Flying High on Jungle Juice

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 12 August 2013: 6 years 11 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

Since returning from Bloemfontein at the end of July, it’s been another hectic few weeks!

Firstly, I Discovered on my way to Bloem when I filled up the car that there was no money in my bank account!

I then Discovered that my disability benefit had not been paid into my account by my insurers! So, between my broker and me, it took many calls, emails etc. to get that sorted out. Stress and tension don’t do me any good, and not being paid one’s “salary” leads to all kinds of problems at the bank when your debit orders have to be paid! Thank goodness, I Discovered that just in time, and with some fast remedial work, I was able to minimize the damage. I’m still waiting to hear why it happened – it’s not the first time!

In between that I met with my bank broker, Kyle Jacobs, at the newly revamped South Ender pub in Walmer; Michael Halbert who helps me with my personal finances, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University meeting to discuss Phillip’s academic future, Nadine van Westenbrugge to help with admin and the Ratepayers meeting to discuss how best to combat non-service delivery in the Metro. I have been diligently distributing protest letters in the neighbourhood!

I had drinks at the Pitch & Putter with Len van Kempen, lunch with Ben Roth and his father at Finezz, brunch with Annette Jones and Liz Findlay at La Boca and Kevin Paul’s farewell party at Finezz before he headed off to the International Swimming Championships in Canada, where he will be swimming this week.

At Bluewaters Café, there have been visits from radio listeners, the Coggers and the Serfonteins.

I have had my home visits from Gill, the Hospice nurse, and Isaac, my weekly chat buddy!

And then there’s a video which Adrian is filming about my life and which will be shown at Mpekweni Sun in September.  I am writing the script which also takes a lot of time!  

Meetings and calls were made to the Groenewalds in Humansdorp to arrange for Martin (injured in Bloemfontein) and his Dad Adriaan to appear on our radio show last week.

Julian Fletcher has been at the house on Fridays to massage my tired muscles and I have been to see Stuart Dicke twice on Mondays for some physiotherapy and Johnny Raath for some gym work. My weekly haircuts and beard trims are done by Grant at Front Cover in Newton Park (phone 041 363 2529).

Tuesday was the monthly Motor Neurone disease meeting at the Old Grey Club with Stuart Dicke as the guest speaker.

Then there have been a few blogs to write, and updating my blog and web sites with pictures and text!

On Thursday evening I attended Mandy Gurr’s benefit show, Gino Fabbri’s Just Laughter, at the Old Grey Club, with additional background singing by Mandy herself on a CD that I burned off the internet!

And then rugby, rugby, rugby … Phillip’s last school games against Framesby last week and Selborne College this last Friday (Women’s Day). The Boarding House Fundraiser Farmers’ Day was arranged at the same time to maximise profits.

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Phill’s team lost to Framesby last Saturday but beat Selborne this week. The First Team won both encounters – with Framesby being an exciting last ten minute charge to win the game and Selborne being a white wash victory for Grey! The Firsts are “flying high” at the moment having come to the end of the rugby season with an unbeaten record against Eastern Cape schools.

I was flying high on Friday, too; after having had a number of the “Jungle Juices” (orange juice and cane spirits) sold at the Farmers’ Market. I’m not too sure what the interactive effects are of my medication and the cane, but for a while there my body appeared to be working normally!

 It was really pleasant visiting under the wonderful red Bedouin tent which had been erected in the matric quad to keep us dry from the steady rain which fell on Thursday and Friday. After going home with Sean and Phillip in the late afternoon, I slept right through until Saturday morning!

Congratulations must be extended to Niekerk and Ingrid Ferreira, all the boarder parents and the boarders for having arranged such a vibey and, I hope, a profitable Market Day!

On Sunday, we had a quiet restful family lunch at the Chartroom of the Yacht Club in the Port Elizabeth harbour.

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Today is a blog write day, a visit from Iain Fyfe, ex-Grey teacher (Sean’s u15A rugby coach) visiting from Hong Kong where he has taught English for the last six years – he left just after I became ill and was happy to see me still in such “good” health, a visit to the physio and the gym and something more mundane like getting the roof repairers in to check on the leaks in the stoep roof!

This has been just another “quiet” week in my life – the week that was!

I need more Jungle Juice (and Carbolev and Lyrica) to keep me going!

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The Shades of Grey

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Thursday 1 August 2013: 6 years 11 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It was about half past two last Friday afternoon. The odometer on my car read 88 888 km and we were just passing over the longest and largest South African river, the Orange River,  from the Northern Cape Province into the Province of the Free State.

Three provinces in a day!

In the past we have done this trip by train (see my previous blogs) but now the South African railways have become non (dys?)-functional and they are unable to supply rolling stock. It’s such a sorry sight to see so many worn-out carriages parked along the way of hundreds of kilometres of unused and deserted and disintegrating railway tracks!  (Phill reckons his life mission is to get the trains back on track.  Steve Jobs said “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do! So go, Phill!

