Jammin’ and Draggin’ Main

Rob & Jay were in my senior class in ’73; Jim & Donny were a year or so below. We used to jam in the garage and in Rob’s bedroom; I was an onlooker, really! I learnt one riff on the guitar which I believe I can still play . . Forty years on and they’re still playing gigs – or some of them are. Some are still based in Apache. Their bands have had various names.

At school, Rob drove a Mustang, Jim a Cadillac convertible, Jay a Camaro and Donny I forget, but I remember his Dad had a lovely old pickup.

Apache’s population sign on the road approaching the town was already faded when I got there in ’73 and the jokes hinted at “1500? Yeah, maybe.” But I was told the population shot up in the oil boom a few years after I had left when the middle east put up the price and we had to drive at 80km/h and hide our jerry cans. But it soon went back down, and when I visited in 1984 and 1988 the clapboard motel which had sprung up to house the workers and drifters, and the two extra liquor stores to relieve of them of their cash were abandoned and flapping in the prairie breeze.
I should write a western.

I see in the 2000 census the population was up to 1616.

The Apache Population 1500 sign was near the start of the quarter mile drag strip where the petrolheads had painted a line across the road. 440yards further was another line, much to the sheriff’s annoyance. It is ILLEGAL to paint lines on guvmint roads. Also to burn up your fat tyres on said road. Jay had a wicked Camaro with fifteen inch rear wheels, raised rear suspension and something I didn’t catch under the hood, despite him telling me many times. It went like smoke and he was very justifiably unhappy with me when I put it in a ditch with the one tyre off its rim. Beer. Terrible stuff beer. Jay was a gentleman and went easy on this foolish foreigner that night!

Just a bit closer to town than the drag strip, a local lass had written in large white spraypaint letters across both lanes: WELCOME TO PEYTON PLACE in pissed-off anger at love’s disappointments.

I taught Rob and Jay the wonderful poetic lyrics of Balls to Your Partner – remember? “If you’ve never been fucked on a Saturday night you’ve never been fucked at all”. We’d been talking about a sexy chick from a few villages away, hot pants and crop top, and Jay said laconically: “Well, she’s been fucked on a Saturday night by that little wine-maker: ME”.

Once we were dragging Main in Robbie’s turquoise Mustang, and Debbie pulled up in her car next to ours. How the conversation got there I don’t know, but one of the guys said “Ah, suck a dick, Debbie!” to which she shot back: “Well, flop it out!”

A semi-selfie in the Mustang with me safely in the seat without a steering wheel . .
A deserted Main Street

But please don’t think there wasn’t culture. I got invited to a Pow Wow by the local Native American Movement where they gave me a gift of a colourful shirt and jewellery.

— pic of presentation here —

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Reed: Screw the Camaro and the fat tyres. More about Debbie please.

Me: OK. Here she is, seated right:

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Of course on hearing about me ‘jamming with the guys’ and knowing my lack of any musical talent, the rude comments flowed!

Brauer: Koos jamming!! Playing the washboard? Or just Koos Konfyt ahead of his time?

Reed: They would have had a lot of trouble finding a replacement for you, Koos.

Me: Nah, they moved on. Here are some later pics when they called themselves The Grissleheads:

Grissleheads, Apache OK

Taylor: Did this jamming involve making jello sandwiches? Didn’t know you played any instruments?? Except wind . .

Brauer: Played the organ, did he not?

Taylor: I am sure he has done many solo recitals – unappreciated by the world at large but deeply gratifying to the organ player . .

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Reminiscing about old songs began:

Taylor: I am glad to see you took the cultural exchange program seriously. Balls to your partner counts as poësie . .

Brauer wrote: OK. So let’s see how deeply your culture is ingrained. Who knows all the words to “Balls to your partner”; How about the Ingineer’s Song?

Me: All, I dunno; but I do know a lot of them – both songs. A-hum a-hum

Soutar: . . and . . “Up jumped the monkey in the coconut tree, it was a mean motherf___ it was plain to see; it had a 10 bopper nanny and a ten inch ______. Time overdue for a song reunion, have song sheets . .

Me: Fourteen-beer song evenings. I remember them well
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poësie – poetry; right?

PBHS Complaint

We’re hosting a young man from Pretoria Boys High in the 2015 rugby season. One of the u/14 rugby squad on tour to KZN to get their asses whipped by Westville Boys High.

I feed them steaks (they ‘have to eat steak Dad, they’re rugby players’) and send them to bed early – the game is usually early when you’re in the D team.

Tom sidles over to me:
Dad, thank goodness he’s asleep, he talks non-stop, and HIS ACCENT! Hmm!

This about his PBHS guest Owethu (who told me earlier in a quiet chat when Tom and Jose were in the cottage that he only speaks English. He understands Ndebele when his parents speak it, but he doesn’t speak it himself). We’re hosting him on their rugby tour to KwaZuluNatal. They’ve been allowed to enter from behind the boerewors curtain.

My son the snob.
I guess what probably happened was Owethu interrupted him. Once.

