Friday, 20 May 2016

1977: January to December - Tyrone

January 1977

A week after Xmas, a friend of Marlene’s comes to stay for a few days. Her name is Leah, and she's a ‘free spirit’ from Cape Town. She has driven 1,000 miles from Cape Town in her battered 1955 MGA, so she is pretty ‘balsy’! And she drives like a woman possessed! The first day she arrives is a scorcher, and she comes down to the pool wearing a cotton Kaftanesque dress that is completely see-through – no bra. All the guys around the pool are mesmerised. After about 20 minutes, and wanting to cool off, she discards the dress and swims around the pool topless, while all the guys admire her from the lawn. Marlene’s naughty streak also comes out, and she joins Leah in the pool, also topless. Soon, we are all in the pool enjoying the fun! Although Marlene has put a spare mattress in her room for Leah to sleep at night, for some reason Leah decides she wants a closer connection with me, and we ‘dance with the angels’ every night she is here. She has a wonderful sense of excitement, and shows me how coloured Rizla papers (paper specifically designed for rolling) can make a ‘joint’ so much more fun than the standard white papers!

That dress
After the week is over, I am sad to see Leah go home, but I promise to see her if I ever come to Cape Town.
Most of the time, I love having servants around the house to do the chores we all hate to do ourselves – Deere does the cooking and washing, and makes the beds, and Joe does the housework, helps with the washing and cleans up after our bar nights and parties etc. He also serves meals and wash's up. We do take them for granted, I’m afraid, and we assume they will always be around. I know, I haven’t had to make a bed, wash my clothes or cook a meal for over 2 years now – and I’m loving it!
Only on one occasion does it all end in tears. I have a favourite shirt made from the softest doeskin material, or chamois, and one day I give it to Joe to wash. To Joe’s eyes, this is just another shirt like any other shirt, and not one to be treated with any due care. After washing the clothes, Joe puts all the wet washing through an old wringer, operated by a big handle to squeeze out all the water before hanging them up to dry. As he puts my favourite shirt through the wringer, the sleeve gets caught in a corner and he keeps turning the handle, with obvious consequences – the sleeve is torn from its stitches and ripped off the shirt, and lies in 2 or 3 pieces on the ground. Totally destroyed. Irreparable. Needless to say, I am beside myself with grief after losing my favourite shirt, but really there is only one person to blame – I should have washed it myself!

The housemates do the shopping, and the weekly shop is HUGE for 9 of us and the servants – it takes a couple of hours on an evening or Sat morning. We have a roster for it, as it is the worst job in the house. Normally, 2 or 3 of us will go and do it, once a week, down at the local Checkers Supermarket on Louis Botha Avn. The cost is normally about R100 p/wk for the whole house and servants, and will fill 3 large shopping trollies; enough for 2 cars!

Dinner is served the same time each evening and normally we will all be there at the table, discussing the day’s events or plans for the weekend. John S. works so hard he is always tired and frequently falls asleep at the table. On one occasion, his head slowly lowers and falls into his soup bowl, waking up with a jerk of the head and soup on his face! Johnno and I ask him whether he has ever fallen asleep while in the throes of passion with Michele, to which we never quite get a straight answer!
About this time, Johnno informs the house that he is being transferred to Durban and will be leaving at the end of the month. This is sad, because his outside room beside the pool has been the place of many fun episodes on the ‘mary jane’ while listening to some groove on his Marantz Hi-Fi. He’s excited about the idea because there will be sun, sea and surf which he loves, but he will miss all the Bar Nights and Movie Nights and all the lady friends he has made in Joburg. Johnno’s current ‘squeeze’ is Mary – a beautiful blond Irish nurse – and he suggests I should ask her out after he has left. For some reason, I now can't wait for Johnno to leave!
Once again, we hold a few evenings of interviews and we decide on a guy called Steve Hoppe, who will move into my old room upstairs as I have decided to move into Johnno’s old room beside the pool. Steve is an English guy from London, another party animal who will fit into the communal house scene very nicely.

One of the petty annoyances I have in South Africa, is the level of bureaucracy when dealing with a government department. One example is the annual visit to the Langlaagte Traffic Department, on Main Reef rd, to renew my vehicle registration. Everyone has to visit the Traffic Department in person, to renew their vehicle registration each year. So it’s a long queue to fill in the relevant form and have it checked by someone, before proceeding to another queue to pay the R50 registration fee. If there are any outstanding traffic violations or unpaid fines, these must also be paid before they stamp the new disc and hand it over. Fortunately, it is only 5 mins out of town, so I can drive over there in my lunch break. But the queues take forever, and if you have forgotten to bring one small document then you must go away and come back again. I have to take my Passport and Permanent Resident Visa before they will give me that little disc for the windscreen. The building is grey, austere, and must have been built in the 1920’s; it hasn’t changed much in 50 years – so is not a pleasant experience.

John S. and Michele also visit a game reserve this month, and John knows a Kiwi guy, Terry, who has a small plane and will fly them to the Kruger Game Reserve. So, on a Friday evening after work, they take off from Rand airport in Germiston for a weekend safari and game viewing, and Terry flies them back on Sunday evening – door to door service, thank-you. On the way back, they fly into a storm and for the last hour, Terry is flying the plane on 'visual' only and staying clear of clouds. At the last moment, Terry decides to land the plane at Jan Smuts international airport because Germiston is closed, and he lands the plane safely - just!! His precious cargo of John and Michele are a little shaken but safe!

February 1977

One morning, Nick wakes with a severe headache, muscle soreness, and a rash. He looks terrible. We all think it could be bilharzia, a parasitic worm that burrows in under the skin and into the blood stream. Michele slips into ‘nurse’ mode being a dental assistant (!), and states authoritively if he had bilharzia he would be passing blood in his urine through damaged kidneys – she is so clever, and looks like an angel from heaven as she mops Nick’s brow. Nick likes what Michele is doing and has a small grin on his face!
After a couple of days, Nick is no better and looks at ‘death’s door’, and we call a doctor. When the doctor arrives, he says confidently “it’s not bilharzia as he would look a lot worse!” Everyone is relieved at the news! “What Nick has is ‘tick-bite’ fever – a bacterial infection that is spread through the bite of infected ticks – which he has probably caught in the long grass of the garden”. At the site of the tick bite, Nick has some sore red skin, which identifies it as ‘tick-bite’ fever. Nick's dog has ticks as well, so I get a course of antibiotics from the vet. The doctor prescribes some antibiotics for Nick and after a couple of weeks he is back on his feet. Phew (according to our neighbours, the Bells (who lived above Tyrone), a young man living here years before had died of tick bite fever!!)

About a week after Johnno leaves for Durban, I give Mary a call and ask her if she would like to come to one of Tyrone’s Bar Nights. She has enjoyed past evenings at Tyrone and agrees to go out with me, and I drive over to the nurse’s quarters opposite the Florence Nightingale Hospital to pick her up. The nurses occupy 2 floors of the building and there are about 10 rooms to a floor with shared bathrooms at the end of each corridor. When I pick her up, she is hanging up some washing in one of the bathrooms, and I give her a hand. It seems all the girls do the same thing and use the bathrooms for drying their laundry, and the place is full of (mostly) black lacy underwear! Mary has her fair share of the skimpy stuff and I feel like I am in the underwear department of an expensive Department store! Lovely!

Shortly after I start going out with Mary, Bryan organises a bar and stripper night at Tyrone and Mary is keen to come along, as she has never seen a ‘live’ stripper before. Bryan arranges for the famous Glenda Kemp, who has a pet python called "Oupa" slither all over her as she slowly gets her clothes off. In the past, her provocative moves have caused the Vice Squad to do their best to stop her, and she has been arrested on numerous occasions, so we need to be discreet!! She will also bring another stripper who will be much more ‘hands on’ for the paying punters. We decide to charge R3 at the door, which will cover expenses, and we'll make much more on the bar with drinks etc. More profit for the house, we figure.
We put the word out and make it ‘invitation only’. Mike is on a management course at AECI and earns enormous ‘street cred’ at the company by inviting all the attendees to come along (as Mike told us later “the course instructor seemed an approachable chap so I asked if I could be excused early one evening. When he asked for a reason, I simply said “we are having a bar night with a stripper” or words to that effect. His eyes lit up and he unhesitatingly said that he would finish early enough so he and any others in the class could attend”). For years after that, whenever Mike went into meetings at AECI head office he would notice someone pointing at him and whispering exaggerations about his rumoured reputation!

Bryan also brings the daughter of AECI’s newly arrived MD along for the evening, so AECI is well represented tonight! (She is young and impressionable, and has only been in Joburg from London for a few weeks, and we don’t see her again after that night. Maybe Daddy put a stop to that sort of behaviour!).

The bar is setup in the lounge and we have couches and chairs around the room. Everyone is ‘well-oiled’ from the bar by the time of the first act. In the event, Glenda Kemp is a ‘no show’ (she was concerned the police may raid the premises) and the other girl will do a double act to keep everyone happy. A lot of people sit on the floor at the front and there are some standing at the back, but the front row is definitely the favoured position. The stripper uses Nick’s bedroom downstairs to change. At a signal, Bryan puts her music on the tape cassette she has brought, and she makes a grand entrance to wild cheers from everyone in the room. As she takes off her skimpy lingerie to the soft, seductive music there are ‘whoop, whoops’ from all of us watching with eager anticipation. As more and more of her clothes come off, the crowd gets more raucous until finally there is nothing left and she is completely naked. At this point, those in the front row get what they have waited for, as she collapses into their laps, and allows the guys to give her a little squeeze. It’s all good fun, and after about 30 minutes it’s all over. I feel quite exhausted after the effort of seeing someone strip naked in front of my eyes, in public, but the evening has been exciting and worthwhile. After the stripper has left, the excitement makes everyone thirsty for more alcohol, and the bar does a roaring trade. A terrific night!

