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4_Optometry Johannesburg 5_Army days 6_Canoe & Kayak Rivers 8_Nostalgia

Tshwane Hooligans

Tshwane – Interesting place, Tshwane, famous for the protection of its inebriates.

Home of the Self-Guided Car

Brauer crashes Audi
Brauer crashes Audi

Few people know that Pretoria Boys High, Audi and Elon Musk were secretly piloting a new self-driving car in Tshwane when their test pilot, one PH Brauer, Esq, pulled out of the program for reasons unknown, although rumour has it his wife gave him a thick ear one evening after golf. Details are sketchy, as is the test pilot, a Pretoria Boys High old boy. A PHB from PBH you could say. Some of the project’s left-over funds were spent re-building a school wall. You’d think they would speed up the research, cos some people really do need to have their steering wheel removed – as in the top picture.

So that didn’t really work out.

Home of the Amphibious Canoe

OK, that didn’t work so well either, but at least there was no ongeluk thanks to the presence of two more responsible parties and the same long-suffering wife who took over the wheel of a high-powered vehicle at a crucial point when the inebriated one on the white Ford Cortina roofrack, one PH Brauer, Esq, thought paddling the Dusi was as easy as running Comrades.

Home of the Original Toilet Bowl Airbag

Brauer toilet airbag
toilet airbag

This field project took place outside Tshwane city limits in rural Yeoville on the second floor of a two-storey buidling. It also didn’t really work so well as the protective airbag failed to deploy until after the teeth of the main character in the act, one PH Brauer, Esq, had already chipped the porcelain. Work is continuing on developing a more robust alcohol fume sensor that triggers the bag. It seems the original sensor was simply overwhelmed by the overload and went phhht.t.t. and instead of inflating the bag it caused deflation in more areas than one. Some left-over shards of porcelain from the shattered toilet were used as a temporary stop-gap in the teeth gaps. Thutty years later they were still there and he was still saying he’d go for the permanent crowns ‘soon.’

Home of Gullible Stromberg Suckers

Although handicapped by the absence of any alcohol consumption, this project went surprisingly well, when the sucker in question, one PH Brauer, Esq, paid a premium price for a piece of inert plastic to attach to his car’s sparkplug cable. Or fuel pipe. Or windscreen wiper cable. It doesn’t matter where you clamp it. The resulting imaginary marginal improvement in performance from sat to so-so was enough to impress another Tshwane deskundige – a brother-in-law of the original sucker – into believing the scam. Both were so taken in they gave the old pale blue Cortina its first service and wax.

Home of a Future Dynasty

– australopithecine swanies out birding –

Interesting place, Tshwane, ancestral home of the australopithecine Tshwanepoels, where we have land claims we haven’t exercised. Yet. But we know the area well from having lived there for many generations, eating various antelope and picking berries. Also Terry’s famous roast and extra veg cos some people don’t eat their vegetables.

~~~oo0oo~~~

ongeluk – smash; prang; crash; motor vehicle accident

sat – farktap – sluggish+; very sluggish; unimpressive

farktap – not well

deskundige – ‘like Des’; spurt; eggspurt; would-be expert; given to calling things ‘kak’

kak – not good; sub-standard

~~~oo0oo~~~

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4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions

International Darts Champs

One dark night in Deepest Darkest Doornfontein we were playing darts. In the New Doornfontein Hotel pub.

Actually to be more exact, we were engaged in a very important international darts championship tournament, and we were in the final. We had made it through to the final by skill and courage. And imbibing. See, it was The Official Inebriated World Darts Championships of The World. Our opponents were the Sicilian Mafia who had materialised out of nowhere, tapped one of us on the shoulder and announced darkly in a sinister growl: “We play you next”. That’s how they got into the final. We didn’t dare to do anything but nod nervously.

It was like:

mafia darts

We were not fooled when during the important ceremony of ‘diddle for middle’ they missed the bull’s eye by about three metres and we hit bull to go off first. We knew they were simply lulling us into a false sense of security and had in fact wanted us to go first as part of a dastardly plot. This plan was executed faultlessly as we continued to whip they asses and beat them by a mile in all three rounds. Something was afoot. We got even more nervous when they appeared to accept their defeat in good spirit and retired to a corner of the bar conversing – sinisterly for Sicilians – in Portuguese and Joburg English.

Our lives were saved that night in that we ordered beers when the barman called ‘Last Round!’ and the Mafia didn’t. So at closing time the Mafiosi left and we stayed behind to finish our drinks, huddled in a corner as far away as we could get from the door in case it suddenly shattered and splintered under sustained machine gun fire.

The barman then escorted us out the back. Behind the bar counter, through the kitchen past the chest freezers – take note, I am not mentioning the chest freezers for nothing here – past the chest freezers: they will feature again at the end of this story, those chest freezers – and out the back door. As I hurried through the kitchen I thought I had seen some movement of the one chest freezer lid out of the corner of my eye . .