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PBHS is Pretoria Boys High and we’ve been having a lot of trouble with their past pupils as far as decorum goes. One is blasting polluting rockets into the atmosphere and one is blasting Audis into buildings.

Small wonder Tom was wary of this one.

Our First Soccer Tournament

At five years old Tom was mad keen on soccer. His first tournament in Westville North was cause for great excitement. His team wore orange bibs and tackies and he played everywhere on the field and in the goals. Which he didn’t like. Boring, Dad.

Tom Soccer 008.jpg

He preferred the role of full-field chaser:

Tom on the ball, with Soccer Ma coaching

Champion Soccer Mom was there in full force and voice. That’s her on the right, Mom of triplets Yaya, Yasir and __. She was great, shouting encouragement and advice to all, especially her kids, TomTom and the star player for the orange bibs, Ntutuka. Here are her triplets in orange, on the left, 3rd from left and on the ball:

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Supporters traveled from afar to support their favourite team. God-parents Dizzi and Jon live a few hundred metres up the road so made the trek to cheer on their hero:

Tom first soccer tournament collage 1

Essential support came from the team manager Sir Aitch Ferguson:

Mom fusses over Tom

and the expert coach and tactician Me Mourinho – wearing a Galatasaray S.K cap (that’s Turkey’s best soccer club, turkey!):

Tomaldinho gets invaluable advice from his coach

After the game that all-important thank you team handshake. Tom not exactly the tallest team member:

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Later tournaments required more kit. We HAVE to have these latest and greatest boots, Dad! We simply CAN’T play without them! Us superstars need our bling!

Tom soccer tournament 7yrs old
Tom soccer tournament 7yrs old

Tom kneels getting instructions from coach
Real boots and a real coach!

Tomaldinho! I was seeing dollars sign$ I was going to sign him up with Amazulu – No Dad!! PSG in Paris!! Oh. My bad.

But then suddenly it was rugby. RUGBY Dad! I need new boots. You can’t play rugby in soccer boots, Dad! I’m a rugger player now!

 

 

Green Cheese

A well-known tactic of the name-remembering incompetent is to use one ‘name’ for everyone when you can’t remember their names. In the sixties Uncle Jack Kemp used to call everyone ‘Cock’. ‘Hello Cock!’ he’d say and you could see his mind racing: Just WHO is this again? I mean, I know him but what’s his name again?! ‘How’re you Cock?’ In the eighties Peppy Peeperkorn, a delightful nurse friend at Addington Hospital when I was sentenced to live there by the army used to call everyone ‘Chicken Legs’! ‘Hey, Chicken Legs! What you doin’?’

I sometimes use Green Cheese: Have you fed Green Cheese yet? WHO!? You know: TC, Matt, Bogie, Shadow, Sambucca! SAMBUCCA! You know I meant Sambucca.

So I made the mistake of asking Tom after one of his home school lessons: ‘What did old Green Cheese teach you today?’ He cracked up and has called his tutor Green Cheese ever since, my protests and explanation and Hey, you don’t DO that! falling on delighted deaf ears.

This morning I overheard him as he walked in to start his lesson “Hey! That’s my chair! It’s made for my arse, not an old Green Cheese arse!’

He should get a klap on his ear from his older, bigger, cleverer, more capable, more focused third year economics student tutor, but instead – as so often with Tom – he gets away with it.

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A’s and Oy!s

You’ve heard all those “Rich People’s Problems” jokes?
Today (this was in 2016) I heard a big “Indian People’s Problem”.

Went to Italtile to fetch yet another farking expensive something or other. This time tile mosaic for Tom’s shower floor. R990 just to cut it – tile price excluded.

So my saleslady says “How’s Tommy?” – she’s been planning “Tommy’s Bathroom” and “Jessie’s Bathroom” the last weeks, so she’s an old hand.

I say (mistake – should have stuck to the tried-and-tested “fine thanks”):

“He’s battling at school. It’s exam time, and he’s not interested in studying”.

“I KNOW!!” she exclaims “My 13yr old son is THE SAME! He came back from these exams with two B’s! He dropped his “all A’s” just because he won’t learn. I TOLE him: “You won’t get anywhere if you don’t shine up!”

I’m a diplomat. One who would give his left leg for two B’s. I jis nodded.

Accurate Reporting

In the 2016 rugby season I wrote:

Affies came to Westville this past weekend and SLAUGHTERED us. I don’t think we won a single rugger match. Our firsts lost 65-0.

Today the local free rag arrived and I caught a glimpse of the sport heading and did a double-take:

“Westville slays Pretoria giant”

Turns out only the hockey received any coverage in the paper!

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In true journalistic tradition I sent the headline, and not the rugby news, to my full-of-Elon Pretoria Boys High Old Boy china.

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. Fame was imminent.

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? By the time the next one came around I hadn’t been banished – just consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.


There was one other time – in a sort of Harrismith se Hoer Skool’s Got Talent setting – that it was almost confirmed I sing wonderfully.

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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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‘Dek jou hol met bowse off hollie!’  – the famous ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly’ was improved in translation to ‘cover your arse with boughs of holly’;