's going to cost you, but once you pay the fare, he'll get you there. Completely trustworthy for the right money. You've got cash? Thought you did. He's in dock right now. Coming?"
We walked on, the leopard, or perhaps a cheetah, padding silently and proudly alongside his mistress.
She explained that the jungle pygmies have no love for any of the three armies who periodically send patrols this way. The reason why they attacked Mariella and myself is that they thought we were White Howondalandian soldiers and therefore fair targets. (Well, we were dressed like them. Easy error.). Zulus are loathed by the pygmies as they see the little humans as fair targets for abuse and as a somehow sub-human species, useful only as entertainment and for stabbing practice. Vondalaanders are viewed as scarcely much better.
Lady Jane thought that they were even now launching tip-and-run raids with poisoned blowpipe darts at any Zulu patrol coming this way, and both slowing them up and thinning their numbers out.
"Zulus fight best on the open veldt. Where their numbers tell. Oh, they've got jungle specialists in the same way Mariella's people do, but this isn't natural fighting territory for either side. Never gets much above a skirmish in numbers. What gives me pause to think is that if one side sends a lot of men into Urabewe, one of the other sides does as well. And if it gets back over the River that the reason for the Zulu attack is to kill or abduct two White Howondalandians who've washed up here, then they'll send soldiers in out of general principle."
Lady Jane gave me a long look.
"That means this town, which isn't much, I know, but I care about it, then becomes a battlefield. And I'm not having that! So there's my biggest reason for giving the three of you a hearty handshake and a fairly emphatic goodbye. Nothing personal, but if you attract a war I want it to be fought somewhere else, you see? Ah, here's the boat."
Then I saw The Howondalandian Queen and met its singular pilot. A wiry, weatherbeaten little man with a lived-in creased face, taciturn in manner. He nodded at me.
"This one of them?" he asked Lady Jane.
Incredibly, in the melting-pot of the river, he was Acerian. That accent stands out a mile. I wondered how he got here: he must have been around fifty and the boat was old, battered and had seen much hard voyaging.
Captain Charley Walnut looked me up and down. He named a fare. I haggled. He wasn't having it.
"He'll settle for eight hundred, m'dear." Lady Jane said, helpfully. "And you really don't have too much choice."
"Eight hundred and fifty." Walnut said.
"And that's cutting your own throat?" I asked.
He gave me a Look.
"Hey, give me a break!" he said, indignantly. "I'm not a godamm Dibbler!"
We shook hands on the fare. Interestingly, while I offered to pay gold (we all carry a roll of gold coins for bribery, barter and negotiation, as we are taught) he preferred Ankh-Morporkian dollars. Notes, preferably. Lighter, easier to carry, and the hardest currency out – you can trust the Vetinari greenback. (The Guild should note this as a guideline to travellers. Paper is lighter than gold.) I said this would not be a problem.
"Gotta leave soon." Walnut said. "Monsoon's comin'. If that hits while we're out there, I'm heavin' to the nearest shore an tyin' up. No argument. I suggest you people get your kit together and be here soonest. And have the dollars ready."
I indicated assent.
Then a running native found Lady Jane and breathlessly panted out an urgent message. She nodded, then gave him a peremptory command. He ran off towards the hospital.
"Get your bags! Get the boy ready to move, fit or not!" she said to me, with some urgency. "Now! The Zulus are half an hour away! In force! And they aren't here for a social drink!"
Captain Walnut nodded, impassively.
"Ah-huh." he said. "I'll make ready. Better get a move on, lady!"
Things then got interesting.
From the journal of Mariella Smith Rhodes, Licenced Assassin (Black Widow House), Smithville, Urabewe:
Igorina's restorative work was marvellous. From a man on the brink of serious illness or even death. Horst Lensen recovered colour to his face, a normal temperature, and full awareness of his surroundings, within a day and a half. Still weak, he was able to sit up in bed and maintain a normal conversation. This pleased me. I felt he might soon be able to at least walk. And all we needed do was to get him over the river and the lake, by boat, into safety.
