Skipping Reels Of Rhyme
It was 1995 and John was in standard seven, matric was only four years away,
but it seemed like an eternity. He filed along the tidy row in front of the
English class, as they entered the door one by one, and was seated
alphabetically from front to back.
This meant that he sat somewhere in the second row with the 'B's, his surname
being Britz. Next to him on his left, was seated a fairly pretty girl, who's
name turned out to be Natasha Booysen. The teacher introduced herself as Mrs.
Pretorius and then started the day, and the year's, lesson.
"Good day class said the teacher "This year we will be reading from 'Alice
in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll which is truly one of the great pieces of
English literature of all time. Your prescribed books this year are the 1995
edition of 'Alice in Wonderland' by Brimax Books. It has wonderful color
illustrations by Eric Kincaid, and is in plentiful supply at all school book
She continued, "As we have no books as of yet, I shall give you some brief
interim information about the book and it's author. I read from the introduction
of the prescribed book; 'Lewis Carroll was the pen name of mathematics lecturer
Charles Dodgson when writing his nonsense poems and books. He was born 27th
January 1832 and was educated at Richmond School, Rugby School and Christ
Church, Oxford where he taught mathematics for 26 years until 1881.
His best-known book is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which he wrote
especially to amuse the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church. Her name was
Alice Pleasance Liddell. The book was first published in 1865 and has since
become one of the most famous and best loved children stories ever written.
As the teacher talked on enthusiastically about the book, John wondered about
the girl next to him, Natasha, she sure was pretty. Next to her on her left, was
seated an equally pretty girl, maybe even prettier, called Amanda. Yes he was
going to enjoy English this year, all right. He again focused his attention on
the teachers closing speech as she ended her reading from the book.
"It is sure to delight all children reading about Alice's Adventures for the
first time. She closed the book but continued her discussion. "I might add that
it is not only entertaining reading for children, but also for older children,
like yourself, or even for adults, like myself. The way Lewis Carroll uses the
English language in his 'Alice' books, is unsurpassed in modern literature, and
academics continue to seek new meaning in his apparently nonsense verse and
dialogue. I am confident that you will enjoy this book this year, and would
recommend you all the read the book which follows it called; 'Alice's Adventures
though the looking glass'.
The teacher concluded her speech as the bell rung to signal the end of the
period. At least English promised to be interesting this year, John thought to
himself as he headed of for gym class with the rest of the boys.
John went around all the bookstores large and small, but could find no copy
of the prescribed book because everywhere he tried, it was sold out. He asked
around at friends and family, but no one had an old copy of the book.
During the English class the following day, all the children had copies of
the prescribed book. All, except John.
"I went to all the book stores all over town, Mrs. Pretorius, but the 'Alice
in Wonderland' books were all sold out, he told her.
"Did you ask friends
and family for an old copy of the book? the teacher asked.
"I did Madam, he
"Don't call me madam, I don't run a brothel. She said and then asked
the class "Does anyone here, or anyone you know, have an old copy of 'Alice in
Wonderland' for young Mr. Britz to borrow?
No one put their hands for a while, but eventually the hand of Natasha went
up next to him. She looked at him with a friendly smile and then back the
"I do, Mrs. Pretorius, I have an old copy at home, she said.
bring it along tomorrow so that Mr. Britz is not left behind, said the teacher,
and then resumed her class.
She read the first chapter; 'down the rabbit hole', that day. It was about
Alice falling down a deep and endless well after having followed a rabbit down
its hole. She then soon found herself in a long hall lined with doors on either
side. She found a small door behind a curtain, and found its key on a glass
table nearby. She finds a bottle on it from which she drinks, and then shrinks.
Before she had shrunk altogether she found some cake underneath the table, which
she ate, and which made her grow very tall in the opposite direction.
In the beginning of the second chapter she sits crying in frustration, where
after she is soon found shrinking again and lands up in a large pool of her own
tears, with various small creatures such as birds and a mouse.
They had what is called a Caucus-race, to try and dry them selves off, where
after they heard the mouse's tale, which the teacher informed them was a well
known, and remarkable, piece of literature. That was the end of chapter three,
and also the end of the lesson for the day.
The bell rung shrilly close by, and the class was dismissed as the children
rushed out of the door to form a tidy queue outside.
The next day Natasha gave him the book outside class as they waited to enter.
