Theft & Punishment

Didn’t steal much as a kid. But I did slug down a bottle of Monis red grapejuice on the quiet in the back storeroom of the Platberg Bottle Store / Drankwinkel working for Mom & Dad one Saturday morning. You can see the door to the storeroom in the pic. Warm, straight out of one of those cardboard boxes all the bottles were packed in.

DSCF8184
Platberg Bottle Store – the dark side – Note that BrandyAle poster – booze “fights the high cost of living”!!

That afternoon we went for a long drive out Witsieshoek way in the beige Morris Isis (no, not Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, just Isis).

After a while the car door had to be flung open for me to have a hearty grapey chunder out onto the gravel road in the veld. It would have looked like blood, so I imagine a confession then also would have had to take place. Can’t remember.

I haven’t liked red grape juice since. Communion in the teetotal Methodist church has had me being possibly the only sinner rudely reminded of theft and puke every time the shed for you came round. Divine retribution? Communion? Confession? He does seem to move in mysterious ways!

Here’s the cave on the Witsieshoek road:

cave-witsieshoek-road

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As an aside –

The Morris Isis was named after the River Isis – which is actually just the Thames in Oxford. The Morris Isis was “designed for work in the Dominions, Colonies and Protectorates” . . . “the factory’s output . . . is entirely for export. Great attention was given to providing a low appearance without sacrifice of ground clearance. The all-metal 5-seater saloon body is stated to be practically indestructible and climate-proof.”

Morris Isis

It had the fascinatingly bizarre feature that both the gear lever and the handbrake were on the floor to the right of the driver, wedged in the narrow space between the seat and the driver’s door. When changing gear it looked like you were fiddling for something you’d dropped between your right thigh and the door.

Morris Isis gear lever

 

The Morris Isis Series II was based on the Morris Oxford Series III. The engine power increased to 90 bhp. The manual version had a four-speed box operated by a short gearstick located on the right-hand side of the front bench seat. The handbrake lever was located just behind the gearstick.

Sales remained weak, and the line ended in 1958. It had a top speed of 90 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 17.6 seconds. Fuel consumption of 26.2 miles per imperial gallon (10.8 litres/100 km) was recorded. The test car cost UK£1025 including taxes.

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Morris Isis interior

 

Max Express

I saw Mr Thembinkosi Ntshingila for an eye test recently. He was born in 1957.
I told him I knew a Mr Max Ntshingila in Harrismith many moons ago, who owned a fleet of buses.
He said “Hayibo! That’s my Dad!!”

Strictly speaking Max was his uncle, but his Dad died when he was very young and his uncle Max took him in and raised him as his own in Phomolong.

He told me that besides the buses – remember “Max Express” buses? yellow and green, I seem to remember – Max owned two shops, plus a petrol station in Swaziland.

Max died in 1978 aged 60. His empire collapsed when he died, as his kids “were spoilt” and “none of them could manage anything”, according to Thembinkosi.

Max had sent Thembinkosi to college and he ended up in Durban working for Engen or Sapref or one of those fuel refinery places. Retired now, he plays the horses for fun and I see him at the tote on the roof of our centre occasionally.

I had wondered vaguely these years about something, and Thembinkosi had the answer for me: That cream coloured yank tank Max drove was a Chev Biscayne.

1963_chevrolet_biscayne-pic-9465

He still goes to Harrismith regularly to look after the house in Phomolong where he was raised.
One of his nieces lives in it.
Leon Strachan sent me some pictures. Note how Dr Frank Mdlalose, who we only got to know of post-1994, when he became KwaZulu Natal’s first Premier, was a house guest of the Ntshingila’s in Harrismith.
Max Express 3
Max Express 4

And Now Greg Seibert Has Died

Greg came to Harrismith from Ohio in 1972. He was going to visit us last year and, among other places, visit Steph’s game farm near Tshipise with Steph.

Then Steph died.

Now Greg’s gone, suddenly, out of the blue.

R.I.P Greg!

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Wonderful memories of walking down Normandien pass in the Drakensberg, along lonely dirt roads and railway tracks, through these tunnels and ending up near Van Reenen. I had to keep telling Greg to slow down! He was a fast walker!

Near van Reenen where Greg Seibert & I hiked thru tunnels

I don’t have a pic of Greg yet. The top pic is one he took in our physics class back in 1972.

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)

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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 . .

————
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?

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
———————
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!)

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“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

Two Severe Impacts in One Night

Brauer and Terry got married long before Brauer matured. Then again, had they waited for that  – no, wasn’t feasible.

It was a good show and there was grog and I spose they asked us to leave as I seldom leave before that and one would think being ‘best’ man would carry some privileges.

We headed home in Nel’s Mazda RX2. The ‘R’ being for ‘Rotary Engine’. Not the benevolent kind as in Rotary helping charity, but of the gas-guzzling kind with a high-pitched whine like Trevor John when he felt he’d been done down.

So we were getting home with expedience when a dronk oke in an oncoming car veered into our lane slap-bang in front of us and we hit him head-on.

