Once Upon a Time I was also a Businessman

Friday 30 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on…

Let’s put the record straight. I only worked as a schoolteacher for five years.

And then, in 1989, I left the profession, as they say, and went into the lucrative big, wide world of business – the retail world to be precise.

In total, I worked there for almost three times longer than I taught. But, I was always referred to as the schoolteacher. Even this week, there was a report in the local newspaper, The Apple Express, about me. As newspaper reports go, it bent the truth just a little bit in order to make it a bit juicier to read. And, in typical newspaper sensationalism, it was headlined Rare Illness turns Teacher into Blogger.

Once a schoolteacher, always a schoolteacher, I suppose.

Despite the shortness of the teaching years, it’s amazing at how many good memories have resulted from them, and how gratifying and rewarding those times were (especially now when meeting and interacting with ex-pupils). I even experienced the hospitality of ex-pupils when almost two years ago now, in November 2008, I was treated by them to tour the UK and watch the Springboks play in their year-end tour of Wales, Scotland and England.

Henry Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

But, as lucrative as the business world may appear to be, it is just as ruthless and unrelenting.

In 1994, I was appointed as a senior manager (ironically at a glittering function in the Grey High School hall). In 1998, I received the General Manager’s special Award.

But, from Hero to Zero.

In March 2002, in a flash like a lightning bolt from Heaven, I and some other senior managers were suspended from work. In a bizarre, contrived set of circumstances surrounding a case of alleged sexual harassment, we were subjected to a six-month long disciplinary hearing, fired from our positions, and then given large sums of money in return for our souls, our silence, the withdrawal of charges and our resignations.

Should I apply for a job with you today, I would give you a letter of recommendation in which it is regretted that I resigned to further my own personal business career.

Well, that I did and went out on my own, firstly as a private consultant, and then in November 2005, together with a partner, opened our own private consulting company.

Barely a year later I became ill and retired. Ironically, just a few days after I was diagnosed with terminal CBD, I received a basket of fruit from my previous Board of Directors and a note wishing me a speedy recovery!

The above three paragraphs are but a summary of the most stressful and the saddest period in my life. I started writing a book to document those years – unfortunately the document was lost on the laptop that was the only item stolen in a home burglary shortly thereafter. Maybe, someday, I will put pen to paper (rather finger to keyboard!) again?

I was propped up through those days by so many friends and acquaintances, but especially by my wife Pera. I will always be so grateful to her for her unfailing support that helped to carry me through those darkest days.

But there’s the old cliché that every dark cloud has that proverbial silver lining.

We got some five years in which we were moulded together as a family to prepare us for the devastating news that was to come – when I was diagnosed with CBD.

We got to spend time together as a family again. We got to holiday together. I got to spend Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays watching our boys play rugby and cricket. I got to see them grow up in front of me into the wonderful 6-foot plus men that they are today. We are so blessed.

We had been fired in the ovens of hell to prepare us for this next challenge that faces us now. The human spirit prevailed then, and it will now.

In this last week, I have had three shocks. The first shock was when I, for the first time, got to hear myself on Ed is in Wed – the chat show that Lance du Plessis and I have on Algoa FM since March of this year. I have been so well and truly humbled by the response that we have received to those chats, but have never heard one myself.

Thanks to modern technology, those recordings – called podcasts – are now available on this blog site and so I got to hear myself!

The radio programme had its beginnings in a note that I published on Facebook to update my friends on my condition. It set in motion a series of events that eventually made Facebook unsuitable for the readership that my notes were receiving. I turned to WordPress – a blogging site. 

Earlier this year, I had read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (also a movie starring Jack Lemmon and televised twice this week on DSTV). Morrie had ALS, a condition similar to mine, and was interviewed on ABC Television by Ted Koppel.

I spoke to Lance, another ex-pupil of mine, and a radio announcer at AlgoaFM and suggested that we could consider doing a chat show where people could learn from my experiences. Management at the radio station were open to the idea, and I am so grateful to them, and to Lance, for advancing the cause of CBD and illness and living and dying. What started off as a once-off has now been going for five months!

Four years ago, when I became ill, I did not know of anyone who was familiar with the condition CBD. Today, as I write this note, and thanks to the internet and AlgoaFM, the number of hits on the blog site has exceeded the 6000 mark – all of them now aware of the illness!

The second shock that I had was, tonight, when I received a note in my email inbox from an ex-boss of mine who had heard me on radio and was wishing me well on my journey. It is the first direct contact that I have received from a senior person since that fateful day, eight years ago, when we had the carpet pulled out from under our feet! It brought back a flood of memories and a flood of tears.

And the third shock – I have just heard that Lance had his house ransacked, looted and cleared out whilst we were on air yesterday!

I have said before that I often use the word ironically. However, I have come to believe that there is no such thing as ironically but that it is all a part of the Journey mapped out for us.

Lance, you have become an integral part of the journey that I walk every day. Thank you for your company, especially when ED is in Wednesday. Not ironically, but well planned, I believe, you have become my travelling companion.

There was a time that you sat in my class – I asked the questions and you had to provide the answers. Now, you ask the questions and I have to search for the answers.

I have two books on my bedside table. The one is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The other is a compilation written by many different authors. It is edited by God Himself. It’s title is The Holy Bible.

Matthew, a Jewish tax collector and later an author, lived in the first century AD. He quoted his Travelling Companion, One called Jesus, as saying the following some two thousand years ago:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in Heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”

 Mitch Albom quotes Morrie as saying,

We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.

We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on … more is good … gobble up something new …

Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have …

The truth is you don’t get satisfaction from those things …

 What really gives you satisfaction … is offering others what you have to give …your time. Your concern. Your storytelling …

Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

I have been blessed with living a life of many a winding turn – an extraordinary life!

There’s an ad on TV for Nedbank that sees fish falling from the sky. It says In extraordinary times, it’s your approach that counts!

And Mitch Albom quotes Morrie as saying “There’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living. Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.”

“Is it today, little bird?” he asked. “Is it today?”

