Christianity and Other Harmful Practices Including Apartheid


Every Sunday was church day and every inmate in the hostel had to attend church even if there was no church that represented your brand of Christianity. As there was no Lutheran church in the village I was told to pick another or the choice would be made for me, the little blond girl attended the Methodist church so I decided that I would accompany her to the Methodist version of the scriptures as I had already tasted two years of the Catholic variety.

I will admit the Methodist version was not as regulated nor as pompous as the Catholic version. The priest though was hilarious, he obviously had false teeth that did not fit properly and every now and then he would be in the middle of damning adulterers and sinners to everlasting hell when he would whistle certain words. It was very hard to take these whistling sermons very seriously and if it hadn’t been for my young blond friend pinching me every time the whistling started, I am sure that I would have burst out laughing. There was not a Sunday that fornicators were not mentioned, I am not sure if it was because of my father’s son being in the congregation or that he knew many fornicators in his congregation.

After church we were marched back to the hostel not being allowed to share in the tea and cakes that were supplied by the ladies of the parish as there was a tea laid out on the lawns, for all the children of the hostel, after the last service was completed. Normally the Afrikaans churches had the longest services, up to two and a half hours, so tea was set for eleven. Every Sunday these large baking trays were laid out with a yellow sponge cake, that was completely tasteless, smothered in sugar icing that leant some taste to the tasteless cake and large urns of tepid watery tea. Tea lasted exactly thirty minutes and then everything was returned to the kitchen.

During the sixties, the South African government enforced a curfew for the Natives, and every evening in Barberton a siren would sound and all Native people had to be off the streets of the Town. Not only that, they had to be in the place that was designated in what was called the ‘Dompas’, it was a book that contained their complete work history, place of present work, designated living address and their criminal record if any. No Native could find work or be in an area designated as a ‘White area’ without producing the Dompas on demand. I am not sure exactly what time the siren sounded, but I think it was at ten at night.

One Sunday returning from church I was to witness the law in action. A Native gentleman had been stopped and his Dompas demanded, he tried to explain that he had left it by accident in his normal work clothes and the police could take him to his employers house and he would produce it for them. A fair request you would think. What happened next was so totally uncivilized that it is really hard to comprehend let alone describe.

The two white police officers started beating him with their truncheons until he fell to the ground unconscious, they then picked him up as you would a hundred kilogram sack of corn and threw him head first into the back of their patrol vehicle. The sound of his head striking the back of the steel bulkhead was similar to the sound a pawpaw makes when thrown against a wall. It was a scene that I have remembered all my life. I can never say that I did not know of the brutalities committed under Apartheid, I knew. What did I do to end it? Or did I just put it out of my mind and support it? Read on and discover.

Lots of HUGS and more,


Death Of A Paedophile and Other Small Things Such As Sexual Assault


About this time Avery kicked the bucket, good riddance to bad rubbish. If it was left to me he would have been fed to the vultures as lunch, but my mother had made arrangements for me to attend his funeral. Due to misplaced sympathy the school had granted me an unscheduled weekend off. Since the divorce my mother had not had a car and had been getting a lift in with Granny to her new place of work every morning. To attend she had arranged that Teddy would fetch her from Johannesburg and pick me up on the Saturday morning so that we could attend the funeral late in the afternoon. As they were late in picking me up, I went into town and bought some deep fried chips and half loaf of bread and sat on the pavement outside the fish and chip shop eating this feast with my friends.

 I did not know Teddy’s car so I did not notice them when they drove past the first few times, my mother did not think that one of the urchins sitting on the pavement could ever be her son so she did not see me either. Finally they stopped one of the children and asked if he knew where I was, he pointed to where I was sitting, and my mother almost died of shame. Her precious son, held so high in her esteem, acting like a homeless street urchin.

It was back to the hostel to wash and change and then off to the funeral in Komatipoort. We made it to the church with minutes to spare and were given very cold stares by the other friends and relatives that were there to say good-bye to a great man. The eulogies still ring false in my ears today. Personally I found great solace and comfort in his passing and if I had been allowed I would have happily pissed on his grave.