And he was quiet. Reflective even. Something about him had changed. I wondered what. Even though our time here was ticking away and Lady Jane had warned us to be prepared to move out quickly, I felt I could make time to find out. We had ensured our packs and weapons were prepared and nearby so we could grab them at a second's notice. My machete and daggers were on my body and Rivka was also going armed. Rivka and I had ensured Lensen's pack and clothing, which had cost a lot of money to retrieve in Klatch, were also there to grab at a second's warning. His clothing and boots were at the bedside. In case we had to get him dressed in a rush.
But for now, there was time. Rivka sat nearby pretending boredom and incomprehension. I really wasn't sure how much of our conversation she understood. She's very good at this sort of thing; and I'd given her lots of tuition in Vondalaans. She seemingly busied herself getting her journal up to date and reviewing iconographs. I notice she'd taken a few of the unique local statue of Seven-Handed Sek. With the interestingly placed seventh limb. Well, you'll see them soon.
By the way, thank you for relating that you showed Professor Rincewind those pictures we took on the Little Big Horn battlefield. I really wish I'd been there to see the poor fellow be overtaken with his memories, which must have been intense. You reasoned that if this was the right place, and owing to some sort of magical accident he had actually been there, tall story though it seems, he'd remember.
And his reaction placed it beyond all possible doubt. He really did need a big restorative drink when he looked at our pictures of the Medicine Trail Coolis, the last ride for General Rjuister and several hundred men beset by attacking Indians on all sides. Several hundred men, including a Wizzard adrift in time and space. You forgave him all the moaning and whimpering of ohshitohshitohshit, I nearly died… (1) I bet he never expected to see that place again!
A terrible thing to do to him, Johanna. Although, as you pointed out, he was fighting for the other side in a battle where we were defeated, and our history books all point the finger of blame at "a powerful wizard sent by Ankh-Morpork, in a fit of pique that they were beaten in the War of Independence".
I just never thought we would actually meet that Wizzard!
Anyway. To keep it safe and neutral, Horst and I talked about our families, our backgrounds in farming and the lands our families manage. We talked family and parents and siblings. I talked corn and orchards and cattle; Horst talked about grapes and vines and wine-making. He talked about growing up in the Caarp; I about the Transvaal, Natal and the border region. And for once, perhaps for the first time, I had a decent grown-up conversation with him that did not get my hackles rising. Such a shame he nearly had to die first.
And he was so quiet, no bluster, no bombast, no "Ag, you meisies don't know your place, I'm the big strong capable man here, you girlies should be in the kitchen or raising the kinde as the gods intended."
He wasn't being insufferable.
This is new and different. Admittedly he was recovering from serious injury and the attentions of Matron Igorina. Maybe when he is properly recovered he will be an idiot again. But for now, a boy who has suffered and is recovering. You can be gentle.
"Mariella?" he said. "We have been talking for nearly an hour and you haven't scowled or called me a fool and an idiot or a complete shitheaded dickhead bastard once. Is there anything wrong?"
I wondered if he was testing me. The old Horst Lensen would not have considered this important, or even thought my opinions and feelings worth considering.
"Well, just now, that's not appropriate." I said. "We need to get you well and then move on. You still need to get to Pratoria, remember? We're prepared to assist in getting you there."
He considered this, then his face fell.
"Ag. I'll try. But I must be past the deadline now. Ah well. At least I had the experience and the opportunity to try. And I'll still be alive. I can find something else to do, maybe. Go home as a failed Assassin and learn how to grow grapes and make wine. But. Third son. My brother gets the plaas."
I understood. Oldest son inherits. Spare brothers maybe get some sort of job in the family firm and aren't left destitute. But no inheritance. It's the way these things are done. Danie understands this well enough; our brother Andreas gets the plaas and the business after Father goes. Danie is to make his mark somewhere else. Mere daughters like you and Agnetha and I should marry and find a place in somebody else's plaas. The way we do things. And Horst was motivated, like me, to get through all those selection tests and aptitude tests so that we could get a place at the Guild School and find a different way, somewhere else, in a different country. Nothing to inherit, therefore nothing to lose. Four girls and four boys managed it out of many, and we were both in that last eight.
