In 1969 NASA landed a man on the moon. In 2009 Desmond Clunie landed “Skoonma” on the Bokkomlaan..
A whimsical look at the doll on Bokkomlaan
Skoonma has a name – it’s ‘Dixie’. ‘D’ is for ditched, ‘i’ because of the yellow eyes she had earlier, ‘x’ because she’s an ex-skoonma (ex mother-in-law) but the ‘e’ is the letter that describes her best: elegant, erudite and, yes, everything excellent, wrapped up in one person.
When Dixie changed hands from Dudley to Des in a pub she transcended age-related biologic changes and realised her dream of mannequin heaven: a place in the sun on a Velddrif stoep. Like Grizabella in Cats, Dixie had attained her Jellicle moment right here in a pub in Velddrif.
Des and Marina Clunie are over the moon about their mannequin. Des owns Ek en Djy Visserye, a tourist shop, and Marina is a west coast artist who owns the art studio, River Studio, next door.
Dixie was transported to her new home on a Honda Goldwing. She incurred a small fine. “Listen Lady, you got to wear a helmet even if you don’t have a head.”
Out of Des’s pocket came the payment for the spot fine and out from under his jacket her paper macM head.
Just a few days on the west coast and Dixie was already feeling bouyed. One could see it clearly in her eyes. The yellow bouy around which her paper head was wrapped , shone through. To avoid curiosity-seekers peering at her yellow eyes Des bought her a pair of sun glasses. Thus her popularity grew. It was comparable to when Margaret Thatcher had her teeth done; she became even more revered. In high season tourists jostle to have their photo taken with Dixie.
She has since received a new head from Susan Kemp – west coast artist , teacher and journalist – and the sun glasses have been folded away and kept close to her heart. The locals say they are magic.
A question often posed is, “How did she come to be so knowledgeable and a good listener? After talking to her my life gets direction.” Consequently some refer to her as Skoonma Phil.
Few people know that when she lost her hand (while saving a drowning child from piranhas), she lost her position too in the window at Mimi’s Fashions. The manageress , Fiona, who was doing her B.A.(Psych)Soc. through Unisa at the time took her home. While Fiona was at work Dixie whiled away the hours paging through textbooks. At lunchtime she’d watch Dr Phil repeats on SABC 2.
Tourists leave her company reluctantly and can be seen coyly wiping away a tear as they depart for the jetty where their boat is waiting . Some drop a rose in Dixie’s lap. The locals offer her ciggies.
But life on The Bokkomlaan hasn’t been all roses for Dixie. In the past she’d get a bucket of cold water thrown over her. Des maintains, “It was to make her more comfortable on hot days Your Honour.” POWA contends it was to entertain tourists and was thus degrading. He got off lightly and no longer showers her with cold water.
When you visit the west coast you will find Dixie, the Darling of Velddrif , exhibiting the many attributes spoken about here and if you can’t see them, just slip on the sunglasses that dangle from her bikini top, and you will. (It’s like kissing Ireland’s blarney stone, just easier to do.)
And the traffic officer? He no longer traverses The Bokkomlaan. He is to be found in a distant land currently grappling with dialects of the Eskimo-Aleut language, having been deported to Qaanaaq in northwestern Greenland .
Dixie has enhanced the lives of many who’ve landed on the shores of the Berg River in Velddrif. She is happy here in her bokkom heaven. So is Marina who has someone to pass her last season’s bikinis on to and, says Des – a man who likes to have the last word – “I admire a woman who looks nice in a bikini and doesn’t chirp.”