Wednesday, 19 February 2020


Clouds pass 

Jeremy was still waiting. He had been told to stand outside and not come inside until Derrick arrived. So he stood and waited. He got bored so he looked up at the sky and watched the clouds passing over the gap that was cut off by the high buildings.
Loveday street Johannesburg in the middle of the day was always a source of fascination, particularly for someone like Jeremy.
When he wasn’t looking at the clouds he watched the old men hobbling by. There were the suited executives strutting past as if every minute counted. The young woman strolling by on a shop until you drop doll.
There were the poor in their shabby clothes walking warily and slowly.
In All that time Derrick never came. Then the boss arrived "Jeremy what the hell are you doing here? "
"I am waiting for Derrick sir."
"And who the hell is Derrick? “
“I don't know sir. I was just told to wait for him"
Jeremy followed the boss into the building upstairs
The boss set him to work on at the shredding machine, and then gathered the staff around. 
"The point of having the mentally challenged in our office environment is to give them an opportunity they wouldn't normally have. They are not here to be made a fool of.
If I find Jeremy set on a pointless task one more time heads will roll do you understand?
The staff went back to work heads bowed. 
Derrick never came he told them.

Friday, 13 October 2017



I was travelling along a dirt track when I came across an abandoned car with two wheels in a ditch. The passenger door and one of the rear doors were wide open
I remembered all  my security training and looked around, wary that this might be an ambush. I stopped the car further down the road and got out. I stood outside leaning against the chassis for a while, my eyes darting about for any movement.  I then paced towards the vehicle.  
On inspection, I noticed the keys were still in the ignition. The key tag suggested that the driver is a woman.  Everything in the car seemed to be normal, no slashed seats, no blood stains, no broken glass. I walked around the exterior of the vehicle looking for any signs of breakage.  Once again everything seemed to be in order.  No punctured tyres, no accident damage, not even a scratch.  I was about to walk around the vehicle a second time when I heard a whimpering sound. 
Startled, I looked around once again wary that this might be an ambush.  I saw no one.  Then attempted to discern where the whimpering was coming from.   The sound bites led me to the boot of the car.  I opened the boot. 
The first thing I saw was were a pair of pink panties below were a slender pair of legs. The skirt appeared to have  flapped up concealing the top part of a body.  I took hold of the edge of the skirt and covered the lower part of her body.  I was apprehensive as to what I might see.  Below the skirt I saw in a tear stained face, a pair of deep brown eyes that were filled with terror.  I extended a hand. "Let me help you out."
"Don't you dare touch me." she screamed.
I stood back, raised my empty hands in the air. "I am your friend, I have no wish to harm you. Whoever did this to you is long since gone.  Come, get out of the car."
She looked at me for a long time with those fear filled eyes, and then sat up and climbed out of the car.  All the time she kept me covered with her wary eyes.
"I was driving past.  I saw this car on the side of the road and I stopped to see if there was anyone who wanted help. That is how I found you.  What is your name?"
"Sandra" she replied.
"Now Sandra  tell me what happened."
I noticed she had a pale strip on her finger where a wedding ring had been. She looked around.  I assumed that there was more than one perpetrator, and I thought she was assuring herself that they were no longer around.
"I was getting into my car at the office car park." she said, "I didn't see them coming.  Suddenly someone put something over my head and I couldn't see.  I felt them snatch the car keys out of my hand, take my hand bag, and the wedding ring off my finger.  Two of them then picked me up and placed me in the boot of the car, one of them held a bit of cold steel against my head and said 'If I hear you even squeak, I'll blow your fucking brains out Okay?'"
She looked like someone who wasn't using that kind of language and pronounced the word with hesitation.  She looked at me for a response. I could see was struggling to control her emotions.  I waited for her to collect herself and then she continued.  "They drove off and after a while the car stopped  somewhere.  I heard them all get out.  There was shouting, and gunshots, and cries of protest, then they got into the car and sped off again. "
"It sound like they needed your car for a robbery." I commented.
She nodded he head .
"After that I heard them discussing how much money they had stolen.  All the time I was being jolted around while the car seemed to be taking a number of sharp corners.  Then one of them shouted There's Chalkie. I'm not sure it may have been Charlie , or Chummy.  The car stopped with a jolt and they all got out."
She then broke down into sobs.  I wanted to reach out and give her a hug , but I remembered she had told me not to touch her. 
"One of them said Go and waste the bitch." She howled some more, collected herself and then continued.  "Another replied We don't have the time, anyway she has seen fuck all."
"That must have been awful." I said. Then I set about calling the police.  Fortunately she had memorised her husband's phone number and I called him too.  Having been alerted by the robbery victim, the police had been in the area looking for the robbers, consequently they arrived soon after my call.
I also called Craig her husband.  I told him what had happened to his wife, gave him our location, and then handed the phone over to Rushdeya so she could speak to him.   Craig was far away and had to contend with traffic, nevertheless as he arrived the police were still taking a statement from Rushdeya. 
