An Old Mystery: Whose fault?

There were two reasons we ‘borrowed’ Gerrie’s black Saab late one night: If you don’t give a car a run the battery can go flat, and we had Larry the American Rotary Exchange student with us, who might have heard that the Free State can be a very boring place with “nothing to do”. Especially at night.

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Quietly wheeling it down the driveway we held our breath until we’d pushed it far enough, then quickly started it and we were OFF! Freedom! Beer! Speed! Steph was multi-tasking, driving and handing out the ‘longtom’ cans of beer his gardener had bought for us from Randolph Stiller’s Central Hotel offsales. Tuffy finished his before we hit third gear . . .

Tonight we headed for new terrain. We had already done the town athletic track and the school netball fields on other occasions, leaving our  trademark donuts and figure-of-eights in the gravel. This time our destination was the National Botanic Gardens on top of Queen’s Hill, stopping only once to tap the petrol pump with the half-brick kept under the bonnet for that purpose.

In the dark we met Kolhaas Lindstrom in his car. He was legit: He’d already left school and was a licenced driver. “Dice?” and the game was on! Whizzing through the veld ring-ding-ding-riiing! (it’s a two-stroke, remember?) the sudden stop and bang came as a surprise. Dead silence reigned until in an awed American accent Larry exclaimed “We’ve had a head-on collision with a hill!” .

A committee undercarriage inspection revealed all four wheels suspended in mid-air. Trying to gun it out left the front wheels whizzing around uselessly. Well, that is why there were five of us, so we man-handled it over the ditch and away we went, cleverer than before.

Forty five years later I flew in to inspect the scene of the crime (still unsolved, and now very cold: How could it be that such great and experienced drivers crashed?). I flew in via google earth. And there it was: A fault!! It was Queen’s Hill’s fault, not ours!
A great big fault runs North-South across the whole hill. THAT was what caught us by surprise.

I have little doubt that if one were to measure its width you’ll find it just a bit greater than the wheelbase of a 1961 Saab93!

 Queen's Hill - Annotated

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids and travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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