Keep the Faith

A single burning candle is vulnerable to the elements. It has the faith that it can persist and do its job, that it can burn bright irrespective of the challenges. We all know that we are as vulnerable in this life as a candle burning in the dark surrounded by threats.
A single gust of wind may be enough to extinguish the flame.  The faith in its ability may not be strong enough to resist the storm as its flame is exposed.  As people, we have a far greater fire that burns within us.  It is protected by ourselves and the ones that we love and who love us.
“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”  James Baldwin
Keeping the faith with other people is all we have to give.  In troubled times, people should gather together and keep the fire burning at all costs.  Difficult times call for extra effort; they demand determined commitment and selfless care.  The bonds of faith that bind us together in common causes need to be strengthened not weakened in everything we do.
We as a band of people are all we have in the face of adversity.  Abandoning the cause, looking out for ourselves only will inevitably let the storms overwhelm us and expose the protected fire within us to the elements.  Breaking the faith reduces us and others to being as candles.
So today, kindle the fire within you and protect the fire that burns within others.
Have a great day today!

(Written by and Thanks to Mike Lacey-Smith)


Wherever you are in the world right now, whether surrounded by flowers or icy cold hard ground, you are surrounded by living, growing or waiting miracles of nature. The more fertile the soil, the better the flowers grow.
The problem wit…h seeds is that they have their time to germinate, and when they do they need a good environment in which to grow.  The ground in which seeds germinate should be well prepared and managed with care.
“We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt…” Dorothy Day
The flowers and bouquets that blossom are indeed the results of our efforts in life.  We should be very careful of what we plant, where we plant them and how we tend them.  Weeds grow happily in fertile soil too and they can strangle the beauty from that which should be magnificent.
Negative emotions such as revenge, doubt and raging anger can literally throttle us and will prevent us from reaching our full potential. We need to be aware of our emotions and what drives us in any given moment.  Life is hard enough without negative self destructive emotions!
So today, tend carefully to the soil in which you plant the seeds of your dreams.
Have a good day today!
(Written by and thanks to Mike Lacey-Smith)

PS! It’s Raining Potholes and Snow

Thursday 28 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … AdvantageCBD

I started blogging in October 2009, three years after I first became aware that something was wrong with my left hand.

It was also at that time that Port Elizabeth and surrounds were placed on water restrictions. Our supply dams were emptying fast and we were not getting any rain. And as we have seen in the international, national, business and private economies over the similar period, using more than you have, leads to putting everything in a precarious position. Hence, the biggest world recession since the last Great Depression, and, as I write, we wait expectantly to see what will happen in the United States this weekend, as they battle to balance the budget.

But back to the rain – like money, when you have no inflow, you have to limit the outflow. Hence the restrictions that were imposed: no hoses, no watering of gardens, no filling of pools, a limit of 15KL of water per month per household, etc.

For the last two years, whilst I have been blogging, I have often written about the lack of rainfall in our area. It has been a pleasure travelling to other areas of the country where water has been plentiful and where one did not feel guilty having an extra-long shower or even a luxury of a bath!

All that is over now! For the last three months, we have had rain, rain and more rain!

And as the water has fallen, we have had flooding and all the consequential damage. St Francis Bay has twice been cut off from the rest of the country by its only access road being washed away at the Sand River bridge. Homes have been flooded, roads and bridges washed away, the potholes have become even more and even bigger (is that possible?), our roads look like patchwork quilts with all the potholes and our supply dams have all filled to overflowing.

But the authorities have been slow in reacting, and the restrictions have remained in place. Only last week, were they partially lifted. It has been a case of “water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink!”

And so much for global warming! We have experienced cold weather such as I can’t remember ever having had in Port Elizabeth. Even I, who does not feel the cold because of my illness having damaged my “thermometer”, have been getting cold hands and cold feet. I have resorted to thick socks, woolly sheepskin slippers and “hand jeans” – gloves with the tips cut off!

