Cars n Aeroplanes

January 2010:

Have you checked my white horse? Well, white VW kombi – WHICH . . was towed into the garage while on holiday two days before new year. Today I towed it again – to a clutch place. I’ve been driving Trish’s ole man’s 1980 Opel Kadett. He handed me the keys, his vision is shot. Glaucoma and deciding not to use the drops for years as they irritated his eyes and blurred his vision. He was right, xalatan is a bitch. But . .

I await the verdict on the kombi’s clutch – which I hope is better than VW’s R17 290.

I KNEW I shoulda fitted a Stromberg.

Peter Brauer wrote:

How thick can ONE man be?

Read what you wrote: ‘Been driving Trish’s ole man’s 1980 Opel Kadett.’

Do you not see the message in that? Let me help you: 1980……Opel . .

Give the kombi to the clutchplate and buy a fucking Opel. Of ALL people I thought you would have learned something as a student.

I wrote:

Problem is – no matter how hard I try – I don’t get the 1980 feeling driving it. I just remember Kevin Stanley-Clarke’s firm statement, as he drove us around Doories in his chocolate brown Alfa: “When driving, always watch out for old toppies wearing hats. Give them a wide berth.” My current cap says DAS Pilsener.

Also, clicking in the gearlock, fitting the steering lock, feeling the ceiling fabric fluttering on my bald head as I drive with all windows open – the aircon substitute. Then waiting for the misfiring to end after switching off – it all brings back TOO MANY memories.

PS: New crutch and “dual flywheel” (TF is that?): R9 900.

Steve Reed wrote:

Like I said: Buy a Toyota.

I wrote:

The WORST thing is, you’re right. As my Toyota patients never tire of telling me. With the Durban Toyota plant just down the road I see a fair number of them and their suppliers; and they have NO doubt as to what I should do. Trouble is: The Hi-Ace minibus has a bench seat – I can’t stroll back for a beer or a kip or to feed the kids. That’s a deal-breaker.

Steve wrote:

I never owned a Toyota in my life, despised them in fact, till arriving here in Australia and had to take the cheapest / most reliable / least offensive on the tweedie handsey (second hand) market.

Try standing on hot used car lots in the Brisbane heat !!!  Water boarding is a kinder form of torture.

Eventually when my head and body was about to be fully done in, I gave way and said “OK OK  I’ll take it”  and by some luck I was standing on the Toyota forecourt at the time.

VERY pleased I was not standing next to a Kia or a Holden Captiva.

As for the clutch, anything that can take six months of the good wife Wendy’s clutch abuse and still be on the road is ok for me. And I am brave enough to say this in front of herThen duck.

I wrote:

It’s a sad state of affairs that I will take anything that doesn’t give me kak in the line of cars and women nowadays.

Which reminds me:
Bob Ilsley was at Addington when I got there in my khaki uniform. He was in legs, I was in eyes. He made woorren legs for the hobbling. He’s turned 81 now, still flies the plane* he made in his garage – a Piper Vagabond – and waltzes around in rude T-shirts. One says, ‘IF ITS GOT TITS OR WHEELS IT
WILL GIVE YOU SHIT.

I’ve made glasses for him since 1980: Glass PGX execs; 3 cyl power, same axis; SAME heavy, dark Safilo zyl frame (same frame, not same type of frame), same add, same same; Tried changing a number of times to new frame, multi, CR39, flattops, different axis, whatever, and every single time we go back to EXACTLY what he had before.

Last year we tricked him. We made a free pair of CR39 flattops (‘temporary’ we told him) in a better frame (still zyl, but thinner) and made him wear them while we took his old specs and “searched for a frame just like his perfect one”. The search continued while his wife, all his girlfriends and mates told him he looked much better. Now he has stuck to them (except every now and then he walks in with his old ones on and kicks up a huge stink in the front office when its crowded about how “These bloody new frames you gave me are NO GOOD!”).
He’s a character. Sharp as  a whistle. He flies and signs off home-built planes – experimental aircraft – before they can be licensed.

* or would still be flying his Piper Vagabond tail-dragger if he hadn’t pranged it on take-off in PMB with his wife on board. He is re-building it in his garage now.

Bob’s Vagabond in his garage, being rebuilt after the PMB prang – never did fly again.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Anyway, owning a Toyota probly makes you more boring in the long run: You, for instance, would not have to catch a lift with friend Bruce to fetch your car in Umbilo Road (and the clutch feels kak, thank you).

