Hey Eddie! Thanks a lot. I had a lovely quiet day at home with lots and lots of messages – way more than I deserve, as I remember only a few birthdays, so I say to them – as I say to you here – hope you have a wonderful day and year too! So many people remember my ruddy birthday. Can’t think why???
Spoke to Mother Mary on the day. She’s well. Also to the old goat, who pretended to hear what I was saying. Sisters Barbara and Sheila both phoned, and a host of others; a call from Janet in Botswana, a long call from Glen and Ali in Aussie, an even longer call from Larry in Ohio; people are amazing. Messages from all over. And all because I was lucky enough to be born on a highly suspicious day on the Gregorian calendar that people tell me is somehow appropriate to me!?
And guess what I found out yesterday for the first time in sixty six years? Mary said, “Yes, you made a fool of me that day. You arrived two days late. You were due on the 30th March.” First time I ever heard that! Who the hell would want to be born on the 30th March!?
I’m guessing as Mom’s recent grey cells die off, and she loses what happened yesterday or this morning, some of the ancient ones – up to ninety two years old – are getting a fresh look at daylight, being dusted off and telling their story? Maybe?
Thank goodness I waited those two days, incubating quietly and delaying getting out into the noise. My whole life would have been different if I hadn’t been born on the 1st April. Different; Less fun, I think.
“Yes, you made a fool of me that day. You arrived two days late. You were due on the 30th March.” Then, “Did I tell you that?” Poor dear Mom Mary repeated that surprise news in the same call, not three minutes after telling me the first time.
Mother Mary (85 in 2013) went into Pick ‘n Pay looking for smoked hocks to use for making soup.
Two delightful ladies behind the butchery counter looked at her curiously when she asked for smoked hocks.
“What?” they asked “Smoked ‘ocks?”
“Yes,” she replied, “Smoked hocks.”
“No, sorry, we don’t have smoked ‘ocks.”.
“But I bought some here last month and made the most delicious soup!” Mary protested mildly.
The two of them looked at each other, turned to Mother Mary and the one said decisively, “We have never had a smoked ox in this shop.”
Friend Rita in Cape Town remarked: Reminds of the time I ordered two de-boned chickens. When I went to fetch them, the ladies at the cash desk were having a big discussion about my chickens. Eventually, one said, ‘Madam, we can’t let you have these chickens – they are flat!’
Play the Warsaw Concerto, demanded 99yr-old Louise at Mom’s retirement home today. Ooh, says Mom – eight years younger and has always respected her elders – I used to play it, but I don’t think I could play it now. You go right back to the piano now and try! ordered Louise.
Mom says she’s a real character. She had just finished playing ‘I Love Paris in the Springtime’ to the assembled mass of old bullets. Probably half a dozen of them.
How did the Warsaw Concerto go? I ask. Ta ta da da DUH! says Mom.
Here it is:
Who’s it by? I ask. Addinsell she says. Ay double dee and ends in double ell. I think it ends in double ell. I check: Of course it does. Richard Addinsell. Written for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight, which is about the Polish struggle against the 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany.
We are ten cousins from the four children of Ouma Elizabeth and Oupa Paul Fouche Swanepoel of Pietermaritzburg. Our cousin Liz Grundling-Fortmann in Camperdown passed away in 2018 and a gathering of family and friends took place in Camperdown where Liz lived most of her life, to salute a special lady.
Afterwards, I wrote to cousin Shirley Solomon-Miller in Seattle Washington, USA:
Hi Shirley – Well, Lizzie had an amazing memorial service in Camperdown! I was amazed at the number of people who turned out. There were five cousins – the ‘Uncle Pieter’ Swanies, Barbara Sheila & Koos, and the ‘Aunty Lizzie or Aunty Anne’ Grundlings, Jack and Marlene. The four generations present were beautifully represented by Mary, Barbara Mary, Linda Mary and Mary-Kate.
