FiVe Years Later: From Vuvusela to Vitriol

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon / 8 years 9 months ill … / Physical: Deuce – Mental: Adv Ed 

  
Five years ago to the day, we watched the opening game of the 2010 World Cup between Bafana Bafana and Mexico. We were at the Brazenhead in Stellenbosch where we watched the game played in Johannesburg on TV with hundreds of other Matie students. The “gees” was at an all-time high in the Land.

Later that evening we drove through to the Peaches in Paarl where we spent the night.

It was the start of a few weeks of a New South Africa.

Now, five years later, we have a New FIFA! Vitriol, scandal, bribery, corruption, arrests, resignations, extraditions, prisons, …

Was our hosting the World Cup rigged? What was the $10 million really for? Was it a bibe?

And the legacy? Wonderful memories and costly stadia that are unused and falling apart.

We are still paying for the party.

The construction firms who built the stadia have been fined for collusion and price-fixing – they are paying for the party.

Blatter and Valcke and the other top dog FIFA executives are the only ones who have been smiling all the way to the bank.

Will they still pay for the party?

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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!

The Cape of Good Hope – Day 9 (Sunday)

(c) E.C. Lunnon 2011

Tuesday 1 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Advantage CBD 

 
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:    
 

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I have now, at last, inked in the gaps… the holiday diary is completed!

Day 9 – Sunday 9 October 2011

It was the time …

… For the holiday to end

… to pack up for oulaas (the last time)

to return to Port Elizabeth

… to return to work and school and home

… for the Springboks to play Australia in the quarter-final of the World Cup

There was no TV set in our cottage, and hence we would not see the big game for which South Africa had been preparing for weeks now, and which would be watched by almost everyone in the country.

It was even scheduled on our itinerary … watch rugby over breakfast and then head home!

Such is the nature and hospitality of the people of the Koo, that when I asked the lady who had prepared our lunch on Saturday where we could watch the game, she immediately invited us (total strangers) to come and watch the  game at their home on the farm next door.

However, Pera felt that we would be intruding, and would not go. I lost it again – both the opportunity to watch the game and my volatile temper.

But, it was not to be. And so we packed the car, left the Cottage at 07h30 and headed east: the R62 to Barrydale, then the Tradouw Pass through the Langeberg to Heidelberg where we joined the N2 and then straight on to Port Elizabeth. We would be back by about 14h00.

We listened to the game on Radio 2000 in the car. I enjoyed the passion and enthusiasm of the commentators who, unlike their TV counterparts, have to place the dots, join the dots, colour it in and paint the whole picture in order for the listener to know just what is happening on the field.

But this is mountainous terrain and I did not enjoy losing the signal every so often … and it always seemed to happen just at the wrong time!

So we went into the Tradouw Pass in the excited winning situation of 9 – 8! It’s a beautiful pass and one that meanders along the course of the river through the towering mountains on either side. I’m not sure we really noticed much.

And then we were

…  out of our skins

…   out of the Pass

…  out of the signal-less Radio 2000 area

…  and out of the World Cup!

Australia had scored a penalty whilst we had no signal.

It was 9 – 11 all over again – and, this time, not in New York, but in Wellington.

Who was to blame for this atrocity? –  we could only earmark the referee!

The car became quiet. The world had ended and our holiday had ended.

(But not before we stopped for lunch in Plettenberg Bay. Why there? Because it was lunch time, as usual we were all hungry, and it’s a Lunnon tradition to stop for whatever meal at the Rod and Reel.)

However, tomorrow, the world would revert to normal and all would be the same again. Including the speeding fine:

Go to Jail. Go directly to JAIL. Do not pass GO. Do not collect R200. And just when you needed it most because, in fact, you’d spent it all on the holiday!

 oooOOOooo

With grateful thanks for a wonderful holiday to:

Sebastian, our tour guide

Michelle, for allowing him to accompany us

Hannah, for not waking me up at night

 

PS This is the e-mail that started it all:

From: Sebastian

To: Ed

Subject: Montagu

 Hi

 Plan of action for 7/8/9 October.

