Author Topic: Ramblings:  (Read 2111 times)

Offline Mark T

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« on: October 24, 2013, 05:48:45 PM »
For the non-poets please note that this anecdotal essay is a postscript to my recent post Say Goodbye - on the RMP board, which places this piece in context.

I live and work on a 100 acre smallholding in the foothills of the Outeniqua mountain range and can see

the Indian Ocean 40 km away and the historic town of Mossel Bay, founded where Europeans first set

foot in southern Africa in 1458. The Bantu are not native to South Africa and were busy with their own

slow pastoral migration into the northern and eastern parts of SA at that time, coming down from central


Itís a sunny day, springtime, and the hundreds of protea cynaroides which I planted as little

cuttings five years ago are tall and coming into magnificent bloom again.

I feel the need to write and would like to tell you some more about Lee and our early years together. It

would have been our 20th anniversary on the 6th December this year and we were semi-joking about

perhaps getting married on the beach or something as an excuse to throw another good party. This was

the date we first bedded another. She only knew two men in her life, her ex-boyfriend Darren, and me.

When I first met her, she had just moved to North Beach from South Beach, in Durban, in the process of

breaking up with Darren, and had taken over as manager of the local pub and grill I drank and fooled

around in when I wasnít riding waves, working or training.

She liked to tell the story of how the first time we met she kicked me out of her bar at 3am when I

walked in there, after nightclub security work, looking for the owner, my drinking buddy, and demanding

more booze. She told me, whoever you are, that she had put him to sleep in the office, was about to

lock up, and to bugger off and get lost.

For my part, I was highly intrigued by this sexy, big-boobed loudmouth and was back the next day for

more of her spell. Darren was local British, an ex-paratrooper bouncer gang-type, a jealous psycho on her

case who once cocked and pointed a 9mm at me in Cool Runnings, a Jamaican bar. I took her away from

him anyway, being a bit of a hard nut myself back then, and seriously infatuated with this exciting woman.

Those first few years living with her on North Beach were the most intense of my life. Not much scared

me but she could with her wild ways. As the pub hostess, she had the most amazing capacity for alcohol

and never actually got drunk while I, drink for drink, would slide under the table. We Ďdatedí at weird

hours because of our nightlife jobs, usually meeting up very late and going off in a group to one of the big

all-night clubs or for pizza somewhere on the beachfront.  

She was a real foodie; the first time I was invited to her place I was blown away by these lavish platters

of professional snacks she had prepared. When I eventually got her into bed, a couple months later, the

sex together was equally mind-blowing too. We simply couldnít get enough of another for years and must

have set a few records. We collapsed our (sturdy) bed one night, which was very funny, and afterwards

just left it at its new height, slightly canted and definitely broken.      

Although I was her boyfriend, she barred me from the pub on three occasions due to brawling that broke

the glass doors, and made me repaint my surfing pictures with stained glass paint each time. There was

an ice-rink across the road and the hockey players used to hang out there, too. It was a tough bar, the

Hard Inn.

Kelly Slater once wrote his name on the wall. The owner/partners were an alcoholic from

Manchester and a crazy Hungarian.  

One evening during Happy Hour, a regular, Pierre, a trawler boat fisherman from Mozambique, shot himself

in the temple with a .22 pistol while sitting at the bar. Lee put a towel around his head and despatched

him to the hospital by private car, cleared up the mess, and carried on serving drinks to the extra crowd

that had appeared. Pierre was back a few weeks later, now cross-eyed, useless at shooting pool and

with a taste for a different brand of beer.

One time, another booze-hound and I tipsily gatecrashed a hen party Lee had organised in the ice hockey

clubhouse, because we had heard there were 60 bottles of champagne there, obtained from Leeís buddy,

the liquor company saleswoman. We fired off corks, guzzled bubbly and got rowdy, and then the annoyed

women tricked us, locking us away in a room with a security gate, which we bent but couldnít break while

they turned up the music. We passed out and woke up with the most awful hangovers before being

scolded and paroled by Lee the next day.  

Across the way was a gym, the Oceanic. I punched a bag and lifted weights there as a gym-rat and

instructor, packing about 240 pounds without ever Ďroiding. The owner and I were also partners in a start-

up sports event marketing business, Pro Am Sports.

Around the corner was a brothel, I forget the name. Something happened to the owner and the place

was abandoned. One night, bored, I kicked in the door and had a look around. I told Lee what I saw.

Later, she took me back there and we purloined a fridge and carted it off together in the middle of the

night so she could give it to someone who needed one.

