Jane Eyre: Fassbender fills Rochester’s riding boots with ease and Wasikowska is anything but plain as the heroine

Jane Eyre Michael Fassbender Mia Wasikowska

Michael Fassbender plays Edward Rochester and Mia Wasikowska stars as Jane Eyre in director Cary Fukunaga's interpretation of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel. Photo from http://www.allmoviephoto.com

Oh, Michael Fassbender! Where have you been all my life?! It’s astounding that mainstream Hollywood has taken so long to notice the half-German, half-Irish actor who commands the screen with his magnetic physicality and deeply affecting portrayals of everyone from hunger striker Bobby Sands (Hunger) to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (A Dangerous Method).

Fassbender is currently making waves at the Venice Film Festival, where his interpretation of Jung in director David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method has drawn widespread praise from critics and the foreign press. There’s even been talk of an Oscar nomination – for him and possibly his co-star Keira Knightley, whose troubled Sabina Spielrein is the woman who comes between Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud, played by Viggo Mortensen (complete with a prosthetic nose and brown contact lenses) in Cronenberg’s intense new drama.

Fassbender’s other Venice showpiece is Shame, helmed by British filmmaker Steve McQueen. This dark analysis of one man’s sexual addiction in modern-day New York has divided audiences, not least of all because of the graphic sexual encounters between the protagonist and a host of partners. Fassbender has played down his full-frontal scenes, but they are almost certain to cause headaches when the film is rated for cinema audiences. You’ll have to be 17 to see this one, I’m sure! In Shame, Fassbender bared his body, but in the latest retelling of Jane Eyre, he is baring his soul as the tortured, Byronic hero Edward Fairfax Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska as the titular character – a governess who falls in love with her employer.

Charlotte Bronte’s novel has inspired several movies, but the only one I’d seen prior to this new version from Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) was the 1996 offering from Franco Zeffirelli with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt in the lead roles. It was beautifully filmed, but a little stiff for my liking, and Hurt’s Rochester never really got under my skin. Fassbender, on the other hand, has burrowed his way in, and is capable of conveying the lord of the manor’s anger, torment, intelligence, wit, humour and simmering sexuality with just one look. Not many actors can do that. Viggo Mortensen can (and does, often, with those tortured baby blues). Daniel Day-Lewis can, too. There’s something to be said for these method men – they know how to communicate with everything at their disposal, especially their own bodies.

Fans of the novel will notice immediately that Fukunaga has taken a different direction for his Jane Eyre. First and foremost, the film opens with Jane fleeing Thornfield Hall under mysterious circumstances. She runs across the moors, through the driving rain, and is found by the missionary St John Rivers (a grown-up Jamie Bell, who, despite the facial hair, still looks like Billy Elliot) and his sisters. She recovers there, and we learn of her difficult childhood with a terrible aunt and the stringent educators at the boarding school she was sent to. The flashbacks paint a clear picture of Jane as a pious, forthright young woman who emerges stronger after her many ordeals early in life. But it is when she accepts the job of governess to the ward of Edward Rochester that her journey of self-discovery – and love – really begins.

Mia Wasikowska is beautiful, in an otherworldly way, and delivers a singular performance as Jane. She’s a trained dancer and carries herself with graceful authority throughout the film, infusing her character with the brains and benevolence that have endeared her to readers since Bronte’s novel was first published. She also has great chemistry with Fassbender, and the bond that grows between Jane and Rochester is conveyed beautifully – thanks, in part, to cinematographer Adriano Goldman’s perfect framing and composer Dario Marianelli’s haunting score (I bought the soundtrack just for his seamless union of the piano and the violin in the film’s main love them).

The relationship between Rochester and Jane has always been – for me, at least – one of the most enduring love stories in classic literature. Rochester is a troubled soul with a shady past and when readers are introduced to him for the first time, there’s not much to like. He’s abrupt, surly, depressed and thoroughly at odds with the world – a bad boy for 1847, if you like. Fassbender sums it up in the film when he tells Jane: “When I was your age, fate dealt me a blow. And since happiness is denied me, I have a right to get pleasure in its stead. And I will get it – cost what it may.”

