Kings Rule, Don’t They?

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 11 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

stadium

Our Super 15 rugby franchise, the Southern Kings, was born into this region in a tempestuous sea of politics. In the lifeboat they now occupy, they now meet the storms of the other 14 franchises, the rugby supporting communities of three nations and a wild political arena of lions (no puns intended!)

It’s now sink or swim time!

Two weeks ago they beat the Western Force of Australia in their opening match. Last Saturday they narrowly lost to the Sharks of KwaZulu-Natal. I was at both matches and my grateful thanks to Brendan Kelly and the EP Powerboat Association for inviting me to join them before and after the game at their wonderful facilities in the shadow of our magnificent Mandela Bay Stadium. (Parking places at R200 for the season right there at the stadium are available by contacting Brendan on 083 458 5721.)

The Kings team has engendered a new spirit in the inhabitants of this, the poorest of the nine provinces of South Africa. Whatever the future holds, the present euphoria must not be allowed to dissipate.

Mentally, they must stay on top. It’s like fighting life, illness, disappointment, disaster, financial ruin and whatever …

Life is rarely simple and straightforward and prosperous and happy. If it is, it isn’t for long.

There are ups and downs of all kinds, new innovations and the rapid discarding of obsolete items. There are economic swings and stock market crashes, wars, assassinations and elections. We live in a world of hazard and difficulty.

We have to put our heads down and plough our way through it all. We have to remember that unexpected things do happen – both good and bad!

Life unfolds, sometimes with adversity, always with hard work, and occasionally with undeserved fortune.

Life is a strange mixture of joy and sadness; hope and despair; health and sickness; and success and failure.

So, however hard things might be, it is important not to give in to despair.

Live without regret! I try to do so and some days are easier than others. I find I am so busy just trying to live life every day that I forget why I am living at all.

I do have some regrets and I wrote about some of these in my last blog. But I also need to let go of them!

Here some ways, suggested by Alex Blackwell, of ensuring that when your last day arrives, you can look back on a life that mattered:

(On your marks (1 – 10), get set (11 – 20), go (21 – 30))

  1.       Avoid the someday syndrome – tomorrow is not soon enough!
  2.       Take responsibility for your life and live every moment. YOU own it!
  3.       Take an honest look in the mirror – start now!
  4.       Acknowledge your reality. Change what needs changing and heal what needs healing.
  5.       Know your truth, listen to your inner voice and your inner wisdom.
  6.       Be thankful for what you have. Gratitude opens your heart wider to receive even more.
  7.       Be your own best friend – enjoy the person you are.
  8.       Perfection isn’t required and mistakes are welcomed.
  9.      Don’t waste time living someone else’s life.
  10.     Think differently to find what brings you the most happiness, peace and purpose.
  11.     Ask for what you want and believe that you are worthy to receive it.
  12.    Flush out all the BS – the Belief Systems that tell you that you are too old or too young, or that you are not smart enough or too          damaged!
  13.   Transform negative thoughts into positive beliefs.
  14.   Let go of negative attachments and past mistakes – including all your regrets!
  15.   Face your fears – you can’t avoid them and pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away.
  16.   Believe you CAN be the best in yourself. You can!
  17.   Become the person you want to be. Step outside your comfort zone, claim your voice and realize your worth.
  18.   Make time to follow your desires.
  19.   Love what you do. If you don’t, begin moving in the direction of what you are passionate about.
  20.   Look forward to your journey and not just the destination. There will be potholes and digressions along the way.
  21.   But keep moving forward (even when life is hard).
  22.   Savour each moment – it’s the only one guaranteed.
  23.   Walk your path at your own speed and in your own way. It doesn’t matter how others are walking their paths.
  24.   Smile more – it’s a simple act that can help you through life’s most challenging situations.
  25.   Forgive more – yourself and others.
  26.   Love more and share your love.
  27.   Be kind to others.
  28.   Take chances – you will never know what might happen!
  29.   Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional.
  30.   Seek counsel, advice and friendship when you get stuck and can’t see where the path is taking you.

 (Thanks to Alex Blackwell, the Bridgemaker, for the 30 Ways to Live)

Be the King in your Kingdom.  It’s hard work, but then being a King is hard work.

However, it has its rewards and ensures that your life counts for something.

In the final analysis, “thine be the kingdom” – and you get to sing “Regrets, I HAD a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

 

Watch spectator fight at S15 rugby game between Kings and Sharks by clicking on the link below:

http://www.sport24.co.za/Multimedia/Rugby/Super15/Fan-fight-20130312

Joost’s Disease

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 11 December 2012: 6 years 3 months on …

Physical:  Advantage CBD / Mental:  Advantage CBD

Joost van der Westhuizen, ex-Springbok scrumhalf and captain, appeared on the TV programme Carte Blanche again this past Sunday. He has MND – Motor neurone Disease and has appeared on TV a few times and often in the print media since his diagnosis at the beginning of last year.

In the United States MND is often called Lou Gehric’s disease – after a famous baseball player who contracted the disease. In South Africa now, people often refer to Joost’s Disease! I repeatedly get asked whether I have what Joost has!

Thank God for Joost!

Because of his celebrity status he has helped to raise the status and awareness of MND and other neurological illnesses.

But his situation should also raise a number of other issues and many questions.

For every Joost out there, there are hundreds of other South Africans with similar neurological illnesses who not only battle the disease but also need the support system and funds to deal with their battle.

How best can we help those people?

By law, medical aids in this country have to cover certain illnesses. These are referred to as PMB’s – prescribed minimum benefits. A certain number of diseases/conditions (such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB etc.) are defined as PMB’s and have to be covered for certain treatment by a medical aid.

Neurological illnesses (other than Parkinson ’s disease) are not classified as PMB’s which means that all treatment required for such illnesses, such as medication, physiotherapy, speech therapy, wheelchairs and other devices, home care, adaptation of homes, etc are not covered by medical aid other than payments made out of a general medical savings account should there be an available balance. This places an unbelievable financial burden on the patient and family.

How best can we be lobbying for the lawmakers to include neurological illnesses as PMB’s?

Joost has a foundation, J9, which is raising funds for research.

Where is this research being carried out and what research is being done?

How best can we be assisting in order to make this research beneficial to all patients?

How best can we be lobbying government to assist in assisting people with neurological problems?

Joostlike! The questions don’t stop … and the answers don’t come!

ED is in week EnDing Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

 

5 years 11 months on … Advantage CBD

  • Mon 20: Gardener; Not feeling well – lay down for most of day (first time since being ill)
  • Tue 21: Visit from Gill (HOSPICE); massage by Julian (not well for rest of week)
  • Wed 22: AlgoaFM broadcast; Gym at Humewood; Visit by Isaac; Cancelled Trivia Quiz at Grey
  • Thu 23:Men’s Club Meeting at Bridge Street Brewery; Nadine visit; Ivan Berkowitz visit; Lance Armstrong has medals stripped and banned for life
  • Fri 24: Lunch with Andrew Barton at Thai Restaurant
  • Sat 25: BuildaBurger at home; Springboks vs Argentina (draw); Death of Neil Armstrong (astronaut)
  • Sun 26: Gym; Finished off  Thailand blogs
  • Mon 27: Admin
  • Tue 28: Visit Sr Gill; Dallas after thirty years!

ED is in week EnDing Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

 

5 years 11 months on … Deuce

  • Mon 13: Seve’s Mom’s Funeral; Tax; Twice around the golf course
  • Tues 14: Meeting with Terry Bilson re memorial service; Communion with Billy Lindoor; Massage by Julian; Meeting with Derryk Jordan; Haircut; Meeting at School
  • Wed 15: AlgoaFM; Terry Bilson; Kathryn’s memorial service at Grey; Kevin Paul’s farewell at Old Grey
  • Thu 16: Visit from Nadine, Kings admitted into Super 15; not feeling well; Massacre by police at platinum mine in Rustenberg in NorthWest Province
  • Phil at home for weekend with border friends Brad MacKenzie (JHB), Tyrone Pells  (Plett) and Nick Viljoen (Graaff-Reinet)
  • Fri  17: BODA/Daypot Rugby at School (BODAs win for 5th consecutive time); BODA Braai
  • Sat 18: Springboks play and beat Argentina; Drinks @ CTFM
  • Sun 19: Lunch party @ home
  • Mon 20: Gardener; Not feeling well – lay down for most of day (first time since being ill)
  • Tue 21: Visit from Gill (HOSPICE); massage by Julian

