DOWN memory lane … there I am at Royal Natal Yacht Club having lunch with two colleagues from an increasingly distant past. Award-winning photographer Dave Valentine and his charming wife Penny are here on a visit from Australia, where they now live (Penny always was an Aussie sheila). We all three worked together in wordsmithery in an era that has passed.
We recall past colleagues – the photographer who, on a mission to record the translocation of cycads to save them from flooding at Jozini Dam, asked the Parks Board ranger: "These cycads - what do they eat?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do they eat grass or leaves or other animals?"
It passed into legend. Also into various gags. Alfred Hitchcock's latest horror movie: Cycad! Also: Son of Cycad. Plus: The Cycad from the Black Lagoon.
I recall the night before I left for a sojourn overseas. I went to the Press Club in West Street (known as The Filler – a filler is a paragraph filling space on the page). A colleague of ours was in the corner fighting with his girlfriend. Eventually she took off her engagement ring and flung it out of the window.
Next thing everyone was out on the sloping roof, three floors up, looking for the ring. Incredibly, somebody found it.
Three years later, having returned, I strolled into The Filler. The same colleague was in the same corner fighting with the same girlfriend. Ah, continuity … certainties ...
Then the time that same cycad photographer phoned in to say he couldn't come to work that day.
"I hung my jeans on the balcony to dry. The wind blew them away."
They dipped into the petty cash, got a secretary to buy a new pair of jeans for Alfie then take them round to his pad. I don't know how he opened the door.
Ah yes, them wuz the days. Dave recalls his most creepy moment in Africa. It was in Nongoma, up in Zululand. He was wakened in the hotel by a "Thock! Thock! Thock!" It was the nightwatchman, who had a wooden pegleg, walking up and down the wooden verandah. The only streetlight was flickering. A dog was howling. That's atmosphere.
Ah yes. And the burial at sea of yet another colleague, who'd been a keen deep-sea fisherman. The boat had been hired. The parson was there at the wharf. But the ashes? Another colleague entrusted with them couldn't remember which pub he'd left them in. A search party fanned out. Eventually they were found on a shelf in an establishment just off the Esplanade.
Memories, memories … nostalgia's not what it used to be.
RACONTEUR Spyker Koekemoer (aka Pat Smythe) is shocked at the number of our cricketers who suddenly face corruption/match fixing charges.
"Could a Prisons XI end up winning our domestic competitions? Would the Australian government be interested in offering asylum and ball-tampering contracts?"
I think what we'd all like to see, Spyker, is a Prisons XI made up of the shysters who drag our cricketers into this deplorable stuff.
SHE'S telling her friends in a café her idea of the perfect man she could marry.
"He must be a shining light among company. He must be musical. Tell jokes. Sing. Entertain. And stay home at night."
Middle-aged waitress: "If that's all you want, get a TV."
A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.