I’ve Got the FehVah!

Tuesday 29 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on . . .   

Fan Fest - Berlin

 

    

Football! Football! Football!   

We have also become the WAGS of soccer – not the wives and girlfriends but the watchers and goers!   

    

That’s all we have seen and done over the last few weeks. We watched the World Cup opening concert in Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg whilst we were with my sister Lynne in The Strand. We watched the Opening game in Soccer City at the Brazen Head in Stellenbosch. We’ve watched many of the games on TV in Cape Town – and even at the famous Cape Town Waterfront.   

    

We have gone to see the German / Serbia game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. With thousands others, we have gone to the FIFA Fan Park at George’s Park in PE to watch: Bafana Bafana beat France 2 – 1 and then bow out of the tournament, on Wednesday England beat Slovenia  1 – 0 and on Friday, Portugal draw with Brazil 0 – 0! I even watched and listened to Just Ginja at Friday’s Fan Park concert. And, in between all of this, I have watched more football on TV in the past two weeks than I have ever watched in my entire lifetime before!     

    

Neighbours at the Fan Park

Like so many others worldwide, I have truly got the FehVah! The Football FehVah!   

    

But, since returning from Cape Town last weekend, I have also got some other Fehvah! And for the last week, I have felt the worst since I became ill three years and ten months ago. Despite feeling unwell, I have been pushing myself to attend and watch as much football as possible, because it won’t happen again in my lifetime and I don’t want to miss out!   

    

And, as I have said to many people, we are going to be paying for this party for many years to come, so we’d better enjoy it while it lasts! And not being cynical, do yourself a favour and get to a Fan Park – you have to experience all the facets of this unbelievable show. When I feel better, I will write about my World Cup lessons in more detail.   

    

I have been to see the doctors – again. I am taking more tablets – again. I am feeling miserable – again. I have a bladder infection, and whilst this may seem like a pretty ordinary occurrence for most people, in my case, it’s also one of the symptoms of the CBD that I have. As the brain loses control of the body, the bladder also becomes affected, and infections occur. So I have to be careful and can only hope that this will clear up soon.    

My Current Daily Smorgasbord

Right now, I am feeling better, but this last week has been a challenge for me. And it’s when you don’t feel well, and don’t sleep well, and feel down and tired, that’s when you have to guard most against becoming depressed. It’s so easy to slip into that whirlpool of self-pity, and to get sucked into that eddy of despair. That’s when I’m ugly and I lose my temper with those around me.  And that’s when I am not the first choice person to be around!   

    

So? That’s when I have to focus my mind, strengthen my resolve and, once again, look at what I’ve still got, and pull myself back. Thank God for that strength, and for giving me the football at this time to keep focussed on, and to get me out of this.   

    

As Banafa Bafana showed us these last two weeks – with focus, determination, effort and resolve, we can all be winners!   

    

P.S.  I have just heard that my Aunty Irmela passed away this morning. She was the wife of my Uncle George Lunnon, my late father’s eldest brother. (Read The Circle of Life to see our family tree!).  My condolences are extended to my cousins Louise, Susan and Hildegarde on the passing of their mother.     

  

Be Thankful

  

for the wife   

who says it’s hot dogs tonight, because she is home with me, and not out with someone else;   

for the husband   

who is on the sofa, being a couch potato, because he is home with me, and not out at the bars;   

for the teenager   

who is complaining about doing dishes, because she is at home, and not on the streets;   

for the taxes i pay   

because it means I am employed;   

for the mess to clean after a party   

because it means I have been surrounded by friends;   

for the clothes that fit a little too snug   

because it means I have enough to eat;   

for the shadow that watches me work   

because it means I am out in the sunshine;   

for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing   

because it means I have a home;   

for all the complaining i hear about the government   

because it means we have freedom of speech;   

for the lady behind me in church   

who sings off key, because it means I can hear;   

for the pile of clothing and ironing   

because it means I have clothe to wear;   

for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day   

because it means I have been capable of working hard;   

for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours   

because it means   

that I am alive.   

Author Unknown

    

    

    

2020 Vision – Do I see the Olympic Games?

Saturday 26 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on . . .

Saturday 15 May 2004: In Berlin, Sepp Blatter announced to the World that the host country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup® would be South Africa. I was sitting in the casualty department at St George’s Hospital with Sean after he had broken his hand playing rugby. We heard the announcement on the radio.

Friday 11 June 2010: In Johannesburg, at Soccer City, South African President Jacob Zuma declared to the World that the 2010 FIFA World Cup® was officially opened. Pera, Sean, Phillip and I were sitting at the Brazen Head in Stellenbosch watching, on TV, the opening ceremony and the first game between South Africa and Mexico (draw 1 – 1)

Friday 18 June 2010: In Port Elizabeth, at Nelson Mandela Stadium, the Lunnon family, and 38 000 others, were at the 21st match of the 48 group matches between the qualifying 32 nations participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup®

It seems difficult now to believe that prior to 1994 we were the pariahs of the world. We were banned from all international events and, I’m not sure how they managed it, but in the early nineties the only international sport we still saw on TV was the Wimbledon Open. The sporting highlight of the year was surely that annual Sunday afternoon when we could get together with our friends and watch the Men’s Final – complete with strawberries and cream!

One of the first and immediate changes in the New South Africa was our re-admission to World sport. I remember the poor quality of the TV transmission when watching the first test after re-admission of our cricket tour to India. But, it certainly didn’t matter, because we were back in the World!

