Jacques: Picking up pebbles
By Tom Brown
Picking up pebbles and throwing them into the sea
See the days of my childhood
The white foam comes washing them all back to me
When he was still a baby the family stopped at a favourite picnic spot. Suddenly he was missing he'd just ran off and in the end we found him on the other side of the pond. He had swam right through nappy and all. I think Jacques had a happy childhood.
Our mother was in labour with Jacques for eight hours. I've always believed that is where he learnt to fight.
My father voted HNP which was far right even for those days. My mother supported the PFP which was seen as radical left-wing. She tells of how on election days he locked her up in the house so she could not vote. So that we grew up thoroughly schooled left and right and both sides of the coin. This is how it goes when a soldier marries a woman with backbone.
With such a vivid imagination there were some dangerous stunts. Having recieved a Superman costume for Christmas he climed up the courtyard wall, I would say around 2 meters. With a “Up Up and Away!” he launched from the wall and fell like a stone. Fortunately there was no serious injury.
As a child he fell out the a VW Beetle once. He also jumped from my Datsun SSS at 60km/h we had had an argument about him visiting this friend of his.
The most spectacular stunt was at our grandparents' they had a big trampoline there sunk level in the ground with a massive cast iron frame. My grandfather was an engineer and very highly respected as such. That day my grandmother had taken us kids all to watch the film King-Kong.
On coming back, we all had really enjoyed the film and it all made a great impression. My little brother was especially fascinated and carried away. To the one neighbour's daughter Jacques demonstrated, reinacting the main scene he jumped high from the trampoline on his back falling and hitting his chest with King-Kong's loud cry. The cry instantly was much louder and of higher pitch.
The falling King-Kong thumping his chest with his fists and as his final cry Jacques when hit the metal frame with is head and the cry continued right through as he fell just at the point of impact.
He was rushed again to HF hospital for stitches on a sunday afternoon. Usual story we were rough in the old days.
In beginning primary school a classmate once told me about Jacques on our stoep mornings before school, in his underpants and a pint beer drinking throwing back the bottle. Early mornings before nursery school the little man was sitting on the wood bench drinking on the stoep in his jocks. This guy was quite worried about Jacques, but these were really only the drops that were left from my father's of the previous evening.
My father had been rather severe on discipline and hidings but at the grandmother's these were not taken seriously not by us. Once we kids the whole tribe were called together making a noise during these people's sunday afternoon nap all of us were rounded up. My brother was crying like mad but when he heard it was a hiding he was quite happy, because he'd thought we would have to go and sleep.
At another occasion he was stung by a scorpion on a camping trip. He made a terrific scene screaming an wailing and he stopped suddenly. Someone had told him he's not going to die.
Jacques was always very popular in school amongst his classmates and the girls too. But after three years in school it was discovered that he could not read or write one word. He had recited his lesson the next day from memory and no one was the wiser. Afterwards he said, that is how he thought it was supposed to be done.
He was then diagnosed with dyslexia, and some related problems. At 1 Military Hospital he received occupational therapy from which he greatly benifited. Also he enjoyed hobby recreational reading a lot, popular books like westerns, detective stories and popular paperbacks like Louis Lamour, Agatha Christy and others eg. Wilbur Smith and Alistair Mc Clain.
The dyslexia was eventionally completely overcome. And even to the extent of a (correspondence) matric certificate with first class pass and full university exemption. Followed later by successful languages studies at a correspondence university and with very good results. Most of the courses he completed but he had got into a postal fight with a bigshot professor there and that was the end of his studies. Instead he published on the internet and was amongst others one of the very first writers on Abctales, around fifteen years ago.
This total recovery I find extraordinary.
Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars!