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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!

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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.

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4_Optometry Johannesburg 8_Nostalgia

Raptures & Ruptures at ‘The Dev’

Devonshire Hotel new

From: Pete (me)
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~~~

I 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~~~
I 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~~~

I wrote: The wonderful Devonshire! Remember the pool of beer on the tables? 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 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

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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;