Aitch takes the kids for lunch at a Spur restaurant with her folks – Gogo ‘Ona and Grumpa Neil. It’s two days after their joint birthday – they turned 7 and 11, so it was 2008.
TomTom is wolfing down a bowl of ice cream he has FINALLY been able to wheedle out of his Ma. She feels he usually eats a mouthful and wastes the rest, so he has to persuade her before a wish gets granted.
His Gogo watches and comments: “My, Tommy, you’re eating that ice cream quickly!”
Well, he explains, We don’t get offered it much in our home.
Aitch takes a weekly reading session at Livingstone. Usually she reads in the class and each kid gets a turn to come to her and read while the rest get on with their work under the teacher’s supervision. She slips Tom’s book near the top of the pile so he can get his reading done early and stop watching her reading with the others. She gives him a discreet hug as he walks up to her to which he stiffens awkwardly, turns his shoulder and glances to see if his mates are watching. He does NOT want to be teased!!
This week for once the reading was outside the classroom, and Mrs Button sent the kids out one by one.
SO: TomTom climbed on Aitch’s lap and gave her a huge hug, snuggled down and read both his books to her with full concentration!
Aitch’s grin was still fixed on her face hours later.
You can venture forth boldly and independently . .
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.
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.
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.
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.