Confessions, Optometry Johannesburg

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

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Confessions, Nostalgia

Homeward after Rag Ball

After NTC Rag Ball in Pietermaritzburg, 1976 we drove home in Tabs’ red Datsun fastback, famed for having being called a Ferrari by one of the automotively-challenged TC girls. We’d spent the night in the Hotel Insomnia. Braithwaite was behind the wheel as he had held back slightly as he still had to drive on from Harrismith to Nelspruit where he was needed to dry-clean some Lowvelders’ underpants. Tabs was in the passenger seat, me on the back seat.

Me & Liz Howe, Sheila & Hilton – Tabs in full voice with John Venning

Under the flat raking back window of that fastback was most of a case of beer, baking in the sun. After a short hung-over silence Tabs turned to me and asked “How hot are those beers?”

I said “Shall we share one and see?”

He said “Let’s open two and share them and see.”

We finished the case before we got to HY. Thank goodness for Hilton!


Dave Simpson & Lettuce; Tabs & Jilly Shipman; All at a very clever stage.

rag-ball-1976

I was sipping cooldrink . . .

Confessions, Free state, Vrystaat

Wonderful stuff, booze

Booze opened wonderful opportunities for us as kids in the olden days. As our hawk-eyed parents became bleary-eyed and witty and hilarious, so their surveillance levels dropped and we could get on with doing more interesting things than we could when they were sober.

So it was at the MOTH picnic one year on the far bank of the mighty Vulgar river down in the President Brand park where, after a lekker braai and quite a few pots the folks were suitably shickered and plans could go afoot.

img565

The older boys formed a syndicate which consisted of them hiding and the younger boys being sent in to do the dangerous stuff. See if you can get us some beer from the pub, was the thinking. So (some of or all of) Pierre, Fluffy, Tuffy and I approached Ray Taylor – as always alone at the bar, teetotal. The other old WW2 servicemen and their wives a little way off making a lot of noise. Uncle Ray, quiet as ever, was easily distracted by my accomplices and as he was being his kind and obliging self to them I slid a full case of dumpy beers off the makeshift bar counter and turned round, hugging it vertically straight in front of me against my chest. I walked straight away with my back to Uncle Ray into the darkness of the poplar and oak trees towards the river.

Under the suspension bridge the receivers of stolen goods waited (Etienne Joubert, a Brockett and a Putterill, I seem to recall), took the loot and told us to move along then. We were too young to be allowed to partake.

Etienne remembers: “I remember this incident well. We drank them on the river bank upstream. We had female company as well, but best we do not dwell on that subject. There was also unhappiness about the brand that was procured………

Dear old Uncle Ray with his Alsatians….Twice I went on walks with him up our beloved Platberg!! He was an interesting man, who behind a façade of dullness was very wise!!

Stories like this bring back a thousand other memories……!! Cheers vir eers, Et


Another memory of the far side: Roaring around the dirt roads between those big trees in Dr Dick Venning’s blue Triumph and in his Land Rover, Tim Venning at the helm. Hell for leather, running commentary all the way, huge grin on his face.


Uncle Ray was attacked by baboons on one of his Platberg walks. Not sure if his dog/s were with him, but he said he fought off the babs with his walking stick. We were told he had suffered “shell shock” in the war.

Nostalgia

Raptures & Ruptures at ‘The Dev’

From: Pete
To: .Brauer work
To: .Steve Reed Pte
To: .Jon Taylor
Subject: The Hotel Devonshire – famous again
Sent: 23 May 2011 09:21

I see the “rapture” crazies chose the Dev to await the end of their world.
In some ways it was the beginning of mine!

“Buite die Devonshire-hotel in Braamfontein, waar Suid-Afrikaanse aanhangers van die wegraping-kultus saamgetrek het om op die eindtyd te wag, het hulle vir oulaas mense op straat probeer oortuig om by hulle aan te sluit.”

http://www.rapport.co.za/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/En-die-aarde-draai-steeds-20110521
—————————————

Brauer pb@stbopt.co.za wrote:
In some ways the beginning, yes. But in many ways fuckin’ close to the end. No doubt the reason why they chose it – for symbolic reasons . .

