Newsletter – East London Chapter

The East London Chapter

20th February 2000

Hi all,

This is your very own newsletter from East London. I can’t promise that it will be a regular letter but I’ll try to make it as interesting as possible. The weather here is reminiscent of Durban in February, very hot and humid, quite exhausting actually.

We now have a boarder, a young chap (18 today) who is attending the Border Rugby Academy for a year. He is a nice pleasant young man, name is Brett and he is built like the proverbial brick …house. He insist on calling me “Uncle Alf”, anyway I am nearly 52 so what the heck.

The E (Evan) is really doing well on the flute; in fact it amazes me how quick he has learnt to play the thing. I bought him a music stand on Saturday so that he can set up his music and practice in his room. I am very proud of him; he gets the most wonderful sound out of the instrument. He has also mastered the recorder and there is very little that he can’t play.

The E is off to Morgan’s Bay for a three day school excursion, he leaves tomorrow (21st) and returns on Wednesday 23rd) needless to say he is quite excited but I’ll miss him.

We had a wonderful Christmas and Millennium with the Family in London, there was a big crowd of us and even though it was cold, we all had a great time. We all gathered at Anthony’s (Irene’s brother) house and Margie and Irene cooked a wonderful Christmas lunch of Turkey and all the trimmings, there were 13 of us for Lunch. All had a great time. The boys took leave and spent the entire three weeks with us. We hired a car and took a trip up the East coast to Scotland and then down the West coast back to London. All in all it was the most memorable and wonderful Christmas/New Year of my life, we were all sorry to have to come back again.

I trust that you all had a very good season and you are all well.

Lots of love from

Alf & Evan

7th March 2000

Hi All,

Things are much the same in EL; the weather is still very warm although the nights are becoming longer and the days shorter. We have had quite a bit of rain lately as has the rest of Southern Africa. (Shame the poor people of Mozambique)

Evan (The E) continues to make GREAT strides as an accomplished Flautist (I think that is the correct word for flute player). He has been promoted to the advance woodwind section of the orchestra and is enjoying it immensely. He also continues with his Judo and is working towards his orange belt.

Needless to say I am extremely proud of him.

Brett (my boarder) is cool and getting on well with us, almost part of the family.

Work is still the same, as stressful as ever but, HEY, I still have a job which pays the rent and keeps the wolves from the door.

We have a new slogan at home now and we repeat it four or five times a day, every day. “Christmas in Auckland”. We are now making definite plans to be in NZ by Christmas and all going well; there is no reason why we can’t achieve it. We would like The E to finish this year so that we don’t have start him in a new school, in a new country half way through the year.

Nancy is still well and sends her “Groete” to all. We will certainly miss her in NZ, I wonder if they would let us take her with us as an Au pair J

Irene spent this last weekend down here in EL and will be here again in two weeks time. We had a great weekend and can’t wait for the day that she is with us permanently. Not too long now.

Being the small town that it is there isn’t much else to tell you from EL.

I trust that you are all well; if not I wish you a speedy recovery from whatever ails you. We miss you all.

Hope to here from you soon.

Lots of love from

Alf & Evan

21stMarch 2000

Hi all,

Well this is the third edition of the EL news, enjoy.

We have been experiencing a lot of rain lately and the floods of the North have moved down to the Eastern Cape. Roads and bridges in the Queenstown area were washed away and a few people lost their lives. Th area has been declared a relief area. Here in EL it has been raining on and off for the past week, at times very hard. My front garden resembles the Okovango swamps.

Today is a holiday (Human Rights Day) and Irene is spending the long weekend here with The E and me. It is always great when we are a complete family (not quite, it would be even better if Brad and Darren were here).

We are now starting to make earnest plans for our move to NZ. We hope to be on our way by early December. There is such a lot to organise, what furniture to take, transferring of Insurance policies, getting rid of the flats etc, etc, etc. But it is all very exciting. I attended a NZ immigration seminar last Monday and got so excited about the place that I have been spending hours browsing the web. I have found so many interesting sites. (Irene’s comment: Alf can even tell you what movies are showing in Wagga-Wagga! That’s Aussie, isn’t it? Any way, you get the picture. J From all accounts the place seems to be Eldora do or Utopia. I’m sure there must be some negatives but I can’t seem to find any and haven’t yet found anyone who has anything bad to say about the place.