 7 October 2011: Leave Strand early Friday morning so that we can do the Robertson wine route, will have lunch in between wine tasting, after lunch we will wine taste some more, After wine tasting we will make our way to the cottages just outside Montague,(www.oakguestcottages.co.za) where we will settle for the night. We can braai the evening.

 8 October 2011: We can have a light breakfast, then make our way to the Protea farm for the Tractor ride at 10:00 after the ride we make our way to the potjie area which is on the farm for lunch.(http://www.proteafarm.co.za).  Rest of the day we can relax, maybe do some sightseeing of Montagu.

 9 October 2011: We can have breakfast in Montagu and say our Good bye’s……..

 The amount you can transfer for the Two days including accommodation, Tractor and Potjie is into Michelle’s account.

 M Ridgway

 ABSA Strand

 Hope this is  fine.

 Nearer the time we can chat about the weeks arrangements.

 Sebastian

 Home is Where the Heart Is

 

 

Ubuntu

 

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? 

 

It’s a Dog’s Life?

Tuesday 13 September 2011: 5 years on … Advantage ED

My Dad was born in Muizenberg, Cape Town in 1915 – ninety six years ago today. He died in Paarl in May 1976 just short of 61 years old. In 1969, when I was in Standard 5 (Grade 7) he had a stroke that left him paralysed on the right side and unable to talk (other than two or three words).

For seven years we cared for him at home: my eldest sister, Lynn, was in High School when Dad became ill, Ingrid and I were in Primary School and June was not yet in school. Those were difficult days for us as a family, and I always said that I would not like to sit like that for so long.

Now paralysis (and whatever else comes with CBD) also stares me in the face. As I write this, my left hand and leg are possibly the worst that they have been since I became ill. I have to bend my left arm open with my right hand when I wake up because the elbow stiffens up at night. My left leg tries to do the same at the knee – my foot just wants to curl upwards and my calf muscle is always tight.

So Tuesday mornings is my date with Julian Fletcher. He is a sports therapist and gives me a real deep massage. It feels so good and I am sure that it is keeping the muscles moving.

In order to get there this morning, I had to leave our new 9 week old Jack Russell puppy with Barbara, our domestic assistant.

Life has been hectic since Charlie arrived in our household last Monday. He is extremely busy, to say the least. His arrival has been quite an adaptation and very ironic.

When Pera and I got married in 1990, I had said “No kids and no dogs!”

However, the kids arrived in quick succession – Sean in 1992, Phillip (1) who was still-born in 1994, and Phillip (2) three months prematurely in 1995.

Till last Monday, we still had no dogs!

When I went to Graaff-Reinet two weekends ago to “hunt”, Helen Harris asked whether I would like a pup (from their new litter of seven). The family have really always wanted a pet, so I thought that in my retirement I would relent. I texted the boys to ask them if they wanted a pup and I got a reply from Pera: “Has the disease spread to your head?” (Well, in fact, the disease is IN my head!)

So Graeme’s folks brought him down to Port Elizabeth last Monday.

It’s like having another baby in the house. Life has surely not been the same since then. Feeding bowls, toys, basket, cuddles, barks, bites, howls, fences, gnawed furniture, eaten-through cords, walks, leashes, pellets and wees and poos have become the order of the day (and night). As with our boys, I am not good on the night shifts, and barely much better with the day shifts! I guess babies, puppies and I just don’t go together!

So all the activities of the last week have taken place (or not taken place!) with Charlie’s welfare in mind.  He dictates the pace, and sometimes I rue the day when I relented. However, he takes my mind off the CBD which I believe will be a good thing in the long run. Talking about runs, I’m not sure whether I took him for a run on the golf course this morning or whether he took me!

Last Thursday was a busy day – first my weekly visit from Sister Gill le Roux (and sometimes Sister Janice Malkinson) from the St Francis Hospice. They, together with social worker Jenny Nickell and Isaac Rubin, do an extraordinary job in keeping an eye on me, and we shall always be grateful to them and to the Hospice for their assistance.

