JessJess won the freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke, plus a 2nd in the relay. Go, Girl!
Played football in Apache Oklahoma in ’73 for the Apache Warriors. The coaches did their best to bring this African up to speed on the rules and objectives of gridiron. We played two pre-season warm-up games followed by five league games. And lost all seven encounters! Myself I was kinda lost on the field, what without me specs! So here’s me: Myopically peering between the bars of the unfamiliar helmet at the glare of the night-time spotlights! Hello-o! Occasionally forgetting that I could be tackled even if the ball was way on the other side of the field!
At that point I thought: Five more weeks in America, five more games in the season, football practice four days a week, game nights on Fridays. I wanted out! There was so much I still wanted to do in Oklahoma and in preparing for the trip home. I went up to Coach with trepidation and told him I wanted to quit football. Well, he wasn’t pleased, but he was gracious. We were a small team and needed every available man, how would they manage without me?
By winning every single one of the last remaining five games, that’s how!!
Coach Hulett won the Most Improved Coach Award and the team ended up with one of their best seasons for years!
I like to think the turnaround was in some small way helped by the way I cheered my former team-mates on from the sideline at the remaining Friday night games!
Way back in around 1962 Donald Coleman and I walked home from school. The Harrismith Kleinspan School.
It was about a mile and we set off around 1pm. When we got home we got the “Where have you been!?” treatment. Apparently it was 5pm already and getting dark and cold. Well, we wouldn’t have known and anyway, we’d had a lot to talk about and Donald had a box of matches, so we had stopped and made a little fire of plane tree leaves in the sandstone gutters of Stuart Street. These gutters used to channel water from Platberg to town according to Blanche Hawkins, local historian.
Fast forward to 2014 and 12yr old TomTom asked me if he could walk home from school today. It’s about 4km and school ends at 2pm. When I got home at 5pm he had just got in and Cecelia and Carla had been worried: “Where had he BEEN?!”
I knew where he’d been. His journey was double mine and he’d taken one less hour. Why, he’d almost hurried home! And no matches, so how could I complain? You have fun, my boy? I asked. He’d stopped en route to buy a pie, a packet of jelly tots and an energade drink.
Feature pic: Me, Anne, Donald & Sheila in Platberg’s shadow
Just in the last couple weeks Jessie has had three trips to the dentist, a flap of loose skin in her cheek, (I have to peer inside and tut-tut) –
. . slammed her finger in a drawer, needed lower back massaging and stubbed her toe. Badly.
She’s loving it.
Demands lots of attention from Dad and announces she cannot possibly go to school. “I’m in the wars, Dad”.
I agree. Take three weeks off and lie in bed, Jess, we’ll bring you your meals.
At which she sighs and demands “WHY NOT!?” as she knows that means fugeddaboudit.
But secretly she’s so chuffed at the impressive bandaging I did of her toe (binding it to the one next door) that she can’t wait to get to school to milk maximum sympathy, one school shoe, one pink slop.
Wild horses wouldn’t keep her home.
Jessie’s desperately ill. Can’t move. She’s suffering badly from unfairness: Lots of her friends have stayed at home sick this winter and she hardly EVER has.
You haven’t even coughed, I say, dismissing her request firmly.
So that’s that.
I’ve just made her tea in bed and she’s settled in for the day, earphones on, smiling.
Gives a feeble cough every now and then to appease the ole man.
As the school principal left the Grade Naughty and Grade One gala, a group of bigger kids (boys, all) flocked around her:
“Who won!? Tugela or Umgeni??”
“Well, children, actually, in this gala we didn’t focus on winning or losing, but on participating. The little children swam to take part and have fun, and where there was competition it was the classes against each other, not Tugela against Umgeni.”
“What did it say on the blackboard?”
“Well, the points of the red and blue houses were not tallied.”
Here one little blond-haired fella piped up politely but determinedly:
“Yes, but who won anyway?”
I went to hand over the cash we had raised after the first school swimming gala to the bursar. Livingstone school, around 2011.
TomTom accompanied me.
Much counting and signing and Tom showing off his swimming “medals” with Rick making all the right noises from behind the hatch at the bursar’s office.
As we left, Tom says to me: “We call her the Prison Lady. You see all the bars she’s behind? Look, even her door has burglar bars!”
Oh, I said, I wonder if she has to sleep in there all night?
“No”, he says airily, “she has her own keys”.
When I told Rick about this, she told me how one little kid had peered at her through the bars and asked:
“Do you have food?”