Harrismith was not richly endowed with pubs. It had a few kroegs, but pubs, not so much.
Before the Holiday Inn brought mid-West America to the Vrystaat vlaktes, we were forced to drink and drive. In those days the Road Safety slogan was Friends Don’t Tell Friends They Can’t Drive Because They’re Drunk Because Then Friends Would SHOW Friends How They Actually Drive Very Well When They’re Drunk, Thank You. Not as snappy as Speed Kills but nevertheless a very valid slogan.
Favoured watering holes were Little Switzerland on the Oliviershoek Pass and, because after a skinful you want to actually negotiate a whole mountain pass, the Royal Natal National Park Hotel.
The undoubted King of Harrismith District Mobile Imbibing was Rob, whose surname will remain a secret because he became sensitive to this well-deserved reputation earned during his lengthy youth later when he was telling his own kids to BEHAVE themselves. And Speed Kills, and Wipe Your Feet, and Two Drinks is Enough, and Abstain until you’re Married, and other things he would not have told them if any old, knowing friends were around listening to him.
I mean, his rollovers (how many, Rob?) culminated in his lying on his neck on the roof of Steph’s white VW Beetle and when Steph said “Rob! Are you OK?!” he murmured “Shh! My favourite tune is playing” as he adjusted the radio tuner which had gone off a touch as the vehicle bollamakissied.
The Catholics have it all wrong when they appoint Saints, I think. I mean NOT ONE of the barmen who put up with our shit has been nominated as far as I know – and they should be. They really deserve sainthood. Like the Lil Switzerland one who watched as we emptied the fine display of pampas grass in the foyer, stuck the stalks up our naked rears, set fire to the fronds and ran around the hotel corridors where innocent paying guests were slumbering, yelling Flaming A’s! Call the Fire Brigade!
Also a sainthood for Mother Mary, who loaned me her grey 1970 Ford Cortina to take an Aussie Exchange student there one night.
On the way back I thought I heard faint snoring and a swish-swish-swish sound from far away. I woke up to find I was going along at a fair rate with tamboekie grass hitting the windscreen, Yabsley the Oz asleep on the seat next to me. I slammed on the anchors and got out to look. I didn’t have a clue if I’d gone off on the right or the left of the road, but following our track back through the long grass we found the road (above the pass, thank goodness), reversed and wend our way home much soberer. Had I killed Michael Yabsley I’d have changed the course of Aussie politics, as he went on to become an MP and the Aussie Liberal Party’s federal treasurer.
I do tell my kids to BEHAVE themselves, but I have a hard time keeping a straight face.