As Jane spends more time with him, and unknowingly chips away at his cool exterior with her openness and honesty, Rochester begins to see past her “plain” looks and comes to realise that she is indeed his intellectual equal as well as his inspiration, in a way, to change. But they are both trapped – he by a dark secret which he cannot reveal to her, and she by her very station in life. And despite their mutual affection, they have to make a choice in the name of love and honour. Their choices, and the circumstances surrounding them, make for some very interesting viewing. And Fassbender and Wasikowska are utterly compelling to watch.

Jane Eyre Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender gives Rochester a brooding sensuality. Photo from http://www.allmoviephoto.com

Jane Eyre Mia Wasikowska

Mia Wasikowska embodies the strength and grace that have endeared Jane Eyre to readers through the years. Photo from http://www.allmoviephoto.com

Jane Eyre Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench plays a supporting role as Rochester's housekeeper. Photo from http://www.allmoviephoto.com

Can I have another piece of chocolate cake?

Today is a very sad day indeed. My love affair with coffee is over. Well, more accurately, it’s been forcefully ended for health reasons. My doctor won’t even let me drink decaf… Not that I can stomach the stuff, but at least it would have been something. And so alas, there will be no more cappuccinos, no more lattes, no more magical macchiatos. I must give up my caffeine paramour in favour of tea and other milky substitutes. I cannot espresso my sadness. It’s almost too mocha to handle. Okay, you get the picture.

I had my last cup yesterday *sob* It was nothing fancy – just good old Nescafe made the way I like to make it, in the microwave. Before you gasp, listen to the preparation and you’ll understand why… I use my favourite mug (it’s a giant one that my daughter gave me for Easter two years ago and it has flowers and butterflies and holds twice the volume of a normal-sized cup – what’s not to love?) and fill it with a 50/50 mix of cold water and full-cream milk (we don’t play in this house – it’s 100% cow juice, or nothing). Then I microwave it on high for one minute and 40 seconds. No more, no less. I have perfected this exposure time, so trust me. I add a teaspoon of Nescafe (it tends to float for a while on the thin skin of milk at the top, but don’t worry) and sugar to taste (the weight of the sugar pushes down the coffee granules – that’s why you don’t worry) and stir vigorously until everything is dissolved. What you should notice is a light foam forming at the top. Yep, that’s what you get from hot milky deliciousness and frenzied stirring. Then carry your little cup of heaven to a comfy spot and enjoy (by the time you’ve walked to the chair or couch or bed, your coffee will be just the right temperature to drink). Try it, and please let me know what you think!

As I sipped mine yesterday (sipped, not gulped as per usual, because it was an experience to be savoured), I started to think about how many of my memories are linked to coffee – and the romance, politics and friendship of it. I mean, nowadays there’s a Mugg & Bean everywhere you look and Starbucks is an iconic pit stop all over the world, but it wasn’t always like that. I remember the Koffeehuis and Ouma rusks of my youth… And how my brother and I would make (very sloppy) cups of liquid warmth for my parents on cold, wintery mornings… And how my mom would buy a small container of Nescafe for special occasions, and for guests, because it was expensive once upon a time and it wasn’t something for everyday consumption… And how, in high school, being invited over for coffee was a big deal… And how, at university, being asked out for coffee usually meant something else entirely.

I’ve always loved coffee. It has inspired poetry and I’ve also spent many afternoons watching TV with a cup in my hand, pondering the fate of Dawson and Joey (from Dawson’s Creek, back in the day, y’all) or wringing my hands over Meredith and Derek’s constant drama (Grey’s Anatomy), or drooling over the Byronic men of Pride And Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I don’t think it’ll be the same with Rooibos, Ceylon or Earl Grey, but I’ll try. After all, tea has been around for a very long time and its ability to calm, soothe and enlighten is well-known. Whether it will inspire the same passion in me remains to be seen.