Now, we have a feast of World sport – so much so, that two weekends ago we had the historic situation of France playing rugby and football on either end of Cape Town. And, as I write this, TV – now in HD – offers the following choice: the Proteas are playing cricket in the West Indies, South Korea is playing Uruguay for a football quarter final place here at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth and the Bokke are playing rugby against Italy in East London (whilst their counterparts, the Italian Football team – the current FIFA World Champions – are back in Italy after the shock of tumbling out of the opening group matches!)

Looking backwards now, we successfully hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003 and in 1995, barely a year after South Africa became a fully democratic Republic under President Nelson Mandela, we hosted (and won!) the IRB Rugby World Cup.

I recall the opening of that event in June 1995 at Newlands in Cape Town, when the Springboks faced and beat Australia. I was working in East London on that Wednesday. At lunchtime, we headed back to the Pick ‘n Pay regional office to watch the game. We experienced the normal after work rush-hour traffic at 14h00 as everyone headed off home or elsewhere to find a TV set to watch that opening victory!

No beers were to be drunk watching the game – after all, it was still working hours! But, as the excitement built over our impending win over Australia, the beers were opened and the partying carried on well into the night.

And the partying continued throughout those three weeks – as the Springboks progressed through the tournament via the lights-out, darkened stadium and the Battle of the Boet versus Canada in Port Elizabeth, to the almost rained-out, deluged and helicopter dried semi-final against the French in Durban and into the final against New Zealand’s All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 24 June 1995, 15 years ago almost to the day.

We won that game 15 – 12 in extra time and became the World Champions.

I have seen THAT photograph of Stransky’s drop goal in every boardroom in South Africa. I have seen the video footage of that spine-chilling Jumbo Jet Boeing 747 flying just above the roof of Ellis Park with “Good luck BOKKE” written on its fuselage. Most people have now read the book Playing the Enemy and seen the movie Invictus (based on the book), which tells the story of that game, the build-up to it and the legacy it left our country.

But I have never seen that game! Only because Phillip (at 24 weeks in Pera’s tummy and only due in September) decided on that Saturday morning that he, too, wanted to watch that historic game.

So, we spent the day at St George’s Hospital, with the doctors battling to keep him in! They won! And at 10pm that evening, when I drove home up Cape Road, and I saw all the partying going on in the streets, I knew that the Bokke and South Africa had won. And Pera, Sean and I won again, two weeks later on 7 July, when Phillip made his determined appearance at 26 weeks. Now, as we prepare to celebrate his 15th birthday in two week’s time, his 1,86m body makes it difficult to believe that he entered this world weighing just 1,3kg! (His birth made up for our sad loss of Phillip no 1 who had been stillborn at almost full term in 1994.)   

But all of this is history now. After I was diagnosed in February 2007, I had often wondered whether I would still be here in 2010 to see any of this World Soccer Championship. And yes, here we were, Friday 18 June 2010 and we were headed to watch our first live game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup ®.

Much has already been written about this spectacle (see my own humble contribution in my previous blogs Oh What A Circus, Ka Nako ,Gees Recipe) and much more will still be written. At this point, suffice to say, that if we thought that the 1995 Rugby World Cup made a positive difference to our fragile democracy, then the legacy that this Tournament is carving into our society, pales that difference into insignificance!

The family and Barbara (our domestic help) left home at 10h45 – destination:  Port Elizabeth’s magnificent first completed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. We were dressed in our Bafana Bafana shirts and colours of yellow and green. Armed with our rainbow nation coloured blankets, scarves and vuvuselas, we were off to watch Germany beat Serbia (or so we thought!) in game 21 of the tournament.

The logistical arrangements were faultless. After parking the car at Andrew Rabie School, we took the appropriately marked Kwela Kwela taxi to North End. Then followed a short walk to the stadium. Extremely courteous staff scrutinised our “cheap” category 3 R560 tickets and searched our bodies. We were of the first spectators to be seated in our 6th tier seats with an amazing view and still two hours to kick-off at 13h30.

Even the fact that FIFA was doubling the prices and fleecing the captive spectators at R30 for a Bud, R20 for a pie and R15 for a Coke did not dampen our spirits. As the advertising campaign had urged us for months now – “We had booked our seats in history”.

The turf was watered, the stadium filled with 38 000 spectators, and the two opposing parties inspected the turf and warmed up. Then, with military precision, the teams entered the arena at 13h20, national anthems were sung and the game began!

After 90 minutes and a few extra, the excitement of the game was over. Serbia surprised and beat gallant Germany 1 – 0!  We left our seats at 15h20 and reversed the procedure we had followed just 5 hours earlier.

Together with all the jubilant others, we walked to the bus, travelled to the school, got into our flag-bearing car and drove home. And, saluting the organisers, at 16h00, barely 30 minutes later, I was seated in my lounge in front of the TV ready to watch the next match 22, USA versus Slovenia at Ellis Park in Johannesburg (the same stadium as the 1995 Rugby World Cup final!)

They drew 2 all! There was no winner here. But, as had been said so many times before in these last two weeks, the winner must surely be the citizens of the enigmatic Republic of South African who have made this miracle possible. They have made Africa proud. They have turned the ordinary into the extra-ordinary!

Because I have been granted extra time, I can also say, “I was THERE!”

