Pink Trees for Pauline

Pink Trees for Pauline / Graaff-Reinet & District Cancer Association
19th October 2012
The Pink Trees for Pauline initiative on the 19 October 2012 is a project that aims to raise cancer awareness, give support to cancer sufferers and raise money for the Graaff-Reinet and District Cancer Association.

Pink fabric is available at Polka and the Tourism Office. For more information, contact Carol van Jaarsveld on 082 336 5983.Facebook “pink trees for pauline”

The Race of Life

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Wednesday 18 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Deuce


My speech at the prize-giving at the Run/Walk in the Parks road race events held on Saturday 14 January 2012 at Grey Junior School, Port Elizabeth:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and especially the busload of 20 athletes from Graaff-Reinet.

Imagine, if you will, the Race of Life.

Like today’s race and any other road race, it begins with a registration form and the allocation of a number, which you keep with you for the entire duration of your life.

At the completion of Life’s race, a death certificate, like a medal, is issued to indicate that the race is finished.

For some, it’s a longer race and for others a very much shorter race. For all, like the song says, it’s a winding road.

There are uphills and downhills, watering points, potholes and stumbling points; sometimes you race in groups and other times you are all by yourself.

Some people appear to do it so easily – they just sail through it; others have great difficulties and obstacles to overcome along the way. It’s not just plain sailing for them.

What is important, however, is that as participants in the race we need to enjoy every step of the way, from start to finish, put in all we’ve got and above all, have fun – because all too soon it is over!

I hope that you have all had fun today.

I received a note yesterday from a friend which read “I am encouraging my friends to run your race on Saturday.”

Most healthy people have no idea what it is like to run my race or the race that so many people with special needs run each day. That is what today has been about – raising awareness about people whose race is just a little bit more difficult than your own.

So next time you brush your teeth or don your running shoes or just go for a walk in the park, please spare a thought for those of us who are challenged to do like wise!

Thank you for being here today.

Thanks to Loines, Colleen and their team for all the hard work in organising this event and to the Headmaster and Rector of the Grey Schools for the use of their facilities.

Thanks to all the many sponsors whom Alec has mentioned.

By your participation in this event today, you have not only helped raise awareness about the special needs of so many people, but you have also contributed financially to making our life’s journey that much easier.

I am humbled by your support and thank you most sincerely for that.

I hope and pray that this time next year, in 2013, we may all be here again, and that Loines’s vision of making this, the ED Lunnon Walk/Run in the Parks, an annual event, will come to fruition.

Thank you!



It’s Not Just a Walk in the Park

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon


Tuesday 17 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Advantage ED

Two months ago Loynes Jenkerson was unknown to me.

Then I received a phone call from him – to thank me for our radio programme and what it meant to him personally.

I invited him to join me for coffee at Bluewaters café and, as they say, the rest is history.

We discovered that we had a mutual interest in road running – me having run my first official Knysna half-marathon with Lindsay Brown in 2000 and my last one in the year before I became ill. Loynes is still an active runner and the organiser of many races. In our discussion we decided that this July 2012 would see a number of us walking that half-marathon again!

The next thing I knew, Loynes called me again, and asked me for my permission to organise a race in Port Elizabeth to highlight my illness. I agreed to the ED Lunnon Run/Walk in the Parks on two conditions: one was that I would not be expected to help organise the programme and, secondly, that there would be some or other event that would be arranged for people with special needs.

So within the short period of just over one month, and that over the holiday period, the event was organised and put together by Loynes, Colleen Muller and his team of helpers.

There was to be an official 10km run/walk, a 5km fun run/walk and a 1km “walk” around the Grey Schools for people with special needs – people with wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks, blind people, … you name it!

Permission was sought and granted by Grey Junior School to use their facilities in Mill Park as the starting and finishing point, with parking facilities at the High School. The races would take place in Mill Park and Newton Park – hence the name “Walk/Run in the Parks”.

Loynes is one of those people who does first and then asks – he does not see the wood for the trees – and just gets on with it. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission in the first place!” (my paraphrasing!)

Yvonne Anderson was brought on board to organise the handicapped race.

Within days, the framework and the sponsors were there, within weeks the print material and advertising and before the end of December, the first registrations were coming in!

Well-known sports personalities like Steven Hunt, Rory Duncan and Kevin Paul came onboard. People from all walks of life offered to help.

And so came 14 January 2012.

I was slightly nervous when I approached the schools. Firstly, I had volunteered to walk five kilometres and secondly, I was hoping that Loynes would not be disappointed when he saw a few hundred people arrive for the events.

But what I saw in front of me was a sea of humanity – some one thousand people, from as far afield as Union High School in Graaff-Reinet, were already lining up at the start in College Drive.

I became even more nervous. Was there the capacity to handle so many entrants?

“Oh thee of little faith!”

