Category Archives: Optometry Johannesburg

Someone Burst His Eardrum

The Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education chose a rugby team to play in the inter-college festival down in Durban-by-the-Sea and they didn’t choose me so I had to choose myself and find my own way down so as to be able to add to the fun and laughter and educational and character-building value of such gatherings. And the imbibing contest, which was actually my forté but – for some reason – they didn’t have a drinking span. Strange.

So we had to compete informally, yet enthusiastically. I spose because there were no officials officiating our match we lost sight of the time and forgot to arrange accommodation n stuff so when it became very late we looked around and found we were in someone else’s hotel – the salubrious Killarney – and were trying to scrounge floor space to kip on.

What's that? Someone burst his eardrum . . hip hip hip hooray!

Schoeman and Fotherby were 100% legal and official and had a room and we made merry in it, perhaps too much because someone marched in and very rudely demanded we shurrup and also leave. I stepped forward to help this rude gentleman right upon which he – a man of few words – explained the situation to me by unleashing a mighty klap on my left eardrum, shattering the peace. I immediately understood what he was on about and agreed to leave the premises forthwith.

All the way down the stairs his lips were moving but I couldn’t hear a word he said. I was deaf as a post. He was like:

Zulu Security Guard

I was like:

drunk

The next day my “friends” were singing to me – to the tune of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” –

“Someone Burst His Eardrum! Hip Hip Hip Hooray!!”

Shits. Luckily I couldn’t hear them.

Ice and Fire

They wanted us to have a good time and they fed us with many many craft beers and ordinary beers. Come and enjoy the Rand Easter Show, they said in 1976. Well in those days it was that or this:

We glanced at the displays and the arena – cows were moo’ing and plopping, horses were made to jump over things – but most of the day was spent in the friendly beer halls where the only answer to “May I have another beer?” was “Of course you may!” We ended up sparkling with wit and bonhomie.

After dark it all shut down and we wandered towards the car park eating ice cream cones the TC girls from Maritzburg – up to visit the handsome Doornfontein crew – had bought us (hoping to sober us up?). We passed some horse trailers and the rear end of Gonda Betrix’s horse stared us straight in the eye. Like this:

Horses ass

It was too much to resist and our artistic instincts took over: Lift the tail, place ice cream dollop on the O-ring and then the horse made the mistake of clamping its tail down hard, cementing the deal. I spose a shiver ran down its spine, but it stayed pretty calm considering, just dancing a little – in pleasure maybe? Thoughts of animal cruelty DO pass thru my brain now but they didn’t reach my addled brain at the time.

We shuffled off. Who drove that night? Hopefully the ladies. Sheila, Noreen, who else? Anyway we safely arrived at Stephen Charles’s flat in Yeoville and had another beer as we were inexplicably thirsty.

Noreen said to me “I’ve run a bath, you go ahead”. Very thoughtful of her! I shucked my kit and jumped in and immediately went right through the ceiling! Which wasn’t ceiling board as Steve’s flat was not on the top floor. It was concrete. She’d run the hot only and my (future) wedding vegetables were parboiled. Took days before they were ready to be molested again. In fact, the damage may have been permanent: I ended up adopting kids, even though I waited twelve years before risking getting married.

International Darts Champs

One dark night in Deepest Darkest Doornfontein in the New Doornfontein Hotel pub we were playing darts.

Actually to be more exact, we were engaged in a very important international darts championship tournament, and we were in the final. We had made it through to the final by skill and courage. And imbibing. See, it was The Official Inebriated World Darts Championships of The World. Our opponents were the Sicilian Mafia who had materialised out of nowhere, tapped one of us on the shoulder and announced darkly in a sinister growl: “We play you next”. That’s how they got into the final. We didn’t dare to do anything but nod nervously.

It was like:

mafia darts

We were not fooled when during the important ceremony of ‘diddle for middle’ they missed the bull’s eye by about three metres and we hit bull to go off first. We knew they were simply lulling us into a false sense of security and had in fact wanted us to go first as part of a dastardly plot. This plan was executed faultlessly as we continued to whip they asses and beat them by a mile in all three rounds. Something was afoot. We got even more nervous when they appeared to accept their defeat in good spirit and retired to a corner of the bar conversing – sinisterly for Sicilians – in Portuguese.

Our lives were saved that night in that we ordered beers when the barman called ‘Last Round!’ and the Mafia didn’t. So at closing time the Mafiosi left and we stayed behind to finish our drinks, huddled in a corner as far away as we could get from the door in case it suddenly shattered and splintered under sustained machine gun fire.

The barman then escorted us out the back. Behind the bar counter, through the kitchen and out the back door into the courtyard of the New Doornfontein which was even darker than the unlit streets. We scurried home to our lavish quarters in the plush Doories residence of the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education a few blocks away, keeping to the shadows.

Once safely inside we opened the large door of the old off-white Westinghouse with ‘Fridge Over Troubled Waters’ written on it in cokie pen. Finally we, The Official Inebriated World Darts Champions of The World, could relax.

fridge.jpg

The Louisa Street Massacre

I once got mugged in Louisa Street. By Louisa Street.