Then, I spoke to the monthly meeting of the Parkinson’s Support Group in Walmer. It is a humbling experience to see so many people who live life with Parkinson’s disease. We have many symptoms in common and hence many stories to share. It helps so much to realise that you are not the only one out there, and that help and assistance are just around the corner.

When I first became ill, the neurologist thought that I may have PD – and hence my relationship with the support group since then. It is also where I first met Briar Wright, mother of the Wright clan that I have written about previously.

After the meeting, I headed off for my weekly hour and a half session with Julian, which also now includes doing a set of exercises on his newly designed exercise “cube”.

Then I had a meeting with Pierre-Louis Lemercier about (anti-)fracking at The Deli, one of the sidewalk cafés on the newly transformed Stanley Street in Richmond Hill – the now trendy place to be!

And then, after a quick supper, off to the Grey Junior Grey Way Concert at the Feathermarket Hall. It seems like just the other day that Sean was playing the trombone and Phillip the sax in the Orchestra and Jazz Band. Now they have moved on, and we just attend because it’s really good.

Friday morning was the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Then lunch at Old Grey, the Wrights arriving for the weekend, dinner and a very late night (maybe I should say, a very early morning!) In fact, in time to watch the two early rugby games broadcast from Aetearoa (the land of the long white cloud). Breakfast was squeezed in before the England/Argentine game, then a snooze and then off to the Bartons for our personal official launch of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

Each couple came dressed in the clothing of their country of choice (we chose Ireland) and brought the appropriate food and drinks from that country. Another good party was had by all there!

By the time Sunday morning came round, I was feeling rather tired when the Bokke took on Wales. Possibly, I was just as tired as the players when they came off the field with that oh-so-close 17-16 win for us! So tired I was, that I did not make the Outdoors Expo (and the artificial snow ski ramp!) that was pencilled in on my calendar – that will have to remain for next year!

The last commitment of the weekend was a visit to the Walmer Methodist Church to discuss the logistics of Phillip’s baptism next Sunday.

Who said it’s a dog’s life?

Charles Dickens said in The Tale of Two Cities:It was the best of times. It was the worst of times!”

Spring(bok) Day: 1 September 2011

Thursday 1 September 2011: 5 years on …..!!!!!

Today is the day that the Bokke have left SA for New Zealand to defend their status as Rugby World Champions.

Today is also Spring Day.

My status on Facebook today read as follows:

In Life, every Winter has its Spring. Live your Spring. Live Life!

Today, I wore a black shirt for Save the Rhino Day, with red lettering on it for Spring Day and green shorts for the Springboks.

Most of all, if you look at the counter above, you will see that today is the start of the month in which I celebrate my FIFTH birthday with CBD. I was told that I would be severely incapacitated within three years and dead within five.

I thank God that I am neither!

I thank you all for reading these blogs and for your support over the last five years. You ARE the wind beneath my wings.

I have had quite a day and I am tired and need to go to bed. I will fill in the details of this blog later.

Flying with the Wright Brothers – Good Fella’s

Tuesday 23 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

When I arrived in Port Elizabeth in January 1984, there were some 14 of us who began our teaching careers together at Grey. We were all male, mostly single and had come either from University or our two-year military service. (Sadly, most of the 14 have subsequently left the teaching profession!)

As members of staff at The Grey, we automatically became members of the Old Greys’ Union and hence members of the Old Grey Club in Lennox Street, Glendinningvale.

I boarded with Steve Fourie’s parents in Walmer until I could move into the Grey’s Meriway Hostel.

But, for most of us, one could say that our address was c/o The Old Grey Club, Lennox Street, Glendinningvale, Port Elizabeth!

We spent most of our non-teaching time at the OGE, as we called it then. There we played / watched hockey, cricket, squash; socialised with Old Greys, Grey parents, our  current teaching (and previous) colleagues and became friends of employees such as Club Manager Viv and bar”lady” “Lucky Lips”!

