Lockdown Lookback – 6

This lookback to 1972 came about because of a photo from 1967 which triggered memories!

First the old photo, sent by Mariette who got it from Janetta – both of them feature. Taken in the Drakensberg on a weekend to beautiful Thendele above Royal Natal National Park.

front Klippies Kritzinger, Janetta Badenhorst, Henfre Papenfus, Mariette van Wyk – back Chris Britz, Daphne vd Westhuizen

One memory led to another and then we ended up here (ca.1972 but written at vrystaatconfessions.com in 2014):

Harsh Rejection, Deep Scars

In high school we had an older mate who was in the Free State koor. He was famous in Harrismith for that. His nickname was Spreeu but we called him Sparrow. Everyone knew Sparrow, Chris Bester, was one of ‘Die Kanaries – Vrystaatse Jeugkoor.’ Fame! Bright lights! Girls threw their broekies at the kanaries! OK, maybe not.

One day a buzz went round school that Septimus – apparently he was the seventh child – Smuts, Free State Inspector of Music was there – here! in Harrismith, city of song and laughter – to do auditions for new members for this famous koor.

We were there! Me and Gabba. Neither known for having the faintest interest in warbling before (my membership of the laerskool koor a distant memory). Nor any other form of culture come to think of it, other than rugby. Gabba was a famous – beroemde, kranige – rugby player, having been chosen for Oos Vrystaat Craven Week in Std 8, Std 9, Std 9 & Std 10. Strong as an ox.

People were amazed: “What are YOU ous doing here?” they asked as we waited in the queue. We just smiled. We’d already missed maths, biology and PT.

Septimus was a dapper little rockspider full of confidence. He gave Gabba exactly three seconds and sent him packing. Gave me ten times longer and said ‘Nice enough, but no range.’ So back to class we went, crestfallen look on our dials, mournfully telling our mates and the teacher that we COULD NOT understand how we’d been rejected and there must have been some kind of mistake. Tender-rigging, maybe?

The teacher raised his eyebrows but we stuck to our story: It had been a longtime deep desire of ours to sing for our province and the rejection cut us deep.

It became mine & Gabba‘s standing joke over the decades that followed.

Rugby HY 1972 Gabba crop.jpg
Gabba, disappointed songbird –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Decades later research has uncovered what Septimus was looking for. If only we had known! Here’s the criteria they were looking for in aspiring choristers in the late 60’s:

We may have scored E’s and F’s on most, but on 7.2.1.8 Intelligence and Dedication we surely got an A? Also, if we’d known the choirmaster had ‘n besondere liefde vir die gedrae polifonie van Palestrina se koorkompetisies,’ we’d have practiced that shit.

~~~oo0oo~~~

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.

——-ooo000ooo——-

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’;