As we were going to have a small wedding out in the sticks, we held a Pre-Nuptial-Party at Kingfisher Canoe Club back in 1988 to celebrate with friends who couldn’t make it or who hadn’t cracked the nod. Who to invite and who to discreetly ignore is one of the things that makes the lead-up to tying the knot vrot with danger as anyone who has gone singing to the gallows well knows.
I was reminded yesterday about that happy gathering by Barbara Mason, who I only occasionally see as she lives a normal and sane life, parallel to the madcap canoeing world that links me to her hubby Charles (him a legendary paddler, me a used-to-be wannabe).
She told me she quotes from my speech of that night to this day. I had forgotten that I’d even spoken, but she assures me I spake thus:
“Aitch and I gave careful consideration to the pros and cons of getting married, but we decided to go ahead and get married anyway.”
Just returned from a gathering in Harrismith where my sole function was to bring the average age of the attendants down to a respectable level.
Pierre’s joint 60th along with Jill Venning and Mark Raz Russel. Pierre builds, Jill farms, Mark runs Finlay’s general trading store – and the golf club – in Harrismith. At their age a “joint” gathering also describes one of the main topics of discussion among the creaking decrepit.
60’s themed, most of the inmates came predictably dressed as hippies. I went as a hippie who admired Elvis’ dress style post-cheeseburgers. I was Sure to Wear some Flowers in my Wig. Some wore safari suits with a comb in vey sock. One wore an old English-type boys school uniform: blazer, cap, short pants and polished shoes. Most wore wigs – and most needed them. Oh, and John Venning very predictably – but later than usual – got round to dropping his trousers.
Actually the evening was saved visually and average age-wise by a flock of kids and their friends, so I could relax and act second-childhood. There were two of Pierre’s blondes there, Michele & Natasha, Mark’s son & daughter and Jill’s two as well, Kirsty was one. They were also dressed as hippies, and they were looking like the pictures from back then and how we all imagined we looked. Luckily there were no mirrors at the venue that I saw. Some aesthetically-delightful sixties-style minis and boots on show.
An excellent one-man band played all the right stuff, so it was a good thing it was loud or it would have been ruined by everyone singing along. Myself I would have had half-hour gaps with no music so we could hear each others’ lies, but no, when the band-man was resting someone cranked on some good ole vinyl LP or other. Probably the bloody youngsters (we must start practicing to grumble).
Pierre gave a speech! Well, he joined Jill & Raz in a well-rehearsed threesome form of poetry rending in which they painted themselves in a good light and we listened politely.
Sheila rounded up a flock of ancient Methodists for a group shot, so three Swanepoels, three du Plessis, three Woods, and Tuffy Joubert posed for the Methylated Spirits Revival. Lulu tried to join in but we wouldn’t have it, her being blerrie NG Kerk an’ all. She protested that she had come to guild once, to no avail.
Funniest thing was the youngsters drilling us for tales of yore. We told them tales of what their Moms and Dads got up to when they were their age to gasps of outrage when they thought of how their folks had raised them all strictly and with rules and curfews. I had to tell Lettuce Leaf’s kids the old one about how all the trouble started in the Garden of Eden when Adam said to Eve “Ek het your leaf”.
I went home soon after 2.30am leaving quite a few senior citizens and even more young uns still dancing. A few were slurring so that I couldn’t get what the hell they were saying but they seemed happy with my nods and smiles and ‘Quite right!‘s and ‘Serious?‘s. Of course some of those were nearer 70 than 60 which makes the ‘hoesê?‘s quite frequent!
We stayed at Heritage House, Pierre & Erika’s beautifully restored old house-next-door which they run as a bed & breakfast, so post-party we gathered in the kitchen till after 3am. Later we gathered for a big breakfast at the Table of Knowledge in Heike’s restaurant on the slopes of 42-second Hill just below the quarry where Jock Grant would blast his dynamite, rattling the dorp’s windows.
Some of the Harrismith farmers are doing spectacularly well. Lodges in Tuli Block, Lodges near the Olifants river, big herds of disease-free Ramaposas, massive wild free-range earthworm farms, lodges on their farms (see http://www.buffalohillspgr.co.za/ and http://www.lalanathi.co.za/). They’re also buying “townhouses” – big old sandstone houses in town which they revamp and extend for staying over if they’re a bit too aled to drive home to their farms! I spose you could call them Safe Houses.
And so some more upstanding citizens became senior citizens!
That whistling noise you hear in your ears is not tinnitis. It’s the sound of the plummeting reaching terminal velocity . . . . .