 

 

Four Funerals and Not a Wedding

Tuesday 27 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on…

1976 – South Africa had just got TV for the first time! The SABC service consisted of one channel that commenced at 18h00 with a Scripture reading and closed at 23h00 with the National Anthem and the flying orange, white and blue flag.

But it was already old hat for me because I had lived and gone to school in the USA in 1975. I returned in January 1976 and became a MATIE in the February, the first person in our family to go to University. Mom was so proud – when she dropped me at Helshoogte and attended the first parent’s function, she insisted on wearing a hat!

Anton Scholtz was already there, studying a BSc in his second year. He came from Kingswood College in Grahamstown.

We became friends – I’m not sure why, but he did drink more beers than anyone I knew, he partied harder than anyone I knew, he played rugby better than anyone I knew and he outran anyone I knew on what was known as the Berg Pad – even if it was after a party that continued until five in the morning! He was not known as the Mine K***** for nothing.

He captained the Res team, played rugby for Maties, served on the House Committee and had a bright green Volkswagen Beetle. It was known as the Automatic Apple!

It took us all over the Cape Peninsula, and in the summer months to Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay. On the way back to Stellenbosch, we would stop in at our home in The Strand. My sister, Ingrid, was still at school at Hottentots-Holland High. It soon became clear that the visits at home were not for my company.

Ingrid became Head Girl at HHH, then became a Matie, too, and at the time that I was Primarius at Helshoogte, she became Primaria of Serruria – her ladies’ residence (and where Jessica, their daughter and our Godchild, is now in residence.) It was quite something at the time at Stellenbosch University to have a brother and sister – and Engels nogal! – in charge of two University Residences.

All three of us became teachers (and Pera joined our staff room later!)

Ingrid also became Anton’s wife in January 1983. Their wedding photographs show me with very short hair! That’s because I was in my second year at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn where Anton, still ahead of me, was a Lieutenant when I had arrived as a troop in 1982. He occasionally made me run when he found me not wearing my beret!

Anton’s family came from Cradock and they had a holiday house at Keurboom’s Strand near Plettenberg Bay. As students, we sometimes spent time there. As soldiers in Oudtshoorn, we often spent time there because Keurbooms was but two hours away from the military base, and a very welcome diversion.

As officers, they were able to go out most weekends. As a troopie, I had to AWOL.

We ate braaied steaks for breakfast, lunch and supper. They somehow always came armed with boxes of steaks for the weekend that, I believe, were destined for the Troops’ Mess but never got there!

We also visited the Scholtz’s in Cradock. Between Cradock and Keurbooms, we got to know Anton’s parents, Uncle Piet and Aunty Ina and his extended family of three brothers and a sister (and their families over the years!)

My Dad died in my first year at Stellenbosch – 1976. But the Scholtz’s homes were always open to us as a family – that’s the people and the way they were!

I remember a Christmas that Mom, Ingrid and I spent in Cradock – it came complete with a Karoo thorn tree that doubled up as the Christmas tree.

Uncle Piet was the doctor in Cradock. But Aunty Ina dished out the medicine! She issued the prescriptions, handed out the pills and gave the instructions! She was the matriarch of the family. You didn’t want to cross paths with her! She organised everyone with an iron fist. But what loveable people they were.

Although they were “in-laws”, they were always great parents for Ingrid. After my Mom died in 1986, whilst I was teaching at Grey, they became almost surrogate parents to me, too. They were always interested in my progress and what I was doing, and always there to assist and support.

Even after Pera and I got married, and Sean and Phillip arrived on the scene, they were there for us. So much so, that Pera, Sean and Phil (and many others) refer to them as Oumie and Gramps.

And so it was with great sadness when Oumie became ill a few years ago. But, in her unique style, she fought even that cancer with strength and determination.

We saw her just three weeks ago when they were staying with Ingrid and Anton here in Port Elizabeth. It was obvious that the illness was taking its toll and that she had wasted away to that shadow of her former self. When we said goodbye, we knew it was for the last time.

Last Saturday, just after I returned from John Clarke’s funeral in Alexandria and just before Grey Bloem and Grey PE’s 1st rugby teams started to do battle before thousands of spectators around the Pollock Field, Oumie passed away in Oudtshoorn.

We have lost our Oumie. But Uncle Piet has lost his wife, and Anton, Ingrid, Rael, Leonie, Gerhard and Pieter, and all their families, have lost their Mom and their grandmother.

Pera, Sean and Phillip join me in extending our deepest sympathy to you all. We take solace in the fact that she is in That Place where her pain is no more. And, whilst death takes away the person from us, it can never take away the relationship or the memories.

But You Look so Good!

Saturday 24 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on…

Some people must think that I am the world’s biggest hypochondriac. I am often told “But you look so good!” My reply is usually along the lines of “I wish I felt as good as I supposedly look”.

CBD is a movement disorder. It does not affect my appearance but it is a degenerative brain disorder that affects my movements. The contact between my brain and my muscles is affected and, over time, the brain loses the ability to control my muscles.

So, thank God, I have no pain. But each movement that I make with my hands, arms, feet and legs –every word that I speak – is no longer something that “just happens” – it is a calculated, conscious act that I make and which requires more and more energy. Hence the slowness and the tiredness. 

Unfortunately what we see is not always what we get. Appearances often belie what is underneath, and appearances often lead to perceptions and perceptions often lead to stereotypes and labels. And thus a lot of our beliefs and actions in this world are based on appearance.

“But you look so good” reminds me of the advert for Farmer Brown chickens: They look so good ‘cos they eat so good! Maybe, that’s why I still look so good.

And I “eat so good” because of my good wife, Pera, food-lover and cook of note. In times of illness, old age and disability, we concern ourselves about the person affected. Often, we neglect to think about the so many people out there who become the “carers” and who also become affected and who carry burdens that we also do not see. We need to be more aware of the caregivers in this world and to support them in the vital and frequently unrecognised role that they play.

Both my parents died at an early age, and so I forget that many of my contemporaries are now at a point where they have to care for elderly parents. Just in this week, I had a conversation with good friend Trish Stapleton, wife of Alan, an ex-teaching colleague of mine. Over twenty-five years, the Stapletons have always been there for me and for us – whether it’s been the Christmas dinners, the parties, the Investment Club, the braai’s, the calls, whatever … they have just been there!