We made a detour for lunch – a currie at Gounden’s. Gounden’s is at the back end of a panelbeating shop between Umbilo and Sydney roads. You walk thru the workshop to get to it. Lekker bare place, cheap tables with a big bar doing good trade. Many ous there for liquid lunch. We took quarter bunny mutton, made my hyes water.
Washed it down with Black Label and coke – one bottle, one can, long sips from one then the other. R80 for the both of us. Service: Of the Hey You variety. Ambience: Faint sounds of panel beating in the background.
Gounden opened this “restaurant” to spite his wife when they divorced. Her restaurant is a few shopfronts away, on the street: Govender’s Curry House. We feel in such cases of matrimonial argy bargy, we should support the husband.

~~~oo0oo~~~
My good wife Aitch also should be employed on a test track for concept offroad trucks along with Wendy. A mate from England visited and Aitch drove them around quite a bit while I worked to make money to take them all to Mkhuze. He drives ancient Peugeot heaps and lovingly tends them with kid gloves, keeping them alive long past their date de vente (sell-by date), so this was an eye opener to him. He said a Cockney version of Yussiss! and described how she takes no shit from a gear lever, nor a clutch. She knows first is somewhere up in that far left corner and she shoves the lever there without any how’s-your-father.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Bob is now 82. Last week he came in with his “Recycled Teenager” T-shirt. To proudly collect his – wait for it – Glass PGX Exec Bifocals in Thick Square Plastic Frame.
“Much better” he says.
His CR39 flattops were coated with a thick layer of some spray. Took lots of cleaning with acetone to get them clear and smooth. He did acknowledge they were clearer than they’d been in months. But the execs were better.

Today he’s back from passing his flying medical.
“Told you” he says.
“You wouldn’t lissen” he says.

Today he’s off to Kokstand to check if a home-built – built by the local hardware man – is safe to fly another year. He’ll certify it if all’s well.

Next week he’s on his way to Oshkosh in Wisconsin to the world’s biggest home-built aircraft show. Sleeps in a pup tent in the campground to save tom.

Last time he flew a simulator of the Wright Brothers’ first aircraft. Crashed after 3 seconds. Went to the back of the queue and stood in line again to have another go.
Flew it for 44 secs that time. Longer than the brothers themselves.

Steve wrote:

Amazin. Where do you get PGX glass execs from? That stuff is illegal here – we live in a nanny state though. Had a dude on the phone for 20 minutes wanting glass PGX trifocals.  Banging on about how he could buy PGX exec TRIfocals on the net if only he could get someone to fit them for him. Had not given up and had been trying for 18 months. PLUS of course being a veteran he needed to have them free. Veterans Assistance (V.A) here only does SV or bifocals, plastic only and a free pair every two years. Clear rules. He has been in battle with the head office of V.A. and after 18 months says he is beginning to make progress.  Fantastic. Over here if you whinge long enough, know how to use email, have time, and use the term “human rights” you can have anything. Just shout loud enough. Its all yours. And then the taxes go up.

I wrote:
Your veteran sounds like Bob.

On the execs, I got a definite NO WAY from Zeiss, Essilor and Hoya, but of course in Debbin there are lots of little one-man labs with family connections in places that keep Morris Oxfords running for half-centuries after their sell-by dates.

They woke up Hoya who then found a pair covered in dust. The add was +1,75 not +2,00, but I said “What’s the difference?” and we made them up. Bob’s as pleased as punch, like I told you. He loves a good “I told you so”.

Steve wrote:

Like Horseshoes and Handgrenades, closies DO count.  Excellent.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Techno-fob-ia?

Stefanus wrote about a new thing. I paraphrased his rant:

What a bloody stupid idea. The ‘Key Fob’ or ‘Keyless Start’ or ‘Keyless Go’ or ‘Proximity Key’. I have always thought it was a stupid idea but I wasn’t sure why. Tonight I found out why.

Our friend John gets home with his wife after several stops, including our place for a while. Cannot find his ‘fob’; realises the car might have started because his wife had the other fob in her handbag. Panics.

After much driving around and searching in various places, including our place, it ‘turns up’ under his drivers seat where he insists he had searched several times. But ‘it had gone into a crevice.’

Steve expostulates: It’s a lousy idea! You could leave your key fob behind and drive 300 km without knowing you don’t have it, because the car opens and starts with the proximity of the duplicate ‘fob’ in your wife’s handbag. Frikkin stupid, really. Although in hindsight he could have narrowed the search by checking to see if the car would start without his wife’s keys being nearby . . .

