‘As if born of you . . ‘ – exactly right!!!
‘As if born of you . . ‘ – exactly right!!!
It’s time to renew my driver’s licence. This is where my procrastination kicks in. Usually I’m “Never put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the next day”, but eventually I gotta go. I’m LATE!
So I test my own eyes, fill in my own driver’s vision form and get to Rossburgh Vehicle Licence Testing Grounds at 1.30pm, stopping on the way for a newspaper, a packet of crisps, a packet of NikNaks, a coke and a Tex chocolate bar. My health food lunch. Mental health.
Straight away it’s the usual civil service scenario: I enter the room and wonder where to go. No signs to enlighten me. I join a queue and ask: What’s this queue for? Oh. Which one? That one? Thanks. I join another queue. And wait.
When I’m two away from the fingerprint man a big fat pale bloke in blue overalls pushes ahead. He belligerently chunes the darker ou doing fingerprints: “This is the third time I’m coming back. You must do your job properly, man! The machine has rejected my fingerprints AGAIN! The lady at the far counter next door says I must tell you to do your job properly!”
“Which lady?!” says Mr Fingerprints, pushing back his chair and standing up, ready to fight with the lady who has impugned him. Off they storm next door. And no, he didn’t say “Please excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I have a small matter to attend to”.
They roar back ten minutes later, still chirping each other. “You wouldn’t last ten minutes in a private job, my man – you’d be FIRED!” “Don’t you be cheeky to me!” “I’m not cheeky, YOU’RE cheeky!” Etc etc. Neither is fuming fisticuffs mad, but neither is going to back down either.
Eventually I get my thumbs blackened and I ask: “Where next?” “Take the forms to that table in the corner”, he points. I go. I stand. I’m ignored. After a while, the Form Man finishes with the person ahead of me. He looks at me with a hint of disdain. “What you doing here?” he asks. I say “The fingerprint gentlemen told me to come here”. “There’s a queue, stand in the queue” says Mr Dale Carnegie. “Oh, OK” – I’m Mr Meek. The queue goes back to right next to Mr Fingerprint’s table. So he could have said “Join this queue” but he didn’t.
This is a long queue, so I get to read my newspaper. We’re on benches and the drill is: You sit. Then you stand up, move on three or four places, then sit again. The silent shuffle. I share the sections of my newspaper around, so some people think I’m a good oke, because there are three types of people in queues: Chatterers, Silents and Boreds. The Boreds want the paper. Three Chatterers grab me and tell me how this is “jis a munnymaking rakkit“. Although you’re always next to the same people, you get to sit just in front or just behind a constantly-changing variety of peeps as you shuffle left to the end of one bench, then right along the next bench, inching towards the holy grail. I find out that a white lady has to fetch her daughter and an elderly injun oke thinks the whole civil service has gone to pot “since the changeover”. “Hey?” he repeats, trying to get me to agree with him. When he doesn’t get any joy, he turns to someone else, undaunted. “Hey? It’s since 1994 it’s like this!” he chunes.
Now you must go next door to pay. Aha, I think, taking our money: That’ll be the fast queue. Forget it! It’s ten times longer, in a huge hall with 14 counters. Four are roped off for PDP licences (professional permits, for heavy duty or carrying passengers). Of the other ten, five are manned. It’s 2:40pm and the signs says We close at 3pm. We debate whether they’ll keep us all there and then gleefully slam the windows shut at 3pm, or if they’ll stay until we’re all done. We risk the latter.
The signs in the pay hall are fascinating: The official ones are all Batho Pele, People First, Our Pledge to the Valued Customer stuff. The handwritten ones are NO CHEQUES! and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL WE . . . etc. The signs show the difference between a luxury bosberaad indaba where lofty mission statements are made under airconditioning between lengthy buffets, and actually serving the great unwashed ‘on the ground,’ I suppose!
When someone leaves the counter up front there’s often a long (some seconds) break before the next person wakes up and realises it, so the delay is exacerbated. One young sparky fella decides ‘Nooit‘, and stands up from mid-queue and takes on a marshalling role. “NEXT NEXT NEXT” he shouts the second someone leaves a hatch beckoning the next person in line. He gets things moving much faster and gets encouragement, laughter and applause from the assembled masses. When eventually his place in the queue arrives and its his turn to be served he gets a big cheer, and when finished he turns around with a huge grin and wishes us a good night here! He gets a cheerful send-off, and then things lapse back to the pathetic, glum pace before he took charge! It takes a while before someone else steps into his role, but not nearly as effectively.