Those who frequented the pub in those days will remember (as the law required) the Men’s Pub, the separate Ladies’ Lounge, the Pool Room and the “tiekie box” (public telephone) to which many patrons would be called when time got late and partners/wives became anxious about their where-abouts. (Ironically, it was to that very tiekie box that I was called in November 1986 to be told the news that my mother had passed away in The Strand.) Of course, in the cell phone era, the tiekie box no longer exists!

On my first visit to the OGE, I was introduced to retired teacher “Sand Shark” Harry Davies. Subsequently, the group disappeared and left me with Sand Shark and the buying of the drinks! I discovered quickly that Harry had the unique gift of accepting drinks and then disappearing when it became his turn for the next round. I had been set up on my first visit!

On Sundays, we would watch cricket/hockey (depending on the season), celebrate the victory/defeat (depending on the outcome of the match) and then as regular as clockwork and non-dependent on anything, head off for El Cid Steakhouse in Parliament Street. Tommo was the resident singer and Pam worked the till at the door.

Sunday evenings could become messy and Monday mornings first break often called for greasy take-away hamburgers delivered to the staff room from the Hamburger Hut at the top of Russell Road.

Well, those hamburgers are a far cry from the fare now offered at The Club. For a while now, the Club has been managed by local restaurateurs Cassies. The menu is short and good value for money. There is a daily special and a new innovation is Dinner Theatre. Sunday carvery is a special.

Sean, Phillip and I have made it almost a weekly Friday Club lunch date of the steak, egg and chips. Most weeks we are joined by various other friends and Old Greys.

And so, last Thursday evening, via Facebook, I advised that we would be having pre-rugby test match dinner at The Club on Friday afternoon.

And we were joined on Friday by a number of people who were all in town for the Test – Tim White, Bert and Wendy Henderson and their friends, Graaff-Reinett farmer Graeme Harris (brother- in- law of Aberdeen farmer  Dickie Ogilvie – himself an ex-colleague, erstwhile OGE hockey player, cricketer and patron, and my bestman when we married), Roche van As, a number of other out-of town rugby visitors, some of Sean’s friends and THEE.. Gordon Wright (Restaurateur and Guesthouse owner from Graaff-Reinett).

I had met Gordon before (at The Club) when they still lived in PE. Earlier this year, we made contact again when he asked me to assist with the anti-fracking campaign that currently dominates Karoo thinking. (Fracking is a process that energy companies use to free up underground gas and which has proved to be detrimental to the environment (especially groundwater)).

Well, the lunch date became a long one, and eventually we left in time for supper, which was going to be a true-to-tradition braai at Gordon’s brother, Bernard’s home.

And who should be there?

Besides Graeme, Gordon, Bernard, Roche and I, there were:

Bernard’s wife, Sharleen, was the hostess.

Chris Wright who is technical manager at AlgoaFM was there.  I see him every Wednesday when I do my weekly programme. I had not known they were brothers!

And Damien Wright was there. He is Chris’s son and assists with the technical issues in studio when presenters are out of town.  He presses the knobs when I sit alone in studio and Lance broadcasts from out-of town. I did not know they were family!

And a few others, whose names and faces now fade into oblivion.

Later in the evening, I “discovered” that Briar Wright was the matriarch of the seven-sibling-strong Wright family. Briar is a driving force behind the Parkinson’s Support Group in PE. I met her  when I first became ill, and attended their group meetings after I was initially diagnosed with possible Parkinson’s Disease. We have subsequently met several times over the last five years of my later diagnosed CBD illness.

The moral of the story: never say anything to any person about anyone you would not say directly to their face – inevitably, it turns out they are friends, family or neighbours!

What started as the pre-test lunch became a lengthy affair, lasting till midnight on Friday. But we were facing the All Blacks the next day, and we had to be well-prepared. There was much to plan and discuss, and many toasts to propose!

By eleven thirty, we had filed our flight plans with the Wright Brothers, and it was time to go.

We phoned the Good Fella’s chauffeur service call-centre.

Operator ‘Stevo’ made the necessary arrangements and an sms was received at 23h41. “Evening, your driver is Andre Ungerer.  If you would like to verify the driver’s ID please call GF’s. My name is ‘Stevo’.”

