By the time I arrived, the biker gang was there already, hanging around the counter of Molly’s Diner. In spite of them swigging on their milk shakes, I did not feel intimidated. I’m not that easily intimidated by 8-year olds, see.
The atmosphere held a palpable excitement, a mixture of parents and younger siblings getting ready for the show to begin. This year Durbanville Prep School celebrated their 50th year with their annual concert, this time titled Jukebox Jive. And what a show it was!
At the hop
The audience was captivated by the opening scene just as the biker gang was captivated by an (ageing) Molly, listening to her tales of the diner and its Jukebox that had been there since 1966, when she’d been there. Which, of course, explains why she is by now slightly ageing. Not that one would have noticed it, though.
But speaking of age, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The next moment an actor burst through onto the scene, with a just as captivating a dance. I thought he might be slightly too old to be a learner of a school that only goes to grade 3. I have difficulties guessing age, though.
I was thus relieved to be advised that coach Sampie was indeed somewhat closer to retirement age than to primary phase school going age. But he ain’t lost none of his agility, I can tell you that. I assume him to be the hip-hop coach.
With the help of the right song from the jukebox, the laaities in leathers then got tele-trans-time-sported back to the Cove of 1966.
Good golly, miss Molly….!
Impress them with your moves, bro.
Which the kids on stage duly did. Jailhouse Rock, strait outa the fifties, ek sê.
And then Jimmy spotted her.
Would you be my girl? Ba-ba-ba-barbara Ann…
Oh, and cleverly, Molly is suddenly her young 1966 self.
Time it was…
Barbara-Ann’s fun was then duly spoiled by her brother. That’s mos the thing about siblings.
Dad says it’s time to go home, and “if my dad says it is ten o’clock, then it is ten o’clock”, Barbara-Ann explained. Seriaas? That’s clearly 1966. Current day thinking considers “if my dad says it is ten o’clock” to simply mean the opening bet that sets in motion intricate negotiations regarding the true time to come home.
Enter Chi-Chi van der Merwe and Betty. Man, need I say more….
Under the Boardwalk
Now Micky the sixties surfer started strutting his stuff. Cool shirt. Cool moves. Cool hair. Anything goes to get Barbara-Ann’s attention. Which he duly does with some measure of success.
Then followed a cacophony of colours and dances.
Sonbrilletjies (no, not Al Debbo. And if you don’t know who Al Debbo is, you are too young to read this anyway). Followed by the Ossewa Jive (I kid you not), and then whole Hawai Huppelkind brigade joined in the fun.
The missing link
Around here somewhere I missed a chapter which was called Limbo. Or actually, I did see it, I just missed when it started. But worse than that, I realised I got the characters totally confused. I was sure that Jimmy, the biker dude chasing Barbara-Ann, got switched!
Turns out he was indeed switched! Jimmy the biker dude who is chasing Barbara-Ann #1 got taken ill. So between scenes Jimmy the biker dude who is chasing Barbara-Ann#2 seemlessly took his place.
Sommer just like that. The show must go on. And it did!
Now here’s a tip for future business opportunities. Everything in this scene had to do with sugar and sweets of all kinds. Imagine you take a break here and open up the tuck shop for 10 minutes. Just a thought, nuh?
Ok, I must say the Drakensberg Boys Choir ensemble at the back threw me out a bit, but I take this as a clever anachronism.…
This past holiday we stayed on a farm in the Klein Karoo – basically house sitting while the farmer is away on holiday. We had friends over, and I took my friend for a look and see on the farm. It’s been a while since my bakkie has done any off-roading, so I relished at the opportunity just to engage the transfer box for a change.
On the farm there is a kloof where the farmer made a road with a bulldozer a few years back. Being a bit tied down with farming activities, though, the road was used seldom in the recent past.
It is a rather steep incline. Low range is essential as a safety precaution against having to contend with a runaway vehicle. Given recent rains I was uncertain whether it would be a good idea to drive down there. So we stopped at the point of no return. Once past this point you have to go down right to the end of the road to be able to turn around, except if you feel crazy enough to drive back in reverse.