Here are some of my favourite coffee quotes:

A morning without coffee is like sleep (author unknown)

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation (author unknown)

I don’t have a problem with caffeine – I have a problem without caffeine! (author unknown)

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons (TS Eliot)

I don’t understand decaf, it’s like sex without the sex (AC Van Cherub)

Man does not live by coffee alone – have a Danish! (author unknown)

I particularly like that last one… You know, about the Danish? If I’m going to be stuck drinking tea from now on, I will make a habit of accompanying the drink with a biscuit or a piece of chocolate cake – or something! And then maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe I’ll get the same feeling of satisfaction from tea as I did from coffee. And then it’ll be like déjà brew. Erm, I mean déjà vu.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino2

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Chocolate Cake by Crowded House. Find the song on amazon.com

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ian Somerhalder urges Congress to lead the way on global conservation

Ian Somerhalder took a break from filming The Vampire Diaries in Georgia to testify before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, regarding H.R. 50 on Thursday, 28 July 2011. Here’s the lowdown on Ian’s speech.

Ian and panelists Teiko Sato (Assistant Director for International Affairs, US Fish and Wildlife Service), John Robinson (Executive Vice-President, Conservation Science), Tara S. Stoinski (Zoo Atlanta and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International), Carlos Diez (National Coordinator, Marine Turtle Project Programme, Puerto Rico Natural Resources Agency), and Joseph Hosmer (President, Safari Club International Foundation) were each given five minutes to address those assembled.

In his opening statement, Chairman John Fleming explained that the subcommittee would receive testimony on three bills (H.R. 50, H.R. 1760 and H.R. 1761) which would extend existing conservation programmes across the globe. He added that Congress has appropriated $90-million which has attracted over $185-million in private matching funds. “Together, these monies have been used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to finance some 1805 conservation grants to various range states around the world,” he stated.

He went on to say that he was looking for compelling reasons for the continued support of these programmes when America faces a pressing national financial crisis. “In my invitation letter, I have asked each of our invited witnesses to respond to a fundamental question as to why Congress should continue to appropriate taxpayer money to these funds at a time when our national debt now exceeds $14-trillion.” A valid question, indeed. But I think Ian and the other guests went a long way towards explaining why it is imperative that the United States takes a leading role in efforts to preserve the planet’s creatures, great and small, for the generations of tomorrow.

Teiko Sato said the legislation “produced focused and efficient support for the conservation of species that are ecologically important and aesthetically invaluable to Americans and people around the world”, and urged the subcommittee to continue to show “strong leadership”.

John Robinson spoke of the “American tradition” of conservation. “The United States was the first country to make conservation of nature a national goal and as a result, current generations benefit from wild landscapes and charismatic species such as elk, pronghorn and bison. On an international scale, our prominent conservation tradition provides inspiration and guidance to other nations, which have followed American values and strategies by establishing national parks or refuges, designating wildnerness areas, monitoring threatened species, and limiting or preventing habitat degradation and destruction.”

Ian was listed as the “celebrity spokesman” for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund Coalition, but said that he also spoke in his capacity as founder of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and the Global Alliance for Conservation. He thanked Chairman Fleming for the opportunity to address the subcommittee, and said the invitation to do so was particularly meaningful coming from Fleming himself, who also hails from Ian’s home state of Louisiana.

Ian gave a summary of ISF and its main goals, but drew the subcommittee’s attention to the fact that species conservation is something that “resonates” with the young people he has encountered through ISF and his other green efforts. “People are passionately attached to the creatures that have captured their attention and their imaginations since childhood, and they are invested in doing whatever is necessary to protect them. Species conservation is beyond a doubt an issue that truly matters to the American public. We’re lucky this is the case, because many of our most beloved wildlife species are clinging to survival by a thread,” he said, before listing some of the species that are hovering on the brink.

“Scientists warn us that we are on the cusp of the largest mass extinction spasm since the dinosaurs. The American people that I interact with through my foundation do not want to allow this to happen; they do not want to let these species go without a fight; and they see the way in which nature provides for people around the world.”