The weather was perfect. The excitement palpable. Late registrations and more late registrations. Last minute hiccoughs.

But, at 06h30, I pulled the trigger to start the 2012 ED Lunnon 10km Run in the Parks, then at 6h45 the same for the 5km run/walk (and then getting myself into the pack to participate, too) and getting back before 07h45 to start the special 1km race.

At 8h30 the prize-giving took place on Junior Grey’s Osborne Field and by 09h30 the clearing up process was in place. Putting away all the equipment for the 2013 races and what will hopefully be the beginning of many more.

Truly, a run in the park may just be a walk in the park for some, but at the end of it all, it takes small ideas from people like Loynes to start big things – in this case, a new movement to raise awareness of people with disabilities, whether they be neurological like CBD, or as a result of motor car accidents.

I hope to see you all in Knysna in July and in the Parks again in January of Twenty Thirteen!

(PS I will post results and pics as soon as I receive them.)








Pigs, Guinea Pigs, Pork, Karoo Lamb and Cold Turkey

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 1 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Advantage ED

New Year’s Day – my 56th one!

I have not been very good at keeping my blogs up to date over the last few weeks. It’s not because I have been busy. On the contrary, life has been unusually quiet during this time.

It’s just that I haven’t felt well, haven’t been able to type, haven’t had the urge or inclination to write, and most of all, just haven’t been able to sit down for any periods of time. Try writing standing up!

Whoever would have thought that the CBD would have taken the act of sitting away from me too! All this time we have spoken about when time would come to sit in a wheelchair – now the very act of sitting would seem to preclude that from me, too!

My short-term memory is also becoming more problematic. However, for the record (which these blogs – “weB LOGS”) are supposed to be) let’s try and fill in the gaps of the last few weeks.

 The rugby test in Port Elizabeth in August this year set in motion a chain of events that resulted in my visiting Graaff-Reinet a number of times over the last few months.

There was the initial “hunting” weekend I spent with the Wrights when I came home with Charlie Jack Russell from the Harris’s. Life has changed dramatically in our household since then (… for better or for worse! …)

Then we went back for the Karoolus Fees. That resulted in me meeting Ed and Margie Parkes and being invited to speak at the Graaff-Reinet Cancer Society Christmas Dinner and the St James Anglican Church Men’s Breakfast Group. Then, I spent a number of days with Gordon, Rose, Graham and Helen and their families both in town and out on the farm. I was planning to stay longer, but had to return to Port Elizabeth for a public meeting at the University regarding the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) process that the oil companies have applied to government to initiate in many parts of our country – including our beautiful Karoo!

That very next weekend saw us return and spend the Saturday evening with the Harris’s (lovely braaied pork from their piggery for supper) before we attended Jean Margaret Watermeyer’s 80th Birthday Luncheon at The Aberdeen Club, and got to see the Ogilvies and the Watermeyer’s and many other people that I have met in the Camdeboo region over the last 26 years that I have been privileged to have been able to visit here in the Karoo. (The Karoo is traditionally sheep and goat country – and some farmers also run pigs (herds, litters, droves …?) that appear to help with the cash flow in tough economic times, such as are being experienced of late.)

A few months ago, I had also been invited by Howard Sheard to spend time at their farm Weltevreden just outside Nieu Bethesda (a hamlet just 30 minutes north of Graaff-Reinet). So when my niece Michelle and her husband Sebastian told me they were coming to visit for Christmas, I decided it was time to take Howard up on his offer and visit Nieu Bethesda.

In between all this travelling I had been experiencing increasing problems with the ongoing spasms down my left side. It has especially been making sitting down problematic and life quite uncomfortable.

So, desperate times called for desperate measures. I started seeing Dr Fanie Smit (and with the input of my neurologist) I started becoming a bit of a guinea pig! First we would try cortisone. I would also go for hydrotherapy (water exercises) with biokineticist Christelle Smit.

At one stage I was taking twenty five tablets a day (my daily Carbilev, Lyrica, cortisone (Prednisone), Norflex and Lexamil. I call my medication my Polyfilla – none of it will stop the progress of the CBD, slow it down, reverse it or stop it completely. It only helps to cover up the symptoms and so, like polyfilla, is just a cosmetic assistance to make things look good – “but you look so good” is what so many people say to me. Yes, I do look good – thanks to all the pills.

I program the pill times into my Blackberry so that I don’t miss a dose! Heaven knows what it is doing to my insides, and whilst I may look good, I certainly no longer feel all that well – and sometimes I wish I felt as good as I look!

We weaned me down from 8 cortisone tablets to one daily. But whilst the eight definitely made my life much better, the one tablet was not so successful. And Dr Smit says the side-effects of the cortisone vis-à-vis the relief it gives does not warrant taking such big dosages. So on the last visit to him, about three weeks a go, we stopped the prednisone. Next on the list would be quinine – just two a day for two weeks – let’s see what this does. (Whilst quinine is used to combat malaria, its use as an over-the-counter medicine has now been banned as a result of strange side-effects that it sometimes presents.)