Johnno has only been in Durban a month, but Mary and I decide to visit him there one weekend. On a Saturday morning, Mary and I take a taxi to Jan Smuts airport for the 1 hour flight to Durban, and Johnno is there to meet us. His communal house is in the nice residential suburb of La Lucia, North Durban, and one block away from the beach. There is a pool at the bottom of a steep driveway, and Johnno has converted the garage beside the pool into a comfortable bedroom for him and Sarah. There are 3 other housemates, all single – ‘Gerry the Berry’ Barker, from Hatfield in Hertfordshire, Alby, and Richard Southgate. We decide to spend a night in Margate, south of Durban and 70 miles south of Amanzimtoti, and so Johnno and Sarah, Mary and I jump into Johnno’s Beetle and head down there. The breeze coming off the Indian Ocean is so refreshing, you just want to breathe it in and feel it against your face. Even though we are only one and a half hours from Durban, you get a real sense of isolation on the long expanse of beach here.

After booking into some holiday apartments overlooking the beach, we head down to the beach for a swim. The ocean is safe for swimming here, and there are no lifeguards or flags – just dive into the crashing surf that is rolling in from the Indian Ocean. Beautiful. Later, we head off somewhere for dinner and then back to the apartment for a smoke – Johnno has scored some local dope called Shaba, some of the purest and best in all of southern Africa. Since we have an apartment on the middle floor, we are surrounded by other holidaymakers in neighbouring apartments, and so we get all the towels we can find and stuff them along the bottom of doors and the windows, so the smell doesn't escape. We light up a generous ‘3-stacker’ and start to have a few puffs. Well, before long, the apartment is looking like a London fog and we are coughing and wheezing from the smoke – we have to open a window. Johnno crashes over a couch on his way to open the sliding doors to the balcony, but I say “ someone will smell it and report it; wait until we have finished and we’ll sit outside in the cooling breeze”. So we puff for a few more minutes until we are all flaked out on the floor enjoying the moment – fog and all – incapable of reaching the doors to let in some air. The feeling is glorious. After about 30 minutes Mary suggests a walk on the beach.

The sun is setting as we get downstairs, and we walk a short way along the beach in the rapidly fading daylight. It's dark by the time we find a place to lie down in the soft sand about 20 yards from the surf, and the stars are beginning to appear. We are totally alone. The sound of the crashing surf is almost deafening. It’s weird and wonderful at the same time. We are lying in a row, all facing the sky, enjoying whatever thoughts we may be having.

It is about this moment that we have a celestial coming together of the minds, which only happens when you are completely stoned. The stars are bright against the cloudless sky, and I reach up and point to one particularly bright star that is moving in a sort of shaking pattern – it will wobble a little, then stop, and then wobble some more. “Look at that star” I tell the others, “it’s moving in some incredible way”. Everyone looks to where I am pointing, and yes, they can see it too. It’s incredible. We are all seeing a star that is a million light years away, move in a sort of wobbly way – but it really is happening; we can all see it happening, so it must be moving somehow. After about 2 or 3 minutes, we get distracted by something else, but the science behind that moving star still haunts me to this day! How could it happen?!

When we finally get back to the apartment, Johnno goes to his room with Sarah, and Mary and I pull the mattress and bedsheets from our room into the lounge and sleep in front of the open doors to the balcony, so we can hear the sound of the surf all night. We have a wonderful deep sleep, feeling engulfed in the arms of nature’s sea and surf, and wake feeling refreshed from the previous night’s escapade on the beach. Just a lovely memory.

On Sunday evening, Johnno drops us off at Louis Botha Airport, and we are soon back in Joburg refreshed and ready for the week ahead.

March 1977
Early autumn arrives with the news that one of the most enduring housemates at Tyrone, Nick O’Keefe, has decided to travel overland on a trans-African adventure and will be leaving. Nick has been at Tyrone almost longer than anybody – Mike or Bryan could jostle for the title – but Nick has been a stalwart over the years (over 2 years, so a ‘long-standing’ member in the communal house tradition). Nick plans to ride his 250cc Yamaha off-road bike (2-stroke) across Africa from Joburg to Morocco – completely alone!! We all think him quite mad, as the roads are treacherous and he will be riding through inhospitable countries like the Congo and Nigeria (Uganda is a ‘no-go’ country at the moment, under the military dictatorship of someone called Idi Amin).
Nick’s plans are a little vague and he seems to think he can strap a sleeping bag and tent on his bike and set off in a general northerly direction. We are all worried for him. His bike, for one thing, is old and worn out from being used as a trail bike, and isn’t suited for long distance bike riding. Nick counters this argument with a fact - most of the roads will be unmade, mud tracks through tropical jungles, so a trail bike will be ideal. I suggest he has a good look at a map and work out a route, but all he has is a 1972 edition of the AA Pocket Guide to Africa. “What about cross-border documentation, bike insurance and international riding permits?” I ask. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of insurance” he says rather lamely. “What about your Passport” Bryan adds, “you’ll never get through half those countries if they see a South African residency permit”. “No worries there" he says, "I’ve managed to get a new Passport with no South African stamps in it” (in the 1970’s, tourists would ask South African immigration controls not to stamp their passports with an Entry or Exit stamp, to avoid problems when travelling through other African countries opposed to apartheid in South Africa).
Nick’s mind will not be changed, and when the day arrives, we are all there to farewell our housemate on his adventure. The last that many of us will hear of him for many years, is his ‘whoo..hoo’ as he zooms down the long drive and away on his bike (Nick didn’t make it to Morocco but instead his bike broke down in Lusaka after travelling through Botswana and into Zambia – a distance of about 1,000 miles – where he sold the bike and bought a plane ticket to London. He contacted me several years later when he was working in Qatar, and made it to my wedding in Australia in 1984. Since that time, Nick hasn't been seen or heard of again!).
Nick’s departure marks the 6th person to leave the house in 18 months, and it seems like a revolving door, but I’m sure it’s probably normal – Richard, David F., Maggie, Rosie, and Johnno have all left before him. Again we hold the normal evening interviews around the dinner table, and we ask Dawn if she would like to move in.

The lovely Dawn
Dawn is South African, quiet and has a bubbly nature and a cheeky ‘ha,ha’ sort of laugh which is fun. She’s used to dealing with people, being a school teacher, and she becomes the diplomat at the dinner table – always able to see the other side of an argument. She is very sensible, and tends to keep us ‘on topic’ when our discussions veer off in different directions. I like Dawn. A lot!
Pat Myhill, who works with John S. at A.C Nielson and came to their wedding last year, has come into our orbit again. She is a very attractive and vivacious person, with tanned skin and dark eyes – almost black - and Brigitte Bardot looks. She has an upbeat personality and is the life and soul of a party, and her laugh is loud and hearty. Pat can be a little flirty and has a naughty streak – a sort of ‘come hither’ look, but beware anyone that does, as she can just as easily put them back in their box. Since first meeting Pat at John & Michele's wedding last year, she has had a busy year moving out of Milner Loo and into a house with Len Bolton, and getting married and divorced to Len in the space of about 8 months. However, Paul Overton has managed to get her phone number, and is now going out with her.

At OK Stores work is hectic, especially with the new Hypermarkets which opened 3 months ago and which need to be supported by bigger computer systems. In the quest for more processing power, the mainframe computers have been upgraded to System/370 machines with memory up to 1Mb. In the quest for more efficiency, another programmer and I have been asked to trial the very first IBM Program Library system to maintain and update computer programs, using dumb (green screen) terminals connected to the System/370 in the basement. It is called IBM/LIBOL for Library Online, and it’s very experimental and advanced for the time. (Bill Gates had only started Microsoft in 1975 and DOS for personal computers was not yet released). After a program deck of punch cards has been loaded into the library, we access the program via the dumb terminal upstairs; to insert a card (instruction) we type a command like //ins, or //mod to change a card, on the keyboard connected to the terminal and then type the new instruction directly into the dumb terminal. To access my computer program in the library, I type typical Job Control Language (JCL) like //Open File=’program-name’ etc. Pretty basic stuff, but everyone thinks it is the most advanced thing they have ever seen! It also means that for the first time in the history of computing, the deck of punched cards for the computer program can be thrown away after it has been loaded into the library. After a month’s trial and report back to Paul, the DP Manager, the system is introduced for everyone in the DP Centre and in one bound, technology has taken a huge leap – just that we didn’t know it yet – online libraries will be the backbone of every computer and PC and Internet in the years ahead!

