College of Knowledge and Legends:Part two.

Second night bash of legends in Durban Natal.

Legends eh? Actually we are no more famous sporting or any other type of legends, we’re just an ordinary bunch of lads learning farming (agriculture) at Gwebi Agricultural College, sometimes known as College of Knowledge. Despite this we lived in an extraordinary country going through extraordinary times and we were ‘fierce proud’ of this and always will be. Within those parameters and the many and varied extraordinary people who passed through it’s hallowed halls which were vast and legendary, a few of us pupils have taken a holiday to the seaside resort Durban in Natal, South Africa. This is just a short reminiscence of our time there, the fun and the laughs.

Yes well on our first night Management wanted to kick us out of the Hotel because of all the noise we were making, but we managed to smooth them over. We’ve spent another relaxing day on the beach and it’s time for supper again. So the lads decide to dress up in suits, spruced up and looking in our prime, and so attired we waltz into the dining room. Everybody is still cheesed off with us but wishing them all a ‘good evening’ and apologies for all the noise last night, boys will be boys ye know? This seems to go down a treat and we get a few nods and grunts in reply. Victory, the shine of victory can be seen shining off our suits (apologies to Winnie Churchill)? Little known to us legends, but somebody is taking a keen interest in us here at the old Heartbreak Hotel but more on that later.

So from supper it’s off to another night on the town. We are going to Fathers Moustache a well known waterhole here, a pub come cabaret type of place. There feature group tonight are the Blarney Brothers another type of legends whom even we have heard of before. They are just a couple of local yokels mascaraiding as bog Irish albeit no doubt they have some Irish ancestry. The place is packed and we meet Sticks Vera Verith, and Goat Basson (staying in another hotel in Durban) there. We cannot find a place to sit. There is a long bar at the back, booths on the right of this, then under this a few tables in front of the bar, where we manage to get a table, then the stage at floor level. Social, master of ceremonies for us and controlling our finances (tightwad) goes to get some drinks. Sticks Vera Verith decides to liven up the proceedings by standing up on the table, dropping his drawers, and giving those sitting at the bar behind us, a birds eye view of the place where the Sun don’t shine known to us as a brown eye. I’m appalled, shocked and disgusted. Oddly enough he receives a rapturous applause from behind including all the chicks. Delighted with himself he sits down beaming just as Social (also beaming) arrives with the drinks. And so the party begins and the Blarney Brothers are blarney brotherswarming up on the stage. Photo shown on the right is how they look today as old codgers but back then they were young, spruced up and looking in their prime. Notice the fiddle which gives an Irish essence to them. The other thing is that they know their audience well and are master entertainers. We have somehow managed to get more drinks albeit I do not remember a waiter. Tweedie Mallet is casing out the joint looking for a chick seeing as John Van Wheelspin went and KD’d him, but no luck so far. Social turns to me and says, “Spook you must remember this one?” I have a closer look lip-reading and indeed I do. The whole place is singing by this time as well. I told you they knew their audience. “What do you get from the drunken sailor, early in the morning? Hey ho and up she rises.” Blimey even I am singing along. They then change their tack and do a couple of Irish jigs and all. Then what was for me the highlight of the night the lead singer with long black hair puts on a jacket, turns up the collar, and starts impersonating Elvis. What’s more he is absolutely brilliant at doing this. I remember all the songs he is doing and start freaking out at the table and all. I used to be a not a bad Elvis impersonator back in the days when I could still hear. Sticks Vera Verith gets jealous so leaps up onto the table and gives the enthralling crowd another brown eye, again to rapturous applause. Just what is this boys case? The place is livening up, so the band takes a short break (drinks included) before coming back again. Personally I’m wishing the night would never end, but sadly it does and we manage to cage a few more drinks from the exasperated barman. We are the last to leave kindly being told to do so by the barman. Ah, ordinary guys who were legends eh? We leave and pour ourselves into bed and this time Sticks goes back to his own hotel. All’s quiet on the Durban front.

Third night bash of legends.

Another idle day on the beach where apart from Sticks Vera Verith creeping up on Pigeons and then pouncing trying to catch them and nary a one. People still laugh at this though. He has also invested in a can of Brasso, although still only a lad of twenty summers he has lost most of his hair on top and it is getting a bit sun burnt, so he is busy polishing the old chrome dome, or trying to dull it? Only he alone knows. So we are having supper in the hotel again and Rinty Mombie is picking at his food. I told you somebody had been watching, as the Assistant Manager sashays over to our table and with a swish of her hips (how do woman do this?), she leans on the table and says to Rinty Mombie. “I’m not supposed to mix with the guests, but how would you like to go out tonight?” His eyes shoot up to the top of his head, he runs his hand through his hair and taking the strap off the top of his watch looks at it, all this at least fifty times in approximately two seconds. Then shyly, whilst at the same time going a beetroot red replies, “I wouldn’t mind, actually I’d love to.” So they arrange the meet up time and off she sways and she sure has the figure for it to. By gum you should have seen him polish off his food. “I won’t have dessert thanks.” He has a spring in his step as he leaves going amongst the other guests at their tables. With his left hand he is giving them a wave and enchanting, “spirit of the evening to you all.” With his right hand he is ruffling some kids hair battling to eat his Brussels Sprouts and giving a hearty, “eat them vittals boy.” He leaves the room to applause believe it or not. Everybody loves a lover innit?

