1971: Rugby in Bloemfontein, Springboks vs the Frogs.
After the game, Tabs, Des, Raz, Stervis and I are driving back when the kroeg (no way you could call it a pub) in Senekal beckoned.
By the time the barman threw us out Des had bonded deeply with one of Senekal’s left-behinds and when we suggested we leave for home rather than go home with Deliverance for a braai, Des told us in no uncertain terms that WE could go but HE was not leaving his lifelong mate (of three hours) in the lurch.
ONE fing we must NOT do, we were told when we got to the small house on the wrong side of Senekal, is wake his wife. Lemme tell you carefully, you must not, no marrer whut you do, wake my wahf, you hear?
Wooden floors, five drunk ous stumbling around, I started to think this goon doesn’t actually have a wife, and if he does she’s in pieces in the chest deepfreeze. Which is where Conan is, scratching around and hauling out what looks like a roundish, rock-hard lump of blood in a plastic checkers.
Des, we should go, this is going to take forever.
It’s like Des told us: WE can go, but HE’s not leaving his lifelong mate.
Eventually a fire gets going – sort of – and the icy red lump piece of deceased wife sits on it, refusing to melt. (Another recollection is the oven was turned on and the lump placed in there. Exact facts are hazy). It’s midnight in June in Senekal, Vrystaat. It’s not hot.
Meantime, Jack Nicholson has found some dop and we have to drink, and luckily this puts him to sleep and mellows the Glutz so we’re able to persuade him to make a bolt for it, hitting the Senekal dirt roads till we find the tar to Harrismith. (Another recollection has the Wildman pulling out a gun and taking potshots as the getaway car spins madly down the driveway).
To this day I can experience that weird, out-of-body sensation of “WTF are we DOING here? Am I in a bad movie or in a bad dream?!”