Marching to Pretoria (Thailand Day 17 – 21: Mon – Fri: 9 – 13 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Monday 27 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CB

And, at 07h00 Monday morning, 9 July 2012, we landed, on time, at JHB – the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are Africans and we were home!

It was noon in Bangkok and Phuket – five hours ahead of us, but, paradoxically, all that was behind us now.

As in Life, all that remains are our pictures, our stories and our memories … the Legacy of Life – the Good in Good-Bye!

Yes, it was early Monday morning and we were back in mid-winter and back in Africa.

We stepped off the plane in our Thai summer clothing and the cold hit us. We could feel the cold Highveld and we knew we were home.

We could see the groups of Airport staff standing around with surly faces, hands in their pockets and no inclination to assist – not even to hold the door open (or to open it properly to remain open) as we stepped into the airport building! We knew we were home. 

We were moved from one carousel to the next to collect our baggage. We knew we were home.

Only five of the twenty passport control booths were manned and the queues of people from three international flights that had just landed started to build up. We knew we were home.

And then the computer system went down … we were most definitely home!

We went through customs quickly – “Nothing to declare”- and took leave of the Bryants, who were leaving later in the day for George Airport and Plettenberg Bay. Our very much smaller tour group – the four Lunnons – were going on to our administrative capital city, Pretoria (or Tshwane, as some would prefer to call it).

We would be taking the Gautrain, our newly built and opened South African showpiece right into Hatfield in the heart of Pretoria. Were we really home, or could this be a tube train in London? Although everything was so similar to a London tube train, the one thing we did not hear was “Mind the Gap!” However, we did hear that we were not to eat chewing gum (which we were all still chewing from our landing into OT Airport!)

Yes, we were really home and, yes, we can be truly proud of this achievement. We left the airport at 09h00 and were at the Hatfield station at 09h45, where we were picked up by our friend Tony Reeler, headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School.

I have written about Tony and Rose, and Michael John and Alexander before – see the blog “Thank you for the Music”.

The next three days we spent on the campus of the school in their lovely home that overlooks the Union Buildings and the Blue Bulls Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium (I’m not sure at which one of the two the seat of South African authority is vested!)

We acclimatised, got rid of the jet lag (which hit me particulalary badly after this trip), visited, chatted, skindered, snoozed, ate, snacked, Amstelled, yes – braaied!, red-wined, toured the school campus, visited Freedom Hill, caught up and generally just did what good friends do … (and the boys went back to Johannesburg on the Gautrain for two days to play golf with Phill’s friend Brad Mackenzie).

On Thursday morning, Tony took us over to Faerie Glen, where we were staying with my good university friends, Marzette and Thomas Moolman. We repeated the previous paragraph (except this time we took the boys ice-skating in Pretoria North)! We also managed to sneak in an afternoon visit to Pera’s friends Guy and Bev Keeling.

It was a week of cooling down, literally and figuratively! And it was great to catch up with good friends.

After brunch on Saturday, Thomas took us back to the OT Airport. Although I had heard on the news that bad weather was expected in the Eastern Cape, a call to the airline confirmed that all was well (or was it?!).

Our British Airways flight departed Johannesburg a few minutes late – headed for the Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Our Thai trip was fast coming to its end …  

 

 

Where’s the Good in Goodbye? (Thailand Day 16: Sunday 8 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Saturday 25 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD

Tomorrow, Sunday, would see us returning to SA. It would be our “goodbye” day and as my ex-pupil, David Aldo (Abbate) sings from Los Angeles – “Where’s the good in goodbye?”

The Hell in Hello is there NOT being a Good in Goodbye!

In life, for every new thing, person, place, event; in fact, for everything that comes into our life and that we say hello to, there comes a time when we have to take leave of it – when we have to say goodbye. And it’s not always that easy to say goodbye …

And so Sunday arrived, and after breakfast, which started in beautiful sunshine and ended in rain, (what else could we expect by now!) we packed and prepared to vacate our rooms by noon.