North Beach is basically a big bunch of apartment buildings with seafront hotels, some supermarkets and

businesses and a few parks. We had just moved into another block when we found a kitten in the

elevator late one night. After posting a notice, she adopted the kitten Ė she was a real cat lover. Next

thing, the management of the building tells us to get rid of the cat or else. So we moved again, to a

condo in Morningside about 10km away.

At that time I was managing an illegal casino in central Durban. Iíd catch a municipal bus in the morning

and sheíd go off a bit later in our vehicle, a 1968 Kombi camper van with a wild zebra-stripe paint job, the

mobile-party bus. At about 1am each night, weeknights, I would jog down to the bar with my revolver to

have a few drinks and provide informal security for her cash-up and closing. Iím proud to say that my

varied tactical moves kept rampant South African crime at bay. After we left North Beach, the place had

three armed holdups in three months.

Our departure was a result of crime, though. Early one evening, after returning from an excursion with a

bunch of other women, there was some kind of transport mix-up and Lee went marching off on her own

instead of waiting with the others. A pair of heathen muggers went for her alongside a four-lane road.

She fought back and they beat her and threw her off a bridge, down a railway embankment. She had

multiple injuries and a broken ankle and couldnít climb back up to the road. No cell-phones involved, I

spent hours looking all over for her before some train guys spotted and rescued her. It was the same day

Princess Diana was killed.

I was extremely pissed off. I was already active as a sort of lone wolf anti-crime vigilante because there

was so much crime around, and I viciously beat the shit out of some miscreant that week.

Leg in plaster, Lee couldnít work and lost her job plus someone, while she was in hospital, probably the

ownerís cokehead son, stole a thousand bucks in tip money she had stashed away behind the bar.

I was also recently unemployed and laying low because of a nasty dispute Iíd had with the underground

casino types and now the cops were also sniffing around because of the scumbag Iíd hospitalised.

Lee and I decided it was time to get out of Dodge.  We truthfully told the landlady we didnít have rent,

sold off some stuff, packed up the Kombi and Casey the cat and headed deep into the countryside where

I got a great job getting paid to ride an off-road motorbike around the Drakensberg mountains, doing a

GPS survey for the power-line company, while Lee recovered.

We had another sixteen eventful years together; started and ran our own business, bought and sold two

properties and blew a lot of money, but thatís all another story.

I will say that the great food never stopped, she loved cooking and entertaining; dinner parties and BBQs  

on a regular basis. Last year, at a local guest lodge, she threw a huge surprise party for my 50th which

turned out to be a great thrash.  

I donít mean to sanctify Lee or say we had a perfect relationship. We certainly had our faults and things

got stormy at times but we were a hell of a team together. I do miss her very much.

Well, thanks for reading this self-indulgent ramble. Iíve placed an avatar here on MWC, a photo just taken

of an old trinket I picked up on my travels, before I met Lee, and found again while going through all our

stuff. I donít know the provenance of this symbol but as a powerful representation of the female, itís

dedicated to Lee.

Mark Thomas
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 05:59:03 PM by Mark T »

Offline Tom 10

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Re: Ramblings:
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 06:25:44 PM »
Thanks, that felt like I was seated at the next table over, started eavesdropping, then shamelessly eavesdropping, then got invited to join your table.  Great narrative, with an understated reverence.  Speaking for myself, i think its the uniqueness of the person that we never want to lose, and anything that helps us remember, the better.  Cheers.   

Offline Mark T

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Re: Ramblings:
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2013, 08:57:34 AM »
Thanks Tom, and also to all those who have read this.

I went to my first social event alone on Saturday, a function at an art gallery, the young woman who runs it is a good friend, and I met some people. I put together an anthology, just some of my better poetry, for the gallery, something they've wanted for a while, had it printed, cover-laminated and bound, and left it there on a coffee table, entitled SUM POMES. Hey, I'm a (self) published poet now.  

Bonfire with Lee's tribute basket coming up this Thursday - if rain then Guy Fawkes next week. Think I'll take my camera along and post a picture or two on this thread.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 10:45:26 AM by Mark T »

Offline bri h

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Re: Ramblings:
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 02:19:09 PM »
Certainly not a ramble Mark. A right-riveting-read. I enjoyed reading it. You were a lucky guy for her to pick you. I feel the same about Skinny. I'm saddened by your loss, but also heartened by your poetic and wordy rememberance of her. Resp. Bri.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline 2par

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Re: Ramblings:
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 02:39:03 PM »
Beautiful tribute and memory. Thank you for sharing. It's an example for us all.

Offline Kowboy

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Re: Ramblings:
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2013, 10:16:39 PM »
One of the better things I've read here.