This was a standing joke between us Geddes clan.... Mama opened her own thriving hair salon called Knightsbrige soon after they arrived in Rhodesia in the 1950s. The joke as I understood it was due to a very posh lady who - on entering the shop - loundly asked Mama if she did hair hair. What the lady actually meant to ask was d"o you do hair here"...but her accent was so posh that it took Mama a moment to understand the question. As the word “hairdresser” was on the shop window in large writing it seemed pretty obvious that yes, she did actually do hair hair!
Later on when Mama retired and closed her salon, she still continued to do manicures at a popular hair salon called Deep Purple. I assume named after the gorgeous purple Jacaranda trees lining the street.
She was always booked weeks in advance. I would sit quietly in the corner of the shop and watch as Mama went about the manicure whilst the hairdresser rolled, teased and sprayed. The client never seemed to stop talking! How Mama, the hairdresser and the client kept track of what was being said – I only understood when I too sat in a chair as an adult - and kept up conversation with beautician and hairdresser...
Mama had a specially designed tray which housed her little gems of nail varnish bottles, acetone, cotton wool, nail files, clippers and home-made moisturising lotion which Mama made from aqueous cream and her own rose water. I loved reading the names on the bottles; “demure apricot”, “luscious pink”, “racy hot red”, “sun kissed rose” ...Strange how the name of a nail polish can evoke an emotion. I was often lucky enough to score a manicure but was only ever allowed “blushing pink” and not “vixen red” which seemed to popular amongst the Salisbury ladies.
It was during one of these manicure sessions, that Mama met a lady called Maureen. She was the wife of a tobacco farmer based in Centenary - about 75 kilometres from the Zambian border. Maureen and Mama became very good friends and Maurenn would become a close family friend in years to come. I remember Maureen as a petite, very sun tanned lady, always perfectly dressed and with bright vixen red nails.
On the days I would accompany Mama to the salon, she would pack us a light lunch. It’s a sandwich which although very plain and simple, conjures up a wealth of emotions in me.
Mama’s famous cheese ‘n chutney sandwiches: Mix two sorts of grated cheese (Cheddar and Gouda work nicely) with some spicy chutney. Spread generously on fresh bread which you have buttered. YUM...
Mama’s home-made “quick hot” chutney
What you need:
- 600 grams dried apricots
- 50 grams green chillies
- 125 grams apricot jam
- 750 mls white vinegar
- 50 grams chili powder
- 5 mls turmeric
- 200 mls sunflower oil
- 8 dates
- 8 cloves garlic
- 60 grams sugar
- 1 onion
- 3 t-spoons salt
How to make:
- Soak the dried apricots in a little hot water for 30 minutes.
- Blitz the apricots, onion, chillies, garlic and dates in a blender.
- Heat the oil and add turmeric and chili powder, give a good stir and add in all other ingredients. Allow to simmer for 1 hour – cool and bottle.
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