Chipping at Memories: The Doppelganger in the House across the Road

In the house across the road, the lady who looks exactly like my mother comes out to hang a Christmas wreath on her front door. In our old house in Oranjemund, my mom’s beating the batter for the kingklip she’ll deep-fry with chips the way only she could make them.
There’s a lady across the road from my house who looks exactly like my mother. She doesn’t look exactly like my mother looked when last I saw her, when she was 70 and soon to be gone from me. Or like my mother when she was in the Land Army in Wales in the early 1940s, such a beauty with her lush auburn hair that I inherited. (Luckily. My dad had wispy gingery strands that eventually became a combover.)
No. She looks exactly like my mother looked in the Sixties, when she was in her thirties and full of laughter and life. When she’d get her hair dyed blonde and permed, and worked at the till in the grocery store, and all the customers loved her. When she and dad would go the the Rec Club on a Saturday night and come back sozzled and giggling, then have a row.
The lady across the road looks like mom looked when she’d be in the kitchen in Oranjemund in her apron, peeling potatoes for her favourite food, mashed potato; the peeled and halved potatoes in a bowl of cold water on the kitchen table to be boiled later. Or beating the batter for the kingklip she’d deep-fry to serve with chips the way only she could make them, the way I make them even now. The chips that my daughter calls “Dad’s chips” but which in fact are Granny Betty’s chips. The ones you make like this:
Betty Jackman’s 10 Points for making Perfect Chips
Peel potatoes and cut them into neat, even chips. Lay them out, with space between each one, on a kitchen towel, and use a second towel to pat them down on top, so they’re dry all over (today I use sheets of kitchen paper). This is important: they must be perfectly dry, so leave them uncovered afterwards for the air to finish the job.
Have to hand, near the stove, a large colander or bowl in which you’ve placed three or four overlapping sheets of kitchen paper.
When dry, place some of the chips in a wire chip basket, but don’t overfill. They ...