"You passed. I Failed." he said. "But maybe that's how it works."
I felt compassion for him. Maybe I shouldn't. But I told him to cheer up. The Guild had informed us that an extension had been granted. To account for time spent in transit on the ship between Ankh-Morpork and Ymitury. And again for time spent in captivity in Klatch.
"By my reckoning we still have possibly a month." I assured him. "We can get you there."
Horst visibly cheered up. He reflected on this news for a while.
Then he reached out and took my hand. It was a nice thing. I never thought I'd ever say this about Horst Lensen, or tolerate him touching me for even one second, but it was a nice thing, sincerely meant.
"Mariella?" he said, looking up at me. "Dankie. Thank you. And I mean that sincerely. To the bottom of my heart."
At this point Rivka got up, smiled slightly, and left to see what the day was doing. Damn. She maintains I'm secretly attracted to Lensen and my difficulties stem from my not being honest enough with myself to accept this. Which is why I get angry with him and about him. But the man is a total utter pielkop!
Well, we talked on for a while. I explained there could be a need to get out at a moment's notice. Hopefully there would be a boat to take us by water over to Smith-Rhodesia. But we would have to leave quickly. Did he think he was fit to walk, at least a few hundred yards down to the river and board a ship? I explained the possibility that there might be Zulus coming for us, and that they would not be gentle.
He considered this.
"I believe I can walk. But my arms feel strange."
He felt his healing chest, gingerly.
"These are different muscles from before. Bigger. Thicker."
I explained about Matron Igorina and how she believes if an Assassin needs any replacements, she seeks to instal only the very best. And to upgrade if possible.
"She was here, then? I thought I dreamt her."
"We brought her here. You have heard of the Pegasus Service?"
"Ah. Again, dankie."
He squeezed my hand again. Then his head perked up.
"Mariella. You said. Assassin. And not Student?"
I frowned slightly. Did I give it away?
"Well, we have to help you get to the Guild bureau in Pratoria first. But getting your pink slip is not impossible."
And then Rivka burst in again. Two natives followed her. She directed them to grab our packs.
"Leave the crossbows!" she said, urgently. "Mariella! We've got to get out NOW! There are Zulus coming! Get him dressed!"
Horst let go of my hand and swung his legs shakily out of the bed.
"Perhaps he can get himself dressed. By himself." he said, reaching for his clothes. I threw him his trousers.
Rivka grabbed her crossbow and threw me mine. She quickly loaded it, both over and under.
"Got a boat set up." She said. "If you've got around a thousand dollars in notes? That money belt you think I haven't noticed? Get it ready, the captain won't go without being paid. The natives work for Lady Jane, by the way. They'll get our packs there. We've got to RUN!"
And we ran, or rather walked quickly, steering Horst Lensen, who was fairly unsteady on his feet.
And, as narrative causality dictates, just as we reached the jetty where a tired and dirty old ship was waiting, the first of many Zulus burst from the tree line some distance away. This is not good. I know how fast they can move. And this would be my first combat with them.
"You saved my life twice." Horst said. "Leave me a crossbow and I can slow them down while you get away…"
"You think we're going to leave you? Sincerely meant and I appreciate the gesture, but think like a bloody Assassin, will you, for the first time in your life?" I said. "We've sweated blood to keep you alive, for one thing."
Something was missing. I thought, then added
"jou pielkop bliksem!"
as an afterword. Horst grinned sheepishly. Normal relations resumed.
The natives had thrown our packs into the boat and run for safety. We followed the baggage.
The sallow and seedy-looking captain made no move to cast off and stood with his hand out expectantly. Rivka got into a defensive position with her crossbow. I realized and fumbled at my waist. I pushed a handful of rolled dollars at him. High denomination notes.
