Family & Kids, Sport, Wildlife, Game Reserves, Birds & Birding, Africa

Albert Fell

‘Just two schoolboys and me,’ I told the lady at the entrance to Albert Falls dam recreation area.

OK, two adults and one pensioner, she said, totting up the fee. And sizing us up at a glance, bitch. Oh well, she was spot-on – they are in matric after all.

They were after bass and I was after birds. They got one and I got many.

Africa, Family & Kids, Life, Nostalgia

I Used To Know The Answer .

It was quite clear to me the answer was NO.

Now I’m less sure . .

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Yet again I was caught by an April Fools joke on my birthday, Tommy the perpetrator this time; so I was pleased to see one of my heroes also fell for one back in 1832:

Charles Darwin wrote this in his Beagle diary:

April 1st

All hands employed in making April fools. — At midnight almost nearly all the watch below was called up in their shirts; carpenters for a leak: quarter masters that a mast was sprung. — midshipmen to reef top-sails; All turned in to their hammocks again, some growling some laughing. — The hook was much too easily baited for me not to be caught: Sullivan cried out, “Darwin, did you ever see a Grampus: Bear a hand then”. I accordingly rushed out in a transport of Enthusiasm, & was received by a roar of laughter from the whole watch. —

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grampus“ is an old name given to several sea creatures, as well as other animals. Grampus may refer to: Grampus (genus) of the Risso’s dolphin; or a common name for the orca.

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Paul McCartney was sixteen when he wrote the lyrics to “When I’m Sixty-Four”. When the Beatles released the song in 1967, I was 12. Now when I sing it I realise with a shock ‘Shit! I AM sixty four!’

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

Africa, Family & Kids, Life

Duelling Banjous

As we left Mother Mary today – at the Retirement Village, not the old-aged home, says Dad; He used to call them old aged homes and be very anti but now suddenly they’re OK and they’re retirement villages cos he has just made an offer on a cottage there, deciding at age 96 that it might be time before too long that he may, perhaps, have to move in there one day – we were energetically flagged down by an old blue-rinse biddy sitting in a smart white sedan outside the frail care section.

“Oy! Are you ignoring me?” she shouts, waving her hand in Dad’s direction. He, of course, doesn’t hear her, so I look in the open driver’s window across at her in the front passenger seat and she waves me aside. No, not you, she indicates with a dismissive wave, the bald gentleman; Well, the bald gentleman with the white hair; OK, the bald gentleman with the white hair and the walking stick.

Oh. So she doesn’t mean me.

He sticks his head in the window. “Were you going to walk right by me?” she asks. Hello! He smiles, switching straight into charm mode; Who are you? Ooh, she thinks, some doubt creeps in. “Aren’t you . .” she starts and hits a geriatric blank. Staring at him, knowing she knows him but has just lost his name right now. It’s on the tip of her tongue. “Um, aren’t you . .” she repeats. Who are you? he repeats.

They reach out to shake hands – instinctive, cos if you’ve been to Maritzburg College and St Annes or Epworth and lived through a world war that’s what you do. So they’re now holding hands both being furiously pleasant and both trying to figure out who the hell this other person is.

She changes tack: “I bet you I’m older than you,” she says.

YUSSIS! That MAKES his day! He’s had a bit of a rough day with his idiot son who doesn’t know when to shut up and just nod him yes, so this – THIS – is a godsend. He jumps up in the air, clicks his heels and leans right in to the car. The click might have been his teeth.

I’ll bet you you’re not! he challenges. “I bet you I am,” she repeats confidently. I’ll bet you . . how much you wanna bet? he says. They’re still holding hands and staring into each others eyes. It’s getting ‘Yes I am; No you’re not!’ stuck, so I chip in. How about one Rand? I suggest. “Well, I only have ten Rand,” she fibs. I’ll take you on, he says, How old are you? She leans back and puffs out her bosom and announces triumphantly “Nearly ninety ONE.”

WELL! Victory is his! He wriggles with glee and says I’m . . no. This is my son Koos. Koos, you tell her how old I am! The old goat is 96 in the shade, I say. She deflates, he puffs up. He smoked her! Blew her doors off! Left her in his dust! They’re still holding hands. He rubs it in: I prefer to say I’ve got four years to go to a hundred.

I walk off, leaving them to their embarrassment and awkward ending. Well, nice to have met you, he says. “Yes, indeed,” she says, even though neither cagey old codger has divulged their name yet. The only name we have out of this joyful meeting of long-lost strangers so far is “Koos.”