At 23h42, an sms was received: “Good evening, your driver is on route and will arrive in roughly 25 min. Regards gfellas.”

And, thanks to kind sponsorship by Good Fella’s, at midnight, our pumpkin turned into a Good Fella’s carriage, and we arrived home safely – in time for the Test that lay ahead.

(And apologies to Sharleen Wright, who I almost did not recognise when I saw her at the rugby on Saturday afternoon.  We’ll have to organise a make-up braai!)

Life’s Not All Black

Monday 22 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

Friday night had been another late one!

Saturday morning found me feeling a bit fragile, but there’s nothing a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee can’t do … and fifteen Carbolev, Lyrica and some other tablets – my daily supply to keep me moving!

Last year’s FIFA World Cup slogan was “You can feel it in the Air!” With today’s Tri-Nations rugby international between SA and NZ taking place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, once again you could feel it in the air. Wherever you went, there was a feeling of excitement and expectation.

I decided not to join the others at Old Grey Club for pre-game drinks. That may have been dangerous on top of all the medication. And I didn’t want to end up in a state which I saw on a poster later on: “If found passed out, wake me for the 7’s!” (taking place in Port Elizabeth in December this year!).

 

So, I got dressed in my green and gold Springbok supporter’s shirt and SA Zuma scarf and lazed around until it was time for Noelene Jorgensen to pick me up at two. Elsewhere, in Ryan Street – a normally quiet crescent where we live, people were arriving and leaving: a buzz of activity in green and gold outfits all headed for the Stadium.

Driving through North End and around the North End Lake, the excitement continued to increase, as did the numbers of people, the music volume and the noise levels. Wall-to-wall supporters – a few in the characteristic black and white colours of the All Blacks, but predominantly green and gold of the Bokke.

We had a reserved parking bay in the precinct of the stadium, so it was a matter of minutes before we were sitting in the Keypak suite up on the fourth floor.  It was two thirty – two and a half hours to kick-off and the stadium was still relatively empty. The SA Schools team was playing the French under 19 team. My eyes were on the crowd more than the rugby game.

The hospitality and company in the suite was excellent. Eats, drinks, snacks, chats, singing, music, the teams warming up … and the stadium became fuller and fuller, until just before five it was filled to capacity – 45 000 screaming fans.

And then the moment arrived – the teams came out of the tunnel and took up their places for the National Anthems. The atmosphere was electrifying.

Goose bump stuff and maybe just a tear.

“God defend our free land. God defend New Zealand.”

“Let us live and die for Freedom in South Africa our Land.”

Then … The Haka … drowned out by the crowd singing Shosholoza!

These were moments that were etched in my memory, moments I will not forget.

Eighty minutes of hard, hard rugby and the rest is hard fact and history.

At seven pm, the huge electronic scoreboards told the tale: South Africa 18 New Zealand 5.

But across the land (and across the globe) the stories continued in the streets, the marquees, the pubs, the restaurants, the taverns and the homes into the wee hours of the morning and, indeed, into Sunday, Monday and … as long as rugby lives and death do us part!

We celebrated the win in the suite until about nine. Noelene dropped me off at home and I was planning to go straight to bed. Until Sean BBM’d me from the Club – “come have a drink with us, Dad J

And, the rubber arm was twisted yet again! Father and Son celebrated our win together – priceless moments!

It wasn’t until one o’clock on Sunday morning that we got home.

 Yes, Life’s not All Black. There’s a lot of fertile green and a pot of gold out there. We need to continue to chase it and to defend it when we find it and hold onto it.

When it comes to Life, it’s a matter of

Pause, crouch, touch, engage!

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Sunday 21 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

Maureen McGovern sings the song “There’s got to be a morning after”. It is the theme song of the movie POSEIDON ADVENTURE.

This morning was the “morning after” a very long and busy and wonderful two weeks!

I woke at nine to find a BBM message on my Blackberry. It was from an ex-pupil of mine, Dr Konrad van Staden, firming up a rather loose arrangement to “have brunch together on Sunday morning”.

