Eina! and Skande!

. . and then tragedy.

—– Original message from Etienne Joubert in 2014 —– (translation below)

Good morning all you Harrismith followers!

Who was Paul de Witt . . ??? . .  Skande gemaak vir Harrismith se mense.

KAAPSTAD – ’n Predikant en bekende restaurateur in Hentiesbaai is Maandag in die vroeë oggendure deur doeanebeamptes met sowat 11 400 witmossels en 20 kg calamari  in sy besit by die ­Vioolsdrift-grenspos vasgetrek.

Ds. Paul de Witt (63) het die twee spesies, wat albei beskerm word, sonder vervoerpermitte in sy Nissan X-Trail van Kaapstad na Hentiesbaai vervoer.

De Witt is omstreeks 01:30 deur die polisie voorgekeer en sy voertuig is deursoek. Verskeie sakke vol mossels met ’n geskatte waarde van R11 400, en ’n sak met 20 kg calamari is agter in sy voertuig gevind.

De Witt is deur die eenheid teen georganiseerde misdaad in hegtenis geneem en daar is beslag gelê op sy voertuig, sowel as die sakke seekos.

De Witt is ’n boorling van Harrismith.

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I immediately contacted my mate Steph de Witt:

Hey Steph
I vaguely remember a Paul de Witt. Who and what was he op Herries?
He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar!
Cheers
Koos

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On 2014/07/08 Steph de Witt replied:

Koos! Dis my bloedfamilie, my own cousin !!

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Me: Fokkit I can still live with the witmossel-steel part, but the DOMINEE part? THAT’s the skande!

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Translation:

Eina! and Skande! – ouch! and scandal!

A Harrismith old boy who became a preacherman was caught smuggling protected seafood – mussels and calamari – from South Africa into Namibia.

He was an interesting character: My sister remembers him as one of a gang of naughty / rude boys as a teenager. As does happen, he became a preacher. But as less often happens, a preacher who operated a pub. He sold salvation on Sundays and booze from Mondays to Saturdays! Like, “create your own sinners”.

His pub obviously needed seafood so he “fetched” some from across the border – illegally. And got caught.

Sadly, he died in a car wreck soon after!

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Subject: Paul de Witt

Hey Et

Steph has just informed me that Paul died in a car accident on Friday.

Dammitall. From sudden fame / notoriety to tragic end.

Yo ....that's sad, my condolences if you make contact again.
But we know he's gone to Paradise, where there's lots of white & black 
muscles & of course, calamari .........!!
Cheers
Et 
---------------
paul de witt case
Vraagtekens oor kroegdominee se storie 

Strictly Come Langarm

We had a few gatherings in the Gailian lounge / dining room / bar while the cats were away and the mice came out to play.

Luckily Hec & Stell would regularly gallivant off to Kruger Park and other places in their yellow and white kombi. ‘Don’t worry’ Tabs would say, ‘We’ll look after the place’; ‘Enjoy yourselves’. I would nod.

One such evening* is engraved in the memory bank. ‘Twas a dark and starlit night after we had sat all afternoon seeing to it that the sun set properly, and fine-chooning ourselves to a well-honed pitch, like a master-crafted musical instrument. A lute, perhaps. By carefully choosing our poison by percentage alcohol multiplied by millilitres consumed we had manipulated our PEF** to a wonderful advanced state where we were erudite, witty, charming, sparkling company – and wonderful dancers.

Especially wonderful dancers.

The theme for the evening was high-speed langarm, and we whizzed around the lounge to classical waltzes at ever-increasing speeds on that slick polished parquet wooden floor till centrifugal force spun us out onto the veranda, onto the lawn and across it to the swimming hole in the dark thutty metres away; back over the lawn and round the dance floor again. To tremendous applause. I personally did a few laps with Lettuce Leaf which were wondrous in nature. Strauss would have been proud of his waltz that night.

Some people didn’t get the langarm memo though and arrived in punk outfit. No names, no packdrill, but Des had a safety pin through his earlobe and Timothy Leary one through his foreskin and these two pins were joined in holy matrimony by a chain. Never before have two dancers been so in sync, Des leading and Tim not daring not to follow. After that performance they even named a band In Sync.

Before the sun rose there was snoring and long after the sun rose there was still snoring and that is how Aunt Stella found us when she returned unexpectedly to find Des and other bodies in her double bed. On seeing his Aunt Stell Des spun onto his tummy, burying his face into the pillow. Des has always believed if you hide your head in the sand maybe the problem will go away.