The school breaks up on Friday and the E is going up to Durbs to spend a few days with his Mom so I will be a bit lonely, any way it will only be for a few days. Needless to say he is very excited as he is flying up.

The E has become quite a maestro on the flute and can play almost anything from the music books, he amazes me the way he sight-reads music. Although I must admit the continuous practising does become a bit trying, but I put up with it because he is doing so well.

We got such a thrill the other night while watching TV, my cell beeped with a sms message and it was Danny-coo and Mandy telling us of their spring cleaning efforts. It is always great to hear a word or two from the guys.

Irene is now in the kitchen making us all a big “lekker” brunch and then we are probably going to take the E to the Go-Cart track. He has been nagging all weekend.

Well that is enough from me; Irene will take over and fill you in on other happenings from SA.

Love you all.

Alf

Hi from Irene,

The E and I have just tried to record one of his arias. Unfortunately, we do not have a decent program to record. We tried using the one that ships with windows and it came out so flat – did not do justice to his playing at all… We are actually finding that we are spending quite a bit on his musical pursuits, but it is so rewarding to see him forge ahead that it is worth it. He even plays tunes with his hands cupped in front of his mouth… Well-l-l-l, with a bit of a stretch it could be called a tune. We love to hear him play.

Alf is even converting the grocery list into NZ$! It is really very exciting. We are going to probably hire a camper for “The December Tour”, Darren, Brad and Mandy of course WILL be there. New Zealand is reported to be beautiful. Alf tells me that the crime rate there is almost non-existent. They do steal the odd car, but at least they don’t steal it with you in it! Alf will fill you all in on inflation rates, unemployment, etc as the weeks go by. I know you are all looking heavenward because you know you are going to be given all NZ related email messages for the next year or so. *Giggle*

I have to go now. They are all hungry and not one of the men in this house knows how to switch the stove on, one would swear! Miss you All.

1st April 2000

Hi again from East London,

Well today we have seen the sun for the first time in two weeks. When Nancy came in this morning and said the sun was shining I thought she was playing an April fools gag on me, but lo-and-behold, bright sunshine. I must confess I was starting to get a little worried when I took my socks off the other night and noticed that there were webs forming between my toes. Irene tells me, though, that it actually rains more in Durbs, I very much doubt it!

I trust that all is well with everyone; I have had a nasty touch of flu but am starting to recover. The E is back at school on Monday after just over a week’s break, he spent last weekend in Durbs with his Mom and had a great time, so I had a lonely weekend.

For those of you who are not aware, EL has a very good symphony orchestra, they have concerts on the last Sunday of every month at the City hall, it cost a mere R10 and one is treated to a very good evening of culture. The E and I try to go every month.

On the subject of music, our local Folk Club (The String and Whistle) hosted a guy by the name of Robin Auld at their monthly gathering last Wednesday. Well this guy is quite amazing. He is a South African who is working out of London. He is an incredible entertainer, such presence and talent.

The E and I are going to the Green Bean Cafe (our local Pub cum Coffee Bar) tonight; they are having a Blues and Jazz evening with a live band (as opposed to a dead one). We have seen the band before and they are quite good, so we should have a pleasant evening.

The plans for NZXMAS are still on and I read everything I can find on the place. We have already started to identify the stuff, which we would like to take with us.

The E and I are going to a friend of mine tomorrow afternoon, his brother and sister-in-law are visiting from NZ, so we are going to meet them and bombard them with questions. It is all very exciting.

I took the lottery this morning and stand to win R8 million. So if our ticket is drawn, we will be on the first flight out.

I will sign off now with a lovely poem which my Darling wife sent to me last week.

Y’all stay well and love from the E.

Alf

I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an 8 year-old again. I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks. I want to think Smarties are better than money because you can eat them. I want to lie under a big oak tree
or play with the garden hose with my friends on a hot summer’s day. I want to return to a time when life was simple; when all you knew were colours, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care. All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset. I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again. I want to live simple again. I don’t want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind, and making angels in beach sand. So . . . here’s my chequebook and my car-keys, my credit cards and my statements. I am officially resigning from adulthood. And if you want to discuss this further, you’ll have to catch me first, ’cause…”Tag! You’re it.”