Finally it’s my turn after nearly four hours, most on a hard wooden bench. It’s after 5pm and bless ’em, they’re still there – down to only two open hatches by now, mind you. The very polite lady takes my money, checks the date and says: “Your licence has already expired, would you like to buy a temporary licence?” Naah, I say, I’ll just wait for my new one. “Fine”, she says, “But I should tell you you might not be covered by your insurance if something should happen”. Um, how much? “R156”. I’ll take it. Thanks for telling me, I appreciate your concern.
End of an interesting day at the licencing office! Don’t forget to take your newspaper and munchies when its your turn!
It’s one month later and I’m driving in Cato Manor when WHUMP! I get hit right up the exhaustpipe by a goofed oke in a home-made sawn-off “convertible”. He stumbles out and grins at me. He has no driver’s licence, the car is not licenced, he has no insurance and no job. He takes full responsibility and chunes me I must let him take my car to his mates who can straighten it out. I think if that was true they’d have straightened you out, china. A nearby carguard sidles over from a used car lot and says he saw it all if I need a witness, asks for my cell number. Later he phones asking for a job.
The repair runs to R27 000 and the very first thing my insurance asked for was my licence!
That beautiful very polite lady at Rossburgh saved me a whole lotta drama and pain with her temporary licence! Thank you again, ma’am! Above and beyond!
chunes – tells; says; informs; from ‘tunes’; also choons;
jis a munnymaking rakkit – just a money-making racket; a whinge;
injun oke – forefathers were from India or Pakistan;
Batho Pele – Wouldn’t dream of chooning you grief; or People First;
bosberaad or indaba – frequent retreats where brainstorming is done at great expense in luxury surroundings; plans are made, lo-ong mission statements are crafted and then ignored; mission statements almost always include the words ‘forward’ and ‘together’; the success of the indabas is rated only on the standard of the catering;
nooit – never; no way; can’t be;
This poster reminded me of a school lift a few years back where the kids were talking about their dogs.
“Did you guys know Sambucca’s Dad is ZinZan, Luke’s dog, and her Mom is Daisy, Emily’s bitch?” I asked them about our labrador – both those kids were in the kombi.
“Yes” said Luke, sounding sad – “But they’re separated”.
I shook with silent laughter as they pondered this sad news. I wasn’t going to tell them the happy couple had only “been together” for twenty minutes.
This email exchange followed:
Steve wrote: Hope he is keeping up with his alimony payments.
Me: Hey! I hadn’t thought of that! Lance, methinks ZinZan should be sending a monthly cheque . . .
Lance (Luke’s Dad): Good luck with that!
It’s a touching tale – a heroic old kombi that thinks it’s a 4×4, and a driver who wears plus fours when he ambles about the golf course. But hey, no pressure – it’s a collector’s piece, and any minnit now it’ll start appreciating, so vasbyt and let the disapprovement wash over you like a ducks water off your back.
Remember, he who laffs last didn’t geddit quickly enough.
In kombi lovers’ minds kombis are forever so:
We took the trailer and found a lovely campsite and settled in.
Tom was a mad keen fisherman and Jess loved the waves. Blissful. Peaceful. Tom had his first real fishing rod – a huge surf rod given to him by Trish’s Dad Gompa Neil. Jess was mad keen on gymnastics and swimming back then. Game drives were not as exciting – let’s go back to the beach! – but when I let them drive they were thrilled again. Such an easy-to-please stage of their lives!
While the gillie unties knots and baits up, the fisherman dreams of big catches: C’mon gillie, move it up already!
When we got back to camp from the beach things had changed: The Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club had moved in with their V8 4X4’s, their caravans, tents and boats with twin 200hp Yamahas, and surrounded us! There goes the neighbourhood, we thought. Huge tents and gazebos and afdaks and windscreens, caravans and trailers had sprung up, complete with large braais, TV satellite dishes and you-name-it!
Lovely people. We soon struck up a conversation with our nearest neighbour. The Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club had been coming to Vidal for their annual By-Die-See excursion for decades. Highlight of the year, he told us. That night there was revelry and much smoke and brandy, but not too late – they planned an early start the next day to get their boats out to sea to fill their hatches and deep freezes. Serious fishermen, these.
Things settled and the night went quiet a while; then a big storm sprang up. Soon the wind was howling through the trees and our trailer-top tent was rocking. I climbed down to check all was secured. Soon afterwards I heard an almighty crack and the sound of something heavy falling and striking a tent pole. Uh! Oh! I thought and listened to the voices in the dark all around us, barely audible above the howling gale.