The suitcases, not surprisingly, were more and fuller than those with which we had arrived!

Everything went into a holding room, and we were able to use a holding room ourselves, in order to rest and shower before we were collected at 18h00 for our return trip to the Phuket International Airport.

The scooters were returned, driver’s licence returned, last pictures taken, last take-away’s, last walk-arounds, last Thai TV, last naps … but it was not the last rain. The rain rained … and the brightly multi-coloured ponchos, which had served us so well, were scrunched up into little balls and left behind. All we would take with us was the cheap dye of the ponchos that remained on our hands.

We would have no further use for the ponchos – imagine us all driving around Port Elizabeth or Plettenberg Bay with brightly coloured ponchos on scooters in the pouring rain! That would be so infra dig!

One of the nice things of holidaying is that one can do things, and does things, that one would never dream of doing at home! What goes on holiday stays on holiday! All that remains there … and all that remains here are memories …

So, we remember

  •          the arrival at Phuket International Airport
  •          the wrapping of our cases and the checking-in procedures
  •          the wait
  •          the coffee spilt on Phill’s trousers
  •          the washing and drying of his trousers in the ladies and gents restrooms and the well-crafted logistics of this operation by Pera and Sean and Phill
  •          the late departure
  •          the rush through Bangkok International to catch our departing plane to Johannesburg
  •          the efficiency with which that rush was handled by the Thai ground staff
  •          our late departure from BKK at 02h00 Monday morning (Thai time) – 21h00 Sunday evening JHB Time
  •          the terrible trip back (squashed seat, no TV, storms, bumping, no sleep)

And, at 07h00 Monday morning, 9 July 2012, we landed, on time, at JHB – the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are Africans and we were home!

It was noon in Bangkok and Phuket – five hours ahead of us, but, paradoxically, all that was behind us now.

As in Life, all that remains are our pictures, our stories and our memories … the Legacy of Life – the Good in Good-Bye!

Teach Your Children Well

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 2 April 2012: 5 years 7 months on … Deuce

As a first year teacher in 1984, I was responsible for introducing that new phenomenon “Computer Studies” into the High Schools of Port Elizabeth. Pupils were selected from all the (white!) schools of Port Elizabeth on the basis of obtaining an A in maths and science. My computer “laboratory” in G5 at Grey High consisted of 3 terminals connected to the Cape Provincial Administration Mainframe in Cape Town and an Apple 11 “Personal Computer” – our PC, we called it. (nowadays, my Blackberry cellphone in my pocket has far more processing and memory capacity than that entire lab!).

Be that as it may, G5 could be the subject of an entire book on its own!

Having “soft” music playing in the background was always an essential part of my teaching, and a song by Crosby Stills Nash and Young was a favourite of mine and many a class – Teach Your Children Well!

 Over the last few weeks, I have found myself thinking about that line several times – and the Circle of Life.

Life, generally, consists of three main phases:

Give or take a few years, approximately the first twenty years of one’s life is spent in the learning and preparation phase: learning to walk, learning to talk, going to school, going to university, learning about life …

 One’s parents and teachers play an all-important role in this part of one’s life.

They prepare one for the next forty years or so. During that phase, whilst the learning should not stop but only move into a background position, it’s the execution phase of the preparation phase that takes place.

It’s during this second phase that some rise to the highest levels and some sink to the lowest. All experience that which life throws at them – the good, the bad and the ugly – and it’s how one deals with each experience that determines one’s “success” or not of living life.

And it’s during this phase that one starts the preparation phase for the next generation – preparing one’s off-spring for taking over the circle of life; for taking over that baton in the relay of life that they, too, will run when the time comes for one to hand it over to them.

At approximately sixty years of age, the third phase of life is embarked upon – those twenty or so years in which one gets to “retire” from main-stream life. Some would call them the “Golden Years” and whilst for a few this may be so, many would experience silver, bronze or just plain tin and struggle years.  The success of these years is determined to a large extent by the health and wealth that is enjoyed during this time.

