“Dad why are these people playing in the snow?” shouted my daughter Jessie.
This happened in 2014 but to tell the story I have to take you back to 1973:
On my way back home to South Africa from the ‘States, I flew from New York to London where I had arranged to meet a Harrismith friend Don Inglis, who was working in London for a year, so he knew the place. Turned out he had a rugby match (playing for some Saffer team against the London Irish**) so we scurried around Buck House circle and somewhere else where someone lived or died or married someone, and headed off to Wimbledon for the game in his little Austin something – with five rugby okes squeezed into it.
At the ground the players huddled in a cold shed to change and noticed they were a couple of boerkies short could I play? Sure, I said, but only half the first half, then I had to catch a tube to Heathrow. Thank goodness (it was sleeting outside) Don said ‘Rather don’t risk missing your flight’. So they ran out onto the mud with one blade of grass every ten yards without me and start puffing out steam and shoving some fat Irish blokes around.
Between scrums Don shouted out which tubes and buses I should catch and I left before the halftime whistle to head back to South Africa and home.
So forty years later (2014) daughter Jessie called out: “Dad why are these people playing in the snow?”
Playing what, Jess?
“I dunno, running around in the snow”. So I go and look: Rugby. London Wasps playing Northampton Saints. The pinkish poms don’t seem to notice there’s a blizzard swirling around their short-pants knees, but I see there’s a Wentzel playing and he’s probably feeling it.
So I explained to her the madness of Poms, and I explained how I hadn’t played rugby in the snow in London long ago. In Harrismith the u/11B’s played first thing Saturday mornings, so I had played on frosty white fields – kaalvoet nogal – but not in an actual blizzard.
My Jess looked at me as if I was stark staring mad. I think she was sorry she asked.
** London Irish? Old Wimbledonians (below)? I dunno. All Poms look the same to us Africans . . .
boerkies – Saffers
Saffers – South Africans
kaalvoet nogal – barefoot