 I was returned to the hostel on Sunday evening, fortunately after dinner, as Teddy had treated my mother and me to a meal at the hotel in Barberton. That is when I found out that the change in the teachers attitude to me was not only because of my prowess in the game of rugby, but because he knew them all from the local rugby club where he too played with some finesse.

Teddy was a train driver, and lived in Nelspruit, but was often in Barberton and used to have drinks with a lot of the teachers when he was there. It turned out that my mother had asked Teddy to do something about the teacher who had cut my hair off, Teddy had. He beat the teacher up and warned all the teachers that if any harm came to me he would be the one they would answer too, my hero.

After Avery’s death I had this need to tell someone what he had done to me, I chose the wrong person to open up to about Avery’s abuse. It was one of my older friends that I thought I could trust with my life, I was very wrong, he spread the story around the school, which was bad but not the worst of it. One night I was woken up by one of the meanest and thickest Dutchman in the school, one of the few that could never get enough of beating up on me. He was not alone, are bullies ever?  He asked me if I was missing Avery and no matter how often I said I did not the more insistent he was that I did. The next thing he had his friends hold my head while he forced me to open my mouth by holding my nose closed. He then forced me to give him a blow job, making me swallow cum by having his friends hold my jaw shut and pinching my nose until I did.

When it was over he said that his girlfriend gave a far better one and swaggered out of the dormitory. He had managed to wake up the other nine boys and they all watched but no one interfered or helped. If my life had been hard to bear up until then, it became utterly unbearable after. It never happened again, but that was very little solace, the worst is I could do nothing about what had happened and nothing to stop him if he decided to do it again. There was no-one to turn to, the teachers would never believe it.

Lots of Hugs and more,


Cemeteries,Asbestos Cableways and Other Dangerous Pursuits


During that term things were to be a lot better with the change in the Afrikaans teachers attitude, so I was not punished by them that much and because of my move, I had made friends with one or two of the older English speaking students in one of the other prefab barracks. These new friends were of the rebellious mould and they showed me ways of bunking out of the school grounds at night and the dubious pleasures of Barberton after dark.

The only way to town at night and not to be spotted leaving the school was through the grave yard as it was the one place not many people visited after dark, once through it was easy to sneak along the less frequented side streets to reach the illicit and corruptible fish and chips shop.

One evening while bunking out, we entered the graveyard at the usual slow walk that always ended in a run at the exit. We had just broken into a very fast walk when the boy next to me disappeared, which meant the two that were left probably broke every record in the book for sprinting, we only slowed down once we had left the graveyard. It was then that we realised that we had to go back and save our fellow conspirator from whatever had befallen him.

With legs that were as heavy as lead we slowly crept back the way that we had come, to finally hear quiet whimpers from the ground just a few graves further in front of us. Where I summoned the courage to keep going I do not know, but I finally arrived at a newly dug grave and at the bottom was my friend curled up into a ball whimpering. We finally persuaded him to stand up and helped him out of the grave.

That was to be my last night time expedition into town, my friends carried on and were eventually caught and severely punished. There was to be one other dangerous escapade that I was to participate in with my intrepid friends and that was the ride in the “cocopans”, as we called the aerial cableway that stretched between Barberton and the asbestos mine in Swaziland.

One Saturday they decided it was boring to go to town as we had already seen the movie that was showing the previous Saturday and that they had a far better thing to do. So stupidly I followed their lead, we left the hostel as usual, but instead of going to town they headed towards the cableway. It was easy enough to climb the pylons that supported the cableway and it was not that difficult to jump into one of the empty returning buckets, it was getting out that was to prove dangerous and difficult.

It was not something we had considered, when we attempted the stunt. Also the cable moved very slowly, or so it seemed from the ground, but as a worker on an assembly line will tell you it moves a lot faster than it looks. So that Saturday we rode the cableway over into Swaziland and managed to jump onto one of the pylons just before it entered the mine compound. When I jumped out of the bucket I almost did not manage to catch onto the pylon I was aiming for, and even though I finally did, it was not before I had badly scrapped my hands and bruised my chest in the fall against the pylon. If I had not needed to return, there would have been no way I would have attempted the return trip, but as there was no option I did.