But this time he shouldn’t have: Written in bright red lipstick on his back was “FUCK! PUNK! PUNK!!”

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*This tale might be an amalgam of a few blurry evenings;

**PEF – Personality Enhancement Factor; Found to various degrees in all bottles of hooch;

langarm – two or more perpetrators remain attached by various body parts and run around more or less in time to music they normally would not listen to, while pumping the outermost arms up and down;

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This critical observer might have been watching us at Gailain, although he was actually talking about the 1815 season in Brussels:

Whenever they get together the severest etiquette is present. The women on entering always salute on each side of the cheek; they then set down as stiff as waxworks. They begin a ball with a perfect froideur, then they go on with their dangerous ‘waltz’ (in which all the Englishwomen join!) and finish with the gallopade *, a completely indecent and violent romp. – Rev. George Griffin Stonestreet.

  • A lively French country dance of the nineteenth century, a forerunner of the polka, combining a glissade with a chassé on alternate feet, usually in a fast 2/4 time. Sounds about right, huh?

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Recently Des went viral – in a good way. Thanks to great backing from sister Val, he put what he learnt at Gailian to good use. Roomerazzit he got extra points for his dancing shoes:

Des & Val Strictly Come Dancing Shoes

Twaalf Eiers

Alf Beyers, son of the Hoof of the Hoerskool in Petrus Steyn OFS, struck enormous good fortune on leaving the village and striking out for the big smoke of lower Doornfontein, Johannesburg, city of sin and laughter. It was akin to winning the lottery.

He was allocated me as his room-mate.

Dropping our suitcases on the sticky deep purple linoleum floor we immediately headed off to Nirvana, a place we had heard about for years. A place our mothers warned against with such dire foreboding that we knew we had to find it.

Hillbrow.

We heard they sold liquor in Hillbrow and we had fresh pocket money, so off we went with the gang of new students in the Doories res of the Wits Tech for Advanced Technical Education on our first night in Joeys, 1974, in search of pubs and nightclubs. Vague names waft around in my head now: Summit? Idols? Sands Hotel?

Most of us returned late that night, but there was no sign of Alf. He had landed up in the Johannesburg General Hospital, a victim of alcohol poisoning. The docs assured him it wasn’t bad liquor, it was simply too much good liquor.

The ill-effects wore off quickly and the potential for fun endured. On another occasion when we’d had a skinful Alf indulged in a bit of streaking under the Harrow Road flyover, appearing completely kaalgat to the amusement and delight of rush-hour motorists. Some were so impressed they called the cops and Alf roared up the stairs and hid in the smallish free-standing cupboard in our room, which actually overlooked the spot where he’d been parading!

When the hullabaloo died down he appeared with a huge grin on his face, still buck naked and inquired innocently “Looking for me?”

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twaalf eiers – a dozen eggs; rhymes with Alf Beyers;

hoerskool – school of ill repute;

Hoof of the Hoerskool – in charge of that place; influential position

kaalgat – naked as the day he was born;

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Dodgy history lesson: Grand Central Station, in the metropolis of Petrus Steyn, situated on the banks of the mighty Renoster:

Petrus_Steyn_Train_Station_ruins

House (mistress) Trained

Willie the housemaster of the Doornfontein residence of the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education was a good ou. In the fickle lottery of life he drew the short straw when we moved in to the room adjacent to the housemasters conjugal apartment that he shared with his long-suffering wife. Willie tried his best. We ignored him.

You couldn’t really ignore the real boss of the res, Sarie Oelofse though. She was fearsome. When we checked in to res on day one as fresh new arrivals she made it very clear that she vatniekaknie.

Let us pause briefly right here to think about what sort of doos would christen a place a “College for Advanced Technical Education”. Fuck me! Catchy title, china! One can imagine flocks of proud alumni saying “I went to the College for Advanced Technical Education”.

But about Sarie: She was tall, had been through some husbands, and was crowned by a snow white mop on top. No one would dare give her kak, we thought. Then we met Slabber. Sarie marched into our room one day in our first week as inmates in first year and asked in her strident voice “Vuddafokgaanhieraan?” We were drinking against the rules and making a happy, ribald commotion against those same rules.

We were ready to capitulate and come with all sorts of “jammer mevrous” and “ons sal dit nooit weer doen nies” and kak like that when Slabber – an old hand in his third year in res stepped forward and said “Ag kak, Sarie, hier: Hier’s vir jou ‘n dop” and poured her a large brandy.