Soon a few engines were started and I thought “Here we go, they’re revving up their 4X4’s and the boat motors ready for a first-light departure”. Then a chainsaw started snarling and I thought “Give it a break, guys! Wait till morning!” but it carried on! Mayhem!
At last there was quiet. Next morning I hailed our neighbour: “Hey! Did you survive the storm?” He came scurrying over and in a hushed voice said “Yes, but Joan didn’t!”
Turns out a massive branch had fallen on top of one of their friends sleeping in a tent, missing her husband by inches. Durban friends of ours camping nearby went to assist as the lady was a vet. She had to give them the sad news that Joan’s chest was crushed, she had no chance and had died instantly. The police arrived, then a mortuary van. The whole gang from the Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club, tight-knit friends as they were, packed up and left to accompany Joan’s husband home, the adventure over before it had really started.
We had a look at the branch: Now in pieces, it had been over 3m long and over 50cm in diameter and had fallen from about 10m up. What a bummer.
Aitch doesn’t mess around. Suddenly a big marquee was pitched on the front lawn. What’s that for? I ask. We’re having a party, says me wife. Oh. OK. So tip-toe’ing discreetly past my half century mark is not going to happen?
So I help the guys lay down a dance floor; and I carry chairs. And I carry chairs. Do we need so many chairs? I ask. Carry chairs, I’m told.
Then a minibus arrives and musical instruments are carried out – a trombone, a saxophone and a guitar – and one of the guys looks familiar. Big, braces, white hair. Mario!? I say / ask in amazement. Yes, says he in an Italian accent. What are you doing here? I ask, onnosel-y. He just smiles. I spose he’s used to that.
Mario Montereggi! When he’s not marshaling his Big Band, he runs a trio, Music Unlimited, for small events: Him on trombone, a guitarist and a saxophonist.
WOW!! Aitch certainly does NOT mess around!
The theme was Africa, but Brauer thought it was Out of Africa, and of course he took it literally. You know how he is . .
Instead of a solemn speech full of half a century of carefully censored praise . .
Terry and Pete sang a song full of scurrilous exaggerations – and duped the rest of the mense into singing the chorus! Everyone knows Billy Joel’s Piano Man tune . .
Then Jonathan and Aitch said some words and I had to correct everyone and put them straight.
onnosel – not clever; dof
mense – good people
We once had a robbery. In 2005 at 10 Windsor Avenue.
We got home to find the place ransacked. Waddaya mean “How did we know?” – when Aitch was there we were fairly tidy!
Turns out Aitch’s jewellery (including her sapphire & diamond engagement ring) was missing, which was no biggie – she didn’t even replace much once the insurance paid us. AND her Zeiss binocs! Now this was a bigger deal! She loved her binoculars and used them A LOT.
Years earlier at 7 River Drive she had decided they had been stolen and I said “No, we’ve just mislaid them”. After a long time I had to concede: “OK, they probably are gone, but we may have lost them.” I hate saying “stolen” unless I really know that!
Well, they turned up about two years after they first went missing – in the back of our socks shelf!! ** blush ** . . .
But this time they really were gone and SO:
She got a brand new pair of Zeiss Victory FL T* 8X32 ‘s!!
Mine are 10X40’s – lovely, but a generation older. Lens coatings not as good and not nitrogen-filled and sealed to the outside world like Aitch’s new ones are. They have a story of their own:
I bought them around 1984 for R1800 having refused to pay R750 a year before as that was outrageously expensive! I loved them and they did me proud, but in 1997 I decided reluctantly to have them serviced by Zeiss. The rubber covering was loose and the eyecups were tight. The optics weren’t as sharp as new either. I was very reluctant to give them to Zeiss as they were a bunch of incompetent beer drinkers in my view. They were useless in their service to optometry, the other labs beat them hands down on service and quality. So I decided what I’d do is personally go to the head office in Johannesburg (JHB) and hand them to the MD and go with him to the technician who would be in charge. I forget the MD’s name, maybe Winnefeld? The technician was Thomas Provini. We arranged they would be given back to the MD who would phone me and on my next trip to JHB I would collect them personally. DO NOT POST THEM, I instructed / pleaded. I trusted the post office as much as I trusted Zeiss!
They sent me a quote by ‘telefax’ – Two new cups R120; Dismantling and cleaning, repair focusing system, glueing rubber protection onto it, cleaning of all lenses and final inspection R558. Total R678. Not small money those days, but the price of the binocs had kept going up as the Rand weakened, so I said yes please.