And, as South Africa now sets its vision on hosting the only big games left that it has not yet hosted, those of the Olympic Games of 2020, dare I hope for so much more extra time . . . .?

Icing on Chelsea Buns

 

Tuesday 22 June 2010:  3 years 9 months on . . .

I have always enjoyed travelling. Not that we travelled much as children.

In this week of Father’s Day, I have thought quite a bit about my own Dad. I have written previously about him having suffered a debilitating stroke when I was twelve years old. It left him speechless and paralysed his right arm and leg for eight years before he passed away in 1976. It left Mom, in her early forties, caring for a severely handicapped husband and four children – three at school and one who was only four when Dad was struck down.

Times were tight, but looking back on it now; Mom did an admirable job with very limited resources. Those resources did not enable us to holiday or travel.

But I was so privileged when I was selected to become an exchange student in 1975. (Read “Oklahoma is OK and so much more”)  In a space of that one year at the age of eighteen, I got to fly for the first time and to visit many exotic places including Buenos Aires (Good Air), Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Los Angeles (City of Angels) and still my personal favourite, Londres! I saw my first TV at our hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I watched the cartoon Road Runner, all in Spanish! It was truly “good air”!

Hence, my excitement now at having the World in our country. I remember landing at John F Kennedy Airport in New York City and seeing our (now old) SA flag flying there together with the flags of every nation on earth. It gave me goose bumps and I had to pinch myself that it was all true.

Now, it gives me goose bumps to see those self-same flags flying here in South Africa and to hear those national anthems being played here in our Cities. For us, and for me, the World has truly come home! (And, who knows, maybe the first real international flag that I ever saw in my life – that of Argentina – will be seen flying at the 2010 FIFA World Cup final next Sunday at Soccer City in Johannesburg! Or will it be the second flag that I saw – that of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro?)

When I boarded that Aereolinas Argentinas flight in Cape Town in January 1975 headed for Buenos Aires, my travelling days started. And so, it’s pretty safe to say that my itchy travelling feet started in Cape Town – still today, as Sir Francis Drake said so many years ago, the fairest Cape in all the world!

With my illness, travelling is not so easy any more. But, we were fortunate to have been in the Western Cape once more. And, so it was, that last Thursday saw us leaving Cape Town yet again. This time, on our return trip to Port Elizabeth after having spent some ten days in the Mother City.  (I always wonder when I leave whether I will be granted yet one more visit.)

Sean was at the wheel as we headed north along the N1 and Table Mountain recedes in your rear-view mirror. I was the front passenger, and Pera and Phil take up the back seats.

Ahead of us, lay the majestic dark blue mountains of the Klein Drakenstein and the Hugeneot Tunnel linking Paarl to Worcester. (In our family, still jokingly pronounced “War-Kes-Ter” from the days when the boys were not able to pronounce it properly as “Woes-ter”!)

But, today, the mountains looked distinctly different – as far as the eyes could see, the dark blue mountains silhouetted against the light blue sky were covered from top to bottom in snow-white snow! As Pera said, “It looks like the icing on Chelsea Buns!”

 

What a spectacle! All the way along the eight hundred kilometre road from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, the clouds had pulled back – revealing blue skies and the mountains on either side of us covered in the icing. Some said it was the heaviest snowfall in fifty years. Well, the outside temperature varied between 5 and 10 degrees Celcius all the way back to the Eastern Cape!

We took a different route this time. From Worcester along what is known as Route 62, through Robertson, Montagu, Barrydale, Ladismith, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn, the Langkloof (Avontuur, Joubertina, Misgund, Kareedouw), Humansdorp and finally, ten hours later, Port Elizabeth.

The route brought back more memories – those of my days (15 months to be exact!) at the Infantry School in Oudtshoorn where I completed my military service in 1982/1983 after my studies at Stellenbosch University. It had been quite a change from the freedom and carefreeness of student life to the rigours of military discipline! So on those few weekend passes off, I used to escape Oudtshoorn and drive in the other direction back to Cape Town.

I relayed some of those memories to the family as we travelled along towards Oudtshoorn. Pera said she thought that the army had left “deep-rooted psychological scars”! – suffice to say that those two years for me were not always icing on the Chelsea buns.

In those years, there was a small labourers’ cottage next to the roadside halfway between Barrydale and Ladismith. Now, an enterprising person has transformed it into a roadside breakfast/coffee shop called Ronnies Sex Shop! It has become the toast of the world (pun intended!)

 

And when we stopped there in the middle of nowhere for coffee (no sex on the menu!), it seemed as if the world was there – Germans headed for the German/Serbia game in Port Elizabeth, and English headed for the England/Algeria game in Cape Town. Names and comments are written on every wall, in every nook and cranny, and business cards are pasted like wallpaper wherever possible.

 

Just after Ladismith is the Huisrivier Pass. Unlike most other passes that take you upward and over mountains, this one curves downwards into the river valley and then takes you up steeply again. Sean is in his element (and I get nervous!) when he can drive curves like this!

Then comes Calitzdorp, which is known as the Port Capital of South Africa. This appears to be quite an enigma as this town in the Little Karoo is nowhere near the sea. But this is not Port as in Port Elizabeth but Port as in the lovely sweet wine that is made from the grapes grown in this part of the world. Boplaas is the farm that has won numerous medals for its port and it belongs to Carel and Boets Nel who studied (and lived in Helshoogte Residence) with me at Stellenbosch. We discussed that soon, in accordance with European Union regulations, they will have to give up the name Port, as it is claimed to belong to the sweet wines of the Oporto region of Portugal and is contravening copyright and trademark regulations.

