Tag Archives: Humorous

Post 29. A few sizes up.

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The tour was on.  I was the sound mixer for New Song.  Our minivans were packed to capacity and there was always plenty of junk food.  We drove from city to city all over South Africa, Transkei, Botswana, Bophuthatswana and Rhodesia.  We set up in schools, churches, fields and any hall that would have us.

It was intense; packing and unpacking sound equipment into the trailer, setting up and doing hundreds of sound checks; rolling up cables and picking up heavy equipment.  I got the nickname “Schweppes” for being such a good mixer.  I wasn’t sure I deserved such a compliment.

We went into some scary places.  Hillbrow was something else.  It was the downtown of downtown Johannesburg.  There were so many lonely people who didn’t have family like I had.  They were lost and very alone.  I had taken my family for granted and hadn’t given a thought to how others lived.  My life had revolved around myself and mine.

People wanted to talk and tell us their woes. There were times when there were tears; from us and them.  After every trip into Hillbrow, I could feel my heart getting bigger.  I was able to take more and I was feeling something that I hadn’t felt before; compassion.

We walked through the townships of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth to call children for kid’s clubs.  Whenever we could, we set up a place for the young people to come and talk.  We saw lives changes in front of our eyes.   The more I saw, the more I realised that what I had was something beyond me.  It had the power to change lives forever.

Our trip into Rhodesia was interesting.  When we drove between towns, we had to go in convoy and in some areas we were told to duck down and hide.  We would lie there expecting to be shot at and we never really got used to being followed by armed men.  It was the end of the war.

In every place we stayed with local people.  We were treated like kings and queens and we made some lifelong friends.  I learnt the art of giving even when I didn’t feel like giving.  After concerts, when we were exhausted and ready for bed, our hosts would want to talk and open their hearts to us.  I learnt to go the extra mile and to make time to listen.

So, we ate and drank and worked hard.  There were conflicts which we learnt to sort out and personalities we just had to get on with.  We learnt to accept different cultures and realised that our way wasn’t always the best way.  There were adjustments and changes, and our hearts grew many times over.

By the end of the year there were lots of tears and promises to keep in touch.  Most of us were twice our size and it wasn’t just that we had more than one slice of bread after dinner.

I had only seen Wilf and Val once that year.  I was tired and I couldn’t wait to get home.  I walked into No 28, up the stairs and into the lounge.  I was surprised.  Everything had shrunk.

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Post 22. Decisions, decisions

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We never talked about what we believed.  There were no discussions of politics or religion.  What we did during the week had nothing to do with what we did on Sundays.   I was surprised at how much Lindy’s family talked about it.

One night, just before going to sleep, Lindy asked me, “Linda, if you died tonight and you stood before God and He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?”  I had no problem answering.  We go to church.  We pray.  My dad is the superintendent of the Sunday school and my mom is a Sunday school teacher.  We are Christians.

She didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. She prodded me a bit more.  I came up with other reasons.  She still wasn’t happy.  She asked me to forget about my family.  She was talking about ME.

I had managed to get out of many tight spots.  My cuteness and sense of humour worked for me.  I suddenly realised that it wasn’t going to work this time.  We were talking about GOD; The God who Tommy had sung about. The one that I had prayed to every night for fear that, “If I should die before I wake…”

Things were starting to make sense; the Christmas story, Easter, the Sunday school songs and Bible stories came together like puzzle pieces. Because the people of the world were so full of sin, God sent His only son Jesus to die for them.  That was Christmas.  He lived a life without sin, but evil men didn’t like how good He was so they put Him on a cross.  That was Easter Friday.  Easter Monday He came alive again.

I believed all of that and I was proud of myself for working it all out.  Lindy still wasn’t happy.  She kept saying that she loved me and she wanted me to be in heaven with her.  So, what would I say to God?  None of my answers were going to be good enough.  I knew that I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven.  I needed some help.  Lindy told me I needed to be “born again”.

It was news to me that I was loved by God.  I knew that He loved the world, but I never thought that included me.  I found that amazing.  I didn’t need to clean myself up or try to be good enough.   I just had to see how bad I was, ask God to forgive me and give my whole life over to Jesus.  No-one in our church ever told me that.

It took me months of listening to lots of sermons at Lindy’s church.  I was scared of what my family would say if I told them I was “born again.”  That was just for the Pentecostals, not for the Methodists.  My friends were convinced I had gone crazy.