This week, the heavy snowfalls in Africa have brought South Africa to a standstill! Major national roads have been closed. Even radio transmission has been halted in the Queenstown area where the transmitter generator has run out of fuel, and it can’t be accessed because of the snow. The Abrahamsons on the Karoo farm, Kaalplaas, where we spent last weekend in Somerset East (see picture in 2B or not 2B), also woke up to a white winter wonderland!

Ironically, Chile is experiencing similar biting cold weather and snow, and the United States is having severe heat waves! Whoever’s in charge of the weather seems to be messing it up all over the world.

Just as the government is messing up!

Over the last number of years, maintenance has not been a priority of our government. Everything has gone into a state of decay: education, healthcare, public broadcasting, airlines, roads, bridges, railways …

Four years ago, just after I had been diagnosed with CBD, I arranged a parents’ train to Bloemfontein when Grey PE played its traditional fixture against brother school Grey Bloem.  For years, the schools have been travelling by train on a home and away basis. Then, I had battled to get a train, but eventually managed to pull it off. Two hundred and thirty of us travelled to Bloemfontein, and we experienced a very cold night too when we had, what was then, the heaviest Karoo snowfall in living memory (and a train with no heating and delayed by 6 hours!) What fun!

Two years ago, after even more struggling, I managed to organise the Grey-V train 2 to Bloemfontein! That time we went prepared with sleeping bags, had no snow (but lots of rain in Bloemfontein), we were warmer and only arrived a half hour late. Even more fun!

This weekend, the PE school travels to Bloemfontein again. I have had so many people asking me to arrange another train. However, after giving it some thought, I regretfully came to the conclusion that my health has deteriorated to such an extent that I would not be able to do so.

Having said that, I think my health is still in a better condition than our ailing rail system. News is that SHOSHOLOZA (the SA mainline rail company) is unable to provide any trains at all this year. (Recently, all passenger trains in the entire country were cancelled for a month!)

Even the 600 school boys will be travelling by bus this year, and, so, yet another of our traditions is thrown out the window!  Future Grey boys will not experience the excitement of travelling to Bloem by train – in fact, many will now never ever experience train travel.

The chances of winning in Bloemfontein are limited (to say the least!), but travel safe, play hard, enjoy, and keep warm and dry because:

There’s more to come, they say – starting tonight: more rain, more cold, more snow!

Yes, we live in a topsy-turvy world.

Last weekend, we witnessed the awful killing by Anders Behring Breivik of seventy plus people (mainly children) in Oslo and on Utoeya Island – in the name of “saving Europe from Muslim takover”. We also saw the death of the notorious troubled and tragic singer (with the biggest hit REHAB), alcohol and drug abuser Amy Whitehouse, at the age of just twenty seven!

Last weekend, we also had the pleasure of visitors from The Strand: my niece Michelle, her husband Sebastian and their nine-month old daughter Hannah. Looking at Hannah at a place where she is just about to start crawling, I thought of this world a few times and wondered whether it was fair to bring children into and up in such a messed-up place. The answer came soon:

On Saturday, the rain let up and we headed off to the Addo National Elephant Park with its new entrance just 40 km from the City Centre at Colchester.

Away from the “messed-upness” of the world and in the quietness of nature, we experienced the beauty of our earthly home that hurtles through Space and from which we launch rockets to explore that Space (and maybe mess that up, too?) – read my previous blog.

Just a half hour from the hustle of the City, we experienced the joy and wellness of living – elephant, lion, kudu, zebra, buffalo, … all in the now lush green, over – watered African terrain of our planet Earth.

What a privilege and a pleasure to share in God’s creation!

Sky News reported yesterday that the British government had spent £2 million to research what made the British people happy. They found the following (and does this surprise you?):

The following, in order of importance, contributes to the happiness and well-being of the British people:

1.       Health

2.       Relationships with family and friends

3.       Relationships with spouse

4.       Economic well-being and job satisfaction

5.       The current and future state of our environment

I wonder where South Africans would place safety and security, and service delivery on this list.









