The Kleinspan schooltime ended around twelve noon or one o’ clock I guess and we lived less than a mile east along Stuart Street and so one bleak and chilly winter day Donald Coleman and I set off for home in our grey shirts, grey shorts and grey socks – and grey jerseys.
We had lots to talk about and so we walked along on the pavement under the big old plain trees, mostly bereft of leaves, many of which were lying in the deep sandstone gutters.
It was really cold and Donald had a box of matches in his pocket and a plan. We raked together a pile of the dry leaves with our chilly hands and started a nice fire and sat down to warm our hands and shins as the fire crackled away.
It soon burnt out and we meandered on and a block or two later made another blazing but short-lived fire to sit and chat and warm up by.
Then we reached Hector Street and Donald turned down toward his home and I turned up to mine. Mine on the corner and his a block or two closer to the mountain.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?” greeted me. The tone of the question surprised me and ruined the quiet, gentle ambience of our leisurely journey home. At his home Donald was being asked the same unreasonable question. We’d been to school. Everyone knew that, why were they asking?
“IT’S FIVE O’ CLOCK! SCHOOL ENDED OVER FOUR HOURS AGO!” We weren’t arguing. We didn’t say it didn’t. What was their point? “WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?” Uh, we were talking . . .
We were told off and left to ponder the mysteries of the adult world. They obviously marched to a different drum. We sauntered to ours.
They didn’t know that Donald was an archeologist, paleontologist, cosmologist, naturalist and we had LOTS to think about and consider. They just assumed we were buggering around.
And anyway, whose stress levels were highest? I arse you that.
Huge thanks to Sandra of Harrismith’s best blog DeDoudeHuizeYard for the pictures – exactly right! That is the SAME gutter we sat in. You can even see a few of the plane leaves, great-great-great descendants of the ones we burned, um, (surely it can’t be!) fifty six years ago.