In conclusion, he urged the subcommittee “to mark-up H.R. 50 and move to reauthorise this important piece of legislation”, adding: “This is an issue that Americans care deeply about, and it is critical that the United States, as a world leader and global power, continue to lead the planet’s efforts in global species conservation. Due to instability or indifference in the areas that many of these species call home, for most of them we are the first, last, and only hope for survival.”

“As the ones with the power to make a difference, the responsibility rests with us. It is imperative that we live up to it.”

I hope Ian’s message gets through. You can help! Ian says the Wildlife Conservation Society needs assistance from the public to push Congress to reauthorise funding for wildlife conservation programmes overseas. Concerned Americans can get involved by sending a letter to their elected representatives to make sure that they understand the gravity of the situation.

Watch the YouTube video of Ian’s testimony for more information.

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Did you write the book of love?

I’d forgotten how much I like to linger over John Cusack on screen, but it all came rushing back this week when I took advantage of the rent-one-get-one-free special at our neighbourhood DVD store and watched Serendipity and Must Love Dogs in a single afternoon.

Serendipity is one of my all-time favourite movies and I’ve seen it more than 20 times, but it never gets old. It’s such a charming little movie, with a perfect cast and a standout performance from Cusack as the quirky hero Jonathan Trager opposite Kate Beckinsale in one of her first big roles. The story follows Jonathan and Sara Thomas (Beckinsale) from their chance encounter over the Christmas holidays to their lives five years on from the moment that changed everything. In the present, they’re both engaged to other people and have settled into their daily routines, but are reminded, every now and then (and in curious ways) of the evening they spent together and how they connected in a way neither one had believed possible. The spark is clearly missing with their current partners, despite the fact that they’re both good people, and it’s the knowledge that something’s missing which spurs their shared quest to find each other again.

In Must Love Dogs, Cusack stars opposite Diane Lane. He plays Jake, a relationship-wary loner still trying to get over his last big break-up. He meets Sarah (Lane), a kindergarten teacher whose long-term boyfriend traded her in for a newer model when she brought up the subject of marriage and babies. Although their first date in a dog park doesn’t go according to plan, they decide to give it another shot. It’s an up-and-down romance peppered with family drama and personal growth, and it’s thoroughly entertaining.

In case you didn’t know by now, I’m a hopeless romantic. And that’s probably why I find the themes covered in these two films so provocative. Serendipity is a cinematic exploration of the question that most lovers have asked (or will ask) themselves at some point in their lives: “What if?” Two little words that can make or break you. Two little words that can inspire a journey or cripple you with regret. Two little words that are bound to get you thinking about fate, and destiny, and whether or not there’s a perfect partner for every soul on Earth.

Must Love Dogs deals with the debris of lost love, the utter chaos of the journey to find it again, and the latent fear of getting hurt once you do. It also poses some interesting questions about relationships. How do we get over a broken heart? How do we learn to love again when our faith has been shattered? How do we learn to trust again when we’ve been betrayed? Should we open ourselves up to joy and passion and romance while knowing there’s a risk of sadness and disappointment? How do we reconcile what we know about love with everything that we want it to be?

In the final minutes of Serendipity, Jonathan is reading the speech his best man wrote for his wedding (except the speech is an obituary and the wedding never happened – but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out why, on both accounts). There are two parts that I really like:

“The courageous Trager secretly clung to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. Uh-uh. But rather, it’s a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan.”

And…

“Ultimately, Jonathan concluded that if we are to live life in harmony with the universe, we must all possess a powerful faith in what the ancients used to call ‘fatum’ – what we currently refer to as ‘destiny’.”

I’ve never really thought about myself and fate – mostly because, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, “I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life”. I don’t like the idea that my decisions aren’t really mine at all, that they’re just pit stops along a path which has already been carved out by destiny (or whatever you want to call it). Because, if that’s the case, why do we have free will at all? Why do we have choice? But let me stop that train of thought before I get sidetracked. What I wanted to share was my husband’s interjection about how our relationship began (and here’s where it gets tricky, in light of my beliefs).

