How’s your Mother?



(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon 

8 years 6 months ill …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It was January of 1984. 

I had completed my matric, a year of studies in Oklahoma, USA, my university education at Stellenbosch and two years in the defence force at Oudtshoorn.

Now it was work time, and together with some 15 other new teachers I arrived at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth at the beginning of the new academic year. The chairs were meticulously arranged in a circle in the office and just one remained unoccupied. The incumbant must have got cold feet because the man in charge, we learnt later, did not make such mundane errors!

That person in charge, the Headmaster, introduced himself to us as Mr Dieter Pakendorf, the Rector, and would henceforth be addressed either as such or for less formal occassions we could use the word “Sir”!

The meticulous arrangement of the chairs was indicative of the man’s style – military, precise, exact, strict, unambiguous, unerring, authentic, conscientious, rigid and true.

He shared many pearls of wisdom with us that morning. One, I recall, was that no new teacher was to smile at his class before Easter. You ensured that you started with the discipline in your upper hand and then gradually relinquished it. The other way round would not work  – never start off being friendly and then trying to become a disciplinarian! Once lost, he said, it was always lost!

He was small in stature. But his presence filled the room, any room, that office, the De Waal Hall. the hostel and indeed the whole school building  and gounds of the Mill Park campus, now in its 100th year.

And just as his diminutive presence filled the space that he entered, just so did his presence fill those that he encountered with fear and trepidation – whether you were a pupil or a teacher.

There were many issues that one, as a staff member, had to bring to his attention, or discuss with him. I was not the only person who would spend agonising days and nights pondering the correct approach and practicing the appropiate vocabulary. 

Then came the moment.

You would muster up the courage, proceed down the stairwell from the staff room to the Rector’ Study, only to turn around at his door and return the way you had come!

Your courage had failed you.

Time and again you would attempt the landing approach into his office. Eventually, it would happen – and I don’t recall him ever asking you to sit down to discuss the issue. His mind was too quick for that!

Whatever problem you had pondered about – often for days and weeks – would be listened to, summarised, analysed and categorised. A few possible and probable scenarios were sketched, each with its own outcome and positives and negatives. Within minutes, he would spurt forth the correct decission “according to Dieter” aand, come hell or high water, he would stick to that decision, even if it meant that he would have to apologise in the long run!

He stood by his word, he stood by his decision and he stood by his man and his staff member! Even in show downs with parents, he would  back his staff member to the hilt in front of the parent, only to call you back on the departure of the parent and to reprimand you for having made the wrong educational decision and to remind you that should it happen again you would not be able to depend on his protection!

He never fraternised with his parents nor his staff. What was said was said using the least number of words required. In fact, he never encouraged idle chatter and seldom, if ever, initiated trivial or petty conversation.

He left staff functions first in order to allow the staff to let down their hair, and made it quite clear at functions after sport events when staff members should leave and end the party. For some or other reason he would approach me and advise “Mr Lunnon, it’s time for your friends to leave!” He certainly did not mince his words!

In the hostel, he and the hostel staff ate breakfast together with the boarders every morning.

We were quite a jovial bunch of young teachers in our early twenties. But whatever we would be discussing when he joined the table would be killed off in a matter of seconds by him. So we each had to bring three topics of conversation to breakfast table, so that when he killed one subject, we would have another to contnue with – until such time as we had run out of suitable subjects!

And the morning when he poured the orange juice out of the silver milk jug and over his jungle oats, in full view of all at the table, not a single soul would have dared a smile let alone a hearty laugh!

Personal matters were never discussed, so it came as quite a surprise one morning when The Rector looked up at me and enquired how my (ill) mother was. She had actually passed away six months earlier, so my sort of garbled response was “She’s fine Sir, she passed away in November!”

To this day, the standard form of greeting between Tony Reeler (now Headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School) and I is “Mr Lunnon / Mr Reeler, how’s your mother?!”

