T28 and counting …Dying for Medicine

  

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon / 8 years 8 months ill / Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

LoadshEDding has become a daily occurrence. Look at the picture and spot the old and the new – no lights, no TV, headlight, smartphone, transistor radio, marking, sleeping, communicating, etc etc. I’m lights out!

Port Elizabeth has been in the news for all the wrong reasons – murders, rapes, mayors, embezzlement of funds, etc etc.

People are crying out for medicine, others are wanting medicine for purposes of euthenasia or weed for pain relief, etc etc.

Last week we had supper with the Terblanches, lunch at The Friendly Stranger and saw a Centrestage show at The Old Grey Club. Becoming quite social again in my old age and my eighth year of illness, etc etc.

It’s been two weeks of no Wednesday radio. It’s great not being in the public eye (ear!) but I must admit I do miss it! Lance is overseas in the East and we will soon be in the West! The New World! Watch this space when we all back again! All our visas have been approved and arrived now … All we need are Dollars … American and Canadian!

This week is reunion week at Grey. OH Lordie, give me strength! I hope to see the week through and report back next week!

And now it’s eight fifteen and the lights have come on after two hours. I’m actually enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with the darkness.

Chat soon!

How’s your Mother?



(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon 

8 years 6 months ill …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It was January of 1984. 

I had completed my matric, a year of studies in Oklahoma, USA, my university education at Stellenbosch and two years in the defence force at Oudtshoorn.

Now it was work time, and together with some 15 other new teachers I arrived at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth at the beginning of the new academic year. The chairs were meticulously arranged in a circle in the office and just one remained unoccupied. The incumbant must have got cold feet because the man in charge, we learnt later, did not make such mundane errors!

That person in charge, the Headmaster, introduced himself to us as Mr Dieter Pakendorf, the Rector, and would henceforth be addressed either as such or for less formal occassions we could use the word “Sir”!

The meticulous arrangement of the chairs was indicative of the man’s style – military, precise, exact, strict, unambiguous, unerring, authentic, conscientious, rigid and true.

He shared many pearls of wisdom with us that morning. One, I recall, was that no new teacher was to smile at his class before Easter. You ensured that you started with the discipline in your upper hand and then gradually relinquished it. The other way round would not work  – never start off being friendly and then trying to become a disciplinarian! Once lost, he said, it was always lost!

He was small in stature. But his presence filled the room, any room, that office, the De Waal Hall. the hostel and indeed the whole school building  and gounds of the Mill Park campus, now in its 100th year.

And just as his diminutive presence filled the space that he entered, just so did his presence fill those that he encountered with fear and trepidation – whether you were a pupil or a teacher.

There were many issues that one, as a staff member, had to bring to his attention, or discuss with him. I was not the only person who would spend agonising days and nights pondering the correct approach and practicing the appropiate vocabulary. 

Then came the moment.

You would muster up the courage, proceed down the stairwell from the staff room to the Rector’ Study, only to turn around at his door and return the way you had come!

Your courage had failed you.

Time and again you would attempt the landing approach into his office. Eventually, it would happen – and I don’t recall him ever asking you to sit down to discuss the issue. His mind was too quick for that!

Whatever problem you had pondered about – often for days and weeks – would be listened to, summarised, analysed and categorised. A few possible and probable scenarios were sketched, each with its own outcome and positives and negatives. Within minutes, he would spurt forth the correct decission “according to Dieter” aand, come hell or high water, he would stick to that decision, even if it meant that he would have to apologise in the long run!

He stood by his word, he stood by his decision and he stood by his man and his staff member! Even in show downs with parents, he would  back his staff member to the hilt in front of the parent, only to call you back on the departure of the parent and to reprimand you for having made the wrong educational decision and to remind you that should it happen again you would not be able to depend on his protection!

He never fraternised with his parents nor his staff. What was said was said using the least number of words required. In fact, he never encouraged idle chatter and seldom, if ever, initiated trivial or petty conversation.

He left staff functions first in order to allow the staff to let down their hair, and made it quite clear at functions after sport events when staff members should leave and end the party. For some or other reason he would approach me and advise “Mr Lunnon, it’s time for your friends to leave!” He certainly did not mince his words!