Geography by Mike Lacey-Smith

The miracles of learning, nature, science and technology have clearly proven that we live on a round planet.  Our forefathers and those that lived in less enlightened times believed that the world was flat, and that if we travelled too far w…e could literally fall off the edge!
Everything in life is cyclical!  The seasons through which we travel every year may change in their extremes, but they never waver from the program.  Seasons will come and go and the transitions between them are inevitable.
“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” Ivy Baker Priest
We need, as people, to honour transitions in our lives.  There are endings and beginnings, but the transitions are the hardest to manage.  Indeed the world is round and we will not fall off if we become aware that changes are inevitable, both good and not so good.
What we see as the ‘end of the world’ may well bring new beginnings, new opportunities and fantastic joy.  In essence, we need to be patient with the world and with ourselves. The perceived grief and loss in the now may just be the spark of the new, the birth of more than that for which we had ever wished.
So today, live the transitions and don’t lose the truth of the moment.
Have a beginning type of day today!

2B or not 2B – that is the question!

Wednesday 20 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Advantage CBD

Today, 42 years ago in 1969, I was twelve years old and in Std 5 (now Grade 7) at Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand. It was the day that Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon.

“One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind!” were his first and THE first human words uttered from the moon.

In 1975, on 15 July, I was fortunate to be at the Johnson Mission Control Centre in Houston,Texas– from where all American space missions are controlled and monitored – when the joint Apollo/Soyuz mission took place. It was the last Apollo mission until the shuttle programme started in 1981.

On 30 November 2000, I visited the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida from where Apollo 11 and all other American space missions are launched. There, I witnessed the awesome launching of space shuttle, Endeavour, from Launch Pad 39B.

Since the tests flights of Enterprise aboard a jumbo jet in 1977, from the launch of Columbia in 1982 to the final flight of Atlantis, there have been 355 astronauts on 135 space shuttle missions.

Challenger and Columbia were lost (the former on blast-off and the latter on re-entry), while the other three shuttles that went into space – Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis – will be preserved in museums.

Last Friday afternoon, friend Eddie Terblanche and I watched the last launch of a shuttle, Atlantis, on CNN whilst enjoying a cold one at the new Zest Urban Cafe in Walmer.

And, as I write, Atlantis is on its way back to earth for the very last time and scheduled to land at Cape Canaveral tomorrow morning at 05h57 (EST) – 11h57 (SAST).

I have been an avid space follower since my early days at Primary school and I shall be glued to the television set yet again tomorrow morning. Now, watching on TV makes it almost like being there.

However, then, in 1969, whilst the rest of the world watched that moon-trip of Apollo 11 intently on TV, we had to be content to listen to the broadcast on radio – on what was known as the “A” (English) programme. We did not have TV in South Africa yet.

That only came seven years later, in 1976, when after returning from the United States, I lived in Helshoogte Residence as a first year student at Stellenbosch University.

I originally shared Room A208 with Glynn Jones from Tulbagh. He was a medical student, later became Dr Jones, married Carol (it was to be the first of many weddings at which I officiated as the MC) and then immigrated to Canada. (I had a phone call from him a while ago from somewhere near the North Pole where he was doing medical visits to an Eskimo settlement!)

Before he emigrated, we socialised and travelled quite a bit (together with Dr Shelley Cohen and others whose names now evade me). We often visited their holiday home on the Breede River at Silver Strand near Robertson, and also did a trip to Windhoek, Etosha Pan and the Fish River Canyon in South West Africa (now Namibia).

In 1977, our second year at Stellenbosch, Glynn and my other medical student friends moved to Hippokrates and Huis Fransie Van Zyl in Tygerberg at the University’s medical school (where I would be diagnosed with CBD thirty years later in 2007).