Sarie melted like a marshmallow on a stick roasting on an open fire. She sat down, smiled coyly and lost all her authority in one gulp. It was wonderful. From then on, we wagged the dog. We continued to show her huge respect while doing whatever the hell we wanted. We helped her, and she turned a blind eye. The formula Chris Slabber had worked out while living over the road in the old St Augustines Street cottages worked like a charm. It needed regular dop provision, of course, but that was no PT: Whatever we were drinking we would just pour Sarie some and she would remain completely reasonable and amenable.

It was what you could call win-win. Educational, in fact.

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vatniekaknie – intolerant of rambustious student behaviour

doos – person lacking your clear insight

kak – uphill

Vuddafokgaanhieraan? – What gives, gentlemen?

jammer mevrous – apologies

ons sal dit nooit weer doen nies – perish the thought

Ag kak, Sarie, hier: Hier’s vir jou ‘n dop – Have a seat, ma’am

dop – libation. Actually, any alcoholic drink

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Another lady lived off the premises, just outside our windows in St Augustines Street. Her name was Agnes and the poor thing would attempt oblivion by swallowing methylated spirits. When going strong she would rant and rave and give us plenty lip. Feisty, was ole Agnes. Sleeping rough in winter she and her companions would huddle around whatever they could set alight for some warmth. One night she must have got a bit too close to the fire and then belched. A fatal meths belching on an open fire. ‘Twas the end of Agnes.

My Best Man (confessions about . . )

My Best Man, I have always said, is one of the most honest upright people I’ve known. I’ve said this for many years. It isn’t strictly true.

One dark night in Deepest Darkest Doornfontein, shortly after having been crowned The Official Inebriated World Dartsh Championsh of The World, the story of which famous victory has appeared in print elsewhere, we were smuggled out of the bar in secret to avoid a massacre by the vengeful forces that had lost to us in the final.

Behind the bar counter, through the kitchen, past the chest freezers and out the back door into the courtyard of the New Doornfontein. Out into that dark night.

Through the kitchen. Did you get that part? Through the hotel kitchen. Past a number of chest deep freeze cabinets. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the lids lifting, a hand reaching in and a packet being shoved under an old jersey. The jersey was probably part of the uniform of the new Official Inebriated World Dartsh Championsh of The World.

When we got to the safety of our large and lavish room in the plush Doories residence a few blocks away we were highly relieved and thankful to have survived. So we reached into the huge old off-white Westinghouse we had inherited with ‘Fridge Over Troubled Waters’ written on the door in black coki pen and calmed our nerves. Poor old Willie the housemaster came round to ask us to Please turn down the sound, manne, my wife is trying to sleep.

Then an interesting aroma started to fill the room: BACON. Being fried on the two-plate hot plate. By My Best Man.

THAT’s what had been lifted from the chest deep freeze of the New Doornfontein Hotel. Illicitly. And THAT’s who had dunnit. Did I mention he has a small trace of Jewish blood running through his veins, making this not only a crime, but also a sin?

It was delicious.

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I had hidden this confession, but then I got a confession from the perpetrator here and so now it has gone public, to be read by both my followers.

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As we revved up on another evening after a night’s carousing, we rollicked as poor old Willie the housemaster asked us Please to behave manne, my wife is trying to sleep. Another bright idea took hold: Converting the hostel angle-iron bed into a fold-away stretcher. You can’t bend angle-iron, but he had done a year’s engineering before he started optometry, so through persistence and focused dedication, he did. His skilful panel-beating expertise is depicted in the big pic *.

The sheer force of this exercise bumped the bed against an heirloom 5-gallon glass flagon with two ears. SMASH and tinkle. It must have been tempered glass, as there were millions of tiny pieces!

Gabba Glass Flagon

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Barks sometimes inexplicably went to bed early. Something about a good night’s sleep. One night we got home handsome and clever and Barks had locked his door. Which was his right, except the Fridge Over Troubled Waters was in his room, and the beer was in that fridge. When we failed to rouse him Chris Slabber said “Hold My Beer and Stand back!” and next minute BA-BLAM! he shot off the doorlock! It seems people from Die Perel with CJ numberplates carry small arms with them in case of moeilikheid. I didn’t know that. Access to refreshment obtained. Like the bloody Wild West!

Asseblief manne, said poor housemaster Willie, My wife is trying to sleep. We felt for him.

CJ Paarl numberplate

Number plate like Slabber’s

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You’ll have a positive outlook on this if you remember:

“Education is the sum of what students teach each other between lectures and seminars” – Stephen Fry

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Asseblief manne – stop it, you hooligans!