At the same time Christelle (my biokineticist), together with André from Knights Orthotists, have been working on a device to assist with my errant left leg.

Let me explain: as my brain loses control over my muscles, they contract (like elastic bands that go from a stretched to an unstretched position) and hence my limbs fold up leaving me in the foetal position.

 So when I stand, my left leg bends at the knee and comes up like the leg of a flamingo, with my left foot at my right hip! Therefore, they have devised what I call my scaffolding – it’s a metal brace construction that prevents my knee from bending and at the same time gives me strength to put weight on that leg.

Besides a few teething problems and slight modifications, it works well (other than making my leg much weaker when it’s off as the leg becomes dependent on the support that the brace gives). I have been able to put away my walking stick for a while!


With all these various treatments at the same time, it is difficult to say what exactly is stopping the spasms and making it so much easier to sit. Is it the exercise, the brace, the medication …?

Anyway, it was the week before Christmas when we headed off to Nieu Bethesda, this time with Charlie who would visit his mother and siblings for the first time since moving from the Karoo to the coast. I had just started my dose of quinine.

Tuesday, we spent visiting some of the historical places of interest in Graaff-Reinet until a violent Karoo thunder storm put an end to our walk ‘round the town.

Then out to Tandjiesview, and our six, together with Graeme’s family, his parents and his cousin and his family of four, sixteen of us sat down to our first Christmas Dinner of the season!

Wednesday morning we moved on to The Valley of Desolation and a trip through the Camdeboo National Park. Later, we went onto Nieu Bethesda for lunch and then out to Weltevreden (meaning “well-satisfied/content”), some thirteen kilometres west of the hamlet. The rest of the day, as the travel brochures put it, “was for exploring at your own convenience”.

What a beautiful farm at the base of the tallest mountain peak in the Eastern Cape, the Kompasberg (the Compass Mountain). There we had Lisa and Miemie, farm domestic assistants to look after us, and in the absolute stillness of the evening, we sat down to our first braai of the week, and watch Miemie’s family of pigs stroll across the beautifully manicured front lawn!

However, day two of our trip was also day three of my quinine tablets, and they started doing strange things – upset tummy, nausea, ringing in my ears …

I have learned to push on … so Thursday was spent exploring the hamlet: art galleries, pottery shops, The Owl House, the local Brewery and Cheese producers, the cricket oval … and still so much more to see. A return visit is a must for the New Year!

Friday morning, all too soon, the Ridgeways headed back via Aberdeen and Beaufort West to the Western Cape, and we returned to Port Elizabeth. By then I was really feeling miserable and had also broken out in a red rash all over my arms and legs.

A visit to Dr Fanie brought to an end the quinine experiment, and so after a week, the quinine tablets were stopped, and with that, almost immediate relief from some of the side-effects. For the next week, this guinea pig will not be taking any additional medication, and so now I am in that period of cold turkey. Let’s see what happens and we will resume trials in the New Year!

Saturday was Christmas Eve, so some last minute shopping preceded our family-of-four Christmas Eve dinner, lamb and gammon! Sean returned from St Francis Bay, where he has been working at Cob’s Cove, and we spent a quiet evening together, and opened pressies on Christmas morning. It was the first time in many a year that we were not attending the Christmas Service in the Bowling Green Hall in St Francis Bay. I missed that! It seemed impossible that a year had passed since our last Christmas service there!

Anyway, we move on … through what Lance calls the Twilight Zone – the week between Christmas and New Year. I lose track of days at the best of time now. Add to that public holidays, and more public holidays (the government created an extra one this year on the day after Boxing Day … Tuesday, I think that was!), and I lose track of time completely. Sean returned to work in St Francis and Phillip headed off with friends to Bushman’s River.

Somewhere in this time, we went to see the Blues Broers and Centrestage’s Extravaganza. New Year’s Eve we spent with the Clarkes at Bluewater Bay and New Year’s evening was supper with the Stapletons. The Reelers are due for supper tonight. And then it’s back to normal – whatever that is!

AlgoaFM Podcast: wED 21 DEcember and wED 28 Dec 2011



Broadcast No 88 (from Valley of Desolation):
Broadcast No 89 (The Gift):   
QuantcastIf you missed these broadcasts, you can listen now.         

ED is in EDen (part 1)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 6 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

Exactly a week ago, last Tuesday evening, a switch was thrown at 23h00 by Dave Tiltmann, the MD of AlgoaFM which increased the broadcast area of our local radio station to include what is known as the Garden Route in the southern Cape of South Africa.