————
Pete <pete@sheila.co.za> wrote:
Actually
And come to think of it . . .

How we survived some of those lightly-inebriated evenings in our um, almost roadworthy jalopies . . .

Maybe THAT’S the miracle they’re referring to!

I have a clear thutty-year-old mental picture of laughing at some oke hanging out of the left rear window of a car spray-painting it with chunder in Wolmarans Street. I’m in another car, witnessing the sight. (Our car probly full of sober okes on their way back from Shul. Probly a Friday).
Who and whose car is mentally blurry, though. Beige colour. Thin exhaust pipe.

Austin Apache, maybe?

—————————————————-
steve reed <screed64@gmail.com> wrote:
Ah that dapper little beige beauty. Memories of crossing Nugget Street on Wolmarans at high speed when Swain Pull has a flash of genius and yanks up the handbriek, Barely a murmur of “Oh Pete” from mesdames Fotherby and Forsdick on the back seat as we 360. Thank heavens in 1977 the ABS EBD BA and ESC all kicked in after the 5th beer. Only one airbag in the vehicle in those days however.
—————–
Pete <pete@sheila.co.za> wrote:
I learnt that trick from Pierre du Plessis. He used to do it in his old lady’s little Ford Prefect. Difference, I suppose, was sober and in Harrismith’s little quiet streets where we knew the cops by name.
And speaking of chundering: Pierre himself threw a mighty one outside Bergville after a wedding to which we had not been invited, but had partaken in. Thoroughly. Luckily it was his own Datsun 1200 bakkie in which he was a passenger.
Light green. The bakkie. The other was multi-colour yellowish.

—————————————————————
Steve wrote:
I do remember partaking in an engagement party to which we had not been invited at a little Drakenberg resort. Arrived just as the happy couple were having a post party nightcap with the family. The bloke’s fiance took quite a fancy to us rough boys [we fancied through our drunken haze] and one of us asked her to dance. The blokes family got into an angry huddle and declared the party over – stat. We were sadly abandoned and the generator was switched off leaving us sad creatures to polish off all their left-over booze in the dark. We seemed not to mind this too much.
————————
Pete pete@sheila.co.za wrote:

The Devonshire!
Remember the Hotel School okes?! Disgraceful. Was it them who auctioned the chicks?

Hold on! Another sudden flashback picture: “Nugget” – short, wild hair and a beard – and poes-dronk through the beer-splatter in the Dev.
Remember him? Got his name (it was said) when he rolled down Nugget Hill, blind as only the thoroughly drunk can be.

He had a huge mate Syd Someone (Oertel?), who did civil engineering between beers.
I may have met both these characters through Pierre (he did civils – inappropriate name if ever there was one) at WCATE, remember?

One would have thought these cells would have been obliterated ages ago.
———————
steve reed wrote:
To me the most worshipped oke in the Dev was the bloke from hotel school who could drink a quart of Castle standing on his head.

(Ah, such tertiary skills!)

Nostalgia

Commodore Tabbo

I’m sure I told you about Tabbo’s first boat? (before the Pheasant Plucker with its inboard motor and Hamilton jet)?

After Sarclet dam was built he NEEDED a boat and he found one for sale in Howick. Good price, so we set off to fetch it. It was rather small (read: very) and its 30-horse Johnson looked like Noah would have only used it as backup, but it was cheap.

We set off towing back to the big HY at a rate of knots, Tabbo behind the wheel of his red Datsun-Lamborghini with the round lights at the back.

datsun-160z-red remember?

We had a good chuckle when we saw a wheel overtaking us on the main tar road between Howick and Estcourt: “Wonder which poor fool that belongs to?” till we heard a scraping in the rear (we hadn’t felt a thing). Well, it was our wheel that had parted and rushed forward to try and give us a message, so that was a problem, as we had sort of ruined whatever a new wheel might have attached to by driving on blissfully ignorant, feeling smug, dragging the axle stump on the tar.