But they have also been there, especially, for Trish’s parents, Lane and the late Charles Stewart. They have been such an example – in both word and deed – to so many of us of caregivers extraordinaire. Thanks Stapes and Trish – and get well soon, Lane!

As this disease takes its toll on me, it also takes its toll on Pera and the boys. They bear the brunt of the “off-the-air, out-of-the-public-eye, not-so-nice” side of me. Let us not forget them in this journey, and let me assure them that, despite the outward appearance sometimes, they have that very special place in my heart. You are the wind beneath my wings. Saying a mere thank you to you, I guess, will just never be enough!

And talking of journeys and appearances, I return to my own journey of our student tour through Europe in 1981 about which I have already written in I’m Legal Now.

From Switzerland, we travelled by train across and through the Alps into Italy where we visited Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Brindisi. I have not been back there since 1981 and I’m not sure if it’s still like that. But, one of the things that struck me on that tour was that the outward appearance of buildings did not matter to the Italians.

We would often arrive at a hotel and wonder just where in the world we had been booked. Indeed, this was a budget tour, but surely not that budget! The place often looked like it was about to fall apart.

But, again, don’t judge the book by its cover. Inside, would be the comfort and splendour that makes Italy so special. Rome – the Eternal City – was my favourite and they struggled to get me out of the place. It’s a city that brings history alive, and puts the BC right into the AD!  Maybe, one day, I will get there again.

It was a train tour of note. And, today, as Grey College (Bloemfontein) arrives to take on Grey High (PE) on the fields of Mill Park (not the Fields of Flanders, although I guess there will be many a hard-fought battle today!), I think of that other train trip of note.

That was the trip in July 2007, just after I had been diagnosed with CBD. I arranged a train for 250 Grey parents to take us from Port Elizabeth to Bloemfontein for the annual encounter.

We were scheduled to leave PE station at three on the Friday afternoon, and the excited parents arrived at two. But our train was delayed due to a level crossing accident earlier that day in Addo.

The liquid refreshments to service the needs of the thirsty passengers for the weekend were quickly consumed on the platform, and additional supplies were later purchased from the off-sales across Strand Street. When the train eventually left four hours late at 19h00, some of the passengers were actually flying!

And the late departure led to all other kinds of complications – with catering and with bedding, with heating and breakfast arrangements, with buses and arrival times. And, to add insult to injury that night, one of the heaviest snowfalls of the year hit the Karoo and slowed the train down even further. And made the evening even colder!

We arrived in Bloemfontein some 5 hours late, relying on internal heating only! Many parents did not even see their sons play on that day. Because of work commitments, Tim Brukman was not scheduled to go on the train, but because of the late departure, managed to join us at the last moment.

Uncertain about the plans for the day, he enquired what the arrangements were. Sue, his wife, replied that, after the arrival of the train, we would go for showers and then have breakfast. With no disrespect to my Jewish friends and readers, in his unique dry manner, and without a smile on his face, Tim replied, “That’s what they told the Jews!”

The stories of that trip abound. And the enjoyment of that trip, despite all the setbacks and despite my condition deteriorating, led me to organising another train trip two years later – last year in 2009. This time the parents shared a train with the Grey boys and luckily only arrived 30 minutes late!

Will there be another trip back to Bloemfontein in 2011? Time will tell.

Trains have a very special thing about them. And are often so similar to the journey that we make in Life. When Jill Bromiley retired from Grey Junior after 40 years last year, I spoke about trains at her farewell function:

Life is like a train ride. We get on. We ride. We get off. We get back on and ride some more. There are accidents and there are delays. At certain stops there are surprises. Some of these will translate into great moments of joy; some will result in profound sorrow.

 

When we are born and we first board the train, we meet people whom we think will be with us for the entire journey. These people are our parents.

 

Sadly, this is far from the truth. Our parents are with us for as long as we absolutely need them.

 

They, too, have journeys they must complete. We live on with the memories of their love, affection, friendship, guidance and their ever presence.

 

There are others who board the train and who eventually become very important to us. These people are our brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, whom we learn to love and cherish.

 

Some people consider their journey like a jaunty tour. They will just go merrily along.

 

Others will encounter many upsets, tears and losses on their journey.

 

Others still, will linger on to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.

 

Some people on the train will leave an everlasting impression when they get off.

 

Some will get on and get off the train so quickly, they will scarcely leave a sign that they ever travelled along with you or ever crossed your path.

 

We will sometimes be upset that some passengers whom we love, will choose to sit in another compartment, and leave us to travel on our own.

 

Then again, there’s nothing that says you can’t seek them out anyway.

 

Nevertheless, once sought out and found, we me not even be able to sit next to them because that seat will already be taken.

 

That’s okay…everyone’s journey will be filled with hopes, dreams, challenges, setbacks and goodbyes.

 

We must strive to make the best of it…no matter what.

 

We must constantly strive to understand our travel companions and look for the best in everyone.

 

Remember that at any moment during our journey, any one of our travel companions can have a weak moment and be in need of our help.

 

We, too, may vacillate or hesitate, even trip…hopefully we can count on someone being there to be supportive and understanding.

 

The bigger mystery of our journey is that we don’t know when our last stop will come.

 

Neither do we know when our travel companions will make their last stop…not even those sitting in the seat next to us.

 

Personally, I know I’ll be sad to make my final stop…I’m sure of it!

 

My separation from all those friends and acquaintances I made during the train ride will be painful. Leaving all those I’m close to will be a sad thing. But then again, I’m certain that one day I’ll get to the Main Station only to meet up with everyone else. They’ll all be carrying their baggage…most of which they didn’t have when they first got on this train.

 

I’ll be glad to see them again.

 

I’ll be glad to have contributed to their baggage…and to have enriched their lives, just as much as they will have contributed to my baggage and enriched my life.

 

We’re all on this train ride together.

 

Above all, we should all try to strive to make the ride as pleasant and memorable as we can, right up until we each make the final stop and leave the train for the last time.

