Monday, November 11, 2013


A Caber of Tossers* - Bringing relief to Ladysmith?

Dear Oom Schalk,

I have a friend called James Vosloo-Murray, an Afrikaner with strong Scottish ancestry, who wears the Tartan from time to time, when whisky gains a foothold - and plays the bagpipes a lot better when his ration thereof is doubled!

 He is a man who is functionally incoherent when sober and yet clearly understood by all when equally drunk - he is also revered far and wide as being a consummate Tosser of some repute and it is this spirit of reverence that guides the path of my letter today.

 Tossing the Caber, with any competitive intent, besides being an exercise in futility, requires that one grasp the bottom of a shortened  telegraph pole in cupped hands and lift it, perpendicularly, until the bottom thereof rests comfortably adjacent the male reproductive organs and the upper part balances against a collar bone of choice.

 One then begins a running - tottering, stagger towards the launch line. At this line, the cupped hands heave upward, in concert with the upper body and the Caber is tossed upwardly forward on a vertical somersault axis.

The desired outcome being that the Caber completes a full somersault and lands perfectly straight ahead at 90 degrees to the launch line.

 Wild applause follows for no apparent reason!

The danger inherent in this exercise is that the speed of the caber's forward fall nearly always exceeds that of its upward thrust - particularly when performed by an inexperienced Tosser!

This can result in the top end of the caber, jagging into the ground, directly in front of an incomplete tottering stagger, causing a collision with the tossers private parts!

To avoid this eventuality, the better exponents of the sport, wear a Jock Strap - a padded piece of underwear designed to protect private parts.

(Strong anecdotal evidence, however, reveals the Jock Strap as a totally useless intervention which would find more productive use as a boiling sock for steamed puddings and blood sausages... which indeed it does in the winter months!)

 It is difficult to draw a comparison between the tottering stagger of a classic caber launch and loping athleticism as portrayed in that inspired film - Chariots of Fire.

Tossing a caber matches itself admirably to the wail of the pipes and the deep base of a long, strong, whisky fuelled, haggis powered fart!

It requires this wild cacophony of sound that swirls through both heather and glen to ignite the fervent passion required for success amongst its devotees. One simply cannot imagine the gentle strains of a quintet of violins being sufficient enough to drive rugged men in kilts to hurl tree trunks into the air in deadly earnest.

Having been invited by Vosloo-Murray to watch him in action at the recent Highland Games held in the Colony, I was suddenly struck by the fact that had the British brought caber's instead of rifles to fight the Anglo Boer War - we, the Boers, might have adopted a more sporting approach to the War and in record time!

The sight of a Caber of Tossers* throwing down the gauntlet to a Boer Kommando would have seen Ladysmith relieved by mutual agreement and both groups adjourning to contest a series of Caber Tossing Test Matches at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg.

There is little doubt that we would have roundly thrashed them and in doing so would have been able to send them, under guard, by forced march to Mafeking and Baden-Powell.

Baden-Powell, faced with the sight of  Boers on horseback, twirling cabers above their heads, as they escorted 'Bullers Finest' in further retreat, this time toward a Mafeking under seige, would have surrendered AND chosen a life of permanent exile on St Helena!  

Ja Nee Oom Schalk – names from history such as  Pine Pienaar, ‘The One Man Forest Feller from Knysna’ and Diktak* Taljaard Snr, who used to use the 'disselboom' from an ox wagon as a javelin at local athletic meetings would have instilled great fear in Her Majesty's finest, had they brought cabers in the place of  rifles!

(Can you imagine, Oom Schalk, Bakkies Botha* and Bismarck Du Plessis* with cabers at full pace... well fortified with Klipdrift! - 'The Charge of The Heavy Brigade' perhaps?)

Ja Nee Oom Schalk... particularly if fortified with Klipdrift!!