Desspite his serious attitude, he always looked at  his happiest when dressed in his grey suit, he would drive the school’s blue tractor around the Philip field or on the ash athletics track! To me, he always seemed more at home on the tractor than in his black robes. But his school, The Grey, came first and he punted it at every occassion, whether it was to the Boys, the parents, the Provincial Rugby Club that he chaired or the UPE Council that he headed.

After i had left teaching, I received a call from Lorraine (Coetzee) Schumann his secretary. She enquired whether I was wearing a jacket and tie because the rector had invited me for drinks at St Georges CluB that afternoon.

I thought she was joking and was setting me up. After all, the rector had never invited me for a social engagement at school never mind after having left the school.

I drove past St Georges that afternoon just to check, and lo and behold the grey Sierra was parked there. I went in to find the Rector and Ronnie Draper.

I was greeted with a “good afternoon, Mr Lunnon”, and I replied “Good afternoon, Sir!”

” Dieter” he said, call me “Dieter”! 

“Yes Sir,”  I replied! 

To this day, I don’t know of any of his staff members who would call him Dieter to his face!  

I was offered a beer and with no further word spoken, a plate of snacks was put in front of me. I took a meatball off the plate holding the toothpick at the top of the stick with the meatball below. I was quite nervous at this my fist personal social encounter with the Rector.

The meatball fell off the stick onto the floor.

With nothing being said, he moved the plate over to me yet again. This time he picked up the meatball, turned the toothpick around so that the balll rested on his fingers and handed the toothpick over to me, ensuring that if it slipped it would simply rest on my fingers! I imagined that he must have said to himself “what a fool!!” but he wasnt like that.

He guided you and led you and taught you in the way he did so well, quietly, few words, practically and by example.

Despite the outward appearance, he really cared about you as a person, whether  it was to offer you a job back at the school (which what that meeting was all about) or whether he was concerned about my future teaching and job decisions, my house I bought in Ryan Street (Maureen, he told me with pride was a Ryan!) or an invite to visit at their Nature’s Valley home.

He cared deeply about his school and would say that the parents’ role stopped at the front gate. From thereon inwards, was his role and that of his staff. I often wonder how his teaching style would have gone down in the new South African era! My computer laboratory, the first of its kind in Port Elizabeth, received all the assistance that he could muster.

He cared about his country and in the height of apartheid days the black hostel staff would be requested to sing at the BODA banquet, none other then the original African national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

And he cared about his Grey boys. He left them, in his unique way, a legacy that would be difficult to find elsewhere. it would be difficult to find a product of Dieter Pakendorf, staff member or pupil, who would be unable to say that he did not learn something from the man.

In 2010 I heard him make an unprepared speech at the 25th reunion function of that year. Despite his illness already taking over his faculties, the Rector did not disappoint. He moved from person to person in the room and recalled an appropriate story for each person.

A few years ago Grey was playing rugby against Paul Roos in Stellenbosch. I was not there but my youngest son Philip later told me that a man had called him over and asked him if he was related to Ed Lunnon. Phillip said he thought it was a previous Rector because he recognized the man from the painting in the De Waal Hall. Indeed it was the ex-Rector and once again he showed his concern and astute intellectual ability by recognizing me in my son and by passing on his good wishes to me.

He showed just why he will remain a revered Rector of The Grey.

I was sad that I could not attend his funeral in Cape Town, but I will be there at the reunion ceremony when his ashes will be interred into the wall of the De Waal Hall. It is somewhat ironical that in our later years we have both had to battle similar neurological illnesses. We certainly weren’t given the easy ones!

It was a privilege and a pleasure to teach under you, Sir. I will count those as some of the special days of my life and I shall remain indebted to you for employing me, not once, but twice!

Maybe now, you can let me know just how my mother is!

 

The Jones Affair (2)

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

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Glynn and Carol and the family left Cape Town last week headed for the KwaZulu Natal South Coast, then Johannesburg and then a Private Game Reserve in the North.