OK Stores is also in the frontline in the fight against terrorism this month, with the Roodepoort store having an unexploded bomb diffused by the Army. There are continued reports that the armed wing of the ANC are being trained in Rhodesia to strike at targets in South Africa like refineries and railways, and people are starting to become vigilant (these bombings continue until the late-80’s, shortly before Nelson Mandela is released). The government also confirms that guerrillas are being trained for operations against South Africa from bases in Botswana and Mozambique, so South Africa’s northern borders continue to be dangerous for isolated farmers as well as the white population in that area.
April 1977
One evening, the whole house goes to dinner at a local restaurant – to celebrate something, which sadly escapes me. On one side of the table are Bryan and his girlfriend, John and Michele, and Mike and Belinda, and seated on the other side are Dawn and I, Paul and Pat Myhill, and Steve H. It’s a boozy dinner and the wine is flowing freely and we are all having a great time. Half way through dinner, between the main course and dessert, we are getting pretty rowdy and someone suggests we should all change our tops with the person sitting on their left. The suggestion is preposterous, but we all love it! The tops are swiftly removed and for a moment the guys are topless and the girls are showing off their bras. The girls button up the men’s shirts and the guys struggle with some of the women’s blouses. I swop with Dawn and find I am wearing a pink frilly number that’s very girly. Dawn looks equally splendid in my shirt, fitting tightly across her ample bosom, and I find myself appreciating her assets in a different way since she moved into Tyrone last month. I am reminded in my mind of the unwritten rule between housemates – Communal House Rule 101 – no intimate relations between housemates! The other diners in the restaurant are highly amused by our antics, but we continue our dinner normally, and leave the restaurant in our new attire to admiring glances from everyone there.
Later in the month, on a Saturday, a group of us decide to drive out into the high veldt for a braai – there’s John and Michele, Paul and Pat Myhill, Marlene and Dan, Bryan W., Dawn, me and 3 other friends (not house members). We grab a hotplate from somewhere and we take plenty of wood and some firelighters. And cold wine and beer. We head north-west of the city, past Randburg and Muldersdrift, and half-way to Hartbeespoort Dam – about 30 miles. It is quite remote here, mostly rolling hills and scrub, brown now at the beginning of autumn. This area is the so-called Cradle of Humankind, which has produced a large number of the oldest human fossils ever found, some 3.5 million years old. The leading car heads off the beaten track, and we stop and get everything out. The scenery is awesome – an unbroken skyline of low hills and scrub, and stony outcrops. There’s a silence about the place – peaceful.
We find a shaded group of trees and setup the hotplate and start the fire, and soon the coals are white hot. On goes the meat and boerewors and its soon cooked. We crack open the wine and beer and sit down and enjoy the feast.
Afterwards, someone rolls a joint which gets passed around and we all mellow out, either enjoying the joint or the alcohol, or both. The shade from the trees casts thin shadows across the stony ground, and we lie down on a few rugs and enjoy the moment. The sun and the blue sky are a perfect combination at this time of year, when daytime temperatures are about 25C.
Pat and Paul
We must have lots to talk about, as we are there all afternoon and don’t notice the sun disappearing behind the hills, and it’s not until about 5 o’clock that we decide to head home. We head home via Diepsloot which is still mostly a rural area with a few farms dotted around (today, Diepsloot is one of the worst black townships in South Africa. Originally established by the ANC government in the 1990’s for displaced people from Joburg to live temporarily until a more permanent location could be found, it is now home to about 150,000 people, many of whom live in shacks 3 m by 2 m assembled from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard. Some families lack basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish removal. Those who live there face poverty, poor sanitation, overcrowding, high rates of crime, unemployment, and a generally unhealthy environment. Areas often get flooded in the heavy summer rains and most residents use paraffin stoves and coal for cooking, and candles for light).
We eventually get back to Tyrone at about 6pm. It’s been a great day, in the wonderful high veldt of South Africa. Beautiful.
The following weekend, John S. suggests we should go to Swaziland for a gambling weekend – he’s got a special deal at the Royal Swazi Spa casino in Mbabane, capital of Swaziland (at the time, casinos were illegal in South Africa and it wasn’t until 1979 that Sun City was developed in the bantustan of Bophuthatswana. As Bophuthatswana had been declared an independent state by the South African government, it could provide gambling which was banned in South Africa).
The drive to Mbabane takes about 4 hours and everyone drives as fast as they can to get the best rooms at the hotel. John and Michele, Bryan and his girlfriend, and Paul and Pat Myhill all have their own double rooms; I am bunking in a room with Dawn and a female friend of hers – they get the double bed and I have a single. In the afternoon, Paul and I head off to the Spa for a thermal spa and massage. The spa is so relaxing, and afterwards we head in opposite directions for a massage in private rooms. The masseuse is a very attractive Indian girl in her 20’s which is rather difficult for me to get my head around – for one thing, a white guy getting a massage from an Indian girl would be illegal in South Africa, and secondly, I have no idea whether this establishment offers ‘extra services’, so to speak. We are in a private room and the door is locked. She doesn’t say anything as she massages my back and legs, and when she asks me to turn over, I notice the room is very quiet. No one is saying anything as she starts to massage my upper body. Oh heck, I decide that discretion is the better part of valor, and I decide not to say anything. The massage ends with nothing further being said! Outside, Paul says to me “wow, did you get the extra bit at the end?” “No” I say, “I didn’t know they did that”. “Yea” Paul says, “you just had to ask!” Well, just my luck – another opportunity missed!
After dinner, we head for the casino to do some gambling. Some of us lose a bit and some are up for the night. As the evening wears on, people peel off and go to bed; Dawn and her friend call it a night about midnight, after Dawn wins big on a ‘system’ she’s got running.  Whatever ‘system’ Paul and I use isn’t working, so Paul suggests betting on the bust size of the female croupiers. To make it fair, we divide by a given number depending on their cup size – divide by 4 for an ‘A’ cup, 3 for a ‘B’ cup and so forth, to a 1 for a ‘D’ cup. This will put most numbers on the table into play as 36D will convert to number 36 and 32A will convert to 8, with various numbers in between for differences in size and cup size.
It sounds like a crazy ‘system’, and indeed it is, but it actually starts to win us some money! As Paul and I roam around the tables at about 1am, the calculations get more and more difficult as we drink more and more vodka and tonic. However, we are still winning despite arguments over whether a girl is size 36 or 34, or ‘C’ or ‘D’ cup. It’s all very silly, but we are having great fun. Eventually, we decide to call it a night and we walk away with a few hundred Rand each. Not bad for a night’s fun.
I head for my room which is in complete darkness. I know I agreed with the girls to take the single bed, but it is obvious one of them is sleeping in it! In my inebriate state, this is rather hard to compute, and I initially think I may be in the wrong room. But no, wait, the wash pack in the bathroom is mine! I tiptoe into the bedroom and can definitely make out 2 shapes – one in each bed. I absolutely can’t work this out. Do they want me to sleep on the floor; had they forgotten I was supposed to be sharing their room? Slowly it dawns on me that this is a ‘fix up’, and they want me to sleep in one of the beds…..with one of them! Oh gosh, I had never expected this to happen. And I’m a bit ‘gorillas in the mist’; what are they expecting me to do once I crawl into bed. This is a bit un-nerving. I obviously want to sleep in Dawn’s bed, as I really like her, but this is a lottery. I work it out that the double bed is the bed to sleep in because it is the larger bed, but I have no idea who is in it, so I switch off the bathroom light and slip between the sheets.
The bed is warm and inviting, and as I slide between the sheets I am comforted by someone who is obviously very awake. After a moment, I realise that my wishes have been granted by the Love Gods and the 2 of us begin to enjoy each other’s company. I think briefly of Communal House Rule 101 and how it is being broken tonight, but I can justify it because we are not actually in the house! I feel warm and content for some reason!
The next morning, the 3 of us are awake and talking from our beds, and the whole situation seems absolutely normal. Although I know this situation is not normal, I suppress the thought from my mind. When we join the others for breakfast, and later that day and back at Tyrone, nothing is ever asked about our strange sleeping arrangements and nothing is offered. The occasion is a glorious secret between Dawn and I - two kindred housemates!
Postscript: Later in the year, Dawn meets Brian Gallagher who is one of Bryan’s friends, and they become a couple (later, they run barn-dancing sessions at various venues (as callers) on weekends).
May 1977
Flying to Durban is only a one hour flight, so one weekend I persuade Paul Overton to come with me to visit Johnno. Paul and I rent an apartment near Johnno’s house in La Lucia. On Saturday afternoon we head around to Johnno’s house, where he shares his garage room with Sarah, who is now nursing in Durban. ‘Gerry the Berry’ Barker and the others are there. Gerry is about to head out on a run because he has met a very attractive South African girl by the name of Julie Angel. For the past month, Gerry has seen her running past the house every day. Yesterday, Gerry was ready in his running gear, so as she came running past the house, he was leaving the house at the same time. It was a perfect excuse to slip in beside Julie and they completed their run together. By the time they returned to Gerry’s house, he had persuaded her to go running with him again, so here he was today – ready for action! Johnno reckons it’s pretty serious, as Gerry has not put this much effort into anyone else before (Gerry subsequently does go out with Julie, and they get married in Durban in 1980).