Reception on this, the southernmost coast of the African continent, is now obtainable “From The Garden Route to The Wild Coast” (and all broadcast from The Boardwalk Casino right here in Port Elizabeth.)

Previously, when going westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, AlgoaFM reception was lost somewhere between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Now, you can pick it up all the way to Riversdale and Still Bay on the coast, and inland as far as Oudtshoorn!

This part is arguably one of the most beautiful areas of our country and it is not known as the Garden Route for nothing. The municipal area is purposefully named the Eden Municipality.

No account of my life’s journey would be complete if I did not write about this area. Just as the Camdeboo and the Karoo have been a part of my life, so, too, have the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and the Garden of Eden.

I will describe the area from west to east along the southern coast.

Stilbaai (Still Bay) is at the mouth of the Kafferkuils River. It consists of two pieces, West and East. Just recently we spent time with the Wusts in Stilbaai West on our way to Cape Town (see The Cape of Good Hope).

But it was Stilbaai East that I first came to know as a High School youngster. Our neighbours in The Strand, Ds Bombaai van Rensburg and his wife (known to us as Aunty Dominee) and 5 sons – three of whom were born on the same date a year apart from each other! –  had a holiday house there. We were contemporaries and became good friends, and I spent many summer holidays with great memories with them there.

One summer holiday (circa my Std 9 year, I think) was rudely interrupted when I ended up in the Riversdale Hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. They kept me there for a week, as the doctor would not let me go back to the holiday village to recuperate! (Nowadays, I think it’s a one day in and out op!)

My Uncle George Lunnon and Aunty Irmela lived in Riversdal (Uncle George, ironically, worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the SABC, and was responsible for the erection of many of the tall red and white FM broadcasting towers that now dot the South African landscape.) I recall him taking me to see the one outside Riversdale during my convalescence period. It is situated in the foothills of the Langeberg and at the base of the mountain known to all in the area as The Sleeping Beauty. You can see why when you drive past Riversdale why they would have named it that!

 Despite having family there, my mom single-handedly drove the then four-hour trip from Cape Town to come and look after me!

Up the road from Riversdale (CCC vehicle registration) is Albertinia (named after one Rev Albertyn).  No drive through this town would be complete without having Sunday luncheon at the famous hotel or a purchase of some of the many medicinal products processed here from the sap of the Aloe Ferox plant.

Further westwards, about 15km from Albertinia, is the 65m high Gouritz River Bridge. It was here that the company Kiwi Extreme introduced the concept of bungi jumping in South Africa in 1990.

(The bridge swing and bungy have currently been suspended awaiting the outcome of an investigation to determine if the bridge structure will allow the continuation of such activities. A much higher jump is now available from the Blaauwkrantz River Bridge further eastwards along the N2  on the border between the Western Cape and the Easter Cape)

About 35 kilometers to the east along the N2 National Road is Mossel Bay. Before that you get to see the orange glow of the burning flame of the chimney of the SASOL Oil refinery (now called Petrochem, but originally called Mossgas when gas was discovered in the Indian Ocean south of Mossel Bay and was billed to transform the economy of this area from the depressed state that it was – what happened, I wonder? Big stories and promises like the fracking of the gas fields in the Karoo?

The gas pipeline runs from the ocean bed gas field south of Vleesbaai (where I have visited student friend Piet Immelman) to the refinery right next to the main highway, and a few kilometres from the Mossel Bay 1 Stop Service station and Engen garage and the obligatory stop for a meal at the Wimpy. (I remember as a student hitchhiking from here back to Stellenbosch – a trip that took two days!)

Mossel Bay itself is the start (going eastwards) of one continuous mass of wall-to-wall holiday and permanent homes built along the sweeping coastline where the white of the sea-sand merges with the darker blue of the sea-waters of the Bay, and the lighter azure blue of the sky and the horizon.

When I worked in business, this was the westward extremity of the area for which I was the Regional HR Manager. It was here, too, that I worked my last day in that industry and where it came to an abrupt end way back in March 2002.

What one sees as one urban sprawl is actually made up of numerous different towns/villages. Those that spring to mind are Hartenbos, home of the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging), Klein Brakrivier, Groot Brakrivier (it was here that as a High School student, I attended SCA camps), Tergniet (I often visited the Appels here when I did my military service in Oudtshoorn), Eselsrus (where retired teachers have made their holiday and retirement village), Glentana, Herold’s Bay (the home of golfer Ernie Els) and a guess a few more that I have forgotten.

From Mossel Bay to George the national road is a double four lane highway – only because the Member of Parliament for the constituency of George all the years was one PW Botha, later to become Prime Minister and State President of the Republic and the deliverer of the dreaded Rubicon Speech that projected our country on a downward spiral to chaos in the eighties).    


Next to the highway and between it and the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, is the George National Airport, also a brainchild of the late PW Botha MP.