I remain,
Die Uwe,
Spyker Koekemoer

* Caber of Tossers - Authors name for a group of men who Toss the Caber - A Scottish pastime.
* The English translation of the word 'Diktak' is - Thick Branch
* Disselboom -
* Bakkies Botha and Bismarck Du Plessis - Springbok Rugby Players





Saturday, November 2, 2013

Karoo Drome - Ek en Jy..!
Ek droom oor die Karoo 
haar vlaktes wat le
tussen ... Me and You.

Lang streep paaie, van liefde - wat niks se, asook baie...

Wat afgebaken is met heinings
... en ‘n nou en dan hek...
waar ons gevoelens so mekaar –
af en toe - ontmoet  het...

vir ‘n soentjie... oopbek < >

En dan weer die stilte
terwyl ‘n vol maan
die lig in jou oe na myne weerkaats het

in 'n Morse Kode vol liefde.

Ek bly student van jou lewensles
Wat U gereel het in Victoria Wes...

Waar U vir my waarheid leer teel het
In verhoudings charade's
by 'n Steak House genoem Merino.

Ek droom nog oor die Karoo
en dae verby...
Ja Nee - Karoo drome vol Ek en Jy!
Copyright owned by Patrick E Smythe.


'n Brief ter nagedate

Beste Oom Schalk,

 Sakdoek...  is dood Oom Schalk!

 Ja Nee, laas Donderdag aand, by die Ski Boot Klub. Hy was besig met ‘n tuisgemaakte Kaptein Morgan en Coke... diep in ‘n gesprek wat omsingel was, deur ‘n groot glimlag...

 Dit was nog vroeg – daar was nog dop in die bottel en geld op die toonbank... Ja Nee! ... ver te vroeg, om eers te probeer verstaan, dat so ‘n karakter soos ‘n kers uitgeblus word voor ‘n man se oe!

 Hulle se dis die pyn wat jou doodmaak by ‘n hart aanval. Hulle se dis so erg dat jou sisteem, hom sommer self afswitch, om die pyn te vermy. Hulle se, as dit ‘n grote is, moet die hospitaal naby staan anders waai Meraai sommer ‘goobaai’!

Die manne het gejaag met hom Oom Schalk... maar die hospitaal hy was ver en die pyn, hy was erg...

 Meraai het gewaai... en die stof om hulle voete was nat met die trane

 Ek sal Vrydag ‘n dop vir Sakdoek skink!

Hy was altyd ‘n man vir ‘n lang glas, met‘n tuisgemaakte trippel binne! Baie ys en ‘proper Coke’, soos die Engelse se!

Nie ‘Diet’ of ‘Zero’ - maar proper Coke, soos ‘proper Petrol’ – 98 Oktaan!

 Ek sal ‘n proper dop vir Sakdoek skink – want so ‘n man, vol egte vriendskap en liefde vir sy familie, loop min verby!

Ek sal hom ook drink – want jy mors nie ‘n tuisgemaakte trippel Kaptein Morgan en proper Coke in ‘n lang glas met baie uys wat jy geskink het ter nagedate van so ‘n man...

 Ek weet Oom Schalk sal mooi verstaan!

 Ek bly, die uwe,

Spyker Koekemoer


Sunday, August 18, 2013

With Rhubarb rampant on a bed of Butternut pumpkin - Lettuce pray!

Dear Oom Schalk,

A highly regarded farm school, here in the Colony, was recently used as the Set for the shooting of a film called - 'Spud' -  based on  the blockbuster novel of the same name, which was a ripping read and a best seller worldwide!
*Spud - Slang for Potato

Soon after the release of the film - the 'lead Potato' in the cast, came out of the dormitory cupboard and publicly declared himself as gay.

This sent local rumour mills into overdrive and they are now hot with whispers that three Butternut pumpkins are going to come out of the vegetable garden at the school and publicly reveal their own sexual preferences.