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

I wrote:

Aha! A technophobe!

I’m going to ask them to implant mine in a crevice so I can never lose it.

And I won’t let them fob me off.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

Technophobe – yes. Ask my older brother.

Ja, but how will you avoid forgetting the rest of your keys – the ones that are attached to the – er – transponder? Having your own practice I am pretty sure you have a bunch of keys like a prison guard anyway.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

Me? Keys? Nope.

I am lucky enough to have an “Open Sesame” lifestyle. The practice is always open when I get there at a leisurely hour, and my home is always open. Overrun with bloody kids who all know the 1299# that opens the gate from outside. Me and security are strangers.

Thank goodness for Raksha and the keys at work and Cecelia and the no keys at home.

Sadly, I do have to carry the one single key for the 2007 Ford 4X2 3litre diesel double cab bakkie. White. I lost the canopy key so now it doesn’t lock. Help yourself to my toolbox back there. At times I do spend some time looking for the damn thing on the odd occasions when I put it in a clever place instead of the usual on the kitchen counter. For some reason my Ford key says ‘Mazda.’

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

I should have realised I was speaking to the wrong person. We tend to lock stuff by and large. Someone came and had an overnight scratch around Wendy’s unlocked car a while ago. Front door gets locked at night or if we are not around. We regularly get wide-eyed warnings from the neighbours about dodgy people seen snooping around the street.

Office keys: I am the first to arrive by a half an hour (OCD) so key needed.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

I am weird that way. Partly slackness, partly – slackness. Been very lucky and fully aware that could change.

1984 – Marriott road flat – nothing. No incidents.

1989 – 7 River Drive Westville – pre-kids. Zanele said she saw an umfaan in our room and she said ‘Hey! Wenzani?’ and he scuttled off through the burglar bars, which were big enough for him to get through.

Years later Aitch found her Zeiss binocs were missing. ‘Stolen!’ she announced. I thought no, ‘Misplaced.’ She thought ‘Poephol, stolen!’ Two years later we found them in the socks drawer.

Then post-kids I got hijacked and taken off in a friend’s car. That wasn’t good.

2003 – 10 Windsor Avenue Westville – Break and enter while we were out and Aitch’s binocs WERE taken. Also her wedding ring. She replaced only the binocs with a shiny newer model – insurance. I still have the new ones.

2005 – 10 Elston Place Westville – nothing.

The reason I have a keypad at the gate where friends just enter the last four digits of their cell number and Open Sesame is I hate closed gates. I once – ca1982 – waited on the pavement in Argyle road outside the palatial home of one of Barks’ friends, ringing the doorbell in vain. Party inside, so they couldn’t hear. Pre-cellphone days. Eventually went home and resolved never to live in a fuckin prison. Still don’t.

Weird? OK.

Confession: I do insist the kids practice common sense security and keep doors locked if they’re alone at home and when they leave the home unattended!

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

umfaan – youngster

Hey! Wenzani? – Oy! Whatchadoin’?

Poephol – husband

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Talking of phobias, isn’t this a lovely one?

The Fear Of Giants: fee-fi-phobia

It’s Just Cos You’re Old

My ole man complains his doc doesn’t even try to help him. “He always just says ‘It’s cos you’re old’ ‘Dis die ouderdom.’ Any problem, there’s no attempt at fixing or understanding – just ‘Hey, you’re old.’ He doesn’t even get up out of his chair!” Now I really empathise with people wanting to be heard; I think every effort should be made to patiently hear out 95yr-olds and understand their problems; Hell, I regularly do just that! Maybe he should make a double appointment?

BUT: I did also suspect that some things – human and mechanical – are simply “because they’re old” – reinforced by Tom’s refrain from The Boondocks: “You’re just mad cos your ass is old.” 

SO: Although I told the ole man he really should get a second opinion – to which he replied, “I’m going to make one last appointment with him and I’m going to tell him I’m leaving him!” Why? I asked, Just leave. “No, what about his other patients!?  He needs to be told!” – I did also secretly think, Hey, some things can’t be fixed.

So my Ford Ranger – that’s my white 3litre diesel 4X2 hi-rider double cab Ford Ranger bakkie – has been a bit noisy, but I was not admitting to it. What? What noise? I can’t hear anything. I once heard a noise and it cost me money.