 

For all of you, NOW you are part of my train, so I am wishing you BON VOYAGE – have a great journey!

Life’s Journey – it was spoken about at our farewell lunch for John Clarke at Old Grey Club yesterday and again at his funeral in Alexandria this morning.

Thank you for being a part of my Life’s Journey.

PS … and Grey PE won the hockey 1 – 0 and lost the rugby 8 – 36 …

Craig Probart’s tribute to John Royden Clarke

Ex-Pupil of mine Craig Probart (Old Grey and BODA: 1988) has asked me to post the following tribute to John Royden Clarke on my blog site. I am humbled and honoured to do so:

My father was also a boarder and he had an exceptional memory in that he could recite the roll call list of his hostel until his death at the age of 50 – all of about 150 boys. (This didn’t stop him from forgetting to pick up the Luckmans on leave-out weekends though – on more than 1 occasion). This left an impression on me and I decided that I wanted to memorize something like this myself.

Luckily it happened real easy – one hot January morning in 1982 John Clark and I sat on the back of my dad’s Archie Tractors Fiat bakkie and I was on my way to check in at Grey Junior for the first time. John asked me if I was going to cry, a question I didn’t understand because this was one of the most exciting days of my life. On the trip to PE John gave me all his tips on how to beat the hostel system, briefed me on the teachers that I would encounter and shared all the wisdom that he had picked up over his years as a boarder. When my dad dropped me off at Warring Lodge he saw a golfing acquaintance of his – Dave Emslie – who was a hostel master. His ‘handover’ was something that I’ll never forget – “this is my son, if he’s naughty, moer him”. (I said that he had a good memory, not that he was eloquent). John’s advice only helped for about 2 weeks, because that’s how long it took before I got moered by Mr Emslie.

Then it was off to high school and introduce said life-time memory. I think that if I tried I couldn’t forget the 1984 1st team. As a standard 6 boy, these guys were true legends. I think that even Ted Pote would agree, even if it meant him watching the games in blue laces for the 3rd year in row. As newboys in the hostel we were required to know all first teams off by heart, but for this was not something you had to practice.

There was Dean Barclay who was the hard man in the scrums;  Channon and Charlie Hobson made up the rest of the front row and the 2 of them were monsters in the tight loose. Charlie Hobson came in as a replacement and soon showed himself as to the manor borne. Thanks to him I became quite good at cross country because I was forever running to Westbourne Road to buy either Camels or peroxide.

Then at lock there were 2 boarders – Grant Griffen and Colin Dix Peek. Anyone that went to Grey in 1984 and 1985 will know Big G and his bare right foot. Colin was the grunt in the scrums and played good rugby for ‘Saders for a long time after school. The loose trio was probably the biggest reason for their success. Grant Ford with his no-nonsense approach simply owned the loose ball. Mike Carswell probably has a claim that he was the original Iron Mike and I’ll never forget him sitting in the stands in his 1st team jersey watching his team beat Grey Bloem as he was unable to play because he was in the SA Schools Team.

Then, the captain – Fischer. This guy was immense – somebody that every standard 6 looked up to. All I can remember of this guy at school was rugby (and pole vault) related. I don’t think that I ever saw him in the school corridors. Only on the sports field. Peter Barclay at scrumhalf was everything that a flyhalf needed to look good. And Frank Ghast was good. Very good. He used to have so much time that when he kicked the ball he looked quite bored. The results were usually very good too.

Peter Fensham was a full back/ come 1st centre that could really move and his pace and eye got things happening. Lots happening. Nobody will forget Jason Venn. I think that chiropractors have made good careers out of fixing bodies that Venn tackled. Then, on the wings, another boarder team – Brian Salty Solomon and Adrian Puffy Purdon. These guys made the most of the opportunities that came their way and if memory serves, Salty scored the lone try against Grey Bloem that year.

 Adrian was big and quick and ended up playing for EP at #13 (as did Jason). In the last line of defence there was all 6ft4 of Barry Gong van der Vyfer. This guy was rock solid, but the game that he played against Grey Bloem that year was his finest. I guess standing behind Jason Venn all year taught him something because after 10 minutes of him crash tackling the G/Bloem centres over and over they were not all that keen to play anymore.

This was quite a team. They lost the first game of the year to Queens, Daryl Cullinan more specifically, and then went through the rest of the season unbeaten. There were over 5000 people at the 1984 Grey Bloem game. Now, that’s something worthwhile remembering, but it was too easy, so one day in class I heard something that was absolutely irrelevant to anything that I would ever need – the 5 influences over the way a plant grows. Even to a 15 year old boy who is taught to learn whatever is in front of him this seemed useless, so I vowed that I would never forget it – Geotropism, hydrotropism, chemotropism, thigmotropism and phototropism.

Now, I’m within a decade of 50 and John’s sad passing has brought that very close to home. I don’t remember meeting John because in Alexandria families were integrated (as they tend to be in small towns) and I was probably in nappies when our paths first crossed. My earliest memory of him was at the Alex golf course when I was really little and that he had what seemed to be about 100 pretty sisters, and some of them were even blond. I will remember his death though, and I have no doubt that up in heaven someone’s saying “Howzit Condom” and John replying “hey boet, wasn’t it beautiful watching Puffy steaming down the touchline?”

Rest in Peace John, “a sad loss of a fine friend”.

PERSPECTIVE

This is not my writing but was forwarded to me (I will write later!):

Perspective

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country
with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’

‘It was great, Dad.’

‘Did you see how poor people live?’ the father asked.

‘Oh yeah,’ said the son.

‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?’ asked the father.

The son answered:

‘I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.’

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, ‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.’

Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.

Appreciate every single thing you have ! 

‘Life is too short and friends are too few.’

In Memory of John Royden Clarke

Monday 19 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on …

When I was diagnosed with CBD almost 4 years ago now, and given a time frame of how much time I had left on this earth, I remember an ex-colleague and very good friend of ours, John Clarke (not to be confused with John Royden Clarke), saying the following to me:

“Ed, before you go, I can assure you, there will be many other friends who will go before you!”