A source, with close connections to the schools' Highland  Games &   Dancing Club, tells me that following this rumour, there has been an oversubscription of entrants for the dancing classes – particularly the Gay Gordons - and I have heard separate, very discreet intimations, of a spike of interest in how to Toss the Caber!
Ja Nee Oom Schalk - It came as quite a shock! The Butternuts evidently felt that they were not held in the same esteem that they were accustomed to and that their position was no longer certain in the meat and two veg order of things. They felt that they had become a little bland, a tad
unexciting... and were no longer perceived as the 'go to' food choice  they once were! 

They decided that a sexual preference confession was what was needed to knock the Pattypans and the Mediterranean Vegetable Mafia from the top of the pile... it certainly brought about a chain reaction that brought forward some strange outcomes.

Dubbel-Dop van Niekerk used the opportunity to declare that he found the subject far too confusing and would confine himself to speed-drinking Klipdrift at the Boesmanland Pub and Grill until this declaration of sexual preference nonsense was declared an illegal gathering.

I personally think, that if indeed, an illegal gathering declaration is made,  Dubbel-Dop will immediately appeal it's validity in the Constitutional Court - He is not one to drift too far from a path well travelled to a Pub well seated. 


Spyker Koekemoer

Monday, December 10, 2012

Of Pirates Politics and Shower Head Tales
 Dear Oom Schalk,

There is now more than a passing belief that we taxpayers and voters, can finally look forward to a vibrant political summer in South Africa. The truths that we have long felt were hidden from us, are finally finding release, from their incarceration within the cold heart of political apathy.

This was due to the persuasive insistence of the public voice of a South African Spring. A voice that reminded our corrupted Government of Winter that it requires only the weight of one final snowflake to topple the mightiest Oak. (South Africans should read the last word as Oke)

 '... and so it came to pass Oom Schalk –  that just days before it's Electoral Conference in Manguang, the ANC lost the by- election in their Presidents home town of Nkandla - an event that heralded the Inkatha Freedom Party's return to power in that Town Council!!

Political pawns reviewed their positions and security. Kingmakers checked their erstwhile mates and slates, as ‘en passant’ became the move of choice on the chess board of politics. Cries of “Viva Mangosuthu"- echoed through the corridors of power...!  

The SABC were hoisted on their own petard! They could not report that the IFP victory would ‘compound’ the problematic issues facing the President in his bid for a second term. The had themselves banned the word 'compound' from their vocabluary - but they sure as hell know, deep down, that if you can't win a by-election, in your own home town, after spending R238,000,000 keeping the neighbourhood happy – "Man... you are deep in the ... guang!”

Upon hearing this news – Anant Singh, fresh from writing his Estate Agents Board Exams, announced a new movie, to be shot at Anant Command Studios opposite the Pirate Lifesaving Club. "The Big 'Z' will star in the leading role", he said as he outlined the detail on Radio Lotus!
Picture the scene Oom Schalk! - The Movie Set will be an exact replica of the Nkandla Estate - (After shooting the movie the idea is to convert the Set into an Afro-Disney Theme Park and sell it back to the eThekwini Municipality, who, rumour has it, have already taken an option and lodged a deposit.) 
...The Big 'Z' walks from the underground bunker onto his new veranda overlooking the security vehicles that surround the Compound... That old Top Gun, Mangosuthu B, is lying, right, left and centre stage, on a recliner, taking in the views of the Helipad as he celebrates the upward spiral of IFP resurgence... as that scene fades... up comes the title of the movie... ‘There is another Zulu on my Stoep!!’...
Leon Schuster, chewing some biltong, immediately launches a paternity suit and threatens to release details of his DNA to prove that he is, was and will always be the only Zulu on his Stoep!
Julius Malema, in an attempt to raise bail and needing a new cause for his beret, lodges a land claim on the Stoep... in the hope of finally getting ahead... that fits his beret!
The Land Claims Court Commissioners immediately apply for voluntary  liquidation - they have failed in the past trying to bury Julius and are not allowed to praise him!
Spyker Koekemoer then gives a twittered remix of an old Sinatra number the  end of which will herald Interval, complete with curried popcorn and  Cooee mindrals...