So, we (Pera, Phill, Brad McKenzie and I) had departed by car from Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape Province, at nine, and left behind us Uitenhage, Jansenville, Graaff-Reinet (where we had lunch at the Polka Restaurant), Middleburg, Noupoort and Coleburg.

Still to come along the N1 – our country’s major arterial route – was Springfontein, Trompsburg, Edenburg and then our destination:  Bloemfontein, the Judicial Capital City of South Africa and home of our country’s Supreme Court of Appeal. It is the third capital city of South Africa, the product of compromise when SA was formed in 1910, with the other Capital cities, of course, being Cape Town, the Legislative Capital  with its Houses of Parliament and the Administrative Capital, Pretoria (or Tshwane, as it is being called by some nowadays) with its imposing Union Buildings.

Bloemfontein is also known as the Rose City. But we weren’t here to pick flowers and flowers we certainly didn’t collect!

The purpose of our trip was rugby: Grey High from PE versus Grey College from Bloem and Phillip’s last school away game for Tommo’s mighty Thirds. It would also be the end our school boy sporting trips – first Sean’s rugby and cricket career and then Phillip’s rugby, cricket and waterpolo career now also drawing to a close.

So this was a rather nostalgic trip for all of us. One which I had not really looked forward to, as I had been very busy, tired and experiencing a bit of pain in my left buttock and left leg. A long eight hour trip was not what the doctor ordered for me. But Phill on his learner’s licence had driven us most of the way. I took over for the last stretch into Bloem!

We arrived at our guest house, Blessings, in the suburb of Dan Pienaar (recommended by the Engelbrechts of Paarl), at about 17h00. We had got lost a few times – Bloemfontein also being a city of the modern day New South African compromise as well: renamed Nelson Mandela Drive lies next to Kenneth Kaunda Avenue lies next to Walter Sisulu Avenue lies next to Gen Dan Pienaar, Gen Hertzog, Kmdt Senekal, Unie Avenue, President Kruger – and the GPS doesn’t always know the changes!

Anyway, we were there safely! Supper was to be at the Villa Bella Casa. We would join our Pretoria friends Thomas and Marzette Moolman who were sleeping over in Bloem on their way home from a holiday in the Eastern Cape. They had visited us earlier in the week from Port Alfred and Marzette had left her diary next to the bed when they had left last Thursday. So we arranged to meet in Bloem to return the diary!

Well, a good supper later and some great company and red wine, and the diary has come back with us to Port Elizabeth!

Because the First Team game was being televised, Phill’s Third Team game was brought forward to seven o’clock on Saturday morning! So it was a very early start for us – and a very cold start! The temperature was about 4 degrees C and my picture of a scrum has the moon in the background and the frost at our feet! Every picture tells a story …

Phill’s  3rd team loss with a deficit of about 50 points was about the average tale of the day with scores coming in from about 120 high to only one Grey Port Elizabeth team (the u14B!) clocking up a narrow win!  He also played in the second half of the 2nd team as the injury count went higher and higher. The hardness of the ground and the hardness of the opposition do not seem to go well with our Port Elizabeth sons! Yet, we return second year after second year (of course, they visit us at the coast every other year) to be taught a severe lesson in rugby playing!

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In the First Team game we also witnessed that horrific accident to Martin Groenewald when he broke both the tibia and fibula in his leg. It sounded like a gunshot going off and put a damper on the rest of the play. Unfortunately, once again (and never ever) were we able to beat Grey Bloem 1st team in Bloemfontein.

Our thoughts, prayers and good wishes accompany Martin (who lives with Phillip in the Grey hostel) on his long road to full recovery. The operation which he underwent on Saturday evening was successful and as I write this, he has now arrived back at his home in Humansdorp. It takes the worst in Life to bring out the best in mankind, and once again, we have witnessed the outpouring of the kindness of friends and strangers who have offered their assistance to the family in so many different ways.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon socialising at the Bloemfontein Old Grey Clubhouse, had a quick zizz at Blessings, and then went for supper at the Block and Cellar. It looked like Port Elizabeth was empty because there were so many Algoa Bay locals having supper there on Saturday evening.  It’s always fun socialising with other parents in this way and maybe one of the reasons why we do these trips so willingly and eagerly. They surely will be missed by us and will become part of the memory box of our strange journey through this trip that we call Life!

Our return journey started at nine on Sunday – retracing our steps back the way we had come; except this time we stopped for lunch and petrol at the Steers in Colesburg (full tank used up – literally and figuratively – to Bloemfontein, and three quarters of a tank used down to Pe!). We arrived back in Port Elizabeth at about five, safe and sound, worn-out and weary, and nostalgic about never having to do this school trip again.

The shadows of Life get longer, and the Shades of Grey get darker. 

 

Birth Days and Birthdays

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 23 July 2013: 6 years 10 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage CBD

Not many of us are born into Buckingham Palace – in our lifetime maybe some three in 7 billion!