We were very fortunate that neither the people in the mines nor the Swaziland police spotted us or we would have landed in jail and I am sure would have been expelled from the school.

Lots of HUGS and more,


Returning To Hell, But Meeting An Angel.


On the trip back we arrived in Nelspruit just before sunrise and with a wait of approximately three hours before we could connect with the Local to Barberton. At that time of the morning Nelspruit was still in dreamland and as there was no adult supervision a lot of the older kids disappeared and returned just before the train’s departure smelling of alcohol, where they obtained it I was never to find out.

The rest of the kids waited for the station’s kiosk to open at around seven where I was introduced by a small blond girl to the delights of sardines and sweetened condensed milk on Marie biscuits. From that moment on we were always together when we were allowed into town every Saturday, suffering the usual taunts of being boyfriend and girlfriend chanted by our peers in the student body, we were just friends she also being English speaking and the only one of her class in the hostel.

As the previous year my memory is very scratchy when it comes to names. She is the person that showed me the statue of ‘Jock’, famed in literature as Jock of the Bushveld; she showed it to me because I had told her that the thing I missed most from home was my dog Tina. So the first thing that we did every Saturday was to visit Jock and I would ask him to pass on my love to Tina and to tell her that I was OK. A dog that had its own statue had to be very special, not so? So I was sure he would pass on the messages.

During those Saturday visits we would attend the matinee together, as there was only one cinema in Barberton and it always showed its latest offerings for a fortnight, we visited the cinema every second week. One of the more memorable films was ‘Gone with The Wind’ the first film that I ever cried in, not because at that age I appreciated the classic nature of the movie, nor because it was the longest movie I had ever seen, but due to the attention of a wasp.

We were sitting in the back row of the cinema, where all the kids sat, when I felt what I thought was a fly making its way along my neck, so I naturally swatted it with my hand. The pain was excruciating and been a boy even if only ten I tried to be a man and not cry, I failed in the attempt and tears were still streaming down my cheeks when the movie ended, she thought it was sweet and offered me her lace hankie to mop up the tears. For once in my life I was a real rooinek as the swelling took days to subside and the boys that noticed the tears never let me forget that I had cried like a girl at the movies.

She was one of the better things that happened that term, besides rugby the other was the Gym teacher volunteering to teach me how to defend myself as he had noticed that I was beaten more regularly than the other children. He tried to convince me to learn to hold my tongue and when that seemed impossible he told me he would tell me when I was ready to defend myself and should show the same ineptitude until that time. His reason being if they saw me getting progressively better at defending myself they would just use more of them to get the job done, instead of just one on one.

Lots of HUGS and more,


End of First Term and A Train to Paradise. (Or a Broken Home)

Train Journey

Eventually the term came to an end and the blissful day arrived when it was time to pack our belongings into our trunks and head of home. I had a lot less to pack when I left than I had when I arrived, but fortunately I still had about seventy-five percent of my school uniform intact. I had arrived with six of everything, shirts, trousers, safari-suits and two pairs of shoes, sandals and all sports equipment as needed. It was to become a sad fact of life, that at every end of term I had less and less to pack even though my locker was always locked.

Our trunks were labelled and sent to the station, then we were lined up as usual, girls separate and marched to the railway station, this was strange since there was no supervision on the actual train. Once there we boarded the local-coal fired train to Nelspruit from where we would connect with the mainline train to Johannesburg. There were students that had made this journey before, so it was not hard to find the train and find our respective cabins as the numbers were printed on the tickets, including a food voucher and a bedding voucher.

The train travelled through the night stopping at every station on the way, dropping off and collecting different passengers as well as milk, as it was known as the “Milk Train” and arrived at Johannesburg station just after sunrise.