The “winter” weather was still magnificent, so brunch was on! He suggested nine thirty at Tiffany’s on the beach front.

Good idea – except for the nine thirty!

It would take me at least an hour to “defrost”, shower and make myself look pretty. I certainly didn’t feel pretty – not after the Bokke’s win over the All Blacks last night.

I messaged back and suggested ten thirty as a hopeful alternative.

Going once, going twice, sold to the gentleman receiving the message on the other side.

So a “quick” (in my terms) shower, dress, two of my yellow pot o’gold Carbolev tablets, a cup of coffee and I was on my way to the beachfront. (Pera was going to a 21st, Sean was at the NSRI doing weekend duty and Phillip was still sleeping!)

Passing the Garden Court I saw a bit of a commotion – people all over, police vehicles, flashing lights. For a moment I wondered who had bashed/robbed/shot who, but then I saw the big green and gold bus with the word SPRINGBOKS emblazoned over it.

The current World rugby champions and the victors of last night’s Battle at the Boet – sorry, Massacre at the Madiba – were just leaving their hotel and I guess making their way to the airport. The onlookers and autograph hunters were there in their droves. Well done chaps on beating the All Blacks 18 – 5! Suddenly, the gold price will go up, the petrol price down, the exchange rate more favourable and life in Africa just wonderful!

I arrived at Tiffany’s just a few minutes before the Van Staden family – Konrad, Nelmarie and Lean.

Passers-by (some looked like they on their way home after last night’s rugby) were still dressed in their green and gold Springbok shirts – we wondered if this was the third day of the same clothes (Friday being Green Shirt day, Saturday match day and now ‘home-time’ day!)

The company was great; the breakfast of orange juice, bacon, eggs, sausage, toast etc magnificent; the weather terrific and the view of Algoa Bay absolutely stunning. So much for the Windy City– this week it has lived up to its other name: The Friendly City – just ask any rugby supporter!

Forget about the doctor – this was just what the patient ordered (and needed on the morning after).

After breakfast, we went for a walk on Humewood Beach. I haven’t been there in years.

 Lean kept me entertained with his fertile imagination and stories of dragons, swords, and the angels.

Well, I headed home and, for the first time in a while, treated myself to an afternoon nap.

I needed it.

The angels have been particularly good to me in the last few weeks.

And, as I dozed off, in the haziness of my medication, tiredness, remnants of last night’s festivities and a full tummy, I thought of how blessed I am, and all that I have managed to do in the last two weeks.

I will write about these two weeks later ….in reverse order!

 

 

INVICTUS

Friday 24 June 2011: 4 years 9 months on … Game ED!

INVICTUS

(from the Latin meaning Undefeated or Unconquered)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

English poet:  William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

At the age of 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 17. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.

The poem was written in 1875 in a book called Book of Verses, where it was number four in several poems called Life and Death (Echoes). At the beginning it bore no title. Early printings contained only the dedication To R. T. H. B.—a reference to Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce (1846–1899), a successful Scottish flour merchant and baker who was also a literary patron. The title “Invictus” (Latin for “unconquered”) was put in the Oxford Book of Verse by Arthur Quiller-Couch. 

The poem has Influenced the arts ever since.

In the 1942 film Casablanca, Captain Renault, a corrupt official played by Claude Rains recites the last two lines of the poem when talking to Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, referring to his power in Casablanca. The irony in the reference is that the theme of the poem refers to self-mastery, when in fact all of Renault’s power in Casablanca is merely granted.

In the 1945 film Kings Row, Parris Mitchell, a psychiatrist played by Robert Cummings, recites part of “Invictus” to his friend Drake McHugh, played by Ronald Reagan, before revealing to Drake that his legs were unnecessarily amputated by a cruel doctor.

While incarcerated on Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela recited the poem to other prisoners and was empowered by its message of self mastery.

The poem was used in a voice-over by Lucas Scott in the television series, One Tree Hill.

Canadian poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen recited the poem as an introduction to his own song “The Darkness”, during a couple of shows on his 2010 world tour, most notably at his State Kremlin Palace show.