Then comes the City of George, the sixth oldest town in South Africa named after King George III, and the Capital of the Southern Cape. The town is very centrally situated: halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and centre of the Garden Route.

It is situated on a 10-kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. Pacaltsdorp is found right next to George.

(Part 2 next week)


Just Another Two Weeks in the Life of ED

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 28 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Deuce

I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks now. It’s not because I have been too ill; it’s simply that I have been too busy!

And that being busy during a time that I really didn’t have anything planned. I had said to Lance on our radio discussion that I was going to relax. I was going to take it easy, catch up on my writing, get my admin sorted out and rest a while!

Well, let me try and document the last few (restful) weeks:

Friday 11 November

I missed the Remembrance Day sevice at Grey, but attended my first hydrotherapy at noon with Christelle Smit (biokineticist) in Newton Park. She was recommended to me by Paul Woolf, who was so instrumental in assisting Belinda Walton in her recovery after her dreadful car accident.

Monday 14 November

At 11h30 I see Suna Kennedy who visits me weekly to massage my hands, arms, feet and legs. At 13h30 it’s off to swim with Christelle.

Tuesday 15 November

At 11h00 I have my therapy with Christelle. Then invite to lunch with ex-pupil and psychologist Konrad Van Staden at Cape Town Fish Market at 13h00. Over Tuesday’s half-price sushi we discuss the ongoing spasms that are increasing, the pain in my left calf muscle and the discomfort that I am experiencing. Konrad has been discussing my condition with medical colleagues and they have some ideas with which they want to experiment.

He immediately makes an appointment with Dr Fanie Smit for 14h00 in the medical centre at King’s Court. Fanie recommends that we start a course of cortisone (read my blog Woke up and Gone to Heaven when I had cortisone injections last year to treat the gout attack that I experienced!)

I then rush off for my haircut @ 15h00 with Jeannine at Hair by André in 4th Avenue Newton Park. Jeannine has kindly been cutting my hair and trimming my beard for the last few months now, since it became more difficult for me to hold the shaver and pair of trimming scissors!

I then go to Dischem to collect the new experimental medication:

  • Be-Tab Prednisone 5 (40) 8x day for 5 days with breakfast (Wed – Sun)
  • Norflex Co (24) 1 -2 tabs 3x day as needed (Relieves muscular pain) [orphenadrine 35mg /paracetamol 450mg S2]

In the evening we went to see the Gilbert and Sullivan production of “Fiela’s Child”. I thoroughly enjoyed this translation and musical production of the original Dalene Mathee’s Fiela se Kind. (I had previously read the book and seen the movie.)

 The talent in Port Elizabeth never ceases to amaze me! Donna Africa is superb in the rôle of Fiela! And it’s a fundraiser in aid of Gaby van Rooyen’s Trust Fund – Gaby has muscular dystrophy and we have discussed her on air and she has met me at Bluewaters café.

Wednesday 16 November

I commence new medication with breakfast.

Then I head off to AlgoaFM studio at the Boardwalk for ED is in wED at 10h30. Veanne Falco and Loines Jenkerson kindly come to fetch me and after the show we have coffee together, kindly supplied by Bluewaters Café at Hobie Beach. We are also joined by Charles Pautz … and proceed to wax lyrical about the new I-Pads …

My therapy is cancelled today (I can’t remember why!), but in between everything, I am in discussion with the Wrights and the Parke’s in Graaff-Reinet to arrange my lift there for the weekend.

Rose Wright decides to come shopping in Port Elizabeth and drives down in the afternoon arriving at 17h30. She will stay over, go shopping in the morning and I will return to Graafies with her on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday 17 November

Rose goes off shopping. At 9h30, I have my weekly visit from Sister Gill from the Hospice, then Nadine arrives at 10h00 to help with my admin, followed by Isaac at noon for our weekly chat and then a rushed pack for the weekend. At two pm, I rush off for a double dose of therapy and swimming with Christelle until 15h00.

At 15h30 we leave for Graaff-Reinet, arriving there about 18h00. Gordon has called to tell us to meet him at the Graaff-Reinet Club for drinks, and then it’s to their home, supper and sleep!

Friday 18 November

Well, I’m here to talk so I had better prepare some speeches. After breakfast, I spend the rest of the day preparing and trying to be fancy using my I-Pad. I think getting used to the I-Pad took longer than putting my thoughts on paper – I mean I-Pad! But so we move into a paperless society.

Margie Parkes collects me at seven pm to attend the year end function of the GR and District Cancer Association. It’s billed as a Survivors’ Dinner and is attended by about 150 people in the Anglican Church Hall (only because the Methodists don’t allow alcohol!)

It is very humbling for me to speak to people who face the challenge of cancer (and those who have survived!) It is also awesome to meet so many people who “know” me because of listening to our programme. It never ceases to amaze me how popular the show has become.

