My Famous Friends – #1

** this blog is mainly after I got married in 1988; my other blog vrystaatconfessions.com is essentially pre-marriage; sometimes things don’t fit neatly into one or the other – they overlap; so occasionally I copy and paste **

Tuffy has hit the bright lights. School friend and class mate Mariette van Wyk edits a lovely magazine Atlantic Gull down in the Dryest Fairest Cape.

Mariette vWyk's Atlantic Gull

She got the fascinating life story (well actually, snippets of it!) of Irené John Joubert out of him recently.

Tuffy Famous

Fascinating thing is, Tuffy DID this stuff, Chuck Norris acts it out. Here’s an eyewitness account of his famous plummet from a helicopter.

Here he is in those far-off days when you could see his chin and not his forehead:

Pierre Tuffy 95 Sturat St
Pierre duP and Tuffy

Tuffy’s older brother Etienne remembers him getting his nickname like this: In the very English environment of the Methodist church some soutie made the mistake of calling the French masculine name Irené the English feminine name ‘Irene’ in Sunday school and promptly got dondered right then and there by said Irené. And hence the nickname Tuffy was born.

I see Tuffy says he has no trouble in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Congo as “with my honest face, people just love me”. What I want to know is: How do they see his face?

Well, now that his cover is bust, his anonymity lost, learn more about Tuffy being a domkrag and then tackling an unsuspecting ox here

and head-on colliding with a hill here

and streaking and under-age drinking here

and how he practiced going on long journeys before he went to Afghanistan here

and purloining illicit swag here

and he played rugby for a little dorp and beat Grey College here .

harrismith-rugby-1967-u13

Chuck’s going to have to lift his game. Also, and anyway, America can forget toughness, Harrismith also had another Chuck Norris.

Thanks Mariette for the article! See: http://atlanticgull.com/chuck-norris/

Added: And how Tuffy tricked me here.

Lost Talent

I’ve lost my beautiful singing voice! All of a sudden even I don’t think I sing wonderfully anymore! The kids have never thought so, philistines, and will ask me after the opening bar “Please don’t sing, Dad”. In fact I’ve used it as a weapon: “Want me to sing to you?” sometimes gets them to behave pronto.

Even the neighbourhood kids give a resounding NO THANKS PETE! when I suggest I sing to them in Italian instead of putting Nicky Minaj on the car stereo.

Aitch was the only person who ever said “I love it when you sing” but then she also called me “My handsome oke” so I pinch-of-salted her compliment. She would always ask me to sing “the evening song” when we were driving after dark: Kris Kristofferson’s “Best of all possible worlds”. Of course that’s mainly  gruffly mumbled, so that helped.

Of course I used to sing beautifully. The teacher who trained the seunskoor in Harrismith Laerskool  said so. I was a soprano and looked down on the altos who, though necessary as backup, weren’t in the same league as us squeakers. One directly behind me used to bellow in my ear: ‘Dek jou hol met bowse off hollie!’ FalalalaLA lalalala’

One day the discerning teacher Juffrou Cronje, chose me to sing a solo in the next konsert.

Then tragedy struck! My balls dropped. They handled it very diplomatically. By ignoring it and cancelling practice. The konsert didn’t materialise (co-incidence? Surely they didn’t cancel a concert just because one boy suffered testicular descent?) and by the time the next one came around I hadn’t been banished – just consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.

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Terry Brauer wrote: Oh Pete I am STILL laughing! But never let the kids be the judge of whether you can sing! They are just embarrassed by most of what we do anyway.  🙂

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Oh well, there’s still a lotta drinks that I aint drunk . . .

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My Vegetarians

2013/12/27 Meals: We usually have a vegetarian meal a week. If I have my way its phutu, mfino and speckled beans. Wonderful stuff. The kids love it, but feel obliged to rev me throughout “WHAT!? No meat!? Are we too poor, Dad? This is dodge, Dad! Kinda homeless, Dad!”

Ja Ja! Eat up, I say.

Little shits.

This xmas I picked Tobias’ cabbage and spinach fresh from the garden, boiled it with onions, then drained and added olive oil and simmered with garlic, salt and barbecue spices. Big knobs of butter when served. They gobbled it up after the usual wrinkle-nosed high-pitched HMMMM!? Tom reserves for anything “dodge”. Sometimes I’ll add potato for a sort-of bubble n squeak.

I have to add the occasional green just in case Aitch does peek down from the clouds. Wouldn’t want to get into trouble . . .

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puthu – dry mealie meal (maize or corn) porridge;

mfino – spinach or other dark green leaves; in the Free State growing up we called it meroho, Sesotho for ‘vegetable’;

Deja Bloody Vu

Can you believe it? The irresponsibility!

Tom is writing exams, writes five and decides he wants to write the last three when I can invigilate. The others have been invigilated by his tutor Langelihle and another third-year student Rebecca. So we settle on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Except he arranges for Ryan to come around and the two of them beetle off gallivanting heavens know where and doing heavens knows what. So he only wrote the last three papers on Monday and Tuesday. Bloody hell! Who would DO something so irresponsible!?

Er, actually, maybe his father?

Back in 1972 I had four matric final exams, then a five day break before the last two. Me and Gabba took the gap and disappeared off to his farm behind the mountain after pulling in at the liquor off-sales on the way where he could legally buy grog, him being eighteen. Plus.