15th April 2000

Hi All,

Today is one of those perfect autumn days, warm sunshine and a light cool breeze, “absolutely fabulous” as Joanne Lumley always says. It is now 16:30 Saturday afternoon and the E and I have just returned from our weekly grocery shopping. We also took the E’s flute in for an adjustment and service and I had to get the wheel alignment done on my car, one of the many hazards of living in the New SA…. pot holes…which cause untold problems with the wheel alignment on even the strongest of cars.

I mentioned in my last letter that the E and I were going to visit friends who had New Zealand visitors with them. Well we had a very interesting afternoon, and as much as I tried to get them to tell me the negative about NZ they both said that they could not think of any. And they have been there for almost a year. The place sounds like Shangri-La or Utopia or whatever you think of as heaven. They say that every one is so friendly helpful and trusting. This chap was saying when he bought his car, which he had seen, advertised in the paper, he went to look at it and liked what he saw. He told the seller that he would have to get money from the bank on Monday (it was a Sunday) and asked if the guy would please hold the car for him, he would definitely come with the money and take it. The seller said: “Why don’t you take the car now and you can come pay me when you have the money.” Astounding isn’t it? They had many such stories and the more I listened the more I realised that this is the place where I want to end my days.

The Hansie Cronje debacle goes on ad-nausium every day in the papers, with the countless rapes, murders and hijacking which go on every day you would think that the papers had better things to report. But no….. Rape, murder and hijacking have become a way of life so why report something so boring. Hansie’s indiscretion is much more news worthy. Sick isn’t it?

Irene will be spending the Easter holidays down in EL. A whole 10 days living as a family again, we can’t wait.

Evan continues to amaze me with his musical abilities. This morning when we took his flute in for service we were browsing around the music store when he came across one of those professional xylophones. Well he picked up the sticks that one plays the thing with and proceeded to play one of the classical pieces that he is learning at school. Everyone in the shop stopped what they were doing to listen. He is very talented and we are so proud of him. It goes without saying that he has really become quite proficient on the flute and recorder.

Work is still hectic but at least when one is very busy the time goes fast. I just look forward to NZXMAS that’s what keeps me from becoming depressed.

Well guys, I will leave you with this lovely thought:

A Smile Costs nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who give it.
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so
poor that he cannot be made richer by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, promotes goodwill in business, and is
the cornerstone of friendship.
It can perk up the weary, bring cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the
sad, and is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something
that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
When people are too tired to give you a smile, give them one of yours.
No one needs a smile as much as he who has none to give.
Author unknown.
Love
Alf and Evan

30th April 2000

Hi All

This is Irene. I have commandeered the computer and will hand over to Alf after he has made me coffee. We work with bribery and corruption in this house (as taught by the Local SA Government). *Giggle*

I have been here in East London for about ten days and besides cooking, touring and asking Alf if he has fed the tropical fish, have had a good time. We intend to take advantage of the wonderful weather and bbq somewhere later today. Please note that we now BBQ – not braai. *Sigh*

We will then go along to the City Hall for the East London Symphonic Orchestra Concert. Evan nags us to go -, as my children will testify, I do not need to be dragged there. Alf assures me that the orchestra is top quality. Needless to say I have been serenaded for the entire time by Evan, playing his flute, the recorder, a cheap whistle he got in a lucky packet and even blowing through a rolled-up newspaper. Lovely!

Okay, okay, okay…. I just got my coffee so I will hand over to Alf. Love to all of you.

Imogen. (Aka Irene)

Hi All,

I have been extremely lucky the last 10 days, with my sidekick here playing house, it has been great. We have also had a lot of holidays and are only due back to work on Tuesday.

Irene is determined to make us all fit and has dragged me on little walks every night. The first night we went on our “little” walk we got horribly lost and it took us one and half-hours (and six kilometres later) to find our way home. Of course, my family found this very funny as I normally never get lost. It must be the “ouderdom” creeping up.

Yesterday, Saturday, we took a drive down to PE, a three hour drive, had a drink and drove back via Grahamstown where we had a late lunch at Cafe Dulce and then came home, arriving at about 7 p.m. All in all we had a nice day.

