Lunch #16: Picnic with The Blind Date on The Company Gardens Lawns

It’s a funny thing, but despite my former involvement with a supposed-lover-of-the-outdoors – the erstwhile Yummy Politician (since downgraded to the NSYP – and, in case you ask, NS stands for ‘not so’). But, as I was saying until I made my own sentence too convoluted to continue, before today I had never partaken in that popular Cape Town lunch arrangement: The Picnic on The Company Garden Lawns.

In fact, it was The Blind Date who suggested this lunch. He offered to bring food if I would bring a blanket. I felt this was fair and courteously checked that he didn’t have a fear of squirrels. So at 1pm precisely today, I sashayed gaily down the stairs with my blanket to meet The Blind Date, who had driven all the way from Hout Bay with homemade Haloumi and Avo wraps and some grapes.

We proceeded in a slightly awkward Blind Datish way to The Company Gardens, where I found a place close to some shade and spread the blanket in the full sun. “Oh look, a rat,” observed The Blind Date, with admirable sangfroid, as an average-sized foot-long specimen rooted endearingly in a neighbouring flower bed.

This photograph was staged after the lunch. You can tell because there are no wraps, rats, beggars, grapes or seagulls in it.

About three minutes after we were seated and had set out the food, I decided to move the blanket into the shade. We sat down again, possibly not as neatly as before. The Blind Date produced the wraps and I unwrapped mine at the wrong end, which he pointed out politely. I sat waiting for him to start his in case there were further specialized wrap-eating procedures I needed to observe.

I think it was at this point that the first beggar arrived. He didn’t ask for money (nobody ever does these days – I think it’s passé in Cape Town mendicant circles), so we gave him the grapes. They were nice grapes, but it was also nice to share our lunch with someone, even if we hadn’t actually invited him.

It turned out that although The Blind Date has no fear of squirrels, he does abhor pigeons and seagulls, which are even more plentiful in The Company Gardens. Shortly after The Blind Date had thrown his wrap wrapper at a seagull (don’t worry, he picked it up again afterwards – the wrapper, not the seagull), the second beggar arrived. But we had given the grapes away and eaten the wraps. We explained this. The beggar nodded understandingly and left.

Minutes later, we had another visitor. Keenly, we perceived he wasn’t a beggar (possibly because of his barcoded truncheon, black-and-white uniform and fluorescent vest with the official city acronym emblazoned on it).

Apparently The Blind Date had attempted to relax a little too much in my company. He was leaning on his elbows on the blanket, legs stretched out in the sun. Truncheon Man brandished his weapon in what he probably hoped was an official manner, but only succeeded in looking uncomfortable.

“You can’t lie down here,” he said, automaton-like.

“Sorry, what?” we both said.

“You,” he said to The Blind Date. “You can’t lie down like that. You must sit up. It’s the rules.”

It’s true. After several gobsmacked moments, we established that no person may lie down on the Company Gardens Lawns, or even sit in a vaguely reclining manner at any time of day. We could not establish why this might be. Truncheon Man just said it was so.

So, dear readers, once more I find myself in a position to give you invaluable culinary advice: If you lie down on a picnic in The Company Gardens today, you’re in for a bit of a surprise.

Observant readers of this blog will notice that, once again, I’ve skipped a lunch. I really, really promise to write up Lunch #15 “Tibs with The Woman With No Face, The Great Dane and The Glamother” at least before, well… June.