Saturday, December 10, 2011


Dear Oom Schalk,

The rainy season can be very trying indeed - getting a plough into the lands can become a muddy exercise in futility, best resolved by an honourable retreat to the armchair on the stoep!
I remember my Father having a very apt turn of phrase for most things needing description - on rainy days when ploughing became impossible -  he would say, ..."there will be days like this, Son". "Days when you will be drinking early...!"

It was on such a downpour of a day recently, that I took his words to heart and sought solace in the arms of 'Mother Brandy', whom I found waiting on the stoep, in the exact position that I had left her the previous evening.
Ja Nee Oom Schalk, good coffee suitably reinforced with brandy and fresh rusks for dunking therein, is a wonderful breakfast on a cold, wet and miserable morning and my spirits were soon lifted.

With the prospect of outdoor chores remaining incomplete and not wishing to disturb the slumber of the unpaid accounts and letters of demand that lay sprawled across my desk, I took a deep slurp of coffee and gave thought to the letter I had recently received from a dear friend, Piet Professor from Durban.

Now,Piet Professor is not his real name, Oom Schalk, but were the good Professor ever to take up residence in our village, it is is a name that would suit the needs of  the inhabitants rather well as we have a surfeit of men called Piet in the community, all of whom regularly gather for a drink in our local pub

To avoid the obvious confusion that this can bring to conversations infused with bottled conviviality, we have given them name attachments, to simplify identification, one from the other. For example - one of them works in the local Post Office and is known as Piet Postman - the others are Piet Policeman, Piet Panelbeater, Piet Pork, the Butcher, Piet Poep, the Plumber and Piet Lorrie's, the Cartage Contractor!

This 'Pot Pourri' of Piet's have, between them Oom Schalk, a remarkable breadth of vocabulary and worldly insight that embellishes the descriptive moniker's we locals attach to their name. So much so Oom Schalk, that when I received the note from my dear friend, Piet Professor, I was stirred to immediately action the opportunity contained therein on their behalf!

Piet Professor, a learned scholar of immense artistic proportion, announced in his letter, news of a
competition to be held in the Colony to decide the best entry in a '100 Word Story Writing Challenge'. The rule's that guide the entire matter are, - that it must be a story of exactly 100 words in length, no more, no less (excluding the Title and the name of the author), and, be complete in itself.
The winning entry along with a selection of the next best will be read at a public performance on the evening of the Summer Solstice 2012, and, as an added incentive, the top 50 entries will be published in a Book scheduled for a Spring release!

Now Piet Professor, Oom Schalk, is a silver tongued devil, with a wonderful voice that resonates, even from the written page! When I read his letter to the plethora of Piet's that preside our precinct, it was as if he was speaking to them directly; - To a man they accepted his challenge and are currently furiously reducing  the size of pencils as they craft and re-craft their entries!

With the certain knowledge that Piet Professor would like the net for entries to be cast as widely as possible and knowing the Marico to have a treasure trove of stories, I wondered whether I could  prevail upon Oom Schalk to accept the challenge and submit an entry of his own... or two, and, persuade Oom Schalk, to encourage Oom's wide circle of friends to follow suit?

I append below an entry that I will be submitting. Oom Schalk can use this as an example to guide the process of creation.


February the 29th heralded a leap of faith for Mr and Mrs Book.

Mother Book was about to give birth to a little 100 word story that they both hoped would grow into a strapping lad of novel proportion.

They had decided against Cesarean section – it would spoil the look of the book they were trying to reproduce.

Self publishing was their choice – they were, after all, from a long line of Book’s and knew the ropes – or so they thought!

When the midwife finally pressed print, the end arrived without the beginning – they cried as they sadly pressed, Delete.

Whilst I understand Oom Schalk, that a mere 100 words is hardly sufficient to cover the full extent of a hearty greeting in the Marico, I am quietly confident that a challenge such as this will be met with a proud response from those independent minds that reside beyond the Dwarsberge.
It is after all, a challenge post marked from a Colony of The Crown...!

Entries can be submitted via electronic mail to

I remain,
Die Uwe
Spyker Koekemoer

Pat Smythe. 12 November 2011. Copyright Reserved.

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