"Oh, gevalt!" Rivka screamed, as Captain Walnut made to count the cash. The Zulus were getting nearer. They were not friendly. And that was a war song.
"Better get moving." the Captain decided, as I counted perhaps thirty Zulu warriors with more coming up behind. Satisfied, he stashed the money into an inside pocket.
"Maybe fifteen each." Rivka said, cheerfully. "good odds."
She passed pistol crossbows to Horst Lensen, and said he could have the leftover five or six. And not to waste any shots. Captain Walnut used a boathook, or a gavel, or a rowlock or something, to push off from the side. And then they were near enough to shoot at. My first combat with Zulu soldiers.
Well, you push past the fear when they throw down a challenge and charge you. This wasn't a cross-country race against Sissi N'Kima where we were competing in earnest but both of us would be alive afterwards. This was the real deal. Assegai and knobkerry against crossbow and machete.
A loose volley of crossbow bolts brought down six or seven. Bodies fell on the landing jetty and slowed them for a moment as we reloaded. At least Horst Lensen can shoot straight. Even debilitated by injury.
Then as the boat pulled away, painfully slowly, we fired a last volley and drew swords. Rivka considered a throwing knife for an instant then pushed it into her belt. There was no way to retrieve it afterwards and a weapon would be used once and lost. One, then a second, leapt from the end of the jetty and into the boat. I saw Rivka duck under the spear and then her curved Zlobenian sabre flashed. One down.
Mine leapt for me and we feinted, assegai against machete, for a few parries. He's a foot taller, far stronger, and has a longer reach with his weapon. I'm going to die…. I thought.
Then I remembered Ruth N'Kweze's generous tuition in Zulu fighting tactics. On your back lawn at Spa Lane. How to get inside the shield and the spear and…
I'm sure Ruth will forgive, and perhaps approve, that I remembered her training, and killed my man. The look of surprise on his face as he went down… Horst Lensen shot a third, as he tried to scramble into the boat, encumbered by his weapons. A fourth was pushed off by Captain Walnut, who used an oar or something to swipe him back into the water.
We were pulling out of leaping-into-the-boat range now. A fifth Zulu tried to get in. I stamped on his fingers as he grabbed for purchase on the gunwhales, or strakes, or walls, or whatever. He let go and fell off.
Not many of the Zulus on the shore had projectile weapons. I recall that they disdain crossbows and bows and prefer to fight at close quarters, seeing this as more fitting to the warrior. And their marksmanship is poor. The bolts went hopelessly wide.
I was now more angry than frightened. I decided, if I was the one they wanted, to let them know I'd got away. I took off my hat and let my hair fall. They'd see it from the shore, and know.
"Useke wabuyela!" I called, hoping I'd got it right. I waved my machete in the air. They'd see that. "Ngingovelele! Yena ngubani ufukabornvu izinwele!"
It exhausted about a quarter of my isiZulu vocabulary. But it pays to advertise.
There was an answering shout of "Hai!" from the shore. Meaning, I guessed "We hear you. We have taken note."
Rivka and Captain Walnut were pitching the dead Zulus aboard the boat back into the water. Rivka had taken the shields, weapons and head-dresses as trophies. As I was adding another phrase, one Sissi N'Kima had coached me in until I was word-perfect, without telling me what it meant, the waters around the boat suddenly boiled and what I'd taken to be inert rotting tree-logs floating in the shallows opened their mouths, revealing lots of teeth. One stunned Zulu was frantically swimming for the shore as the crocodiles awoke to a big dinner. I hope he made it. The crocs went for the easier meat, anyway.
"Umkhumbi wami ugcwele ngenyoka zemanzini!"
Captain Walnut nodded in an imperturbable way as he pieced together what I'd said.