"Is there so little you can tell us about your assailants." the policeman asked in a tone of exasperation.
"They put a beanie over my eyes.  That was the first contact I had with them." Rushdeya insisted. "They were silent on the way to wherever they committed the robbery, and all they talked about afterwards was how much money they had taken. "
"Did you hear what accents they spoke with, at least we can determine their ethnic identity."
"No I was not able to discern their ethnic identity.  I think they spoke English."
"Did they mention anyone's name?"
"When they arrived at this spot they recognised someone called Charlie, or Chalkie, or Chummy.  They must have driven off in a vehicle brought by that person."
Just then Craig stepped out of his car, and Rushdeya ran off towards him, leaving the policeman rolling his eyes.
"Baby, baby what happened to you?" Craig called out "Are you alright?"  The two of them held each other tightly.  I heard her once again repeat the sequence of events which had taken her up to where he found her.  However in this account she added an additional detail.  She came to the part where I had opened the boot  and told her husband "He looked at me."
Craig eyed me with suspicion. 
"Are you the person who called me on the phone?" he asked.
"Yes" I replied.  I had been anticipating a torrent of gratitude from him but now I felt as if he was regarding me as a pervert who had encountered his wife in a vulnerable position and had taken advantage of the situation to peek under her skirt.
"What exactly happened?" he demanded.
"I arrived at the scene apparently sometime after the robbers had left.  After I had parked my car over there,  I looked over the car to try and discern what had happened.  When I heard your wife whimpering in the boot.  I opened the boot  and I saw her lying there.  Her skirt had been swept up over the upper part of her body , I took the skirt, covered the lower part of her body  with it, and offered to help her to get out of the car.  When she told me not to touch her I stood back and she climbed out of the vehicle herself."
"Is that correct?" he asked his wife.
She nodded.
I was relieved.  I hoped that would be the end of the matter but I felt that Craig seemed not to be satisfied.
"Can I finish taking the statement please?" the police man insisted. "We have a bank manager and bank teller in hospital with gunshot injuries and a dead security guard.  We need to apprehend these people as soon as possible."
I noticed Rushdeya shudder when the policeman mentioned the dead security guard.  I wondered if she had been thinking about the 'waste the bitch' comment.  I wish that the point could have gotten across to her husband that she could have suffered a far worse fate than a strange man looking at her panties.
The police concluded the taking down of Rushdeya's statement.  They asked to tow her car to the police station as they needed to collect forensic evidence.   They then turned to me and asked for more details of my involvement. 
"I had come from a board meeting."  I began
"What board meeting how many people were at the board meeting."
I was grateful for the fact that I had come from a board meeting. There were five fellow directors present who could verify where I was at the time of the robbery.  The road was on my way home so my appearance at the scene of the crime did not lack credibility. 
"I want you to visit the police station tomorrow and give us your  finger prints." the policeman asked.
"I don't think I touched anything on the car excepting the latch to open the boot, nevertheless I will  give you my finger prints."
Craig approached me again. "I must apologise for being a bit abrupt just now. I want to say thank you for saving my wife.  You stopped,  assessed the situation, called the police and called me. I am very grateful."
I shook hands with him, "Glad to be of help, I can only hope someone does the same for my wife were she to land in the same situation."
Rushdeya watched us two men shaking hands.  That seemed to trigger something within her mind. She collapsed into tears, and started to howl loudly. It was as if the full impact of the trauma had finally kicked in.   Her husband rushed to her side, picked her up and wrapped his arms around her once again.
"it's alright baby. it's over. it's all over. The police are going to find these men and lock them away forever. It will never happen again. You are safe now."
"But.. But.." she sobbed as she pointed at me. "He looked at me.  No one besides you has ever done that.  He looked at me."
The police tow truck had arrived, the police were packing up. I felt that I didn't want to be involved any further.  I shrugged, walked towards, my car, got inside, started the engine, and left.
At home that night, my wife must have found me to be unusually silent. She served the supper and we were joined at the table by my ten year old son.  Once we had commenced eating I related the events of the afternoon to my wife and son, leaving out the bit about the woman's appearance when I first found her in the vehicle,  and her husband's response.
"Oh wow. My daddy is a hero. He saved a lady who had been caught by robbers." said my son.  I was touched at the way he gleamed with pride.
Later that night when we had got into bed I filled my wife in with the details I had left out.
"I don't understand it." I said, "It was not as if she was naked.  Her private parts were covered for heaven sake.  If I had met her on the beach and she was wearing a bikini, I would have seen the same."
 "It is difficult thing  being a woman." my wife commented.  "In situations like that you feel particularly vulnerable."
I accepted my wife's testimony without further comment.  As I fell asleep that night I thought to myself,  I would never forget the sight of  that tearful woman, collapsed in her husband's arms, pointing her finger at me and stating. "He looked at me."