I remained on the second floor in Helshoogte, but moved to B201 on Section 2B. A few years later, when I became a House Committee member, I moved to A701 on the seventh floor before I ended up in my final year in the Primarius’s “suite” A401/402 on section 4A.

On section 2B we wore t-shirts with a slogan “2B or not 2B” – a parody of Shakespeare‘s famous words!

This past weekend, 2B and Stellenbosch was on my mind as we headed off in pursuit of, what I call, the B’s of our South African Society – the pillars that support our way of life on the southernmost coast of the African continent:

Biltong, Braai, Beer, Brandy, Boeremusiek and Buddies!

On Friday morning, we were on our way to the Castle Lager Biltong Festival in Somerset East.

The slogan for the festival is “KOM HANG SAAM MET ONS”! Like biltong hanging out to dry, we were going to be “hanging out” with our Buddies this weekend.

First, we travelled east from Port Elizabeth along the N2 and then turned north at Nanaga along the N10, past Paterson and over the Olifantshoek Pass.

Just past Kommadagga, we passed the Schneider’s farm (Lynne was at Stellenbosh with me – in Minerva Residence) and at Middleton Manor, we stopped on the banks of the Fish River for lunch with friends Michelle and Colin van Niekerk (whose sons, Carl, Hugh and Angus have been with Sean and Phillip all these years at Grey). 

After a tasty Karoo roast (and a snooze), we moved onto Grant and Sarine Abrahamson on their farm west of Somerset East. I taught Grant in my first year of teaching at Grey and their son Anthony and daughter Abigail are now at Grey and Collegiate.

In those teaching years, I often visited Somerset East:  the Abrahamsons as well as Helena (Kitshoff) Glennie (who had also been at Stellenbosh with me, in Harmonie Residence) and Richard Glennie, who had been at Grey. (I had been MC at their wedding, too, when they got married in my home town of Somerset West!)

The Abrahamsons now run East Cape Safaris and, for supper, we joined them and their American hunter guests from Kansas USA.  With Kansas being the state just north of Oklahoma, I had lots to discuss!


On Saturday morning, we all headed for the show grounds in town.  There one could find more than enough of the B’s: biltong at most of the many stalls selling anything and everything from artwork to food (genuine African art – but when turned over displayed the words “Made in China!”), the Boeremusiek (blaring from the stage in the centre of the showground to the many who were seated on their camp chairs (and all the others who were walking around), the Buddies and friends who were also there, and then, of course, the beers and brandy and whatever other booze that was being served in the marquee that dominated the showgrounds. All in all, an affair displaying our truly African culture!

Late afternoon, we decided to head back to the farm for a brief lie-down and rest before we would return for the evening programme.

Well, return we did not – instead we all ended up sitting around the fire in the bouma (another South African “B”) and participating in that greatest of the South African B’s – the traditional Braaivleis!

So, it was with a sense of contentment that we headed back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday. I had left with some apprehension, as I had not travelled for some while and have been finding it more and more difficult to sit. Whilst it was uncomfortable and slightly sore, I proved that I can still do it, and hopefully will still be able to do many more trips.

I always enjoy visiting my Buddies, and together with all the other B’s, we had enjoyed yet another special weekend just “hanging out”. Thank you to all who made it possible!

“2B or not 2B?” – if that is the question, then surely there is only one answer: how truly awesome it is “2B”!






Along Life’s Meri Way

Saturday 9 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

Last week came the news that Port Elizabeth’s stately King Edward Hotel on the Donkin Reserve (next door to the original Grey Institute Building), dating back to 1903, had closed its doors after 108 years.

She has left many a tale, many stories, many recollections, many memories, and long will they continue.

This weekend we have learned of the “End of the World”, the closure of the British tabloid newspaper, the News of the World, after 168 years.

It will leave many a tale, many stories, many recollections, many memories, and long will they continue.

