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Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Has nothing changed at the NG Kerk?

IMG_0064Cows, sheep and a peacock. Gooseberries growing along the side of the dirt roads. Quinces. Apricots. Spinach. Pumpkin. Grapes. Birds’ nests but everywhere. Tractors. Abandoned cars. Empty plots for sale. Rival estate agents. Looming, imperious, and ‘don’t fuck with me,’ the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk takes centre stage on the main road. Frescoed ceilings, stained glass windows, solid wooden pews and the cleaning lady dusting invisible specks of dirt from the window sill as I, a stranger, rest in an empty pew. I got the date wrong, she tells me. The annual church bazaar is October, and then, she changes it to April. Maybe I am not good enough to attend. She squints as I wait. Outside on the lawn I line up at a trestle table for the Friday Morning Market. Misshapen (but delicious) chicken pies. Cupcakes buried in pale green frosting. I had forgotten how pushy, how intractable, these small town matrons can be. Grab. Grab. Grab. Wait, I live here now. I was here first. I have been roaming the church grounds since 8am. But I am not served. Am I invisible? A nobody? Has nothing changed in the Dutch Reformed Church? I will bide my time and be seen. Not later, not soon, but today.

Photo Credit: Anne Townsend, Barrydale


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