My Face in a Book

There was a knock at our front door. A stranger. No-one who was anyone went to our front door at 95 Stuart Street. I walked the long trek down our long dark passage and opened up. There stood a little poephol with a hat and a camera. Are you Peterrr Swaaanepoel? he asked. Yep. Oh, I’m from ve Volksblad and I’m here to take your picture. That gave me a huge grin. What for!? I asked, genuinely curious. For the best student award after the matric results come out, he explained. Ah, you’ve come to the wrong place. Someone has sadly misled you, I said, starting to shut the door.

He was ready, he had his foot in the door, brave little poephol doing a good journalistic job. No, Mnr Steyl said you might resist, but I’m not wrong, I do want a picture of you please.

He said please.

OK, shoot, I said. No, please, will you put a tie on, and can I come inside and get a good shot? He said please. Into the lounge we went. I went off to fetch my multi-coloured school tie, demurely coloured in dark blue, orangy-yellow and green. I stood at the mantelpiece, tie loosely attached. Next to me grinned the illegal stolen skull of the San Bushman from South West Africa. Can you do up your tie, please?

A bridge too far. No, this is as good as you’re going to get. Shoot now or forever hold onto your piece, I said, peering over the top of my specs. If he wanted perfesser, I’d give him perfesser. He shot. He left.

Wragtig that thing was published some time later! There I was, 2cm by 1cm in black and white, looking for all the world like a scruffy schoolboy in poorly-fitting spectacles who couldn’t tie a decent tie knot. Apparently among the dwindling few rooineks in the province I was one of the very few who knew how to skryf an eksamen. Bugger me. A bit like early facebook, I spose.


{In this school annual pic taken earlier that year – 1972 – I had also tried to peer over my specs for a professorial look}

2 thoughts on “My Face in a Book

  1. Pingback: The Art of the Braai – Bewilderbeast Droppings

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