Friday, 5 April 2013

We sat down for a chat.....with Edyth Bulbring

Edyth Bulbring is a South African author who wrote the funny A Month With April-May (published in South Africa as Melly, Mrs Ho and Me). One of the things I loved in that novel was April-May's Cold Facts that ended each chapter. In true Cold Fact style, here's Edyth....


Seven Cold Facts About Me That Only My Best Friends Know
My dog Zwiggy. She’s actually not my dog; she belongs to my daughter Sophie. We got her from an animal shelter the day before the opening of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. I fell in love with her even though she has chewed her way through my leather chairs, my books, my garden, the seatbelts in my car and my twenty year old Doc Martens. (And that was just breakfast). We love Zwiggy so much that we take her on holiday with us. We can’t bear to leave her behind. On one occasion, flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg, she got free from the hold, leapt from the plane and was chased down the runway by a fire engine. She was found in the airport parking lot ten hours later.

Parts of Zwiggy and her friend, the dog who used to live next door (Alistair) appear in 100 Days of April-May, the sequel to A Month with April-May. In fact, this book is dedicated to Alistair, who was as awesome as Zwiggy.
Zwiggy, author Edyth Bulbring's dog
Zwiggy, Edyth Bulbring's dog
Umbrella. Not ever. I like the rain. I like getting wet. I live in a house on a hill in Johannesburg and during the summer months we get the most fantastic thunderstorms. They are so fierce they crack the sky in half and make your heart stop beating. When it rains, I like to go outside and walk around in my gumboots. But use an umbrella?  Never.

Author Edyth Bulbring's wellies/ gumboots
Edyth Bulbring's gumboots (pretty wellies!)
Names. Some people collect books, others hoard rude teacher notes and lunch box lids. I love names.  I suppose it’s because I have a weird one myself. When I was young I was called Weedy Eedy (in my skinny years) and Greedy Eedy (in my fat ones). And then there was Needy Eedy during those grim days when I ate school lunch in the cloakroom in case no one wanted to sit with me. And having a surname like Bulbring, has also lent itself to some creative abuse over the years. My name has given me a taste for names. I collect them and use them in my books. In A Month with April-May I chose April-May February’s name to illustrate how much at odds her parents were from the day she was born. They wanted to call her by their favourite month of the year – but couldn’t agree on what it was. In the sequel to this book, I call the large boy Fatty on the advice of a group of teenagers that Fatty was the cruellest of all names to call a fat person.  There is hardly a name in any one of my books that does not have a hidden meaning or a personal association for me.

Shopping Malls. I hate shopping malls as much as I hate standing in queues, filling in forms and cooking. Malls are big in South Africa. And because Johannesburg is the biggest city, we go even bigger on malls. When I go into a mall I start sweating and my chest closes up. So I buy most of my stuff from the Hospice Shop down the road, auctions and second hand shops. I buy clothes, furniture, books and crockery at these shops.  I have even bought a church pulpit.  It lives in my study and keeps my newspapers. Give me a second hand shop any day. I can’t bear new stuff that lives in malls.

Author Edyth Bulbring's pulpit whcih she bought secondhand
The pulpit!
Parallel parking. I just can’t do it. I would rather walk a mile than parallel park. I am also a very nervous passenger.  I have to sit in the back of the car when I am taking a lift because I get so agitated and irritate the diver so much. I think it’s because I know so many people who have been involved in car accidents. Killing off people on the roads is a South African sport.  We drink and drive too fast and cause accidents. When I was writing A Month with April-May, I had to give April-May’s father a job. And because he is such a lovely man, I decided to give him the job that is one of the most despised in this country -  the tow-truck driver - the vulture who is always at the scene of the accident to make a killing off someone else’s misery.

Well yes and no. Most of what I write about is based on things that I have experienced with my three children. I got the idea of A Month with April-May from my daughter, Sophie who was having a bad time with one of her teachers. And knowing my daughter, the teacher was probably having a rotten time of it too. It got me thinking about the effect that one teacher can have on the life of a child. And how teachers have the ability to make or break pupils – and vice versa. It also got me wondering about the miscommunication that happens between people and how sometimes it sets us off on a course of action we can’t stop, even when things are heading for a train smash. So I decided to write about a teacher and a student who butted heads and things got out of hand. In my daughter’s case, things didn’t end happily. Writing this book was a way of turning things around and giving the story a different ending.

Nothing. I lived across the road from school and after signing the register I used to walk home and spend the day reading. My mother didn’t seem to mind. But there was one teacher who made school bearable for me. Her name was Dr Ida Bell and she was my English Literature teacher. The thing I liked about her was that she didn’t sweat the small stuff. She didn’t care if we wore the regulation underwear or ate in class or chewed gum. She just wanted us to read and talk about books. Years after I left school I used to visit her and we would drink whiskey together and cry about the romantic poets. I dedicated A Month with April-May to her, and teachers like her.

The people behind Edyth's stories: Jack, Sophie and Emily


Thank you, Edyth, for sharing these cold facts with us! Love Zwiggy and those pretty wellies. And what a gorgeous photo of Jack, Sophie and Emily.

You can read our reviews of A Month with April May here.

PS. We're quoted in it (not the story, the pages that are before it)!




  1. What a fun interview! Yay for Edyth...and Zwiggy I remember his airport escape. Legendary.

    1. :) That airport escape sounds frightening (and a bit funny too).


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