Lizzie’s son Zane and brother Jack spoke beautifully of her at the service. She sure was loved and admired. Dad said it was the biggest funeral he’d ever been to – and he’s been to a bundle! I arrived just on time and then waited for Sheila, hoping I’d be able to hang back and maybe even stand outside as I have at many a funeral and wedding, but they had kept seats for us! We were ushered to the very front row! Caught out!
After the preacherman had finished Dad (95 then) leaned over and in his loud deaf voice he complained the service had been way too long. I indicated HUSH and he says ‘Can they hear me?’ Yes! I nodded, so he – no handbrake – says ‘Well, the last time he was subjected to such a long sermon was by dominee Ras in Harrismith.’ That was about fifty years back. See, people forget he’s there for the food!
And the Camperdonians laid on a feast – tea and coffee and tons of food – and then they said we must follow them home for a braai!
We all gathered at Auntie Lizzie and Uncle Con’s old home (and Lizzie’s home ever since) and had a lovely gathering and braai and then Sheila followed me and we drove home in the dark on that very busy N3 road to Durban – the road that runs right past Lizzie’s garage and petrol station. When we got home I phoned Sheila to check she was in – she was already in bed!
We agreed on what a really lovely bunch of people Lizzie had around her, her son and daughter, their spouses and kids were all so friendly, hospitable and helpful to all of us, some of whom – like me – they have seen very seldom indeed.
I saw Aunty Lizzie and Uncle Con’s graves and was surprised to find she didn’t have Elizabeth in her name! She was Anna Naomi, and Con’s nickname was Sarge. I did know a lot of people called her Aunty Anne. We only called them Uncle Con and Aunty Lizzie! Sheila says it was something about Dad’s nickname for her – ‘Skinny Lizzie” or something. Surprised me.
Another surprise: Lizzie was affected by emphysema after smoking for years – even when she was sick she ‘cut down to one a day.’ And there was her daughter Lisa smoking! I had to chuckle! Us humans!
Other pics were taken. I’ll send as I get them. I see mine have very few people in them! Just Sheila and Jack on the back stoep. – Lotsa love – cousin Koos
Some time before, Shirley and I had spoken of her Mom, Liz’s aunt, Adriana ‘Janie’ (pr. ‘Yahnee’) Swanepoel-Solomon who died in 1974. Shirley had held a ceremony on the Skagit River up north of Seattle where she lives.
Luckily nine of the cousins had managed to get together not long before – I think in 2014?
Recently it was Liz’s birthday. Cousin Solly in New Zealand reminded us, and Liz’s kids Zane and Lisa and their partners Bridget and John sent a pic of the flowers they had placed at her plaque:
CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO From the film “Sun Valley Serenade” (1941) (Lyrics: Mack Gordon / Music: Harry Warren)
Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track 29, boy you can give me a shine. I can afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo, I’ve got my fare and just a trifle to spare. You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four, Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore; Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina; When you hear the whistle blowing eight to the bar, Then you know that Tennessee is not very far. Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rolling, Whoo,Whoo, Chattanooga there you are. There’s gonna be a certain party at the station, All satin and lace, I used to call funny face. She’s gonna cry, until I tell her that I’ll never roam, So Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo choo me home!