“Good morning class.”
“Good morning Mrs. Richards.” The boys chorused in a flat monotone.”
I have marked your creative writing essays, and have returned all of them to you. There are some that reached the required standard, others that were exceptional, and others whose authors irritated me immensely.”

There was a general mumbling from amongst the boys.

“The topic was Reality versus Potential and I am going to ask some of you to read what you have written.

Michael Barrett had mixed emotions. He was happy to have scored an A plus, particularly as he was open to the possibility of receiving a reprimand.

“Um let me see... Mr Nhlapo you go first read the opening paragraph.”

“Reality is the physical thing that we see before us.  A physical thing is defined as such by virtue of the fact that ,we perceive it with one of our five senses. Potential is an element contained in that physical reality, which although it  may not be perceived exists for a future physical reality. That it may not be perceived physically does not mean that it does not exist, on the contrary its existence is real. The question therefore arises `how may it be perceived?'”

“Thank you, Mr Nhlapo that will do. Class what do you think? Mr Chetty?”

“Ms Richards I think it is too wordy. What is he getting at anyway?”

“Mr Petersen?”

“Ms Richards, I thing the reality is verbiage, and the potential is gobbledegook.”

The boys in the class laughed in response.

“Mr Petersen you are wrong.  It is not potentially gobbledegook.  If you read the rest of Mr Nhlapo’s essay you would discover that he was laying the foundations for an argument.  Mr Petersen you’re next. Read until I tell you to stop.”

“The Porsche stands in the parking lot, its reality is the metal, paintwork, leather, shatter proof glass and rubber tyres. In fact it is a piece of tin with a wheel at each corner.  Its potential is a thrilling dash down the highway at two hundred kilometres per hour.”

“And a two hundred thousand rand speeding fine.”  Mr Nhlapo interjected.

“Boys, let me remind you not to heckle until I give you permission to speak. Comment on that opening paragraph.  Mr Stevenson.”

“Ma’am I think it’s fantastic.”

“Why do you say it’s fantastic, Mr Stevenson?”
“Well ma’am it’s something we can identify with. We would all like to be speeding down the highway in a Porsche.”

“Mr Barrett I want you to come to the front of the class and read your entire essay.”

“No Ms Richards, I would rather not.”

“Mr Barrett it is not for you to decide. Come to the front of the class and read your essay. That is an instruction.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes you have to.”

Barrett shuffled up to the front of the class cleared his throat and then began.

,”At the sound of a footfall Jake turned around.   Lesley was walking down the stairs.   Her radiant beauty took his breath away.   Her chestnut coloured hair cascaded down onto her bare shoulders below which the elegant evening gown starting just...”
At this stage he stopped and cleared his throat self consciously.
the elegant evening gown starting below the top of her little rounded breasts.”