My mother was waiting for me on the platform alone, which was strange as my father’s office was just above our heads in the stations concourse and he was not with her. Mother at first did not spot me, waiting for my trunk to be unloaded, mainly because she was looking for my very white hair, and as I now was as bald as cue ball she did not recognize me in the crowd.

She was starting to panic that I had missed the train or knowing her perchance to the dramatic, had been killed or kidnapped, when I materialized in front of her. She took one look at me and burst into tears muttering about my beautiful hair been gone, she looked really shocked.

It was something she was never able to get over, her son sheared like a Marino sheep.

The holiday naturally flew past, especially because I was spoilt rotten, all my favourite foods were dished up, Hubby running around making sure that I wanted for nothing and the other children asking me all sorts of questions of what boarding school was like and being very sympathetic to my situation.

Playing with my friends on the street and not being bullied all the time was wonderful, but my mother was very cool towards little John, as his mother was one of the women that my mother had named, my own mother was guilty of the same crime as the residents of Barberton, visiting the sins of the parent onto the child.

Little John’s parents were busy with a divorce of their own due to the revelation that his mother was one of my father’s mistresses. Granny had also moved back into her room and the house was filled with the aroma of her baking every day that I was home. I was naturally teased by everyone about being bald, but big John decided he liked it and shaved his own head that brought an end to the teasing, as nobody would dare tease him, his temper was always bubbling just beneath the surface and he was the biggest of the friends, the eldest too.

Before I knew it I was back on the train and heading for the dubious pleasures of Barberton. My father did not visit me during that holiday. Nor was the divorce a favoured topic of conversation in our house, so I had no idea where he was living or what he was up to.

Lots of Hugs and more,


A Ducktails Signature Erased.


After my parents dropped me off at the school for the second term, it was made known to me that it was to be the last time that I was driven to school, and that I was to be catching the train back home and would from then on use the train for all journeys to and from the school. Reason being that my parents had obtained a divorce during that first term while I was enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the Barberton hostel.

My parents’ divorce turned out to be rather news worthy, it appeared in the main body of the Sunday Times, and every person in Barberton was scandalized. It turns out that my mother named something like seventy two other women in her divorce summons, including most of my mother’s so called friends and the mothers of a fair amount of my friends. One thing that Barberton most definitely was, and that was a very conservative God fearing town and the thought of a white man having so many concubines was more than a scandal, it was definitely the work of the devil.

I had become an instant celebrity in the town, wherever I went people pointed and whispered under their breaths, it would have been funny if it had not made the bulling at the hostel worse. It seems that people had passed the sins of the father onto the son. A lot of my friends at school started to avoid me, fortunately my friends at the hostel at least had no option but to stand at my side for the safety in numbers theory. Also their parents were not there to force them to stay away from the devil’s child.

In the last weeks of the school term I was told by the house master, who had at that stage not warmed to me due to rugby, that my hair was too long and that on the next Saturday visit to town I must have my hair cut. There was only one problem, I had already spent all my pocket money and if it was not cut by sundown I would be punished, when I informed him of this small problem I was told he did not care where I got the money from, for all he cared I could beg, borrow or steal it. As my friends had also run out of money and that I had learned about stealing the previous year, begging was the only way that I had the chance of getting the money. It turned out I was not at all a good beggar, so as I was unable to afford a haircut, it wasn’t cut.

I must take this opportunity to point out that my hair was not that long, just over my ears and collar and I was going home in a matter of days where my mother would arrange for my hair to be cut. That Saturday, I went to town as was usual to escape the hostel and spent time with ‘Ticky’ the Clown’ a dwarf who claimed to have been the original ‘Ticky’ The Clown at Boswell Wilkie circus, whether that was true or not did not matter to us, he made us laugh and that was what I needed that Saturday to take my mind of the caning that was sure to follow having not had my hair cut.