Lightly inebriated, I was walking back to res from a trip to Hillbrow to spend some of my Barclays Bank student loan.

The normally dark and deserted Louisa Street in Doornfontein was dark and crowded, with parked cars lining both sides of the road. The Arena Theatre across the road from res had a show on.

Quite unexpectedly, Louisa Street suddenly leapt up and smacked me right in the face, breaking my glasses.

For some unfathomable reason it was very important that I gather all the little shards of glass from my shattered lens, so – as luck or Murphy would have it – I was on my hands and knees when the theatre ended and happy patrons streamed out into the street, their minds filled with the moral of the story (or more likely, flashes of boobs and skin – the few shows we went to had actresses acting daring) to find their cars and drive home to more salubrious areas of Johannesburg. The Arena was surrounded by vacant lots and abandoned houses, so they were probably in a bit of a hurry because of the shady reputation of the neighbourhood – and here was proof!

I was not to be put off my search though, so people had to walk and drive around me, grovelling searching diligently in the middle of the tarmac. Next minute someone bent over me and said “What’s your name?”. The affrontery! It was Mnr “JJ” van Rensburg of the Doornfontein koshuis who  was trying to help by getting one of his charges out of harm’s way. “Shwanepoel” I slurred. I spelt it out in case he didn’t know: “S – W – A – N – E – P – O – E – L” . Explaining that I probably didn’t need to gather every tiny piece as the School of Optometry would likely replace my lenses for me, he coaxed me back to the safety of the res grounds. He was weird, but had a good heart, ole JJ. We gave him sleepless nights.

4 Hillside Road Parktown

“4 Hillside” was a lovely big old communal house run by teachers (or former teachers) in the Hillside Road cul-de-sac on the corner of Empire Road –

Pierre ‘Leibs’ Leibbrandt and Claire – Alpha Romeo

Mike & Shale Doyle – Land Rover

Granger Grey – Braais – The steak supper – Newspaper wedge in shoes for Weigh-Less – grey VW beetle

Donald  ‘Coolsie’ Collins – and ‘Vaalwater’

Gerald ‘Gerrard’ the Malawi tycoon who called Coolsie ‘Boss Donut’

Jos ___ & Brenda; Short, hi-plus specs teacher – ?? – Alpha Romeo?

Norbs? Norbert the bearded one

Then the optom student invasion –

Clive Nel and Sandy Norton in the Luxury Annex – white Mazda R8

Glen Barker – green Toyota Corona NX 106

Pete Swanepoel – grey and grey Opel Rekord OHS 5678

Achim Scholtz and Leibs were ‘doing up’ some old Jeep Station Wagons in the backyard. Mainly that meant squeezing V8 engines into them. – (internet pics)

jeep-wagon-jpg jeep-wagon_2

The old house is gone now – Hannover Reinsurance’s expensive headquarters now fill the space!

hannover re 17 Empire.jpg

see: https://vrystaatconfessions.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/power-brakes-and-brauer-breaks/

Power Brakes and Brauer Breaks

While staying at 4 Hillside Road Parktown we prepared for the holidays. I was taking the delightful Cheryl Forsdick down to Port Shepstone in Natal where I think she was meeting her folks, the redoubtable Ginger and Mrs F. It was the grey and grey Opel Concorde OHS 5678’s longest trip and at the last minute I started to worry about the brakes. They weren’t the best. So I toddled off to the spare parts place and bought what they said would fix them.

21st birthday present!! An Opel Concorde DeLuxe 1700 in sophisticated tones of grey and grey. Note my reflection in the gleaming bonnet!
21st birthday present!! A 1965 Opel Concorde DeLuxe 1700 in sophisticated tones of grey and grey. Note my reflection in the gleaming bonnet!

The day before we were to leave I stripped the drums and put in the new shoes (does that sound right?). It was a fiddly job and took ages to get right, the springs kept springing. Testing them entailed many trips up and down Hillside Road (luckily a cul-de-sac) jamming on brakes and screeching into the left gutter, going back and adjusting them and then slewing into the right gutter. Then beertime came and it had to be good enough.

A raucous year-end party ensued and unfortunately Brauer had invited himself. So even more beer than normal was swallowed and cleverer and cleverer. In the wee hours he spotted the grey and grey Opel Concorde sitting sleekly in the driveway, poised for its long journey to that last outpost of the British Empire. His drink-addled brain (brain?) had recently been thinking (thinking?) about the Mercedes “pagoda roof” sports car classic and he decided my car needed a conversion, so he danced on the roof and the more sensible people told him to stop the more he danced. You know how he is.

He thought he was doing this (and in fact suggested I should pay him for enhancing the Opel):

merc-pagoda

But in fact he did this:

opel-roof-brauer

I had to lie on my back on the seat and push up the roof with my feet the next morning so we could sit in the thing for our southward safari. Was careful to use the brakes as little as possible all the way through the Vrystaat vlaktes, down van Reenen’s Pass and on to the sparkling Indian Ocean where the sharks (but not yet the Sharks) were awaiting their annual dose of Vaalie flesh.