Recorded by: Glenn Miller & His Orch. (vocal: Tex Beneke & The Four Modernaires) – 1941 Glenn Miller & His Orch. (Film Soundtrack) – 1941 Cab Calloway & His Orch. – 1941 The Andrews Sisters (with Vic Schoen & His Orch.) – 1941 Johnny Long & His Orch. (vocal: Paul Harmon) – 1941 Kurt Widmann Mit Seinem Orch. (vocal: Ruth Bruck) – 1941 Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua (feat. in the film “Springtime In The Rockies”) – 1942 Bill Haley & His Comets – 1954 The Modernaires – 1954 Karel Vlach & His Orch. – 1955 Ray Anthony & His Orch. – 1956 Al Saxon (with Ken Jones & His Orch.) – 1959 Cyril Stapleton & His Orch. – 1959 Ray Charles – 1960 Martin Denny – 1960 Ernie Fields Orch. – 1960 Oscar Peterson (Instr.) – 1960 The Checkmates – 1961 Floyd Cramer (Instr.) – 1962 Si Zentner & His Orch. – 1962 Hank Snow – 1963 The Tornados (Instr.) – 1963 The Shadows (Instr.) – 1964 The Fabulous Jokers – 1965 Harpers Bizarre – 1967 Billy Strange (Instr.) – 1968 Joe Loss & His Orch. – 1969 Syd Lawrence Orch. – 1969 Ted Heath & His Orch. – 1972 Enoch Light & The Light Brigade – 1973 Haruomi Hosono – 1975 James Last & His Orch. – 1975 John Hammond – 1975 Joe Bob’s Nashville Sound Co. – 1976 Vic Lezal’s Professionals – 1976 The Dooley Family – 1976 The Million Airs – 1976 Tuxedo Junction – 1978 Rita Remington – 1979 Taco – 1985 Denis King – 1986 Mercedes Ruehl (feat. in the film “Big”) – 1988 Asleep At The Wheel – 1988 Barry Manilow – 1994
Also recorded by: Sammy Davis Jr.; Teresa Brewer; Tony Rizzi And Pacific; Larry Elgart & His Manhattan Swing Orch; Johnny Bond; Boston Pops Orchestra; Harry Connick Jr.; Ray Conniff; Bette Midler; Matt Monro; Jimmy Caro; Udo Lindenberg; Xavier Cugat; Stéphane Grappelli; Rick Van Der Linden; Al Russ Orch.; Rune Öfwerman Trio; Ron Russell Band; Harry Roy; Klaus Wunderlich ….. and many, many more.
MELODY OF LOVE [Melodie D’Amour] Henri Salvador (m) 1903 Leo Johns (Eng l) 1949
as recorded by – The Ames Bros 1957; Eduardo Almani & his Orch ’53; David Carroll & his Orch ’55; Leo Diamond ’55; The Ink Spots ’55; Joe Loss & his Orchestra ’57; Edmundo Ros & his Orchestra ’57; Jane Morgan Nina & Frederik Henri Salvador
Melodie d’amour, Take this song to my lover; Shoo shoo little bird, Go and find my love. Melodie d’amour, Serenade at her window; Shoo shoo little bird, Sing my song of love. Oh tell her I will wait (I will wait) If she names the date! (names the date) Tell her that I care (how I care) More than I can bear. (i can bear) For when we are apart, How it hurts my heart! So fly, oh fly away, And say that I hope and pray, This lovers’ melody, Will bring her back to me. Melodie d’amour, Take this song to my lover; Shoo shoo little bird, Go and find my love. Melodie d’amour, Serenade at her window; Shoo shoo little bird, Tell her of my love. Oh tell her how I yearn, (how I yearn) Long for her return, (her return) Say I miss her so, (miss her so) More than she could know! (she could know) For when we are apart, How it hurts my heart! So fly, oh fly away, And say that I hope and pray This lovers’ melody Will bring her back to me. Melodie d’amour, Serenade at her window; Shoo shoo little bird, Tell her of my love. (Contributed by Peter Akers – January 2010)
KINGSTON TOWN Harry Belafonte
Down the way, where the nights are gay, and the sun shines daily on the mountain top, I took a trip on a sailing ship, and when I reach Jamaica I made a stop. But I’m sad to say, I’m on my way, won’t be back for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town. Sounds of laughter everywhere, and the dancing girls swing to and fro. I must declare my heart is there, though I’ve been from Maine to Mexico. But I’m sad to say, I’m on my way, won’t be back for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town. At the market you can hear, ladies cry out while on their heads they bear, acky rice, salt, fish are nice and the rum is fine any time a year. But I’m sad to say, I’m on my way, won’t be back for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town. Down the way, where the nights are gay, and the sun shines daily on the mountain top, I took a trip on a sailing ship, and when I reach Jamaica I made a stop. But I’m sad to say, I’m on my way, won’t be back for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town. Sad to say, I’m on my way, won’t be back for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town.