One hundred years ago, at 12:13pm on 31 May 1911, the hull of the Titanic was launched in Belfast, Ireland. She “lived” for less than a year and, as we all know, sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 15 April 1912.

She has left many a tale, many stories, many recollections, many memories, and long will they continue.

One hundred years ago, in 1911, a new Rector of Port Elizabeth’s The Grey Institute High School was installed. He was William Archer Way (b 1869) and would preside over the progress and development of the school during the next seventeen years of his reign, until he passed away in 1928.

He has left many a tale, many stories, many recollections, many memories, and long will they continue.

In fact, “his name has become legend, and history confirms the popular claim that his noble conception of education, imposed with such intellectual charm, did much to raise the school to its lofty stature it maintains so admirably to this day.” (1)

Upon his commencement as Rector, he identified two basic inadequacies in the school structure. The first was that of the 210 boys in the High School (then from Std 3 to matriculation), less than twelve were in the highest (matriculation) class.

The second cardinal weakness, in Mr Way’s opinion, was the absence of boarders.

He immediately acted and obtained temporary accommodation in the vicinity of the School on the Donkin Reserve for boys wishing to become boarders. The first house was Gowan Hill in Bird Street (directly opposite what was then the Collegiate Girls’ School). The second house, Rose Cottage, was added the following year, right next door to the Grey in Havelock Street (and opposite the King Edward Hotel) and a third house, Norwood, adjoining Gowan Hill, was added a few months later.

Eleven youths, who had been with Mr Way at Graaff-Reinet High School (he had previously been at Dale in King William’s Town and then Graaff-Reinet) soon joined him in Port Elizabeth and became the nucleus of the boarding establishment of The Grey.

Those eleven lads from Graaff-Reinet (with recognisable surnames still today) were Bernard, Eric and Guy Hobson, Everitt and Petrus Enslin, George and Cecil Davenport, Wilfred Lee, Edward Wille, Gert Bekker, and one surnamed Dodds.

So, today 100 years later, we wish Grey’s Boarding House, the nucleus of the School (and now known as Meriway – after Rectors Meredith and Way) a very Happy 100th Birthday!

It has left many a tale, many stories, many recollections, many memories, and long will they continue with the many boarders who have resided there (including me as Boarding House Master (1984 – 1986) and Sean as boarder and prefect (2009 – 2010)).

Interestingly, as Grey’s First Cricket Team returns from touring England tomorrow, it is also 100 years ago in 1911 that Rector Way (who also played in the First XI) invited the first English cricket professional, H. Myers (from the Yorkshire Country Eleven) to spend the summer in Port Elizabeth coaching the boys.

During the first four years of his tenure (1911 – 1915) and as the First World War Clouds gathered, Rector Way would also oversee the planning, building and moving of the Grey (High School) from the Donkin Reserve to its present site and magnificent buildings on the Mill Park campus.

For the next four years, therefore, there will be a number of 100-year milestones in the life of the school to commemorate and celebrate.


(1) ‘Neath The Tower (Part 2) – A.M. Pollock

Happy 16th Birthday Phillip!

Thursday 7 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on …

Last year this time, I wrote: “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.”

Two weeks ago, I wrote:

And, so it was, on the next morning, Friday 7 July 1995, sixteen years ago, that our second son (and we had previously been told by the gynaecologist to expect a girl) was born by caesarean section at twenty seven weeks and weighing 1,3 kg. Our previous son was due to be called Phillip, so this baby was named Phillip John. He spent the next two months in the incubator at the hospital, and cost the medical aid about double the price of our very first house that I had bought!

Phillip John Lunnon (our Dr Phil!) celebrates his sixteenth birthday in two week’s time. Now, at six feet and three inches (1,91m), he is the tallest in the family, beating me at six feet and Sean at six feet and two inches!

He is our fighter – our very own Invictus.”

Well, Phil, today is the 7th July 2011 and today you have been with us for sixteen years.

