In 1969 a bunch of us were taken to Durban to watch a rugby test match Springboks against the Australian Wallabies. “Our” Tommy Bedford was captain of the ‘Boks. We didn’t know it, but it was to be his last game.
Schoolboy “seats” were flat on your bum on the grass in front of the main stand at Kings Park. Looking around we spotted old Ella Bedford (Harrismith English teacher and the captain’s Mom – hence our feeling like special guests!) up in the stands. Sitting next to her was a really spunky blonde so we whistled and hooted and waved until she returned the wave.
Back at school ‘Mis Betfit’ told us how her daughter-in-law had turned to her and said:
“Ooh look, those boys are waving at me!”.
And she replied (and some of you will hear her tone of voice in your mind’s ear):
“No they’re not! They’re my boys. They’re waving at me!”
We just smiled, thinking ‘So, Mis Betfit isn’t always right’.
Mrs Bedford taught English as second language. Apparently anything you got wrong had to be fixed below your work under the heading “corrections”. Anything you got wrong in your corrections had to be fixed under the heading “corrections of corrections”. Mistakes in those would be “corrections of corrections of corrections”. And so on, ad infinitum! She never gave up. You WOULD get it all right eventually!
In matric the rugby season started and I suddenly thought: Why’m I playing rugby? I’m playing because people think I have to play rugby! I don’t.
So I didn’t.
It caused a mild little stir, especially for ou Vis, mnr Alberts, I think. He came up from the laerskool specially to voice his dismay. Nee man, jy moet ons tweede Tommy Beford wees! he protested. That was optimistic. I had played some good rugby when I shot up and became the tallest in the team¹, not because of real talent for the game – as I went on to prove².