And, so it has been over the last four years that relatives, friends, neighbours, old people, young people, ex-colleagues and ex-pupils of mine have gone and left us behind. 

The question is often asked and debated “Is it better to have prior warning like me and to be told that you have so many months or years left, or is it easier to be taken suddenly in a car accident or a heart attack or something similar?”

I guess there is no definitive answer. Whichever way it comes, it comes with heart sore, tears, regrets, if only’s and maybe’s.

I have written before about The Circle of Life. We all know that our time is finite. We all know that, like the song, There’s many a winding turn. Unlike that song The Road is NOT Long – it is, in fact, a short dead end road on this earth.

One of the reasons I continue to write these blogs, BRAINSTORMS, and to broadcast the radio programme, ED is in WED, is to encourage people to make the most of every day. Last week, we spoke on air about going to the Biltong Festival. I was so pleased to meet up with many people who said they had heard that discussion and had decided to go.

Too many of us – and I include myself – put off something that brings us joy just because we didn’t think about it, didn’t have it on our schedule, didn’t know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from our routine. How many of us plan things for our retirement? – and never get to retire?

Read my blog Thank You Gentlemen for playing with me tonight and just think about the people on the Titanic who, in an effort to cut back, decided not to have desert at dinner that fateful night!

How often don’t we decline dinner invitations because the meat has already been taken out of the fridge? How often don’t I spend time on my PC in silence or watch a TV programme when the kids have dropped in to talk?

How often do we decline because “I can’t”, “I have clothes on the line”, “My hair is dirty”, “You should have called yesterday”, “It’s Monday”, or “It looks like rain”?

We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect! We’ll entertain when we have painted the house. We’ll visit when we go that way sometime. We’ll go on holiday when the kids leave school or when we retire.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. Often, all we have to show for our lives is a litany of  “I’m going to”, “I plan on”, and “Someday”.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry-go-round

Or listened to the rain lapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask ‘How are you?’ Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow.”

And in your haste, not seen his sorrow?

Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die?

Just call to say “Hi”

When you worry and hurry through the day,

It is like an unopened gift…Thrown away…

Life is not a race. Take it slower.

Hear the music before the song is over.

Last year in March 2009, I watched rugby at the Graeme College festival in Grahamstown. After the game (and long before a group of us visited the Rat and watched from the Settler’s Monument the sun rise over Grahamstown at 5am the next morning!) I met up with Old Grey and ex-scholar of mine, John Royden Clarke, and his wife, Marian, from Alexandria. Over a beer, we chatted extensively about the old times and Life.

John also lived in the hostel with me at Grey in 1984/85 and he matriculated in 1985. Just two months ago, we celebrated their 25th Reunion. We chatted some more! And you may have read some of that chatting in Time in a Bottle and Smell the Roses.

Last Saturday, John was doing what he enjoyed – playing golf. He had a heart attack on the golf course in Graaff-Reinet and passed away. His road on this earth had been but 40 years long.

The tributes on Face Book from his classmates say it all. One reads: God took a big tree off earth but it will fit nicely in Heaven.

Marian, Jessica and Jarryd: It’s not easy to fill the hole that is left by the roots of such a big tree. But listen to the words of the song To make You Feel my Love that Bob Dylan made famous. John would have meant those words for you.

And Jesus means those words for you, too, in these times especially. May He comfort you and give you His Peace.

For the rest of us: Life may not be the party we hoped for… but while we are here we might as well dance!

John Amatt said “Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life – facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.”

(Acknowledgement to an unsolicited unauthored email received this week)

I’m Legal Now (and Responsible?)

Friday 16 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on . . .

Life in the Eighties was so much fun! I was in my mid-twenties and just finishing off at Stellenbosch University.

 In our winter academic holiday of 1981, a group of eight of us from Stellenbosch embarked on a summer tour of Europe. Charles and Diana had just become engaged, and Royal trinkets were sold all over, much like the World Cup memorabilia has decorated our shops and streets for the last month. But we had no money for trinkets!

Working on a shoestring budget and a Eurail Train Pass, we visited England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Greece – all in three weeks!

Our motto was All for one and one for all. No one was permitted to do anything that everyone in the group could not afford to do. It also applied to meals. We were only to eat out once at a traditional restaurant in each of the countries we visited. For the rest, we had a blue Cadac gas burner, sachets of Cup-of-Soup, tea and coffee and a lot of student initiative.

At least, that was the way it was supposed to be and that was the way the tour started.

We would raid the tables at breakfast time and take with whatever was left to help out at lunch and suppertime. In Amsterdam, we even took leftovers from another table when those tourists got up and left – only to have them return a few minutes later to continue their breakfast, which had miraculously disappeared! (And we were the only other people there – we pretended we couldn’t understand them!)

As the tour continued, the rules were bent somewhat. In Rome, I desperately needed an egg! So I broke away from the group, entered a café just opposite the Coliseum and bought a toasted egg sandwich. In Italy, they charged you a tax to sit inside and eat, so I took my sandwich and sat outside on the kerb.

What more could I want? A freshly fried egg and a view of the magnificent Coliseum!

But so much for cheating! As I put the sandwich in my mouth, the egg slipped off the bread and landed in the dirty Roman street! But, in desperate times, so much for hygiene! I picked up what I could save of the egg and just popped it straight into my mouth – and here I am to tell the tale!

 

In Copenhagen, before we visited the famous Tivoli Gardens and rather than buy the beer, we visited the Carlsberg Brewery. A free tour and lots of beer to taste – free –  made good economic sense! Tourists from all over the world visit there and they have this huge beer hall where everyone gathers at the end of the tour for the tasting.

 National flags decorate each table and you sit at the table that has your country’s flag on it. So there we were, with a number of other South Africans sitting with the now old South African flag.

Thank goodness, unlike wine tasting, beer tasting does not require spitting out but does require swallowing! But, we also swallowed hurriedly and left when it was discovered that the SA flag had “disappeared” and all the South Africans were asked to remain behind to have their bags searched! (We were honestly not the guilty party!)