Then we were outside – into the courtyard of the New Doornfontein which was even darker than the unlit streets. Then out that side gate visible on the far left into Height Street.

New Doornfontein Hotel side exit
– a recent picture showing the New Doories has been nicely renovated since our day – also doubled its number of stars – bloody looxury now –

We scurried home to our lavish quarters in the plush Doories residence of the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education a few blocks away, keeping to the shadows. It was all shadows.

Once safely inside we opened the large door of the old off-white Westinghouse with ‘Fridge Over Troubled Waters’ written on it in cokie pen. Finally we, The Official Inebriated World Darts Champions of The World, could relax. Another beer . .

fridge.jpg

Suddenly the smell of frying bacon filled the room . . .

and then . .

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4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions

The Louisa Street Massacre

I once got mugged in Louisa Street. By Louisa Street.

Lightly inebriated, I was walking back to res from a trip to Hillbrow to spend invest some of my Barclays Bank student loan.

The normally dark and deserted Louisa Street in Doornfontein was dark and crowded. Parked cars lining both sides of the road. The Arena Theatre across the road from res had a show on.

Quite unexpectedly – maybe seismic movement from all the tunneling underfoot to reach the Doornfontein gold in days gone by? – Louisa Street suddenly leapt up and smacked me right in the face, breaking my glasses.

For some unfathomable reason it was very important that I gather all the little shards of glass from my shattered lenses, so – as luck or Murphy would have it – I was on my hands and knees when the theatre ended and happy patrons streamed out into the street, their minds filled with the moral of the story (or more likely, flashes of boobs and skin – the few shows we went to at The Arena had actresses acting daringly with sundry nipples jiggling). They were scurrying a bit, eager to find their cars and drive home to more salubrious areas of Johannesburg. The Arena was surrounded by vacant lots and abandoned houses, so they were probably in a bit of a hurry because of the shady reputation of the neighbourhood. AND HERE, in front of their eyes, on its hands and knees, was proof of that!

– The Arena Theatre of Doornfontein –

I was not to be put off my search though, so people had to walk and drive around me, grovelling searching diligently in the middle of the tarmac. Next minute someone bent over me and said “What’s your name?”. The affrontery! It was Mnr “JJ” van Rensburg of the Doornfontein koshuis who  was trying to help by getting one of his charges out of harm’s way. “Shwanepoel” I slurred.

I spelt it out in case he didn’t know: “S – W – A – N – E – P – O – E – L – Shwanepoel” .

Explaining that I probably didn’t need to gather every tiny piece as the School of Optometry would likely replace my lenses for me, he coaxed me back to the safety of the res grounds. He was weird, but had a good heart, ole JJ. We gave him sleepless nights.

Doornfontein Louisa St specs.jpg
– “Ah! Here’s another little shard . . . ” – maybe this one’s got the PD on it –

In this aerial view of our lekker JHB pozzie, the red arrow marks the spot where the nose and the nosebridge met the tarmac.

PH2006-10517

The green arrow is where Agnes ignited. Another story . .

The yellow arrow is where the dead guineafowl passed on.

PONTE, the tall round famous building, was just out of picture at the top edge.

There could also be a purple arrow where my roommate Twaalf Eiers hid naked in my cupboard while the cops searched for him – wanted for questioning for streaking near the guineafowl arrow during rush hour . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

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4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions travel

Power Brakes and Brauer Breaks

While staying at 4 Hillside Road Parktown we prepared for the holidays. I was taking the delightful Cheryl Forsdick down to Port Shepstone in Natal where she was meeting her folks, the redoubtable Ginger, fierce platinum-haired mine manager of renown, and Mrs F.

It was the grey and grey Opel Concorde OHS 5678’s longest trip and at the last minute I started to worry about the brakes. They weren’t the best. So I toddled off to the spare parts place and bought what they said would fix them.

21st birthday present!! An Opel Concorde DeLuxe 1700 in sophisticated tones of grey and grey. Note my reflection in the gleaming bonnet!

The day before we were to leave I stripped the drums and put in the new shoes. Does that sound right? It was a fiddly job and took ages to get right, the springs kept springing. Testing them entailed many trips up and down Hillside Road under the closed arch of the big old London Plane trees. Luckily it’s a cul-de-sac. Jamming on brakes I would go screeching into the left gutter, then I’d go home and adjust the whatevers and then go slewing into the right gutter. Then beertime came and it had to be good enough.

– watch out! he’s on the move! –

A raucous year-end party ensued and unfortunately Brauer had invited himself. So even more beer than normal was swallowed and cleverer and cleverer.