‘When the Sun says Goodbye to the Mountain’ – (1936 M: Larry Vincent / T: Harry Pease)
The Masqueraders, Dir. George Scott Wood V. Sam Costa Recorded 27th November 1936; Also recorded by: Geraldo, V. Monte Rey Comedian Harmonists; Roy Fox; Primo Scala & His Accordion Band; Susan McCann 1983
When the sun says goodnight to the mountain
And the gold of the day meets the blue
In my dreams I’m alone on the mountain
With a heart that keeps calling for you
The voice in the trees
The song in the breeze
They bring memories of love we knew
When the sun says goodnight to the mountain
I am dreaming, my sweetheart, of you.
Transcribed from John Wright’s 78 RPM Record Collection (Transcribed by Bill Huntley – May 2013). Our lyrics were different: eg: ‘says goodbye’ – ‘brings back sweet memories of you’
“Cruising Down the River” is a 1946 popular recording song; winner of a public songwriting competition held in the UK. Words and music were written in 1945 by two middle-aged women named Eily Beadell and Nell Tollerton. One of the original early recordings of this song issued in the UK in January 1946 on the Columbia record label (FB 3180), was by Lou Preager and his Orchestra, with vocal by Paul Rich. This was immensely popular on radio, with record and sheet music sales making it one of the biggest hits of 1946 in the United Kingdom.
Mom was 18yrs old and already an accomplished piano player, studying under Miss Underwood!
Cruising down the river, On a Sunday afternoon With one you love, the sun above Waiting for the moon. The old accordian playing A sentimental tune Cruising down the river, On a Sundy afternoon. chorus: The birds above, all sing of love A gentle sweet refrain The winds around, all make a sound Like softly falling rain . . . . Just two of us together, We’ll plan our honeymoon Cruising down the river, On a Sunday afternoon. (Contributed by Ruthie – March 2003)
Mom has played the piano for about eighty years. First Granny Bland’s Ottobach, then her own Bentley she bought from her aunt Marie Bain. She can no longer read her sheet music, so doesn’t play her classical music anymore, but she still plays our favourite popular singalong and dance songs.
I thought I’d know the names of the songs – I don’t! I’ll find them and come back and add them in.
Here’s a stirring tale of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and my family. It also obliquely references a lockdown and social distancing. In fact a much longer lockdown than we have endured: From 13 October 1899 to 17 May 1900, the people of Mahikeng – which the Poms called Mafeking – were locked down and besieged by the locals during the Anglo-Boer War. Theirs lasted 217 days.
In Oct 2018 I wrote: Whenever I hear Jimmy Buffet singing Pencil Thin Mustache I think of my uncle Dudley, oops, my cousin Dudley.
Dudley Bain was a character and my second cousin. I had known him over the years when he used to visit his old home town of Harrismith, but really got to know him once I started practicing optometry in Durban. He was very fond of his first cousin, my Mom Mary – and thus, by extension, of me.
Dudley worked in the Mens Department of John Orrs in downtown Durban back when there was only downtown. Anybody who was anybody worked in downtown. Anywhere else was “the sticks”. Even in 1980 I remember someone saying “Why would you want to be out there?” when optometrists De Marigny & Lello opened a practice in a little insignificant upstairs room on the Berea above a small gathering of shops called Musgrave Centre.
Dapper, hair coiffed, neatly dressed, often sporting a cravat, Dudley had a pencil thin moustache and definite opinions. He was highly chuffed he now had a pet family optometrist to look after him when I first hit downtown and then Musgrave centre.