Then three things happened and forced my hand: One, a very young lady – teenager really – reversed into my left front wheel, BANG. I got out and she burst into tears Waah! I’m sorry! Waah! I’ve had such a terrible day! Waah! I’m going to be in such trouble! I looked at my car: not a scratch. I looked at hers: a dented soft bumper. I said Off You Go. Just Go. As I drove off Tom said Dad! You’re such a sucker! You should have sued her ass! Nah, I said, nothing happened. Then the car starts to shake like its got Parkinson’s. See!? says Tom, I told you. She just suckered you, you should have sued her. We’d gone ten metres and a glance at the young lady – teenager really -‘s car showed she’d already gone seventy metres in the shade. She was outta there!  What to do? I pretended not to feel the shake. What shake? I don’t feel a shake; I once felt a shake and it cost me money. Tom just gave an exasperated eye roll and shook his head.

Two, driving up our road with Jess, a cacophony of sound like forty seven tin cans had been thrown under the car made it hard for even me to ignore it. What was that Dad!? says Jess, who usually doesn’t notice anything automotive. Did you throw all your tin cans under the car, Jess? I deflect. No! That noise is from your car, Dad! she says firmly. Jess, I once heard a noise . . oh, hell, I just kept quiet.

The clincher was I had volunteered my vehicle as able to take the nine lady walkers and me to the Zululand beach walk and I now found out they expected it to drive to the actual beach, then on to fetch us at the next stop and I suddenly thought, “What if it lets me down in front of these grown – not teenage – ladies? That could prove embarrassing.” A 4X4 it ain’t. So I leapt into action: I had the left rear door fixed. It hadn’t opened for a year; And I decided I’d give it new tyres. That always makes it look better. The front ones were worn quite sadly. New tyres, I thought, and then the alignment will probably fix all the other problems which are simply a matter of being out of whack after being whacked by a young lady – teenager really.

And you won’t believe what the tyre man told me as he was doing the alignment! Your Shocks Are Fucked, he tells me. Bluntly; Just like that. How dare he? I was still puffing when he scribbled on my tyre invoice “Four shocks” and said “Go get a quote.” Well, I’m a diplomat and they say the meek will inherit the earth without any land claims, so I absorbed the shock and next thing I’m driving away with two new Dunlop-with-superblue tyres, balanced and aligned and four new yellow Monroe shock absorbers.

And would you believe it!? Silence! Smoothness! Amazing. Maybe old things CAN be fixed. I may have to re-evaluate.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

While these shocks were being applied, this party bus was having its wheels aligned nearby:

So I dial the number and a voice behind me says “Are you calling me?” It’s Ndumiso and he’s the owner-dude. Sure, he can do Jessie’s bar for her 21st party, he says. No prah-blim. Ha! Two birds with one stone.

You can see from their bumper they’re probably steady, reliable ous.

Update: NOT. He hasn’t phoned, hasn’t returned messages. He’s like King Kong with Faye Wray. I’ll have to play barman.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

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.

=========ooo000ooo=========

umqombothi – traditional Zulu beer

spruit – stream

kak – mischief

*- not really sure

 

On Seeking Good Advice

. . and then ignoring it.

I couldn’t believe they wanted R40 000! Forty Thousand! NO WAY!

So I sought advice from someone who really knows cars.

Hi Alan
My VW kombi is a 2005 1,9TDi T5 8-seater – 166 000km.

Repairs needed:
Clutch (R12 800); Brakes (R3 000); Driveshaft (R10 100)
Sliding door not opening; plus 165 000 km service.

I have been quoted R40 537 for the above by Alpine Motors VW.

As a trade-in on a second-hand vehicle (around R250k) they offer me R30 000.

I think I’m ready for a double cab bakkie now. Needn’t be 4X4.

Please tell me what you think. Thanks a lot. Cheers. Pete

(this was in 2012)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Hi Pete.

My value for your kombi: R105 000 less 15 for high kms = 90. Less repairs. So worst case scenario on a trade-in = R50 000.

So their R30 000 offer is taking a chance. You don’t need to give it away, these kombis are very sought-after.

If Alpine sells you another they will do the repairs for half that. Tell them to work a deal and you want 70 as-is on another Kombi.  If not, rather keep it and fix it yourself as the repairs it needs are all wear and tear being the driveshaft, clutch and brakes – not unusual at this mileage.

My advice:
Fix it. That is the cheaper way round. This is not so expensive in comparison to other cars.

Regards, Alan