"Good war cry. She who is the Red Death has returned. Nice pune or play on words, too. Red hair and red blade. But that one about my thing which floats on a cushion of air is filled with eels?" (2)
I'll have a word with Sissi if I see her again. She assured me that's a good all-purpose phrase in isiZulu. Ah well. And yes, the Red Death, properly speaking, is Johanna Smith-Rhodes. You will forgive me for borrowing your Zulu title to taunt them with? I was Red Death to at least one and maybe up to five of them. They should remember which family they're dealing with here.
And, as Smithville receded and our last glimpse was of Lady Jane, hands on hips, remonstrating furiously with a Zulu officer who was nervously backing away from her, and the river B'Ware began to widen as we approached the inland sea of Lake Kariobu, I contemplated Home, Smith-Rhodesia, on the other shore. We'd made it. Home.
Or so I thought.
I was contemplating a few weeks' easy travel across my own native country to see Horst Lensen safely to the Guild bureau on DuToit Strass. Then detouring with Rivka to our family plaas near Piemburg. To see everyone again. To reassure Agnetha that her daughter, young Johanna, is really doing well at the Guild School and her teachers have good expectations of her. A braii on the lawn behind our huis. To see Mother and Father again. To talk about you, and Ponder, and the girls, and about Danie and Heidi.
And then the first raindrops fell from a suddenly darkening sky just as we entered the Lake.
Sister and aunt
To be continued….
(1) to my tale Rincewind Among The Redskins. Homage to a certain western movie, Little Big Man, in whch Dustin Hoffman changes sides several times during a battle.
(2) There's a really cool web page out there that translates the line from the Monty Python sketch about the misleading phrasebook , "My hovercraft is full of eels!" into a lot of languages. This is the Zulu translation. Apparently. for all I know it might actually read "Would you like to rub my nippes?" or something similar.
A limbo for random out-of-sequence concepts, impacting inspiration particles, and possibly cryptic explanations of references in the text. Somewhere in the text but not necessarily here. They may relate to a chapter of this work which is not this immediate one or represent one existing in potential L-Space which is yet to be written. They may even be random jottings and ideas to inspire other stories. Time and L-Space are not linear. Strange things happen.
Reading the Wikipedia article on the film "The African Queen." Ideas are forming. This cannot be omitted in a Discworld Howondalandian context. If I missed this one, forgiveness would be hard to obtain.
Bloody Word has reset to default American English. Every time I try to reset to British English it reverts back. So there'll be a lot of variant spellings here, ie "marvellous" coming out as "marvelous", "civilize" as "civilise", the "colour/color" thing, and so on, if I don't spot and correct.
isiZulu to English; looking for a good translation of "she who is the Red Death". Note to native speakers – these are machine translations backed by intuition, if you know better I'm not proud.
Ufuka – Death
Izinwele – hair, of hair
-bornvu (suffix) – red in colour (also "orenji", "wolintshi" – orange, russet, auburn)
Ufukabornvu izinwele? (Death which is red of hair)
yena ngubani – she who is the...
ngingovelele – I am the most renowned…
Ngibuyele! – I have returned!
Useke wabuyela! – She has returned!
And, amusingly, on a translation site:
Umkhumbi wami ugcwele ngenyoka zemanzini – my hovercraft is full of eels.
More Python-related observations: John Cleese on original thinking, getting round the dreaded writers' block, and a dig at (I suspect) Michael Palin:
As always, results come from better decisions in difficult times.
I was always intrigued that one of my Monty Python colleagues who seemed to be more talented than I was but did never produce scripts as original as mine. And I watched for some time and then I began to see why. If he was faced with a problem, and fairly soon saw a solution, he was inclined to take it. Even though he knew the solution was not very original.
(Cleese reacted differently than his colleague:)
Whereas if I was in the same situation, although I was sorely tempted to take the easy way out, and finish by 5 o'clock, I just couldn't. I'd sit there with the problem for another hour-and-a-quarter, and by sticking at it would, in the end, almost always come up with something more original.
Hmmm. Looking for a resolution to the Mariella-Horst situation that at least puts a twist into the painfully obvious….