To the tune of Chicago – Chicago: Made famous by the late Frank Sinatra. Written brilliantly by John Baldwin Gourley: With Alternative, Irreverent lyrics by Spyker Koekemoer and the Spray and Cook Political Band we present -  
Nkandla Zumakandla
In Nkandla, Zumakandla, I built a compound.
Where that thriller called GodZille tried to push me around – She blew it...
She bet her bottom dollar she could shuffle her shoes in my
compound ,in Nkandla.
but my good people simply shut her down.

In Nkandla, we borrow the taxes, while the poor people drown.
to build things you can’t bond in any normal town.  
We  then phone a few friends who got money to lend
We say - deposit my bru – there is a tender to bend.
In Nkandla, that my horse-one horse town...

Then Nkandla, Nkandla, held a by-election.
and as the ANC, I thought we’d be, the only game in town – We blew it... 
I bet my Johnny Blue that the ‘Zoom’ wouldn’t lose Nkandla,
But the IFP they turned me upside down

Now the Main street they call it Straight Street, ‘cos the Govt won’t pay...
And if Manguang leaves me in the dwang in any other way.
I won’t be having the time, the time of my life.
‘cos’I’ll be having to dance with all five of my wives.
In Nkandla, Nkandla - A National Keypoint, IFP run Town.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Win or Lose - It's Cohen my way...!

Dear Oom Schalk,

The joy of living the 'sporting life', is that one comes across many interesting characters that quite innocuously leave an impression on one, that lingers like a fine red wine... and, improves with age! 
Harry Cohen is one such character!
I have decided that the stories that surround this man should not simply cease to exist, in the depth's of a grave in a Jewish Cemetery - particularly as he is still alive - but that they should continue to resonate, ever gentle, if not precariously, within the threads that form the fabric of Durban folklore, like Matzos with no sell by date! 

I first met Harry Cohen at the Palm Beach Hotel, a block back from Durban's 'Golden Mile', in Gillespie Street. I called him 'Mr. Cohen' in those days - I was young, polite and respectful - He was a successful hotelier with a hint of shade that coloured his reputation!

It was his nose that kept me polite and respectful. That it was Jewish in its origins went without saying - that its introduction to the art of boxing had done its shape no favours, was equally self evident - it was, however, the unspoken understanding that he held no fear of it incurring further re-shaping that guided my demeanour of polite respect, whilst slaking my thirst in his establishment from time to time.

Harry was known as a 'sharp operator' and his nose could smell a deal better than a pointer dog reading the wind. He kept the company of people whom he describes as "useful"... - an innocent spectator might describe some members of the company he kept, as colourful characters who foraged in the fields of opportunity without caring too much about whose fields they were.
Those who know Harry might say that he could open a door and invite opportunity in before it had the chance to knock!

It is fair to say the the Police knew Harry; it is equally fair to say,however, that Harry new the Law and useful Policemen and this arrangement served him very well when plotting a coup that needed a precise measurement of the boundaries of legality and the influence of 'useful friends' when the same  boundaries were, per chance, exceeded...

This is a collection of reflections that allows the reader to look back over the life and times of  'a boytjie from Durban' who had a passion for Hotels, Night Clubs, Horse Racing, Gambling and Boxing.

It is a 'show and tell' DIY manual on how to pull a con job and/or how to fix a fight! It tells of  strippers and jazz joints during the time of Apartheid, when people of colour were detained for the simple act of entertaining white folk - it explains the importance of having speedy access to bail money and Judges who will take a late night call!

Oi Vey, I nearly forgot the sex part - 'sell the sizzle' - don't you know!

Over lunch the other day I asked him about the Stripper, Glenda Kemp. His eyes told a story that his lips had trouble with... "She was a magnificent dancer and a lady in every respect! When she danced with Oupa, her pet python, I realised how inadequate I might feel...", he said, and went as quiet as the Negev Desert whilst rolling the Scotch around his glass.

