Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 2.

Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 2. A continuation of my time there and some added input. The Drysdale twins Bruce and Scott have now left but the brother Rusty is still there and so is the youngest Forbes. Aye, lively lads we had here and all. Dave (Fothers) Brown has also left but, his younger brother Bruce is now Head of House. Known to us lively lads as ‘Pius’, et spiritu sancti. John (Jin) Munro, that’s just what his own pronunciation of his first name sounded like, is also a prefect and playing rugger for the first team as hooker. He was a local yokel reared on a farm in Plumtree and his mother was a nurse at the school. As far as I can remember his Dad had killed a Lion with his bare hands, or just a knobkerrie? Tough people and tough times, but, we all had fun. Now Jin breathed rugger, lived rugger and talked rugger, and seeing I was younger and more of a cricket, hockey, tennis player, we never really saw eye to eye. But, a funny thing happens, new boys are looked down upon and are the lowest of the low but I’m now a fifth year and Jin is a sixth year and friendships form, that’s just the way it was.

Lively lads,Grey House, Plumtree School 2, where I boarded.

Lively lads,Grey House, Plumtree School 2, where I boarded.

Young, lively lads, up before the crack of dawn doing athletic training for the Inter House sports week end. Then a shower and off to breakfast, fried egg and a smidgen of bacon which didn’t even cover the yolk, so much oil on the tray that it was fierce hard to transfer it to your plate. Unless of course you played basketball with it off the floor. To this day it was the most perishing graze I have ever had to try and scoff down, and to think we were growing lads. Then eight periods of class, then another equally terrible lunch, if such a thing was possible, which indeed it was. Then bliss at last, the rest period, Rusty of a Drysdale of and I are now in the senior dormitory (right of the blinds in the right of the photo), however, there is no peace. Just as you are about to nod off unbeknown to us, Old Jim Beef, celebrated Headmaster is prowling his personal house grounds (behind photo here and the swimming pools), with his trusty twelve bore shotgun. Boom as he lets off a shot which was enough to wake all of us from the dead, followed seconds thereafter with the pellets cascading down on the tin roof of our House. Bang goes your shut eye and it is time for prep.I would of thought it would have been better using prep time for his shooting escapades? But then again one cannot have Headmaster disturbing boys from their learning time. Perish the thought. This same old saga goes on everyday for the next couple of weeks. Every day after breakfast and

Beit Hall Plumtree School assembly held here every morning before classes begin.

Beit Hall Plumtree School assembly held here every morning before classes begin.

before classes begin, assembly is held in this great building and known as the Beit Hall. Boys file in through the entrance (far left), or another entrance behind this, where old Jim Beef makes his grand entrance once everybody is settled. Felicity Westwood music teacher is seated at the piano and assembly always begins with a hymn, followed by Jim Beef intoning a prayer and then onto whatever he has to say. However, today is different, from the moment he comes blowing through the door it is obvious he has a spring in his step and is in fine fettle raring to go. No sooner has Fe finished the hymn than old Jim Beef blurts out, dead proud, even before the prayer, perish the thought. “I have finally bulaled that old Cobb-ra (Cobra).” Now Rusty and I are hard pushed not to burst out laughing but Pius and his merry band break out in applause.

The Drysdale twins are busy doing their National Service, a nine month stint. At this time every Saturday afternoon there is a special broadcast on the radio devoted entirely to those serving and known as Forces request. The compère has fast become a national

Lively lads, Plumtree School 2, the forces darling.

Lively lads, Plumtree School 2, the forces darling.

icon and is known everywhere as the ‘forces darling’. She also has the most frightfully frightful, la, di, da, voice, and is non other than Sally Donaldson. Rusty and Spook go to work contriving something, a Forces request. We send it in and spend the next couple of weeks avidly listening to the radio every Saturday afternoon. Lo and behold it comes through. Being lively lads what we have written is; “ To the Drysdale twins, Bruce and Scott, somewhere in the sticks. Hope this finds you both hale and hearty and I have finally bulaled that old cobra.” Then boxing very clever like we have requested the song, Home on the Range, taking a dig at old Jim Beef and knowing both the twins would understand. Sally Donaldson begins reading it in her most frightfully frightful, impeccable voice, but she comes to the African word and not speaking the lingo pauses after ‘bu’, a pregnant pause. But she is a game old chick and carries on and it came out with what sounded like, in impeccable la, di, da,……… lay leed. She then went and played the song as well. Oh, Honeybunch you beautiful thing. I can still hear Rusty laughing even after all this time and he was in hysterics, neugh, neugh, neugh, neugh,…….gasps for breath, neugh, neugh, neugh. And I could imagine the twins doing the same. Aye, Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 2.


What is it about lively lads and the curse of booze or old demon drink which we are all so prone to? I well remember after my first term as a new boy and returning home on the 2100 mail train, which we still did then, buying a quarter jack of Brandy off the Head boy of the school, one George Meakin. My how fast time changes. Jim Beef celebrated new Headmaster (arriving in my fourth year), and mad keen and trying to be a new broom trying to sweep clean. Had, on his very first day as Headmaster, to beat three quarters of the School six strokes, for drinking on the end of term mail train back home. He came into Assembly the next morning and swore a solemn pledge to expel the next Plumtree boy caught drinking. Which is whereabouts Rusty and I come back into the equation. Interested? Then please read on.
Back at school for the third term of our fifth year and we have only been there about a week. The Drysdale twins Bruce and Scott have completed their National Service and are taking the train to commence their University degree in Pietermaritzburg, Natal. They will be stopping (the train that is), at Plumtree station sometime in the afternoon. Rusty and Spook get a signed pass from Lubbe Robinson to enter the village (thriving metropolis), Plumtree, and greet the twins. The train arrives around 1500 hours and we find the twins in the dining saloon drinking heavily. They tell us to climb up and join them which we do. The train leaves but unfortunately we now have the taste for demon booze again. So we decide to have a couple of snorts the next day which is Saturday. We get another signed pass to enter the metropolis and Spook sells his pair of moccasins

Spook's black moccasin shoes for sale.

Spook’s black moccasin shoes for sale.

(Black), all polished up and looking in there prime. We then go to the African reserve where they have a beer hall. We get one of them, Squeeg, trustworthy to get us two packs (six in each pack) of Carling Black label Beer as they have twist off caps and a packet of twenty Peter Stuyvesant smokes and a box of matches. Squeeg delivers and Rusty and Spook are set to go. We find some gomo (hilltop) and proceed to knock them back. I only have five being new to the game so Rusty gleefully knocks back his seventh. Blimey look at the time, so we head back to school. Will we make it for dinner time? How can I put this delicately? But we are both three sheets to the wind or sky high boy, so American readers will understand.
Luckily it as a Saturday so roll call is done after dinner and Rusty and I are only just in time. It is perfectly obvious to anyone who sees us that we are as pissed as newts. The lads are shocked but secretly amused. Walking to the dining hall Pius approaches which could mean big trouble, but, four eyes Duckworth and a couple of other lads jump in front of us as Pius passes obliviously by, thanks lads.


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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14 Responses to Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 2.

  1. Robyn Sumpter (nee Beghin) formerly from Selous says:

    Brilliant! Especially as I know some of the people you have written about. The Drysdale brothers sure were – and still are no doubt – real characters! A great read

  2. Ian Duckworth says:

    Spook you beaut. Mudgie passed this on to me. If only I had known I could have told you that demon booze was available from the petrol pump attendant. Bruce & Scott Drysdale could put the fear of life into us young ‘uns.
    From Four eyes’ boet

  3. Tess Bold says:

    I do really love the way you tell a tale…..:)

  4. Gomer Pyle says:

    Memories are such precious pieces of our souls – to return to, from time to time and inspect them again for the simple sweetness they release back into our spirits, makes life, worth the living — and when these same memories manage to release a sweetness into the spirits of fellow tribesmen/women (Rhodesians) – we realise again how we are indeed connected on a level the world just cannot understand —
    Thank you for spreading the sweet fragrance of happy times in an extraordinary place, time and era !! Be Blessed !

  5. Iris Papadopoulo says:

    Spook, I know you wrote this mainly for the Plumtree guys, but I really enjoyed it (as I do ALL the stuff you write) … so I wonder why my eyes got all misty …

  6. what a great memory and yarn .. very amusing.

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