Yesterday, 22 July 2013, saw baby Prince “Edward Charles”* Cambridge, a future King of Great Britain, born into the British House of Windsor.

I will not be here on this earth when he rides down the Mall in London to St Paul’s Cathedral or to Westminster Abbey to be invested as the next King of the Realm. Whether SKY News broadcasts in High Definition to a special wide screen in a comfy viewing lounge in Heaven, or whether one just views from Heaven the goings-on on planet Earth through extra strong binoculars, I do not know.

Maybe one just attends the occasions on earth in a spirit form?

What I do know, and despite the comfortable trappings of the Palace into which this Baby has been born, he, too, like any of us will –  wear nappies, teethe, grow up, be educated, experience high days and low days, cry and laugh, become ill (not having to worry about a medical aid!), have arguments, do things that are “right” and “wrong”,  be spoken about, celebrate special occasions, attend funerals and weddings, get old, be part of a family, get married and have future kings and queens, and have birthdays and die!

These past few weeks, we have had our fair share of family celebrations surrounding birthdays.

Charles IV (2), Phillip (18), Sean (21) and Granny (80) have all had their birthdays. Last Friday evening, we celebrated Sean’s 21st. Not quite as they do it at Buckingham Palace, but almost, and with similar traditions that go with these celebrations. I made a speech (see next blog), Graeme Clarke and David Bryant (ex school mates) spoke about some of their experiences together, Phillip proposed a wonderful toast to his brother and Sean entertained us with his response.

I was very proud of our sons.

As I was when we watched Grey play rugby against Daniel Pienaar on Saturday. Phillip captained the Third Team and his older, but shorter brother, Sean, was the referee. An occasion to remember, not most of all because a DP player tackled the ref! Phill also ended up being called upon to play the second half for the Second team game! So it was quite an afternoon for us to remember.

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Our sons have not exactly grown up in Buckingham Palace but Ryan Road has done them just as well! They are our Princes. Long may they live – at least to see the investiture of the King that was born yesterday.

(* My very personal recommendation …)

ED is in week EnDing wED 29 May 2013

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 27 May 2013: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

It’s been another busy week, with little time to write. And when I’ve had the time, I haven’t had the energy!

So here comes another skeleton, with hopefully the flesh put in at a later stage!

  •       Mon 20 May – we celebrated Sean’s 21st birthday at the Coachman Steakhouse; party to follow!
  •       Tue 21 May – visit from Gill (Hospice); haircut with Grant @ front cover: Newton Park; meeting with Mike Halbert (accounts); drinks at VP Tennis Club with the Tuesday Boys’ Tennis Club of Wembley Tennis Club
  •         Wed 22 May – AlgoaFM; coffee at Bluewaters café; gym; Sean’s u21 rugby at Old Grey; Neil Thomson and Rodger Gilson in Centre Stage’s Simon and Garfunkel Tribute
  •        Thu 23 May – visit from Isaac; physio with Christelle Smit; Sean’s car at garage
  •          Fri 24 May – visit from Ben; meeting PeFM
  •          Sat 25 May – day trip to Grahamstown: Grey vs St Andrews (Phillip)
  •          Sun 26 May – reunion meeting of our Investment Club at our home
  •          Mon 27 May – meeting with Sr Gaynor Bishop of the MNDA(Port Elizabeth)
  •         Tue 28 May – meeting with Sr Gill (Hospice)  

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Circa 60

About 60 – that’s the meaning of the above title and that’s our ages – give or take a good few years in all our respective cases.

“Our” being Neil and Pam Thomson, Anton and Ingrid Scholtz, Alan and Trish Stapleton and Pera and I.

And our connection being that some 20 years ago we started what we called our Investment Club.

We met once a month on a rotational basis at each couple’s home for a meal, and each couple “invested” R100 into the Club – Pera and I put in R100 each. My duty was to invest the monthly amount of R500 and to grow the money so that at some point in the future (round about now) we would cash in our investments and go on a “world cruise” together!

Two ‘hiccups’ occurred – firstly, each couple produced two more people and the group therefore grew from eight to sixteen people. Our children spoke at school about the Investment Club meetings that they attended on the last Sunday (or whichever it was) of each month! Heaven alone knows what their teachers and friends thought about this!

Secondly, at the end of year two, I think it was, when we saw the balance slowly growing in our investment account, we were tempted to draw the money and go away for a weekend together.

So, after that, we never ever gave the money a chance to grow enough for our world cruise, but we did, on an annual basis – round about Reconciliation Day public holiday in December – cash in the funds and spend a long weekend together.

We visited places like Hog’s Back, Katberg, Keurbooms, Knysna, Blanco, Blue Lagoon, East London, St Francis Bay and wherever the following criteria were met:

No self-catering by the ladies, within close driving distance of Port Elizabeth, activities for the adults and the children, inexpensive (at least within the constraints of our Investment Account balance), etc …

Well, we never would have had enough for that world cruise, but we invested tremendously in our children’s social upbringing and in their readiness for life. They learned to climb mountains, read hotel menus, order “passion fruit and lemonades”, play golf, ride horses, stage theatre productions, play carpet bowls, manage becoming lost and a host of other things that one could add to the list.

