The we, this time, being the Lunnons (with Sean and Phillip), the Stapletons, Lindsay Scholtz, and the Thomsons (sans Pam but with Greg, Lynn, and her boyfriend Peter).
The we are also the remnants of our Investment Club – the Lunnons, Scholtz’s, the Stapletons and the Thomsons.
Many years ago, the four families met monthly at each other’s homes.We started off as eight people and ended as sixteen, each couple adding two more children to the group.
Some would say that we added more people than we did money. On that score, each coupled invested R100 per month and I invested the money, with the ultimate goal of cashing in the investments and going on a world tour.
However, we soon realized we were only dreaming! So, annually, we cashed in our fortune and spent the December long weekend away. We did Katberg, Plett, Keurbooms, East London, Knysna, Blanco, Hogsback, …
Last night, we cried and laughed. We spoke about Pam and remembered her in all her ways, and we cried.
We spoke about our Investment Club and remembered all our ways and we laughed.
It struck me how we and our children had learned so much from both. We certainly had not hit the jackpot with our investments, but we had achieved far more in the education of our children.
Stapes later wrote:
“I am touched … I touched … I was touched.
We all touched. What a lively, lovely evening with the Thommos.”
Still later, he said
“Yesterday, with heavy head, heart and feet, I threaded through the day.
But time invested with friends, is time well spent,
and I heard a bird, singing in the Heavens.”
Yes, for the first time maybe, I realized just what the meaning of our Investment Club really was.
I realized just how much our children learn and had learned from us.
I realized just how much Pam was loved and the example she set both in our own kids and also in the pupils she had taught over the years.
So, at the end of the old chapter and the beginning of the new,
We remember that money is not our only investment.
We remember the value of friends.
We remember the meaning of life and the permanence of death in this world.
We remember the memories.
And whilst we say to Tommo, thank you for the music, we also say to Pammie
Thank you, Pammie, thank you for the memories.
Some few weeks ago, as we often used to do many, many years ago, we gathered for supper at 29 Prospect Road, Walmer.
The we being the Lunnons, the Ogilvies, the Mackenzies and the Thomsons.
29 Prospect Road is the home of the Thomson’s.
In days gone past, we used to meet there almost weekly, sometimes by ourselves and sometimes in far larger groups. The Tiger’s Arms did brisk business! On the odd occasion, we even managed to get the owner and resident singer to haul out his guitar and entertain us.
Tommo, after all, was according to one fan at the Holiday Inn in East London, the “best in Africa”!
The hospitality here was also top-notch, on a par with the Ogilvie’s in Villiers Road. As a bachelor, if I didn’t make it to Villiers Rd, then often I used to sleep over in the guest room in Prospect! The waking-up scenario just used to change!
Anyway, that was the past and this was the present. In our conversation, though, the present did take up much of that past. We reminisced, we laughed, we joked, we drank, we ate.
Tommo has become a chef par excellence, and with Pammie not well, his culinary skills have been even more tested!
It was like “the good old days”. We wined and dined.
Just a little bit slower, little bit fatter, little bit greyer, little bit tireder ….and we spoke about retirement, something we didn’t even think about in those days of yore.
When we left this time, we didn’t have to worry about kids in carry cots, or toys and baby bottles… Just empty baskets and empty bottles!
When we left this time, we didn’t think that it was almost time up, that we were running out of time, that the sands of time were passing us by, and that this would be the last time.
Yes, with Pammie, when we left this time, it was our last time …it was to be Our Last Supper!
Last night, we met at 29 Prospect Road for supper yet again. It is the beginning of a new time, but we will not forget the old time. We said Grace and drank a toast to Pamela.
Mr Neil Thompson
40 years! Well done sir on a life time’s commitment to building, moulding, nudging and at times
“beating” (always fair and well deserved) us into Grey men!
I think back to my u14A year a win against Grey Bloem and the end of season braai. Your reprimand after my stupid behaviour – “you have disappointed me” hit the mark and was more powerful than any beating! (I dare say 6 would have also been deserved!)
The English teaching – sadly no impact on my spelling or use of punctuation, yet my love of reading was enhanced as well as an understanding of Shakespeare!
The joy of Unicorns cricket and the motto “Hit it high hit it hard there are no fielders in the sky”. The hiding I got right there and then after bowling you a bouncer in the turf nets – “sorry sir it hit the ridge!” It had to have at my pace, it needed all the help it could get! It was however, not a bad bouncer, judging by the chuckles coming from those in the other nets! Indeed your demonstration of the front foot drive, cut and slog sweep onto my backside had all the others in the nets in fits of laughter!
Later, when I became a teacher at your alma mater and asked you for some words of wisdom for my team playing against Grey Junior and facing the man mountain Jan Serfontein. The obvious passion and pride with which you spoke and your trump card, your old Bishops Prep School jersey neatly folded and shown to the team had all in awe. Sadly, we lost only due to Mr Andrew Hayadakis superior coaching ability of ensuring that Serfontein go the ball every time! However, the pride with which the boys played was testimony to your team talk!
How about donating the jersey to the Bishops museum?
Above all your greatest gift was the belief you instilled in your charges and the passion with which you imparted your knowledge.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it” (Act 2 Scene 2 Hamlet) the quote from Hamlet encompasses so much of what your school mastering was for all of us! Indeed there was method!
Thank you to a legendary school master so much more than just a teacher! May the melody and words from Sweet Caroline: “reaching out, touching you, touching me, good times never seem so good” continue to resonate far and wide.
Speaking after the game then Captain Francois Pienaar told The Telegraph: “As we stood there he (Mandela) turned to me and said with that incredible, beautiful smile of his: ‘Thank you for what you have done for South Africa.’
We beat the odds to become a winner.
21 Years ago ~ Today, 24 June 1995, in History: Pera was some 24 weeks pregnant with Phillip John. HE decided it was time to take on the world.
So it was that we did not watch the game or attend the victory parties. The doctors tried everything to keep him in and they managed to do that until 7 July 1995 which will stand forever as his date of birth.
That is the day that his total mass of 1,25 kg took on the might of the universe, albeit about 14 weeks prematurely. He was put in an incubator for some 2 months
In two weeks time, Phillip, our youngest son, now almost 2m tall, will celebrate his 21st birthday.
He also beat the odds.
He, too, is a winner.
Today, I attended Neil and Pam Thomson’s retirement farewell at The Grey.
Neil has taught there for forty years and Pam some thirty years.
I first met Tommo in Stellenbosch in the late 1970’s when I was a student and he was singing at Die Akker.
Then we taught together at Grey until I left teaching in 1988. As a young, irresponsible and wayward youngster, I spent many evenings drinking in the “Tiger’s Arms” and sleeping in Pammie’s guest room.
We celebrated many occasions around and under the Thomson’s dining table. Pam, forever the lady, endured our wanting behavior with her customary “goodness gracious”!
Tommo sang at our wedding at St Albans Prison.
He sang at many PE weddings, corporates functions, restaurants, El Cid, 21st parties and other occasions around the world. After all, he was “the best in Africa”.
Together with the Thomson’s, the Scholtz’s and the Stapleton’s, we continued our Investment Club and our friendships.
Pera has remained Tommo’s private hairdresser and has witnessed the colour change from pepper to grey to white!
Yes, we have been colleagues and friends. We have celebrated the ups and cried through the downs.
We have lived life together.
It’s been a long and winding road, and continues to be so.
Thank you, the Thomson’s , for the music, the hospitality, the ride and above all, the friendship.
Life has thrown it all at us. But we shall overcome.
Read Oscar Pistorius’s version by clicking here:
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