In the hostel, he and the hostel staff ate breakfast together with the boarders every morning.

We were quite a jovial bunch of young teachers in our early twenties. But whatever we would be discussing when he joined the table would be killed off in a matter of seconds by him. So we each had to bring three topics of conversation to breakfast table, so that when he killed one subject, we would have another to contnue with – until such time as we had run out of suitable subjects!

And the morning when he poured the orange juice out of the silver milk jug and over his jungle oats, in full view of all at the table, not a single soul would have dared a smile let alone a hearty laugh!

Personal matters were never discussed, so it came as quite a surprise one morning when The Rector looked up at me and enquired how my (ill) mother was. She had actually passed away six months earlier, so my sort of garbled response was “She’s fine Sir, she passed away in November!”

To this day, the standard form of greeting between Tony Reeler (now Headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School) and I is “Mr Lunnon / Mr Reeler, how’s your mother?!”

Desspite his serious attitude, he always looked at  his happiest when dressed in his grey suit, he would drive the school’s blue tractor around the Philip field or on the ash athletics track! To me, he always seemed more at home on the tractor than in his black robes. But his school, The Grey, came first and he punted it at every occassion, whether it was to the Boys, the parents, the Provincial Rugby Club that he chaired or the UPE Council that he headed.

After i had left teaching, I received a call from Lorraine (Coetzee) Schumann his secretary. She enquired whether I was wearing a jacket and tie because the rector had invited me for drinks at St Georges CluB that afternoon.

I thought she was joking and was setting me up. After all, the rector had never invited me for a social engagement at school never mind after having left the school.

I drove past St Georges that afternoon just to check, and lo and behold the grey Sierra was parked there. I went in to find the Rector and Ronnie Draper.

I was greeted with a “good afternoon, Mr Lunnon”, and I replied “Good afternoon, Sir!”

” Dieter” he said, call me “Dieter”! 

“Yes Sir,”  I replied! 

To this day, I don’t know of any of his staff members who would call him Dieter to his face!  

I was offered a beer and with no further word spoken, a plate of snacks was put in front of me. I took a meatball off the plate holding the toothpick at the top of the stick with the meatball below. I was quite nervous at this my fist personal social encounter with the Rector.

The meatball fell off the stick onto the floor.

With nothing being said, he moved the plate over to me yet again. This time he picked up the meatball, turned the toothpick around so that the balll rested on his fingers and handed the toothpick over to me, ensuring that if it slipped it would simply rest on my fingers! I imagined that he must have said to himself “what a fool!!” but he wasnt like that.

He guided you and led you and taught you in the way he did so well, quietly, few words, practically and by example.

Despite the outward appearance, he really cared about you as a person, whether  it was to offer you a job back at the school (which what that meeting was all about) or whether he was concerned about my future teaching and job decisions, my house I bought in Ryan Street (Maureen, he told me with pride was a Ryan!) or an invite to visit at their Nature’s Valley home.

He cared deeply about his school and would say that the parents’ role stopped at the front gate. From thereon inwards, was his role and that of his staff. I often wonder how his teaching style would have gone down in the new South African era! My computer laboratory, the first of its kind in Port Elizabeth, received all the assistance that he could muster.

He cared about his country and in the height of apartheid days the black hostel staff would be requested to sing at the BODA banquet, none other then the original African national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

And he cared about his Grey boys. He left them, in his unique way, a legacy that would be difficult to find elsewhere. it would be difficult to find a product of Dieter Pakendorf, staff member or pupil, who would be unable to say that he did not learn something from the man.

In 2010 I heard him make an unprepared speech at the 25th reunion function of that year. Despite his illness already taking over his faculties, the Rector did not disappoint. He moved from person to person in the room and recalled an appropriate story for each person.

A few years ago Grey was playing rugby against Paul Roos in Stellenbosch. I was not there but my youngest son Philip later told me that a man had called him over and asked him if he was related to Ed Lunnon. Phillip said he thought it was a previous Rector because he recognized the man from the painting in the De Waal Hall. Indeed it was the ex-Rector and once again he showed his concern and astute intellectual ability by recognizing me in my son and by passing on his good wishes to me.