As I said to Sean on his 18th birthday “they have not always been easy years for us or you.”  You started life on the back foot and you fought back. You know what it is to come back when life knocks you down.

And as the late Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert said: “The world owes you nothing, but you can own it, if you want it badly enough.”

I know that you always have and still DO want it badly.

You (and Sean) have been a blessing to our lives, and every day you make life worth holding onto just a little bit longer.

Thank you for that.

As you celebrate your birthday at your confirmation camp today, from us: Have a happy 16th birthday, Phillip, and enjoy a happy Life! 

 With much love

From Mom, Dad and Sean

PS And now you are legal to get your licence to drive the scooter … so here are some words of Wisdom for you:


If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, ‘Here is the road. Follow it.'”

(Isaiah 30:21)

You will recall in Cape Town that Mom said that after I die, she will have to buy a GPS. And, when we were in Pretoria, we used a GPS.

You are aware that people who drive can now buy that device. Set it to the address you want to get to and it talks to you till you get there. It is a guide-as-you-go, and a great help to those using it.

Isiah was telling the people of his day that God was a “GPS” to them.He would be a gentle guide, unobtrusively correcting them when they were about to go wrong, but preventing them from making a total hash of their journey under him.

Being human, you are likely to want to wander off course, if not all the time, then at least on some occasions. It is quite easy in your journey not only to veer slightly from the straight road but to get completely lost.

But, let Jesus be your GPS. Listen to Him, follow His instructions and go where He tells you. Having a GPS is almost like having a friend in the car with you. With Jesus you DO have a friend.

He knows the way, and every nook and cranny along the road. Follow where He leads. 

The Green Green Greener Grass of … Wimbledon

Monday 4 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Game ED

Happy 235th Birthday United States of America from your proud Honorary Oklahoman and African American son!

Thirty five years ago, in 1975 / 1976, I had just finished my schooling in the USA when she was celebrating her 200th birthday! Upon returning to South Africa in January 1976, I found something here that was not here before and had never been here before I left.

A television set now graced our lounge at home!

Every night, just before six, the family closed the curtains and waited for the orange, white and blue TV logo (to us it looked like a toilet seat) to appear on the 51cm colour PAL TV set. Then came the Bible reading and prayer, the kiddies’ programmes, the magazine programme, the sport show, the 8 o’clock news bulletin, the adventure programme and the serial. At 11pm, the orange, white and blue (old) South African flag fluttered in the breeze while the symphony orchestra played the (old) National Anthem, the Call of South Africa.  Thereafter, the test pattern would grace the screen until six pm the following night, when the whole process would repeat itself.

With one difference!

On Monday night, the programme would commence in English and remain in English until after the News at 8:30pm. Then the language would swap over to Afrikaans until the test pattern appeared at 11:00pm. Tuesday night would start in Afrikaans and change over to English at 8:30pm.

Strictly two and a half hours of each language every night. We were, after all, a bilingual nation of 3 million white people and, in those days, we chose to forget about the 30 million black Xhosas, Zulus, Ndebeles, Sotho’s , …!  All that was about to start changing when Hector Pieterson and the children of SOWETO started the Soweto Riots on 16 June 1976 (which we commemorated two weeks ago on what we now call Youth Day) and which would alter the history of this country forever.

TV programmes such as Haas Das, Wielie Walie, Dallas, Longstreet, The World at War, High Chapperal, Bonanza, The Avengers became household names in a nation that had never experienced television before.

And on Saturday afternoons (and never on Sundays, because God said that mankind should rest on the Sabbath!) we watched strictly bilingual sport, too. There was tennis from Tarkastad, bowls from Benoni, darts from Durban, jukskei vanaf  Johannesburgbrug  vanaf Bloemfontein, cricket from Cape Town, chess from Carnarvon, netball vanaf Nelspruit and rugby van Reg oor die Land.