Casa Blanca Roadhouse, Joburg

As students 1974-1977 we would frequent the Casa Blanca roadhouse at the foot of Nugget Hill below Hillbrow when the pocket money arrived from home. Squeezed into Joz Simpson’s lime-green VW Beetle or Steve Reed’s beige Apache or Bobby Friderich’s white Mini Cooper S or Glen Barker’s green Toyota, we’d ask the old Elvis-looking guy with a cap, flip-up sunglasses and whispy whiskers for a burger n chips plus a coke; Or a cheeseburger chips n coke 70c, or – as Steve reminded me – “if we were flush, the Dagwood with everything including the runny fried egg. Sheer luxury. Messy, but worth it!”

roadhouse roadhouse2

This is the Casbah roadhouse

Every so often you’d be asked “Move forward” and you’d inch forward to make room for new arrivals behind you, till you reached the “finishing line” where you handed back the tray Elvis had clipped to your half-rolled-up window and drove off under the big sign on the wall: QUIET. HOSPITAL.

Many years later (OK, twenty six years later!) work took me back to Jozi and I had time to kill in my hired car so I drove around Doories and Yeoville and Hillbrow. Lunchtime I pulled in to the Casa Blanca and I SWEAR there was the exact same oke who had served us 26 years earlier, with his SAME cap, his SAME flip-up shades and his SAME whispy whiskers! Astonishing!

I told him cheeseburger chips n coke and how long have you been here?

“36 years” he said “but I’m just filling in now”.

Charged me 70c. Plus 26 years worth of inflation.

Rugger Bugger

I skipped rugby in matric (an act of rebellion, or a statement of independence, really), then played a season of high school American football in Oklahoma.

Apache Football.jpg

When I got to Johannesburg I was ready to play rugby again, but as there was little sport at the Wits Tech, friend Glen Barker joined Wanderers club. He had a car, so I joined him and off we would go from Doornfontein in the green 1969-ish Toyota Corolla 1600 he inherited from his gran to the field in Corlett Drive for practice.

I doubt there were 30 players in u/21 so we made the B side – probably by default; Some games I remember playing were Oostelikes; Strathvaal; Diggers;

wanderers-rugby2 Wanderers colours

At Strathvaal we played and lost and I was removing my boots at the side of the field when a senior coach asked me to please fill in for the 3rds – they were short. Their game had already started so I laced up and waited on the sideline for a gap. I ran on as a scrum formed and they got the ball. Moving up from inside centre I went to tackle my man and  . . . . .  was carried off on a stretcher.

Who knows what happened, but at about five or six seconds it was the shortest game of any kind I’ve ever played! Those miners were built like brick shithouses and liked nothing more than explosive contact!

strathvaal-rugby a Strathvaal ou

A trumpet? Or were we just trumped?

We would meet on The Bend, Kai’s paradise on the Tugela outside Bergville. The guys from Doories in Johannesburg studying to be optometrists and engineers at the Wits Tech and the gals from NTC in Pietermaritzburg, studying to be teachers of the future fine upstanding youth of SA.
We’d sing and dance, play loud music, down many beers, fall in love, salute General Armstrong the whisky bottle, dance, laugh, swim in the river, jump off the dam wall, have a ball, dance, laugh, recover and start all over again. In hunting season some of us might shoot a few guineafowl.

Sundays we’d load up and go back to school like responsible students. Speronsible, as Lloyd Zunckel would say.

On this occasion Lettuce loaded up the Clittering Goach to head SE back to PMB and Spatch loaded up the beige Apache and Simmo the green VeeDub to head NW back to Joeys. We decided to help Lettuce pack, out of the kindness of our hearts, slipping a dead guineafowl in amongst the girls’ suitcases. HA! That’ll give them a surprise when they get back!

Couldn’t wait to phone them from the nearest ticky box later that Sunday night.
How was your trip? Fine.
How were your suitcases? Fine.
How was Lettuce’s boot? Fine.
Oh! Um, was there anything unusual in the boot? No. Why?

DAMN! We suspected Hood Simpson: Are you so in love that you removed the fowl to spare the girls the smell? No, wasn’t him, but someone must have removed it. Damn!
Oh, well, it was a great idea for a prank! Pity it failed . . . .

A week later we got a parcel slip:
A parcel from PMB awaits your collection at the General Post Office in Jeppe Street.
It was big and quite heavy and read: Contents: Musical Instrument.
Interesting.
Unwrapping layer after layer of paper and one plastic bag after another we unveiled: THAT GUINEAFOWL!! The girls had suckered us!! We had been (in 21st century-language) SERVED!!

Hummed? It honked! It ponged! – that was obviously their “musical instrument” clue! Heave!! Vomit! Yuk!!
What to do with it? Holding it at arms length we carried it out. It was 5pm rush hour. Traffic backed up under the Harrow Road flyover. Innocent hard-working people on their way home. A little plumber’s bakkie looked easy, so as the light turned green we deposited the offending deceased foul fowl discreetly on his loadbed. He’d have an interesting mystery when he got home!

We then made our way to the nearest ticky box. We had a concession phone call to make to PMB. Girls 1 – Guys 0