After a cursory inspection I judged it safe to proceed.
The 3.4 liter petrol engine does not provide the braking capacity of a high compression diesel engine, so even in low range first gear some slight braking was still required to keep the speed in check.
I find it very frustrating that pictures just never give an indication of how steep an incline is. Regardless of how I take them, the pictures is just never impressive enough to convince the unenlightened reader. The picture below maybe illustrates the incline more clearly. It shows two fourteen year olds walking down the road, doing battle to keep their balance.
After traversing the steep incline around two sharp bends, the road evens out below. However, the further we went, the less it resembled a road. At some places the road was totally obscured by trees and shrubs that have overgrown it.
I had nothing with me that could cut or hack, and there was no escape route or place to turn around. So the bakkie simply had to bash down the obstacles. At least the general whereabouts of the road was still evident, so one could just point the bakkie’s nose in the right direction.
Eventually we reached the end of the road where there was place to turn the vehicle around again.
By that time the two side mirrors were pressed flat against the vehicle, and the body showed the marks of its battle with the flora. We were fortunate to not also encounter some of the local fauna.
This chap had been snapped recently by a researcher on the exact road that we travelled.
I know, you may ask ‘where are the pictures of the bakkie’. No, there is none. Whilst doing the trip, there was no time to consider that. These pictures had been taken upon revisiting the kloof a few days later. But then I thought it better to leave the vehicle at the last point where I could make a seventeen point turn, as is the ordinary turning circle of my bakkie.
In any event, just to get back to the story. The return trip had the benefit that most of the obstructions had by then been subdued by some two tonnes of vehicle. However, now it was uphill, instead of downhill.
After passing a little driffie, the bakkie got bogged down with all four wheels losing traction, bringing us to a grinding halt. After the second attempt, my friend got out to guide me further.
I would probably have done better to also inspect the terrain myself, but first it was the driffie with water running, and I was not inclined on getting wet. And then followed the obstruction which allowed for only one door to open, which happened to be …
The Modern Pentathlon national championships South Africa were held in Bloemfontein in April this year. Kleinboet made it into the Western Cape team, and I decided to join the lot going up to Bloemfontein. Just to keep an eye on him.
We made up part of the Boland contingent of the Western Cape team, which in turn were made up to a large extent from the boys of Paul Roos. We departed early on the Thursday morning with a minibus and trailer from Stellenbosch. Well, for me half past five in the morning is early, given that I had to leave home before 04h00 that morning to get to Stellenbosch.
We have not even left Stellenbosch when a quietness setlled down on the bus with everyone asleep. Except Coenie, of course, which was rather reasonable, given that he was driving the minibus.
There had been a mutual and total misunderstanding by all the athletes as to how the pit stops would work. At the first post dawn stop just past Worcester, they were advised that this was a 10 minutes loo stop only. But no, everyone also ordered some takeaways to eat. The result was that a planned 10 minute stop became a 35 minute stop.
Near De Doorns Coenie’s lack of sleep the previous night (and obviously whilst driving too) caught up with him, and he swopped seats with Gerhard. We managed to not stop at Laingsburg. Trucks ruled supreme on the road between Laingsburg and Beaufort-West.
As we entered Beaufort-West I noticed that Club Lipstick does not exist anymore. Not that I ever visited it, but two decades ago we considered it a bit of a landmark on the Southern side of town. I just knew that this is a snippet of information that the readers of this publication were just dying to know. We had to take on fuel, so this time the kids were free to take their time. Which they duly did. We considered this our lunch stop.
The exercise was repeated at Three sisters. To our dismay we realised that we had been on the road for close to 7 hours already, and this was only the half way mark.
The upside of modern times is that all kids nowadays have are-we-there-yet deflectors, powered by either MTN, Vodacom or CellC.
That, of course, takes some strain off the driver of the vehicle not having to provide running commentary on the progress being made.