Fitting his spectacle frame was a challenge as he got skin cancer and his surgeon lopped off ever-bigger pieces of his nose and ears until he had no ear one side and a tiny little projection on which to hook his glasses on the other side. He would hide these ala Donald Trump by combing his hair over them and spraying it carefully in place. I am glad I wasn’t his hairdresser.
He would pop into the practice frequently ‘to see my cousin’ – for me to adjust his frames by micro-millimetres to his satisfaction. He walk in and demand ‘Where’s my cousin?’ If the ladies said I was busy he’d get an imperious look, clutch his little handbag a bit tighter and state determinedly, ‘I know he’ll see me.’ They loved him and always made sure I saw him. He’d ‘only need a minute; just to adjust my frame, not to test my eyes,’ and half an hour later their knocks on the door would get ever more urgent. Then they’d ring me on the internal line, and I’d say ‘Dudley, I got to go.’
I would visit him occasionally at their lovely old double-storey home in Sherwood – on a panhandle off Browns Grove. Then they moved to an A-frame-shaped double-storey home out Hillcrest way, in West Riding.
We had long chats while I was his pet optometrist and I wish I could remember more of them. I’ll add as they come floating back. I’m trying to remember his favourite car. One thing he often mentioned was the sound of the doves in his youth. How that was his background noise that epitomised Harrismith for him. The Cape Turtle Dove . . here it is:
Dudley married the redoubtable Ethne, Girl Guides maven. I found this website, a tribute to Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide – so that’s what made me link this post tenuously to our lockdown:
Olave St. Clair Soames, Lady Baden-Powell, G.B.E., World Chief Guide, died in 1977. In 1987 her daughter and granddaughter, Betty Clay and Patience Baden-Powell, invited readers to send in their memories of the Chief Guide to The Guider magazine.
They wrote:- Everyone who knew Olave Baden-Powell would have a different story to tell, but if all the stories were gathered together, we would find certain threads which ran through them all, the characteristics which made her beloved. Here are a few of the remembrances that people have of her, and if these spark off similar memories for you, will you please tell us?
Here’s Ethne’s contribution: 3 West Riding Rd, Hillcrest, Natal 3610, South Africa When I was a newly-qualified teacher and warranted Brownie Guider in Kenya in 1941, our Colony Commissioner – Lady Baden-Powell – paid a visit to the Kitale Brownie Pack. Due to an epidemic of mumps, the school closed early and Lady B-P was not able to see the children, but she took the trouble to find me and had a chat across the driveway (quarantine distance) for a short time.
A year later at a big Guide Rally at Government House in Nairobi, the Guides and Brownies were on parade, and after inspection Lady B-P greeted us all individually, and without hesitation recognized me as the Guider who had mumps at Kitale. Each time we met in the future, she joked about the mumps.
My next encounter was some twenty years later, on a return visit to Kenya, in 1963, with my husband (that’s our Dudley!), our Guide daughter D. (Diana) and our Scout son P (Peter). We stayed at the Outspan Hotel at Nyeri where the B-Ps had their second home Paxtu. We soon discovered that Lady B-P was at home, but the Hotel staff were much against us disturbing their distinguished resident. However, we knew that if she knew that a South African Scout/Guide family were at hand she would hastily call us in. A note was written – “A S.A. Scout, Guide and Guider greet you.” Diana followed the messenger to her bungalow but waited a short distance away. As lady B-P took the note she glanced up and saw our daughter. We, of course, were not far behind. Immediately she waved and beckoned us to come, and for half-an-hour we chatted and were shown round the bungalow, still cherished and cared for as it had been in 1940-41.
It was easy to understand her great longing to keep returning to this beautiful peaceful place, facing the magnificent peaks of Mount Kenya with such special memories of the last four years of B-P’s life. From her little trinket-box, Lady B-P gave me a World Badge as a memento of this visit which unfortunately was lost in London some years later. Before leaving Nyeri we visited the beautiful cedar-wood Church and B-P’s grave facing his beloved mountain.
