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4_Optometry Johannesburg 8_Nostalgia sport

Rugby Heroes – or ‘Delusion’

Ode to a Tighthead Prop – Author unknown (but probly some Kiwi – they tend to wax forth after a few). The poem could also be called ‘Delusions of Grandeur.’

It was midway through the season
we were just outside the four
and although I know we won it
I can’t recall the score.

But there’s one thing I remember
and to me it says a lots
about the men who front the scrum –
the men we call “the props”.

We won a lineout near half way
the backs went on a run
the flankers quickly ripped the ball
and second phase was won.

Another back then crashed it up
and drove towards the line
another maul was duly set
to attack it one more time.

The forwards pushed and rolled that maul
They set the ball up to a tee
the last man in played tight head prop
and wore the number “3”

The ball was pushed into his hands
he held it like a beer
then simply dropped to score the try –
his first in 15 years.

Then later, once the game was done
he sat amidst his team
he led the song and called himself
the try scoring machine.

But it wasn’t till the night wore on
that the truth was finally told
just two beers in, he’d scored the try
and also kicked the goal.

At 6 o’clock the try was scored
by barging through their pack
he carried two men as he scored
while stepping ’round a back.

By seven he’d run twenty yards
out-sprinting their quick men
then beat the last line of defence
with a “Jonah Lomu” fend.

By eight he’d run from near half way
and thrown a cut out pass
then looped around and run again
no-one was in his class.

By nine he’d run from end to end
his teammates stood in awe
he chipped and caught it on the full
then swan dived as he scored.

By ten he’d drunk a dozen beers
but still his eyes did glisten
as he told the story of “that try”
to anyone who’d listen.

His chest filled up, as he spoke,
his voice was filled with pride
he felt for sure he would be named
the captain of that side.

By nights end he was by himself
still talking on his own
the club was shut, the lights were out
his mates had all gone home.

And that’s why I love my front row –
they simply never stop
and why I always lend an ear

when a try’s scored by a prop.

~~~oo0oo~~~

This try was much like our mighty prop Hubby Hulbert’s try in our epic match against the InjunKnees. Do you recall? ca. 1975

Hubby found himself lying down for a brief rest on the ground under a mass of other bumsniffers when an oval object appeared next to him and he placed his hand on it. The ref went wild and indicated we had managed to beat the Injun-Knees, a team no-one thought would be beaten.

We were dressed in our all-black jerseys, black shorts, black socks with OPTOMETRY in front and  ZEISS in white on the back. To show our appreciation to our jersey sponsors after a few beers – also kindly sponsored by them – we would shout “ZEISS ist Scheiss!”  – I’ll admit, sometimes we weren’t impeccably behaved.

That game against those Injun-Knees: We had spent 79 mins desperately defending our tryline when some scrawny scrumhalf type happened to get the ball by mistake and hoofed it as hard as he could in the opposite direction of where we’d been back-pedaling all day. Those days his hair colour matched the colour of our jersey; Nowadays the bits that are left match the colour of our logo. You can see a recent pic of him here.

We got a line-out near their line, Hubby fell down, the ball fell next to him and he inadvertently became a match-winning hero. He’ll call it a tactical move.

I forget if he gave a speech afterwards in the Dev but we wouldn’t have listened to him anyway. We’d have sung ‘How The Hell Can We Buh-LEEEV You!?’

The game was played on the Normaal Kollege grounds in Empire Road, Jo’burg. We shouted for our hosts as we waited for them to finish their game so we could trot onto their field and display our brilliance. Up Normaal!! we shouted. Ab-normaal!

~~~o0oo~~~
On 2018/12/11 Peter Brauer (he of scrawny scrumhalf fame) wrote: Classic example of how bashful props become more truthful / eloquent when their throats aren’t parched.

~~~oo0oo~~~

bumsniffers – forwards; the tight five; the slow; the engine room; workhorses; honest men; no fancy haircuts; dodgy ears; the brains trust; depends who you ask

InjunKnees – engineers; they had a T-shirt slogan ‘six monfs ago I cooden even spel injineer and now I are one’

Normaal Kollege – anything but

~~~oo0oo~~~

2020 – a 1977 letter cropped up. Maybe the only letter I wrote in 1977! To sister Sheila. In moving home and tidying up she found it:

– 1977 letter – about our special all-black optom rugby jerseys –

~~~oo0oo~~~

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4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia school

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 into the large, highly-prized room adjacent to the housemaster’s conjugal apartment on the corner of Louisa Street and St Augustine Street 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 in 1974, 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 / Kollege vir Gevorderde Tegniese Onderwys”. Fuck me! Catchy title, china! One can imagine flocks of proud alumni saying “I went to the College for Advanced Technical Education.”

But back to onse 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 mevrou’s” and “ons sal dit nooit weer doen nie’s” and untrue kak like that when Chris Slabber – an old hand, in his third year in res – stepped forward and said “Ag kak, Sarie, hier: Kry vir jou ‘n dop,” and poured her a large brandy.

Sarie melted like a marshmallow on a stick roasting on an open fire. Reminded me of that Christmas song by Nat King Cole. 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.