As the old man leaves she outs when he’s ten metres down the drive with “So sorry to have mistaken you; Sorry to be a bother.” That St Annes politeness training is deeply embedded. Of course he didn’t hear it. Ten metres is way out of range. Anyway, his face was wreathed in such a wide smile his ears were probably blocked by the wrinkles. This avenged the stinging loss he’d suffered at the College reunion.

Africa, Family & Kids

A Cure for Texting n Driving

Do not text and drive. It’s called Distracted Driving and it’s dangerous.

Especially now.

My old man aged 95 and eight months in the shade took himself off to Wartburg and got his drivers licence renewed for a further five years. He will still be driving legally on a street near you at the age of 100 years and eight months.

Look sharp!

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Herb Zunckel drove his grey Morris Minor in Bergville till he was over ninety. People would see a seemingly driverless Morris approaching with only some knuckles gripping the steering wheel visible. He said he’d never had an accident. People would mutter ‘that’s cos we scatter out of your way!’ Sheila and Mandy called him Herbicide.

Old driver

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Kevin Stanley-Clarke’s 1974 ouman driving advice to us younger guys newly-arrived in Joburg: Watch out for old toppies wearing hats!

Old driver_2

ouman – he was older, wiser
toppies – older, wiser ous, maybe driving on memory

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, Home, Life

African Greybeard

I’m coming down to Durban to buy a parrot. Where’s Overport? asks the ole man.

Then the ole lady phones, all worried – as ever. Can you tell us how to get to West Road in Overport, Koosie? I say I’ll try, phone you back. I need to hatch a plot. I phone back and say Come to my place for lunch, I’ll leave work early and I’ll take you, it’s not easy to find. She sounds dubious but she’ll try that.

She phones back, amazed. He saw sense. We’re coming for lunch, she says, relieved. She can’t see, he can’t hear, so she was dreading looking for a small parrot in a strange haystack.

When I get home they’re on my stoep and Jess has given them tea and Tommy is busy cooking lunch for everybody – pasta carbonara. My children! Bless them! I had told them I’d love it if you’d give them a polite hello, but you needn’t stay, just make your excuses and go. They decided to completely exceed all expectations and charm the old bullets. Proud of ’em!

Off we go to meet Sumie who has three baby African Grey parrots in a box. His grandfather breeds them in Utrecht. Dad had said he wanted to choose his own. We check them out on the tailgate of my bakkie in West Road Overport. Dad picks one and now I think, Here comes the bargaining. R2500 says Sumie. No way says the ole man and shuffles off to the front seat of my bakkie. He comes back slowly with the bird magazine in his hand, stabbing his finger at Sumie’s ad: R2300, moaning Now I have wasted my time coming all the way from Pietermaritzburg. Sumie says to me I thought I wrote R2500! To Dad: Fine, Uncle Pieter, R2300 says Sumie.

And the food for free, says the ole man. That cost me R100, Uncle Pieter, I’ve just fed them, so give me R80, says Sumie. It’s my birthday on Friday (true), counters the ole man, You should give it to me as a gift. How old you’ll be? asks Sumie. Ninety Five says the ole man (true) so they settle on R50.

Now they debate who’s box is better. Sumie has a shoebox – it’s wider. Ole man has a box some electronics came in – it’s deeper. Ole man realises if he takes Sumie’s box he gets both, so he settles on Sumie’s shoebox.

We go back home to eat Tom’s delicious pasta lunch, followed by ice cream and coffee, and off they go back to Maritzburg. The ole man changes into second too soon up the steep hill. He would have hated it that I heard that.

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And I didn’t take a single photo! Damn! Well, here they are with great-grandkids:

Gogo Mary & Great_Grandkids (2)

And I just thought: When last did I post a recent pic of my favourite children? Here they are willingly posing for me:

 

Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles

A 1928 Chevy and a 1922 Swanie

The one is still fully original:

Tarr Roses 14 (20)

The other has had various titanium and plastic parts fitted, and electronic, leather and wooden accessories attached*.

Tarr Roses 14 (24)

Both were seen at LindiLou’s Tarr Roses Open Day.

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*Titanium knee, plastic knee, titanium specs, plastic spec lenses, plastic lens implants, electronic hearing aids, leather hat & shoes, wooden walking stick.