We said our goodbyes on Wednesday afternoon. But Glynn phoned on Thursday morning to advise me that we had not said proper goodbyes!

I find it easier nowadays not to say “proper” goodbyes. I’ve never been one to like saying goodbye anyway and the tears flow quite freely when I don’t know whether it’s just goodbye until the next time or whether it’s farewell!

So for me it’s easier just to say “cheers!” and another meeting along the way becomes a bonus. After the “cheers”, I turn around, walk away and wipe away the tears.

That’s what I did on Wednesday and that’s what I will do tomorrow when I leave Cape Town to return to Port Elizabeth.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.

And wherever we have been we have had to fight the load-shedding problem – Worcester, Durbanville and Stanford!

On Saturday, after having caught up with Riaan on Friday evening (it was a long catch-up), i headed off with Sebastian and Michelle to Hermanus, Stanford, De Kelders and Gansbaai. The weather was superb and the beers were good on “Die Dekkie” in Gansbaai!

Sunday we popped in at Kleinmond and then attended Aunty Doreen’s 90th birthday party at Bikini Beach in Gordons Bay. Doreen is my Dad’s last surviving sibling (of six) and cousins came from far and wide (even Jeannie from Perth Australia) to help celebrate this special occassion. Unfortunately we missed the cousins braai on Saturday night!

Sunday evening we got together with the Muller family (my sister Lynn and her crowd) and said our goodbyes there too.

On Monday I returned to Gretel and Willem in Durbanville. I saw my neurologist in the evening and had summer with him and his wife Helen.

It’s always a pleasure catching up and exploring my CBD even further. I am so grateful that I have a specialist neurologist like Franclo that has my disease and life in his hands. We have built up a special relationship over the last eight years since that first time that we met at Tygerberg Hospital!

Tonight I will meet with Dr Shelley Hellig (Cohen) who also studied with us at Stellenbosch. We holidayed together in South West Africa. There will be much reminiscing and laughter before we too will say our goodbyes tonight.

It’s been quite a fortnight!

Goodbye Cape Town!

The Jones Affair (2)

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

IMG_1075

Glynn and Carol and the family left Cape Town last week headed for the KwaZulu Natal South Coast, then Johannesburg and then a Private Game Reserve in the North.

We said our goodbyes on Wednesday afternoon. But Glynn phoned on Thursday morning to advise me that we had not said proper goodbyes!

I find it easier nowadays not to say “proper” goodbyes. I’ve never been one to like saying goodbye anyway and the tears flow quite freely when I don’t know whether it’s just goodbye until the next time or whether it’s farewell!

So for me it’s easier just to say “cheers!” and another meeting along the way becomes a bonus. After the “cheers”, I turn around, walk away and wipe away the tears.

That’s what I did on Wednesday and that’s what I will do tomorrow when I leave Cape Town to return to Port Elizabeth.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.

And wherever we have been we have had to fight the load-shedding problem – Worcester, Durbanville and Stanford!

On Saturday, after having caught up with Riaan on Friday evening (it was a long catch-up), i headed off with Sebastian and Michelle to Hermanus, Stanford, De Kelders and Gansbaai. The weather was superb and the beers were good on “Die Dekkie” in Gansbaai!

Sunday we popped in at Kleinmond and then attended Aunty Doreen’s 90th birthday party at Bikini Beach in Gordons Bay. Doreen is my Dad’s last surviving sibling (of six) and cousins came from far and wide (even Jeannie from Perth Australia) to help celebrate this special occassion. Unfortunately we missed the cousins braai on Saturday night!

Sunday evening we got together with the Muller family (my sister Lynn and her crowd) and said our goodbyes there too.

