School day memories

I know that Mom being away for six nights wasn’t easy for any of us but luckily for me i did sneak in some personal time. When I was in London last week I got the opportunity to meet up with two old school friends for dinner. Now when I say old I mean it in terms of the time we have been out of school – 20 years this year – and not in how we have aged because honestly I think we look better now, 80’s styling was not always that attractive! But I digress.

Spending time with Mandy and Lesley Anne we got to reminiscing about days gone by, friends and family and of course some of the ridiculous antics we got up to at school. We were all together at Potchefstroom High School for Girls which is largely a boarding school.

I was late in coming to the school only joining mid way through standard eight so thankfully escaping being a junior in the boarding house. Having come from a co-Ed day school in Johannesburg it was a difficult transition for me and what happened in my first two of weeks of boarding school ever didn’t help.

I promise, and those that were there can attest to this, that the following incident is completely true, it may appear as something out of a movie but it happened and in Potchefstroom of all places! Before going on, I need to give you some background.

Potchefstroom is a largely academic town built to accommodate children from the surrounding farming areas. It has a university, boys and girls English high schools and a number of Afrikaans schools. It is also the biggest town in what was formerly known as the western Transvaal housing a large amount of churches, shops, medical and sporting facilities, and a mental institution known as ‘Groendakkies’. Also, just outside of the town was the army base.

I was settling into the routine of boarding school in a dorm which I shared with Rebecca (who was a year above me) and Stephanie and Beatrix (same year) who were on the other side of the half wall that divided our room. We were in the last dorm on the ground floor in North Wing, East House. One night after about a week or so of being there we heard some shouting outside and Beatrix called me to come and see ‘the boy playing with a pencil’. Needless to say it was not a pencil but rather his private parts!

We informed our housemistress, the boy was caught and it was discovered that he had been in Groendakkies but had recently been released into his parents care.

Two nights later, I woke in the middle of the night to find said boy climbing through the window on my side of the dorm. He had used a large rubbish bin as a step and broken off the horizontal burglar bar which he was holding in his hand. Needless to say I started screaming at the top of my voice and ran down the passage to Mrs Malherbe leaving Rebecca frozen to her bed. The boy was caught once again and returned to Groendakkies.

Other than some army boys trying to break into the hostel to steal our bashers (hats) as part of their initiation and the odd snuck in Potchefstroom Boys High boy during visiting hours on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t suffer from any other unwanted male visitors!

We did however get up to lots more mischief as you do in boarding school but although we thought it was so bad at the time, it was completely tame.

Some of the antics included hiding in a quad and tanning in our bikinis instead of school costumes – highly illegal, bunking out to go swimming in the school pool late at night, holding hands and kissing at school dances, smuggling old brown sherry or in the case of Lesley Anne Cape Velvet in to hostel and drinking said sherry with Oros – not recommended, not wearing regulation school underwear and so it goes.

We were so protected and in our own little world of bush post between boys and girls high – actual written letters, Saturday mornings downtown, movie nights, school dances, church, slap chips at the corner cafe, lunches at Mikes Kitchen after weekends out etc.

From someone who was so anti Potchefstroom Girls when first informed by Gagga and Grandpa I was going there, I am now appreciative of the time I spent there and the memories made. Dad also went to boarding school at St Albans and I am sure will one day share with you all that he got up to.

Special times indeed!

The day you were born

Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Excerpt from the journal written by Dave(Dad)

Junior, you should know that your mother threw five double sixes in only two games of backgammon in the morning of your birth day. So, this a very lucky day (although the Chinese prefer the number eight. In fact, for us, 9 is a better number: 9 holes of golf, cats have 9 lives…and so on.

Last photo of you in Moms tummy

Your pulse is racing at 175-190 beats per minute. We think it’s because you are excited to see us. The iPod just played ‘Revolution’ bt Tracey Chapman – “run, run, run,run…” which you are doing – and the revolution what you are to us.

Dr Naylor broke Mom’s water – we are expecting some more intense contractions in next hour. Mom doing very well so far.

We got the epidural so Mom can relax a little. Expecting you in the mid-afternoon. I wonder what you are? Oliver Stuart? Bianca Mae? Oliver’s are kind of sporty, sociable, smart. Biancas are lovely, warm, determined.

Finally some action! From nowhere you decide to make a move. Must be your Father’s child.

Shew! Tough time. You were ready to arrive at 16h00 but Dr Naylor was in surgery so had to stall you…You decided to enter the world with your hand over your eye, or scratching your head, which meant you couldn’t come out without some help. Dr had to use forceps and cut your Mom to make room for your tiny, gorgeous hand. You were blue as a Smurf, and without doubt the most beautiful and wonderful thing we have ever seen. At one point in labour Sister Bets was sure we would have to Caesar but fortunately this wasn’t necessary.

Mom, Dad and Oliver together for the first time
Our first family photo

You had to be taken to neo natal ICU because you were grunting as though you were struggling to breathe. An x-ray confirmed you had fluid on your lungs so Dr Richards booked you in. Mom was naturally very sad about this but we were both booked in when we were born too, we had jaundice.
Before you were taken away though, we invited your ‘extended’ family into the delivery room and introduced you as Oliver Stuart. So named because we both liked Oliver and Stuart is your Gagga’s maiden name. She was very touched by this and will hopefully always spoil you as a result!
Oliver apparently means ‘elf army’but to us it will simply mean the best Christmas present we will ever get!

We spent an hour or so with you as you battled the fluid and cried quite a lot. Mom just wanted to hold and comfort you and she did for a while which meant the world to her. For our first night as a family you slept in the ICU, Mom downstairs in maternity room 7 and me at home. I don’t think any of us slept well.