Johnno, Sarah, Paul and I head down to Johnno’s room in the garage and settle down for a couple of hours of good music and a joint. As we venture down the steep driveway to Johnno’s room at the bottom, the weather looks threatening and dark clouds have swept in from the ocean. Johnno rolls a nice ‘3-stacker’ and puts on Queen ‘A Night at the Opera’ on his lovely Marantz Hi-Fi. We all lie on Johnno’s bed, and as the sweet effects of the local ‘Durban Poison’ (dope) kicks in, we slip further into a beautiful stupor. ‘Durban Poison’ is a local speciality and arrives in a pencil-thin, tightly rolled and compacted form, about 8 inches long. It’s renowned for its speedy, almost psychedelic qualities, and we only have to shave off a small amount to get a high. The storm has started now and the heavy rain is lashing down on the bedroom’s roof and windows. Johnno arks up the music a few degrees – it’s really loud to drown out the noise from the rain outside. By now, the music is playing at full volume, and we are all flaked out on the bed. After about an hour, the TDK120 cassette of Queen comes to an end and instead of the beautiful silence of our thoughts, someone is screaming from next door “turn that music down…turn that music down” is all we can hear. “It’s the bloody neighbour again”, says Johnno, “he’s always getting agitated by my music; I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to hear this great stuff at full volume, man”. To which we all agree, put on another tape and fall back on the bed!
After about another 30 minutes, my arms are flopped over the side of the bed and I can feel they are wet. It’s like I’m swimming, but I know I’m not swimming, I’m on Johnno’s bed. It takes about 10 secs to sink in, then all of a sudden I scream “hey guys, the room is flooding”. The room, which was at the bottom of a steep drive, was indeed flooding, and the water level was already halfway up the bed! Jesus, we all snap out of our foggy haze and are moving immediately into action – the water level is still rising. First, all the furniture is moved, and the bed is put on some bricks. It’s still raining heavily, and as the rain cascades down the driveway, most of it rushes past Johnno’s room and gushes into the pool which is already turning a brown colour, but some of the torrent is still coming through the garage door into Johnno’s room.
At that minute, I have a sudden and great revelation – why not use the pool vacuum hose to suck all the water from Johnno’s room and back into the pool, thereby stopping the water level from rising. Paul grabs the pool vacuum and switches on the pump, and although the water is still coming down the driveway, the water level in Johnno’s room starts to go down. It’s a miracle – we’ve been saved from the rain! As the rain eases and the water stops coming down the drive, Johnno’s room is emptied and there’s no damage to anything. Phew, that was a close shave. Well done Davo for that revelation! There’s no sign of the neighbour next door – the rain has driven him inside!
In the evening, we head to a seafood restaurant in Durban; the famous Lord Prawn on the Durban beach front (it relocated to Umhlanga in 1989). Gerry’s brother Alan joins us for dinner. Alan runs his own boat-building business and lives down the road from Gerry in another communal house. He brings around his girlfriend Lesley Henley, who is also South African. They’ve been going out awhile and it’s also serious (they do get married the following year, in Durban). The seafood is awesome in Durban because it comes from further north, from Mozambique. They have Queen prawns which are about 6 inches long, and then massive King prawns which must be 8 inches long. Fabulous!
The rain has cleared to a warm and balmy night. After dinner, Gerry thinks he knows where there is a party tonight – somewhere in Morningside – and we should all go along. Sarah is on a shift tonight, and Alan has to go home, so it’s just Gerry, Johnno, Paul and me. I roll another ‘Durban Poison’ before we set off and we pass it around as Gerry drives. Unfortunately, the effect of the dope and not being sure where the party is exactly, means we get well and truly lost. But all is OK, as Gerry has the address. In the event, the Morningside area is full of steep turns and stop streets, dead-ends and circular crescents, so it’s all a bit confusing. Our current mind-numbing state doesn’t help – Johnno has the map on his lap, but he can’t read it because it’s upside-down. At every major intersection, there is a phone box, and Gerry jumps out of the car and rings the party house and asks for directions and jumps back in the car again. This lasts for about 5 minutes, before we are lost again and Gerry has to stop at the next phone box and so on. This happens 3 or 4 times until lo and behold, we see a long line of parked cars which signifies that we have arrived. Hallelujah. We pile out of the car and head inside for a drink.
The party is great, even though I experience it through a fog of smoke and beer and loud music – but it’s the sound of heavenly angels in my current state. When we all leave about 2am, we seem to find our way back to our apartment quite easily, more by luck than anything else, and Paul and I get dropped off and we stagger inside. A great day and night; plenty of excitement for our first day in Durban.
On Sunday, Paul has someone to see in Durban so I head round to see Johnno and Sarah at their house. Gerry is doing some stretching exercises and getting some air into his lungs before Julie comes past for their run together. Johnno makes pikelets and honey for everyone to get a sugar fix. When we are ready, we load up the Beetle with Johnno’s surfboard and head north for the 20 minute drive to Umhlanga Rocks. We drive the inland route via endless fields of sugarcane and when we reach our destination I find that Umhlanga has a sort of village atmosphere and is quite unspoilt. We park the car opposite the beach, and before heading down to the surf, we roll a little number to get in the mood. There is no one else on the beach today and we can see for miles in both directions, on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. We unload the surfboard and stroll down to the surf, which is only ‘ankle breakers’ today, so we sit on the beach and quietly and silently contemplate the scenery for a while – for about 2 hours! It’s time to pack up the surfboard and head home. The board hasn’t tasted the surf today, but it’s been a wonderful day anyway.
One of my main impressions of Durban since arriving on Friday night, is that it has a large Indian population. Most of the Indians in South Africa live in Durban, and they are evident everywhere in the town. Most of them are descended from indentured labourers or coolies who were brought into the country by the British, from India, to work in the sugar plantations or mines (especially coal) in the new Colony of Natal 100 years ago.
'Whites-only' sign on Durban beach
The Golden Mile beachfront is beautiful here and the most popular destination for swimmers and sunbathers alike, but the beach is segregated into ‘black’ and ‘whites-only’ areas. With the development of the Golden Mile a few years ago, Durban has been promoted as a seaside resort for white holidaymakers, particularly for families from Joburg. The extensive beach is split according to colour - black people are allowed to walk the length of the whole beach but, on the ‘whites-only’ Addington Beach, they are not allowed to sit down or go into the sea. The council has provided over 1 mile of beach for whites, but only 500 yards of beach for blacks, about the same for Indians, and even less for coloureds (beaches were not opened to all groups, and the notorious 'whites-only' signs removed, until 1989).
Indians live in segregated townships like Springfield Park in Durban North and Chatsworth in the south-west. They are also compelled to carry identity documents under the Pass Laws and must carry a pass at all times - nicknamed the 'dompas' ('dumb pass' in Afrikaans).
The largest ‘black’ township in Durban is Umlazi, located next to Chatsworth. It is the third largest township in South Africa, after Soweto and Tembisa. It houses cheap African labour needed to work in white-owned businesses in the South Durban industrial area.
Durban is a melting pot of racial unrest. It has become the centre of a new struggle against apartheid, after extensive strikes by workers recently, and one of the key figures in this movement is Steve Biko – who is closely associated with the Black Consciousness Movement (Steve Biko was arrested a few months after my visit and died in detention on 12th September).
On Sunday evening, we head off to Louis Botha Airport along South Coast Road. As we leave this wonderful, vibrant and friendly city facing the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, I am reminded how much Durban is a city of contrasts – on the one hand, racial disharmony and on the other, a magnificent subtropical climate and extensive beaches. When we land at Jan Smuts airport in Joburg, an hour later, we are both exhausted but happy to be home.
June 1977
Pat Myhill and Paul
Paul has this amazing and sexy Triumph Stag convertible in a deep blue colour. Although Paul is English, he has Africa in his blood and he worked in Salisbury, Rhodesia before coming to Joburg (Salisbury changed its name to Harare in 1982). Since Rhodesia declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) 10 years ago, the country has been fighting a brutal guerrilla war against two African nationalist organisations – Robert Mugabe's ZANU and Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU. (Rhodesian premier Ian Smith conceded to bi-racial democracy in 1978. However, a provisional government headed by Smith and his moderate colleague Abel Muzorewa failed in halting the bloodshed until a general election was held in February 1980, won by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU party). Rhodesia is definitely not a safe-haven for tourists, but Paul is always up for a challenge and nothing will keep him from going there on a holiday with Pat Myhill in his Stag. By this time in the guerrilla war, the government has abandoned its early strategy of defending the borders in favour of trying to defend key economic areas and lines of communication with South Africa, while the rest of the country has become a patchwork of ‘no-go areas’. From the Beitbridge border crossing with South Africa, cars travel in convoys to Bulawayo and then on to Salisbury in the north-east of the country.
None of this stops Paul and Pat and they set off for a week in Rhodesia. We wave them goodbye, expecting never to see them again.