ED is in week EnDing Mon 13 August 2012

5 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

  • Mon 6: Visit by Isaac; Water restored
  • Tue 7 : Meeting of MNDA of SA at Old Grey Club – talks by physiotherapist and Charl Parkin
  • Wed 8: Kevin Paul in AlgoaFM studio with me; Trip to East London; Drinks with Old Boys at EL Golf Club
  • Thu 9: Womens Day; Grey vs Selborne; Philip’s last rugby in EL (lose), 1st Team Win; Drinks with Scholtz’s at Beach front; Seve’s Mom passes away
  • Fri 10: Return to PE
  • Sat 11: No electricity for 15 hours until Sat evening
  • Sun 12: Gym; Closing ceremony of Olympic Games in London
  • Mon 13: Seve’s mom’s funeral; Double walk on the golf course

ED is in week EnDing Mon 6 August 2012

5 years 11 months on … Advantage 

  • Mon 30: New cell phone for Sean
  • Tues 31: Visit from Sr Gill (Hospice); Eye examination by Dr Dean Barclay –  central serous retinopathy;  massage by Julian; Le Clos beats Phelps 200m Butterfly
  • Wed 1: AlgoaFM; Gym; Sean and I  watch Charlie T and Darron Mann walk on coals
  • Thurs 2:  Haircut; SA Rowers get Gold!; Guest speaker Rotary West @ PE Golf Club
  • Fri 3: Water problem in metro – supply pipelines from dams break; Visit to hydrotherapist
  • Sat 4: Rugby vs Framesby (Phil played 4th and 3rd team, both won!); Drinks @ Pavilion; Supper @ Stapletons
  • Sun 5: Sold “Rusk” to Tyler Botha; Gym

 

ED is in week EnDing Mon 30 July 2012

5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

  • Sun 22: Els wins British Open; Amla scores 300 runs vs England
  • Mon 23: Gardened with Sandy
  • Tues 24: Visit from Sr Gill (Hospice)
  • Wed 25: AlgoaFM (Sean lift); afternoon drinks at Bridge St
  • Thu 26: Visit from Nadine, Isaac; massage by Julian; Haircut
  • Fri 27: Opening Ceremony of Olympics – London; Hosted Grey Bloem boys
  • Sat 28: Farmers’ Market; Rugby (mudbath) vs Grey Bloem (Phil lost 4th’s; 1st Team lost); Drinks @ Pavilion
  • Sun 29: HomemakersExpo @ Moffett on Main; Gym; Olympic Games – Van den Burgh gets gold 100m Breaststroke

 

ED is in week EnDing Mon 23 July 2012

5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

  • Sun 15: Unpacked; lunch at Angelo’s
  • Mon 16: Rugby vs Buenos Aires School at Grey; Sean ref; supper at Old Grey
  • Tues 17: Visit from Sr Gill (Hospice), Annette Jones; Haircut
  • Wed 18: AlgoaFM (Loines lift), Charles Pautz at Bluewaters; lunch at Bridge St with Sean and Matt; supper (braai) with tourists from Liverpool
  • Thu 19: Visit from Nadine; watched Phil play rugby vs Liverpool; pizza build for supper with Liverpudlians; massage by Julian
  • Fri 20: Dentist to repair broken tooth; lunch with Sean at Angelo’s ; walk with Charlie on golf course; visit by Isaac
  • Sat 21: Rugby vs Daniel Pienaar at Uitenhage (Phil won 4th’s; 1st Team lost); 3 CD’s of photo’s from Bryants!
  • Sun 22: Spent the day editing Thailand photo’s; Thai-Ed!