In Napoleon Hill’s book, Think And Grow Rich, this poem is quoted and discussed. Hill added that, we are master and captain, “ . . . because we have the power to control our thoughts”. We are warned that this “power”, alluded to in Henley’s poem, “ . . . makes no attempt to discriminate between destructive thoughts and constructive thoughts”. Napoleon Hill explains that the conscious choice is laid upon the individual and suggests that the poet left others to, “. . . interpret the philosophical meaning of his lines”.

The poem was important to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who recited it on the day of his execution.

Novelist Jeffrey Archer quoted the poem in the first volume of his A Prison Diary series ‘Hell’ which recounted his time inside HMP Belmarsh.

“Invictus” is also a 2009 biographical sports drama film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted here following the dismantling of apartheid. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela  and Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team, the Springboks. (1)

The 1995 Rugby World Cup Final was played between the Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg exactly 16 years ago today on Saturday 24 June 1995.

For three weeks, prior to this big day, we had lived through World Cup euphoria (something similar, although not quite as big, as last year’s Football World Cup).

Together with friends and family, we had planned a day of festivities around the Final and which would culminate in that South African tradition of all traditions, the all-important braai!

Well, we never got to participate in the events planned for the day.

Pera was six months pregnant and due at the end of September 1995. (We previously lost a second son who had been still-born in November 1994.) Early on the morning of the Final, I woke up to hear her screaming in the kitchen. The baby (at 26 weeks) was threatening to come out and I rushed her to St George’sHospital, where we spent the rest of that day. The doctors managed to prevent the birth, Pera remained in hospital and late that evening I drove up Cape Road on my way home.

Everywhere, the fires were burning, people were partying in the street and ecstasy, excitement and exhilaration pervaded the country. We had beaten the All Blacks 15 points to 12 and the World Cup was ours – the rugby kings of the World! (To this day, I have never watched THAT game in its entirety, but, of course, I have many times seen the photograph of THAT drop goal that sealed the game in our favour and which hangs in just about every boardroom and pub in this country!)

It was a tremendous boost for our fragile new democracy born in 1994 and barely one year old!

But talking about births … for the next two weeks, the baby threatened to be born. On the night of 6 July, with Pera’s gynaecologist, Dr Caras Ferreira, out of town, Dr Ivan Berkowitz was hurriedly called from a formal dinner to St George’s Hospital when, once again, it was touch and go. He arrived at midnight in his tuxedo and bow-tie.

(I knew Ivan and Harriet well, and we have remained friends to this day.

Ten years prior to this, in June/July 1985, the Grey First Eleven went on the first Grey overseas cricket tour to England and Holland. Darryl Berkowitz was Headboy of Grey in that year and a member of the touring team that I accompanied, together with Rod McCleland, Keith Crankshaw, Dickie Ogilvie, Neil Thomson and Charles Pautz. We sold tickets for that dreaded VW Golf and raised funds together with the Berks (and all the other parents) and also had our return party at their home in Conyngham Street.

It was so good to meet up with many of the members of that touring team at last year’s and this year’s 25th Reunions at the school. And, as I write this, the Grey cricket team is once again touring England. We wish them good luck and happy travelling!)

Anyway, Ivan explained that Pera would have to remain in hospital for the rest of her pregnancy, and that if he did not deliver the baby soon, we would lose either Pera or the baby.

And, so it was, on the next morning, Friday 7 July 1995, sixteen years ago, that our second son (and we had previously been told by the gynaecologist to expect a girl) was born by caesarean section at twenty seven weeks and weighing 1,3 kg. Our previous son was due to be called Phillip, so this baby was named Phillip John. He spent the next two months in the incubator at the hospital, and cost the medical aid about double the price of our very first house that I had bought!

Phillip John Lunnon (our Dr Phil!) celebrates his sixteenth birthday in two week’s time. Now, at six feet and three inches, he is the tallest in the family, beating me at six feet and Sean at six feet and two inches!

He is our fighter – our very own Invictus.

There have been times that I did not think that I would make it to his sixteenth birthday but I, too, am a fighter.

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

[ (1) From Wikipedia]