Gabba was a great friend to have, he had a car and lived all alone on his farm where he bought and sold cattle for a living – ‘speculated in cattle’ they called it. In matric! Cool! His farmhouse was a half-house. You picked your way over the rubble of the first half and entered by what used to be an inside door but was now the outside door of the remaining half.

We flattened the beer, which made us thirsty so we scrounged around and found a big old glass two-eared flagon of umqombothi on top of the fridge, fermenting quietly. We finished what was in there and phoned Frank on the party line. Frank was another bachelor alone on his farm nearby. What shall we do? we enquired of Frank, knowing that he would guide us wisely, him a few years older. Frank said “I’ve got beer, come!”

We finished that and Frank said “Let’s go to town”. Who were we to argue? We hopped into his car, I think a Datsun 1800 SSS, and roared off to town at terminal velocity, strong and clever. I remember a narrow bridge across a spruit approach and disappear in a blur with a loud WHUMP! in the middle of it followed by half a second’s silence –  airborne.

Gabba Frank car

In town we woke up the barman of the Royal Hotel down near the railway line. He grumbled a bit, but Frank was having none of it so he went off and reappeared with a case of dumpy beers. We then drove round to the R’s home and threw pebbles against an upstairs window. Penny opened the window, shimmied down the downpipe and we were OFF again on the dirt roads to the farm behind the mountain. At high speed. Invincible.

The next night back at Gabba’s place I phoned my Mom on the party line during a heavy thunderstorm and downpour. “Where have you been? Come home!” was the message but I said “What? Hard to hear you! I’ll be coming back tomorrow”. She said “Yes, rather don’t drive in this weather.” I said “Don’t worry, I’m the responsible type”.

I’m sure* Tommy wasn’t up to kak like that, so maybe he doesn’t take after his Dad.

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umqombothi – traditional Zulu beer

spruit – stream

kak – mischief

*- not really sure

 

Urgent Phone Call at Work

I’ve left the kids alone at home, so when the ladies at work say “He says it’s urgent!” I take it.

It’s Tom.

Dad! We need to get a lamb roast and rosemary and garlic and small-cut vegetables to roast. It’s a slow roast and we don’t have any rice or lamb stock in the pantry!

OK Tom, we’ll go straight to the shops when I get home.
My 12yr-old has been watching a cooking show on the box.

Tom chef.jpg

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Terry wrote:

Oh that is super funny!! Alone as in NO adults at all?

Me:

None. Cecelia on leave. Tobias is only Mon Wed Thurs.

So far they have been boringly safe and haven’t set anything on fire. It’ll come . . .

Under a previous regime I’d have been in trouble . .

As I would have been for Tom losing lots of skin and getting a huge heat rash when he fished topless all day the first day at Happy Wanderers. Aitch put more sunblock on them in a week than I have in 2,5 years.

Terry:

Hey its not cool to be too black, I hear!! Loads of sunscreen or she will haunt you!!

Me:
We’re all so aware of that, but remembering to do it . . .

Tito Mboweni’s son got picked up by the cops for being too black! I imagine that happens all the time. We’re very aware of that, too!

Kids are watching old Bill Cosby DVD’s (over & over until they know all the words OBH!)
Quite striking how they have chosen all the actors in it to be light-skinned – some to the point of whiteness! Bill himself is by far the darkest of the “Huxtable family”!

The funny thing is I “met” Bill Cosby in 1969 when an exchange student from upstate New York came to Harrismith. He brought a vinyl LP with him:

cosby LP.jpg

Here I am 45yrs later listening to my kids listening to Cosby.

Terry:

And my kids and I always said Bill Cosby was just a dark Pete Swanepoel 😀

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2018:
This was 2014. Now all our Cosby stuff has been destroyed before discarding it. Sad, but he’s history in our books

Tom’s One Stop

On the way back from Afriski one year (I think 2012) we drove through Harrismith instead of our usual route down Oliviershoek Pass. Stopping to refuel at the Engen Tom and his mate (Josh, I think) said “Dad. we’re really thirsty, can we have a cooldrink?” Sure, I said and gave the the only cash I had: A R200 note.

When they returned they hopped in and off we went. Later I remembered and asked Where’s my change, m’boy?

“Um, there’s no change Dad”. No change!? “No, in fact, we had to pay in”. Let me see the slip, I asked.

Here’s their “cooldrink”:

Dad, can we stop for a cooldrink, please, we're thirsty!

At least they willingly shared their loot with Jess and me!

Dad’s War Medals

Spotted these visiting the folks this week. I’ve seen them over the years when Dad would wear them to special MOTH* do’s, but have never really paid much attention. This time I photographed them and asked about them. He told me:

Left Star – 1939 – 1945 war; Second Star with red white and green ribbon – Italian Campaign if you fought in Italy;
The Lion – Africa Campaign if you fought in Africa; Africa map – Africa Service Medal – general SA medal for all in uniform.

Epaulette: 8th Army with red tab (which indicated South African overseas – distinguished them from the ‘home guard’); Camel – Sudanese camel corps; Palm – Another Sudanese outfit; Horse – Some English bunch (‘a southern county’ he said, Dorset? Mom guessed); Mercury – SA Signal Corps (Dad’s unit).

Dad War Medals

*The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.) was founded in 1927 by Charles Evenden as a brotherhood of South Africa former front-line soldiers. The idea is to help fellow comrades in need, either financially or physically; and to remember all servicemen who have answered the Sunset Call, both in war and peace time.