The last comment resulted in a general commotion from the class.

“I am warning this class I will not tolerate these interjections. Continue Mr Barratt.”

“The elegant evening gown starting just below the top of her little rounded breasts flowed down to her dainty feet."Do I look Okay?" she asked a little self consciously.  "Wow " said  Jake breathlessly "You are so incredibly beautiful." She then smiled that radiant smile that made Jake’s heart leap.
Later that evening when they entered the ballroom, Jake conscious of the impression that all the men in the room turned to look at Lesley, swelled with pride.  When Lesley went up on stage to receive her prize for ground breaking research, Jake was almost unable to contain himself he felt so happy.

Later that night while Jake lay close to Lesley's soft warm body

There was another general commotion from the class.

“I am going to give you a bit of reality and, potential myself. This in reality is a pen in my hand and there in reality is a pad of detention slips under it. The next person to interject will get his name on one of them. Continue Mr Barratt and read you whole essay, do not leave any part out.”

“Later that night after passionate love making ....” he stopped reading anticipating a response from the class, in contrast there was only a stunned silence.

"Ma'am I don't mean to interject, but you have always told us to stick to real life experiences in our writing, this oke doesn’t even have a girlfriend.” Chetty said before Barrett could continue.

“Maybe a valid criticism but bear Mr Barratt out.”

"You are an idiot Chetty, that comment shows just how much you know about me."

Chetty shrugged his shoulders “I rest my case I rest my case.”

“Later that night after passionate love making Jake lay close to Lesley's soft warm naked body. I am a king, of all the world he thought.  Not only do I have as my wife
such an incredibly beautiful woman, but an incredibly brilliant one too.

,Jake’s daydreaming was interrupted at the sound of a footfall. He looked up.  I am right he thought she is incredibly beautiful.   Although her chestnut coloured hair was cut to school regulation length.   Her shoulders were not bare and on them
she wore the straps of her gym slip.   Her smile though, radiant also revealed the orthodontist handiwork Jake did not notice the stain on the skirt of thegym slip or the spot on her forehead that Lesley had been trying to hide. 

"Hi Lesley"" he said

"Hi"" she replied. 

"How was the Science exam?" Jake asked 

"The Physics section was tough, I don't think that I will make the hoped for 95 percent."  She replied. 

"I hope you do.”By the way, I wanted to ask you, Will you come with me to movies on Friday?  Exams will be over by then. My mom will come and fetch you and we will take you home again.

"I don't know"" she replied.  "I will have to ask my mom, she is very strict and doesn't like us going out at nights during term time, even on Friday nights."

,The Lesley with the gym slip, hair cut to regulation length, and the orthodontics, the Lesley who has to ask her mother's permission to go out even on Friday nights.   The Lesley who might not get another 95 percent in her science exam was the reality of Lesley.  The Lesley who was the adoring wife, and brilliant scientist admired by many was her potential.”

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Encounter on Connaught Avenue

"So you are not coming back with us tomorrow?" Brian asked.

"No, I have taken a day's leave and am taking a quick trip to Brighton."


"No. I am going to visit Thomas Brownjohn."

"Should I know who that is?"

"An art house movie director."

"Say no more. Say no more." Brian rolled his eyes. "See you back in the office on Monday."

"It's been a very productive business trip." I conceded

"Indeed it has." he said and left.

I was excited the following morning as I got into the train at Victoria Station headed for Brighton.  I had been introduced to Thomas Brownjohn by a friend who had been a literature student at varsity.  Initially I had been hesitant to go to one of his movies. I could not believe what I had seen. After that I was sold on his work and style. The intricate way in which he choreographed the facial expression of his actors was like no other film director seemed to be able to do.  One movie critic said, 'If you went to see a Brownjohn movie and turned the sound off you would still be able to follow the plot.' Another said, 'Brownjohn has photographed the soul.'

 The trip from Victoria station to Brighton took under an hour. I reviewed the questions I wanted to ask Thomas Brownjohn.  My mind wandered back to my days at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, to a conversation I had had with my then girlfriend, Karen and her best friend Barbie, in the student canteen

"Why do you go to see those Brownjohn movies, they are so depressing."  Karen asked.