We all learned to enjoy friends and family and life and nature and good times together.

In the process, we amassed many happy memories and photographs and stories along the way.

Unfortunately, as the years passed by, and we all got older, it became more and more difficult to co-ordinate our diaries and do things together. So, some eight (?) years ago, we finally called an end to our Investment Club.

But, thanks to the labours of Pera, we managed to have a reunion of the adult members of the Club this past Sunday. Someone suggested that the Investment Club be renamed the Pensioners’ Club!

Needless to say, we reminisced (that which we could remember!) and laughed and ate and drank to Life!

Memories are made of this! (and please correct any of the above-mentioned “facts” that may be incorrect!)

 

JEEPers, this Baviaanskloof is Mooi!

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©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 7 May 2014: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

Some two weeks ago, the day before I went to Wynberg for the weekend, I received the following email from Mike Proctor-Sims via Lance du Plessis at AlgoaFM:

Hi Lance

Mike Holmes and I were fishing last weekend. Standing on a beach, rods in hand, with the fish not biting leads to lots of chatting and Mike came up with something you might be interested in. Holmes and I have a mutual friend who owns and manages the Baviaans Lodge, which straddles the Baviaans and Kouga mountains and various kloofs. Rob is an avid environmentalist and has built his lodge, which borders on the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Mega Reserve, using eco-friendly methods.

Mike was talking about this guy you have on your programme once a week who is suffering from an incurable disease and using his remaining time on earth to discover wonderful places, mainly in hte Eastern Cape. I have heard him on your show once or twice as well. Mike said the guy had mentioned that the Baviaanskloof was one such venue he would like to experience. I have spoken to Rob and he would be delighted to host him — you as well if you can get away.

The main feature is the natural beauty. Cycads, fynbos, indignous forests, streams, Bushman caves and really nice rustic accommodation to are the more sedate features while more challenging are river rafting and boating on the Koaga river and the 4X4 route that runs between his lodge and the main road through the Baviaanskloof, the dirt road joining Patensie and Willowmore.

There is a time factor involved if you are interested in a visit. The weather is good at the moment, neither too hot nor too cold but the cold is imminent.

I suggest you have a look at Rob’s two web sites www.baviaanslodge.co.za and www.baviaans-kouga4x4.com. There is no cell phone signal there but you can E-Mail him on rob@baviaanslodge.co.za and possibly organise a Skype conversation. If you do decide to make the trip both Mike Holmes and myself would be keen to possibly tag along to maybe do a magazine article.

Regards

Mike

This e-mail set in motion a sequence of events, further e-mails, SKYPE conversations, plans, “unplans”, replans and final plans that saw Sean and I set off for the Baviaanskloof on Saturday afternoon for an overnight stay at the Baviaans Lodge.

Unfortunately, to get all the parties involved to be able to co-ordinate diaries became a mission impossible.  Being a “pensioner”, I’m the easy one! Everyone else had “things” to do, but I am dependent on a driver and Sean was only available on Saturday afternoon after work.

My memory fails me often nowadays, and we actually left home twice! Firstly, after filling up with petrol, my petrol card had expired and couldn’t be used! I’d pay with the credit card then, only to find that my wallet wasn’t in the car. So then Sean paid and I’d refund him – we went back home to fetch the wallet – only to find it was under the car seat all along!

We had no sooner left Port Elizabeth along the N2 and I was telling Sean about a warning light that had gone on in the bus to Cape Town the previous week, when the self-same light came on in our Jeep Wrangler! So we stopped at Jefferys Bay and so did the warning light!

Then we went westwards along the Langkloof’s R62 to Kareedouw where we picked up two of Rob’s sons at the school hostel to take them with us to the Baviaans Lodge, our accommodation for the evening and their home.

We went back some two kilometres along the R62 to Assegaaibosch Station and then some 40 km north westwards to the Lodge. Despite only being 40km, the road winds up and down and round and round over the Kouga Mountains and River and so it took us about an hour and a half to get there at about 17h00.

Along the way, the view is stunning and the wow’s became Wows became WOWS! The final descent into the Valley of the Lodge is an OMG WOW WOW WOW!!

No words can do the area justice – hence the pictures attached to this blog should tell the story, and even then, they often don’t tell the full story.

We met Rob at the Lodge, then were shown to our cottage and after unpacking and freshening up, returned to the lodge for a chat, drinks and supper.

No electricity, no TV (to watch the Kings – TG we only heard the score the next day!) but only paraffin lamps, chatter, red wine and a meal fit for the Kings – onion soup, herbed chicken and malva pudding with hot custard made us ready to hit the sack and settle down under the duvets on a dark, quiet, chilly, crystal-clear evening up in the mountains.