A week later, the intrepid pair are back at Tyrone with nothing more than dust in their hair and some wind rash. The trip was full of excitement and we hear of a beautiful country ravaged by its ‘bush war’ and Commonwealth sanctions causing shortages. Shops have empty shelves because Rhodesia doesn’t have the foreign reserves to import basic foodstuffs and everyday necessities like toiletries and clothing. There are oil and petrol shortages, and the militants are getting the upper hand against the security forces (In December 1978, the military wing of ZANU penetrated the outskirts of Salisbury and bombed the main oil storage depot – the most heavily defended economic asset in the country – which burned for five days. The whole of Rhodesia's strategic oil reserves were lost). At one point, near Victoria Falls, the convoy is fired upon by ZANU guerrillas who have crossed the border from Zambia (previously Northern Rhodesia until independence in 1964) where they are being trained. Excitement indeed, but Paul says “everyone just pressed the pedal to the metal, and kept driving to Vic Falls at high speed!” But, once they arrive at Vic Falls, the car conks it and is beyond repair.  So at the roulette table at the casino that night, Paul calls out (in a Monty Python voice) "one Triumph Stag on number 13" but gets no takers!.  The car is abandoned right there and they have to fly home.
Shortly after my last visit to Durban, Johnno tells me he wants to drive down the Eastern Cape and surf some of the east coast breaks around Jeffrey’s Bay, near Port Elizabeth, famous for sharks and fabulous point breaks in the 6-8ft range. Jeffrey’s Bay is a sleepy little fishing town and one of the most famous surfing destinations in the world (professionals rate Jeffrey’s Bay among the ten best surfing spots in the world and from 1981 the town hosted the annual Billabong pro surfing challenge at Supertubes – where Mick Fanning fought off a shark attack in 2015). Located in the rugged Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, about an hour’s drive southwest of Port Elizabeth the waves are best during the winter months of June to August. I suggest to Johnno that I will fly down to Cape Town and meet him there, and we can stay with Leah, who we met at Tyrone in January. Leah lives in Cape Town, a friend of Marlene, and I am sure she will let us stay at her share house.
Leah's share house in lee of Table Mtn
I soon have the holiday organised and Leah is happy to let us stay for a week, so Johnno says he will meet me in Cape Town. I arrange the 2 hour flight for the end of the month, which gives Johnno 5 days to drive down the east coast from Durban, and enjoy all the surfing spots along the way. Leah meets me at DF Malan airport in her white MGA and we set off for her house in the suburb of Gardens, close to the city centre. Cape Town is a most beautiful city, but a city of contrasts – fantastic scenery, beautiful Victorian terraces clustered around Table Bay, and traditional Cape Dutch style buildings, but also much poverty in evidence in shanty towns and informal settlements close to the city centre. There are 3 large ‘black’ townships near the airport which we pass on the way into the city – Nyanga, Gugulethu and Crossroads. Table Mountain, with its near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit over 3,300 ft high, forms a dramatic mountainous backdrop enclosing the central area of Cape Town and its suburbs. As we pull into Leah’s street, in the lee of Table Mountain, a thin strip of cloud, known as the "tablecloth", hides the top of the mountain.
In the last 12 months, the government has embarked on a major campaign to demolish informal settlements where black people live, in response to the 1976 Soweto uprising - and massive evictions and destruction of settlements have taken place at Unibel, Modderdam, Werkgenot and KTC townships. The government has also tried, and failed, to destroy the Crossroads settlement – when the police invaded Crossroads to flush out the ‘illegal’ occupants, 900 people were arrested (the government continued to try and demolish informal settlements until the late 80’s).
Cape Coloureds are a predominant racial group here, and they are the largest group of people affected by forced removals in Cape Town as a result of the Group Areas Act. In many parts of Cape Town, there is still evidence of demolition of buildings in mixed-race neighbourhoods, which have been later designated as ‘white areas’. The most infamous example of this is District Six which was declared a ‘whites-only’ area a few years ago, and which has had all its housing demolished and over 60,000 residents forcibly removed to the barren Cape Flats region (mainly an Afrikaans-speaking area – ‘Die Kaapse Vlakte’ in Afrikaans,). The old District Six is only 1 mile from the suburb of Gardens, where Leah lives, and the government has recently renamed the area Zonnebloem.
Most of the Cape Coloureds have been moved to Mitchells Plain, 20 miles south-east of the city on the coast of False Bay, which is one of South Africa's largest townships with an estimated population of over 100,000 residents (this figure has since grown to over 300,000 in 2015).
I sense an enormous divide in Cape Town between the beauty and luxury enjoyed by the ‘whites’, and the poverty and forced resettlements imposed on all other racial groups here, including the Cape Coloureds.
Johnno arrives later in the day. He has his surfboard on the roofracks and looks the typical surfer. His stories about the huge waves at J-Bay keep us enthralled for hours! In the evening, we head over to Observatory, a student neighbourhood situated on the north-facing slopes of Table Mountain. It’s a vibrant suburb, a somewhat alternative part of town, and one of the few de facto 'grey' suburbs where all races live together. Leah has given Johnno a couch in the lounge and Leah and I sleep upstairs. Breakfast the next day is a late affair. It’s the weekend, so Leah suggests a drive in her MGA along the coast road to Hout Bay – the road follows the Chapmans Peak drive which hugs the cliffs rising hundreds of feet from the sea and which is one of the most spectacular drives in the world.  Johnno and I heartily agree – one of us can squeeze into the back seat of the MGA.
Leah drives like a crazy woman, and as the narrow road twists and turns along the coastline, she plays Patti Smith on her tape cassette at full volume, and drives even faster. At one stage, we take off as the MGA speeds over a hump in the road at about 70 mph! The beauty of the mountains is superb – there are 12 mountain peaks that rise from the sea (the 12 Apostles) and as we drive southwards the sun’s rays cut an unforgettable scene in front of us. When we arrive at Hout Bay, we stop for fish and chips, which Hout Bay is famous for – yum. In the evening we drive over to Signal Hill, which overlooks the city of Cape Town, for a magnificent night time view of the city – what a fabulous day in the most beautiful city in Africa.
While we are in Cape Town, I canvas the idea to Johnno of travelling overland from Joburg to Cairo. The idea sounds exciting, but it is also a watershed decision in our lives. The government has imposed exchange controls and limited the amount residents can take out of the country to R10,000. We have reached a crossroads in our lives where we must stay or leave; staying any longer will probably mean putting down roots and maybe staying forever. We canvas a few options like overland as part of an organised tour (there’s plenty of these, offering regular talks in all major cities for interested people), or under our own steam; with others or by ourselves; and what route to take, as there are plenty of options that include Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan etc. We are both excited by the idea, and about the one thing we agree is that we should leave the country within the next 6 months – a momentous decision. So we decide to go home and think about it some more, and discuss it again in a month or so.
Clifton Beach
During our week in Cape Town, Johnno and I see most of the magnificent sights that this city has to offer, like Clifton beach - Cape Town's St Tropez, under the lee of Lions Head, and rated as one of the top-10 beaches in the world - and the Stellenbosch wineries. We never did get to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain – the cloud hanging over the summit did not disappear all week. But it didn’t matter – this city is one to fall in love with.
The city too, the CBD and the harbour, are simply beautiful. When it is time for Johnno and I to leave, we both agree that Cape Town is one the most beautiful cities in the world – safe, secure and friendly (today, Cape Town is South Africa’s most violent city – and is among the top 10 most violent cities in the world).
July 1977
Rosie and I continue to see each other occasionally and remain friends since we split up last year, so I call her one day and suggest we go to the Formula One Grand Prix at Kyalami.
Support race
There is a great buzz this year because Jody Scheckter is leading the championship for the Tyrrell F1 team, and he is South African. Rosie and I decide to head up to the circuit on my trail bike – it’s only about 10 miles from her house, and we can park it in some field near the track and walk in avoiding the queues. This happens to be a good idea because the queue of cars trying to get into the circuit is miles long.
The atmosphere around the circuit is awesome. People around the track have arrived in flat-bed trucks, which they have parked alongside the fencing and have built temporary structures on them to get a good view of the track. Even cars and vans parked against the fence have people sitting on the roofs for a better view. Terrific. Rosie schmoozes a group of guys on top of a flat-bed and somehow gets us invited up onto the platform for a grandstand view of the race. The truck is at the end of the main straight and into the first corner, a sloping right-hander taken at full speed. It’s very exciting and we can see almost the entire track.
During the race, there is a serious accident involving a track marshal and one of the F1 drivers, both of whom are killed, and it happens on the track right in front of us. On lap 22, a marshal runs onto the track after one of the Shadows suffers engine failure and stops opposite the pits. He is hit by the car of Tom Pryce and killed instantly. He is thrown into the air and the fire extinguisher he was holding hits Pryce in the head, killing him instantly. It was awful to see, like in slow-motion, as the racing car with the driver, already dead, comes hurtling towards the embankment at the end of the main straight and crashes into the tyre barrier only metres from where we are standing.
The race continues, however, and Niki Lauda wins; Jody Scheckter is second. The whole situation is rather surreal, as we know racing is dangerous, but no one expects to see a death at the track, and we leave the track rather more subdued than when we arrived.
This is the last time I see Rosie in South Africa. She has made a new life for herself in the communal house scene, mainly centred on the houses in the northern suburbs near Kiwi Estate in Bryanston. So it is with a sad heart that I drop her off at her house and bid her farewell (Rosie eventually leaves South Africa in 1978 and follows her dream to work as a croupier in south of France and marries a movie director (Ray Corbett) who was assistant director on Monty Python's the Meaning of Life and a number of other well-known movies in the 80’s and 90’s. She divorces Ray Corbett in 1995 and breeds Bassett hounds in Sussex until her death in 2014).
Paul Overton