"And do they make money?"  Barbie was a serious business management student.

"Ladies!" I replied, "We are talking about significant artistry.  Look at anyone of the characters in any one of his movies.  You can see their pain, their angst, their heartache, the opening up of their soul.  Do you think Walt Disney or Franco Zefferelli could come anywhere close?"

Karen rolled her eyes. "I go to movies to be entertained.  The only time I went to a Brownjohn movie, hell man I wanted to blow my brains out afterwards."

"Go ahead, do it. There aren't any brains there to blow out. So no damage."  Johan said as he passed our table.  Karen lobbed an empty cool drink can at him.

"It is all a question of the market." Barbie continued.  "Why make movies that don't sell. What is the point?  It's not cheap to shoot a movie, and if you are not going to attract an audience, who is going to pay for it?"

"Are you seriously saying art that doesn't sell should be destroyed?"

"Even artists need to eat." Barbie replied.

"What about future generations?"

"Can you collect money from them?"

"What do you think would happen if Michelangelo had smashed up his David because he couldn't get a good price for it?"

"All the Italian gays would be broken hearted. Their one source of porn lost forever." Johan passed our table again.  This time Barbie lobbed an empty cool drink can at him.

I loved those guys, and it broke my heart when we left university and our life paths took us in different directions.  Nevertheless, admiration for Thomas Brownjohn was a lonely business.  If there was a Brownjohn movie showing at one of the boutique cinemas, I always went alone.  Once I was the only person in the audience.

The train had arrived and I asked a taxi driver outside the Brighton station to take me to 25 Connaught Avenue.  I had tracked Thomas Brownjohn from his studio in London to his holiday home in Brighton.  Whoever answered the phone at his home told me he would be in all day and I was free to drop in any time.

The taxi driver dropped me right outside his house.  The door was answered by an elderly lady who spoke with such a broad Scots accent I couldn't understand what she was saying. Nevertheless I followed her into the house, until she pointed me to a room with a half open door.

There he sat at a desk writing on a large pad of paper.  He was a little different from how I had imagined him to be. The photographs I had of him were taken when he was a much younger man.   I was overcome with a sense of awe.  It felt like I was standing in the presence of God.  My mind raced over the various scenes from his movies.  I had flash backs to the discussions I had had with Majorie a Master's student. She had been writing her dissertation on art house movies.  She had given me most fascinating insights into Brownjohn's work.

There before me was the mind that had created all that art.  There were the hands that had directed where the actors should move and where the camera should shoot.  The apex of all my artistic thoughts and wanderings over so many years was right in front of me.

I knocked on the half open door, in response he looked up at me momentarily and continued writing.

"Good afternoon Mr Brownjohn.  I am George Oliver from South Africa. I arranged to come and see  you today.  I feel that it is a great pleasure and privilege to meet you at last.  I have been an admirer of your work ever since my student days."

He didn't look up, he merely carried on writing.

"I feel that you are destined for the crown of immortality.  When the razzmatazz  of the Walt Disney's and Steven Spielberg's of this world have died down, serious students of cinema will look back to the twentieth century, the first century of cinema, discover your work, and be amazed that such a monumental giant had arisen so early in the life of this art form. The unique way in which you direct your actors, ranks your movies way above the output of other directors."

I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.  I had completed my prepared speech.  Usually what happens is that I prepare a speech for an occasion like this, I either get flustered and forget my lines and leave important bits out, or I lose my nerve and don't deliver the speech. I just mutter a few clichĂ©s.  Or what often happens I get interrupted by protests of modesty "No! no! you are too kind. None of what you are saying is true."

I wished at for a third option, because he did not react at all.  He merely continued to write.  I looked around the room.  I was astonished to see no movie memorabilia on the walls.  Possibly the painting on the opposite wall resembled a scene from one of his movies.  I then thought maybe this is not his holiday home, but a holiday home.  One that he is renting, or one that he has borrowed from a friend. I looked at him.  He continued to write, ignoring me.

What do I do now?  I thought to myself.  Do I say good bye and leave? I hoped not, I had questions which I had wanted to ask him.  Do I start asking him, my questions?  Or do I just wait? A thought struck me.  He is an elderly man, like many elderly people he is probably losing his hearing. Maybe he never heard me. 