He showed just why he will remain a revered Rector of The Grey.

I was sad that I could not attend his funeral in Cape Town, but I will be there at the reunion ceremony when his ashes will be interred into the wall of the De Waal Hall. It is somewhat ironical that in our later years we have both had to battle similar neurological illnesses. We certainly weren’t given the easy ones!

It was a privilege and a pleasure to teach under you, Sir. I will count those as some of the special days of my life and I shall remain indebted to you for employing me, not once, but twice!

Maybe now, you can let me know just how my mother is!

 

Grey High School Port Elizabeth Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa

My out-of-town Facebook friends, my American friends and family, my New Zealand family, my worldwide friends and family, my Facebook friends and followers:

take just a few minutes and look at this video of my city and school, Grey High and Grey Junior School for boys.

This is what brought me to Port Elizabeth, this is where I worked and where Pera works, this is where our two sons, Sean and Phillip were schooled and where they lived in the Grey Boarding House, this is why we and the Grey Family are so blessED to have a fine educational institution in a country where so many have so little … Count your blessings count them one by one !

I think Sir George Grey and Mr John Paterson MP would be suitably impressed if they would be able to return for next year’s 100th birthday celebrations of The Grey’s Mill Park Campus.

Many happy returns of The Grey!

Click here to view the school and the city:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OCl-6KXLsS4

The Grey Staff Soirée

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 2 months ill …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage Ed

Grey!

In 1988, my last year of teaching at Grey High, colleagues Dee Hollelly and Neil Thomson initiated the Grey Staff Soiree. It showcased the unbelievable talent that we had on our staff – from music to acting to slapstick – and raised funds to enable a deserving Grey boy to attend a university.

The first Soiree was planned to run in the De Waal Hall for the parents from the Wednesday to the Saturday evening. Besides the show, there was a dinner served and, of course, a cash bar.

Included in the donations, was a generous number of beer kegs by SA Breweries, intended to last for the duration of the four shows, but ran dry on the first night!

The first MC was deputy head Brian Hibbert and the actors were all of us barely twenty year old teachers of The Grey. At the interval, Hibbert MC was challenged by Stapleton AC (threatening at that stage to run naked onto the stage!) to stand down from his position as MC! It was nothing personal but was only “for the sHake of the Show”!

Well, the show continued and ended with the Six Degrees, a band of staff members that continued playing for the parent dancers, and with Tommo’s help, into the wee hours of the morning.

The Wednesday show was so successful and “tiring” that the actors were unable to take to the stage on the Thursday evening. A rapid deployment of the parent audience booked for the Thursday evening was made, and the show continued on Friday and Saturday.

In fact, the show has continued for 26 years (with breaks in between) and now,traditionally, only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but never on a Thursday!

So, this past Saturday evening, saw us attend the 2014 Grey Staff Soiree.

From the original Six Degrees remains Neil Thomson (then drums, now guitar and vocals) and Ed Lunnon (then keyboard, now retired). Mike Thomson has moved on to Michaelhouse, Tony Reeler is headmaster of Pretoria Boys High and Greg Cunningham is now deputy head in Sydney Australia.

My roles in the Soiree, in addition to keyboards, have been actor (Fawlty Towers and many other skits) and, two years ago, MC.

This year, for the very first time, I was able to watch the show in its entirety as a member of the audience. I was convinced that the youngsters would not be able to fit into our shoes! They surely would not be as good as we were back in the day!

I was proved wrong.

Now, with Greg Thomson (Tommo Jnr) and Bigsy (Jason Bigara – one of Sean’s contemporaries and now a teacher) as joint MC’s and a host of enthusiastic new young teachers doing the acting (some repeats and a few old faces, I may add!), the show continued into the late evening, and we danced the night away!

Yes, “for the shake of the show” and the benefit of the bursary fund, long may yet another of The Grey traditions continue.