~~~oo0oo~~~

So: Did I take his advice and spend R40k to get exactly what I wanted?
No, I spent R140k and got a bakkie. Which I didn’t really want. And which I still have and I still don’t really want.

One day I hope to live and learn.

DSCN8788.JPG

Did You Got a Licence?

Dad, asks TomTom, When does this licence expire?

We’re sitting outside a nightclub at 11pm and he’s asking while we’re waiting for the last of the boys so we take home all eleven that we brought (yes, ELEVEN).

Dunno, let’s check, I say. I know he’s interested as we were once bust in Lesotho for an expired licence and he doesn’t want that to happen again. Those okes with guns made him nervous. Me too. Soon after that they had their 2014 coup!

September 2015, I sigh.

So I’m in the queue for my licence for the third time. The first time I sat next to an old toppie. He musta been 60 if he was a day. He was timing the transactions. Average seven minutes per person and there were 17 ahead of me, so I would have been late for work, so I left. The second time I was making good progress when I overheard from the counter “where’s your proof of address”, so I left.

This third time I have all three papers. For the bakkie, the trailer and Jessie’s scooter – those two expired in 2014! And I have my proof of address, my ID card and money.

But not enough. I had R430 and the bakkie alone is R620 so I’ll be back a fourth time with more cash.

Hell is going to be like this. Queues.

=========ooo000ooo=========

.

pic of a more recent disk added later

Wheels and Status

Car spotting and car bragging is a (very) competitive sport at Tom’s school. Every day I hear tales of Ferraris and Range Rovers taking kids to school and the sad lament of what the isikoroskoro we drive means to his standing.
We usually park far from the school (I let him walk the last few hundred metres) but yesterday I parked right outside the gate and poor Tom got bust: His mates spotted the Ford Ranger double cab. Worse: It’s only 4X2.
This morning we parked far away again as he told me they ragged him mercilessly. “We saw your Dad’s Bhugatti, Thomas!” they said with great delight.

the wish Bhugatti–   reality Ford

– – – – – – 883Kw                                        103Kw

Ah well, he has inflicted pain, he has to learn to take pain.

Redfoot, the 1979 Land Rover

Aitch knew a doctor in PMB who “did up” Land Rovers. That got me thinking . . .

To my amazement my partners Lello, Yoell & Stoute were NOT HUGELY enthusiastic as I twisted their arms to go in as equal shareholders! Even when I told them that, besides the good doctor, it had only one previous owner (strategically omitting to say that owner had been the old KwaZulu Homeland Police Force).

But eventually they saw the light and agreed, good partners that they are, and we became the proud consortium owners of a handpainted 1979 hole-in-the-floor manual 4X4 long wheelbase Series III station wagon-type 5-door Land Rover. White.
It was fitted with a Ford Essex V6 three litre engine on new birdshit-welded mountings and painted white with an old brush. The wheel rims were painted red with the same brush, from which its name Redfoot. Did I mention handpainted?

Well, we ended up putting three engines into ole Redfoot, and it went up Sani once, to Ladysmith once as 8-seater transport (Prem took it to wedding), Yoell used it once and never again; Soutar used it once or twice.

Andre vd Merwe from PE thought he’d buy it but his wife Sue made him turn back NOW after only a few km’s and said he would buy it “Over Her Deceased Corpse”. A Canadian optometrist used it to get to a clinic where he did a volunteer stint in the Valley of 1000 Hills in KwaZulu Natal. He brought it back smoking – he didn’t really get the “stick shift” thing, nor the “clutch” thing. That was one of the new engines.

Spent a total of R25 000 on it in all and sold it for R5 000 – with relief! Not a runaway success story was Redfoot, but I think my partners exaggerate when they say I promised them an ‘investment opportunity’!

BUT never forget: When we went up Sani with an Isuzu 4X4 pickup and a Toyota 4X4 pickup and a Nissan 4X4 pickup, what happened? They all very boringly flew up the pass with ease, while Redfoot had to pause for breath and a radiator top-up, BUT!! _ everyone had their photos taken next to Redfoot!