I took two paces into the room and started again in a louder voice. "Good Afternoon Mr Brownjohn, I am George Oliver from South Af....."   He waved his hand up and down motioning me to stop speaking.  So I concluded, he knows I am here, he has heard me, all I have to do is wait.

I watched him as he wrote. My eyes wandered around the room to see if I could pick up any clues to his illustrious career.  Eventually he put the pen down, but my relief was short lived.  He then read what he had written, and picked up his pen from time to time to make corrections. Eventually after what seemed like an eternity he put both pen and paper down and turned to me.

"Young man, do please forgive me my bad manners. I am a writer and I wished to put some inspirational thoughts down before they were lost forever from my memory."

"I understand that," I replied, "I am a writer too and I know what..."

Ignoring me he continued.  "I must confess that you have expressed yourself very powerfully, and have been most generous in your praise.  However many people make the mistake you have just made.  If you want Mr. Thomas Brownjohn to hear those lovely words, you are going to have to go to number 25 Connaught Avenue.  This is number 25a.


Anna had taken a few day's leave and had made all haste to Port Elizabeth.  As she drove along the road from the airport towards town many of her childhood memories started to flood back.  She turned up Cape Road which would take her to Newton Park. 

She pulled up outside the orphanage.  The old ramshackle building was still as she remembered it. On entering the building she was greeted by a woman in her mid forties. The woman called out to her.

"Dr Williams?"

"Yes Mrs  Vermaak?"

"Yes call me Melanie."


"Tell me Anna why did you wait so long? Most inmates inquire after their biological parents while they are still here."

Anna was a little taken aback at the term inmates but she assumed it was intended as humorous and  let it pass. "Adolescent rebellion. At the time I felt that my biological parents had dumped me in a home and disappeared, so if they didn't care about me why should I care about them."

"What changed your mind?"

"Maturity, and when I was working in Somalia in a children's hospital I was present when an orphan was reunited with his biological parents, and the joy of that occasion prompted me to reconsider my stance."

"Somalia?  You mean Somalia in North Africa?"


"What the hell were you doing there?"

"There was a hospital in need of my services and I agreed to go and work there,"

"Weren't there enough hospitals here crying out for your services.?"

Anna raised her hands in the air and said "It's a long story, let me not bore you with the details."

"As I said yours was a late request and after this time your file had gone off to archives. That's why it took so long to get back to you we were waiting for someone to recover it from archives"

"Uh huh so what does the file say?"

"Yours so I see was an interesting case."

"Oh yes?"

"You were a Section 16 baby."

"I remember hearing the term Section 16 whispered against my name but I have never followed it up.  What does it mean?"

"In the bad old days of apartheid there was a piece of legislation called the Immorality Act.  It dealt with things like prostitution, possession of pornography child sex etc. It also contained the notorious section sixteen.  That section made it illegal for a white person to have sex across the color line.  An Indian could have sex with a black person, but if a white person was involved in a sex act, then both parties would face prosecution and time in prison."

"So I suppose both my biological parents wanted the whole thing kept under wraps."

"Yes I remember many of the prosecutions under this section gained high media profile, with both sides in the argument publically expressing outrage."

"So my parents wanted my arrival kept a secret."

"That is correct. The father in particular had made it a condition that you never contact him."

Anna bowed her head and remained silent.

"Are you Okay?" Melanie inquired. "Can I get you anything?" Anna lookup she had tears rolling down her cheeks.

"That is very depressing, I suspected I might hear something like that, now that I hear it, it feels really bad."

"I feel very sad too.  I'm sorry I cannot give you better news."

"I suppose I should have been born after 1994."

"Not so. Section 16 was abolished during 1985 under the government of PW Botha.  He said that he was abolishing it for humanitarian reasons, but we suspect it was abolished as it had become impossible to police.   Just consider how does one police it? Does the policeman break in to someone's bedroom to see who they are sleeping with?'

"Damn I missed the deadline by three or probably two and a half years.  So this I suppose is a dead end for me."

