Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

(This is one of a series of articles I wrote dealing with memories of an African childhood. To read the first of these, click here)
It was early one morning, just outside Colesberg in Natal. The two young hitch-hikers had heard that the early bird gets the worm and so had made sure that they were on the road just as the sun came up. And they were not disappointed, for the very first car slowed as it approached.

Pete turned to his friend. "A Jag," he said, "Always wanted to ride in a Jag..."

The Jaguar pulled to a stop next to them and the driver leaned over to wind down the window. "Hop in, boys. We're going to fly."

The hikers lost no time in throwing their packs into the back seat and embarking. It looked as though their luck was in; obviously this fellow intended to waste no time. As the doors closed, the driver let in the clutch and the big car leaped forward.

Half a mile down the road the car slowed suddenly and turned off down a side road. The hikers glanced at each other, both wondering what was happening but unwilling to jeopardize their lift with too many questions. In a few moments all was revealed as they emerged from a belt of trees on to a small aerodrome.

It dawned on the hikers then. The driver had meant what he said quite literally. And now the hikers could hardly believe their luck.

The car stopped next to a hangar. "Come on lads," said the driver as he sprang from the car. "Give me a hand getting the doors open."

The two friends hurried to obey. There were two large doors at the front of the hangar and each hiker took one and began to push them apart on their rollers. As the gap between them increased, the driver entered the hangar. And came out again immediately.

"Damn it," he said, looking his watch. "My partner's not returned the plane yet. He promised me he'd have it back by this morning. And I've got a meeting in Middelburg in an hour."

The hikers knew that Middelburg was a hundred miles away. They watched the man to see what would happen next.

"Well, nothing for it. Just got to try and make it."

He headed for the car and the hikers trotted after him. In moments they were inside and the Jag set off, wheels spinning in haste. Back on the main road the car accelerated again and they were soon hurtling through the countryside at a completely illegal pace. The hikers could see the speedometer and began to feel uneasy.

Between Colesburg and Middelburg in the Transvaal the road twists and turns as it makes its way through a pass in the Drakensberg Mountains. That morning the two hikers found out just how frightening excessive speed can be, as well as exhilarating. They clutched at any hold available as the big Jaguar swooped around one bend after another and the driver made no comment, concentrating only upon getting to his appointment on time.

When they reached the outskirts of Middelburg, the driver glanced at his watch again. He had three minutes to go. The car slowed and came to a stop.

"Sorry, lads, I have to turn off here. Normally I'd take you through the town but I just haven't the time today."

The hikers made no complaint but thanked him profusely as they climbed from the car. Then the Jaguar was off again and disappeared around the next corner. The hikers looked at one another.

"That was some ride," said Pete.

"And we nearly went in a plane," nodded the other.

"Did you see the speedo?"

"Umm, yeah," came the reply, the reluctance to admit the terror of their journey preventing any further comment.

For a moment the friends stood quietly, contemplating that wild ride through the mountains. They thought, too, of the long walk ahead of them. Middelburg was a town at a crossroads and had developed along the arms of the roads that met there. To stand any chance of a lift, they would have to carry their heavy packs all the way into the center of the town and then out again to the other side. It was not a pleasant prospect, particularly as it always seemed to happen at Middelburg and they knew what a hard slog it was.

With a sigh, one of the hikers bent down to hoist his pack on to his back. "Well, best be making a start."

"Yeah," said his friend as he picked up his pack too. "Still, that driver was right, you know."

"How so?" asked the other.

"Well, he said we were going to fly. And we bloody well did..."

(to read the next of the African Memories articles, click here)


"Drat. We may only encourage our young, Clive", he chuckled. But now that reminds me of this sailor I picked up once...
Date Added: 14/01/2005

Gone Away
Way, as long as I continue to remind you of tales you have yet to tell, I figure I've done the world a service. ;)
Date Added: 14/01/2005

Gee. Where did the world go?
Date Added: 15/01/2005

We are all waiting by the PC, staring at our SharpReader, waiting for it to alert us to some activity, somewhere.
Date Added: 15/01/2005

Boys (and Ned) and their spiffy toys!
Date Added: 15/01/2005

Gone Away
Actually, I've been asleep... :D
Date Added: 15/01/2005

Date Added: 15/01/2005

Gone Away
There seems to be a rash of bird stories at the moment. That does bring to mind my one and only bird story but I'm still not sure it's worth a blog. In the meantime, I have also recalled a bird joke that is worth re-telling. It is not true blog material, however, since it isn't mine but I thought I could add it as a comment. Here goes:

A feller buys a parrot at his local pet store, on the condition that the bird is a good talker. After a week, he is back in the store complaining that the bird hasn't said anything yet. The store owner asks if he bought a cage with the parrot and the feller replies that he did. "Well, did you buy him a mirror?" asks the owner.

"Oh no," replies the feller and the owner assures him that, if he buys a mirror, the parrot will be so happy at seeing himself that he'll soon talk to the feller. Parrot owner buys a mirror and leaves, only to return in a week.

"That bird still hasn't said anything," he protests. The owner is puzzled but reassures himself that the feller has a cage and a mirror for the bird. Then light dawns.

"Have you got him a swing?" he asks. It appears that the feller has not, so the owner states happily that, if he buys the bird a swing, it will look in the mirror, swing on the swing and soon be talking to him. Feller buys a swing and leaves.

A week later he is back again. The complaint is the same; the parrot has still said nothing. The owner muses.

"Let's see now, you've got a mirror and a swing... Ah, but I'll bet you haven't got a birdbath."

"No I haven't," confesses the disconsolate feller.

"Ah well, that's it then. If you you buy him a birdbath, that parrot will look at himself in the mirror, swing on his swing and play in the birdbath and, pretty soon, he'll be chatting away like anything."

The feller buys a birdbath. A week later he is back again.

"Have you got any parrots that talk?" he asks.

The owner looks at him, convinced he's seen him somewhere before.

"Aren't you the feller that bought a parrot here a few weeks ago?" he asks.

"Yeah, that was me," comes the reply.

"And how is that parrot?"

"Dead," says the feller curtly.

"Oh I'm sorry to hear that," says the owner. "Did he ever say anything?"

"Well, he did say one thing," replies the feller. "Just before he died, he said, 'Doesn't that bastard sell bird seed?'"
Date Added: 16/01/2005

R.I.P (real interesting piece) *grinz*
Date Added: 17/01/2005

Gone Away
Yeah I know, Way - old joke... ;)
Date Added: 17/01/2005

Nice story, awful joke
Date Added: 17/01/2005

Gone Away
Thank you, Hannah. Although I kinda like the joke... ;)
Date Added: 17/01/2005

all i can say is......... wow, is the story done on the blog?? or in the comments? lol
Date Added: 17/01/2005

"Comments Beats Blog" Pictures @ ten.
Date Added: 17/01/2005

Gone Away
Perhaps we have a new art form here...? ;)
Date Added: 17/01/2005

Now we just need a ridiculous, but in some circles catchy name for it.

maybe oGommenter.

YEah! he nerds will eat that one up.
Date Added: 18/01/2005

Gone Away
Or even a bloggent?
Date Added: 18/01/2005

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