Money and the Boks

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 19 June 2012: 5 years 9 months on … Deuce

Last Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day by having lunch at Old Grey Club together with two hundred other people doing the same! The food was great, the atmosphere jovial , the music good and the weather played along, too.

There was no TV to watch rugby, which is what we seem to have been doing for the last few weeks.

Two Saturdays ago the Boks beat England in Durban. Last Saturday, we joined the Stapes’s and the Scholtz’s and watched the Boks on the box beat England in Johannesburg. By doing so, the Boks also won the series of three matches against England.

But now, it’s the third game in Port Elizabeth this coming Saturday. England is hoping to save face by winning this last test. We are hoping for a series white-wash!

The Springboks are in town.

Yesterday, five thousand people (including our whole family) watched the team practice at Grey High School. Today and tomorrow they practised again – this time behind strict security cordons keeping the public at bay.

England is coming to town. This time not to colonize Africa, but to play rugby against the Springboks.

The whole country appears to be in town or coming to town – to watch England and South Africa do battle against each other.

The rugby gees is in town.

It’s a scene reminiscent of the Football World Cup of 2010!

And as everyone comes to town, we are planning to leave town. We will not be at the Stadium on Saturday, as we will be flying out to Johannesburg on Saturday morning (in a near empty aeroplane, I guess!).

And, in order to get ready for our trip of a lifetime to Thailand, I have spent the last few days getting everything in order. The checklists and the checklist for the checklists get longer and longer.

Overseas travel is not for the feint-hearted and when you have a degenerative brain disease, it becomes even more difficult. Thank goodness, the international arrangements have been taken care of – but there’s still the rest …

Passports – check. E-tickets – check. Itinerary – check. Map – check. Vodacom – check. Blackberry – check. IPad – check. Charger – check. Plug – check…

Wheelchair – check. Assistance – check. Seats with legroom – check. Walking stick – check…

Winter clothes – check.  Summer clothes – check.  Swimming gear – check. Snorkel – check…

House sitter – check. Dog – check. Newspapers – check. Gardener – check. Security – check…

Insurance – check.

Bank card – check.

Baht – check.

Now that the money’s in my hands, it’s all starting to look real.

Krung Thep – City of Angels – here we come! And who cares if the rugby players get heated under the collars on Saturday. At 31 degrees and 80% humidity, we will surely be getting hot as well!

And my money (Baht that is!) is on the Boks.

P.S.

Thursday is international MND/ALS day – check.

Thursday:  speak at Grey High: write speech – check!

Where the Land meets the Sky

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 15 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on … Advantage CBD

There are a number of “Queenstowns” in various countries in the world.

Our Queenstown, nicknamed the Rose Capital of South Africa and almost in the middle of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, was founded in 1853 and is named after Britain’s Queen Victoria.

The layout of Queenstown reflects its original objective as a defensive stronghold for the frontier area on the Border and has a most unusual design. There is a central hexagonal area where canon or rifle fire could be directed down six thoroughfares radiating from the centre. The canon sites have now been replaced with gardens and a central fountain was the dominant feature. A striking abstract sculpture replaced the fountain as part of the town’s 150th anniversary. The Hexagon still exists, with the outer road surrounding and encircling it named Robinson Road.

I have visited Queenstown on many occasions. The first time was at the age of eight (?) when, as a family, we caravanned through the country, from Cape Town to Bloemfontein to East London and back to Cape Town.  We stopped over in the Queenstown caravan park – more or less where the Casino and shopping centre is now. Then, I visited my sister Ingrid and brother-in-law Anton when I was in the army in 1982 and they taught there. When I started teaching in Port Elizabeth in 1984, we visited Queenstown bi-annually and, in my business life, I did numerous business visits – almost fortnightly! As a parent from Junior School days (from 2002), we also visited bi-annually – every even year.

I haven’t been there in the last two years – not since our last school visit in 2010.

