I have been trying but I just can't work out exactly what it is about South Africa that makes me veer from one extreme emotion to another, sometimes on the same day; sometimes, even within a matter of minutes. One moment insanely, deliriously happy, pleased as punch for no obvious reason: no one has said anything, nothing extraordinary has happened. Next minute, doubtful, fearful, despondent, dire misgivings. Rage. Again, for no good reason, really. Up. Down, Upbeat. Negative.
Pictures on a wall. Ten years goes fast, does it not? "VOTE HERE". Four women queuing in front of a big sign. Their heads obscure the Afrikaans translation. Now was that background colour originally blue or has 10 years' sunlight done that?
Where did I nick that tiny South African paper flag? From some "do", no doubt. A cocktail stick with a flag stuck on it. Can't remember where. I do remember sticking it in Mandela's right shoulder. It's never fallen out. Still looks good, too. Great idea to cut out all the background so that there's just his figure with his right arm extended, posing, poised for the classic leader-voting shot. The sun has not faded that picture.
Ooh, look at these two! I must have been in a naughty mood to put them together. A lovely, nice, large picture of Winnie, concentrated, listening on headphones, left hand cupped to her ear. But below Winnie's beautiful face, underneath that ear, I've placed a picture of Mr and Mrs Mandela. It always made me chuckle over the years. The angle makes it look as if Winnie is listening in on her ex-husband's conversation with his wife. I've got a soft spot for Mrs Machel-Mandela. She's incredible, too. And she really ought to write a book for young women: "How To Meet A Revolutionary Leader And Marry Him."
Then there's the photo. An aerial shot of one of those queues. Queue? What a totally inadequate description for the snaking lines of thousands of black people. Standing, sometimes in twos, threes, small groups, but mostly, gloriously, patiently, in ones. Single line-ups. No military commander could have organised it better if one had been put in charge. But the people did it for themselves. That picture is on the wall above the fridge. I see it every day.
Why is South Africa special? Is South Africa special? What is so special about South Africa? Isn't it, now, just another country? Another country in Africa trying to tackle enormous social problems and economic adjustments?