Besides strangers there are also friends that I have met over the years visiting Aberdeen, Graaff-Reinet and Doringdraai. The Kroons, the Murrays, the Watermeyers  …  I wish I could remember all the names …  as my memory regresses, I will have to jot it all down in my I-Pad … I wish I remembered to do that at the time!

After a Welcome Speech by Margie, and Grace, we commenced with the starter. Then, I was introduced by “Aunty” Jean-Margaret Watermeyer (Colleen Ogilvie’s Mom) from Aberdeen.  I have known them since 1985 when I first started teaching at Grey with Dickie Ogilvie (himself a cancer-survivor.) Colleen’s brother Alec died from cancer in 1987 and that prompted their move to the Karoo and to farming, and our long association with Doringdraai  and the Camdeboo and the Great Karoo. (John Watermeyer was MC when we got married in 1990 and Dickie was one of my bestmen.)

I spoke about the positives of facing life’s challenges – The Gift that Adversity brings to us.

Then we had the main course and dessert, with some light singing entertainment in between. It was a great evening, celebrating the human survival spirit.

Afterwards, I went with Aunty Jean to Helen and Graham Harris’s town house. Uncle John was there too, and we visited a while until Graham took me back to the Wrights. There we were joined by William Pringle (the new Union High headmaster) and Gordon for a late-night single malt!

Saturday 19 November

At 9h00 Graham came to fetch me. I had a breakfast appointment to address the Men’s Club at the St James Anglican Church Breakfast Group. About twenty local gentlemen arrive and before breakfast I give them a slightly adapted version of last night’s speech. Question time delivers a large number of questions ranging from the illness to religion, faith and Christianity. I thoroughly enjoyed the quantity and quality of the questions asked. And we had an excellent breakfast!

Then back home. I was quite tired and had a short nap.  Afterwards, I walked to town for some exercise, looked at some of the historical buildings (GR, the fourth oldest town in SA, has the most historical buildings left of any town in SA.), chatted at Brian Bands to some ardent radio listeners and at The Spur to Andy Cherrington, my ex-neighbour from Port Elizabeth who has recently bought the Spur Steakhouse in Graaff-Reinet and moved there.

After a decent afternoon nap, we drove to the National Park and the Valley of Desolation, just outside the town, to have sundowners from the vantage point at the top of the Valley. What a magnificent sight to see the sun setting over the plains and leaving its coloured canvas over the Karoo and the Camdeboo mountains. The park closes at 20h00 and after our wines and cheeses, we barely made it out on time.

Then onto the Union – the entertainment facility at the High School where the New Bethesda Cricket Club now has its home ground. They had played Willowmore in the afternoon and were finishing the day off with a good old South African braai ( and a few beers!)

Sunday 20 November

Sunday was a lazy day – breakfast, lunch with William Pringle joining us, watching cricket (SA vs Australia with Aus winning!)

I fell asleep in the LazyBoy Recliner and woke up to find myself the only person left in the lounge. Then off to Tandjiesview to spend the night on the Harris’s farm, some 40km outside the town.


Monday 21 November

I took a walk on the farm whilst Graham was attending to some of the daily farming chores. After lunch, we headed back to town, and then returned to the Wrights for Monday evening.  (Cancelled swim time for today and Tuesday!)

Tuesday 22 November

Back to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday at 13h00 in order to attend a fracking meeting at the NMMU at 17h00. It was the first time that Shell Oil, Environmentalists, Geology Professor and Karoo Action Group shared a public platform under the chairmanship of University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Piet Naude, who studied with me at Stellenbosch University. Unfortunately, government did not pitch up and were conspicuous by their absence.

Overall, the general feeling (except that of Shell) was that a moratorium on fracking should be extended for at least another three years until a proper investigation under international watch-dog eyes could be concluded.

Wednesday 23 November

Loynes came to fetch me for ED is in wED. Then coffee with him and Kobus at Bluewaters café, Doctor Fanie at noon, more cortisone from the pharmacy, coffee with Konrad at 13h30, swim at 14h30 and drinks with Kyle, my financial advisor at 16h00!

Thursday 24 November

Back on to the cortisone at breakfast, Nurse Gill at 10h00, Nadine at 11h00, massage at 11h30 and then the  Parkinsons Support Group Christmas Dinner at QDotPharma (ex Paraexel) Head Office.

What a joy to see the humour, fun and enthusiasm in this group of people who battle the ravages of Parkinsons Disease!

Friday 25 November

Quiet morning at last and time to just sit and relax! But not for long, as it is swim time at 13h30!

Saturday 26 November

We attend Claire Williams’s retirement breakfast at Grey Junior. She is leaving after some thirty odd years of teaching there! (She is the fourth in a row of long serving teachers, after Pat Clarke, Jill Bromiley, and Charles Pautz – collectively some 150 years of teaching? – to retire!)