I was going to include a section on the many that came to Harry's door in need of help and who were never turned away - the 'battlers' who were fed from the hotel's lunch time leftovers and the down on their luck prostitutes who needed school shoes for their kids - but hey! - why ruin the story of a  tough guy and show him up as a 'softie' who could give a Master Class on kindness and preserving friendship.

There will be some who find themselves recognising characters described in this collection of reflections - some of the names are real, some disguised. A lot of them have 'passed on' but remain remembered by Harry as wonderful friends!

The Old Durban Jewish family's and characters are dying and 'the times they are a'changing'... I put his words into sentences and attempt to capture the meaning in the moments, in an effort to preserve the memories. I will publish these stories on my other Blog -  Cohen my way! -
I do hope you enjoy the stories that will follow in the coming weeks! I feel sure that they will rekindle a few memories of your own, of 'Marico moments' yet to be told...

I remain,
Die Uwe

Spyker Koekemoer


Sunday, June 24, 2012

LETTERS TO OOM SCHALK - A War in the City of Roses?

Dear Oom Schalk,

The City of Manguang will, in the not too distant future, be hosting the African National Congress, who will be holding their Elective National Conference.

Manguang aka Bloemfontein, is, as Oom Schalk well knows, also known as the City of Roses and it dawned on me as the Sun popped its head over the horizon this morning -  that this blooming nom de plume could well be transplanted, temporarily, during December, to allow for a nom de plume, more suited to the occasion and the Party - The City of  Posers ... for govern they can't!

I must, at this juncture, assure you, Oom Schalk, and the good people of Bloemfontein that I mean no disrespect to their wonderful city. I use this descriptive name change in the literary sense only...

It is perhaps ironic, however, that 'Bloem' is also, in rugby terms,  known as the home of the Cheetah's, and, whilst I was tempted to play with the obvious 'double entendre' in the same context, I was mindful of the fact that I support the Sharks and might lose the tender support of  those near, dear and useful to me!

It could be said, that the conference is shaping up to be a replay of the 'War of the Roses' - pardon the pun, but when one gets on a roll it becomes difficult to slow down! There will certainly be more bric-bats than bouquets launched at the current Leadership.

The original War of the Rose's, was fought along religious lines between members of two Royal Families in England, the Tudor's and the York's, during the years 1455 and 1485 - It was eventually resolved when Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York and re-united the two families and England.

The Manguaung version will be between members of the ANC family, but fought along political lines. The process will be similar, much toyi-toying and mayhem whilst the populace and the country suffer. I can only hope that resolution of  the matter does not involve a further marriage... imagine, Oom Schalk, Zuma with another wife! Eisch... Spear the thought!

The Conference will follow well established lines, some might call them 'party' lines. There will be many cries of 'Amandla' and 'Viva, Viva ANC. There will be rhetoric and impassioned pleas for service delivery to the poor, as well as announcements of important new directions that the Party will follow, and, must follow to ensure that there is no delay in the serving of lunch.... Viva Viva Kentucky!

By all accounts, the 'Big Fellah' is going to have to prove that he can swim against the current. 'There is a tide in the affairs of men...', said Shakespeare and methinks, that despite the many protestations of loyalty proffered by some of  his seemingly loyal lieutenants, there are some who perhaps, 'protesteth too much'.

'Uneasy lies the head that wears a Crown', is another quote, that could find The Spear shaking... but I have little doubt that he will rise to the occasion and get the crowd right behind him with a stirring version "Awulethu Umshini Wami... Umshini Wam... Umshini Wam!

If he fails - he might find his opponents, in particular, the youth, responding in Afrikaans with an equally rousing excerpt from that Kurt Darren 'Hit' - Loslappie... 'En as 'n Bokkie hier vanaand by hom wil le - sy kan maar le - want hy's 'n loslappie...'

Ja Nee, Oom Schalk - Does a crown of thorns await the Victor in the City of Rose's?

I remain,
Die Uwe,
Spyker Koekemoer