There were not much planning put into fuel stops. As we stopped so often, we just filled up as we went along. Somehow, though, we got it wrong. At Colesberg the designated petrol stop was under construction, so we attended the nearby KFC instead. They did not have unleaded fuel on offer. Nor any other fuel, for that matter. The kids ordered food yet again. I don’t know what it is with them. If they don’t need to pee the need to eat!
With the fuel gauge still sitting comfortably at half, we set off for the last stretch to Bloemfontein. As dusk approached, though, we realised we are running out of both fuel and towns. After missing Springfontein South, we managed to get the Springfontein North turn off. I’m not making this up. This town with a population of 3699 people, has two entrances, duly marked, and really far apart.
After filling up yet again, we could then set off for the last 140 odd km’s knowing we will not run out of fuel. I even allowed my full weight back on the seat.
At 19h07 we reached Bohmer secondary school, where we were to stay in the school res. The lady on the GPS had some fun first by making us drive right around Böhmer school’s residence before allowing us in at the main gate.
After getting everyone settled in, and some showered and …
So I get this call from my son on my mobile phone one Sunday: “Halooo! I’ve been in an accident.”
And so starts a Sunday afternoon of fun.
I told Ouboet to just stay put (he said that was his plan) and not to allow anyone to tow him away other than the insurance appointed dude (he says he will).
I call the emergency line of the insurance company. I voice mail answers, taking her absolute time telling me how welcome I am at this particular facility, that all calls are recorded, and…..
OK, by then I stopped listening and decided this must be the wrong number. You can’t have such a docile response to emergencies. I terminated the call (if it was not my mobile I would have slammed down the phone just to make my point of course). I dialed the alternative (non-emergency) number I have for the insurance company. Aaaah! The same voice answers, telling me the same story.
Now understand, I’m slightly agitated. My son is standing at the roadside at a busy section of the N1, and I understood other cars were involved. I fear someone doing a local rendition of road rage, and I would want to get there as soon as possible.
Eventually the voice tells me to press 1 if I have an emergency or if I want to lodge a claim. Thank you! Incidentally I mos wish to do both. In their defense I must say that from there on things went pretty quick and smooth. They will send a tow truck.
I jumped in the car to drive out to the scene. I took my thirteen year old along so that he can man the WhatsApp for further communication with Ouboet. Kleinboet also has his mother’s iPad open on the maps function. “Just so you do not get lost,” was my wife’s parting words. Really, woman! I live here. I know this place.
OK, out on the N1 inbound to Cape Town. Ouboet advised that I must take the Sable Road bridge to get back on the N1 outbound. I do so. After a while I can see him standing. However, he is on the N1 proper, and I am on the connecting road running between Century City and the N1. I cannot get close to him. I can see there is another car, but no overt aggression is observed.
Now I need to get back on the N1 inbound, take the next bridge after Sable road, and repeat the exercise. Piece of cake, it will just take a bit of time.
The first bridge where I can do this is the connection with the N7. So I take the turn-off. But hey, this is wrong! Instead of heading to the bridge to cross over and get back on the N1 I find myself on the road heading to Malmesbury. @##$%!
Which way now. I turned left at the next road, now heading behind Century City in the direction of Milnerton. I missed the Sable road connection (well, I was not looking for it, really) and soon thereafter found myself in Milnerton. I turned left and now headed in the general direction of the N1. Traffic light red. Next traffic light red. Next traffic light green until I’m nearly there. Ysterplaat. Traffic light red.
Ouboet’s WhatsApp comes through: the truck is here.
This place must really be a red light district. Negotiating red light upon red light I eventually get on the N1 outbound. At least now I am in the lane that will take me to Ouboet.
We get there. No cars.
Kleinboet checks the WhatsApp. Ouboet is waiting at the N1 City MacDonalds. Good. Now just for the N1 City turnoff.