Then back to Graaff-Reinet! Pera and I left at 16h00 and drove as far as Tandjiesview, where we braaied with Graham and Helen in the evening and slept over.

Sunday 27 November

At 09h30 we left for Aberdeen, a drive of some 1hour, in order to attend, with 80 others, Jean Watermeyer’s 80th birthday luncheon at the Aberdeen Club. It was good seeing the Ogilvie clan and all the rest again. We left at 15h30 for Port Elizabeth and arrived home at around 18h00 (with Pera showing signs of tiredness and me having to drive from Jansenville all the way home!)

Monday 28 November

My internet is down – glory be … how did we manage in the past. Eventually with the help of MWEB we get that sorted out. Then swimtime at 13h30! And then I watched Joost van der Westhuizen’s Benefit Dinner on TV. He has MND (ALS) and they managed to raise in excess of R1 million for his Foundation.

Tuesday 29 November

Phil and I do some electrical work in the kitchen, then Soena at 11h00 for massage and Christelle for massage at 12h30 – double dose today! And I need to write a blog, so that takes up the rest of the afternoon (this blog incomplete as it may be!)


And how do I feel in all of this, bearing in mind the experimental cortisone?

Other than waking up with limbs that feel pretty normal for a change, I’m feeling pretty grotty, struggling to walk on a weak left leg, headache, sore joints, and generally just mis!

We can still try the other options … quinine, intermuscular injections, botox … let’s see how this goes …!

(And with grateful thanks to the team of people who still keep me moving every day … )




AlgoaFM Podcast: Wednesday 5 October 2011


Broadcast No 77 (From Somerset West – “Fracking” with Dougie Stern):
QuantcastIf you missed this broadcast, you can listen to it now.

Live AlgoaFM Broadcast: Wednesday 28 September 2011

Broadcast No 76:

If you missed this broadcast, you can listen to it now.



Friday 23 September 2011: 5 years on … Advantage CBD

On Tuesday of this week I was planning to write another blog.

However, I have not been feeling well, I have experienced some severe headaches, my short-term memory has been failing me, the spasms on my left side have increased and my hands and left leg have been quite limp. I am unable to sit for longer than a few minutes at a time.

I have been quite stressed and I think it’s the stress that takes that life that I still have out of me. It’s a vicious circle – the more stress, the less movement, the more stress … and so it goes on and on. I become exhausted.

I have to learn how to handle the stress and to keep working on my mind … it’s not easy, but it can be done.

All I managed to write on Tuesday was the jotting down of a few points about my activities of the previous week. (Read the previous blog Skeleton in the Cupboard.)That’s how my blogs usually start – a few ideas in my head or some points in my diary. (It’s something that I never used to keep for my personal things but, with failing memory, it’s become an essential part of my day – my electronic Blackberry and my old-fashioned handwritten book diary. The challenge is to keep everything synchronised!)

My intention was to build on those points, write the blog and then destroy the points.  But the more I looked at the points, the more I realised that the framework of my blog was only the skeleton of my life of the past week.

Just a few bullet points, just a quarter of a page, a few meaningless words like hospice, haircut, Club 300, rugby, Graaff-Reinet, breakfast, baptism, birthday …

So many of us live our lives like just the few necessary bullet points; just the quarter of the page.

We don’t bother to fill in the meat around the skeleton and our life becomes meaningless. We just do the bare necessities! We just exist.

When Moses asked of God who He was, He replied “I am what I am”.

In African culture, we speak of UBUNTU: I am because of the people around me.

Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (From a translation offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:

A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects.  

And it is the people around me who support me, who give meaning to my life, who make it worthwhile, who read my blogs, who listen to the radio programme, who write me notes of encouragement and who in turn allow me to give to them.

I shall always be grateful to all those friends and acquaintances who have been the tapestry of my life.

They are the people with whom I journey and share my existence and who are the meat of my life’s skeleton.

 So let me rewrite Skeleton in the Cupboard as UBUNTU:

On Wednesday evening the family attended Gino Fabbri’s dinner theatre show Toasted Nuts at the Old Grey Club. Gino is a local Port Elizabeth comedian and works with Gary Hemmings of Centrestage, the entertainment specialists in PE. Gary is an ex-pupil of mine and through him and AlgoaFM I have become acquainted with Gino. The show is a laugh-a-minute and the run has now been extended twice in PE. It’s wonderful what a good laugh can do for one’s well-being! I also enjoy being able to go out with the whole family – as the boys get older, it’s something that is becoming rarer theses days!

On Thursday mornings I have my weekly visit from the sisters of the St Francis Hospice. Their support is invaluable and something to which I look forward. I owe a great debt of thanks to Gill le Roux and Janice Malkinson, and to Isaac Reuben, father of my pharmacist David and brother of Solly, an ex-mayor of the City, who pay me weekly visits.