Evan has been reading the Harry Potter books and now has the complete collection (three at the moment). They are so well written that both Irene and I have read them as well. Excellent reading even for adults; I recommend them highly.

Today (Sunday) we did our family filing, a really terrible but necessary job. It took all morning and now we are going to have a BBQ before heading off to the Symphony.

I have had a spell of illness over the last three weeks with a dose of ‘flu, stress related vertigo and a few other minor ailments but, I am pleased to say, this short break from work has done me the world of good and I am feeling quite well again.

The NZXMAS plans are progressing as well as can be expected and we just need to dispose of the business and we will be in a position to start making final arrangements. I can’t wait. I have already sent my CV to an agent in Auckland and have made application for a position advertised on the net. I am now waiting with baited breath.

Well the old brain cells have gone a bit blank and I have run out of news, so I will end off with my usual little quote:

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I miss you all.

Lots of love from the E and Nancy

Alf

5th May 2000

Hi all,
A quick news flash from sunny East London.
My little boy, the Maestro Flautist, achieved a Gold Award (A+) in the Woodwind group section and a Silver Award (A) in the solo section of the East London Eisteddfod. Needless to say I’m walking around like the proverbial Peacock.
And there is more…
The Maestro Flautist has been entered in the Royal Academy of music grading awards to be held here in EL in August. And this, after only four months of playing the flute. A special thanks to you Tony for giving him the flute and all that music, he and we really appreciate it.
That’s all for now folks
Love to you all

Alf and The maestro

25th May 2000

Hi Everyone,
Today is Thursday and I’m in top spirits, NZXMAS has moved into the “no turning back” stage. On Tuesday I gave in my notice and will be leaving Ultrapak at the end of October, We have brought the departure date forward because of Evan’s 12th Birthday. (As explained in my previous newsletter).
We have also decided to move our household over to NZ as it is not THAT expensive to move (R23, 000) to Auckland. We would not be able to sell all our stuff and replace it in NZ for that; also we feel that we will settle down quicker and be less homesick if we had all our familiar things around us.
The plan so far is as follows:
Ship the furniture at the end of October for delivery to our new home in NZ in early January 2001.
We want to fly out a few days after the stuff has left and hire or buy a Camper in NZ, where we will tour together with Brad and Darren for as long as they can be there and then try to find a house/flat in time for the furniture to arrive. We will also have to enrol Evan in a school close to where we will be living. And then we look for work, from all accounts there shouldn’t be too much of a problem there but if there is we will look at opening up something of our own. A lot of you may be thinking that we are mad to do this at our age but I can assure you that both Irene and I are very confident and are completely comfortable with our decision to move. We owe it to our kids and ourselves to enjoy a better and safer life.

The winter has arrived with a vengeance here in EL it has been cold, rainy and windy for the last three days, I suppose it was inevitable given that we had such a mild winter last year.

The E and I spent a lovely long weekend in Durban last weekend with Irene; it was great to be together again.
Well Netheads has finally been sold with the money nice and safe in our bank. The next step is to sell CompQuest. We spent last Monday going to a number of business brokers in Durban and handed them our mandate of the business, and a very nice mandate it is too, so hopefully we should hear pretty soon. We also visited a couple of estate agents and put the two flats on the market. Unfortunately we had to reduce our price considerably to try and get them sold before we leave.

Evan’s musical talent continues to astound me, while in Durban we bought him two Flageolets (Penny Whistles) and he picked them up and played them as if he had been playing them for years, and not just easy nursery rhymes, but Mozart and Beethoven. He makes us very proud.
Well people, I have exhausted the news for this week so I’ll sign off with my usual quote.
I think it was John F Kennedy who said:
“The only difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is a
state of mind”
Love to you all
Alf & Evan
NZXMAS

4th June 2000

Hi all,
It’s Sunday 4th June 2000 and the time is 06:45am and I’m now “uitgeslaap” so I thought I would fill you all in on the happenings from East London.
You must all be a bit sick of hearing about the E’s musical achievements, but hey! He is my boy and I’m very proud so you will all just have to cope with it. The latest news is he has been offered his first professional “Gig”, Carl, my mate who owns the “Green Bean Cafe” here in EL has asked that Evan and a few of his band mates form a group and play every Saturday morning. Carl has arranged an interview for the kids on our local radio station to advertise them. He (The E) is so excited that I had to go out yesterday and buy him a new music book together with a “stiffy” of accompaniment MIDI files so he could master about 20 modern and evergreen tunes. He practised all afternoon and evening and I must say that he is beginning to sound REAL pro… the MIDI accompaniment makes a huge difference to his playing and also gives him a lot more confidence.