The first bridge is Monte Vista Boulevard. There is no board for N1 City yet, so that must be the next turn-off. Noooo! Just as I …
It’s a leisurely two hours drive to get there.
A river runs through it
Some 80 species of birds can be found in the estuary there. I’m told there are 30 000 birds there, but they did not say who counted them.
Down by the river
I found myself just too late to catch the SA Fisheries Museum open. They just closed three minutes prior to my arrival. Will simply have to come back later for that.
At the jetty there were very few boats. Most were out to sea. Stormkop was there.
Later the evening we returned to Stompneus Bay and headed for Shelly Point where we stayed for the night.
We studied this at primary school, probably because the school was at Stompneus Bay. I was never good with dates. Thank goodness for Wikipedia, nuh?
As we drove along the coast to our destination we could see the trawlers heading out to sea. Some found fish close by the shore. We spotted Silver Bounty going about his business very close to the shore at Shelly Point.
The sound of memories
During the spitbraai dinner at the Bon Shelly Point hotel we were entertained by a gentleman making live music. Rather nice.
About 04h30 the morning I woke up from what sounded like a helicopter hover overhead. Later I thought it is probably a truck. But there were no roads nearby for a truck that can make that kind of noise can drive. And then it dawned upon me what I was hearing!
I got up and watched out of the window. Between the lighthouses of Cape St Martin and Shelly Point I counted six trawlers heading to the factories with their loads of fish. The typical wooden vessels’ engines produce up to 500 horsepower, and the bigger steel vessels up to 1500 horsepower. Which probably explains the rather beefed up sound effects. Picture the sound of a lorry’s exhaust brake – and amplify it a number of times.
I got back in bed and found myself still for long time listening to the vessels on their home run, with a smile on my face. The sweet sound of memories.
We left Cape Town on a sunny Friday afternoon after a week of rather good Cape Town winter weather.
Our first stop at Montagu still offered some benign weather. Moving out earlyish on Sunday morning (12 July) it was a different story, though. Through the Keisie valley to the connection with the N1, temperatures dropped to 2 degrees. Pretty chilly in our book.
We came on the N1 between De Doorns and Touwsriver, turning north. A bit unsure of the fuel situation in the small towns we are to encounter for the rest of the day, I played it safe and filled up at Touwsriver.
As we had to turn off at Matjiesfontein we decided to do a quick look and see tour of Matjiesfontein.
The website offers some insight on the history of Matjiesfontein. It was founded in 1884 and became a Victorian health spa.
Sutherland / Middelpos
From there we headed for Sutherland (population 2800). The garage there was closed at that hour, so it was just as well that I filled up at Touwsriver. We did a quick stop at the Sutherland hotel – it seemed like the only place where one could get access to ablution.
From there we took the gravel road to Middelpos and beyond. The road was quite good. Heeding some prior advice that the gravel roads in these parts of the Karoo have leiklip which is prone to mince up tyres, I travelled slowly. I was acutely aware of the fact that my Tucson was shod with highway tyres, rather than on/off road tyres, and limited my speed to 80km/h. One could easily have gone faster.
Then we hit some muddy patches. I tried to discern the muddy parts from the non-muddy parts, but of no avail. There seemed to be no tell tale signs indicating which are the slimy bits. You would just feel the car give way, and hear the noise of the mud clods hitting the inside of the wheel arches. At one point we were going downhill with a bakkie approaching from the front, when the Tucson started slip sliding away. Not due to any effort on my part the car kept on our half of the road and we safely went past the oncoming vehicle. That was at 60km/h. So I keep the gas to rather sedate levels for the rest of the road.
We missed Middelpos. You had to turn off to get to the town. Middelpos was evidently the stop over for a biggish motorcycle crowd. We picked up the tail of this entourage as we went past the turn off, having had quite a number of bikes approaching from the front the previous few kilometers.
Afterwards I looked Middelpos up, and now I’m disappointed that I did not take the trouble of visiting the village. There are some websites with detail about the town:
Middelpos rendered sir Anthony Sher, a famous British based actor. OK, I’ve never heard of him, but I can’t even remember the names of the movie I watched last night, so my knowledge in this regard obviously does not count.