The only light outside was the wispy white constellations of the Milky Way – gazillions of shimmering stars, suns, planets, galaxies, shooting stars, and all those other things of which I comprehend so little. It’s all too much for my little pea brain to understand – I don’t even try to understand – but I can and do appreciate the beauty and the Godliness of it all! I wonder sometimes when the time will come when I, too, will be glistening away somewhere up there …

That wasn’t the only flickering.

The little flames in our bedside lamps (real lamps!) and our eyelids flickered in unison. I think our eyelids closed as we blew out those lamps and before our heads hit the pillows! It put two meanings to the term “lights out”!

Sleeping in we did, because we could and, thankfully, had it not been for the crows knocking on the roof that woke us up, we would have been more than just the slightly late that we were for our pre-arranged 9 o’clock breakfast time!

Cereal, juice, yoghurt and eggs, bacon, beans, tomatoes and fritters rounded off with hot homemade buns and filter coffee were set before us and almost sent me back to bed for more sleep!

But we had a trip to do. From the Lodge, a 4×4 entry route northwards into the Baviaans Kloof proper (which runs 120km from Willowmore in the west to Patensie in the east) provides 32 kilometres of unrivalled scenery.  We must have covered some half that distance: up and down and over and round and down and up and then, unfortunately, because of the time constraints, a u-turn and did it all again in reverse back to the Lodge! The Jeep did us proud.

This is a unique, wilderness area right on our doorstep. Each twist and turn in the road would reveal different vegetation, depending on whether it was on the windward or the leeward side of the rugged mountains. Grassy plains next to fynbos, winding rivers and streams, cycads and red and white proteas and other members of this unique plant species, geographical features, spectacular kloofs and bird life had us constantly grabbing for our cell phone cameras to take just another pic!

From the highest spot that we went to, we could see St Francis Bay away to the east and the Outeniqua Mountains at George away to the west. In between, luscious green valleys are interspersed by flat-topped plateaus and soaring blue mountain peaks.

Rob, our host, cook and guide, told us snippets about the history, the geology, the fauna, the flora, the endangered species, the secrets, the inhabitants, the rock art, the caves and the rock overhangs.

There is obviously far too much to talk about and to see and to do, and too little time to do it in!

So it was with a heavy heart that Sean and I left at two (with the kids piled in the back to return to school). But we will be back, I hope, to savour some more of this pristine, remote nature lovers’ paradise.

 Our thanks are extended to Mike Proctor-Sims and Mike Holmes for conceiving the idea and to Rob le Roux and his family for hosting us and for their warm hospitality. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

  

For the Last Time

ED is in the week EnDing wED 24 April 2013

  • Wed 17: Happy Lands Addo Women’s Institute meeting and AlgoaFM broadcast / Maggie Thatcher’s funeral / Fathers’ Rugby meeting at Grey
  • Thu 18: Visit Isaac / Lunch Gavin / Haircut / Blast in West, Texas
  • Fri 19: Visit Ben, Jenny / Lunch Andrew / Host boys from Paul Roos / Watched CNN – Boston
  • Sat 20: Rugby vs Paul Roos at Grey / Kings vs Bulls at NMB Stadium / Power Boat Club
  • Sun 21: Relax and Sleep and London Marathon!
  • Mon 22: Sean’s car at TAVCOR / Phil’s SU application forms / Arrange trip to Wynberg and HH Reunion
  • Tue 23: Willie Bosch/Brian Bezuidenhout: APDStellenbosch

FOR THE LAST TIME

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 23 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …

GAME ED

Sean left school at the end of 2010. I had set it as one of my goals to see him get into matric and to leave school.

That was because I had been told in February 2007 that I would be “severely incapacitated” by 2010 (three years!) and dead by 2012 (five years!).

Well, now it’s 2013 and Phillip is in matric and I’m not dead and neither am I severely incapacitated! I am grateful for this extra time.

I haven’t even set myself a goal of seeing Phil getting to the end of his school career! I have just assumed that I will still be here. I just don’t know anymore!

But, what I do know is that everything we do with Phil at school this year is “for the last time”. The chicks are slowly leaving the nest, and by next year, we will no longer have children at school. That chapter will be closed.

It was the last encounter with Paul Roos Gymnasium from Stellenbosch this past Saturday. (I did my practice teaching at Paul Roos way back in 1979.)

This Saturday is our last encounter against Wynberg in Cape Town, and I hope to go down to the Western Cape for that. Then there’s Bloemfontein later this year and NO I’m not organising any trains for parents to Bloemfontein! I did one in 2007 and one in 2009 and they were the best, coldest, latest, drunken trips to Bloem that I have ever done. Luckily, I don’t think the SA Railways even has spare coaches any more, and I’m not even going to try to find out if they know where their rolling stock is!

But as one door closes, the next one opens. So today I had to fill in some forms for Phillip’s application to Stellenbosch University next year. He wants to do mechanical engineering at my Alma Mater.