Paul has set up an import-export business in Lusaka by this time, and is spending more time in Zambia, so one weekend, Pat flys to Kitwe (northern Zambia nr border with Congo) to see him.  She has to be back at work in Joburg on Monday, and on Sunday they have to drive like maniacs through fields to get to Kitwe airport to catch their flight from Kitwe to Lusaka and back to Joburg.  When they get there (a corrugated iron shack in the middle of a paddock), there is no sign of any plane and three Idi Amin 'look-alikes' on an old couch in the sun, reading newspapers.  Paul asks them "When is the next flight to Lusaka?"  One of them looks up laconically and says "Eet has left".  Fuck.  But Paul is not deterred and he sees a small plane in the distance, finds the pilot, hires the plane, and they end up at Lusaka airport in time to catch their connecting flight to Joburg.  That was Paul - a gentle ‘fixer’.

Michele is convinced Pat and Paul will get married in Zambia, so they play a trick on her when they come back to Tyrone, and say they had tied the knot.  Michele is ecstatic, of course.  When they confess it was all a joke, poor Michele bursts into tears!  Sad.

The other sad news this month is that Paul Overton is planning to leave Tyrone to live in Lusaka, for his business which is mainly importing steel for the construction and mining industry. Zambia is very short of foreign reserves and importing anything is extremely difficult, but Paul has a considerable number of contacts and is confident of success. Zambia's border with Rhodesia has been closed by Kaunda since 1973, in retaliation for Rhodesian raids into Zambia as part of their ‘bush war’, and so Paul makes the difficult decision to leave Tyrone, and fly to Lusaka, transporting all his possessions in 3 large suitcases (the road border between Rhodesia and Zambia was not re-opened until 1978). Paul is akin to a modern day entrepreneur, as he will turn his hand to almost any venture that will make money. Pat Myhill, his girlfriend for the past 6 months, is obviously sad as well, but the good news is that she wants to move into Tyrone and will move into Paul’s old room upstairs. Pat has a gregarious personality, and is loud and proud by nature, and so dinner times at Tyrone become boisterous affairs with her addition at the table!
Shortly afterwards, I come home from work and find Pat, Michele and Marlene all rat faced. Michele had decided to pierce Pat's ears (3 holes in each lobe).  They can barely stand; there is blood everywhere and they are howling with laughter.  The holes become permanent additions and are still there, after 40 years!!

Postscript: In the late 70’s and 80’s, Paul's business ventures take him to Lagos (Nigeria) and London. By the early 80's, Pat Myhill was working for an Ad Agency in London when walking down Oxford St one lunchtime, she literally bumped into Paul Overton!!!  Paul had posh offices in Oxford Street and Pat ended up working for him, but Paul had met a beautiful blonde lawyer, and she and Paul didn't re-kindle their relationship. He eventually settled in Brighton, England (I saw him one last time in the UK, shortly before his death in 1990).
August 1977
Freks and I have been seeing each other occasionally throughout the year, usually a Bar Night or Movie Night, and our relationship is one akin to ‘best friends’. However, there is also some intimacy involved, when we can both enjoy each other’s company for a night or two – it’s a perfect relationship. One day she suggests seeing a blue movie at Eton Arms in Parktown. The movie is called “Deep Throat” starring someone called Linda Lovelace, who no one has heard of (I don’t think we called it a porn movie, since it wasn’t until the late-70’s with the introduction of VHS tapes, and home VCR machines, did porn enter the mainstream). It is a major coup for Eton Arms to secure a copy of the film, since it had first been shown in New York only 4 years ago and it is still the subject of obscenity trials in some countries – and is definitely illegal in South Africa. The film actually features a plot, it has a story and relatively high production values. The film is shown in the lounge with a sheet draped on the wall to project the movie onto, and there is a small gathering of people watching it. It definitely feels odd watching an intimate movie in the middle of the day, with a bunch of people, most of whom we don’t know. During the sex scenes, the general chatter dies away and a hush descends on the room as people concentrate on the white sheet on the wall! For most people in the room, seeing such an explicit sex movie is actually ‘ground-breaking’! Where will it end I wonder!
Sometime later, I am sitting at my desk at work when Jenny comes over for a chat. She sits on the edge of my desk with her long legs dangling over the edge, and proceeds to flirt with me. Jenny is tall, attractive and has a slim figure. The tight-fitting slacks she prefers at work, fit her like a glove. She is always admired as she ‘sashays’ to and fro from the DP manager’s office, where she is his secretary. Everybody at work finds Jenny attractive and several of the guys have tried to invite her out, without success. She joined OK Stores about the same time as myself, but she was a school leaver and still living at home, but after listening to my stories about communal house parties and the good times she decided to move into a communal house in Bedfordview (Cumberland Castle). She is now sitting on my desk telling me about her house. I am intrigued, since I have always admired her from afar but have thought I was not her type – for one thing she is at least 4 or 6 inches taller than me, and comes from an Afrikaans-speaking background, and I have assumed she would prefer someone from Joburg rather than a ‘rooineck’ from England like me. But today is different, for some reason, as she leans in towards me and breathlessly tells me about the latest ‘goings-on’ at her house. I listen attentively, as her charms begin to weave their web around me.
As secretary to the DP Manager, Jenny carries some influence on the floor because she knows all the politics around the place and the plans that are happening. Jenny ‘holds the keys’ to many secrets that would be worth knowing. After a few minutes, I feign disinterest and tell her I’m busy, and she should let me get on with my work. As she walks away, I can discern a definite swagger to her walk as she knows I am watching her. This behaviour of sitting on my desk and talking about different things, carries on for a few weeks and she is definitely flirting. Eventually, I ask her out to one of Tyrone’s Bar nights, and my invitation is readily accepted – it looks like I am now going out with the boss’ secretary, which is considered quite a coup at work; even Paul (the DP Manager) remarks on it one day and I think he is jealous.
At our first evening at Tyrone, we get a little drunk on rum and coke and the evening ends predictably with her staying the night. As the next day is a work day, I have to get her home so she can change for work, so I make the journey across town as the sun is coming up and we are both at work later that morning looking rather tired and sheepish. It’s so embarrassing going out with someone from work, but after a while everyone seems to know and it’s all quite normal. I just have to be careful it doesn’t end in tears for one of us! Nevertheless, our relationship seems to grow and we become known as the ‘odd couple’ – she’s 6 ft tall, quite prim and proper, and talks with a lovely selection of "Afrikanerisms", slang words and phrases influenced by Afrikaans. Words like ‘Ag sies man’(expression of disgust), ‘howzit, ‘yooit’, ‘hoesit’, ‘voetsek man’ (go away), ‘diss him man’ (ignore him), ‘bliksem’, ‘lekker’ (nice), ‘maat’ (friend)  and more, all start to become commonplace in our conversations.
One day, when we are sitting around the pool, the conversation turns to the annual salary reviews at work. She casually tells me that she has seen all the proposed increases and I will be the highest paid computer programmer at OK Stores. “Wow, that’s pretty impressive” I tell her, more in recognition of her inside knowledge than anything. I start to ask her about some of the other guys at work, and all the confidential details are spelled out for me. It’s exciting to have some inside knowledge that no one else has, so I ask Jenny if she knows anything about my performance review results. “Ag, sies man, that’s all in the bladdy files which I haven’t seen”, and then a short moment later “but I know where the files are kept if you want to know!!” This is too tempting for me, so I press her for more information. Apparently, all the personnel files are kept in a cabinet beside the HR Manager’s desk on the fourth floor, and furthermore the cabinet is never locked – I assume no one would be foolish enough to take the files and have a look.
So I hatch a plan with Jenny’s help. She doesn’t want to be involved but she tells me that everyone on the fourth floor normally leaves to go home by 6 or 6.30 in the evening, and that would be the best time to do it without being caught – the security guard rarely checks the floors and I could have an excuse of seeing someone about a computer question if I am caught on the floor.
The following week I summon the courage to sneak upstairs and look at the files. I spend part of the day going upstairs to discuss some sort of computer problem with someone on the floor, as a bit of a subterfuge. By 6pm, on my last visit, I note the HR Manager has left and there is maybe only one person left on the floor. As I exit the floor, I make a mental note of the filing cabinet outside the HR Managers office near the lifts – for tonight’s little adventure!
I go back downstairs and wait 30 minutes – they tick by slowly and my hands are sweaty. At about 6.30pm, I use the stairs to go back up to the fourth floor (I check both doors which are still unlocked). The last person on the floor has left and the lights are off. I switch the lights on and drop something on the person’s desk I was talking to earlier in the day, and make my way back to the HR Manager’s office next to the lifts. There is no one else on the floor, everything is very quiet. I quickly slip over to the upright cabinet and open the door, and see the personnel files – probably 100 of them for everyone in the department. Oh shit, how do I find my file? I am here now, so I might as well start searching for it. Fortunately, they are all in alphabetical order and I find my file after about 2 minutes. My heart is racing as I slip the file out of the cupboard and place it on a table. I turn over a few pages and see my appraisal – it looks OK, there are lots of ticks and a few comments, some sort of score maybe out of 100. I am just digesting the information when there is the sound of a lift arriving on the floor, and the unmistakeable sound of the lift doors opening. Oh shit, my heart jumps into my mouth and I duck behind the cupboard out of sight – the folder is still open on the desk!
It’s the security guard and he’s doing his rounds. I know that I am now to be caught and probably dismissed for my actions. Fortunately, the guard turns to the left and starts a circuit of the floor. I know it’s only a minute, two at the most, before he comes around to the Manager’s office beside the lift. I quickly close the file, place it back exactly how I found it, and carefully close the cupboard doors. I creep over to the stairs beside the lift – if the door is now locked I am in trouble – and quietly turn the handle and ‘oh, such luck’ I find the door is unlocked and make my way quickly downstairs to emerge on my floor without anyone seeing me. My heart is still pumping and I curse my stupidity, but I am thankful for my luck. I decide to quickly tidy up my desk and leave for home, and I am outside on the street within a couple of minutes. “Phew, that was close and I never want to do that again” I mutter under my breath! When I next see Jenny, she whispers excitedly “Well, how was it? Did you suss it out, man?” When I relate what happened, all she can say is "Yussus! Are you serious? You are so crazy man!" Unfortunately, I must agree with her; I can’t even remember what was in my file – just a few numbers and ticks – and the whole exercise was such a waste of time. I really kick myself, and I know I won’t be doing that again for some time!
September 1977
The 12th September is a momentous day in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It is reported in the Rand Daily Mail of the death in detention of Steve Biko, founder and first President of the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO).  The Rand Daily Mail report reads: “Mr Steve Biko, the 30-year-old black leader, widely regarded as the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, died in detention on Monday (12th). Mr Biko is the 20th person to die in Security Police custody in 18 months.” His funeral, on 25th September, is attended by about 20,000 people. We also hear of someone called Donald Woods, a white South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, who in 1977 is arrested many times by the government for his anti-apartheid activities and challenging the restrictive government policies to control the South African press. In the nearly 3 years I have lived in South Africa, the ‘black problem’ has never gone away, continuing to bubble along under the surface and at the forefront of our daily lives in one way or another.