I forget how long they were meant to take, but when that time had gone past and gone longer and no word from Zeiss, I phoned the MD. My binocs ready yet? What? Didn’t have a clue. Bad sign. I reminded him of everything we had agreed on and he said Ja Ja he would get back to me. He didn’t. I phoned again. He still didn’t know. I started jumping up and down, cursing the day I had handed them in. I should have trusted my instincts and never gone near them! Then a lady phoned – a Mrs Adams, I think. The MD chickened out of doing the phoning himself, the rat fink.
‘We posted them to Port Elizabeth.’ WHAT!? Why? ‘Oh, we thought you were from Port Elizabeth.’ NO! My arrangement was Do NOT Post Them. Let me speak to your damn fool MD. He was unavailable and remained unavailable till I flew to JHB and confronted him. ‘Oh, but we thought you were in PE!’ ‘And anyway,’ he blustered, ‘Someone signed for them, so we have done our part.’ Can you EFFING believe it?
The stupid incompetent beer-swilling bastard had lost my precious binocs and was trying to dodge responsibility! Eventually I had to pay R1850 and got a new pair. SONS OF BITCHES!!
I still have that 1997 pair, but I use mainly Aitch’s newer 8X32’s.
No doubt about it, as we used to joke as students, Zeiss ist Scheiss!! We didn’t know it then, but it was true.
2004 came and went.
Jessica finished pre-school, and goes to Westville Junior Primary next year. Grade 1 – Bliksem – school holidays! Surely in Grade 1 we can still steal her out of school and enjoy some uncrowded breaks? Thought so.
Tom-Tom changes play-school for pre-school and goes into the Hedgehog group at Cygnet.
Aitch still selling real estate, me still checking eyeballs.
Holidays this year included a long weekend at Simes’ cottage at Lotheni in the Drakensberg (beautiful spot – the best walks in the foothills). Waterfalls were cascading off the high cliffs above us – we watched them through our telescope. Impressive. Eland grazing in the hills around us. Swimming and slippy-sliding in the cold rock pools in the valleys.
In April we walked about 60km along the Wild Coast from Kobb Inn south to Morgan Bay, staying in hotels on the way. What a pleasure! Good weather, lonely beaches, cold beers, light packs, friendly guides.
Other long weekends camping at Basley on the South Coast; and at Mkhuze game reserve, where we realised adult and kid holidays are becoming more and more different! If it wasn’t for the new pool and jungle gym, Mkhuze would have been sad for the kids. Ah, well! We enjoyed it while it lasted. And soon they’ll be grown up and we’ll only be . . . . . HOW OLD!?
Also we camped at Midmar Dam near Howick. The kids loved it, lots of swimming, boating (sail, kayak and power) and biking. Jess decided not to bodyboard behind the 130 Yamaha. Maybe next time. She rode a big girl’s bike for the first time, though.
Adult (bratless) gaps we managed by foisting the kids on long-suffering friends (who are quick to take revenge by handing us theirs when they go off!):
In August we went to a lovely camp (Zingela) on the Thukela River and traveled the Anglo-Boer War battlefields around Colenso and Ladysmith. Our guide Ken Gillings (Mike Lello’s school connection from 100 years ago) gave us wonderful descriptions, background and insight into the folly of war, the battles themselves, the people, the hardships, etc. Depending on who won the battle I was a Pom or a Rockspider; Tony Yoell had to be a Pom throughout!
In October we went to Brazil for a week for a ‘conference’ trip. Twelve of us went ahead for two days and visited Iguassu Falls – spectacular. Then to a Club Med SW of Rio on the island- and bay-dotted coast, and on to Rio for some city life. We flew Varig, which was, um, interesting. Not one suitcase arrived for the two days in Iguassu, so we laughed and had a lot fun mocking each other about swapping underpants, etc. Great bunch of people. And beautiful place – lots of birds, butterflies, trees, walks in the forest and overlooking the falls and boat trips upstream to under the falls and also above the falls to islands and lakes.
Christmas at home with a few friends and Aitch’s folks – now about 78 in the shade. Boxing day with Pete’s family on sister Barbara’s farm near Greytown – ole man 82, mom 76.
Trish (Aitch) and 5yr-old Jess made a paste-and-cut album when we got back from our trip to five Southern African countries. I found it lying around so thought I’d photograph it and paste it here as a gallery. Hope you enjoy.