Just before we hit the R27 (the Calvinia – Keimoes road) we passed two vehicles standing next to the road. One of them lost a tyre to the leiklip.
From there onwards it was the tarred highway. We filled up at Brandvlei again, and attended the Windpomp restaurant, that boasts to be the best pump in town.
The man in charge had a slight situation with …
Augrabies National Park
We visited the park the next day. Since we had been there some 11 years ago a number of new boardwalks and railed platforms had been erected, enabling you to see the waterfall from different angles.
The waterfall is an impressive 56 meters fall. With the boardwalks one can view the fall from various angles.
According to the Sanparks website the Khoi people called it Aukoerebis, place of great noise. Point taken.
We went on a drive through the park. We did not do the whole drive, but visited the red granite moon landscape.
From there we went to mount Ararat.
Near the camp a naughty little bugger was keeping a lookout for things to scavenge. We saw him have a go at a window of one of the houses. We saw the aftermath of him visiting the tented camps as well. He was not popular.
Dressed up like Eskimos we went on a one-and-a-half hour night drive the evening.
The dressing up turned out to be a good idea. Some of the things that the guide stopped for us to savour is the Katabatic wind. That is the name of the **** cold wind that blows at night. Apparently this lovely wind also has a daytime name, the Anabatic wind. Now you know.
The guide did his level best making the tour worth our while. The hour-an-a-half turned into a three hour trip. The guide did his best to make this an informative two-way discussion. Fortunately my wife hates uncomfortable silences, so between her and the biology teacher on the tour with us, they kept the guide good company. If they could just drive away the chill the way they did with the uncomfortable silences.
We saw Cape hares and bush hares, black thorn (swarthaak, which I misheard as swarthaas, much to the delight of my family), spotted eagle owl, kudu, klipspringer, a variation of reeds and bushes, which admittedly I also saw during my self-drive day drive, only without the benefit of running commentary on it. And, of course, we were introduced to the ***** katabatic wind. Quite a few times. Actually, it was a pretty ongoing encounter.
Just on 22h00 the evening we were dropped off again at the parking area. Kudos to the guide for a very nice tour, and for his endeavors to keep the occupants of the vehicle going in a language none were quite comfortable in.
English, she ees not beeg in Augrabies.
Having done and seen all we came for at the Augrabies National Park, we decided to go find Riemvasmaak.
Riemvasmaak has a very politically laden history. In about 1973 the Riemvasmakers were moved to make place for an army shooting terrain. The Xhosa speaking part of the community was moved to the Eastern Cape, and the Nama speaking people to Namibia. No amount of assuming can get met to a logical reason why they moved the Riemvasmakers so far away from their place.
In 1993 they were moved back there. The Xhosa speakers were moved to Vredesvallei at the banks of the Orange river, and 17 km’s apart, the Nama people to the old mission station – that is where we went.
Or rather, the Pienk Padstal just outside Kakamas.
Returning from Riemvasmaak we attended the Pienk Padstal.
Even the ablution turned out to be something to observe. Or at least, the men’s side. I did not attend the ladies’. In the men’s there is a picture of a scantily clad beautiful lady sitting ugly. With a notice next to it reading that management had been advised that this picture promotes pornography that may lead to nasty things. So they implore the visitors to behave themselves. And for gents not to flatter themselves and to rather stand closer to the urinal than they think is advisable.
Kakamas itself looks like a biggish town. With a population of some 9500 it is about as big as Calvinia. How green is my valley would be an apt name.
Here the Mas of Kakamas got the green light.
Passing the local high school I did not spot the not well marked speed bump until I took off in the direction of Jupiter. The lift-off was hampered by gravity, though, which caused a swift and bumpy return to mother earth.