As one leaves Calitzdorp, you get that very distinctive smell that signifies that Oudtshoorn is close. In my military days, it was the first warning sign that your freedom was about to be lost. The next sign was the light on the concrete reservoir on top of Rooibult in the Infantry School. That meant there were 10 kilometres left to the statue of the infantryman pointing with his rifle towards the guardhouse at the entrance gate to the School.

I used to get to that point at about 23h30 on Sunday night (the pass expired at midnight). And that’s when I used to stop next to the roadside to change from my civilian clothes back into my military “step-outs” that I kept in my “wardrobe” – the boot of my red Toyota Corolla. One of my very important tasks in those days was to compile and read the early morning news at 5h30, 6h30 and 7h00 on the Infantry School’s closed circuit TV channel. It’s quite a shock to view those recordings now!

Today, I was excited when we got to that point. It was lunchtime and we were all hungry by now. But first, I took us on a drive past the Infantry School, the erstwhile Oudtshoorn Teachers’ Training College (now part of the Infantry School), the Parade ground, Uncle Samies Tuckshop and the Camp Take Aways Cafe. Then we headed for the restaurant that I could not remember its name but remembered for serving a good ostrich steak (Oudtshoorn, of course, also being well known for its ostriches and Cango Caves.) Well, we had a good laugh there – the dark coloured building that I recalled is now painted in bright yellow and red and serves as the Oudtshoorn branch of Adult World! Birds of a different breed, I guess!

Well, after driving through the town and past places such as the old Holiday Inn and Riempies Restaurant, we found a suitable place to eat, and then headed off down the Langkloof towards Port Elizabeth.

There was still excitement and icing on the buns here too, and even more so, because it was evident that there had been quite a bit of rain in our catchment area. (We were, of course, heading back towards our drought disaster area, water restrictions of 500l a day and, oh no, limited showers!)

And excited, too, because we were heading back to even more icing to follow the next day – we were fortunate to have tickets for Friday’s Germany versus Serbia football game at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay.

Gees – a recipe for a good South African favourite!

 

A not-so-easy recipe that takes time to prepare but can have amazing results if prepared properly

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Container with green base to fit between 45 000 and 90 000 people (1 container is sufficient but 10 are even better)
  • Two large white box-like nets on either side of base
  • Between 30 000 and 90 000 people to watch (spectators)
  • Two groups of 11 people each  – each group of a different colour (players)
  • 3 referees in black
  • 1 Jabulani ball (and a few spare)
  • Thousands of Vuvuzelas (as many as possible)
  • Many hands to assist with preparations
  • Vehicles of all sorts to get everything together
  • Flags, scarves, shirts, hats, specs, face paint and anything else for decoration
  • Drinks to taste (Alcohol preferred but not essential)

Method:

  • Using a warm temperature is preferable
  • Put spectators in vehicles, mix thoroughly and then transfer into large container ensuring each is in appropriate place on sides of large container
  • Put two groups of players on green base facing each other
  • Add 3 referees on base
  • Carefully put ball in centre
  • Mix thoroughly referees, players and ball
  • Try to get ball in white nets on each side of base
  • Do so as often as possible, but remove each time you succeed and start again
  • Spectators scream, shout, blow, jump and keep a careful eye on mixture
  • Do so especially loudly and boisterously when ball enters nets
  • After 45 minutes remove players from base (add a few minutes if required)
  • Let cool for 15 minutes
  • Then replace players on base carefully ensuring that each group takes the place previously occupied by the previous group
  • Repeat the method of mixing as above for a further 45 minutes (or additional minutes if required)
  • Remove all players and spectators from large container and store indefinitely in individual smaller containers
  • Storage time depends on how thoroughly mixture has been prepared: the better the preparation, the longer the GEES lasts

Serves:

If method is followed 3 times daily for 30 days, then sufficient GEES should be made for:

  • At home: 40 million servings
  • Eating out: Can also be delivered in smaller portions via TV to others worldwide – in which case it’s possible to share with 6 billion people

(Saturday 19 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on . . . )

Ke Nako!

15 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on …

Where were you when the Twin Towers were attacked? And when the Springboks won the 1995 World Cup? What were you doing when you heard the news that Lady Di had been killed in Paris?

Most people remember the answers to these questions! In future, Friday 11 June 2010 will be one of those days. Where were you when Bafana Bafana played Mexico in the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg?

 I remember sitting in casualty at St George’s Hospital in 2004 with Sean who had broken his arm playing rugby. Sepp Blatter opened the envelope with the words SOUTH AFRICA on it.

 Since then, the clocks have been ticking down for six years. And finally, the big day arrived.

We woke up in The Strand, my hometown. I had flown down last Monday for Aunty Peggy’s funeral and Pera and the boys had arrived by car from Port Elizabeth on Thursday afternoon. In the evening, we had a family get-together around the traditional braai.

My late father’s last surviving sister, Aunty Doreen, and her husband, Peter, were there. So was my late mother’s sister, Patricia, known to us as Aunty Patty. The rest of the group consisted of my cousin Jeannie (whose mom, my father’s sister, Aunty Peggy, had passed away last week) and her cousin, Audrey, from her father’s side (Willy Walls). Then there was my wife and I, our two sons, Sean and Phillip, my sister Lynn and her husband Anton, their two daughters Nicolette and Michelle, Nicky’s husband Morne and their daughter Nina, and Michelle’s husband Sebastian and their “Bun in the Oven”! 