We’d had supper and imbibed a few with Rita and a gang of her – now also our – friends and were on our way to a club, recommended by the guys. Much hilarity in the rented car.
I was driving and Aitch was directing, her being a Cape Town local. At an intersection she said “Go straight” which elicited an immediate chorus of “NO!! Gaily forward! Gaily forward!” from the guys.
I nearly pranged the car I laughed so hard.
Apache was my ‘hometown’ for a year in 1973 as a Rotary exchange student.
Here you’ll find a collection of my 1973 Apache memories.
Former Apache resident Rebekah Cooksey (about ten to fifteen years after me, I guess) wrote “Top 10 Things Heard This Weekend in Apache, Oklahoma” after a return visit to her hometown. Her blog now seems to have disappeared, but I got these extracts from it.
Small town Oklahoma defined my early life. My hometown was Apache. Population: 1500. Our school was so small we had no class electives; My class pictures between kindergarten and 12th grade included all the same people, generally in the same position.
I am the youngest of seven kids; Dad was a minister, Mom was a nurse. I think at one point we were actually below the poverty level but I have such great selective memory that period is all kind of blurry. I do remember being laughed at because of my clothes and wishing that we could live in a mobile home because some of my friends lived in them, and their homes were nicer than ours. While I had good friends (whom I still keep in touch with), I always knew I would move away because there really wasn’t anything there for me.
Those of you who actually read my blog (thanks, Mom!) know that my family and I went to Apache Oklahoma this past weekend to attend the annual Apache Fair.
Going to Apache is always a bittersweet event for me. Growing up in this small town of 1500 people was mostly a frustrating experience, and I spent my junior high and high school years plotting my escape. But even after almost twenty years of being away, I am tied to this place by my memories, my values, and my dreams for my own children — because the kind of town I ran from is exactly the kind of town I’d like to raise them in (but hopefully with a larger population by a factor of 10).
Why bittersweet? Going back reminds me of the many wonderful things about being raised in a town where everyone knows everyone, where the same families have farmed the same land for generation after generation, where the values are so traditional that Home Economics is a required course for girls and Ag Shop (agricultural workshop – welding, woodworking, leather tooling) is a required course for boys. But, it also makes me sad, because many of the store fronts are boarded up, the family-owned businesses have been replaced by Sonic and Dollar General, and the landscape is dotted with barns falling into themselves, rusted cars and vans, and, in general, signs of the struggle of the lower-middle class.
The best way to describe it, I’ve decided, is ‘Mayberry’ meets ‘Sanford and Son’, with a Native American twist.
So, in a lighthearted way, I’m going to attempt to share with you some of the highlights of the weekend. Again, while this may appear like I’m poking fun – well, OK, it will be poking fun – but remember, I grew up here, so I’m allowed. I’m laughing with my fellow Apacheans, not at them.
Do you feel that breeze? There was a lot of controversy over the installation of one hundred and fifty wind turbines southwest of Apache because of the blight on the landscape. Not surprising: when you have been living with an unobstructed view of the Wichita Mountains for years, and suddenly someone proposes to build wind turbines across the horizon, that’s bound to put a bee in your bonnet. But the Slick Hills (as the foothills of the Wichitas are known) supposedly have some of the best wind in the USA. The Blue Canyon Wind Farm now produces the energy equivalent of powering 60,000 cars on the road. Now with gas hovering just under $4 a gallon, I don’t think the residents mind so much anymore.
We actually didn’t stay in Apache for the weekend; instead, we rented a cabin in Medicine Park, a tiny tourist village about half an hour away just outside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. If you can desensitize yourself to an over-abundance of junked out cars, scrap heaps, and crumbling mobile homes, Medicine Park is quite a cute destination and the natural beauty is astounding. Definitely worth a weekend trip from Dallas-Fort Worth. But my mention here is just about the one-lane bridge that goes across the river in Medicine Park and joins East Lake Drive with West Lake Drive. You don’t see many of these anymore.
In Medicine Park we found what must be the actual model for Tow-Mater from the animated movie Cars. Also in Medicine Park, we were amazed that the most beautiful real estate in at least a 200 mile radius is used by a waste water treatment plant is astounding to me. With a view of the Wichita Mountains, Lake Lawtonka and the surrounding hills, anywhere else this plot would be turned into million dollar homes (or, adjusted for Oklahoman prices, maybe $250K homes). Seriously, it made my heart sad to see the $32.5m facility sitting smack dab on top of the best view in the area.
