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Tiah Beautement

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

My family has never been prouder

Friday, 22 November:

I’m standing in the middle of the skating rink in smelly rollerblades when my phone in my back pocket buzzes with a message. Numerous children are careening around me, narrowly missing the table full of green balloons, green plates, green cups, green serviettes, green juice, green cupcakes and yellow cheese pizza. This is not the time to be working, I know. But SSDA has two anthologies nearing deadlines, so out comes the phone.

It isn’t Rachel.

A Friend gives me a questioning look. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Apparently I’m going to be saying a bad word in the newspaper.’

‘Which bad word?’

I explain.

A Friend laughs and says something to the tune of, ‘Well hell, given its you you’re just lucky they didn’t print f…’

Another Friend’s jaw drops as I hastily glance around. Some of the kids at my son’s early birthday party come from rather wholesome homes. Thankfully, all children present seem oblivious.

‘Tiah wouldn’t say that,’ Another Friend says.

A Friend nods, laughing so hard her abs have curled. She catches her breath. ‘Yes, she would!’

Saturday, 23 November

‘Um,’ I say to Husband, ‘I might be swearing in a newspaper.’



‘Is that even allowed?’

I didn’t do it.

‘Well how did it happen then?’

As I explain, Thing 1 and Thing 2 enter the room. Thing 1 looks at us confused. ‘Wait? What did you say?’

‘Shi…!’ says Thing 2.

‘You’re not allowed to say that word until you’re 18!’ Thing 1 says.

‘I didn’t say shi… You asked what she said!’

Sunday 24 November

‘Um,’ I say to Husband, ‘Should I try to find a copy of the paper?’

‘If you really think you’re going to be in it.’

‘Well, I got another email. I think it is.’


‘Just now.’

‘Then yes, you need to get it.’

‘Where do they sell English newspapers?’

I get in the car and go to where Husband suggested. It’s closed. I try another shop. Three copies left. I scoop up the heavy tome full of newsprint and pay my 17 Rand. Back in the car I paw through the contents until I find it. Yep, there the four-letter-word is, in all its black and white glory.

I get home and show it to Husband. He starts to chuckle. ‘How literary.’ Then he really begins to laugh. ‘Classic!’

Thing 1 peeks over his father’s shoulder and reads the newsprint. He then turns to me, face full of eight-year-old awe. ‘Wow! You said a bad word in a newspaper?!!? I didn’t even know you could do that!’

Neither did I. But apparently there is a subeditor out there that believes differently and did.

Then I realise my whole family is staring at me. Faces full of pride and wonder. I swear, they’ve never been so impressed with anything I’ve accomplished as this moment of misquoted glory.

‘I’m pretty sure this isn’t legal,’ Husband says.

‘Hey, as long as I can’t be deported for it, its fine.’

‘Its brilliant!’ Laughter takes hold of him, once again.


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