Die Perel – the city of Paarl in the western cape province; average of eighteen teeth per head

moeilikheid – shit

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This * jumping thing seemingly became a habit.

Round The Bend

Mandy’s reply on the 21st post reminded me of The Bend – that sacred pilgrimage site we would repair to as part of growing up and learning wisdom and wonder. Also drinking, puking and dancing. Especially drinking.

We searched the whole of Joburg all term long for girls and women and couldn’t find any, but on The Bend there was always a goodly gang of inebriated bright young future leaders and fine examples to our youth, dancing, hosing themselves and matching us drink-for-drink.

Some of the drinking was very formal, with strict protocol, enforced by some kop-toe okes who had already been to the weermag and wanted to show us lightweight long-hairs what DUSSIPLIN was all about. Louis was very disciplined under General Field Marshall Reitz as was I under Brigadier Field Marshall Stanley-Clarke:

Late at night important stuff would happen. This time it was inventory control. It became vitally urgent that we help Kai clean out old Dr Reitz’s expired medicines. Mainly by swallowing them. The muscle relaxants caused great hilarity as we pondered what effect they might have on our sphincters. Yussis you’d think with a resident pharmacist we’d be told the possible side-effects, but all we were told – or all we listened to – was “Fire it, Mole!” and down they went, chased by alcohol to enhance the effects. Highly irre-me-sponsible, but all done for research purposes.

The Bend Old Drugs

Dr Prof Stephen Charles dispenses

The research was inconclusive. We fell asleep before any fireworks happened.

In those days we all shared one cellphone, which you didn’t have to carry in your pocket. It was already there when you got there, nailed to the wall so it couldn’t get lost and so everyone could overhear what you were saying. There it is:

Bloody bottle shrunk!

I forget what this was, but it was important and Stephen Charles was giving it his rapt attention.

Sometimes farming interfered with the serious part of the weekend and then we would be of great help to Kai. We’re taking his mielies to market here. Don’t know what he would have done without us. Airbags and seatbelts were not highly essential in those daze, as we were usually well internally fortified, and as our driver had his foot flat we knew we’d get there quickly. So it was alright.

Taking mielies to the koperasie silo. No airbags.

Taking mielies to the koperasie silo. No airbags.

Back: Me; Kevin Stanley-Clarke (now a Kiwi); Glen Barker (now an Oz). Front: Pierre du Plessis; Steve Reed (a Kiwi in Oz); Lettuce Wood-Marshall (Chinese or Oz?); Dave Simpson;

glossary:

kop-toe okes – taking themselves seriously; which made them more hilarious

weermag – again might, as in ‘we might have to go there again’; involuntarily

mielies – maize, corn, sometimes schlongs

koperasie – co-operative, socialist gathering of capitalist farmers

What a Mess!

“Kom, kom, kom! Vyf Rand elk. Brings your money! Five Rands. I’m going to town. E’ gat do’p toe”. Town being Ellisras or Thabazimbi. The civilian staff sergeant from the Cape was shouting in that well-known accent – or eccent, ek sê. He was organising a whip-around to augment the army rations he had been issued as mess sergeant on our Commando camp out in the bushveld somewhere north of Pretoria. We were playing ‘Field Hospital Field Hospital’.

He returned a few hours later with a big sack of onions, cooking oil and a vark of cheap white wine – a 25l plastic spug-spug. So instead of plain bully beef and boiled spuds we had a varkpan full of fried bully beef, spuds and onions, like bubble-n-squeak GT, and a fire-bucket filled with half a litre of semi-soetes for our supper. Much better. We considered the matter carefully and then all agreed one could actually quite easily call him a gourmet chef, and so we gave his mess a Michelin star.

His vark was unlike the one on the left. Also actually unlike the one on the right. It was a big, floppy, papsak bag – like a very large colostomy bag.

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One of the civvies on camp was Rod Mackenzie, trainee-ophthalmologist and lovely mensch from Durban who I would soon meet again and work with for years, first in hospitals and then in private practice. That was after the weermag in their wisdom sent me to Durbs as adjutant to the medics in the various KwaZulu hospitals.

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E’ gat do’p toe – Capetonian toothless way of saying I’m Going on a Shopping Spree

vark, spug-spug – large plastic container filled with fine, rare vintage wine, if you ask me

varkpan – metal army-issue eating and cooking pan

fire bucket – metal army-issue drinking and cooking bucket

semi-soetes – fine, rare vintage wine, if you ask me

papsak – scrotum-like but transparent, unlike the army

weermag – war machine