I remember when the blinking red stoplight was installed at the main intersection when I was in junior high in the early 80′s. It seemed like no time at all had passed before the light burned out. No one seemed to notice, really, and it took years before it was replaced. Clearly progress has been made because the town’s only stoplight was blinking when we drove through town.
Rattlesnake Festival – Our little town of Apache is host to one of the largest Rattlesnake Festivals in the USA. The Apache Rattlesnake Festival was created by some local townspeople (one of whom was my high school best friend’s Dad) back in 1986, and features guided snake hunts, contests for the longest/heaviest/ugliest rattlesnake, an ever-growing flea market/craft fair, and a carnival. Last year, they had 60,000 people come through for the 3-day event, and Discovery America was there to film it. Pretty good for this small hometown.
Livestock Fairs – One of the big attractions of the Fair is livestock judging. Most FFA students have animals that they show at fairs such as this for prize money and bragging rights. This night was cattle judging night, so Jack and Luke got plenty of opportunity to see cows. I think this was the first real “Moo” they had ever heard, poor things. Usually it’s me trying to sound like a cow when I sing Old MacDonald.
Mt aux Sources, winter 1998. Sheila organises a gang to summit the peak. Lots of people. Sheila can organise!
Ann Euthemiou brings two strapping nephews as sherpas to haul her four-poster double bed and duvet up the chain ladder.
I hand out my special paklightna snacks at all stops on the way up.
Once up the chain ladder, Sheils insist we camp in the most exposed spot on the escarpment, where howling gales lean our little dome tents at 45° angles. Aitch went to bed before me to stop the tent from rolling away! I had to brave the gale a while longer to finish the Old Brown sherry. Late at night Doug n Tracey Hyslop fight off imaginary ‘intruders’.
Next morning we find out why Sheil had insisted on the spot: That’s the sunrise view from our tent. Hmm . . OK Sheila, but what if it had been cloudy!?
On top I collect reciprocal snacks from all and sundry who carried heavy packs up all the way up, while I had lightened mine.
Chilly, windy, glorious mid-winter morning.
Peering down at the Tugela Falls – one of the highest waterfalls in the world:
Here’s what the falls look like in a fly past by some enterprising glider pilots:
It might not have been on this trip, but on a trip up to Mt aux Sources I saw an interesting fly hovering at a flower. I had a good look, memorised him and went searching the internet. Here he is (or a close cousin):
I found a wonderful site – an Aussie Michael Whitehead who does research in Australia and in South Africa. He has some beaut pics of proboscis flies like this one – called Prosoeca ganglbaueri.
Hover flies are also fascinating.
When the new boy moved in I experienced times of being firmly relegated to 2-IC, second-best, sidekick, supporting cast – in Aitch’s life. Me and TC had to step back as she fell deep and hard in love with Matt. Here’s when she found and chose him:
He was not glossy, so we called him Matt.
Then he grew. And his coat became glossy on the expensive vet’s food Aitch fed him. He was at the tail-end of the docked-tail era.
This was back when these dogs were our children (prior to adopting two of the longer-lasting, more expensive, less appreciative, two-legged kind!).
I found Matt on the freeway late one rainy night. He was probably after an intriguing new smell which enticed him out (he hadn’t wandered before). He was a growing boy, after all! Hit by a car on the M13 when he went loping off thinking “Love Is In The Air”, he was dead. His collar with our details on it was still attached.
We shed tears. I dug his grave. We buried him in the garden.
Then we got a lawyer’s letter and the guy who hit him sued us for the damage to his car. He was entitled to do that, and we paid. Felt crappy, though.
True love – Aitch & Matt; Matt about 1989 to 1991.
At SabiSabi River Camp Trish broke the ice and got the “Seven Habits” weekend going when her loud peal of delighted laughter allowed everyone to relax, forget stuffiness and start relating as equals. Colin Hall wrote to her afterwards:“Your contribution was so special so wholesome so special – you may never know just what magic you made. We really wanted you here!”
Colin was then CEO of Wooltru and had the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” franchise for SA. He wanted to adapt it to African conditions, as it used references to American farming practice and Colin wanted to allude to the African bush and the lessons it could give us. He needed the OK from the Covey top brass, so they sent Roger (co-founder of the Covey Leadership Center – now FranklinCovey Co.) & Rebecca Merrill to assess a trial run. As it was a trial, Colin invited people to participate, and it didn’t cost us a cent! As he would say: YeeHa!!
What we didn’t know was a whole bunch of notables had also been invited. We were the minnows there. Captains of industry, politicians, struggle icons and rising business people in the old and new South Africa were there. It was September 1994, the New South Africa was five months old, everyone was optimistic and it seemed the world was our oyster.