My most valued association with Lady B-P was the privilege and honour of leading the organization for the last week of her Visit to South Africa in March 1970. Each function had a lighter side and sometimes humorous disruption by our guest of honour. The magnificent Cavalcade held at King’s Park, PieterMaritzBurg deviated from schedule at the end when Lady B-P called the Guides and Brownies of all race groups to come off the stand to her side; they were too far away. A surge of young humanity made for the small platform in the centre of the field where she stood with one Commissioner, a Guide and three Guiders. Without hesitation, Gervas Clay (her son-in-law) leapt down from the grandstand two steps at a time and just made Lady B-P’s side before the avalanche of children knocked her over. Anxious Guide officials wondered how they were going to get rid of them all again. The Chief Guide said to them, “When I say SHOO, go back to your places, you will disappear.” Lo, and behold, when she said “SHOO, GO back!” they all turned round and went back. You could hear the Guiders’ sighs of relief.
Steve Reed wrote: Hilarious – I reckon every family worth its salt should have had an uncle like that. Something for the kids to giggle about in secret at the family gatherings while the adult dads make grim poker faced humorous comments under their breath while turning the chops on the braai. And for the mums to adore the company of. Good value.
And funny Steve should mention that!
Sheila remembers: “After Annie’s funeral, in our lounge in Harrismith, Dudley was pontificating about something and John Taylor – married to Sylvia Bain, another cousin of Dudleys – muttered to me under his breath ‘Still an old windgat.‘”
Family tree: (Sheila to check): Dudley Bain was the eldest son of Ginger Bain, eldest son of Stewart Bain who came out to Harrismith from Scotland in 1878. My gran Annie Bain Bland was Ginger’s sister, so Mom Mary Bland Swanepoel and Dudley Bain were first cousins.
“Poor Little Angeline” – by (maybe) Will Grosz, Hugh Williams, S. Wilson & Jimmy Kennedy – 1936
She was sweet sixteen, Little Angeline, always dancing on the village green, as the boys went by, you could hear them cry, Poor Little Angeline. Oh her eyes were brown and her hair hung down, laddered stockings and her old blue gown, but she dreamed we’re told of a lover bold Poor Little Angeline. Then one day a prince came a-riding, and he stopped right by her side, very soon she heard him confiding, I want to make you my bride. What a pretty scene on the village green, when the prince was wed to Angeline. Now as his princess, she’s a great success, Poor Little Angeline
Over on my blog about the olden days in the Orange Free State – you know, when knights were bold and nights were cold – I’m running a series on the classical music pieces Mom Used to Play on her piano while we were growing up. Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and fellas like that. Those are mostly played by ‘guest artists’ as we have very little of her classical pieces ‘on tape.’
Here it’ll be different. Mom will feature in person! playing the popular songs she knows by heart – reading her sheet music has become just too hard, but at 91yrs old she can still belt out some of her favourites. Quality varies – cellphone video’ing by sister Sheila and myself – and as she has good days and bad visually and cognitively. But she has fun and people listening generally love her playing.
Well, Grab Your Coat and Get Your Hat – Let’s go! ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ is a 1930 song composed by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Some authors say that Fats Waller was the composer, but that he sold the rights to the song.
ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET From the Monogram Picture “Swing Parade Of 1946” (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh)
Grab your coat and get your hat, Leave your worry on the doorstep, Just direct your feet To the sunny side of the street. Can’t you hear a pitterpat? And that happy tune is your step, Life can be so sweet On the sunny side of the street. I used to walk in the shade With those blues on parade, But I’m not afraid, This rover crossed over. If I never have a cent I’ll be rich as Rockefeller, Gold dust at my feet, On the sunny side of the street. (Contributed by Ferda Dolunay, lyricsplayground.com – April 2005)
Here’s some of her repertoire in her own handwriting – Sheila has more. I see our first one is No.9 on the Quick Step side:
Recorded by: Ray Anthony; Louis Armstrong; Chris Barber; Count Basie; BBC Big Band; Tony Bennett; Les Brown; Dave Brubeck; Benny Carter; Frank Chacksfield; June Christy; King Cole Trio; Nat King Cole; Harry Connick Jr.; Bing Crosby; Doris Day; The Dorsey Brothers; Jimmy Dorsey; Tommy Dorsey; Roy Eldridge; Duke Ellington; Dorothy Fields; Ella Fitzgerald; Helen Forrest; The Four Freshmen; The Four Lads; Judy Garland; Erroll Garner; Georgia Gibbs; Dizzy Gillespie; Benny Goodman; Stephane Grappelli; Lionel Hampton; Coleman Hawkins; Earl Hines; Billie Holiday; Jack Hylton; The Ink Spots; Harry James; Louis Jordan; Bert Kaempfert; Stan Kenton; Diana Krall; Frankie Laine; Brenda Lee; Peggy Lee; Jack Lemmon; Ted Lewis; Liberace; Nellie Lutcher; Manhattan Transfer; Barry Manilow; Shelly Manne; Dean Martin; Johnny Mathis; Billy May; Jimmy McHugh; Glenn Miller; The Modernaires; Rita Moreno; Ella May Morse; Willie Nelson; Anita O’Day; Charlie Parker; Les Paul & Mary Ford; Oscar Peterson; The Pied Pipers; Louis Prima; Leon Redbone; Don Redman; Django Reinhardt; Marty Robbins; Artie Shaw; George Shearing; Frank Sinatra; Keely Smith; Dorothy Squires; Jo Stafford; Art Tatum; Johnny Tillotson; Fats Waller; Dinah Washington; Chick Webb; Clarence Williams; Teddy Wilson; ….. and many more.
So this is what mother Mary probably felt like! It’s 3am and still no sign or word of the little blighter. Then ***pring pring*** . .
Hello, is that Mr Swanepoel? This is Andrew of Medical Rescue Emergency Services
Shit! Worst fears and all that
Don’t worry Thomas is fine
I have him here at St Augustines Hospital in the emergency unit. Can you come and fetch him?
Driving down the empty streets I think of mother Mary. Mary Methodist. And how she handled me in my fun days. Did she shout? Did she rant? Did she threaten? None of the above. I tried hard – not always successfully – to emulate Mom, appreciating hugely how patient she was with me, and knowing confrontations with me would not have ended well. Love and Patience had worked for me. And a good judicial dose of Los My Uit – not interfering.
The story turned out to be along these lines: A house party in Kloof; Parents away; The girl whose house it was taking Dad’s Ford Everest, filled with okes; She was driving fine, when an older oke said Here! Lemme Drive! after which things sped up! In downtown Durban the cops took an interest in his driving style, and the clever oke thought he could outrun them; Turning a corner he rolled the Everest, bringing the short chase to an end; He decided to scarper, and Tom’s not sure if the cops got him; The rest were taken to St Augustines by ambulance, a few slightly injured. I met some of their parents and we all nodded gravely; Some were muttering threats and blame. Tom was unscathed and we went home.
Memories of Mom peeking her head into my Country Mansion garden bedroom on some mornings-after: Are you back? Oh, Good; or I’m Glad You’re Safe; and once: Were You On That Train?
Even Mom’s gentle attempts at warning served no purpose. In desperation she evoked the dominee: ‘You know, Ds Ras says ‘Na Middernag Kom Die Duiwel Uit!’ she warned. That sounded like fun and only convinced me the night actually started later in the evenings. Love and Patience.
dominee – fire and brimstone preachers
Los My Uit – benevolent, discreet – yet watchful – neglect
Na Middernag Kom Die Duiwel Uit! – after midnight the Devil makes a grand appearance, TaDAAA!! – like Freddie Mercury – and the fun begins!!