Maar niks van die buiteland nie! (“But nothing from overseas!”)  

Because of our apartheid policies, we were the skunks of the world and banned from international sport – participation therein and watching thereof!

Banned from everything – all, except for whatever reason I can’t remember, the Wimbledon tennis championships.

So, our annual dose of international sport became the All Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships held each year in June and July. Armed with champagne and strawberries and cream, we would curl up in our winter woollies watching, on Sunday afternoon, televised directly and live from that favourite city of mine, LONDRES, the men’s final match of the tournament.

And then on Sunday 7 July 1985, I was in England with the sanctions-busting Grey Touring Cricket team, and we eagerly watched the final at Seaford College in Petworth, West Sussex. South African born (and just two-month then naturalised American citizen) Kevin Curren took on the 17-year old unseeded German Boris Becker in the final. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the Germans, he would become the youngest and first German and unseeded player to win at Wimbledon and it would be the first of Boris’s 3 Wimbledon championship titles.

In 1999, Pera and I were in Wimbledon, staying with John (an ex-teaching colleague) and Sue Galloway at King’s College. John dropped us off at the tennis grounds, and we watched, with thousands of others, the final on the big screen attached to the outside of centre court from the Terraces which we had seen so often on TV! We rubbed shoulders with Ernie Els and ate our strawberries and cream and Magnums.

And, after Pete Sampras had beaten Andre Agassi in the All-American final, exactly 12 years ago to the day on Sunday 4 July 1999 (6 – 3, 6 – 4, 7 – 5 ) , we walked back in the bright evening English sunshine to the Galloway’s house, across the Wimbledon Common and past the pubs, the Crooked Billet and the Hand in Hand, where we had spent the previous evening, sitting outside drinking our ales in the fading sunlight at 10pm!


Now, with the advent of the New South Africa, we are back on the world stage. In a world moved on from restful God-forsaken Sundays and a one-channel SABC TV (Thank God!) to digital and satellite technology, tennis barely competes with the international rugby, cricket, athletics and football.

But, yesterday, in a cold and rainy Port Elizabeth, we watched, sans champagne, strawberries and cream, as Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal  4 sets to 1 to become the newest Wimbledon champion.

Ironically, the 2011 Grey Touring Cricket team was playing against an Old Grey side at King’s College in Wimbledon at the same time!  And in a new South Africa, Wimbledon and Raynes Park in London have become the home to so many South Africans who have emigrated to the United Kingdom in search of that greener grass.

But, the grand slam of life is like tennis: it’s not always strawberries and cream, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. People move from one side to the other in search of the perfect sweet spot.

And It it’s not always love all. There are good serves and there are bad. There are many break points. And one often has to come from behind to beat the challenges. We win some and we lose some. We take the game but lose the set, or lose the game and win the set. Sometimes, we do get the break.

As the world watches your every move, sometimes you are wide off the mark. Sometimes it’s a let; sometimes you are out and sometimes in; sometimes you make forced errors and sometimes unforced errors; sometimes you are in the net! You make good shots and you make poor shots. Sometimes it’s your advantage, sometimes it’s theirs.

There are times, when the tension builds, that you need the “Quiet Please”!

The bounce is not always to your advantage and when the rains come, you need to be inventive: adapt and build your roofs to avoid delays. You need a team effort.

But we also have our faults. We may think “it’s just a lot of balls” and a “pain in the bum”! We let ourselves go. We don’t always know where the lines are; we grunt and we groan.

All the time, we need our dream to win; and we need to live our dream. We have to concentrate. We must control our mind. We must keep our eye on the ball We need to say “What a shot!”

In the rallies of Life, we have to make sacrifices to get to the top. To be a Champion, we also sometimes need to stop and smell the roses, and, like Djokovic, taste the grass.

Yes, for all of us, there comes the call of the Great Umpire: “Time!” And this life is not a practice or the test pattern – it’s the real thing and the only one we will ever have!