It was a scene of déja vu. I could see myself filling in my own university application forms 40 years ago! The difference is that we physically filled in paper forms and made bank deposits – now it’s all “online” and EFT transfers!

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that his application will be successful. And he wants to stay in Helshoogte Residence – she was my very happy home for 6 years. And I was her primarius in 1981.

And while I’m filling in Phil’s application forms on the one side, I am also busy filling in my forms to attend Helshoogte’s fortieth birthday party next month.

Even though it clashes with the reunion in May of my last matric class that I taught at Grey, I certainly won’t miss “Heaven is a place on Earth” – Stellenbosch, my birthplace and place of my education. Born and bred in Matieland!

So I’m trying to juggle times and planes and lifts and accommodation to maximise my attendance at both reunion functions on that second weekend in May. Of all the 52 weeks of the year, why, oh, why are these two reunions on the same weekend? Life can not just be simple, can it? Not even with good old customer service.

Not for the last time, I hope, I headed off to Tavcor Motors this afternoon. Last year, I had some bad service from them with Sean’s car and often businesses mess up even more when they go into recovery mode. Not them!

They have made it up to me in leaps and bounds. I can only thank and congratulate Garrick and his two PA’s, Elaine and Yolande, for the most unbelievable excellent service – way beyond the call of duty – that they have given to me with the repairing of Sean’s Polo that was damaged in the hailstorm outside Graaff-Reinet two months ago. If this is the type of service that they offer then I can only recommend them in future.

And not for the last time have we witnessed the things that we have seen this past week: bombings at Boston; explosions at West, Texas; earthquakes in China; floods in the Eastern Cape …

I will write more later.

Rest for the Wicket

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 25 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

ED is in week EnDing wED 27 March 2013

Wed 20 Mar:        AlgoaFM; Gym; Sean Old Grey Rugby vs Crusaders

Thu 21 Mar:          Human Rights Day; Grey 1st bt Westville in Grahamstown; lunch at Rat

Fri 22 Mar:            Braai at home with Clarkes and Stapletons

Sat 23 Mar:           Kings vs Crusaders; Michaela’s 21st birthday party at Dexter’s Den

Sun 24 Mar:          Lunch at Bluewaters café; Proteas bt Pakistan; Rest …

Mon 25 Mar:        Meeting with Melanie (Hospice); Physio; Visit Ackermanns; Rugby Madibaz vs Maties

Tue 26 Mar:          Visit Sr Gill (Hospice); Rest …

It was diarised as a quiet week! A week of rest …

But, this has been a busy week and Human Rights Day long weekend. By Saturday, I was exhausted and had to leave Michaela Botha’s 21st birthday party early. Thank goodness for Sean driving me home at ten. They got home at two am, I was told! This has become the 21st birthday party season!

Friday and Saturday were especially difficult for me – I think it’s partly due to the heat (36 degrees in Grahamstown on Thursday!) and partly due to the busy schedule. I’m just not up to all the travelling, late nights, and occasional beers anymore!

Anyway, I woke up late on Sunday morning feeling much better and, after lunch at Bluewaters café, just lazed on the couch – watching the Proteas beat Pakistan in the last of the One Day Internationals. It was also a cool day and hopefully the start of autumn and the approaching winter weather. I thrive on the colder weather!

The long weekend was special.

It has become a lonely world for me. No work to go to in the morning, no daily interaction with other people, no work functions, few and fewer visitors – as the months go by my world becomes a smaller place and it becomes more difficult to understand what my contribution is to this world.

Even when I have company it becomes difficult to share my world with them. They are so busy with their worlds that no longer have relevance for me and so we live in two different worlds. We live past each other.

Charlie

The daily programme involves Charlie, our Jack Russell, who is my company when I get up in the morning and for the rest of the day. Barbara, our domestic, is there … with the vacuum cleaner! For the rest, I am kept busy by all my medical appointments, hospice visits and whatever other projects that I have found to keep me busy.

 I am not good at keeping my own company!

However, there’s my desktop, my laptop, my IPad and my Blackberry that I couldn’t live without.

They are so challenging but so exciting, and when they go on the blink like this weekend (because of the Seacom cable problem in the Mediterranean Sea somewhere between Egypt and France, MWEB tells me) then I have withdrawal symptoms. Thank goodness for DSTV and Discovery and BBC and SKY and CNN and Richard Attenborough’s AFRICA and Great Britain! We live in an exciting and wonderful world!

So, yes, the long weekend was special to have everyone home – Pera from her work, Sean from his work and Phillip from the boarding house at school.  Suddenly, there is chatter and laughter and banter and talk in the house again. It makes a huge difference and is even more noticeable when I get up on Monday morning in an empty house again!

This weekend is Easter long weekend and then school holidays – I look forward to having everyone at home once more!

And a huge congratulations to Phillip who was awarded his academic half-colours at school on Monday!

