Apple Express to Nowhere

7 years 4 months on …
4 weeks into 2014
Game Ed 1 – 0

In Port Elizabeth, near the ruins of the Boet Erasmus Stadium and the graves of the Forest Hill cemetry, one finds the remains of a once proud SAR / SAS and the Apple Express.

Last Friday, Phillip and I visited this graveyard of memories and dreams.

What a sorry sight! Once proud locomotives and coaches, tracks, offices and sheds, all left to the elements to be weathered away and destroyed!

And amongst them, the Apple Express vrotting away in the African sun.

I guess this scene is replicated at many sights all over South Africa.

Cry the beloved Country!

A few people like Gilbert Jessop and his mates are trying to put the Apple back into business.

If ever there was a cause to support, here is one! I call on business and individuals to lend a hand and a rand.

Let’s get the Apple back on track.

Eyes and Needles

7 years 4 months on …

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Tomorrow morning, ophthalmologist Dr Dean Barclay, an ex-pupil of mine (the Class of ’84), will put the needle to my eye in the hope to arrest the Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR) that is playing havoc with my sight.

It is caused by stress and corisone, both of which I have had my fair share!

I don’t fancy a needle in my eye and I certainly hope that it is easier to put the needle into the eye than it is for the camel to go through the eye and for the rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!

I’m told it’s all over and quicker than “look at you”!

I certainly hope that after tomorrow I will be able to look at you and to see you again!

Thanks Dean!

Welcome to University

7 years 4 months on …

Today, I accompanied Phillip to a welcoming session for 7000 odd first year students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) here in Port Elizabeth.

He was in his shorts, t-shirt and slops and I in my jeans, casual shirt and track shoes.

It took me back some 38 years when I started as a first year student at Stellenbosch University in 1976.

I recall my mother driving me to Stellenbosch and joining us at a welcoming dinner for first year students and their parents. I was then wearing a jacket and tie and she was wearing a hat – such was the auspiciousness of the occassion!

I was then the first in the Lunnon lineage to attend a University – part of a select few. If I remember correctly from the speeches today, we were told that from 25 000 applicants only 7000 made the grade this year at NMMU.

So, whatever the dress and wherever the University, it remains an auspicious occasion and a tremendous privilege to be able to attend an institution of higher learning.

It carries with it tremendous responsibilities and awesome opportunities to obtain the richest possible educational experience.

Arguably, the core purpose of a university is knowledge production and its use to make a difference in society.

Good luck, Phillip, the next generation! I must admit a tinge of jealousy today and I wish it were me doing it all over again. With the knowledge I have now, I would do it differently, or would I …?

Dare I hope to be here still when you graduate in 2017 with a B.Eng degree?


I’m Still Calling …

After sorting out Sean’s phone, Phill and I headed off at 10h00 to do a few more errands in town … quick, quick or so we thought!

First stop – Standard Bank.

Standard Bank – why send Phill a letter to upgrade his kid’s account to a student account and not tell him in the letter of all the requirements? So the lady at the door asked if he had his student registration card or his matric results and my electricity account and … Sorry no help without these things. Better go home and start again! One needs to take your entire filing system with you to the bank because there is always something else that hey need! By the way, just how many copies of my ID document and my electricity account do they have on file by now?

I lost my temper and I apologize. Anyway, they sorted us out and we faxed the documents later!

That was one hour.

Then Incredible Connection. My printer is not working properly. I discovered that after buying two sets of new cartridges.

Now, armed with printer and original invoice, we’ll try again. (First time, a week ago, I didn’t have the invoice, so sorry no help.)

No, it’s out of guarantee period. We’ll have to send it to Joburg at a freight cost of R450.

Else, Trink, down the road will look at it. So off to Trink. Just looking at the name Kodak from Incredible Connection we were told ” no sorry we don’t work on those!” Try XYZ Printer Solutions just further down the road!

So, an hour later, after cleaning the heads and trial and error, the assistant had the printer working! R100 for labour …

Then Vodashop to buy a new SIM card for Sean. Brand new store with lovely kiosks for help. Pity about the no signage and directions about where to queue or where to go, and only one credit card machine for ten kiosks to share! But, in all, not badly serviced in 15 minutes!

Then off to the NMMU to open a book account for Phil before the rush of next week’s university opening. Well done, Van Schaik’s book shop for efficient service. Im just worried about those accounts when i see the books on special price for R800 or thereabouts! And they only just charge R20 for the credit card! What a bargain.

Then back to the Humewood Diesel depot and the graveyard of the iconic Apple Express. I shall write more later – suffice to say Cry the Beloved Country yet again.

We eventually arrived home at 14h00 after our quick little visit to town! And, oh shoot, forgot to sort out the data problem at Vodacom that the Call Centre could not sort out earlier today, so, dreads, another trip to town later today.

And, worst of all, forgot the beers!

As long as there’s beer, there’s hope!

Calling Call Centres

Dear Vodacom and all other call centres

Sean’s cell phone was stolen

It’s being used by someone – why can’t we trace where it is? Where’s all the fancy technology?

My fingers are partially paralyzed. Why, oh why, do you ask me to key in the cell number and my ID number (with great difficulty I may mention) and then when the operator answers, eventually, the first question I get asked is what is my ID number, what is the cell number …. !!!!!

Then you ask me to write down the reference number – for fracks sakes, I cant hold a phone, type in numbers, and write at the same time!

Why cant I hear you properly and please talk English … you asked me to press a 1 if that’s what I wanted. I didn’t ask for a combination of West Indian and Nigerian!

And I don’t like your music that you play over and over again ….


Another frustrated customer ….