I kept going to the Friday night parties but they started to feel empty.  Even the one when a territorial fight broke out between the Woodlands boys and the Bluff boys.  Bottles were broken and there was a lot of blood. I was bored and just wanted to go home.

Post 16. Someone is always watching.

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Mowat Park (also known as “The Maternity Ward”) was our local girl’s high school, and that was where I was headed with all my friends.   New Forest Boys High School was where the fathers were.  News reached us that Sue was about to be expelled for ongoing bad behaviour. Val decided it would be a good idea to take Sue out and put us both in another high school outside of our area.  It meant that I would have to leave my friends. I made sure Val knew I wasn’t thrilled.

I was bold, cheeky, small, daring, friendly, bossy and cute and I had all the swear words I needed to keep people in their place. I was 13 and ready to take on the world.

To get to Mitchell Girls High School on the Berea, we got a lift with the Rutherfords who lived at the entrance to the circle, next to Mr Menzies.  Tommy Rutherford was a plumber with a big paunch.  He had three daughters, Janice, Tralee and Karen and a lovely wife, Marcia.  They were all really funny and we practically lived in their house.

When I was much younger, I found a metal wedge in someone’s garden.  It was small and smooth and it had a nice sharp side.  I was sitting on the carpet next to their wooden coffee table and I tapped it with the wedge.  It made an amazing design in the wood and I just couldn’t stop. By the time I was caught, the entire table was covered in my pretty wedge design.  I was the only one who was proud of me.  I had no money so Wilf had to pay.  Wilf didn’t like to pay.

They had a beautiful fish tank in their lounge and one day I was helping Tommy to clean it.  When he left the room I put my hand into the tank and started splashing around. A drop of water went onto the hot fluorescent tube and it made a lovely hissing sound.  There was also a little puff of smoke.  I flicked the surface of the water towards the tube again and again and again.  Seconds later there was an explosion of glass into the fish tank.  Tommy flew in and caught me with my hand still in the tank and panic on my face.  There were a few deaths but I survived.

Soon after that Tommy taught me one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard.

“Be careful little hands what you do

Be careful little hands what you do

There’s a Father up above

Looking down at you with love

So be careful little hands what you do”

He went on to sing of the feet, eyes, ears and the song went on and on. When he sung it I felt loved by somebody.  For the first time in my life, I was aware that someone was always watching me.

Post 14. Fire

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Our cousins Beverly, Karen, Raymond and Margaret Cale lived in Westville.  We thought they were rich and we loved visiting them in their big house in Renown Road.  Their pool was the big attraction before we got ours.  It was another world for us.  Uncle Wally was a drummer and he gigged with Wilf in his Dixieland band.  There was a free flow of alcohol in their house and their parties were slightly wilder than ours.  When the adults were happier than usual we would go into the bedrooms to play.

Their granny, Mrs Buckley had funny big, square teeth that clicked and moved when she spoke.  She always had a cigarette in her hand and she smelt funny.  Val had to regularly tell us to “Stop staring!  It’s rude”.  Well rude or not when Val wasn’t around, Mrs Buckley had us all right there in her face.

There was a big fire in the field next door to their house and I was terrified.  I had heard from the Schwegmanns that the world was going to end in fire and that I would be going to hell when I died.  I thought that was it.   It was huge and it was hot.  I went hysterical and when I realised that I couldn’t save myself, my family or the world, I sat in their pool and cried.

I wouldn’t even light a match in case I started the end of world.  From our front veranda where my grandfather Papa stayed, we could see the oil refinery on the Bluff.  The flame that burned all day and all night was a constant source of anxiety for me.  I would sit on Papa’s bed and look at it out of the window. He told me over and over again that it could never reach our house, but I never believed him.  It was over 15 kilometres away but I would sit at that window and watch and wait for it to consume the world.

Fear wasn’t a stranger to me.  I feared Dave jumping out at me in the passage, and I feared that Peter would die.  I feared the Zulus and the white men that may drive past me and pull me into their car.  I feared fire, hell and the end of the world. I was also scared of dying and I was reminded of that possibility every night when we said our prayers.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take,

God bless Mommy,

God bless Daddy,

God bless everyone I love AAAAAAmmmmmmmennnn.”

Dave started to add “and God bless the Zulu boys” which made us all giggle. Soon after that, our family prayers stopped.  Dad felt we were being sacrilegious.  Nothing was sacred with David the clown there.