Some people never experience the seven score years and ten. Some never get to the Golden Age – they leave this world in the first preparation phase or during the second execution phase.  For whatever reason their life is cut short and they never get to experience the Circle of Life as it was intended. 

Yes – for a few, it’s a very large Circle; for most, a much smaller Circle that is experienced.

In some ways the Circle of Life is similar to having a meal: there’s all the preparation involved in obtaining and preparing the various required ingredients, and all the things that can and do and don’t go wrong; followed by the experience of sitting down and eating  and enjoying or not enjoying the meal; and then followed by the after-meal who for some entails the liqueurs and lighting  up the after-dinner cigars, whilst for others it’s the gathering and cleaning of the pots and pans and dishes!

During the last few weeks, I have experienced parts of the Circle of LIfe again.

A few weeks ago, (see the blog Cape of Stormers) I went back to the place of my Life’s preparation in the Hottentots-Holland Valley of the Western Cape. I stayed at my family home; visited my primary school, Hendrik Louw; my high school, Hottentots-Holland High; saw some of my family, old school and university mates and teachers; and even visited my Std Five teacher, Mr Peter Preuss in Cape Town.

Each of these has had an influence on whom and what I am today.

As a parent, and during Pera’s two-week trip to Italy, I have experienced just how our own two sons have been prepared for Life. We are truly blessed; and Pera needs to take the accolades for her role in preparing the boys in the kitchen and looking after themselves (and me!)

From buying the groceries, running the budget, preparing the meals and organising the house (and Charlie!) to looking after me, they have come out tops.  I am a grateful and proud father and I know that, whenever my Circle ends, they are well-prepared to handle the Storms of Life that they, too, will encounter.   

As a school teacher, I experienced this past weekend (and as I regularly do on an on-going basis) just how a teacher has an influence on other people’s off-spring in preparing them for life.

On Friday (and Saturday!) evening I attended a show of David Aldo (Abbate) at the Boardwalk’s Amphitheatre.

I taught David Aldo Abbate maths in the eighties and thought he would become an Einstein. Instead he has become an American-based alternative acoustic pop singer of note.

As a singer-songwriter David Aldo moved to Los Angeles 13 years ago, but he came home this past weekend only for the second time, performing with his daughter Sherri and pianist Brian Schimmel, to give his local fans a taste of his latest offering titled, Halfway to Memphis.

David’s compositions are aired on radio stations around the world and he has opened tours for music royalty such as Lionel Richie and, ironically, Crosby Stills and Nash in New York. He performed at the 2005 home wedding of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.  Other A-listers he has performed for include Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Robbie Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Rob Stewart, Russel Crowe, Tom Selleck and Jennifer Aniston.

He has had four number one songs and was once voted best male vocalist in South Africa. He penned a song titled Madiba for Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday celebrations.

 My thanks to David for inviting me to his show but also for reminding me, yet again, in our discussions that despite our station in Life and despite the supposed glamour that some attain, the Circle of Life remains the same for all and the weather never remains constant.

At the end of Saturday evening’s show MC Alfie Jay announced that David’s maths teacher was in the audience and that maybe, in some small way, I had contributed to his wonderful sense of timing!

That set in motion many people who introduced themselves to me and thanked me for the weekly show that I do with Lance du Plessis on AlgoaFM.  I am amazed at and grateful for the growing number of people who listen to that programme.

Ironically, as my Circle of Life grows smaller, it actually becomes bigger.  I am so very humbled.

Yes, it’s my time for the after-dinner cigars. Bring on the liqueurs!

(For the record, March 2012 has shown the most regression in terms of my physical abilities. The paralysis has moved from my left hand up into my left upper-arm and shoulder, making it difficult to lift my left arm much above waist-height.  For the first time, I have started experiencing pain in my left shoulder. My left hamstring is painful and subject to many more spasms.  My left leg becomes weaker and I am more dependent now on the walking-stick and leg brace. My mind becomes cloudier and my short-term memory and concentration an ever-increasing problem. I experience on-going weariness.)