In high school we had a mate who was in the Free State koor. He was famous in Harrismith for that. His nickname was Spreeu but we called him Sparrow. Everyone knew Sparrow was one of “Die Kanaries – Vrystaatse Jeugkoor“. Fame! Bright lights! Girls threw their broekies at him. OK, maybe not.
One day a buzz went round school that Septimus (apparently he was the seventh child) Smuts, Free State Inspector of Music was there to do auditions for new members for this famous koor. We were there! Me and Gabba Coetzee. Neither known for having the faintest interest in warbling before (my membership of the laerskool koor a distant memory). Nor any other form of culture come to think of it, other than rugby. Gabba was a famous – beroemde – rugby player, having been chosen for Oos Vrystaat Craven Week in Std 8, 9, 9 & 10. Strong as an ox.
People were amazed: “What are YOU ous doing here?” they asked as we waited in the queue. We just smiled. We’d already missed maths, biology and PT.
Septimus was a dapper little rockspider full of confidence. He gave Gabba exactly three seconds and sent him packing. Gave me ten times longer and said “Nice enough, but no range”. So back to class we went, crestfallen look on our dials, mournfully telling our mates and the teacher that we COULD NOT understand how we’d been rejected and there must have been some mistake. The teacher raised his eyebrows but we stuck to our story: It had been a longtime deep desire of ours and the rejection cut us deep.
It became mine & Gabba‘s standing joke over the years.