The first time we met, we were both in serious relationships – me with my high-school sweetheart and him with an Irish girl he’d met while overseas. I was in the middle of a gap year in KwaZulu-Natal and my boyfriend was studying at UCT in Cape Town. So we had plenty to talk about when we were introduced – the challenges of long-distance love being one of the main topics. He had become friends with my boyfriend at university (they were in the same residence) and the two of them, along with Third Gent, had morphed into a little trio that did everything together (including 2am squash tournaments and nightly PC gaming sessions – apparently that’s what happens when you put together three computer boffins in a new city).

Many moons later, I was single and studying in Durban. I’d lost touch with hubby-to-be and Third Gent after the break-up and was spending all my time on campus. One sunny day I decided to go to Musgrave Centre (swish shopping mall) for a bout of window shopping and a strawberry milkshake. I entered through the same entrance, lingered in front of the same displays and was almost stopped by a velvet hat at a small boutique. I contemplated going in and buying it, but then my deep desire for a dairy treat kicked in. So I got into the lift and headed up to the mezzanine level. And who do you think was standing there when the doors opened? Yes, you guessed it! My Cuddly Bear! And the rest, as they say, is history.

Cuddly Bear is quick to point out that we would have missed each other if I’d stopped to buy that hat. Or if I’d been delayed by a red robot. Or if I’d stayed home. So many things could have kept us apart on that day, and yet, somehow, we ended up together. So was it fate? Was it destiny? Lady Luck? Venus herself? Who knows! I don’t care how he wound up with me. I just care that he is with me.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of American Pie by Don McLean. Find the song on amazon.com

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’ve been caught in between all you wish for and all you need

I read an interesting article the other day about how, when it comes to children, mothers are supposedly nurturers and carers while fathers are playmates. This is true for a number of my friends, particularly the households where both parents work long hours. The exhausted couples return home in the evenings and, while the moms set about making supper (and washing the dishes, and doing the laundry, and tidying the house), the dads play with and entertain the kids (for a while, at least). I know this sounds a bit like a 1950s stereotype, but I’ve seen it firsthand at the homes of my nearest and dearest – and I’m sure they can’t be the only ones. There’s a similar pattern emerging at chez Du Jour, where my hubby and my daughter are spending quality time together in the evenings while yours truly is cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Before you raise your eyebrows, this is not a rant about the division of domestic responsibilities – the chores are split 50/50 here and I know I’m lucky to have a husband who is proactive. There are plenty of women out there who do everything on their own, and others who have become cyberwidows after losing their partners to PlayStation, Wii, the Internet or a gadget-laden smartphone. But I have to acknowledge that the winter routine in our house has led to an uneven split in face time with the munchkin. Dad is getting more of it – and this mama bear is starting to feel left out.

Part of the problem is that my man doesn’t cook. It’s not that he doesn’t want to, he just can’t. He’s tried – and failed (spectacularly, but the red chicken and yellow mash is a topic best left for another day), and so I have accepted chef duty for the sake of our tastebuds. I like to cook, so it’s not a burden, but in recent weeks the preparation of the stews and curries and bolognaises that go down so well in the colder months is eating into my evening routine.

And so I find myself contemplating a way out of this culinary conundrum. We already have one night a week when I don’t cook (it’s usually a Thursday or a Friday and the stand-in chef is Mrs Woolworths or Mr Delivery). More processed food is not an option. My daughter would no doubt welcome any extra opportunities for pizza and hamburgers, but no matter how much she wishes for junk food, as parents we have an obligation to make sure she’s getting a balanced diet. Because it’s what she needs. (Although, how cool would it be if all vegetables tasted like chocolate? Then moms and dads would have no problem getting little princes and princesses to the dinner table!)

My first order of business is to go shopping for some new recipe books. The kind with menu choices that need six ingredients and around 40 minutes of labour. I’ve heard Jamie’s Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals is a good place to start (but I’m not convinced that Jamie’s 30 minutes and my 30 minutes amount to the same thing). I’ve also been scouring some of my favourite blogs for quick, tasty cuisine (looking at you, Cindy Taylor, the artist in the kitchen) and will put these ideas to the test next week. Triumphs will be noted here, failures will be forgotten. And hopefully, the munchkin will be amazed by the sight of me, sans apron, playing in the Lego pile.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of In The Sun by Chris Martin (of Coldplay) and Michael Stipe (of REM). Find the song at the Apple iTunes store

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I am the screen, I work at night

Anyone who’s ever worked a night shift will tell you that it’s no picnic. It’s difficult to endure and it’s not for everybody. The physical strain alone is enough to separate the men from the boys, so to speak, but my biggest challenge over the past two years has been the daytime sleeping.