When I returned to the hostel that evening, sure enough the house master was waiting for me, he had decided to make an example out of this ‘rooinek’s’ devil child. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the bathroom calling for some of the older boys to fetch a chair, a pair of scissors and a safety razor. He then proceeded to cut all my hair off and shaved my head until I was absolutely bald. Not a very wise thing to do to a very fair skinned child especially in Barberton where the sun beats ruthlessly down and cloudy days are far and few between.

By the end of Sunday I was in the hostel sanatorium with sunstroke. 

Till next time, lots of hugs and more,


Spiders and Real Fear.



Bath time at the hostel was a strange ritual as there were three baths for about thirty inmates, and only enough hot water to fill them each twice, which equated to five people having to share the same water before the baths could be refilled.

One thing that had been drilled into me at home was that cleanliness was next to Godliness, so this bathing in dirty water was abhorrent to my senses. I would always attempt to be the first person to enter the bath room when the bell rang, even being punished when found sitting in one of the bath cubicles before the bell for bath time was rung. Also I took a lot longer to bath, what with scrubbing toenails, feet, hands and washing my hair everyday.

This was too long to wait for the other boys queuing up to bath. They tried many things to speed up my bath but the thing that they found out really worked was to toss a baboon spider over the cubicle wall. It is the only creature that I have an unreasonable fear of.

Once they found out I was scared of spiders my life became a living hell even worse than the days that I was only beaten to a pulp by the Afrikaners for giving them what they called back chat. I would now find spiders everywhere, in my bed, slippers, shoes, locker, toiletry bag and anywhere else that they could think of.

Baboon spiders are harmless, only enormous in size, even today I have an agreement with all spiders if they move into my house and that is, stay where I can see you and do not disappear because if I cannot see the spider it means I have to search the house and exterminate the creature that keeps the fly and mosquito population under control. I fear spiders, but hate flies with a passion.

Lots of hugs and more,


Rugby, Not a Sport, But a Religion.


There were only three English speakers in the same standard as me in the hostel, so naturally we gravitated towards friendship as there was safety in numbers, it was unwise to be caught alone as a so called ‘Rooinek’ or “red neck”, the name that we were called because Englishman’s necks always burned red in the severe African sun.

We spent a lot of time sitting in the highest branches of the Marula tree that grew in the playground that the hostel provided for the exclusive use of the boys, the girls played elsewhere. When the tree had leaves on it we were invisible from the ground and therefore safe until dinner. On the days that we had sport practice we were not safe even if there was a teacher present.

There were two sports offered, rugby and athletics. Athletics was a summer sport and most importantly not a contact sport well mostly not a contact sport. There were things like long jump, high jump, discus and the sprints that were definitely non-contact. The five hundred, one thousand, and cross country were very much contact sports as you would be pushed, shoved and trampled on if the opportunity arose. So we rooineks stuck to the non-contact variety.

Rugby season was another story. Rugby was a compulsory sport, every able bodied male youngster had to participate in this almost religious passion.

Strangely I excelled at it, being as small as I was, it was almost impossible to tackle me around the chest or neck, as most of the opposition were prone to do, also being small I could not bring the huge opposition that I faced down if I tackled them around the waist, so I learned that no matter how huge the opposition, if tackled around the ankles they had no option but to come crashing down to ground level, inevitably spilling the ball forward. Also I was surprisingly fast for my size, so I was made a wing.

The position furthest from the brute force of the scrum or mincer, it suited me fine. My friends were not as lucky, as they were slower and larger than me, at the end of every practice or game they returned to the hostel sporting either a black eye, bleeding nose or rake marks somewhere on their bodies or all three.

The attitude of most of the Afrikaans teachers, which up to then had been very anti-me, changed when the second term started and they noticed my ability to play their sacred game so well.

My little under eleven A team went unbeaten that season and that may have played a large part in their change of attitude. It did not help me in any way with the Afrikaans students in the hostel.

Up until that time my dormitory was in the main hostel block, with the other younger children, this was changed by the hostel master, and I was moved to one of the outside prefabricated barrack like buildings with the older boys and the rugby elite. Believe me when I say I could have done without the honour, I was the only rooinek or “Soutpiel”, as I was called by the Afrikaans students, in the place, so I was totally vulnerable. Soutpiel means one leg in Africa and one leg in England with the middle leg in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lots of Hugs and more,


A School With More Than A Little Dicipline.