When the group first gathered, all strangers, all important and all wary, we were given one of those ice-breaking group exercises where the answer seems impossible, but very obvious when explained. Like many others, Trish didn’t “get it”, but unlike them when it was explained she let out a peal of delighted “Oh no! You fool!” self-deprecating laughter which broke the ice in the best way possible. She was the darling of the bunch from then on – and revelled in the limelight!
Colin Hall wrote:“Your contribution was so special so wholesome so special – you may never know just what magic you made. We really wanted you here!”
Other comments she got were:
Thanks for your ‘ubuntu’ – Daphne Motsepe
I’m glad we were thrown into this struggle together! Love always – Monhla Hlahla
Your spontaneity is very refreshing – Div Geeringh
Its a great experience and you’ve both added terrifically – Judy Gathercole
Trish, was great being around you. Keep the soft core intact – Sej Motau
Its been great with you. Keep up the laughs – Khumo Radebe
It was a pleasure to guide you driving blindfolded – Anton Moolman
Best wishes for the future as we strive to implement the 7 Habits – Sheila & Lungi Sisulu
A great experience! Valued your team efforts at “Go Getters!” – Gaby Magomolo
A quiet, telling comment came when Gaby, sitting next to me said words to the effect of, ‘Only when we have established ourselves’ when Henri, tearing up, spoke emotionally of ‘Letting go the past.’ Some clear-eyed sense amongst the blurry-eyed sentiment of 1994.
It was some experience to watch you behind the wheel coming down the bank! – Grant Ashfield
Venturing forth . .
. . into Deepest Darkest America, we go kitted out in readiness . .
Eight weeks; Yep, lo-ong leave; Seven destinations in the USA and one week in England;
I got these details from Aitch’s diary
FLORIDA – Miami airport – 3rd March 1988;
Fly on to Orlando, Florida – Sheraton Hotel
Rent a car and drive east to Merritt Island – sparrows and mosquitoes
Kennedy Space Centre
Fly back to Miami and rent a car
Titusville (Town Motel $28.90 for the room)
Biscayne Nature Reserve
Florida City (Town Motel)
Everglades – Long Pine Key; Mrazek Lake; Mahogany Hammock
Flamingo Lodge in the Everglades
On Saturday, 12 March we drive to Big Cypress along the Tamiami Trail and on to
Everglade City – The Rod & Gun Club – 2 nights
CALIFORNIA – San Francisco, California – Tuesday, 15th March
Aitch said “I want to see an American city, not just nature reserves! so we walked , bussed and rode trams in the city. Stay in a Howard Johnson’s Motel, where I use the phone book to enquire about hiring a camping van. Its more expensive than a small car and motels, so . . we hire a Ford 351 cubic inch V8 RecVee from Western RV Rentals! The first night near Escalon we sleep in a parking lot – maybe illegal, but free!
Yosemite National Park
We walk to Mirror Lake
Badger Pass Ski Resort
Wawona Rail Creek
Camp in Wawona campground (pay $6 in a box – honour system)
Santa Marguerita – Campground ($8)
Santa Marguerita Lake
Los Osos; Baywood Park
Los Padres National Forest
Plaskett Creek camp ($8) – Van loo overflowed – Big clean up delayed departure!
Sunset Beach KOA camp ($20.95, ‘all amenities’)
Natural Bridges Park
We return the RecVee – and pay $59 damage for a fender scrape in Yosemite! Ouch!
Total $679 for 7 nights – more than car hire + motels, it’s true. But much more fun!
Hired a car (from Snappy!) and drove around San Francisco – Lombard Street, Chinatown, over Golden Gate bridge to Muirwoods Rec area & beach
Marin – Fountain Motel
Downtown San Francisco – Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney – Aitch finally saw a few shops! I bought a telescope – not a good buy!
Slept in the airport; Aitch wrote postcards;
WYOMING – Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Tuesday, 24th March (via Salt Lake City)
Toyota Tercel 4WD – I loved it!
Antler Motel ($28 for the room); Dinner at The Blue Lion (delish. Aitch: “Like St Geran”)
Breakfast at Vernet Cafe
Wilson (saw a Dipper underwater!)
Dinner at Anthony’s
Turned back before Teton Village – road blocked due to thick snow on the Moose/Jenny Lake road; Yellowstone south gate closed!