A touch of Karoo
The last leg of our tour entailed a visit to a Karoo farm. Now picture this. You live on a farm. Your closest town is 75km’s away (population 3400). Second closest town 80km’s away (population 2800), and your actual town (population 9700) is 135km’s away. Imagine the school run. Or the run to the shopping mall. Or rather, don’t bother. It does not exist.
Ok, so how to get there?
“You go past the Granaatboskolk turnoff.”
“There’s a place called Granaatboskolk?”
“Ja, but ignore the turnoff. You look out for where you get the crossing to Breekbeenkolk and Tontelbos.”
“You’re making this up, right?”
“What, haven’t you heard of these places before?”
“Is that a trick question?”
“OK, do you know where Calvinia is?”
“Yes, yes, yes! I know where Calvinia is!”
“Ok, good. It’s not near Calvinia.”
Eskom? Who’s that? But please meet Mr. Lister.The Lister is started as it had been done for the past sixty plus years. By hand. You (well, the farmer actually) cranks the handle, and then you get this chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-katak-katak-katakatakataka and off goes the one cylinder engine leaving you under a cloud of smoke which clears after a while. And then there is light.
OK, in this instance the farmer went somewhat further with solar power and a battery pack. So the Lister is just the back-up.
Electricity is self supplied. Water is self supplied. You make your own roads. If you want a dam, you have to build it yourself. All you need to do is to afterwards pay the government tax for the privilege of collecting water in your dam (no seriously, I kid you not). If something goes seriously wrong here, it’s a 20 km drive just to get to the tar road. Then you still need to get to town. That the government can levy tax on farms such as this just beats me. But sorry, I digress.
The Americans call biltong beef jerky. And that is defined as dead dried meat, to be eaten “in times of hardship”. Of course, in South Africa it is a delicatessen. Go figure. But on this farm it’s part of the staple food. You begin your …
My bakkie just returned from a trip to AfrikaBurn. Without me, though. A bunch of biokinetics offered their trade as a gift at the Burn, and required transport to get them and their stuff there. So my bakkie was called up for patriotic duty.
I have never been to AfrikaBurn, but it seems like a rather interesting occasion. Testament thereto my friend who borrowed the bakkie sent me a picture of a nude lady on a bicycle taken at Afrikaburn. Being mos well mannered, I thanked him for the picture of the bicycle.
“What picture of the bicycle?” he asks.
“Hoe bedoel meneer dan nou? The one you just sent me.”
“Can’t be,” he said. “I sent you a picture of your bakkie.”
Upon revisiting the picture I actually found my bakkie on it. It was taken to commemorate the moment my bakkie arrived at AfrikaBurn. In my defence I have to add that the bakkie was not exactly centre in the picture, hence me focusing on the wrong part. Of the picture, I mean. My friend never noticed the (lady on the) bicycle when he took the picture, nor when he sent me the picture.
So he says.
But I digress. I know that the esteemed readers on this site would be more interested in mechanical stuff, so let me get to the actual purpose of my contribution. The return trip, I was subsequently advised, did not go exactly uneventful.
Upon returning from the AfrikaBurn, about 30km’s out on the road the bakkie’s radio suddenly stopped working. After a while the bakkie also stopped working. Sort of like a sympathy strike, verstaan. It died down, and would not respond to attempts to have it started. After jumping the battery from another AfrikaBurner on his way home, the bakkie started, and off they went again. After 20 km’s the same thing happened.Apparently the Calvinia-Ceres gravel road at that point in time looked like the N1 inbound to Cape Town on a normal working day. Only, the people were friendlier, and with the goodness and wellbeing of the Burn not yet sucked out of them by ordinary life. So there was no shortage of people stopping to assist.
One of these Samaritans then noticed a loose connection at the alternator. The recalcitrant set of cables was reconnected to the alternator, and off they went again. After a further 50 kilometres, the occupants of the bakkie started breathing normal again and event sat down with their full weight on the seats. Things were going well. In fact, it continued to go well for the rest of the journey, which included some two hour driving with headlights on. Eventually they arrived home safely. So it would appear that everything had been sorted by putting the cable back.