 This week, I have thought quite a bit of that tour and those carefree student days.

One reason being that, last night, our Men’s Group (known as Fred’s Must have Beer Group) and a few others, visited the local Ibhayi SAB Brewery.

Unfortunately, the CBD affects one’s short-term memory and so I can’t remember all the facts and figures given to us last night. What I do remember is that only some 120 people operate this fully mechanised brewery that supplies millions of litres of beer to the Eastern Cape from George to Umtata. (They are still crunching the numbers to calculate how many extra litres were consumed during the 31 days of the World Cup!)

There is also the ever-present communication of responsible drinking!

Kilometres of carefully planned stainless steel pipes carry the precious cargo from tank to newly washed reusable glass bottles that arrive at the right place at the right time on kilometres of carefully planned conveyor belts. I could have sat there for hours watching everything going up and down and round and round . . . it’s quite a process to get that beer into your throat!

There was no reason to take a flag because we all have our flags left over from the World Cup now! But we did taste, until quite late last night, and then just had to stop at Dagwoods on the way home (only because we were responsible and had parked our cars there!)

Another reason for reminiscing was because earlier in the week, I spent time with a group of almost 50 students from Helshoogte Residence at Stellenbosch University. I had lived there when I was a Matie and became the Primarius, the head of hostel, in 1981.

 

This group is currently touring the Easter Cape in the last week of their winter holiday. It is a 30 odd year-old tradition that a rugby tour is undertaken at this time. I met up with them on day 2 of their 6-day tour (no one seems to be quite sure!)

The tour is now called a sports tour – what sport, I’m not quite sure because I was told that only one pair of rugby togs was packed in! But, thanks to Kipper Halbert, the tour operator in St Francis Bay, we managed to take them on a boat tour of the magnificent St Francis canals, and later had a beer at Cob’s Cove in the village.

There was also no money for food, but they seemed to manage well on the two bags of oranges that I passed on to them (with courtesy of Eppie and Lande Ferreira from Patensie with whom we had a wonderful braai earlier in the week). There did appear to be a substantial amount of money for beer though (and other liquid food!) and I was a bit concerned that the weight of the packets carried onto the boat would see them all swimming in the ice cold sea water!

Many of the tourists are sons of student contemporaries of mine, and it was amazing to remember those friends when seeing their peas-from-the pod sons. One thing worried me though – I was convinced that as students we definitely did not drink as much as these youngsters!

I phoned Noel Basson, a contemporary of mine and now a father of two students. After leaving Stellenbosch, he became the private secretary of FW de Klerk and later Nelson Mandela. With such authority, I wouldn’t question his integrity, and he concurred with me that we definitely did not drink as much in our student days as they do today!

Anyway, after a fines meeting on Tuesday evening (which also brought back many good memories), we parted our ways. Me back to Port Elizabeth, and them, on to Grahamstown, Rhodes University and the Rat and Parrot, and then to Somerset East for the Biltong Festival.  Indeed, a “sports tour” of note!

My thoughts turned to Sean. He has had quite an eventful few months. It started off with him being awarded his Colours Blazer for service to his school. In all probability, he will also be a student next year. In May, he turned 18 and that made him “legal”, meaning, of course, that he could now legally, in terms of the law of the land, purchase alcohol.

It also means that, in terms of the law of the land, he could now get his driver’s licence. And, because he could get an appointment much earlier in Humansdorp than in PE, that’s where he went on Tuesday morning. After a three quarter of an hour test, he appeared with a large smile on his face that told me everything. Another ten minutes and R200 later, and he became the proud owner of that document that also now makes him “legal” on the road. (He is, since 16, with his Skipper’s Licence, also “legal” on the water!)

On the way back to Port Elizabeth, we discussed this “legal” thing, and I reminded him that despite now being legal to drink and legal to drive, that it was not legal to do these things at the same time! (Possibly, I should phone Noel and get him to affirm that we never did do that as students or as adults either!!)

Maybe the Americans have it right. At least, you can get your driver’s licence there at the age of 16 (and earlier in some states), which gives you at least two years to get more driving experience before you become legal to buy alcohol at eighteen (or even later in some states).

Whatever, with the freedom comes the responsibility, and I guess, as parents, at some stage, we let go and hope that we have met all our responsibilities!

To Sean and all your friends who are now attaining that magical age of 18:

May you drive many happy kilometres, may you experience many happy tours in our wonderful world, may your beers always be cold, and may you always be responsible!

Happy driving, happy touring, happy beering!

Land of Our Fathers

 

Sunday 11 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on . . .

Tonight, at Soccer City in Johannesburg, the Netherlands plays against Spain in the final of the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup ®. The winner of the match tonight will take over from Italy – sent home in the early rounds – as the undisputed World Football Champions. They will wear the crown until the next World Cup takes place in Brazil in 2014.

Millions of people worldwide will focus their attention on South Africa tonight. They will join the thousands of international tourists that have streamed into our country over the last five weeks. It is difficult now to picture the world we came from in the Old South Africa.

Exactly twenty-five years ago, in July 1985, we arrived in Amsterdam by bus from Calais in France. We being the 21 people making up the first overseas 1985 Grey High School Cricket Touring Party to UK and Holland – 15 boys and 6 teachers.

It was the height of apartheid South Africa, and the townships were burning. South Africans were not welcome in most parts of the world and crossing boarders was a cumbersome task. South African tourists found it difficult to travel and international sports tours were out of the question!

But, somehow, we managed to pull it off. Not welcomed abroad as teams are nowadays, but all very clandestinely – even the cricket equipment had to be hidden away amongst the ordinary luggage. After all, this was publicly no more than a sightseeing tour to Europe! Forget about the fact that wherever we went in the UK discreet plain-clothes officers of the Intelligence Agency accompanied us, just in case something went wrong and protestors upset our tour along the way. It sounds all very James Bond style now!

And, up until our arrival in Amsterdam, everything had gone absolutely smoothly.