In the wee hours he spotted the grey and grey Opel Concorde sitting sleekly in the driveway, poised for its long journey to that last outpost of the British Empire. His drink-addled brain (brain?) had recently been thinking (thinking?) about the Mercedes “pagoda roof” sports car classic and he decided my car needed a conversion, so he danced on the roof in his old blue suede shoes (think I’m kidding? I’ll show you a photo). And the more us sensible people told him to stop the more he danced. You know how he is.

He thought he was doing this – and in fact had the cheek to suggest I should pay him for enhancing the Opel:

But in fact he did this (actual footage):

I had to lie on my back on the seat and push up the roof with my feet the next morning so we could sit in the thing for our southward safari. I was careful to use the brakes as little as possible all the way through the Vrystaat vlaktes, down van Reenen’s Pass and on to the sparkling Indian Ocean where the sharks (but not yet the Sharks) were awaiting their annual dose of Vaalie flesh.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– rooftop dancers –

~~~oo0oo~~~

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4_Optometry Johannesburg

Casa Blanca Roadhouse, Joburg

As students 1974-1977 we would frequent the Casa Blanca roadhouse at the foot of Nugget Hill below Hillbrow when the pocket money arrived from home. Squeezed into Joz Simpson’s lime-green VW Beetle or Steve Reed’s beige Apache or Bobby Friderich’s white Mini Cooper S or Glen Barker’s green Toyota, we’d ask the old Elvis-looking guy with a cap, flip-up sunglasses and whispy whiskers for a burger n chips plus a coke; Or a cheeseburger chips n coke 70c, or – as Steve reminded me – “if we were flush, the Dagwood with everything including the runny fried egg. Sheer luxury. Messy, but worth it!”

I don’t have a pic, but here’s the Doll House in Highlands North so long:

 

Every so often you’d be asked “Move forward” and you’d inch forward to make room for new arrivals behind you, till you reached the “finishing line” where you handed back the tray Elvis had clipped to your half-rolled-up window and drove off under the big sign on the wall: QUIET. HOSPITAL.

Deja Vu

Many years later (OK, twenty six years later!) work took me back to Jozi and I had time to kill in my hired car so I drove around Doories and Yeoville and Hillbrow. Lunchtime I pulled in to the Casa Blanca and I SWEAR there was the exact same oke who had served us twenty six years earlier, with his SAME cap, his SAME flip-up shades and his SAME whispy whiskers! Astonishing!

I told him cheeseburger chips n coke and how long have you been here?

“Thirty six years” he said “but I’m just filling in now”.

Charged me 70c. Plus twenty six years-worth of inflation.

Categories
4_Optometry Johannesburg 8_Nostalgia

Raptures & Ruptures at ‘The Dev’

Devonshire Hotel new

From: Pete
Subject: The Hotel Devonshire – famous again
Sent: 23 May 2011

I see the “rapture” crazies chose the Dev to await the end of their world.
In some ways the Dev was the beginning of mine!

“Buite die Devonshire-hotel in Braamfontein, waar Suid-Afrikaanse aanhangers van die wegraping-kultus saamgetrek het om op die eindtyd te wag, het hulle vir oulaas mense op straat probeer oortuig om by hulle aan te sluit.” (Rapport newspaper)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Brauer wrote: In some ways the beginning, yes. But in many ways fuckin’ close to the end. No doubt the reason why they chose it – for symbolic reasons . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Pete wrote: Actually, – – and come to think of it . . .

How we survived some of those lightly-inebriated evenings in our um, almost roadworthy jalopies . . .

Maybe THAT’S the miracle they’re referring to!

I have a clear thutty-year-old mental picture of laughing at some oke hanging out of the left rear window of a car spray-painting it with chunder in Wolmarans Street. I’m in another car, witnessing the sight. (Our car probably full of sober okes on their way back from Shul. Probly a Friday).
Who and whose car is mentally blurry, though. Beige colour. Thin exhaust pipe.

Austin Apache, maybe?

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve reed wrote: Ah that dapper little beige beauty. Memories of crossing Nugget Street on Wolmarans at high speed when Swain Pull has a flash of genius and yanks up the handbriek, Barely a murmur of “Oh Pete” from mesdames Fotherby and Forsdick on the back seat as we 360. Thank heavens in 1977 the ABS EBD BA and ESC all kicked in after the 5th beer. Only one airbag in the vehicle in those days however.

~~~oo0oo~~~
Pete wrote: I learnt that trick from Pierre du Plessis. He used to do it in his old lady’s little Ford Prefect. Difference, I suppose, was sober and in Harrismith’s quiet streets where we knew the cops by name.
And speaking of chundering: Pierre himself threw a mighty one outside Bergville after a wedding to which we had not been invited, but had partaken in. Thoroughly. Luckily it was his own Datsun 1200 bakkie in which he was a passenger.
Light green. The bakkie. The other was multi-colour yellowish.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve wrote: I do remember partaking in an engagement party to which we had not been invited at a little Drakenberg resort. Arrived just as the happy couple were having a post party nightcap with the family. The bloke’s fiance took quite a fancy to us rough boys [we fancied through our drunken haze] and one of us asked her to dance. The blokes family got into an angry huddle and declared the party over – stat. We were sadly abandoned and the generator was switched off leaving us sad creatures to polish off all their left-over booze in the dark. We seemed not to mind this too much.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Pete wrote: The Devonshire! Remember the Hotel School okes?! Disgraceful. Was it them who auctioned the chicks?

Hold on! Another sudden flashback picture: “Nugget” – short, wild hair and an Irish-looking beard. Poes-dronk through the beer-splatter in the Dev.
Remember him? Got his name, it was said, when he rolled down Nugget Hill, blind as only the thoroughly drunk can be.

He had a huge mate Syd Someone (Oertel?), who did civil engineering between beers.
I may have met both these characters through Pierre, who also did civils – inappropriate name if ever there was one – at Wits Tech, remember? Another bloke was called “Irish”.

One would have thought these brain cells would have been obliterated ages ago.

~~~oo0oo~~~
Steve reed wrote: To me the most worshipped oke in the Dev was the bloke from hotel school who could drink a quart of Castle standing on his head.

(Ah, such tertiary skills!)

~~~oo0oo~~~

“Buite die Devonshire-hotel. . . . ” – Outside the Dev a rapture cult of crazies gather to be swept up to heaven bang on the appointed hour. Nothing happened. Funnily enough, none of them had given their possessions to charity . . . they musta had faith like potatoes.

handbriek – handbrake

Categories
4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia

A trumpet? Or were we just trumped?

We would meet on The Bend, Kai’s paradise on the Tugela outside Bergville. The guys from Doories in Johannesburg studying to be optometrists and engineers at the Wits Tech and the gals from NTC in Pietermaritzburg, studying to be teachers of the future fine upstanding youth of SA. We would meet specifically to practice setting a good example.

We’d sing and dance, play loud music, down many beers, fall in love, salute General Armstrong the whisky bottle, dance, laugh, swim in the river, jump off the dam wall, have a ball, dance, laugh, recover and start all over again. In hunting season some of us might shoot a few guineafowl.

The Bend Gen Armstrong

Sundays we’d load up and go back to school like responsible students. Speronsible, as Lloyd Zunckel would say.

On this occasion Lettuce Leaf loaded up the off-yellow Clittering Goach to head SE back to PMB and Spatch loaded up the beige Apache and Scratchmo loaded the green VeeDub to head NW back to Joeys. We decided to help Lettuce pack out of the kindness of our hearts, slipping a dead guineafowl in amongst the girls’ suitcases. Ha ha! That’ll give them a surprise when they get back!

Clittering Goach & Guinea

Here Scratchmo chunes the Clittering Goach’s under-bonnet-ular bits, pretending he knows what’s going on to impress Lettuce:

The Bend Spatch Lettuce

Back in Johannesburg later that Sunday night, we couldn’t wait to phone them from the nearest ‘tickey box’ or public phone.

How was your trip? Fine.

How were your suitcases? Fine.

How was Lettuce’s boot? Fine.

Oh! Um, was there anything unusual in the boot? No. Why?

DAMN! We suspected Scratchmo Hood Simpson, and interrogated him accusingly: Are you so in love that you removed the fowl to spare the girls the smell? No, it wasn’t him. But, but . . someone must have removed it. Damn!

Oh, well, it was a great idea for a prank! Pity it failed . . . .

A week later we got a parcel slip:

A parcel from PMB awaits your collection at the General Post Office in Jeppe Street.

It was big and quite heavy and read: Contents: Musical Instrument.

Interesting.

Unwrapping layer after layer of paper and one plastic bag after another we unveiled: THAT GUINEAFOWL! The girls had suckered us! We had been (in 21st century-language) SERVED!

Hummed? It honked! It ponged! – that was obviously their “musical instrument” clue! Heave! Vomit! Yuk!

So what to do with it? Holding it at arms length we carried it out. It was 5pm rush hour. Traffic backed up under the Harrow Road flyover. Innocent hard-working people on their way home. A little plumber’s bakkie looked easy, so as the light turned green we deposited the offending deceased foul fowl discreetly on his loadbed. He’d have an interesting mystery when he got home!

We then made our way to the nearest tickey box. We had a concession phone call to make to PMB.

Girls 1 – Guys 0

=========================

Harrow Rd Flyover & Res_2.jpg
Where the lucky plumber’s bakkie got its guineafowl

=======ooo000ooo=======

bakkie – pickup truck;