The rest of us decide to spend another night at Fathers Moustache. Same old same. The next morning we are grilling Rinty Mombie about what

Something like this.

Something like this.

happened last night. He tells us that they went to a pub like Fathers Moustache just so much better. Wow, so we decide to go there that night, but first the beach. Same old same, except Rinty Mombie’s new dolly bird appears wearing the skimpiest bikini I have ever seen barely covering up strategic parts. Tsuh, we are just trying to look attractive? I can see all the chicks nodding their heads vigorously, but me myself I think. Ja and pigs might fly. Rinty Mombie and her go for a walk and on their way back she is holding his hand. There is some hawk eyed lad in our group and he spots something and alerts us. Oh dear Lor’ how do I say this? But Rinty Mombie’s er whatshisnames is getting aroused. Trying to hide it, his hips go back and he is walking looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame. John Van Wheelspin looks up from snogging his bird and bellows, “fire in the hole.” Closely followed by Chris Goat Basson with a nasal, “bombs away.” He’s got a huge nose which he breathes through, talks through, and laughs through. Rinty Mombie goes down, ‘picking up pebbles and throwing them into the sea, watching the white surf carry them all back to me’. The rest of us are cracking up laughing and Sticks Vera Verith can hardly breathe with laughter. Maybe we should call a doctor? Lads and legends eh? You got to hand it to them though, some babes have got it all. Of course what they see in some lads remains a mystery and all. I never got so lucky and more is the pity. You see you can look but you are not allowed to touch. It’s a hard life for some is it not?

Charge of the legends.

So we are gathered in the pub that Rinty Mombie and the chick went to last night and it’s some dump. We are the only ones there apart from some geezer with a guitar and huge tattooed muscles and it’s dead boring, and poor old Rinty Mombie is being giving a hard time, after all he did tell us it was better than Fathers Moustache. What’s love gotta do with it eh? So a great plan is made to try and have one drink in every bar on the strip,

View of strip Durban, Natal.

View of strip Durban, Natal.

anything, but anything is better than this dump. To us this is known as a charge, one lad shouts, chaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge, and everyone has to up end their drink and finish it off. We are about in the second brown looking building (hard left), in the photo. Now time is a pressing problem so we run from one hotel to the next, enter the bar, order, one lad shouts chaaaaaaaaaaaarge, we down our drinks and so on and so forth. Great entertainment is it not? We come into a five star hotel gasping for breath and they won’t serve us perish the thought. Sticks Vera Verith starts complaining, and eventually the Manager comes along and says, “we are dreadfully sorry but we don’t serve ‘Gentlemen’ after seven pm if they are not wearing jacket and tie.” After all, does a ‘Gentlemen’ got to stay in a hotel? We are still laughing as we run to the next place who serve us, desperate for the trade? Blimey it is some run so Spook says to Sticks Vera Verith, “holy marathon Batman I’ve got a stitch.” Batman replies, “just remember Robin, a stitch in time saves seven.” Na, na, na, na….Batman. The seven rings a bell in my head so do a quick head count and we are only six. Oh dear Rinty Mombie has already dropped out AGAIN, just what makes this boy tick? I’m worried but the other lads say, “forget it I’m sure he can find his own way back home?” We enter the next establishment and there is gorgeous barmaid serving in a long black dress (low cut of course), or is it the booze working? Sticks Vera Verith is enchanted so starts a conversation explaining that we are from Rhodesia and don’t really know Durban and can she suggest a nice place for us to visit? She looks haughtily down her nose at us all and says with a shrug of her shoulders, “Smugs Inn?” Now that is what Smugglers Inn here in old Durban is known as, a kind of Inn of ill repute. A place akin to, ‘home is the sailor, home from the sea’, and some nefarious goings on occur. Eventually the night ends. We have hit every pub in that stretch, legends are made of this stuff. Only one problem remains, how are we going to make it back? The long walk begins.

Those are the arrivals Sunshine – Slip and Slope.

Dear old Tweedie Mallet is the one to spot them. Two new babes in the hotel and they are passing fair. The trouble is everyone is to scared to ask them if they would like a drink. I cannot believe this as all they can say is ‘no’ and I say so to the lads. Eventually I get up, stroll over and ask if they would like to join us for a drink and indeed they will. Sighs. There is only one small problem, their first language is Afrikaans and their

All the way from Australia.

All the way from Australia.