We had acquired a VW Golf, which had been the prize in our fundraising competition and for which we had sold tickets for months prior to the tour. VW also gave us a fleet of multi-coloured Smartie Golfs that we had to drive to Johannesburg from Uitenhage at the start of our tour. And, after spending one night in Johannesburg, we had left from Jan Smuts International Airport (now Oliver Tambo International) aboard our Luxavia flight headed for Luxembourg via Nairobi and Cairo.

In those days, Luxavia was a front airline company for SAA that was allowed to use African airspace and overfly the African soil that we now so publicly boast about to the world. SAA had to fly over the Atlantic, around the continent, in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge!

But, as South Africans, we were kept in the “holding pub” when we landed in Nairobi, and, in Cairo, we were not allowed to leave the plane. From Luxembourg, we had flown onto London Heathrow where we joined our coach and coach driver.

We travelled and played mainly in the south and southeastern corner of England – as far north as Northamptonshire and down to Hove and Brighton. And we won some and lost some.

In between the matches, we did the tourist thing! London, Lords, the castles and palaces, the pubs and even, to the disgust of some, the Theatre – Evita  and Don’t Cry for me Argentina – all in Spanish! And, on the Sunday of the Wimbledon Tournament, we watched Boris Becker beat our very own South African Kevin Curren in the Men’s Final. (For some or other reason, Wimbledon seemed to escape the harsh South African boycotts of those days.)

But, on the day we left Dover via ferry to Calais and by coach through France and Belgium to Amsterdam, a storm broke around our heads. Klaas de Jonge, a Dutch activist wanted by the South African Police, had gone into hiding in the Dutch Embassy in Pretoria. The police are not allowed to enter diplomatic premises and this set up a standoff between the SAP and the Dutch Embassy staff, and an international furore.

The effect on our touring party was the cancellation of the matches by the schools we were scheduled to play against in Amsterdam. And so we had a few days there with nothing to do – each has a story to tell of how they managed to occupy their time educationally during those days!

I don’t remember much Orange but I do recall us painting the town and the lights Red!

And, of course, what goes on tour stays on tour!

We coached back to Luxembourg from Amsterdam. I remember it was 14 July, Bastille Day, when we headed back for Johannesburg. It was also Dickie’s birthday and because of that he was allowed to sit in the cockpit when we landed in Cairo. (But definitely not touch Egyptian soil!) Now you can touch the soil but definitely not sit in the cockpit!

As a youngster, those lands were just the subjects of stories. I remember, from my childhood, the story of the little Dutch boy who prevented catastrophe by keeping his thumb in the hole in the dyke, and then there was the rhyme about the King of Spain’s daughter came to visit me.

 

What a different world it is that our children are growing up in. Now they are not just stories – in the last month not only the King’s daughter has come to visit us, but the Kings too, and the Queens, and the Presidents, and the people, and Paris and Leonardo and my neighbours and not even my neighbours . . .

And, tonight, will it be Spain that will say to her South American Spanish offspring Don’t Cry for me Argentina or will it be the Netherlands saying it to her South African Dutch offspring?

As Long as there’s Tea, there’s Hope!

 

Saturday 10 July 2010:  3 years 10 months on . . .

I have previously only visited the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town in the darkness of night.

As a Matie, a Stellenbosh University student, I attended a number of formal dinner dances in the Ballroom there, notably the annual Debutantes’ Ball. Thirty years ago, in 1980, as a house committee member of Helshoogte Residence, I also organised a formal residence birthday ball there – complete with the then well-known Hylton Ross Orchestra. Besides academic studies, Maties also become students of dance – the Sakkie Sakkie – disparagingly referred to by English-speaking South Africans by many different terms including that of “windsurfing”!

However, my first visit to the Mount Nelson, as a Standard Nine pupil (as we called it then) of Hottentots-Holland High School in Somerset West, was danceless. That was way back in 1973, and in that year, our teachers had decided that dancing was a sin that God, Himself, frowned upon! (I was invited to say goodbye to the then matrics on behalf of our our Std 9 class.)

The 1973 annual matric dance in the school hall was cancelled. Instead the class was bussed to the Mount Nelson for a farewell dinner. As eighteen year old boys and girls we were about to face the world and, as eighteen year old MEN, we were about to go to war against the SWAPO terrorists in Angola – but definitely no couples and no dancing allowed at our farewell function! We had been well-prepared for Life! (The following year, in 1974, our class was bussed to dine at the Houw Hoek Hotel otherside Grabouw!)

The word “pupil”, used to describe a child who attends a school, was subsequently substituted – by government decree – with the word “learner”.  The term “standard ten” – a pupil’s twelfth year at school – has since been replaced with the term “grade 12”. Even a “teacher” has become known as an “Educator”. In fact, despite being repeatedly warned about the folly of their ways, the new government replaced the whole education system that we knew with a new system called Outcomes Based Education (OBE).

Last year, they decreed that, once again, we had “teachers”, and, just this last week, have thrown out OBE! And, I guess, couples and dancing are no longer sinful because I see a lot of that – and much more – happening all around me now!

But, in an ever-changing world, the Mount Nelson Hotel – known affectionately as The Nellie – still remains. Situated at the base of Table Mountain at the top of Orange Street in Oranjezicht, Cape Town, she is a monument to an era long gone by.

And, when you approach her from Orange Street through those imposing tall white pillars and colonnade and see her in the daytime, as we did when we were in Cape Town recently, she is pink from top to toe!

 

We had been invited to High Tea by my niece, Michelle (who helps balance the books there!), and her husband Sebastian. An institution as old as Nellie herself, High Tea is served every afternoon at two thirty in the Terrace Room.

It had snowed on Table Mountain during the previous evening, and it was very cold in Cape Town. A fire was burning in the fireplace and the pianist at the end of the room was tickling away at the ivories – all those haunting melodies from down the ages.

Seated in the comfortable padded high back sofas and couches, our waitress gave us the run-down on the various teas of various tastes and fragrances, all infused in the glass teapots in front of us and poured into the fancy china cups and saucers.

And, in between every course of tea (and sometimes during the course of tea and many times more than once in between each course, and before each course, and after each course) we each headed off to the treats table! It was laden with sweets and savouries of every kind and never appeared to empty – from the cucumber and salmon sandwiches through the lemon curd pies to the cheese and strawberry cake and the carrot cake.