It just goes to show what it can do to an old dame when friendly hands mess around underneath her hood now and then, nuh.
Testing, testing, testing
But I needed to know for sure that the problem had been sorted.
The offending cable was subsequently been pointed out to me. I then tried to Google wiring diagrams to try to figure out what the purpose of that cable would be. But if you have difficulties changes a blown light bulb, these kinds of diagrams, apart from looking impressive, means absolutely nothing to you. I found the picture of my bakkie arriving at AfrikaBurn a lot more interesting. I could understand the beauty of it.
So I just popped in at my autolec where one of his assistants had a quick look at the wiring.
Albertus could immediately confirm to me that the combination of the two wires would have caused (a) the battery warning light not to work and (b) the battery not to charge. Nuh.
So I am happy to report that the problem has indeed been fixed.
I enjoy the…
by Johnie Jonker
As was the custom at the time, our 1974 Std 9 class held a school concert in order to raise funds for that year’s matric farewell.
One of the items on the program was live music provided by a school band. The band members comprised Bernard on guitar, James on drums and myself on keyboards – that being the upper and lower manuals of a Yamaha Electone organ.
As a group, the three of us had made our debut during the previous year’s Musiek Aand, organized by the very likeable music teacher. In haste, the band was named “Hot Ice” by one of the teachers.
That event was a rather serious music evening comprising song upon song performed by the choir and solos by Marietjie, who later made a professional career out of operatic singing.
Numerous piano solos and duets, pieces for two pianos – some with lid open and others with lid closed – followed. If it was at all possible to fit THREE people abreast behind a single piano, the concert would have contained trios also.
The (welcome) light relief was provided – briefly – by Hot Ice just before interval. We shot to instant fame, as old tannies recognized us on the street afterwards, on our way between the school and the Springbok Kafee on a Tuesday (langdag). They wanted to know why we did not play more than the allocated 3 numbers, as they liked the variation very much.
This was the basis from which we started rehearsing for the Std 9 concert.
But this time we felt that a fuller sound was required. Basically this meant “louder”. Bernard wanted to sound like Carlos Santana, James like Ringo Starr – he already had the hair to go with it – and me like Santana, Deep Purple and Focus, all rolled into one.
In addition to Michael who volunteered as conductor, we enlisted the help of 3 matrics to expand our sound. Let me introduce them to you:
Pop: Owner of a 12-string acoustic guitar which he could play really well. We had all heard him on a number of occasions previously, and especially his rendition of Donovan’s “Catch the wind”, was a favourite.
Bruce: You could not tell the difference between him and George Harrison when it came to playing Daytripper. Accurate, tonally perfect – a good rhythm player for the band.
Patrick: Band manager.
He was one of those laid-back people who could insult you to your face and you would not realise it. At times we thought that his response towards teachers bordered on disrespect and that surely some repercussion would follow, but he somehow used to charm his way out of it.
Now, we thought that such a diplomat would be beneficial to our band’s existence. This, and his actions during the compulsory weekly singing period in the hall, which comprised all the senior classes.
In spite of having 3 resident music teachers, for some reason the headmaster decided to lead this gathering himself. He would start us off on the first song and would then ask for suggestions from the floor. An indeterminate voice – we all knew it was Patrick – would suggest: “Page 29” of the songbook. Our choirmaster would then fervently page through the book and discover that it had only 28 pages. This led to him becoming visibly annoyed – not to the point of his favourite expression: “Mark my words, Pappa”- but rather: “Jy’s nie snaaks nie!” We of course thought otherwise.
OK, so we would sing patriotic songs: “Nooit hoef jou kinders wat trou is te vra …”, English drinking songs: “Hahaha, you and me, little brown jug oh I love thee” and then the “indeterminate voice” would suggest: “On Top of Old Smokey”. Not because that was a particularly popular, emotional or upbeat song, but rather of the way in which it …