Monday, June 18, 2007

1970 Apartheid Durban, Dokkies Dropouts and Driving

< 1970. Mark Esslemont playing Stage Manager in 'Our Town'. Kevin Burge left, director Hugh Thompson middle

Male students faded from Dokkies, becoming businessmen. One became a world famous motor-cyclist. One who'd done army basic with me sold insurance, and killed Border Ovambos as a Commando. PP became a municipal health inspector, inspecting septic tanks. PP did a Commando sergeants course, which went to his arrogant head. After PP left Dokkies, I walked behind meneer JV Smit and meneer Olivier in a corridor, overhearing Meneer JV Smit screeching about cheeky PP: "PP was parmantig..."

Skelm ran Dokkies Climbing Club, and I chaired a Biology Club. We raised club funds by showing English flicks to Afrikaner hostel students, like Midnight Cowboy starring Hoffman and Voight. Carry On flicks were popular. I stopped rock-climbing, after peeling at Gerrys G climb, and seeing Skelm crack his skull peeling from Gerrys G. Skelm later led Drakensberg climbs with varsity students, like Shannon, who still had freckled legs. Some of Skelm's climbing connections fell to their deaths.

Meneer Olivier had halitosis, and couldn't understand why students sat at sides of his language lab, while he lectured from his wooden lectern. Meneer Olivier tried hard to make Skelm and me bilingual. He succeeded with Skelm. I bunked lectures.

I got my driver's licence in mom's new, brown Mini, and drove up Chelsea Drive dip to our home, against a one-way sign below the umdoni tree: my contempt for apartheid signs. For years, I criss-crossed the ancient dune Berea, where friends and relatives lived. Trekking to Dokkies, I drove across Umgeni Road and up Goble Road to Trematon Drive, along Ridge Road, crossing Berea Road, to Natal University, down Queen Mary Avenue to Dokkies, beyond which lay verkrampte south Durbs.

I often drove up Innes Road where I was born, crossing Windermere Road, where in 1988 Fraser would doss in a halfway-house, and get pissed on Florida Road. Donna's mom flatted on Montpelier Road. Some of mom's lady friends lived on Sydenham Road, near Musgrave Road, where my granny Rosa had died. I drove along Nicolson Road where I'd teach, and Manning Road where I'd meet my wife. I banked at Brand Road. Berea Road python hissed me over the Berea to N3 Western Freeway - away from Natal.

Note: Meneer JV Smit & meneer Olivier are composite characters.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

The motorcyclist, Kork Ballington, who won a total of 47 podium finishes in international Grand Prix racing from 109 starts, with a total of 54 international race wins, and career win total of 172 races (1967-1988), emigrated from SA in 1998 and settled near Brisbane, Australia. (Source: "Ballington Unkorked".