Nadine van Westenbrugge (who was a secretary at The Grey when I worked there, and the mother of Adrian who I taught at one stage) also pops in to help with admin on Thursdays. There are so many things that still need to be attended to, and she is a pillar of strength in this department.

Julian Fletcher is next in the diary. He provides me with a weekly deep massage of these muscles that disappear and atrophy because of the lack of use! It’s one of those eina lekker feelings (“sore nice” feelings) – I’m still not sure if it does me any bad or any good, but it appears to keep the muscles in reasonable trim. Who knows what they would have looked like by now had it not been for the exercises and massages.

Then its time for a haircut – Janine at Andre’s Hair design has kindly been attending to my hair and beard. She was elated today, because her son who is going to university next year has been given a personal bursary for his engineering studies by one of her clients! It all fall in line with my belief in what you give is what you receive.

Val and Craig Beetham, friends from The Grey, arrange to pick me up (in a Porsche, nogal!) to attend the wine-tasting evening of the Club 300 at Elizabeth Place – a local function venue. It’s always great to see other parents from the school and to socialise and hear what’s going on in the real world. My world could become quite boring if I allowed it to do so.

Ben Roth assisted with Sean’s rugby coaching last year at Grey and he manages Elizabeth Place. He also usually comes round to visit me on Thursday mornings: I provide the coffee and he brings the eats! (No wonder the” huggy bars” are starting to show more and more!) Anyway, he didn’t make the morning visit this week, but we got to have a good chat at the evening function.        

Fridays have become “lunch at Old Grey Club days.” Steak, egg and chips, all for R40 – sorry, that’s now R45 – have become the Friday special, and Sean and I, together with anyone else who wishes to join us, have been doing this lunch date for weeks now.

Between the two of us, we manage to round up a number of friends each week, and I like to think that we are supporting the Club in a very small way, too. This week, Sean has a number of his friends there, and I joined Annette Jones and Richard and Liz Finlay. Richard also has a birthday on the 18th September, and so we celebrate together.

After lunch, Pera and I leave for Graaff-Reinet. I offered to drive for a while and ended up driving all the way there (and back)! I haven’t done that for a long while, so it was quite exciting for me (although uncomfortable to sit for so long). I find it easier driving the automatic car on the open road rather than in town, but would not try doing it by myself anymore.

Sean had NSRI duty and Phil had school work so they remained at home.

Well, once in Graaff-Reinet, we didn’t touch sides. First, off to the Graaff-Reinet Club with Gordon and Rose. The hospitality in the Karoo is astonishing. Everyone introduces themselves to us, the visitors, and makes us feel so at home. This happens throughout our weekend visit!

 The other thing that astonishes me (and which I find very humbling) is just how many people listen to and comment on our weekly radio slot on AlgoaFM. I am so pleased that so many are now becoming aware of all these weird and wonderful neurological illnesses with which so many of us have to contend. That was my goal when Lance and I started talking now almost 18 months ago (we had our 75th chat this last Wednesday!)

Pera and I were asked to do the weekly draw and we ended up drawing our own number for the bottle of whiskey – not rigged, but rather embarrassing!

After the Club visit, we headed off to Gordon’s Restaurant for dinner. What a meal! What a host! What Company! What an evening … that finished off in the wee hours of the morning sitting around the kitchen table with a single malt!

Saturday morning was the big rugby game, SA vs Fiji and Ireland vs Australia. Well, if we were pleasantly surprised by the Bokke’s great performance, then I was elated by Ireland’s win over the Aussies! And when we are winning, then everything seems so much better.

So, at midday, in our green and gold shirts, we headed off down the road to the Botanics and the Karoolus Fees!

And we returned after midnight! The weather was great, the stalls were the stalls, the beers tasted good (no Guiness though!), the all-day music was entertaining (from Snotkop and Robbie Wessels, through Arno Jordaan and Glaskas to Elvis Blue and Prime Circle), the re-acquainting with old friends and the meeting of new friends – all for R50!

What a day and what an introduction to my 55th birthday (and my 5th with CBD) on Sunday which started with a traditional Wright birthday breakfast for me. Then it was time to leave the gem of the Karoo and the people who make up that gem.

We headed back to PE, all the richer for having experienced Ubuntu Karoo-style. And even richer we were when we attended Phil’s baptism that evening at Walmer Methodist.  It may have been Walmer, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case for the water in the outside pool where Phil was baptised!

And still this week’s dose Ubuntu wasn’t finished yet – Tuesday was Nadine’s birthday and Grant (Jet) Jennings, our neighbour, and ex-pupil.

 Why is it that so many people celebrate a birthday in September? Is it the result of Christmas Ubuntu?