A couple weekends later we finally got the boat to Sarclet dam and into the water. Some okes came around (I think Rob Spilsbury was one) – fortunately no ladies to roll their eyes – and we launched the tiny boat and plucked the starting cord. There was only room for two, so Tabs was sitting in the boat with one other oke who stood in the boat and rukked and plukked.

And we plucked and yanked and plukked and then we took turns to pluck and pull and huff. Then we pulled and puffed. Then we took the motor apart and cleaned the spark plugs and put stuff in the carb and did all the things okes do who know a bit and then we re-assembled it and rukked. And still fokol. Two okes were in the boat and two in the water standing on each side of the motor holding the boat and taking turns plucking.

After 4520 plucks it spluttered and began to roar, so the two okes in the water hopped on and the whole fucking thing sank, motor and all.

.

Here’s the newer, bigger Pheasant Plucker – some years later:

Hilton Braithwaite, Carol Gower-Jackson, Carl Reitz, Sarclet Dam - 1 Dec 1974
Hilton Braithwaite, Carol Gower-Jackson, Carl Reitz, Sarclet Dam – 1 Dec 1974

Old Harrismith Sarclet

Simpson, me, duP - Sarclet Dam?
Simpson, me, duPlessis – Sarclet Dam

One day I’ll have to tell how I parked the Pheasant Plucker on the bank amongst the parked cars. At high speed. Eish . . petrol and beer . . .

Confessions, Nostalgia

Chariots of Beer

It was the Eastern Free State athletics championships and we were three kranige athletes, in our prime (well, so far . . . we would get better at some things as time went on).

In the triple jump: Steph de Witt, matric. Long legs, big springs. In with a chance of a medal.

In the pole vault: Hoender Kok, matric. Feisty competitor, but probably not a contender as his short aluminium pole looks ancient next to the long, whippy fibreglass poles the boys from the bigger towns and schools are sporting. Fullback for the rugby team, he was nicknamed “HO Ender” (hoender, geddit?) after HO de Villiers, the Springbok fullback.

In the javelin: Me, Std 8. New to javelin, just discovered it that year and loved it.

The school bus was naturally available for us to get to the metropolis of Senekal. That was the usual and expected way, so we naturally declined, Steph organising that we drove ourselves to Senekal in Gerrie Pretorius’ white Ford Corsair. Actually we weren’t licenced, so  one of the guys who worked for his Mom at JN de Witt Hardware drove us.

Accompanying us was Larry Wingert, Rotary exchange student from Cobleskill New York. He had brought Bill Cosby’s “Why is there air?” vinyl LP to the Free State without Hertzog the censor baas knowing it. NOAH! Ri-ight! What’s a cubit? Vupa vupa vupa. (You had to have heard it).

The Corsair’s engine did sound a bit like a Cessna engine as we roared off in the pre-dawn heading west, the rising sun behind us, to Senekal, city of song and laughter – well song anyway. Tiekiedraai songs. As we pulled in to the dusty dorp Steph had us pull over outside the only cafe in town, where he asked the Greek owner (who became his mate in two seconds flat – Steph is like that) if he’d please keep our beers.

Oh yes: Steph’s gardener had procured a sixpack of long tom cans for us from Randolph Stiller’s Central Hotel offsales (Mom & Dad losing the sale at Platberg bottle store because of their ridiculous and unreasonable “No under 18’s” policy).

Now at this juncture, please don’t come with any steroid, drug or performance-enhancing accusations. Let it be noted that we did not partake in our stimulants until AFTER the athletic meeting was over. During the competition we were clean, nê? (And anyway those long toms were only conversation stimulants and personality enhancers).

Let the games begin! Steph’s event was first and we watched and moedig’d him aan. He won the driesprong! We had a gold medal in the Corsair! The beer was legitimised: It was celebratory! True it was only a paper certificate, but it said Eerste Plek and that = Gold Medal.

A long gap followed before my event after lunch. It didn’t look too good and I was languishing, but then I didn’t have any expectations. My last throw came and the whole thing is etched in my memory. I can still today feel the run, the launch, the perfect flight of the javelin and my landing, spiked foot digging in one inch behind the wavy, hand-drawn white-wash line on the grass and having to push back to not lurch over it and get disqualified. I just knew it was perfection and it flew on and on, past all the markers of the langgatte from Voortrekker in Bethlehem. Another gold medal for the Corsair! Spiesgooi. This one out of the blue.