See, driving a pickup you look like you’re going to work; but driving a Landrover you look like you’re going on an expedition! From which you might not return!!

The three more capable - but less photogenic - bakkies
– here come the more capable but less photogenic bakkies –
Redfoot Sani crop-001
– the posing

~~~oo0oo~~~

Slightly disconcerting: As Redfoot was catching its breath and airing its brakes halfway down, two nuns breezed past us, chatting gaily, in a 2X4 bakkie, and waved at us. Bitches.

Moving? Don’t use Swanie’s Van Lines!

We were moving don’t ask me why. I would happily die here, I said to Aitch. “It’s outside the best schools’ catchment area” Aitch said to me. Which was why I was loading stuff into a rented trailer after fifteen years in River Drive.

Look, it wasn’t a bad trailer. It was – OK, it was a BIG trailer. And it was cheap. It was covered, too, in case it rained, which it didn’t. We had picked Pickfords to do the bulk removal, but I was doing the fragile and precious stuff, me being reliable, dependable, organised, punctual – OK, some of those. We were only moving about 4km to our new temporary home while Aitch searched in earnest for her ideal place.

Picture frames, certain favourite pot plants, some old furniture was expertly packed by me, learning as I went.

So I hitched it to the kombi and off we go. River Drive is right at the bottom where you have to be to be on a river, so I gunned the kombi up the steep hill. She battled at first but then seemed to catch power and roared off lustily. I started humming that song from the removals ad on TV. Y’know: The toothless ou driving along oblivious that his load is falling off the back . . ?

A glance in the mirror showed the trailer right there behind me. Except it was getting smaller . . . Whoa! The trailer had escaped! Which is why the kombi had suddenly felt quick! I watched in horror as it careered down the hill heading straight for Geoffrey’s new gate and wall!

Yanking up the handbrake, I leapt out and ran after it in slow motion, like in a movie. Pointlessly. What would I have done if I’d caught it? Luckily it slewed to the right and hit a small palm tree on the pavement just before Geoff’s gate and smacked to a halt.

Ignoring the big gouge out of the tar where the disselboom had hit the ground, I reversed the kombi up to it, hitched it up again (checking the ball hitch more closely this time), and gunned the kombi up the steep hill . . .

Moving-Truck-Losing-Furniture

I would clean the potting soil off the pictures later.

footnote:

We found a lovely new home in the Palmiet River valley right near “the right schools”, just as Aitch had planned. Then – Murphy’s Law – the kids were sent off to a remedial school in town 20km away!! The best-laid plans of mice and Aitch . . .


Aitch did have the last laugh, though:

https://bewilderbees.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/a-plan-comes-together/

Casa Blanca Roadhouse, Joburg

As students 1974-1977 we would frequent the Casa Blanca roadhouse at the foot of Nugget Hill below Hillbrow when the pocket money arrived from home. Squeezed into Joz’s VW Beetle or Steve’s beige Apache or Bobby’s Mini Cooper S or Glen’s green Toyota, we’d ask the old Elvis-looking guy with a cap, flip-up sunglasses and whispy whiskers for a burger n chips plus a coke; Or a cheeseburger chips n coke 70c, or – as Steve Reed reminded me – “if we were flush, the Dagwood with everything including the runny fried egg. Sheer luxury. Messy, but worth it!”

I don’t have a pic of the Casa Blanca, but here’s the Doll House in Highlands North and the Casbah in Alberton so long:

Every so often you’d be asked “Move forward” and you’d inch forward to make room for new arrivals behind you, till you reached the “finishing line” where you handed back the tray the Elvis look-alike waitron had clipped to your half-rolled-up window and drove off under the big sign on the wall: QUIET. HOSPITAL.

Many years later (OK, twenty six years later!) work took me back to Jozi and I had time to kill in my hired car so I drove around Doories and Yeoville and Hillbrow. Lunchtime I pulled in to the Casa Blanca and I SWEAR there was the exact same oke who had served us twenty six years earlier, with his SAME cap, his SAME flip-up shades and his SAME whispy whiskers! Astonishing!

I told him cheeseburger chips n coke and how long have you been here?

“Thirty six years” he said “but I’m just filling in now”.

Charged me 70c. Plus twenty six years-worth of inflation.

We have not been able to reach you

Hi Pete,

Thank you for your response, I’ll cancel your – or shall I say Thomas’s – request with the dealer.

Glad the boy has good taste in cars.

Keep well.

Kind Regards

Vicki
Carshop Team Leader

————————–

From: Pete
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 2:15 PM
To: carshop
Subject: Re: We have not been able to reach you

Hi there

I’m sorry!
Thomas is 11yrs old and was on a “wishing” spree without my knowledge!
Please cancel this request.
Thanks a lot
Pete
—————————————————————-

On 2013/02/20 12:34 PM, carshop wrote:

Dear Thomas,

We have been unable to contact you since your vehicle enquiry from CMH Land Rover Silver Lakes.

Please contact Org R on 012 8_9 5__0 from CMH Land Rover Silver Lakes to discuss your vehicle enquiry.

Feel free to contact our support centre by email carshop@cmh.co.za or call us on 0861 carshop should you experience any difficulties.

Sincerely,


