Careful where you step!

Recording, reminiscing and occasional bokdrols of wisdom.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Those Special Years: ‘Youth’

Even if we live to be a hundred, the first twenty five years are ‘the longest half’ of our lives. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so as we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memories than all the years that succeed them.

  • paraphrased from a quote by Robert Southey, English Romantic Poet

Southey (1774 – 1843) was born in Wine Street, Bristol. He was expelled from school for writing an article in The Flagellant condemning flogging. He went to Oxford, of which he  later said, “All I learnt was a little swimming and a little boating.” A good start, then, but as he grew older he ‘sold out for money and respectability’, proving his own saying that the first twenty five years are your best.

It Starts With ‘O’

Eighty year old Rika is feisty and full of fun. I met her nineteen years ago when she was shacked up with a younger man. He died seventeen years ago, as had her husband before him and now she’s determined to be man-free. ‘I’m free!’ she sings out, throwing her arms out and twirling around. She now lives in a garden cottage with her last man’s daughter, who ‘adopted’ her and has brought her to see me today for her eyes.

We hug when she arrives.

As she’s leaving she holds out her arms for another hug. ‘We must hug again. I read that you need twelve hugs a day. It gives you something . . they told me, I forget.’

Endorphins, I say.

No, she says it starts with an ‘O’. ORGASMS? I say loudly, looking at her lovely self-appointed daughter-in-law with wide eyes. Rika just told me she needs twelve orgasms a day! Rika screeches with laughter, blushes bright red and says ‘Oh, look how you’ve made me blush now!’

An African Jazz Pioneer

What do you do? I ask the old soldier sitting in my chair. I’m a musician in the army band he says. Aha! Cool! What do you play? asks I.

The Saxophone, he says. The best of all the instruments! I flatter. How long have you been a soldier? Not long, he says, I joined a couple years ago and I’m just about to retire on a small army pension. What did you do before?

I was saxophonist in big bands. I toured the world. Mario Montereggi’s Big Band? I ask. Yes, indeed, I played with Mario.

And then he drops the big one:

I was with the African Jazz Pioneers for years. Wow! African Jazz Royalty in my chair!!

sip n fly – at the shebeens you downed your grog and ran before the cops raided

He might even have played with Mario at my fiftieth, where Aitch surprised me by getting Mario’s small ensemble to blow me away:

Is this him entertaining the kids, maybe?

Tommy charms the sax player; Jess watches in awe . .

A Royal Stir (rup)

During the Royal visit to South Africa in 1947 – this was the royal family from that small country called England, not the Zulu Royal Family or anything – there was great excitement! A special train was built, medals were struck and prime ministerships were lost – although Onse Jannie Smuts didn’t know yet that sucking up to the Engelse King would have that price.

Jannie trying hard with those rooineks, unaware that voters were watching . .

In Harrismith there was the important task of choosing horses. Horses were needed so that Royal Rears could be saddled and taken for a ride. Whose horse would be chosen for which Royal when the entourage stopped at the City of Sin and Laughter, Harrismith Orange Free State?

The Royal Train puffed to a stop at Breedal station. Breedal siding, really, near the notorious, alcohol-soaked Rivierdraai stasie on the Bethlehem side of Harrismith.

Great excitement and groot afwagting. Breaths were held . . .

All I have so far is they chose Piet Steyn’s gentle grey gelding for Princess Margaret’s bottom.

There may be more bottoms to follow . . .

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

groot afwagting – great excitement; and anticipation

Blockages

Mom Mary has constipation. Don’t tell everyone, but its just a fact and its not funny. I even put a bomb up and nothing happened. You know, Granny Bland used to get constipation and now here I am getting it. A mere seventy years later you can be struck with a family ailment out of the blue.

Rose is the matron at the home and she loves Mary. I told Rose I had constipation. This morning she came to me and said “Have you been to the toilet yet?” I said no, and she said “You know, Mary, you’re full of shit.”

Workshop Swansong. Wait, a Curtain Call

Its ongoing. There’s even less stuff there, but some stuff is going to have to be pried from his tight reluctant fingers, maybe?

“No, that’s hardwood for Gavin. He wants to make knife handles . . “
“You must take these, they were Oupa’s . . “

The awl and the hand drill brace were Oupa’s in Boom street in PMB. The screwdriver and needle-nose pliers on the right were issued to Dad by the General Post Office when he started as an apprentice electrician in 1938. He had to climb up telephone poles with those in his pocket. Here’s the GPO vehicle he’d drive around in, fixing the phones! They didn’t bother with parcels and letters, no! That was old-school! They were the high-tech side of the Post Office: The telephones!

By the way, everything has a correct name. The screwdriver is a ‘perfect handle’ screwdriver. That’s a specific kind of screwdriver.

The camera probly a box brownie held at waist level?
Happy apprentices under jovial Wally Coleman

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Today I learnt Mr Buckle didn’t shoe horses. No, he was the blacksmith, upholsterer and wagon-maker. Charlie Rustov shoed horses. He was a few rungs lower down the totem pole, and the only farrier in town. He had a high-pitched voice and would say ‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’ when I took my stallion in to be shoed. Dad would buy horses, school them, then sell them for a much higher price. I made more on horses than my post office pay.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’ – No man, Mr Swanepoel, that blerrie stallion is going to kick me!

blerrie – bladdy

bladdy – bloody; no blood though, just a swearword

Didn’t Sampson . .

. . see his arse in similar fashion?

If memory serves me right, Sampson the Nazirite who slayed the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass – you remember, right? – had a haircut and then things went pear-shaped. Same with me: Haircut, and next thing . .

It was very Irish: the floor came up to meet me. Also quite biblical: My jawbone was level with my ass and there was a heavenly host of eyes staring down at me. Three of my special ladies, plus a fella with a stethoscope around his neck and a lady holding a sharp instrument. Know what the worst thing was? Combined, if you added all five of them’s ages together, they were younger than me.

I must admit the night before I also didn’t have me customary glass of red. So maybe the haircut plus the lack of booze tipped me over the edge – or toppled me onto the carpet? It’s a mystery, but the clear message seems to be: Less Haircuts, More Booze, going forward.