So, all in all, four generations together – remembering this and that, laughing about those memories and looking and laughing at all the old photographs that seem to appear on such occasions.

In years to come, I hope that our children will look back on this evening and this time together and look at the digital photographs with just such fond memories, too.

 But, when we woke up on Friday morning, the family feeling was replaced with the football feeling.

Ke Nako – It’s Time! Finally, the day had arrived for Africa, for South Africa and for us.

 After breakfast, we walked from our home at 19 Gordon’s Bay Road, Strand, down to the beach. These were the narrow streets that I had walked for the first eighteen years of my life. They had seemed so much wider then. And the distance to the beach at Melkbaai (Milk Bay) so much further then!

But now, we got there so much quicker – past Tony’s Framers, Sony Kleu’s Bookshop, the Post Office (with its two entrances which in my day were for Europeans Only and Non-Europeans Only!), Miller’s Outfitters, Friedman and Cohen (where I worked as a cashier on Saturday mornings for R2,00). Yes, a few new shops but the old places still there after forty years! John Walls Pharmacy (which belonged to my Uncle Willy Walls – Aunty Peggy’s husband – and his father John before him) is now a take-away pizza place.

The fountain in the traffic circle at the junction of Main Road and Beach Road is still pumping its water upwards into the sky. The Strand Pavilion still has the same name but the old building has been replaced by a new block of timeshare apartments. The old wooden jetty, where, as a youngster, I fished with my grandfather, Charles Stanbridge, still juts out into False Bay. Now they have spent thousands of rands to erect metal fencing all around the pier to prevent anyone from walking on it – the wood is rotten and the structure is dangerous. I can’t understand why they don’t use the thousands spent on the fence to replace the rotten wood instead!

The tide was low and the sea blue and flat. It looked just like thirty five years ago when I had basically left home for good, headed for the USA. It was a beautiful Strand day with the small waves and white froth running up the expansive white sand (hence the name Milk Bay!)

 The tidal paddling pool was still there, surrounded by the same rocks. And across the bay to the southwest, the blue mountains of the Cape Peninsula stretching from Table Mountain in the north all the way down to Cape Point in the south. On the eastern side of False Bay, are the mountains of the Hottentots-Holland range above Gordon’s Bay stretching down to Kogelbaai and Cape Hangklip. The Steenbras Dam filtration plant that supplies water to the Greater Cape Town area still overlooks the large white anchor set out in rocks and the letters GB on either side of the anchor.

Along the beach front, Beach Road still has some of the old beach houses which are only occupied in December during the summer holidays. But now, in between them, they are dwarfed by ultra-modern towering blocks of flats and apartments. Different curves and lines and colours as far as the eye can see – to the east and the west, and stretching up to heaven.

 And all along the pavement, next to the beach, the bright colours of the Rainbow Nation displayed on hundreds of stalls selling flags, t-shirts, scarves, hats and anything your heart desires. It’s all for the World Cup, starting today at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

That’s where we are headed, together with hundreds of other people, all getting into the football feeling. AYOBA!

T-shirts of green and yellow for us, a vuvuzela for Phillip and a cellphone cover in the national flag colours for the car. We now call it the condom and it fits snugly over the Mercedes’s emblem on the bonnet (although, to fit, it has to be upside down) and compliments the mirror socks and the flag already there!

So, all four of us and the car are kitted out as we head off for Stellenbosch at midday. Jessica, my niece, a first-year student there suggested a few places at which to watch the game.

 We chose the Brazen Head and took the last table there in the outside tented courtyard. Everyone was kitted out – complete with vuvuzelas. The large flat screen plasma TV outside and those inside were broadcasting the opening ceremony and the game to us and the world. The world seemed to pack into the restaurant during the opening ceremony and by kick-off time at four, there was no room left in the inn – not ours, not at Soccer City, and I would imagine, not at many inns across South Africa and possibly the World!

Black, White, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, young, old (Pera commented that we were the oldest there – luckily other older folks joined us later!), businessmen, students, male, female – all sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, applauded, shouted, screamed, blew their vuvuzelas and rose like one man when SA scored the first goal of the match.

And, when the game ended at six, despite Mexico having scored a leveling goal, all stood and applauded, and felt proud to be South African on this momentous day in our country’s history!

We headed off for Paarl to have supper and spend the evening with Pera’s cousin, Jonathan Peach, and his wife, Maryse, Aunty Joan (Pera’s mom’s sister-in-law and Jonathan’s mom), and their children, Lara and Justin.

As Sean drove us through the beautiful Cape Winelands, I could not get out of my mind that wonderful thought that today the score had been

 Mexico 1 South Africa Won!

Oh What a Circus Oh What a Show

 

Friday 4 June 2010: 3 years 10 months on …

Oh What a Circus! Oh What a Show!

Argentina has come to town   *

And so has Greece, Germany, Italy, USA, England, Mexico, Uruguay, France, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Algeria, Slovenia, Australia, Serbia, Ghana, Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia, Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Honduras and Chile. The FIFA 2010 World Cup  is here in South Africa – in Africa for the very first time – and so we are here, too!