What started out as a possible 24-hour internet problem is now being touted as possibly a two week problem! How did we work in the years BG (before Google)?

 

Regrets, I Have a Few …

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 5 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

Aurora Hospital is raising funds by selling a recipe book with local citizens’ favourite recipes. I have been asked to contribute my recipe and a picture of me.

So I headed off to the photographer Beverley Darlow last Monday and that put into motion the need for the Lunnon family to do a family shoot – something we have been trying to do for years!

I eventually managed to organise an appointment for Wednesday afternoon at four thirty. In a major logistical arrangement for us, the four would come from different directions and meet at the studio in Walmer.

But, as luck would have it, at three I got a call from Bev to postpone the shoot as her daughter had been rushed to hospital that morning and was still waiting to be seen!

So, thanks to modern technology, Blackberry and cyber-diaries, the appointment was shifted to Saturday afternoon at one thirty.

Well, cut a long story short, we eventually managed to complete the shoot on Saturday and now await the final product to arrive.

Our home walls would be so different and bare without pictures (photos?). They are the storeroom of our memories and the depot of our past.  The work put in to getting them there is often taken for granted but they remind us of our previous generations and us in better days! Just about all the photos that I have seen on walls depict the happy things of life. Despite the circumstances, the pictures usually display smiles and laughter – maybe sometimes even a forced smile!

I would not be able to be a model! Hundreds of shots taken from one direction and then another – just in the hope of getting THAT particular shot:  the right lighting, the right smile, the right background, the right clothes, the right composure, the right angle, the right body language …

But it gave me time to think, both during Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday when I went for a long walk along Sardinia Bay Beach in the most sublime weather that we have been experiencing of late,  

I thought about the last seven years (almost) of my illness and how it has affected the family. Life, certainly for me, and especially for them, has been very different to that which most other families experience.

Pera has become a bread-winner, a housewife, a Mom and a carer – each one a very difficult job in itself but the four together, juggling between the various roles, become an incredible act to master! Not one for the feint-hearted!

Throughout their high school careers, the boys have lived with an ill father and everything that goes with that. They are preparing for life but at the same time are only too aware of preparations for my death.

I thought of how different it was all supposed to be. I thought of what it should have been like and could have been like. For once, I allowed myself to think back – to look at those old photographs of my memories.

Regrets? Yes, as the song says, “I have a few” … but these I will mention!

I regret that I haven’t been able to be a proper husband and father. I regret that I haven’t been able to fulfil an occupation. I regret that my “job” has been a “pensioner” since age 49 – after all, we as human beings are often defined by the job we do! I regret that I haven’t been able to contribute in every aspect to society. I regret that my life as a healthy and well and productive human being has been cut short. I regret that I haven’t been able to entirely support my family financially. I regret that I have now lost 84 salary cheques (and you can calculate what loss that is!)

I am not feeling sorry for myself and I don’t want anyone to have to do that for me! Because, whilst there are regrets, there are so many other things for which to be thankful. When I have spoken at public meetings, I have highlighted many of the gifts that my illness has brought.

I want especially to thank those people who remember us financially and who choose to do so anonymously. Their generosity and kindness have made that I have so much less to worry about, that we have not wanted and that the boys are receiving their education and preparation for life.

One day, when the family pictures taken this week adorn the walls of the homes of this generation of Lunnons and those to come afterwards, there will be much to unlock in the memory banks that they will create.

After all, every picture tells a story (and a story behind that story that the picture doesn’t tell )!

And regrets? There are ways of dealing with them too. I will write about that next time.

Never Give Up – Care Ministry

Saturday 9 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

Last Tuesday evening, I was the guest speaker at CARE MINISTRY, Port Elizabeth.

The organisation carries on activities which are of a philanthropic and benevolent nature, having regard to the needs, interests and well-being of the general public and in particular those people affected by HIV / AIDS.

My message to them was simple:

Life in all its facets that it presents to us is a GIFT. Whether we are a CARE-Giver or a CARE-taker – NEVER GIVE UP!

We watched this video of Arthur Boorman – thanks for watching it too:

Scans Scans 001 Scans 002

Alice? Alice? …

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 27 January 2013: 6 years 4 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

Most of my contemporaries (and older and younger) will be familiar with the words in the title of this blog. They would also be able to complete the title!

They may not know the group that sings the song. And even if they don’t know any of the other words, they will certainly know these few words and will shout them out heartily at any party where the song was played.

Another such song which dates from my school and university days (the seventies and eighties) is the song that contained the SEX word. In a very conservative apartheid South Africa, it was quite a challenge to belt out “I wonder … how many times you’ve had sex?”

Many would not know any of the other words of the song “I Wonder” or who the singer is. Up until now, that is … but all that has changed in the last few weeks.

Suddenly, after the release of the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”, Rodriguez has become a household name and his music heard all over the country – even on the contemporary airwaves of today, a far cry from the banned status quo in the apartheid era!

