I used to sing beautifully. The teacher who trained the boys choir in Harrismith Laerskool said so. Well, she might have. She was Mej Cronje I think, and was half the reason ous would volunteer for the choir. To look at her, gorgeous redhead she was.
I was a soprano and we looked down on the altos who, though necessary as backup, weren’t in the same league as us squeakers. One directly behind me used to bellow in my ear: ‘Dek jou hol met bouse off hollie! FaLaLaLa La LaLaLaLa.’
One day this delectable and discerning talent spotter, the red-headed Juffrou Ethel Cronje chose me to sing a solo in the next konsert. Me, the soloist!
Fame loomed. It was 1965 and even then, the image of a golden buzzer appeared to me in a vision. This thought crossed my mind: Harrismith’s Got Talent!
Then tragedy struck!
My balls dropped.
They handled it very diplomatically. By ignoring it and cancelling practice. The konsert didn’t materialise. Co-incidence? Surely they didn’t cancel a concert just because one boy suffered testicular descent? And by the time the next konsert came around I hadn’t been banished – just discreetly consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.
* * *
Just in case there are people who think Harrismith se Laerskool se Seunskoor was a Mickey Mouse outfit, lemme tellya:
WE TOURED ZULULAND. The Vienna Boys Sausages were probably nervous.
We got into the light blue school bus and drove for hours and hours and reached Empangeni far away, where the school hall was stampvol of people who, starved of culture in deepest Zoolooland, listened in raptures as we warbled Whistle While You Work, High on your Heels is a Lonely Goat Turd, PaRumPaPumPum, Edelweiss, Dominique and some volksliedjies which always raised a little ripple of applause as the gehoor thought “Dankie tog, we know vis one“.
If memory serves (and it does, it does, seldom am I the villain or the scapegoat in my recollections) there was a flood and the road to the coastal village of ReetShits Bye was cut off, sparing them the price of a ticket – though those were probably gratis?
Can’t remember driving back, but we must have.
After that epic and ground-breaking (sod-breaking?) tour, warbling faded in importance and rugby took over.
Later, there was one brief but intense attempt at reviving my career as a singer.
Harrismith Laerskool – the village school
Harrismith se Laerskool se Seunskoor – very much like the famous Vienna Boys Sausages
ous – us men
‘Dek Jou Hol Met Bouse Off Hollie! FaLaLaLa LA LaLaLaLa’ – listen to the sopraan-ous, they’re the ones. The highballs are on them.
seunskoor – boys choir
stampvol – sold out, overflowing; like – viral!
volksliedjies – folk songs; songs of ve Chosen People
gehoor – audience, fans; (they would have clicked ‘like’ or ‘follow’)
dankie tog – fanks heavens, sigh of relief
ReetShits Bye – Richards Bay, then still a small fishing village on the warm Indian Ocean, the bay still a natural estuary, not yet dug out for coal ships
Pa rum pum pum pum – listen to the sopraan-ous, they’re the ones