~~~oo0oo~~~

Brauer: Fully understandable. Having been forgotten to be picked up at school so often by his dad he deserves his own wheels and shouldn’t be embarrassed in front of his peers by arriving in a skadonk;

Reed: Would Evoque some ire no doubt! Hope it was the Diesel Turbo 6 speed manual. (Probably the automatic, though, so he could drive it).

Stoute: Where’s their sense of humour? Didn’t even offer him a test drive!

~~~oo0oo~~~

My Ford Ranger 3-litre Diesel! It’s gone!

Got back from the Brauers’ palatial new home in the ritzy suburb of Gramedoelas in Tshwane – that ancient seat of my forebears the Tshwanepoels (we have landclaim rights there) – landed at Kinshasa Airport and set off to my car. OK, bakkie. It’s waiting for me in 1A in the parking garage proper. (King Shaka airport, really).
Usually I park under shade cloth, but I thought what the hell, I was a bit late so I took a shorter route; the undercover is closer to the boarding gates.

Okaaay, I’m sure it’s here. I’ll check again.

Up and down all the rows, including the ones I knew I wasn’t in. Nothing.
Try level 0, one down (even though I KNOW I was in 1A, I memorised it and said to myself “Remember 1A: You can’t get better than that: 1st class and an ‘A’ result”). Nope. Try level 2, one up. Nope.

So eventually I had to go to security. To report my car missing, ask where the SAPS was to report the theft, open up a ‘missing car case’ and ask if they had CCTV cameras. Already I was imagining it on a lowbed trailer on its way to – I dunno, Monaco? Paris? where bakkies like mine are highly desired.

‘No’, said the perky 21yr old at the parking office with a smile, ‘You can’t have lost your car, where did you leave it?’
‘1A’ I said, my spirits lifting as she said it with such absolute certainty! I thought ‘They don’t have cars stolen here. I can see that just by her demeanour!’

‘Try -1A’ she said. “MINUS ONE AY” is how it sounded.

‘There’s a -1A?’ I asked, ‘Yes’ she burbled brightly, ‘Two levels down’.

There it was.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Exhausting

TomTom is mad about Range Rover Evoques. They are the ONLY cars de jour. Well, and Bughattis and the top new Range Rover Sport.

Every one we pass is spotted and commented on.

One morning recently it was:
“Hey, Dad look, there’s an umLungu driving that Evoque” he sounds surprised.

We get nearer:
“Oh, right! You can tell:
(roll of the eyes) Only one exhaust pipe. Typical.”

Image

OK, these two are better, but four would be GOOD . .

Thy Ox and My Ass

On a boys getaway weekend to Manteku on the WildCoast my kombi makes it easily down to Drifters’ camp, though I do think Uh! Oh! as we drive down, Might be interesting getting out!

Uh Oh!

Five glorious days later we pack up and head out. But it has rained and the hill is too much for the kombi. What now? We’re the only vehicle in miles. “No problem” says our Drifters camp manager. “I’ll get some oxen”.

Oh, the shame! My ‘friends’ roar with laughter and start preparing. To lighten the kombi? To attach the tow rope? To clear big rocks away? No. None of the above. TO TAKE PICTURES!!

A ‘helpful’ comrade filled with empathy!
– after a false start, where the oxen made a beeline for the river, we’re now aimed right . . uphill –

To this day I am reminded of this by these helpful ‘friends’. If I mention any car trouble they helpfully tell me: “Check for ox shit in the axles”.

At the top, it’s payment time: Thanks for your time, your trained oxen and your skill!