"Hmm not necessarily.  I have a very good social worker and I will get her to approach the parents.  The father may be willing to change his stance particularly as there is no longer a possibility of prosecution. The mother may be a problem, from the point of view that it would be difficult to trace her .  I understand that no one knows where she is."

"You cannot tell me their names can you ?"

"At this stage no."

Anna and Melanie made arrangements for the involvement of the Social Worker, and then Anna asked if she could wander around the establishment for nostalgic reasons. She needed to be alone.  She surprised herself at how devastating the news had been . It was not entirely unexpected after all bit It resonated with the time Gregory had walked out on her.  Isn't there anyone in the world who loves me?  She looked up suddenly into two big brown eyes.

"Waarom huil jy Tannie?" "Auntie why are you crying." Anna reached out to the little child and hugged her tightly.  She replied in Afrikaans. "If you ever find anyone who loves you, don't ever let that person go. Understand?" She released the child,  The child nodded as if receiving an instruction and went back to play.


"I wish Edward Everett would shut up."  said Mary.

"Shush! don't be disrespectful." said her husband.

"He has been going on and on for almost two hours. The troops are falling over doesn't that tell him anything?"

"He is making some good points, I am glad he saying those things to the assembled company."

"Who cares?"

"Do you care?"

"What concerns me is that you are on next and by the time you get up to speak, everyone will be so fatigued no one will take any notice of what you have to say."

"I think I can handle that."

"You think you're so good you can get up and speak after this constant waffle waffle and still draw the audience's attention."

"Just watch me."

"What's your technique."



I have cut my speech down to ...let's see... one hundred and thirty seven words."

"You have to be more than the President to impress this worn out audience with a speech that short."

"I am going to knock their socks off."

"You'd better start knocking Edward Everlasting has finally shut up."

"I still have to be introduced.."

"Look the podium's empty."

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth ......"


"Quiet comrades quiet ."  Hannibal stood  feet apart his right arm outstretched. There were few amongst the assembled warriors who felt they owed him respect.  The majority doubted his judgment and a pocket of them were planning to mutineer.

"Comrades do you hear it? Do you hear the beat of history? Today September 11, we have done what no army has ever done before. We crossed the Alps.  Caesar awoke today in fear,  These mountains are his  barrier of safety and today we pieced that veil."


He paused waiting for the message to sink in.  He had the attention of some, others were muttering in discontent.


"Look at the enormity of this mountain.  I doubt if any army will attempt to cross it again.  Your names have been written in the annals of history, when Hannibal crossed the Alps."


"What about the fallen?  They who died unnecessarily without even having to  taste combat."    called out a heckler.


"I weep for the fallen. Comrades let us pause a moment to remember them."

Hannibal stood with his arms outstretched and his head bowed.  A spark of respect began to regenerate in the minds of some of the doubters.  Others nudged each other and jibed about Hannibal now playing the women's part, or play acting or being over dramatic to draw attention away from his bad judgment.


"We honour our comrades who have fallen.  Not fallen in battle but fallen in the effort of making this historic journey. Their precious blood has seeped out of their bodies and into the soil of this mountain.  The soil of this mountain had been fertilised with their blood and in this fertile soil we will plant the trees of glorious conquest.


There was a stunned silence, all stared at him. Then one soldiers started to chant "Hannibal Hannibal Hannibal Hannibal"   Then others joined in and soon the valley resounded with cheers Hannibal Hannibal Hannibal Hannibal.  Still there were those who stared at him in disbelief.


He held his hand up to call for silence.  "Comrades  there is a simple question.  Will the future be one of Roman masters and Carthaginian slaves, or Carthaginian masters and Roman slaves?  Will your wives and daughters be concubines to the Roman scum while you labour in their vineyards?  Or will the Roman wives and daughters by your concubines?"


"We will never submit to the Roman scum." shouted another heckler and many followed that with a loud cheer.


"There is a Roman garrison to the north, and another to the south. They are not aware that we have arrived in their citadel. That is our advantage and if we move swiftly we can be the masters of their city before those garrisons return to defend it."


The crowd roared with another loud cheer.


Hannibal lifted his fists in the air and cried "To Rome"


The crowd  responded "To Rome"


Hannibal fists still raised shouted "To Rome."


The crowd again responded "To Rome"


And as one body they marched on to conquest.