Cape Town. I have just landed. Isabel Frances Ritchie, an intern at Modjaji Books picks me from the airport, we drop my luggage at what is going to be my home for the next couple of weeks and she takes me on a drive to Muizenberg. That’s how you welcome someone from a landlocked country, of course; show her the ocean!
I have been to Cape Town before and I have such wonderful, special memories of the place. I miss my husband terribly.
Over the next weeks, Colleen Higgs teaches me all she can in that short amount of time. Because I work and stay with her, I get to see the unedited life of a publisher. It’s foolish that I end up choosing this life, because it is really not as glamorized as it was in my head. But that could be why I eventually choose this life; to be able to do so much with so little.
Philippa and I have been talking on email and we have agreed on a date to meet. She comes by to pick her books and I end up going to her house with her. Philippa has a kind voice. She picks her words carefully. She makes you want to pause and just relax, even if it’s just for a second. (Incidentally Philippa, I met your cousin Ps Jack Barlow years ago and he had the same calming effect on me. I only just figured out your connection when I read the book. *Face palm*).
We talk about ourselves, about home, about history, about life. She tells me about her father, Henry Barlow and as any Ugandan Literature student would be, I am wide-eyed and trying desperately to stay calm.
Philippa casually mentions that she has written a memoir, given it to a few readers but she hasn’t yet decided what to do with it. She says it in that way writers talk about work they have laboured over but are not yet ready to share with the world.
Me: Give it to Colleen and see. Maybe she will be interested.
I don’t know if the manuscript has a name yet, but friend, that is Flame and Song we are talking about!