To say that my circadian rhythm has been thrown for a loop would be putting it mildly. To tell the truth – the plain truth, the crude truth – it’s fucked. I have become accustomed to a world of light. The sun shines when I’m trying to sleep and there’s not a curtain on this Earth that can shield me. In the twilight hours, I cook in a kitchen with downlights that wink like flickering candles, resilient against an errant breeze. And at night, when my husband and daughter are dreaming, my eyes are open, slaves to the fluorescence of the desk lamp, and glued to the computer screen.

I am something of a vampire. The bedroom is my chamber for rest during the day. The study is my playground for nightly pursuits. Though it’s more work than play. Actually, it’s all work and no play. The news, after all, is a serious business.

But there are pros and cons to this existence, as with any. The interrupted sleep cycle is the biggest drawback. I’ve also noticed a changed appetite and an increased desire for hot chocolate in the middle of the night. The pros? Seven hours of peaceful, productive work time. A quiet “office space” where I control the temperature of the room. A fully stocked kitchen at my disposal down the passage. And my personal favourite – the fact that I can “go to work” in my pyjamas because there’s nobody to see me. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make life’s challenges more bearable.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Daysleeper by REM. Find the song on amazon.com

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

He sees what I see and he knows what I know

My conscience remains intact after a brief flirtation with temptation at our local Woolworths. I made a dinner run there this afternoon (I admit I am guilty of Thursday night laziness in the cooking department) and was presented with a situation that had the two little men on my shoulders fervently at war.

My basket was full, the queue was long and by the time I reached the cashier, my patience was wearing thin (seriously, only two people on duty for the rush-hour crowd?). I presented my goodies (soups for supper, milk, bread, juice and some fruit) and followed the cashier’s progress with one eye on the running total and the other on the munchkin, who was trying her damndest to convince me that she needed at least two packs of “choclit munnies” (chocolate coins) for her very sanity. I handed over my R200, took my change, said goodbye and walked away.

Halfway to the parking lot I realised I had a R50 note in my hand – the change from the cashier. My mental calculations had put the grocery total at around R180, so I should’ve had R20 or so clasped in my frozen fingers. But no, a beautifully pink and crisp R50 was winking at me. I stopped the munchkin. I put down the parcels. I hauled out the till slip to investigate. Yes indeed, there it was: a single charge for two packets of soup. A difference of almost R30. The human error dawned on me. “Now what?” The question ran across the front of my brain like the ticker tape on the evening news. Should I go home and forget about it, relishing my “score” at Woolworths’ expense? Should I write it off, because a chain store like Woolies is bound to chalk up such minor losses every month, right? Or should I go back and remedy the situation, pay in the difference and go home feeling proud of myself?

And that’s when the little men opened their mouths:

“Just go home. It’s only R30. It’s nothing to them. It’s cold and your daughter is hungry.”

“No, it’s wrong. It’s a small amount but it’s the same as stealing. Go back. Go back now!”

I considered these options for a minute. Yes, a full minute. And then I picked up the munchkin and walked back to the store. I found the moustached manager and fixed the problem – paying in what I owed with the same R50 I had been given moments earlier. “Thank you so much, madam! Honesty is a rare thing these days,” was the gentleman’s reply. Rare indeed – ain’t that the truth. So in the end I made the right choice. I know some people wouldn’t have, but I did. Why? Because my mother raised me right. And because I am trying to raise my child with the same virtues. And because one wrong choice, however small, can put you on a slippery slope to a moral wasteland. And it’s a moral wasteland we should be trying to avoid at all costs.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Trouble Is A Friend by Lenka. Find the song on amazon.com

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.