After the Swazi weekend a few months ago, Dawn and I had been breaking Communal House Rule 101 occasionally, and one day Bryan confided in me that I wasn't the only one in Tyrone breaking the rule! It became an open secret that other housemates at Tyrone were also doing it covertly, hoping to keep things secret, but all the other housemates knew who was sleeping with who!! Pat confides in us that Milner Loo also had a house rule of no hook-ups with housemates, but some couples would get together, covertly, when the lights were out. On one occasion, Ken Bell and one of the female housemates were together when she was heard calling out his name in the midst of her passion. Immediately, Brian Turner jumped out of bed and called out loudly “Ken, Ken, I think someone needs you in her room” and all the other housemates just cracked up since everyone knew what was going on!!

September marks the end of my second year at Tyrone. It’s been an eventful 2 years and it has gone past in a flash. So much has happened that I have hardly had time to draw breath, but the communal scene is changing and there are imperceptible small changes occurring that illustrate that nothing is permanent, only a fleeting temporary existence. The people we are seeing at parties and bar nights were not in the communal house scene 2 or 3 years ago, and we are considered the ‘old guard’. There are fewer ‘ex-pats’ around as many have left after the glory years of 1974 – 1976, as the political events and apartheid turn the tide of racism against the international community and fewer people seek work and domicile in this country. In fact, many more people are now speaking openly about leaving the country for good, and how to get one’s money out of the country (the government had implemented strict currency controls at this time, to limit the amount you could take out of the country to R10,000). The worsening political situation, the bush war in Rhodesia, the military situation in Angola, Namibia (South West Africa), and Mozambique, and all the talk of people leaving is changing the long term outlook for ‘ex-pat’s like me.

Pat Myhill at Tyrone
We have known that Tyrone would eventually cease to be a communal house, and the owner/developer is trying to raise the money to develop the property. Over the past 2 years, we are spending more and more money on Tyrone’s upkeep – repairing the roof and keeping the pool working (our rental agreement states we are responsible for all maintenance of the property and the owner is not responsible for any repairs in any way) but it comes as a surprise to hear that the owner/developer has been forced into bankruptcy by the Bank and the Bank are to auction the house to get their money back. This will undoubtedly change our position with the new owners, who will want to evict us as soon as possible, in order to develop the property and build townhouses on the approx. 7 acres which is our home (in the event, over 100 townhouses were built on the site and this can be seen on Google Maps at Lat. S26.1639535, Long. E28.1160909 Grant Road, Linksfield Ridge, Johannesburg. The area has developed into an up-market suburb with some mansions in the suburb now having security walls to a height of 3 - 4 m!).  
So one evening in September, Bryan and I go along to the auction at the Bank offices in Commissioner St. The bidding is over in less than 2 minutes. It is knocked down to someone in a dark suit for R1.5 million; little does that person know that Tyrone is our home and our future is now in his hands (we were eventually served notice in March 1978 that the house was to be demolished, and Tyrone became an early casualty of the development boom affecting many of the large communal houses in Joburg - Milner Loo was also demolished and a large office block erected in it place).
Later in the month, Johnno comes up to Joburg for a weekend. There are a lot of plans to sort out for our trans-Africa trip. We need all the injections you can imagine – yellow fever, typhoid, malaria and more. We both have to get new passports from our embassies overseas with no South African Entry/Exit stamps, we need camping and outdoor gear – walking boots, tent, cooking stuff and so on. Most importantly, we have to work out a route and how to travel across the African continent from south to north – plane, train, overland tour or hitch-hike.
There are several tour operators that have information evenings that describe the route, the conditions and what to expect, so we go along to get some ideas. Bryan Bourke, who used to go out with Maggie and works for Afro-Ventures as a driver/guide, also gives us advice. The vehicles (they usually travel in pairs in case of a breakdown – that’s one negative point!) are basic Army issue 7 ton Bedford trucks, four-wheel drive with high ground clearance, with 2 bench seats opposite each other at the back and a canvas canopy that is usually open but can be pulled closed if it rains. Sleeping is in a number of large tents – 6 or 8 to a tent – on camp beds and cooking is basic; provisions bought along the way. This appears to me to be too organised – what if you want a side trip to see a game park or climb Mt Kilimanjaro or something that’s not part of the itinerary – and the costs are not cheap for what is a long and uncomfortable ride! Four weeks and 7,000 miles to reach Tangier on the Mediterranean, where you make your own way to your final European destination. Uganda is not safe, where an estimated 300,000 Ugandans have lost their lives since Idi Amin came to power in 1971. As well, the border between Rhodesia and Zambia has been closed. However, the tour operators consider southern Sudan relatively safe since the civil war with the north ended several years ago (Sudan was involved in another civil war 3 years later with the south wanting separate autonomy from the north, and over 500,000 people were killed). Yvonne Reynolds, Bryan W's current GF, also gives advice. Yvonne has set up a tree-felling / lumberjack business in Joburg called “Topem”, and runs Safari South for wealthy Americans doing fly-in safaris to Botswana.
So the current route is now overland through Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, southern Sudan and then across the continent through the Central African Republic (CAR is relatively safe having been run by someone called Emperor Bokassa since a military coup some years earlier – however, he was eventually overthrown by the French in 1979 after civilians were massacred in food riots) and north through Niger, Algeria and Morocco to Tangier. It appears an arduous route and not without some difficulties – mainly from very poor roads, some no more than muddy tracks. The fear of any troubles from inhospitable inhabitants, or ethnic fighting between tribal groups, is not a major issue, (the biggest issue at this time was probably border crossings and bribes; the idea of terrorism or civil war was certainly not an issue to concern us). One issue however, that was brought to our attention was that no South Africans could be accepted on the tour – due to their passports – and all other nationals had to have ‘clean’ passports without South African Entry/Exit stamps. This would mean Johnno and I arranging new passports to be sent to us by our parents from overseas (the British Consulate in Pretoria was unable to issue ‘clean’ passports for some reason, and it was the same for Australia).
In the end, Johnno and I decide to hitch-hike across the continent from Joburg to Cairo, with short hops by bus, train or plane to get through some of the trouble spots. The route will start in Botswana (where we will fly by small plane), make our way to Zambia where we will stay with Paul Overton, then hitchhike to Malawi and north to Tanzania, Mt Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Nairobi, then north through Sudan to Luxor and bicycles to the Valley of the Kings to see the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and finally a train to Cairo. Then fly to London, Heathrow. (In the end, we had to bypass Tanzania because of an outbreak of typhoid, and Mt Kilimanjaro is abandoned, so from Malawi we hitched back to Lusaka before flying to Nairobi and then by train to Mombasa and bus to the island of Lamu. From there, we caught a fishing trawler back to Mombasa, and train to Nairobi. We travelled north to Mt Kenya where we discovered that northern Sudan was too dangerous to traverse by road, and so decided to fly direct to Cairo, back-tracking to Luxor, before finishing in London, taking 3 months to complete the trip).
While Johnno is in Joburg, we buy all the essential items like a tent, cooking equipment and hiking boots (expensive Red Wing boots, made in USA). We also arrange all the injections for yellow fever, cholera, Hep-A, Hep-B, malaria, rabies, typhoid and so forth, so that we are all prepared for our trip.
The combination of the ‘black problem’, the worsening political situation and the exchange control restrictions, the changing face of the communal house scene and most recently the auction and imminent demise of Tyrone, all combine to persuade us to set a date to leave South Africa in the not too distant future. We set the date for early February next year – only 4 months away.
October 1977
Steve Hoppe has his own plans to one day leave South Africa, and he suggests we should test out the camping equipment, and so we plan a weekend to test out the tent and equipment I have bought for the trip. The Red Wing boots I have bought are still stiff and I need to break them in – my first walk from the house to the shops in Club St., a distance of about 1 mile, find me nursing a blister by the time I get back. Obviously, I need to break-in these little beauties as quickly as possible, or my journey across Africa is going to be painful! (I eventually walked hundreds of miles trekking across Africa and Europe in the 9 months after I left South Africa, and I can honestly say the boots felt like a second skin, they were so comfortable - I still use them today, 40 years later).
Steve and I do a few walks on top of the ridge behind the house, where there are magnificent views across the suburbs towards the airport. This is one of the highest points in the city, for some of the best views of Joburg, and nobody comes up our lane to see it. Amazing.
We put all the camping gear in his car and head off to nowhere in particular – the plan is just to erect the tent somewhere and try out the cooking equipment. Instead of heading for the hills and somewhere quiet, we end up driving into some ‘little dorpy’ in the middle of nowhere, as the light begins to fade and decide we need to pitch the tent before it gets dark. There isn’t much open ground anywhere convenient, until we discover a pristine lawn in front of a pristine Motel on the outskirts of the town. So we decide to pitch the tent right there (it was dark by now) only to discover the next morning we were in the middle of a large town – not a ‘little dorpy’ at all! Before the management comes down to evict us from in front of the Motel, we quickly pack up the tent and bundle it in the car, and head off for some breakfast. We have no idea of where we are, not having brought a map with us, so we decide to call it a day and head back to Joburg. Not a great success for my first trans-Africa ‘trial run’ – no map, get lost, pitch tent in wrong spot and cooking equipment still in its box! Just put that one down to experience then!
In the month or two I have been going out with Jenny from work, her house has had a couple of Bar Nights where I have met the other housemates. One of the other girls keeps a python about 6 feet long in a large 20-30 gallon glass tank. She assures me it is quite docile and non-venomous, and it only eats mice or small rats – so no danger (although it can still kill due to its constricting powers!) But I notice the tank does not appear to have a securely fitted top and pythons can be good escape artists, so I make a point of always keeping Jenny’s bedroom door locked at night – we don’t want to be in the papers for the wrong reasons!
One evening, the house has a special dinner for someone who is leaving. The evening is a memorable night with the python curled up asleep in its tank and everyone dancing on the tables. The evening ends with everyone naked in the pool at about 3am – such fun. I check the python is curled up and asleep before going to bed!
I like talking to Dan Archer from Rachan, as he is another car fanatic and owns a couple of MGA sports cars. One Sunday, he suggests a drive to Lake Hartbeespoort Dam about 40 miles north–west of Joburg. It’s a beautiful day, so several of us including Marlene (with Dan), John and Michelle in his red Alfa, and Jenny and I pack a picnic lunch and drive in convoy to the Dam. Dan is taking his magnificent red 1959 MGA twin-cam Coupe, so I decide to take my 1958 Mk.I ‘frog-eye’ Sprite which I keep for ‘sunny days and Sundays’ – today fits the bill perfectly.  We pass the Bryanston Post Office intersection, where the bikers are gathering for their weekly breakfast run to the Dam, and when we pass Fourways and Diepsloot (which was mostly rural at this time) we are into wide open expanses dotted with large farms. It’s a lovely drive in the old sports cars, and I have the hood down and the wind in my hair. We have lunch at Meerhof on the southern shoreline, where the roofs of houses that were flooded by the dam are still visible, before returning via the Magaliesberg mountain range where the views across the highveldt of the Transvaal are fantastic. It’s a bit of a car enthusiasts outing and great fun.
November 1977
Around the corridors of Tyrone, an Urban Legend is born that an attractive female member of our communal scene is having romantic liaisons with a mature, married guy who is high up in a well known organisation in the city. These are happening at the Carlton Hotel in Joburg - Joburg's newest and grandest hotel. We are all amazed that 'someone' so young is having ‘all-nighters’ with someone so much older!!! Lucky guy!! (names removed to protect the guilty!!)