It has been six years in the making and it all starts next Friday, 11 June 2010, when South Africa’s Bafana Bafana (“The Boys”) takes on Mexico in the opening game at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.

No matter what one’s personal feelings are about us hosting the World’s greatest sporting spectacle – some are for and very positive; others are against and extremely negative – one can feel and see the excitement and the enthusiasm all around.

Since becoming ill in 2006, I had often wondered whether I would still be here to see this happen. I’m so glad that I am! Never, in my fifty odd years, have I ever experienced such a general public outpouring of patriotism in this country.

In the Old South Africa, it was definitely not fashionable to display the old orange, white and blue SA flag – that would have displayed your allegiance to the National Party of the day. Black people would most definitely not even be seen with one of those flags! The most one would have seen that flag was those flying over government buildings.

In the New South Africa, it took some while for white South Africans to become accustomed and endeared to the new multicoloured striped and chevronned black, green, red, yellow, blue and white flag. (I actually had to check on that … shame!)

Many of us still struggle with the words of our national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa).

Things changed slightly in 1995, when we hosted and won, the Rugby World Cup. Then came the Cricket World Cup. But these were overwhelmingly ‘white’ sports and ‘white’ occasions.

Now it’s soccer (or football as the rest of the world appears to call it) and it’s a predominantly ‘black’ sport in this country. Yet, everyone appears to be getting into the swing of things.

Our flags, and those of almost every country on earth, are flying all over – public buildings, stores, shopping centres, homes, lamp poles, motor cars, trucks and bulldozers. Our home has a SA flag, a Bafana Bafana flag, a Union Jack and The Stars and Stripes of the USA draped off the balcony. (Incidentally, the USA flag flew on the flagpole of the White House in Washington DC on 1 December 1975, the day I was made an honorary citizen of Oklahoma, USA.) Years ago, displaying these flags on your house stood you the risk of having your home razed to the ground!

Cars have flags on their windows and aerials and covering their rear view mirrors. Fridays have become Football Friday. Work attire and school uniforms have been swapped for football gear. People are wearing the distinctive green and yellow colours of “our” team – soccer shirts, t-shirts, dresses, trousers, socks, shoes, spectacles, hats, scarves, gloves and, daresay, underwear are being worn by men, women and children, by white and black and coloured, by the Souties and the Rooinekke, the Dutchmen and the Rocks, the Umlungus and the Firs and the Lids.

Only once before, have I experienced such an outpouring of patriotism. And that was in the USA in September 2001 in the aftermath of the terror attacks in New York City and Washington DC. Wherever you went in the United States at that time, wherever you looked, you saw flags flying on buildings, houses and cars, and you experienced the unity of a nation. We were fortunate to be there at the time.

Pera, Sean, Phillip and I had left for the USA on holiday some three weeks after September 11. In the last leg of our journey from Port Elizabeth via London to Atlanta, we flew over Manhattan Island and I have video footage of the smoke pouring up into the atmosphere from Ground Zero, what had been the World Trade Centre in New York City. Like our 2010 Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, that event and the smoke and ash pouring out from that site had brought the world’s airlines (and, indeed, the world in 2001) to a standstill. We must have been one of the first families that had got back into the skies, and our boys still think that 50 people travelling in a Boeing 767 is the norm. So much room – even for those of us who travel in the economy class!

The World Trade Centre had always been a special place for me. In the early seventies as a young high school boy, I had followed the building of those two towers with great enthusiasm. Those were the pre-TV days for us, but I had read every book, newspaper and magazine that I could find; such was the attraction of that building for me. I dreamt that I would see it one day.

It was one of the reasons that I had elected to go to the USA as an exchange student when that opportunity arose in 1975. At age 18, when I landed at New York’s Kennedy Airport from Buenos Aires, I had time to kill before my onward flight from La Guardia Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I took a helicopter to La Guardia via downtown Manhattan to see the WTC. I was living my dream!

I celebrated New Year’s eve of 1987/1988 with friends on Times Square in New York City. Earlier that evening I was fortunate, once again, to be on the roof of the South Tower. It was snowing and I was smoking. Because my fingers were getting so cold, I decided that smoking was a stupid past time, and there and then I threw that cigarette butt down into the snow on the roof of that Tower and killed it.

And that was the end of that cigarette and the end of my smoking. That butt must have gone down with the building. And that was the end of MY building – its demise had brought a tear to my eye on that fateful day of September 11 when, in the boardroom, I had watched on TV that second plane circle and fly into that tower and bring about its end.

The end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be on Sunday 11 July. The final whistle will blow at Soccer City and the winning nation will be crowned and the visitors will leave and go home.

Hopefully, South Africa will emerge as the winning nation. The nation-building must continue in our hearts and minds and attitudes, and in our physical amenities. The frantic activity and building that we have seen over the last few years – stadia, airports, roads and bridges – must continue with houses, hospitals, schools, roads, businesses and job opportunities. The unity we display now must persist. The flags must continue blowing in the wind.

In his inauguration speech as President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela spoke of his dream:

“We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world… The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”

One swallow does not make a summer. One Nelson Mandela and one World Cup do not build a Nation.

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

* From Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Evita, sung by David Essex

The Circle of Life

Wednesday 2 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on …

 

My Great Grandfather

Two weeks ago (on 20 May) we celebrated the eighteenth birthday of our eldest son, Sean Charles Lunnon. He, his brother and our other son, Phillip John Lunnon (turning 15 in July) and my cousin Michael’s son, Alistair (24) – now living in New Zealand – are the only three male Lunnons of their generation who will carry our Lunnon line forward.

