College and the drinks culture.
College days were unequivocally the highlight of mine, and I’m positive anybody else who went there, life. That’s Gwebi College of Agriculture in the then Rhodesia and renown world wide as the finest Agricultural College one could find. And that is not me talking either it’s just the way it was. A show winning Hereford herd which was the talk of the country just for a start. Therefore it strikes me as exceedingly odd where the drinks culture came from? I’m not talking about a few drinks here and there. I’m talking about a type of never ending ‘Octoberfest’. Which is more or less what this Piece is going to be about, oh, lo, alas. Basically then, a first class College, a first class education, first class lads, first class sporting teams and last but not least, a world class drinking environment.
Now I had a friend there just for a start, who was my first year study mate. Believe it or not I had met him before essentially on cricket fields. The first time was when my winter league cricket club Norton was playing Salisbury South in a cup game. Now they had a lad in there side fresh from playing Nuffield (Rhodesian schools cricket), and they were confident of thrashing us accordingly. Said lad was bowling. He had more sunscreen on his face than he had face, his way of trying to look mean and frightening. He also had a long run up, actually he ran faster in the run up than he could bowl. Well, to cut a long story short, whilst I was batting there was a raucous appeal for caught behind from aforementioned bowlers bowling. I never touched it so stood my ground. The umpire at the bowlers end agreed with me and “not Out” was said. This infuriated the opposing captain who believed I had touched it. Apart from his swearing at me and telling me to walk he also called on the square leg umpire for his opinion, also, “not out.” By gum, steam was blowing out of every orifice he had and he walked back to give the ball to old sunscreen lightning fast. I lip read him say,”give him a bouncer.” Now sunscreen was boiling mad by this time as well and broke the record for the 100 metres dash in his run up, and let fly with the lethal bouncer, which I promptly dispatched hooked for six over the square leg boundary. You got to box very clever like?
The next time we met up was when playing for Mashonaland country district juniors, a representative side. Our opponents consisted of the more elderly players including some Rhodesian players. Now a friendship began to form between old deaf as a stone and sunscreen lightning fast, who could also bat a bit, b’lieve it or not. It was a two day game and our Captain was ex Green (Guinea) Fowl school and now College of Knowledge excellent cricket player, David (Dave) Ferreira. I really cannot remember what happened in the game, but, I do remember old sunscreen barfing out one of the windows when I left to go home. The self same window he had been barfing out the night before. Shame, he was new to the drinking game. Not that it ever made any difference as it continued during College and ever afterwards as far as I can surmise. Now who was this? Why, it was none other than little Thomas Millar my soon to be study mate.
Now as you can all see he was more frightening without the sunscreen on than with it? I’m frikened Mummy, said in small child’s voice. It is of course also well known that there is nothing serious or demeaning implied here, just trying to show the way we were. Well Millarse and I were certainly like this and no doubt why we were such good friends. If one looks closely at him one can also see the ‘forest’ beginning to creep out of the top of his shirt? He was without a shadow of doubt the most hirsute person I have ever come across. This then was, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. And it went down from there in a cascading mass, including the toe nails.
Gwebi College of Agriculture cricket tour to South Africa.
Now as already mentioned in a previous piece we had eight Nuffield players between the two years at this time. Our poultry
lecturer and cricket manager, Jungle Jaw Keene (courtesy of a wispy beard), was in his element and decided a cricket tour to South Africa was needed. Before I carry on I must add, in my last piece, my friend and our former captain, the venerable Peter Dick. No, whereas nicknames were rife, that is not a nickname, it’s his real one. Well anyhow he got hold of me and said, ‘there were not 8 Nuffield players in the side, only him and Millar played Nuffield?” Now I beg to differ but am not going to get into an argument about it, Percy Owen was another one who played Nuffield. Now where was I? Ah yes, the cricket tour. However, acquiring the funds for this was, ‘a bit of a problem’. Therefore a great plan was hatched, this being, a wheelbarrow run from Umtali (see map, Umtali on the Eastern boundary)to Salisbury to try and raise funds for the tour. Andrew Samuels, former student chairman, and now Matepatepa farmer, on hearing this said, “he would pay for the entire tour provided he could come on it?” Loaded, (no pun intended), with bucks, and a character and devil of note. In later years was to be awarded Rhodesia’s second highest medal for bravery whilst in the army after losing all his money, (perchance another piece could be done on him alone)? I honestly loved him after meeting him a few times, so funny and full of character. Sadly this was turned down by the powers that be, ostensibly because he had done enough trouble to the College already?
So preparing for the wheelbarrow run and trying to raise money wherever and whenever we could became a great pastime. We
visited every cricket club we could in Salisbury. I was at Old Georgians one night and people were tossing money into my beer glass whilst I was still drinking it. All except a certain Saints (Thaints) lad who was actually a Rhodesian cricket player, but, who for some reason had taken umbrage to my carrying ons. The more I taunted him for being a ‘schmack’, the more he refused to drop any money in. It reached the stage where he wanted to punch me. Luckily saner minds prevailed and eventually talked him into calming down and donating money towards a good and worthy cause. He acquiesced and dropped a tickey into my beer. These ‘Thaints’ lads I mean really, blesses himself quickly and says three Hail Mary’s for added luck. Now before I carry on with the great wheelbarrow run, here is a little piece of advice for all the lovely lasses, sighs.
“NEVER TRUST A CRICKETER”
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.Randier than a sailor who’s been six months at sea,
Never let a cricketer’s hand an inch above your knee.First let’s take the paceman, pure speed from first to last!