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The Week that was …5 November 2014

(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon

8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: Adv Ed

* The Herald reports on 22 October that “A paralyzed man can walk again after revolutionary treatment hailed as a breakthrough”.

Nerve cells were transplanted from Darek Fidyaka’s nose into his severed spinal column. (in Poland). He was paralyzed from the chest down but can now walk again.

* I start taking Coconut Oil in my coffee. The oil is highly recommended for people with neurological illnesses. Let’s see what happens. I’m also now taking ten carbolev (generic tablets at least, thanks to GEMS) tablets a day. Let’s hope for good results!

* Rob Stear is laid to rest. RIP. And then Monday we hear that Richard Stretch had passed away, and last night further bad news of how The Big C has encroached into our friends and family circle. I am devastated and our prayers and thoughts are with all concerned.

* Three of our national sportsmen/woman pass away in tragic circumstances.

* Tinus Linee ex Springbok and WP rugby player and MND patient passes away in Paarl

* We attend Grey Staff Soiree now in its 26th year

* I do the zip line at Adrenalin Addo on Happy Lands farm and spend the day with the Tayler-Smiths

* David Maynier, ex pupil and now shadow minister of Defence in the SA Parliamen, came to visit and we had a beer at Something Good

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HHH40 Reunion 2014 (Part 2)

8 years 1 month ill …
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnnon

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I said some more than sixty replied in the affirmative. I’m still not sure exactly how many attended – there were still people booking on the Friday morning that the reunion started and some arrived without booking!

The more, the merrier!

Originally, one event was what I had in my mind. But as more people from afar replied, that grew to three official events – and a few more unofficial get-togethers!

All were planned from Port Elizabeth for the weekend of 26 – 28 September 2014. I had also arranged to return to the Cape on 13 September in order to ensure that everything was in place (and an excuse, I guess, to go “home”!).

Communication with everyone was problematic. Not many of my era are computer-linked via the internet and some don’t even have an e-mail address! I had to resort to letters, envelopes, stamps and the Post Office – when last did you post a letter in a red letter box?

The functions planned were a get-together at the school on Friday including tea with the current staff, a tour of the new school buildings and an spitbraai in the evening.

Saturday was winetasting at Vergelegen Estate, rugby and starters at Erinvale Golf Course and Dinner (courses 2 and 3) at Lourensfords Millhouse Restaurant.

Sunday was a brunch and farewell at The Lord Charles Hotel.

I arrived in Cape Town on my late father’s birthday (it would have been his 99th!). In between all the arrangements, thanks to my niece and her husband, Michelle and Sebastian Ridgway, and friends Gretel and Willem Wust from Durbanville, I was able to visit family, friends, wine farms, pubs, restaurants, etc etc. The Cape of Good Hope does not seem to run out of entertainment options.

I celebrated my 58th birthday in the CBD (not my illness!) of Cape Town and in style with my Strand family. I haven’t done that in many a year!

All the time, the reunion dates came closer. People started arriving early in the week, like Kevin Russell from England, Piet Faure from Johannesburg and Carl Groenewald from Pietermaritzburg. We ate various meals at various places, from Gordon’s Bay Harbour to Helderberg’s Slopes.

Cecil Bond arrived the previous Saturday from Vancouver – and he and his wife and I managed to get in a few good visiting hours at The Lord Charles. He then also managed, in addition to our function, a SACS reunion in Cape Town and a family 60th birthday party in Kimberley!

And yes, despite the best of plans, things do go wrong! As the guests were arriving at the front door on Friday, the pub organisers were threatening to withdraw because they still had not received my EFT deposit from the bank!

Imagine a reunion without a pub!

The dinner was double booked and I had to improvise a two stage dinner at two different venues!

But, the people arrived, the memories were unlocked, the camaraderie gelled, the wine flowed and the chatting continued, by some, until four in the morning!

Too soon, it was all over. But not the pics, the memories, the history and the renewed friendships.

I was so pleased that I had persevered, despite the difficulties, to continue with the arrangements and to renew the links.

I was so pleased that we had all come.

I had finished what I had been doing and stopped working. It was all good, so then I rested!

And, before I flew back to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday morning, I managed to slip in a visit to my neurologist at Tygerberg Hospital Dr Henning and his lovely wife Helen. The supper was great, the pills were upped and the company was good!

I did wipe back a tear as the British Airways plane took off over the Cape Flats, False Bay and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains.

“Our school has done well, may it ere excel …”

HHH40 Reunion: 2014 (1)

8 years 1 month ill …
Mental: Advantage Ed / Physival: Deuce
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon

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I went to Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand, Hottentots-Holland High School in Somerset West and Sulphur High School in Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA.

I then attended Stellenbosch University and did some of my practical teacher training at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and Hottentots-Holland High School.

I did some brief teaching at Sulphur High and taught for five years at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth from 1984 to 1988.

I have also lectured at what was the PE Technikon, the University of Port Elizabeth and the UPE Business School.

My sister is a teacher, my brother-in-law is a teacher and my wife is a teacher. Teaching is in our blood!

Five years ago, in 2009, I organised the 25 year reunion of the very first class that I had taught at Grey – the Grey Class of 1984. Grey is a school with a very strong Old Boys’ Union and has annual reunions for many of its classes – the 10, 20, 25, 30, 50, 60 and many more! Thousands of Old Boys return to their Alma Mater every year.

This year, I assisted a bit with the 30 year return of the Class of 1984. My health would not allow me more than just “a bit”!

Whilst busy with those arrangements, in May of this year 2014, it dawned on me that I had matriculated in 1974 and had been out of school myself for 40 years! Not once, in the ensuing years, had our class ever had a reunion and most of us have never seen each other since we left “… the Valley famed both far and wide since the days of Van der Stel”!

So, when the Grey reunion had finished in May, I started with the arduous task of trying to organise a reunion for my own class in a school where reunions are not annual events but held on a very “los and vas” basis!

I had a few names of HHH classmates on Facebook. Like throwing that proverbial stone into the water and watching the rings that that creates, I approached those first few people to gauge the water – would anyone really be interested in getting together after 40 years?

The rings kept getting bigger an bigger, and soon we had the complete name list of 99 people. With the most unbelievable sleuthing skills by Annemarie Nieuwoudt (Sherlock Holmes!) we managed, in three months, to find that nine of our class had passed away. Of the remaining 90, we traced and spoke to 89 (all except our headboy) and received affirmative replies from over 60 of our class mates!

The stage had been set for a good reunion! (to be continued …)

Rob Stear

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: ED

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Last weekend Pera and I spent with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie on Doorndraai somewhere in the midst of the Karoo.

In their passage hangs a photo frame with photographs taken of various friends when we all lived in Port Elizabeth. I collated the pics and gave it to them at their farewell party when they left PE.

There is a photo of Rob Stear at David and Debbie Capel’s farewell party at the Thomsons. David was the professional cricket coach at Grey and they were returning to Britain.

The dress was semi-formal – formal from the waist up and casual from the waist down.

We spoke about those “good ole days” when we were just kids ourselves!

We spoke about our good friend Rob Stear – the life and soul of every party.

“Never fear because Stear was here!”

October being cancer awareness month and the Oglvie/Watermeyer homes being familiar with the fight against cancer, we spoke about cancer, hospices and fundraising.

We discussed Rob’s recent battle with cancer.

I said that when we returned to PE I needed to visit Rob.

The visit never took place!

None of us anticipated that Rob would pass away the very next day.

He had a name for everyone and I was Edgar. When we met at Old Grey Club, he would paraphrase the previous week’s radio interview that Edgar had concluded with Lance du Plessis.

He would talk to the ceiling, telling it what “kak” they played on the radio nowadays! It was always just loud enough for me to hear about his complaints. He never admitted to listening to one of our discussions!

Thanks Rob for listening! I know you got something from our talks! In the grand scheme of things, I was supposed to go before you … but then we just never know, do we?

I hope you have that dinner table prepared for our next function – maybe formal this time, but knowing you, it may just be completely casual?

Oh yes, but then I quess I don’t have to remind you, don’t forget the beers!

RIP Rob Roy Stear

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