On Monday I returned to Gretel and Willem in Durbanville. I saw my neurologist in the evening and had summer with him and his wife Helen.
It’s always a pleasure catching up and exploring my CBD even further. I am so grateful that I have a specialist neurologist like Franclo that has my disease and life in his hands. We have built up a special relationship over the last eight years since that first time that we met at Tygerberg Hospital!

Tonight I will meet with Dr Shelley Hellig (Cohen) who also studied with us at Stellenbosch. We holidayed together in South West Africa. There will be much reminiscing and laughter before we too will say our goodbyes tonight.

It’s been quite a fortnight!

Goodbye Cape Town!

The Jones Affair

(C) 2015 Edward C Lunnon

8 years 5 months ill …
Physical: Deuce Mental: Advantage Ed

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My erstwhile roommate from Stellies 1976 and his extended family have returned to SouthAfrica from Canada for a three week holiday.

Dr Glynn and Mrs Carol Jones – I was MC at their wedding in 1979 – and their four children Brett (and his wife Jessanna), Nichola (and her husband Matthew), Cameron and Bryce, and the six grandchildren, Eternity, Jeremiah, Gabriel and Eden and Isaac and Isabella – are all in town – Cape Town, and I have been invited to join them!

So, I have been in the Cape since last Wednesday.

Firstly, with my family Sebastian and Michelle and Lynne and Anton in The Strand, and then with Willem and Gretel Wust in Durbanille.

The Jones arrived on Thursday and since then it has been a whirlwind of activities.

A day of catching up and then sight-seeing: Table Mountain, Cape Point, Boulder Beach, Cape Peninsula, Chapmans Peak, Waterfront, Simonstown, Ceres, Worcester, Stellenbosch, … the list continues and ends with a braai and more braais!

In between I met up with Faith and Ike Vavatsinedes and Riaan Pienaar (also Stellies) and his wife , and a hoard of friends belonging to the Wusts! I also managed to slip in evening drinks and dinner with some of the ex and present SA Navy engineers who studied with us at Stellenbosch and resided in what was then known as SAS Helshoogte.

As we made more memories, we remembered the old ones of almost 40 years ago. We contacted and Im still hoping to see Dr Shelley Cohen in Paarl with whom, together with my sister Ingrid and Glynn, we had the most unbelievable holiday in the then South West Africa way back in 1977.

This is just the skeleton of week 5 of 2016 … the memories will live on and I will try to share more of my unbelievable experiences.

My grateful thanks must be extended to all those people mentioned above who have made it possible for me to return to the Cape. Also to Carol’s brother Alan Friend in Durbanville for his amazing hospitality!

And to Glynn and Carol and their amazing family – it has been my absolute pleasure to be the addition in the Toyota Quantum and my apologies for often being the very backseat driver!

The ride continues …

Power to the People

Cry the beloved country for the mess that we are in regarding the (lack of) power supply.

The megatwats have let us down once again! And we cannot condone their inefficiencies!

But let’s not be tripped up by the problem. Let’s be innovative and see how we can beat the crisis.

Let us shine … Let us shine … Let us shine!

Please comment and leave your ideas on how to beat the energy crisis. Never mind how big or small the idea, let’s see what you can come up with …

#megatwats
#powertothepeople
#shinethebelovedcountry

It’s a Small, Small World

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Yesterday I received a “friend” request from Peter Pringle who was at HHH school with me and now lives in Australia on Phillip Island (our youngest’s name).

Peter was friends with Nico Malan at Matieland and Nico, now deceased, was the sister of Tillie Wust who is married to Jacobus Wust who is the brother of Willem Wust. They feature often in my blogs.

I studied at Stellenbosch with the Wust brothers and it was from Willem!s home in Eversdal that I was diagnosed with CBD on 8 February 2007.

I stayed with the Wusts in Kleinmond just before Christmas and will be staying with them next week when I go to Cape Town to meet with Dr Glynn Jones, my Stellenbosch roomie who is coming to SA on holiday from Canada.