My darlings do be careful; his balls are hard and fast.Then there’s the medium pacer, his balls swing either way;
He’s really most persistent and can keep it up all day!And watch for the off-spinner, girls, another awkward chap.
If you leave him half an opening, he will slip one through the gap!Then there’s the wily ‘slowy’, pure cunning is his strength;
He’ll tempt you, then he’ll trap you with his very subtle length.So ladies, do be careful, your mothers would agree.
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.And what about the opening bat, his struggles never cease!
He has only one ambition, to spend all day at the crease.The number three is a dasher, he seldom prods and pokes.
When he goes into action, he has a fine array of strokes..And do beware the slogger, not content with one or two;
When he arrives at the crease then only six will do.Then there’s the real stonewaller, girls, he knows what he’s about;
And if you let him settle in, it’s hard to get him out!
We come now to the last man, I hope this will not shock,
He doesn’t mind if he’s last man in, as long as he gets a knock.
So, darlings, do be careful, and be well warned by me:
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.
And watch the wicket keeper, girls, he’s full of flair and dash;
And if you raise your heel, he’ll whip them off in a flash.
If you take the field with the captain, you had better know the score;
Or he’ll have you in positions that you never knew before!
The cricket commentator is a nasty sort of bloke,
He watches all the action and describes it stroke by stroke.
Even the kindly umpire, who looks friendly as a pup;
You’ll quickly find you’ve had it, when he puts his finger up!
So, darlings, please remember and repeat it after me:
NEVER TRUST A CRICKETER, WHOEVER HE MAY BE!!!!!
I sincerely trust all my American friends have a better understanding of the great game now? Yeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw.
And now, (drum roll), the great wheelbarrow run. Now one has to understand that Umtali is situated in the Eastern highlands so pretty mountainous surrounds. The pass arriving to it was known as Christmas pass and which most cars strained to get up. Luckily for us we were coming from the town end. So, it was one steep climb then downhill down Christmas pass. We had arrived the night before and spent it on a bursars (College) farm. Unfortunately we were now a car short as Bents and a few lads had gone out for a wee tipple the night before and wrapped the car around a tree or something on the way back? Millar was still barfing even before the run began. The momentous run had electrifried (electrified) the country and the press was out in full force monitoring the situation. ‘Hiz honor’, the Mayor of Umtali was there to fire the opening shot and the first letter. In pride of place and the first one to run, was, our venerable captain, said Peter Dick. Resplendent in his Plinth Jedward athletic kit, consisting of a pair of white shorts so tight it was amazing he had ever got them on, and the mauve athletic vest. Camera’s were flashing, the shot was fired and Peter in pride of place set off followed by the rest of the pack. Apart from the beginning and the end one ran alone for a couple of kilometres and then the car arrived with the next runner to take over, and so on and so forth. Once again, Millar, barfed before we had cleared the hill. Just what was this lads case?
The essence of all this was of course, passing cars were expected to drop a few bob into the wheelbarrow so contributing to the tour. Jungle Jaw Keene then arrived in his car, boot full of players (runners) as well. Hoarded the cash and then dropped the next runner to take over and so on and so forth. Neil of a Jackson of was champing at the bit in his car as the slow pace was killing him softly, he liked driving fast so to speak. I hadn’t run yet and was dying for some breakfast. What happened was we stopped off at Essius Kok’s (Animal Husbandry lecturer) parents farm and a fierce great fry was had. It was now my turn to run. A long while later when I was beginning to think, ‘will they ever replace me or do they want me to run to Salisbury on my lonesome’? JJ’s car could be seen approaching and I was relieved. I promptly barfed my breakfast up. Is Millar becoming infectious? The other thing was in each town we passed we were greeted by the Mayor who also dropped off a letter for the Mayor of Salisbury. Fame at last. The other thing is the police would not allow us to run at night considering it to dangerous. We also of course were in a war situation. So we dossed down for the night in some town hall. Blimey, the next morning 99.9% of the team could hardly move. Stiffness had set in. Run lads run, run it off, the College, leave alone the whole country is watching you.
At long last we arrived in Salisbury. Just before entering the main highway was the Park Lane hotel, where another surprise awaited us in the form of Miss Dairymaid wearing a skin tight tiger suit. Dairy boards motto being Fergus the tiger. Once again a great tumult, camera’s flashing everywhere and the press out in full force. Pretty females seem to be able to do this. This was the last leg so to speak so all runners were there. We even had a police escort siren blaring and lights flashing to help us through the traffic lights especially when red. What is it about young men which makes them want to show off whenever a pretty face is around? Percy Owen then, darted off with Miss Dairymaid in the barrow at full speed and straight through a red light. There was a screech of tyres and luckily it missed them both. Bloody idiot, she was shocked and the fun had gone out of it. The police car then proceeded in front of them. Now came the hard part, getting Percy to give the other runners a chance, but, eventually he flagged and dropped out. After all you cannot do the 100 metre sprint for a kilometre or more? Peter Dick our erstwhile captain did the last leg to the Town Hall where we were met by, ‘Hiz Honor’, the Lord Mayor of Salisbury who made a speech, presented a cheque towards the tour, from the good people of Salisbury. And so it ended. Not quite.
Later that night back at the College pub, ‘Mundy’s Folly’, I was having a drink with my old schoolmate Runt. I asked him, “what did the Mayor have to say?” To which he replied in affected, fruity, la, di, da, voice, “this is the first time I have received a letter by wheelbarrow?” Throws back head and laughs in affected, fruity, la, di, da, voice, and I think I laughed solidly for three weeks after hearing him say this. It’s just the way he did it. So ends another riveting piece and I have not even mentioned the tour yet. Oh well, another time, another place.