Norts was in front with Nel and was slightly hurt and the delightful Forsdick was in the back with me and was slightly hurt and Nel of course was severely injured. We knew that before impact because that’s the way it always was and Nel would obviously need lots of attention.

Poor bugger did actually have a genuine smack this time as proven by X-rays and by his being on crutches for eighteen months after that. Later Norts found out the docs had told Nel he could chuck them away after six weeks.

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poetic-license Swanie 2

P Addled Brains

That Pretoria restaurant probably spiked our drinks with omega fish oil because when they finally asked us to leave we were brilliant.
We wisely allowed Terry to drive my white Ford Cortina 2-litre deluxe GL while Pierre and Old Pete and I gave directions, instructions, comments, witticisms and dropped pearls of wisdom.
‘Twas a balmy night and the breeze was slight. The canoe on the roofrack seemed to Brauer to be a better bet for catching that breeze, so he nimbly hopped out of the window and sat in the cockpit of my Dusi boat. A white Limfy with red deck it was. I was on an army camp and brought the boat to get some time off as I was “training for Dusi” on Roodeplaat dam.

First Duzi. Dad seconds in my Cortina 2,0l GL

Terry thought ‘Uh! Oh! HKK’* and pressed on the accelerator to get us home quicker, which meant the breeze inside the car was now adequate. With Brauer’s departure the average IQ in the car had also risen appreciably.
Outside meantime, Brauer started undoing the paddle possibly thinking he could speed up matters if he also paddled through the air. My warnings that the rope tying the paddle on was also the rope holding the boat on just spurred him to loosen it more. You know how he is.
Which caused Terry to press harder on the accelerator thinking if I go really fast maybe the cops won’t notice there’s a carbuncle on my roof and now we were FLYING! This was not good . . .
Brauer’s ass was saved by a red light where we managed to haul him down and explain gravity, wind resistance, speed, impact, abrasions, contusions and broken bones to him.

He did seem to understand, as he poured some stiff drinks when we got home to the Gramadoelas in Tshwane (ancestral home of the original Tshwanepoels – to which we have land claim rights, but that’s a story for another barmy evening).


*HKK = Hier Kom Kak = Here Comes Trouble

South West Africa Tour

The Kestell bus was like a half-loaf, but still they couldn’t fill it so we Harrismithians had been invited along. Leon Crawley, Pierre du Plessis, Tuffy Joubert and me, plus a few others joined the Kestell boys. It was R25 for 15 days. We said YES!!! and our parents said yes, so we were off!

It was boys-only, a seunstoer, but Mnr Venter of Kestell took his daughter along. She was about Std 4 we were Std 7 to 9. She was very popular and soon became like the tour mascot, second only to Wagter the tour dog – who was actually a found corobrick with a dog collar and string for a leash.

The short bus had a longitudinal seating arrangement. Two long rows running the length of the bus so you sat facing each other.

We all bundled in and set off. After a few hours we had the first roadside stop. Mnr Venter lined us all up outside the bus and said “Right, introduce yourselves”, as the Kestell ous didn’t know us – and we didn’t know them. Down the row came the names, van Tonder, van Wyk, van Niekerk, van Staden, van Aswegen, vanne Merwe, van Dit, van WhatWhat, Aasvoel, Kleine Asenvogel, Marble Hol. Fluffy standing next to me murmured “Steve McQueen” but when his turn came he let out with a clear “Leon Crawley” so I said “Steve McQueen” out loud. Without a blink the naming continued before I could say “Uh, just kidding” so I became “Ou Steve” for the duration.

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We got to Etosha National Park after dark so the Okakuejo gate was closed. We didn’t pitch our tents that night to save time, simply bedding down outside ready to drive in first thing the next morning. On spotting us the next morning the game ranger said “Net hier het ‘n leeu eergistraand ‘n bok  neergetrek“. 

On our way out of the SW corner of the country, heading for the border with the Kalahari Gemsbok Park we spotted something tangled up in the roadside fences. Turned out to be a few springbok, some dead, some still alive but badly injured. As we spotted them one of the farm boys yelled out “Ek debs  die balsak!”. He cut off the scrotum, pulled it over the base of a bottle and when it had dried he had an ashtray. The alive ones were dispatched and all were taken to the nearby farmer who gave us one. Seems some hunters are indiscriminate and less than accurate and the buck panic and run into the fences.

That night we made a huge bonfire on the dry bed of the Nossob river or one of its tributaries and braai’d the springbok meat. It was freezing at night in July so we placed our sleeping bags around the fire and moved closer to the bed of coals all night long. Every time we woke we inched closer. Wonderful star-filled night sky above us.

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Ek debs  die balsak! – I ‘bags’ the ballbag! or ‘Dibs on the ballbag!’ Antelope scrotum;

Net hier het ‘n leeu eergistraand ‘n bok neergetrek – Right here a lion killed an antelope the night before last

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More on the 1969 South West Africa (Namibia) tour here.