One interesting side-effect: Tom would often say ‘Dad, speed up, please’ with my driving. After this he often says ‘Slow down please’ when I go round a sharpish bend!
I took Mom to the ophthalmologist in Pietermaritzburg. She’d had some visual phenomena and her description of a curtain falling over her vision against the wall made me decide she must be seen right away. My good friend and colleague Owen Hilliar gave me the duty roster and I phoned the surgeon on duty – Dr L – and arranged to see him Sunday morning 08:30.
What a nice man! He listened to her stories. Unlike her usual eye man, Dr A. whose wife apparently has a very high opinion of herself. She snubbed Mom at a social do and Mom was so amused, as she knows the lady’s family.
So for a case history on this wonderful 91yr-old qualified nursing sister, and myopic glaucomatous pseudophake with one trabeculectomy, Dr L now has the following information:
There are patterns in my vision on the walls and on the ceiling. Like the patterned ceilings in Granny Bland’s house in Stuart Street in Harrismith. I was born in Harrismith see, and did my midwifery in Durban. We went to Durban as we thought maybe we’d meet some nice boys there. Dr L’s eyes widen and he looks at me. But I met my husband in Harrismith; he worked for the post office and he got on very well with my mother and she told me ‘Peter Swanepoel is taking us to the Al Debbo concert in the town hall.’ My grandfather built the town hall; and he sat between me and my mother and that’s how we met. Unfortunately his good relationship with my mother didn’t last. My grandfather and his brother were stonemasons from Scotland; they built all the bridges for the railway line from Durban to Harrismith; What? OK, Ladysmith to Harrismith. When they had been in Harrismith a while they said ‘We like it here; the air reminds us of the old country,’ so they stayed and built a hotel each, the Central and the Royal – but first it was the Railway hotel – every town had to have a railway hotel. Then they changed the name by royal decree to The Royal Hotel. Or with Royal permission. The one brother had seven sons – she holds up seven fingers in front of Dr L’s face – and the other had nine. NINE – holds up nine fingers. And only one of them had a son. Dudley. He was a bit of a sissy – here my eyes widen – but he had the only boy. Thank goodness he then had sons to carry on the name, although one died in a bike accident. Now Granny Bland had five sons and only two of them did anything; one died of malaria in East Africa. Bertie, I think. When? In the First World War; the others just hung about, didn’t do anything even though they had been sent to very good schools. Hilton or Michaelhouse, one of those; I mean, what did my father know about farming? Nothing. His father just bought him a farm and sent him farming. He tried sheep, that was a failure.
Erm, I interrupted . . ‘No, don’t worry, the dilation will still take a while,’ says Dr L.
See, he wants to know, says Mom and carries on. I was proud of her! She was on a roll! We even found out the Shetland pony’s name was Suzanne.
Anything else about your eyes? he asks when she pauses for breath. Just the patterns and colours on the walls and ceiling, says Mom – no mention of the ‘curtain’ which had made me arrange the appointment in a hurry. And this time she didn’t say she has to remove her son’s glasses to read. Oh, and Oupa Bain went blind; I can remember the older children reading the newspaper to him.
After peering in and then checking V/A’s 6/36 and 6/18 and pressures – low, Dr L re-assures her all is well in her eyes and the patterns may be happening in her visual cortex.
We’re free to go, with huge relief. No trip to Durban, thank goodness. I’ve been nil-per-mouth since midnight, so I must remember to drink lots of water to catch up, says Mom happily.
Thanks, Dr. Lalloo! You were a star!
On the way home, Mom happily pointed things out, told me stories and updated me on the goings-on in the old age home retirement village. (One snippet I’ll write later under ‘Dad’s Angel’ in vrystaatconfessions.com)