But, last Friday, we travelled to Queenstown again. The reason for our trip was to meet the big canons – not those on the Hexagon – but those at Queen’s College. Our Grey High School boys were to take on the might of the boys of the College in the annual encounter of sporting and cultural disciplines.

Queens’s College is the oldest school on the Border. A Mr C.E. Ham set up a private school for boys, the Prospect House Academy. In 1858 it was taken over by the state as the Queenstown District School. That year is taken as the foundation date for Queen’s College and Queens is, therefore, just two years younger than our own Grey Schools – founded in 1856.

The venue for this encounter alternates on an annual basis: one year in Port Elizabeth and the next in Queenstown. As Phillip is now in his second last year at school, this trip to Queenstown would be our last to watch the games there!

Queenstown lies some 400km north-east of Port Elizabeth and there are a number of routes one can take to get there. 

From the Sunshine Coast through the Great Karoo: we chose the N10 north to Cradock and then the R61 north-east to Queenstown. However, we broke the trip, after an hour and a half’s travelling, at Middleton and stayed over on Friday evening with Colin and Michelle van Niekerk on their dairy farm Monterrey. (Their son Hugh was with Sean at Grey and Angus is Phillip’s vintage.)

Saturday was an early-morning start just as the mist was beginning to lift. The sun was starting to rise over that spot where the land meets the sky in the east and the vapour was rising up into the cold air over the relatively warmer water of the numerous farm dams. The darker mountains were silhouetted against the lighter azure of the pre-dawn sky.

It’s in scenes like this in the Heart of the Karoo that you discover your soul and more.

 It took another two and a half hours through Cradock and Tarkastad (where Pera taught for five years) to get to Queenstown, arriving there just after 09h00 and in good time for Phillip’s rugby game.

Phillip’s team won, as did all the other high school teams in the morning (except the Fourth’s). After lunch came the third rugby team (won), seconds (drew), and then the big one of the day: the Grey High School for Boys First XV against the Queens College Boys’ High School First XV.

At the turn into the second half of that match, life could not have been better for the Grey supporters. The score was 19 – 3 in Grey’s favour and we were riding the crest of the wave.

Then, as in Life, just when you think that things can’t get any better, the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. The dominos fall one at a time!

From hero to zero …

A new referee, a yellow card, a send-off, a few strange decisions, and before you can say “Life’s not fair!” the score is 19 all!

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, there’s one final nail in the coffin: that try that would have put you on the winning track and changed the course of history, just isn’t a try.

Never count your chickens before they hatch, and never celebrate until the money’s in the bank.

In the dying moments, smoke rings in the sky, an up-raised finger to thank God and a beautiful swallow dive result in the ball being lost and the try not being a try!

 The score remains 19 – 19! Or does it?

Just to add insult to injury and to rub salt in the wounds, a final penalty to Queens in the closing seconds of the game adds three points to their score and the scoreboard tells the story of the Ecstasy and the Agony of the day:  Queens 22 Grey 19! 

It’s when you are down in Life, that the tests of your true self come. How do you handle adversity? How do you respond to challenging situations? How do you pick yourself up from the gutters? How do you start all over again?

Did we pass the test?

If playing sport is to teach us Life Lessons, then Queenstown, last Saturday, was the ideal Place of Higher Learning: 

adversity, appreciation, behaviour, consideration, conduct, commitment, challenge, discipline, effort, emotion, example, ethics, frustration, get-up-and-go, hard work, influence, integrity, joy, kindness, loyalty, morals, mania, norms, obsession, passion, perspective, perception, qualities, reproach, respect, support, standards, self-restraint, truth, uprightness, values, ways, xenophobia, yeomanliness, zeal …  

(Please add more!)

That Saturday evening at the Kudu (the School Pub), the Heritage Guesthouse, Dagwoods Diner and the direct four-hour trip back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning were not necessarily as loud and as excited at they would have been had we won.

But, maybe, we did win: in our loss, in this beautiful part of the world where the land meets the sky, we hopefully discovered our Soul and more!