Nominated for an Oscar Award in 2013, the documentary tells the most amazing story: how the Mexican American labourer and singer Sixto Jesus Rodriguez, unknown in his home United States, and unknown to him, became popular in apartheid South Africa, “died” and was resurrected to entertain South African audiences again and again (and again next month) in Cape Town and Johannesburg. 

rodriguez

Just last week I wrote about the World Wide Web and its impact on our daily lives.

Thanks largely to the WWW, a search (by two South African fans who said “I Wonder” about Rodriguez) uncovered the mystery of this man, allows him to follow his passion and has resulted in the documentary being made.

The marvels of modern-day technology made it possible for me to download the movie from DSTV Box Office. I watched it, sometimes through misty watery eyes (I must confess) on Friday evening and again with Phillip on Saturday and again on Sunday morning!

The documentary has taught me, at least, a few life lessons and a “Cold Fact” or two. The life of Rodriguez could be the “soundtrack to our lives”.

The futility of apartheid is recognized but thank God, NelsonMandela, FWde Klerk and many others, as the one poster in the movie demands, we have been able to experience “Freedom in our Lifetime”.

But we can not only experience freedom from an oppressive political system. We can also experience freedom from whatever life throws at us. Detroit, in the seventies and today, was a hard place. Rodriguez, through his music, rose above a city of decay.

“Sit dit af.” “There is a way out”.

Obstacles often serve as an inspiration. “If you find things easily they’re not inspiring!”

However, it also shows us that despite “all the circumstances being right” we don’t always necessarily make it big. A prophet is not always recognised in his own country.

But we need to accept our station in life and use it to make a difference in our lives, in the world we live in and in the lives of the people with whom we share this world.

Rodriguez’s three daughters tell us about a man who “never said anything about being disappointed in life”, who read a lot, got involved in politics and the community, attended protests and rallies and causes that he believed in and worked for the working class – for people who didn’t always have a voice or a chance to speak up for themselves.

In his lifestyle and music we can certainly see and hear a lone guitarist and a humble labourer – a boy of the street whose experience was in the street, but who continues to make a difference in the world.

And makes that difference without having regard for reward or for himself.

Truly, had Rodriquez wanted any reward of any kind, the story would have been very different from the start. Too often, today, it is the reward and not the cause that encourages people to get involved!

Rodriguez approached work from a different place. “His magical qualities elevated him above bullshit and mediocrity”. He knew there was something more in making a difference and most of all, “his spirit remained!”

For me, one of the pivotal scenes in the whole documentary is when his daughters tell the viewer that, despite having lived in 26 houses (“they weren’t homes, just places to live”), he took them to libraries, museums, art galleries and science centres.

“Just because people are poor, or have little, doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams, that their dreams aren’t big, their soul isn’t rich!”

“That’s where class and prejudice come from – the difference between them and us – you and me!”

But from someone who was seen to carry fridges on his back and who lived in a DetroitCity that told its inhabitants not to expect more, came the encouragement to his children to “dream big”.

Rodriguez took them to places where “elite” people went. He instilled in them the belief that they “could go to any place you want regardless of what your bank statement says”. He showed them the “top floors of places” and showed them that they were as good as the elite are.

Rodriguez majored in philosophy and exposed his daughters to the arts.

“That was our day care! He showed us a life outside the City that is in books and paintings.”

Rodriguez writes and sings about “people are the same” in his “Most Disgusting Song.”

When his break came in South Africa in 1998 (“South Africa made me feel like more than a Prince”) and he goes from “being the outcast” to “being what he really was – a musician on stage”, he had “arrived at a place he’d tried to find his whole life” – he was at a place of acceptance; he was home!

The limousines pulled up but Rodriguez refused to sleep in the queen-sized bed. His humility remained.

The time here in South Africa was “beautiful, it was a dream” but then he had to go back. “The carriage turned into a pumpkin.”

He continues to “live a modest life. No excess. He works hard to make ends meet. There is no glamour to his life.”

And then the line of the movie that we can all learn from:

“He is rich in a lot of things, but perhaps not material things.”

Rodriguez sings

“Maybe today I’ll slip away

Keep your symbols of success

I’ll pursue my own happiness”

His daughter Regan says “It’s a grandiose story. People in Detroit need to hear something good.”

Perhaps we all need to hear something good.

And in “Searching for Sugar Man”, we hear (and see) that good.

As Rodriguez’s work colleague says:

“It demonstrates that we have a choice. Take Life and transform it into something beautiful. Like a silkworm takes raw material and transforms it into something that was not there before, something transcendent, something eternal!”

“It shows us the human spirit of what’s possible.”

Rodriguez chose Sugar Man as his choice.

You and I have that choice.

Rian Malan, author, says in the documentary, “We all have dreams for ourself, higher forms of ourself, some day we’ll be recognized, talents will be visible to the world. Most of us die without coming anywhere close to that magic.”

“The days of miracles and wonder.”

Jesus said “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” (Mathew 5:5)