This morning, at 2am, Helena ‘Peggy’ Walls (nee Lunnon) passed away at the age of 92. She was my aunt (my father’s sister) and the last time I saw her was two years ago when we celebrated her 90th birthday in The Strand. I had hoped to see her when we go to Cape Town later this month. Alas, that is not to be.

In our family tree, Peggy was two levels above Sean, Phillip and Alistair. On that level, only four people out of my twelve aunts and uncles on my father’s side remain – Aunty Irmela, Aunty Elsie and Aunty Doreen (with only Aunty Doreen being a blood “Lunnon”) and Uncle Peter. (Aunty Doreen is now the only one of her siblings that we are still fortunate to have with us.)

Let me try and put it all into some order, starting at the bottom of the Lunnon tree:

Sean Lunnon’s and Phillip Lunnon’s father is me – Edward Charles Lunnon and their mother is Pera Claire Lunnon (nee Southwood).

I have three sisters, Lynette, Ingrid and June. Our father was Herbert Louis Lunnon and our mother was Doris Lunnon (nee Stanbridge).

Herbert had two brothers, George Henry (married Aunty Irmela) and John ‘Guy’ Lunnon (married Aunty Elsie) and three sisters, Helena Harriet ‘Peggy’ (married Uncle Willie Walls), Edith Grace (married Uncle Phillip Hope) and Doreen Elizabeth (married Uncle Peter Volsteedt). Their father (my grandfather) was Walter Charles Lunnon and their mother (my grandmother) was Margaret Susan Shepard Lunnon (nee Van Blerk).

 

My Lunnon Grandparents

Walter Charles Lunnon (my grandfather) who emigrated to South Africa in 1896 aged 23, was one of nine children of William (2) Lunnon (my great grandfather) and Amelia (nee Crease – 6 children) and second wife Harriet Stevens (nee Webb – 3 children) of Wookey Hole, Somerset, England. His siblings were William, Albert, Eliza, Catherine, Mary, John, Robert and Edith.

Their family home, Chesham House, is on the right as you enter Wookey Hole from Wells. (Pera and I visited there in 1999 when we toured the UK. I revisited Wookey Hole in November 2007 with Jerry Cottignies (my cousin Margaret’s husband from Bristol) when, after I became ill, I spent a month in UK as a guest of some of my ex-pupils of 1984.)

William’s (2) father was also William (1) Lunnon (my great great grandfather) and his mother was Sophia Reeves. He had only one other brother, John Lunnon.

My great great grandfather William (1) had a brother James (Jim) and their father (my great great great grandfather) was Robert (2) Lunnon and their mother is unknown.

Robert (2) Lunnon (my great great great grandfather) had two half sisters Sarah and Anne, and their father (my great great great great grandfather) was also Robert (1) and their mother was Rebecca. 

Robert (1) Lunnon had two brothers, John and William Lunnon and their father (my great great great great great grandfather) was John London (Lunnon being a corruption of London) and their mother was Mary Owen (they married on 9 December 1728).

And that’s how far we can trace the tree!

It’s really all so simple: God created Adam, Adam begat Cain, Abel and Seth; and Seth begat Enosh and Enosh begat Kenan and Kenan begat … the Londons/Lunnons (circa 998 AD) who begat John London who begat Robert (1) Lunnon (1733-1807) who begat Robert (2) Lunnon who begat William (1) (d 1848) who begat William (2) (1828-1901) who begat Walter Charles (1873-1958) who begat Herbert Louis (1915-1976) who begat Edward Charles (b 1956) who begat Sean (b 1992) and Phillip (b 1995).

And yet, it’s not really all that simple – it’s not just a name: Each one of these names represents a person, a life, a story to tell.

John was a linen weaver from London. Robert (1) established a very successful business, W. LUNNON & CO. LTD – Wholesale Paper Merchants & Manufacturing Stationers. Robert (2) owned the Abbey Farm Property. William (1) worked as a vatman in the paper mills of Cheddar and Wookey Hole. William (2) started working in the paper mills as an ‘engine picker’ at the age of 11 for two shillings per week. Besides being a papermaker for 44 years, he became the District Secretary to the Original Paper Makers Society, was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Somerset, a Weslyan preacher and a firm upholder of working men’s rights. At the time of his death in 1901, it was written “He was a leader of his fellows, and amongst children and adults, in religion and trade questions, in politics and social and civil developments, he was placed well to the front by those who looked to him for guidance, and who appreciated his sterling worth. He beared an honoured name. It was a life spent in constant readiness and effort to help others.”

Walter Charles took up an appointment with the Cape Postal Service in South Africa in July 1896 at the age of 23. He worked in the telegraph signallers in Kimberley throughout its siege during the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902). He rubbed shoulders with Cecil Rhodes, Lord Milner and Rudyard Kipling. The desk I work at was given to him when he retired as Postmaster of Swellendam in 1929. Herbert Louis loved the outdoors and spent much of his time angling and climbing the mountains of the Western Cape, until he was struck down by a vicious debilitating stroke in 1969.

And as I make plans to go to Cape Town next week to attend Aunty Peggy’s funeral and to celebrate her life with the rest of the family, I am reminded of The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis:

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.

Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life’s actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

©1996 Linda Ellis

So, again, I have to ask myself

“Would I be proud of the things they say about how I spent my dash?”

To Sean and Phillip, as the “bearers of an honoured name”, we – you and I – have deep footprints in which to follow.  Will they be able to say of us that we lived “a life spent in constant readiness and effort to help others”?

And while I’m pondering about matters of life and death and family, here’s a quote from my cousin-in-law-in-law Maryse Peach (my mother-in-law is a Peach) – What a peach!:

Don’t you sometimes wish life was like a PVR? Then we could fast forward the s*#t, rewind the giggles and record the moments that mean the most!

In loving memory of all the LUNNONS who have gone before us

and especially my aunt,

Helena Harriet (Peggy) Walls (nee Lunnon)

1918 – 2010

Our deepest sympathy to our cousin Jeannie on the loss of her mother

Open Wide and Shout Aaaaahh: I think I’ve Been Screwed!

 

We had an appointment for Sean with the specialist at 16h30 this Wednesday afternoon.

After arriving at 16h10, I filled in the forms (again). And then we waited an hour an a half until 17h45.

Sean presented a synopsis of his knee problem to the specialist. He asked for the X-rays, but they were supposed to be sent up from the trauma unit and had not arrived.

Then on to the bed for an examination. On Saturday, the doctor in the trauma unit had immobilised his knee, first with dressings and bandages and then a knee brace. He had been instructed to stay on the crutches and not to put any weight on the leg. Result – one very stiff knee when the brace came off!

 “I’m sorry but I can’t look at the knee like this. I need you to bend it at least 90 if not 120 degrees!” said the specialist. “You’ll have to come back next Wednesday. In the meantime, please see the physiotherapist.”

All of this took ten minutes.

So, before leaving, we made another appointment with the receptionist.

“This one will cost you R400,” she said, “please pay now!”

“Aaaahhh,” I shouted, “I think I’ve been screwed!” In my next life I want to come back as a doctor.

Open Wide – and say Aaaah

 1 June 2010:  3 years 9 months on . . .

Tartar builds up on my teeth at an alarming rate. Brushing, flossing, electric brushing, whatever, simply doesn’t help. It continues to build up. So, I used to have my teeth cleaned by the oral hygienist on a six-monthly basis. I say used to, because recently I haven’t been – and simply because I have other priorities that now take up my time!

But last Wednesday, I really needed it. When your mouth starts feeling and tasting like a sewer – that’s when you need the cleaning most! So, I called to make an appointment and was told that Sabeth Rautenbach could see me within the next half hour!

This time was a really special visit to her. She was the last person I saw in Port Elizabeth on 7 February 2007 before flying to see Prof Carr at Tygerberg and getting the News. After she had cleaned my teeth on that afternoon, I had headed straight to the airport and off to Cape Town. I was all excited, because, at long last, I was going to see someone who was going to sort out all those funny feelings that I had been experiencing for the previous six months. Little did I then know what lay ahead.

Well, as I said, my teeth really needed a good cleaning. So there I lay in her chair staring up at that circular dim yellow light above me. The one she moves around from time to time so as to be able to look into all those what must be really ugly and dirty places. Against the ceiling, the snow-white tubed fluorescent lights hummed away.

A few times I dozed off. She scraped and scratched away with her silver pick, tooth after tooth, removing all that hard tartar that had built up. Then came the polishing machine and the dental floss. Despite the suction pipe gargling away and sucking out the saliva and blood, I could still taste the blood in my mouth. So I was quite relieved when it came to the rinsing out stage and I could get rid of all that gunge. Then the tickling part – that’s when she takes her brush and gently paints each tooth with fluoride. In a way, that’s the most uncomfortable part of the procedure – all that tickling of the gums that takes place.

After 30 minutes, it’s all over. I now have the cleanest and whitest teeth – for a while at least. And, as I leave, I informed her that, if I was still here, then I planned to be back in six months time for yet another clean. If I’m no longer here, I’m bound to have the whitest teeth in Heaven when I get there.

Well, this has been the week with the medical profession. Phillip had broken his finger playing rugby and his splint, put on at St Georges’s Hospital a few weeks ago, came off. He’s not known as Dr Phil for nothing, as he had basically taken care of his own recuperation!

On Saturday afternoon, I had to take Sean to St George’s after he had injured his knee in the game against St Andrew’s College. He has been struggling with it since the game at Queenstown, and has since seen Dr Butters and been on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory tablets. But he hurt it again on Thursday at practice and in the game on Saturday.

So more X-rays (nothing broken!) and more tablets are prescribed. Splints, bandages and crutches seem to define the rugby season. Back to see the doctor on Monday morning (the swelling has subsided somewhat) and off to see the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday afternoon. We wait in anticipation for the diagnosis.

And then to crown it all (excuse the pun!), Pera loses a crown and a tooth disintegrates. So, she went off to see Dr Alisdair Brown (an ex-pupil of mine and our family dentist) on Monday afternoon. One tooth extracted later!

I’m not sure how families cope without a medical aid scheme. Every medical visit is a costly one – as they say in Afrikaans “hoes en betaal”! (Cough and pay!). I’ve heard other versions, too! The medical savings account is fast becoming depleted and there are still seven months left of the year before it gets replenished. Once it’s finished, it’s down to your wallet. And after each visit then it’s open wide and say AAAh!