Exploring a New world
By Tom Brown
Butterflies dragonflies frogs and tadpoles from streams and pools between reeds and lilies catching ladybugs and digging up earthworms under rocks and stones in the garden looked for crickets and scorpions, there were spiders in trees and big fat brown centipedes we called shongololo, snails field mice and bird nests and pets, hamsters budgies tropical fish cats puppies and jelly custard ice-cream.
Sometimes there was an outing to the drive-in movies these outings were great excitement it was a big deal those days. Included in the package was one standard hiding each for fighting on the back-seat.
The grown-ups often over weekends had a “braaivleis” grilling meat over live coals and usually the men drank a lot, too much. We played our hearts out with the other people's kids everyone in a good mood. The women all were in the kitchen gossiping and giggling I would love to hear what that all was about. The men were around the fire each a beer in the hand. Comrades.
Usually every guy wants to braai all the meat himself they can actually fight over this. A matter of pride. Not me they can burn the meat to cinders as far as I care. Later on the evening the beer and brandy was finished and the guys made a plan for more and smuggled it in secretly. The sizzling flames come to dwindling embers.
This is the Law of the Afrikaner: There is always too much food. The Second Law is: There is always too little booze. Irrespective how much you plan and buy beforehand it always works out.
I love fishing especially by the sea and then I don't mind my own company especially at night and there was fresh water angling too. My first little fish 'n “strepie” looks like a small tigerfish I caught from the rocks with my dad with my little toy rod he wasn't so happy he'd caught nothing I was still a little kid. My mother fried it in a pan tasted good!
Out the farm's way there is a beautiful canyon with silent luxuriant forest in its green shades grow ferns and clover and vines we explored there too and by is a wonderful waterfall of cold clear water.
Camping sea holidays with our grandparents had many adventures. Each night a crackling fire and some meat on the coals. We slept in tents kids on the floor just in a sleeping bag. When it rained you heard heavy drops on the tent canvas. Water got in everywhere the ground sails also wet it all rather uncomfortable everything coarse of the wet sand and cold too.
At home in my grannies kitchen there was fresh baked white bread or fruit cake a lovely smell or canning fruit while out in the garden the grass was mown noisily the green lawns all crisp and fresh and it was hi-fi record players tape-decks and radio for music. Those were the early days of TV. Every kid had a bicycle for transport to school and the shops and for visiting friends. It wasn't dangerous the worst was your bike getting stolen.
Much later at my grandmother's early morning was greeted regularly with the machine polishing wooden floors I found its sound comforting. I was not well things were very hard it was terrible fortunately it blew over with some bit of time. In the morning it was hell to wake and worse to get up, yes well not too long I gradually got better and things got a lot better when back at my mom's.
Earlier much, much earlier, a child to explore in all kinds of fascinating books the only rule was silence. A very peaceful atmosphere I remember my mom's work as always a hallowed library with the clean pure smell of books neatly packed and everywhere clean, no dust anywhere, and so much to discover. Magic. Her Unisa (university) assignment writing pads she let me use as I liked.
When she was a teacher she had the school chess team, also very interesting and quiet just the sounds of chess moves chess pieces and clocks all the players furiously concentrating and I could entertain myself. I could actually play when I was still very small.
At school we had workshops for metal work and for carpentry and at home it was my father's domain. Once or twice I went with him to work at the hangers at the air force base nearby they were support staff for the large air-planes for cargo and transporting troops like the Hercules twin and four engines. He supervised and did maintenance and repairs of different trucks like Bedfords, Samils and Land Rovers and other motor vehicles.
It's a dirty job but garages were kept clean and always screech rattle hollow noises grinding background falling metal and crashing irons. He got a bit deaf with all the jets (Mirage's) over the years. A standard prank of the appies was a harmless unexpected shock from an engine's electrics from the spark plug leads and coil.
What I liked most was the railway station the noise and smells. Announcements on arrival and departure everybody scurrying and hurrying around. Big loud bells and carriages rattling. A whistle and the shrill scream of wheels steel on steel and of course a steam locomotive. Growing up like that you couldn't imagine anything more beautiful. The trains have a smell of burnt oil and rancid of factories.
Vividly pubs and drinking at hotels clinging ice coke brandy ashtrays beer men were men but later rather drank at home because of picking up fights which ended up in some poor guy getting hammered. He wasn't named Buster for nothing. Cigarette smoke was unpleasant pipe was usually better with BB tobacco mixed and flavours like cherrie, rum & maple black cavendish. But aftershaves smelled very good, like Old Spice and Brut. Slobbering wet dogs dad's night kiss oily and stubble scratching. Good night!