There are only 2 or 3 more months before Johnno and I leave on our overland adventure. There is a small hiccup when we consider taking a third guy with us. He advertised in the paper for some people to join him on a similar plan as ours – to hitch overland from south to north. I meet the guy and he seems to know a lot about the route we will be taking and some of the security issues. It’s not until the second or third time I meet the guy does he tell me he plans to take a gun for protection. Well, this is a deal breaker for us – the guy is clearly unstable if he wants to take a gun across Africa’s borders, and he is plainly not to be trusted since this was never mentioned at the beginning. It’s a big deal, so we decide to go our separate ways (there was a hotel in Nairobi where overland travellers would leave messages pinned on a noticeboard, and when we called there on our trip, there was a message from him saying he had reached Nairobi and was about to travel north through the Sudan. We never heard if he made it with his gun!).
At the moment, we are waiting for our passports to be returned from overseas by our parents. In my case, I filled in the form and sent it back to my parents in England with the obligatory photos plus my old passport to be cancelled, and they posted everything to the British Embassy in London about 4 weeks ago. I can’t leave South Africa until I get my new passport returned, which is a bit of a worry!
I am also having all the injections for yellow fever, cholera, Hep-A, Hep-B, malaria, rabies, typhoid and so forth, and since there are so many I have to stagger the injections over about 8 weeks. It’s not a totally painless experience!
The final issue is to get a clearance from the Bank to transfer my money to England. This involves countless forms and checks to be conducted and itself takes about 2 months to ensure I am not taking more than the R10,000 limit.
In the garden beside Roman below us, there are some guys building a concrete-hulled yacht for the Cape-to-Rio sailing race, so one day I wonder down there to talk to them. Apparently, sailing out of Africa in a yacht, with all your valuables, is a popular, though illegal, way to get your money out of the country, and these guys have exactly this in mind. They will convert all their assets to cash and buy gold and diamonds on the black market, and stuff them all in the fridge before sailing away! It seems a desperate route to take, but the guys are desperate men. The yacht appears enormous, maybe 50 feet long, and when the boat is finished they plan to put it on a low-loader for the 400 mile journey to the coast (a year later, I hear that the guy leading the effort to build the yacht is shot and killed by his workers in Soweto, so I guess he never realised his dream to sail out of Africa).
December 1977
Over the past few months, the political situation in South Africa has given me a number of reminders of a harsh regime, in an otherwise beautiful country.
It’s a roll call of a country in crisis, and yet another reminder of why I cannot stay here: 230,000 people have been arrested for pass law offences – open-air gatherings are prohibited – 144 people are under banning orders, restricting their movements and prohibiting them from attending gatherings – Steve Biko’s death is the 20th in detention since March 1976 – banning orders have been issued to Donald Woods, who publicly supported Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement in his East London paper the Daily Dispatch (in January, he eventually flees the country to Lesotho, and then to the U.K, and a movie is made of his exploits in South Africa) – the South African Government has banned Black Consciousness organisations, in a massive repression of people’s resistance – black newspapers the World and Weekend World have been banned – black student leaders have been imprisoned on Robben Island and Winnie Mandela has been banished to a black township at Brandfort in the Orange Free State. The list is endless.
Finally, the worsening security situation on South Africa’s borders has meant the period for continuous military service for young white males has been increased to two years. These reminders of what is happening right outside our homes, are signs of a country at war with its own people, and not a situation that can be maintained for ever (in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released and the system of apartheid began to be dismantled, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994).
At last, my new passport arrives in the post – when we arrive in Botswana by small plane, our story will be that we are simple tourists that only transited in South Africa before venturing onto Botswana for some game viewing in the Okavango Swamps. We will then make our way to the northern border with Zambia where we will be able to proudly display our entry stamps into Botswana (in the event, we hear that the road to Kasane has been washed away in the recent rains, and so we hitch into Gaborone and buy another air ticket to Lusaka, where Paul Overton will meet us).
Since it’s only a few weeks before I leave South Africa, there are various parties and dinners to say ‘good-bye’ and the last days flash by all too quickly. Jenny wants to come and stay with me when I get back home, and see a bit of England. She has never seen snow before, so I tell her to come in the winter and stay with me for a few weeks.
I feel as if I am at another crossroads in my life - one door is closing while another one is opening. This marks the end of three wonderful years in South Africa – 3 years of fun and adventure, new friends and finding love in the sun. It’s been hectic from the word ‘GO’ but in a good way. As I prepare to leave South Africa I am exhausted from the parties, the bar nights, the movie nights, the celebrations and the fun; weekends away to fantastic places and holidays on the coast, Durban and Cape Town. The marvellous sights of the high veldt of the Transvaal, and the Drakensburg mountains, will always be with me. Soweto, the black townships, the shanty towns of Cape Town, the mine dumps of Joburg, and the extremes and harsh nature of apartheid will bring back memories – something never forgotten. It has certainly been a good ride and now it’s time for another adventure. What lies ahead I don’t know, but when that crossroad is crossed, there is no turning back.
Six weeks later, on Monday 6th February 1978, Johnno and I lift off in a light plane from Jan Smuts airport, bound for Botswana and beyond. What a wonderful life it has been….

Postscript 1: When Tyrone was disbanded in March 1978, Bryan W., Sally-Ann (his then girlfriend), John Spurgeon (friend of Bryan, a draughtsman from Coventry, England), Mike Sterne and Belinda moved into a rustic farmhouse in Buccleuch, near Sandton; Yvonne also helped Bryan move into Buccleuch. John and Michele moved to a garden flat in Mountainview before heading overseas in 1979, travelling up East Africa and across Europe, before working another 4 years in Joburg and finally leaving to return to NZ in 1984; Marlene moved to a house in Bryanston and Dawn moved in with Brian Gallagher; Steve Hoppe moved to another communal house while Pat Myhill moved into Jubilee Road before moving into another house in Hyde Park, where she met Alison Laing, who became, and still is, her best friend.
Postscript 2: Johnno and I reach Cairo in May 1978 after many exciting adventures across Africa, safe and a little wiser! It was a great journey. We go on to explore Europe in a Kombi van, which is eventually sold outside Australia House in Fleet St., London in October 1978. Johnno returns to Brisbane before finally settling in Geelong (Victoria) and I emigrate to Melbourne in March 1979, where I now live with my wife Lee-Anne, son James and Kelpie dog ‘Rusty’.

To read the final chapter, scroll to the Blog Archive in the right-hand panel and click on 'Epilogue: Rosie photos; 1978 and beyond'.
Thank you for reading...  


  1. Congratulations on your magnum opus, David. Comments: FEBRUARY - tick bite fever, the long grass - and Nick's dog - were tick infested. According to our neighbours the Bells (lived above Tyrone), a young man living there years before had died of tick bite fever. APRIL - I'm pretty sure I did not attend that braai in the veld AUGUST spelling "rooinek" 2 "o's" OCTOBER neither Belinda nor I can remember the rally to Hartebeespoort Dam, were we in any of your photos? DECEMBER - a movie was made about Donald Woods / Steve Biko later, it sometimes appears on late night TV. Met one of his sub-editors here in Perth a few years ago

  2. Hi Mike. I've updated the Blog for the corrections and clarifications. The only photo I have of Hartebeespoort Dam has Dan's MGA in it - must have assumed you would have come for the ride - it was a lovely drive up there.

  3. Hi David. Let me just say that your blog is AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Somehow you managed to capture the ethos of the Apartheid era, with both literary expertise, and huge compassion. Your perception of the political situation in those days blows my mind. Pat Myhill (Baker)