Moran Junction to Jackson Lake
Sleigh ride at Teton Village – see a white grouse in a tree
Kelly (NE of Jackson Hole)
WASHINGTON – Seattle, Washington (via Salt Lake City) – Sunday 27th March 1988
San Juan Islands
We hire another all-wheel-drive Toyota Tercel and drive north to Anacortes – San Juan Motel
Ferry crossing to Guernes (Guemes?)
Capt Cook’s Resort
Drive up Mt Constitution until snow blocks road
Walk around Mountain Lake
Doe Bay Resort – stay in a rustic cabin (very rustic! but its cheap, Aitch!) called Decatur; hot tubs, ‘suits optional’
Back on the ferry – 30th March; In Seattle we handed back the little Tercel – our 2nd-best vehicle on honeymoon;
OKLAHOMA – Fly south to Dallas / Fort Worth, planning to go to the gulf; But we change our plans and head back north to Lawton, Oklahoma – 30th March; This because the newspaper said: ‘You don’t want to be flying over Easter’ and we asked our air hostess ‘When’s Easter?’ and she said ‘Easter? That’s tomorrow;’
We drive to the farm outside Apache – Apache Oklahoma – 31st March;
Only Jimmy there when we arrive after dark;
Jim & Katie arrive – 4yrs since my last visit; 15yrs since I stayed with them;
Jim gives me the Chevy Suburban 4X4 keys – ours to drive – our best vehicle on honeymoon!
1st April, my birthday – Breakfast in bed!
Lunch with Granma (Patterson)
Mary Kate arrives from OU
Big family gathering at Plantation Restaurant in Wichita Wildlife Reserve, near Meers. We drive past the old Patterson Ranch;
Jim gives Aitch the Cadillac convertible keys – hers to drive!
Tuesday 5 Apr – We take the Cadillac convertible to town to the First National Bank of Apache’s drive-in window
Lawton to the drive-thru liquor store
I forget to go to my Rotary meeting! Damn! That really was a bad slip-up! BIG BAD!! We were searching for a Vermillion Flycatcher and I forgot!
Jim and I settle in front of the TV to watch a ballgame. Oklahoma U playing someone. Katie and Trish decide that’s way too boring so they load up on Bloody Marys internally and in a hebcooler and drive off in the night looking for owls. They spot a possum and tail it in the headlights. It shuffles onto the dirt road in front of them and Trish is watching in awesome wonder when Katie asks, ‘Shall I kill it?’ Trish is horrified and gasps ‘No!’ and Katie, seeing what she’s thinking exclaims, ‘Not the possum! The engine!’
They collapsed with laughter as they repeatedly regaled us with the tale when they got home, giggling and unmanageable.
OHIO – Fly away!! Lawton/Dallas/Ft Worth/Little Rock Arkansas/Cincinatti – Akron
Akron, Ohio – Friday 8 April
Dave “Z” picked us up and took us to his condominium and fed us (Larry busy)
On to Larry’s beautiful old home on North Portage Path
Cuyahoga River State Park (Quarry area)
Shopping at a great Deli
Larry cooks delicious steaks and he and Trish hit the piano. They ask me not to sing so loud;
Supper at a French restaurant on Larry; Home to liquers and piano and song; They ask me not to sing so loud;
Bed 2am, rise 5.30am
MASSACHUSETTS – Boston, Massachusetts – 13 April – we rent a car and drive on the busiest highway to date – thru Boston in traffic
Hingham (stay in motel $39)
Daniel Webster Inn for supper
Sandwich (stay in Country Acres Motel $33)
Meadows Motel ($35)
Back in Boston its late and we have to return the car so we stay in the most convenient place, a Ramada Inn ($89 for the room! Most expensive night in the USA)
Boston/ JFK New York/ London – 18 April 1988
Last flight: Our 30-day Delta pass expired, but we still had a free return ticket we got for giving up our seat on an overbooked flight earlier on; So we use it to get from Boston to JFK
On to England: A week in England – to Paddock Wood in Kent where Val & Pete Excell, oldtime friends of Trish from Cape Town, host us; Then they take us on a road tip to Cornwall, through Dartmoor to stay with Mel Spaggiari’s folks Den & Mary Blewett on their farm outside Bodmin. Where we saw a newt and a hedgehog!
Then home – HOME to our Marriott Road flat in Durban.
0,19 whole carats! Aitch built up her biceps carrying that lot around!
Oh, well! We were focused on holidays in the bush. We spent lots on those . .
About eighteen years later Aitch’s ZEISS binoculars got stolen, and also this ring. She replaced the binoculars . .
Priorities! She had ’em right.