~~~oo0oo~~~

vatniekaknie – intolerant of rambustious student behaviour

doos – person lacking your clear insight

kak – uphill

Vuddafokgaanhieraan? – What gives, gentlemen?

jammer mevrou’s – apologies

ons sal dit nooit weer doen nie’s – perish the thought

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

dop – libation. Actually, any alcoholic drink

~~~oo0oo~~~

Another lady lived off the premises, just outside our windows in St Augustine Street. Her name was Agnes and the poor thing would attempt oblivion by swallowing methylated spirits. ‘Riding The Blue Train,’ a wild and dangerous ride. When going strong she would rant and rave and give us plenty of lip with some choice foul language. We would shout out the window: AG SHURRUP AGNES! and she would come right back with FUCK YOU YOU FUCKEN POES! 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 burp roasting on an open fire. Reminded me of that Christmas song by Nat King Cole. ‘Twas the end of Agnes. The police mortuary van came to take her on her last wild ride.

The street was quieter after that. I had to step up into the vacuum.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Many decades later – 2020 – I was misled into drinking a lot of wine into the wee hours at Mike Lello’s lovely home overlooking the Palmiet valley. Mike had also stayed at the Doories res, about five years before me, and Sarie Oelofse had been his House Mistress too. He had fond memories of the old duck, including gently carrying her to bed. And then leaving her there, dead drunk! So not what you were thinking. He stayed in her wing of the establishment, down at the bottom end, under the same big roof as the dining room. They got on so well, indeed, that Sarie even attended his and Yvonne’s wedding, how’s that!

Categories
4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia school

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 unOfficial 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 unOfficial 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 – or once-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. We felt for him.

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

.

.

Somehow he had managed to procure a small snack and was generously preparing to share it. Not to mention the word purloining or anything and with no video camera evidence (they hadnt been invented yet), it remains only a suspicion that THAT’s what had been lifted from the chest deep freeze of the New Doornfontein Hotel. Illicitly. Nor do we know for sure that THAT’s who had dunnit. Did I mention he has a small trace of Jewish blood running through his veins, which would then make this not only a crime, but also a sin?

It was delicious. And was also the only Doornfontein escort we ever scored with . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

I had hidden this evidence docket, but then I got a confession from the perpetrator here and so now it has gone public, to be read by both my followers. One of whom is probably the said perp.

~~~oo0oo~~~

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. We felt for him.

Gradually another bright idea took hold in the most inebriated head in the gang: Converting the hostel angle-iron bed into a fold-away stretcher. You can’t bend angle-iron, but My Best Man 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 above *.

Gabba Glass Flagon

The sheer force of this exercise bumped the bed against an heirloom 5-gallon glass flagon with two ears. An heirloom purchased months before in a Yeoville junk shop. SMASH and tinkle. It must have been tempered glass, as there were millions of tiny pieces! My investment reduced to splinters. The crash brought the housemaster Willie to the door from his large housemaster residence adjacent. Please manne, I’m arsing you now to be a little bit quieter. My wife is trying to sleep. We felt for him.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Barks – Woof Barker, another character about whom a dog-eared book should be written – sometimes inexplicably went to bed early. Something about a good night’s sleep. Can you believe it? 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 Pêrel with CJ numberplates carry small arms with them in case of moeilikheid. I didn’t know that. Access to refreshment was thus obtained. It was like the bloody Wild West!

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

CJ Paarl numberplate
– CJ number plate like Slabber’s –

We wondered what Barks meant when he brought us a bullet he’d found near his pillow next morning. What was ‘e on about?

~~~oo0oo~~~

.

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

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

~~~oo0oo~~~

Asseblief manne – stop it, you hooligans! or ‘Gentlemen, Please’

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

papsak – wine containers without corks or Platter recommendations

moeilikheid – shit; troubled waters

~~~oo0oo~~~

This * jumping thing got worse and developed into a habit.