The Wusts previous holiday home was in Pringle Bay.

I was MC at Glynn and Carol’s wedding in Plattekloof as I was at Tillie and Jacobus’s wedding in the Sanlamsaal at the Neelsie in Stellenbosch.

Sean, our eldest, heads off to Australia next month, to be bestman at his friend’s wedding.

The Circle of Life in a small, small world!

Green Green Grass

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 4 months ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental : Deuce

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Physically, this week has seen the most dramatic and quickest changes in my health. There have been short jabs of pain in my gluts, weak legs, shallow breathing, muscle spasms in my left calf muscle and the crossing over to my right hand of the telltale signs of the ever-increasing paralysis in the extremities of my limbs. On a few occasions I have had to grab on to a bed or piece of furniture or the wall to prevent myself from slipping to the floor.

It comes in a week when Stilnox is on everyone’s mind … Pun intended! It is a sleeping tablet and was featured last week on MNET’S Carte Blanche as a Lazarus Pill! It has also been used in a number of cases of neurological illnesses and brain damaged patients with miraculous effects.

There are also continuing discussions on the efficacy of the use of grass (marijuana) in cases of neurological illnesses.

The question of course now is have you or have you not, and will you or will you not?

Stilnox also comes in a week when a number of our friends are receiving chemotherapy and radiation and whatever other treatments are required by Cancer patients. It is the first time that I have experienced Cancer in people who are so close to me and the closest the disease has got to me. I remain in awe as to the aggressiveness and ugliness of the disease and to the braveness and positivity of the people who have to face this scourge and do battle against it.

It’s like pouring poison into the body to kill of the Cancer cells and is so different to the neurological illnesses that I and many others have to face.

It reminds me of our lawn and trying to keep it healthy and well nourished and green and weed-free!

Let me explain:

In our cases of neurological illnesses, the weeds appear in the lawn as do the faults in our brain. There is no poison, no weed killer, no nothing that can be sprayed on or applied to kill the weeds (Maybe Stilnox?). The lawn is just left! Eventually, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly,the weeds take over and kill the grass.

With cancer, various weed killers are applied to the weeds. For some, the lucky ones, the weeds are killed permanently and the grass flourishes once again.

For others, not all the weeds are killed, and it becomes a continuous and on-going battle to keep the weeds under control. The weeds keep re-appearing and the poison is sprayed over and over again.

And for a few, the weeds are killed off only to reappear sometime in the future and the whole process has to be applied once again!

My thoughts and prayers and good wishes go to all our friends, acquaintances and readers and listeners who battle to tend their gardens at this time!

What A Ride!

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 4 months ill …
Pysical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

25th Wedding Anniversary Edition

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This has been a week of occassion:

Back to school after 6 weeks of holiday which saw Pera in New Zealand with Bridget and June, me in Kleinmond with the Wusts, us in Cape Town with the Ridgways and Mullers and Southwoods and Peaches, and us in St Francis Bay with a houseful of Sean’s and Phillip’s friends and the Southwoods. Rolls went back into the water and out came the wakeboard and the ski’s!

We did Christmas in Strand, Ratanga and War Horse and Grand Beach in Cape Town, Farmer’s Market and Thirsty Scarecrow in Stellenbosch and Vergelegen in Somerset West with Gaby and Vera.

The week has been about getting back to “normal” things – all the domestic issues and haircuts, massages, pills, chemists, doctors, dentists, visits from Isaac and Gill from the Hospice.

Carol and Glynn Jones (my university roommate) from Canada contacted me after 36 years and we will meet up soon in the Cape.

AB tumbled the cricket records.

We got to visit with Pam and Neil Thomson and Wendy and John Clarke.

Pera had her annual back to school dinner at home with her teaching colleagues.

Forty years ago, this week,  I departed to the United States

Today is our Silver Wedding Anniversary. Tonight we celebrate.

What a ride it’s been and continues to be!

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