Thank goodness the treats table was at the other end of the room to where we were seated – at least we were getting some exercise to assist with the digestion of the layer upon layer of decadent delicacies.

And, until 5pm, the pianist played and the fire burned, tea was quaffed, eats were eaten, stories were told, some played bridge, some chatted, and people came and went. In 2010, we were reliving that tradition that was one of the reasons for having built Nellie in the first instance – simply a place to enjoy afternoon tea and a treat with family and friends!

After tea, Michelle (or should I rather say, Sebastian!) arranged for us to tour the hotel – a home of the rich and famous. We went from the ordinary R7000 a night single hotel rooms through the average R10 000 a night double rooms to the R15000 a night luxury suites, like the one used by actress Charleze Theron (together with the one next door for her Mom) when they are in Cape Town. When you switch it on, the TV rises in a cabinet from the floor at the foot of the bed!

Some of the suites, we were told, are booked by regular patrons two at a time for a stay of two or more months.

We could only afford an afternoon, so then visited – just to look at – the newly R24 million renovated spa – a row of houses recently acquired that even necessitated the closing of a street by the City of Cape Town.

To end off a truly magnificent and memorable afternoon, we had a parting drink in the hotel’s Planet Champagne Bar. We each ordered a cocktail – some specially concocted for the 2010 World Cup. I ordered a Dutch Flower– possibly a good omen as we wait for the final on Sunday between the Dutch and the Spanish? The rest had a Frozen Daiquiri, a Virgin Daiquiri, 1 Golden Goal and 1 Mojito!

But, for the adventurous, the menu provides anything from a R17 Castle to a R7999 bottle of Dom Perignon.

Thanks, Michelle and Sebastian, for a wonderful treat.

As Queen Victoria said, “As long as there’s tea, there’s hope!”

End of the World (Cup)?

Tuesday 6 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on . . .

Nothing is as it once was . . . Four weeks of the World Cup have come and gone, and there are just five days to go to the closing ceremony and the Final at Soccer City on Sunday evening.

The end is near. We have just four more opportunities to Wave Our Flag! That does not mean that we now go into depression because it’s all finishing. No, we will enjoy the Show and enjoy every minute that’s left until that final whistle blows. In fact, we should now be enjoying every moment even more, knowing full well that soon it will be no more.

Those of us who live with terminal illnesses have to learn to do the same. I know it’s easy to say and not so easy to do. But when the end is near we, too, have to learn to enjoy every minute that’s left of the Show of Life right up to the point that the final whistle blows. We should also be enjoying every moment even more, knowing full well that soon our Lives will be no more. Make use of every opportunity to Wave Our Flag!

In fact, all people should learn to do the same. After all, everyone lives with a terminal illness (albeit just old age!), and the end is always imminent. We all need to learn to enjoy every moment of every day! Wave Your Flag persistently!

I saw the following in a newspaper advert:

There is no bigger victory than uniting a nation.

 

In life, I guess there is no bigger victory than making a difference in other people’s lives. In Michael Jackson’s words, we need to “Heal the World”.

But what is it that has made this World Cup so successful? What can we learn from it that we can transpose into our lives, or work, our projects, our relationships?

I have taken note of many articles and discussions regarding the success of this World Cup, and in no particular order I would like to list the following – (It would be interesting to see what could still be added)

Some lessons that I have learnt:

Success does not come from:

  • Short cuts
  • Magic wands
  • Money thrown at a problem
  • Passion alone
  • Evoking politically correct responses such as being African, effects of apartheid and colonialism
  • Racial quotas
  • Leaving tasks up to the politicians
  • Making excuses
  • Expecting the middle class to pay for what the State should be providing
  • Self-serving politicians
  • Corruption
  • Feuding parties
  • Resentment
  • Jealousy
  • Sentiment

Success comes from:

  • Top-class technical skills
  • Exposure to the best the world offers over sustained periods of time
  • Being the best
  • Good corporate governance
  • Co-operation
  • Inspiration
  • Ordinary people being colour-blind
  • There is no substitute for hard work
  • Everyone becoming involved and supporting – broad participation
  • Involving everyone
  • Each person making an individual contribution
  • Having remarkable infrastructure
  • Organisational successes
  • Delivering the goods
  • Tackling the real problems
  • Setting goals and having clear targets
  • Being focussed
  • Having timelines with clear deliverables
  • Monitoring progress
  • External accountability
  • Goodwill
  • Respect
  • Being happy, having music, vuvuzelas and dancing
  • Breaking down perceived barriers and stereotypes
  • Recognizing that we are ALL just people
  • Learning from our mistakes
  • Having courage
  • Smiling at ourselves even when the World is not watching
  • Continuing the good work outside of World attention
  • Clear and unambiguous rules
  • Applying the rule of law
  • Visible and effective policing
  • Reclaiming our streets
  • Freedom of speech
  • Having principles
  • Single-minded leadership
  • Deliver or else lose out: A constant threat of withdrawal
  • Prestige was at stake – we wanted to do well
  • Political will to work together and do well
  • The media forgetting the negative and concentrating on the positive
  • Success breeds Success

And when Bafana Bafana was unsuccessful in progressing,

We were out but not down

It was the end of the Rainbow, but not the end of the World

This Show has been a reminder that despite our differences we are all people with similar hopes and ideals in life.

Jeremy McCabe wrote: “The World Cup has reminded us the Rainbow Nation does indeed exist, despite the efforts of the politicians. Let’s not lose the feeling again!”

 

Let’s wake up next Monday morning and continue wearing the shirts, blowing the vuvuzelas and waving the flags. “To Life!”

And, Happy Birthday Phillip on the 7th July – you are truly our miracle Rugby World Cup son. We will wave our flag to your life. You have grown not only in size but also in stature. Learn from the World Cup and you cannot be a loser. I remember just the other day when I was reading “Where is Wally?” to you.

Which reminds me:  Where is Julius? Just where has Julius been for the last month? Can he stay there?