Hoender’s event was last and we went to cheer. It didn’t look good. One short stiff pole vs a bunch of long whippy poles seemed unfair. He was offered the use of a fibreglass pole but he declined. They take some getting used to. Then it started to drizzle. Suddenly everything changed! The okes with the whippy poles started floundering and slipping. Hoender soldiered on. It made no difference to him what the weather was like. On the last height there were two competitors left. Whippy pole slipped and gly’d and got nowhere. Hoender went over to a roar of applause from all four of us. He’d won!! Our third gold medal! Paalspring. A clean sweep!

The music from Chariots of Fire swelled over the once dusty, now damp, dorp, rising to a crescendo (sure, the movie was only made in 1981 and this was 1970, but WE HEARD IT).

We hastened straight to the white Corsair, parked under the nearby bluegum trees, skipping the official podium pomp.

bluegum-trees

Bloekom trees like these.

We had our own unofficial celebration waiting. Off to the cafe to rescue the beer from next to the eskimo pies and away with “the windshield wipers slappin’ time, n Larry clappin’ hands”! We roared off heading east, slightly pickled after glugging the 455ml of (okay, not yet sweet-tasting, still getting used to it) nectar, the setting sun behind us, conversations stimulated and personalities enhanced.

Army days

Army Daze & The Sangoma

When I was called up to the army in 1979 my friend Tabs Fyvie offered to deliver me to the (not so pearly) gates of Voortrekkerhoogte (or as Barks always insisted: Roberts’ Heights. Now thankfully at last it has a non-bullshit name: Thaba Tshwane!!).

Off we went to Pretoria and sought out a pub (kroeg, really – we were on the Central Gevangenis side of downtown Pretoria) for a final drink before disappearing into uniform.
Many drinks later the 5pm deadline was approaching. Walking to the car we passed a sangoma’s emporium with enticing offers and claims written crudely on the window.

Turning in we were met by the great consultant himself. Tabs explained he would like to get rid of his paunch, and the man indicated this was a very minor thing which he could do with one hand tied behind his back. We were not sharp enough at that particular juncture to enquire how come he didn’t use it on himself  (y’know: “Physician, Heal Thyself “).

He reached for a metal rasp, took down a piece of bark from the many shelves behind him piled with bark, skins, leaves, string, dead animals, bottles of various sizes, seeds, skulls and who knows what else and grated off a pile of sawdust onto a newspaper, folded it up and said “Twenty bucks”.

Shit! Twenty Ront! In 1979!! We were both pickled and we hadn’t spent that much on beer! Still, Tabs coughed up and the great man asked me my pleasure.

“I want to get out of going to the army”, I said, “Two years is too long, I’d rather dodge it altogether”. “Not a problem” he said, and “That is easy” he said. He whipped around, reached for the same metal rasp, took down the same piece of bark, grated the same amount into the next page of the same newspaper, folded it up and said – you guessed: “Twenty bucks”.

We paid him quite solemnly, not wanting to damage or weaken the muti with any faint tinges of doubt and repaired to a nearby dive for two more beers to wash down the potion. It was vile, bitter and powder-dry, but we managed, one pinch at a time.

Well, it worked for me: Days later* I emerged from the army a free man – just like the man said.

* OK, 730 days later.

Tabs, I’m sorry to say, on the other hand, still had his little paunch. Maybe the Sangoma had specialised in psychiatry rather than physiology? **

** Decades later Tabbo DID lose his paunch. He credits it to Tim Noakes’ eating plan, but I can’t help wondering . . . .


=====================================================

On 2012/11/04, Peter Brauer wrote:

Clearly he mistakenly gave you the “slow release” version and probly just underestimated the dosage required for Tabs.


I replied: Or maybe it’s because we were “double blind”?


======================================================

Here’s the gumtree ad that reminded me of it:

sangoma-capture