He took it and said "Thanks. At least he could now follow the story from the
The book was small, red and tattered. Nothing like the colorfully illustrated
books of the other children. But he did not mind, at least he had a copy. It was
printed by W. Foulsham & Co. LTD. of London, but it had no date of print. It
looked very old though, maybe from somewhere around the last Great War. It had a
few small black and white illustrations by Gil Dyer. It was still in good
"Did you get a copy of the book, Mr. Britz? the teacher asked.
thank you Mrs. Pretoruis. He said and smiled at Natasha.
"Good, then let us
carry on where we left of yesterday, chapter four¦. Said the teacher as she
carried on with the lesson.
When she got to chapter five 'advice from a caterpillar', the boys were
absolutely delighted with the caterpillar on the mushroom, smoking his hookah
and departing wise advice. The teacher had to subdue their raucous laughter.
The teacher went on with reading and discussing the book at length throughout
the year. The children liked the Cheshire cat very much and he was discussed at
length. So was the mad tea party, and the hatter, March hare and dormouse. 'The
mad tea party' was probably the children's favorite chapter, and over all the
book was a huge success. Because the children took an interest in it, they
almost all did fairly well at English that year
John read the book over and over; he was completely taken by it. After school
he played rugby as a sport, and then went home. On Friday evenings he went to
the roller rink of the Church, and watched the other kids go round on their
skates. He did not skate himself, but skateboarded. He just came here to check
out the girls.
Specifically, Natasha. He watched as she went round hand in hand with other
boys and girls, gliding in circles with their skates on the rink. When she took
a break he would go to where she was and they would talk.
They spoke mostly about school, and the book they were reading in English
class. Like all the other kids they both loved it. John became very attracted to
Natasha with her short, light brown hair, and deep brown eyes.
One Friday night at the roller rink as they were talking, he asked, "Natasha,
would you be my girl?, and she said, "Yes. He was the happiest boy alive.
Although they were too young to get intimate, they did kiss and cuddle
frequently and became very close.
The year drew to a close, and they both passed English well, and each missed
the other over the holidays, because he stayed home and she went down to the
Cape west coast with her family, to a place called 'Witsand'.
They loved each other, and he missed her presence while she was away, and
down by the coast she longed to have him by her side. He kept the book she had
given him, and whenever he missed her, he would look at it, and that would make
him feel better.
And he did miss her, because he loved her. He loved her like the sea loves
the moon, or the wind loves the water, he loved her endlessly.
He would think of her light brown hair, with the long fringe hanging over her
dark brown eyes. The way she laughed naturally, and her beautiful smile. He was
in love with her, and even at this youthful age, he knew he would never love
another woman like this again.
He listened to music in his room, while he was alone, and she was away. One
of his favorite songs was 'Muddy Waters' by Via Con Dios. He liked listening to
it over and over, thinking about himself and Natasha.
He wondered when the time would be right for them to get intimate, and
blushed to himself as he thought about this. It was sure to be great whenever it
happened, everything she did turned him one. Every small imperceptible movement
of her head, every tiny nuance in her speech.
And he could never, ever get enough of her beautiful deep, rich brown eyes.
He lay back on his bed and listened as Dani Klein took his emotions higher with
her pure, strong and true voice. He almost loved Dani as much as Natasha, he
thought to himself.
No this was not true, he corrected himself, there was only one girl for him;
and that was, Natasha.
And while Natasha lay on the perfectly white beach 'Witsand', her thoughts
was with her love back home, as her girlfriend drooled over the young
They hardly interested Natasha, she was too preoccupied with thinking about
John. Sure, these sunburned, blond boys were handsome and physically appealing,
but John had something, some quality, which was rare in people. He had the power
of great passion that kept her spellbound, especially seeing as his passion was
She sensed many good qualities in him, as they had spent time together in the
English class during the year, as well as the roller rink on Friday nights. She
found few really bad characteristics in him, except for maybe a bit of a short
fuse, sometimes. But the way he loved her was what said it all to her. When he
kissed her it was warm and true, as if he never wished to be separated from her.
Yes, she knew for certain that he loved her, and she knew also that she loved
him in return. Theirs was a perfect match, she smiled to herself, as her
"Oh, look there's that shorty one with the light blond hair!
"Ag man, he's got nothing on John, Natasha responded.
A short playful argument ensued, which was soon decided in Natasha's favor.
Still, they kept looking at the blond haired boys playing in the surf, and
laughed at one another as girls are apt to do.