Friday, March 22, 2013

Trade Fair

I woke this morning to a glorious sunny day with the birds singing outside my window. This morning reminded me of life as a teenager back in Bulawayo, Rhodesia and in particular 37 Spreckley Road North End... our home. Those teen years were wonderful, were they not?

It was 1974, I was on leave from the army about halfway through my National Service (which BTW I think is great for all our youth, teaches self discipline and real life skills amongst other things) and the Trade Fair was on again. Bulawayo had an international trade fair every year and grounds well set aside specifically for all of the exhibitors. The venue was located on Hillside Road and bounded by 15th Avenue and Borrow Street to the West, Centenary Park to the North and the Speedway Track on the East.

Anyway I'm probably in this reminiscent mood today because I finished an illustration (composite from photographs and hand sketches) of my parents yesterday while taking medication for a uniquely African illness called 'Bilharzia' a flat worm like blood parasite which can only be contracted from direct exposure to infected and untreated fresh water  such as rivers, lakes or dams. Thinking of Africa of course always invokes memories of the good times and of family and friends. 

Today was one of these days, with the breaking dawn streaming a slivered shaft of golden light through my open window and the sparrows chirping so gaily. Their shadows danced along the shaft of light where it made the golden glow of the cedar bookshelves reflect in flashes of colour around the room. A glorious morning and I was transported back in time to an Autumn Saturday at age 18. I remember laying in bed till well after 8 am just watching the shadows of the sparrows dancing in the shaft of light reflecting off the mahogany bookshelves, as I listened to the singing sparrows. Enjoying the fact that I could lay in for a change. I would surprise my girlfriend Shirley before taking her for Brunch at the La' Gondola Restaurant - little did I know that it was I who would be getting the surprise as I discovered that I was playing second fiddle. Poor Shirley, lost the love of her life that day as I wasn't the only one surprised.

It was a Saturday, I was on pass from the army, just lost the girlfriend and the Trade Fair was on, of course I went home in my VW Purple Morris 500 station wagon and cried to mama. I probably would never have admitted this till today, would've spoilt my image as a macho man.

Mom asked me to take her to the Trade Fair, I guess to take my mind off Shirley and I agreed, I must say we had an absolute ball in Luna Park. My Mom loved the thrill of the rides, the scarier the better... hell she used to get me to take her for rides on my motorcycles and nothing was scarier than that! I wrote off three of the things, was on a first name basis with hospital emergency staff as I couldn't go six months without busting myself up.

Whilst we were waiting in line for one of the rides at Luna Park who should come along but a bunch of the fella's that I was serving with ("Oh no!", there goes the macho image I thought - bugger!) I hoped that they wouldn't recognise me out of uniform... no such luck, they spotted me instantly. "Hey! Platypus ( a term of endearment - NOT!) gonna introduce us to your bird", says Tom. "She's better looking than your last one" John quips. More banter as half a dozen guys try to crack onto my Mom while they all think she is my new squeeze. When the guys moved on my Mom gave my arm (which she had been hanging onto all evening) a squeeze with delight as she said, "Thanks for not telling them I'm your mother - it makes me feel wonderfully young again". That night I realised that my Mother was a very attractive lady and my Dad was a very lucky fellow. It would be several months before the truth came out as I invited these same fellows to a party at our house for a bit of R & R.

What a great Saturday that turned out to be!


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