English is very broken, but no worries. I’m enthralled as being the only one who had the nerve to ask them over, I’m the only one who cannot get a word in. Anyway we meet up on the beach again in the morning. Sticks Vera Verith once hearing they are from Johannesburg (Joeys), hones in on them saying. “When we were coming here by plane we flew over Joburg and just after it we looked down and saw two dinosaurs.” In unison, as they have a habit of doing, they both trill, “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah we know that.” Also when amazed it’s “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreally” Afrikaans being a guttural language. They also know at times we are teasing them so keep on saying, “carrrrrrrrefuls else we’ll thrrrrrrrrow you on yourrrrrrr backs with a stones.” So by the end of the day we have nicknames for them which are, Slip and Slope. My how time flies and it’s time for them to go back home. Sticks Vera Verith presents them with a bit of driftwood he has found saying, “you see this driftwood it has come all the way from Australia.” “Rrrrrrrrrreally, ag no man how can you tell?” So he says by the grooves on the wood which show which way the current came from which means it could only have come from Australia. “Rrrrrrrrrrreally?” They actually take it back with them to the hotel and pack it to show Pa and Ma when they get back home. After dinner they invite Spook and Social to their room for a farewell drink. I think the first time they have ever had two men in a room with them. When room service appears even the Indian waiters eyes shoot up. Later Social nearly falls off the bed laughing when Slip tells him, back home she is a Sundays schools Teacherrrrrrrrrrs. We leave them before we start ‘rooking at them with rust’, so to speak. Actually they were both very sweet and charming, and I’m glad I will be nowhere near around when they show Pa the bit of driftwood all the way from Australia.

One last bash for legends.

So here we all are in another nightclub. After a few drinks the lads are livening up and the female singer stops her song and asks if it is anyone’s birthday? Sticks Vera Verith and the others hone in on this and point to me, completely oblivious to what is going on. The spotlight swings and shines on me and the singer starts talking. Now I’m fierce embarrassed and haven’t got a clue what is going on and I have no idea what she is saying as the microphone is in front of her lips. The lads are laughing fit to bust a gut and she starts looking mightily confused as I haven’t answered a single thing she has asked me, just stared straight ahead. Eventually the lads shout don’t worry he’s deaf. A light comes on in her eyes and she drops the microphone down and says, “watch my lips.” Then sings Happy Birthday to you, to me. The only reason I mention this is because I remember Tweedie Mallet so distinctly even after all these years. It’s late now and he is in his cups. He walks straight across the stage whilst said singer is in the middle of a song. So shocked is she that she stops singing and says, “there he goes on his toes off for a piss I suppose?” Tweedie Mallet just keeps on walking showing no reaction whatsoever. I guess she is thinking, ‘must be another deaf one’? Well dear reader, were we legends or not?


About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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18 Responses to College of Knowledge and Legends:Part two.

  1. jake bremner says:

    Good to hear the stories. We also had are escapades in Durbs after your course. Good read.

  2. George Azevedo says:

    Remarkable piece,I could almost see myself in that story after all,we were all very much alike in those days.
    Lovely”blast from the past” and as always,great sense of humour to make it even more appealing.

  3. Bar de Ness says:

    Excellent! the writing style has an individual quality which suits the thought and the time. Quite brilliant!

  4. Tess Bold says:

    Laughing….the young men of Rhodesia new how do have fun. Brought make memories of my brother who was in the R.L.I..I was always the sister he took with, if he needed a date 😉 I spent many a week-end dancing with his army mates……was fun though…. and what gentlemen.

  5. John Gow says:

    Great and amusing read Spook. I saw the Blarney Brothers back in early 80’s down in an hotel in Sottburgh south of Durban when on holiday there. Used to have signed copies of their 3 LP albums at the time. Not too sure where the records are now, somewhere in all my rubbish.

  6. Chris says:

    Enjoyed the read Spook an remember Fathers. Many a good time there. You have a good memory and knack of the blarney!

  7. Gomer Pyle says:

    Beautifully written – had me grinning from start to finish as I related sooooo to my own first trip to Durban in my wild and mis-pent youth – Blarney Brother and Fathers Mustache and the long walk and many pubs along that Golden Mile …… and the little time we had to cram all the experiences into …*sigh … so many memories evoked …. but aside from this – the clever weaving together of your memories of this time, place and unique era are precious and appreciated – we were innocents on soooo many levels and yet filled with so much wisdom – we appreciated that life was precious and to be lived (knowing not what the morrow would bring – waste not a second of the precious pendulum swing), resulting in fun and laughter wrapped up in a cloud of naughtiness, the boundaries of which were always being pushed when the opportunities presented themselves… nevertheless a strange sense of responsibility usually made for a somewhat disaster free landing from whatever zone we happened to be in ….. Thanks for the share – those were indeed the days my friend ….. often wonder how different we would all be if we knew then, what we know now ! Now there is some food for thought !! *grin

  8. Jim Sinclair says:

    Yes indeed Spook you were a legend alright. Just loved that story


  9. John Morris says:

    Hey Spook, just like it was. That’s when good fun was good fun.
    All those Durban hangouts we great fun but I kept right of ‘Smuggies’. That was too far down the road.
    Enjoyed the read. You naughty buggers!
    Best wishes,

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