The internal economy of Dotheboys Hall

Barberton hostel’s rules were definitely based on the Afrikaans culture, from the separation of the sexes, haircuts, choice of food to the attendance of church. After breakfast, that normally consisted of corn porridge (lumpy and normally undercooked) a slice of bread and a cup of tea, the separated sexes were lined up in two’s and then marched to the actual school, girls in front, boys following.

Once at the school, the different language groups immediately dispersed to find their respective friends of the appropriate language. The English and Afrikaans teachers also practiced a type of Apartheid, even though they shared a common staff room. The English teachers were also a lot more humane then their Afrikaans counterparts, so we English speakers would try and remain close to the English supervisor during breaks, as our chances of being punished if we strayed too close to the Afrikaans side of the playground was about a hundred times more likely than if we stayed on our side.

Actual lessons were not at all that bad, as all but one subject was taught in English by Englishmen, the exception being Afrikaans itself. It was a subject that we all learned to dread, I think most of us would have preferred being caned six of the best, than have to attend Afrikaans lessons. The Spanish inquisition would have been proud to have our Afrikaans teacher as one of their interrogators. He hated us English speaking kids and made no bones about it either. Afrikaans is a rather guttural language and most English speakers battle with the pronunciation. I was told once that to speak it properly, it helps if you have a throat disease.

As none of us had even a sore throat, let alone cancer of the throat, we battled with the correct pronunciation. Whenever we got it wrong, we were caned. The theory I suppose being that we would try harder to avoid pain or maybe it was just the theory that knowledge could be beaten into a child, both theories failed miserably.

At the end of lessons it was back into lines and the march back to the hostel. After lunch the primary school children had the afternoon off, the high school kids were marched off for the afternoon session.

The one thing that was extremely foreign to me was the fact that children were allowed to go to school barefoot, at all the other schools I had attended if you walked around barefoot you were punished. I was to find out that in general the Afrikaans population was poor and many could not afford to buy their children shoes, that did not stop them affording alcohol, just shoes and school uniforms were unaffordable.

Lots of Hugs and more,

Eating Habits and Other Surprises


There were many differences in lifestyle between home life and boarding house rules that I had to adjust to, the hardest being the rules in relation to meals. In our household you were to eat everything that you had chosen to put on your plate, at Barberton there was no choice. The food was passed around and you were forced to take a portion of everything that had been prepared.

Now you will have to understand that I was used to a very different cooking style, to the Afrikaans way of cooking and there was certain things that I would not eat at all even when prepared by my mother, spinach being a definite no, no.

There was one memorable occasion at home where I left the spinach that had been put on my plate by my father, which I refused to eat. I was about seven at the time, he ranted and raved that I would not leave the table until the spinach was eaten, so I sat there staring at the spinach until one in the morning, before I was sent to bed. The spinach was given to me to eat for the next two days for breakfast, lunch and supper and no matter how hungry I was I steadfastly refused to eat it. That is where the rules at home changed, that we only had to eat what we ourselves put on our plate, even when our eyes were larger than our stomachs.

The hostel rules had no exceptions written into it, no one left the dinning  hall until all the food was gone, you were not even allowed to pass what you did not want onto someone who obviously could either eat some more or desired that particular food. Not only was your plate checked, but you had to open your mouth to show that you were not hiding food in it to spit out later.

Learning to half swallow the food I did not want to eat, it took a long time to perfect. The technique of getting the food to slide only half way down my throat and to hold it there before regurgitating the unwanted swine’s food into the nearest dustbin. I could only hold it like that for as long as I could hold my breath, once I had to breathe I was forced to swallow. So I always ate the food I liked first then waited for the hall to be dismissed and the crowds to exit, I was always the last out as waiting in the line to be inspected took longer than I could hold my breath.

Lots of Hugs and more,