We have a new TV series on one of the SABC channels. It is an American programme called “America’s Dumbest Criminals” It shows how some really dumb criminals get caught in the act of crime. Well we recently had a case of our own really dumb criminals in SA. Two guys who had tied up the owner and locked him in his bedroom were robbing the house of a Taxidermist in Gauteng and were proceeding to ransack the house, going from room to room taking everything that they could carry. On entering the third and last bedroom they were confronted by two huge Leopards, they got such a fright that they dropped everything, including their guns and ran screaming out of the house. Yes, you guessed it; the Leopards were stuffed animals that the Taxidermist was storing at his home. The two “Dumb” criminals were later apprehended and all the “stuff” was returned to the owner (excuse the pun).

Well that’s all for today folks. The E is nagging for breakfast, so I better go and feed him. I’ll end with this thought:

When you shoot a mime, do you use a silencer? 🙂

Lots of love from
The Woods

Friday 23rd June 22h00

Howzit to all,

Ok, so the hot weather of last week was too good to last. It is freezing here in EL and there are reports of snowfalls on the higher ground near Hogsback and Rhodes. It always seems to arrive in time for the Grahamstown Festival, which starts next Friday (30th June).

The E is now on holiday and received an exceptional half-year report, attaining a 77.8% aggregate. We are very proud of him. He got 90% in his music exam and in the words of Mrs. van Zyl, his music teacher: “Evan is a very promising pupil. He’s enthusiastic about music, shows confidence and are always well prepared.”
Needless to say that Irene and I “is” very proud of him. 🙂

Saturday 24th June 14h00

I had a relatively quiet morning, with a visit to the foreign exchange section of the bank. I got some very confusing advice as how to go about transferring funds to NZ. Anyway we will have to weigh up all the pros and cons and make a sensible decision.

I have now had two quotes from international removal companies and both quotes are around the R25K mark (door to door). Which isn’t too bad if one weighs up what it is going to cost to replace all our stuff in NZ, also what will we receive if we sell up here?

Last weekend, being a long weekend, Irene spent with us here in EL. It was a lovely being a family again, albeit a small family. It would have been better if the WHOLE family were here. We went to a big band Jazz show at our local theatre on Friday night. It was great with some of the country and Eastern Cape’s finest musicians. The first half was all the traditional big band stuff like Duke Ellington, Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey type sounds. This included a lot of individual jamming and improvisation, wonderful. The second half was more Ethnic type improvisation which is really not my cup of tea but still enjoyable. Naturally the evening did a lot to inspire Evan who now wants a Sax, Piccolo, Clarinet and Piano. We have, however agreed to try and get him an Alto Sax. We are looking for a good second hand one, which will be a lot cheaper than a new one. So if anyone knows of a good 2nd hand Sax, please let me know.

Irene will be coming down to EL on the 7th July when we are going up to Grahamstown for the last day of the festival, then on Monday the 10th we are all driving up to Durbs for a week. (I have taken 5 days leave). I hope to be able to tie up a few loose ends like Insurance policies, etc, and bring back some stuff, which Irene wants down, in EL.

I sign off with a bit of humour:

English often comes out a little different when it is used in other countries. Here are some examples:

On a tap in a Finnish washroom…

To stop the drip, turn cock to right.

In a Bangkok temple….

It is forbidden to enter a woman, even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

In a Tokyo bar….

Special cocktail for the ladies with nuts.

Keep well, love to all

Alf and E

4th July 2000

Hi All,

Just a quickie from East London.

Evan is now the proud owner of a Clarinet, yes you read it correctly, a Clarinet! He has shown such enthusiasm and dedication to his music that we thought that we would encourage him. He has been nagging for a Clarinet for a long time and on Sunday while browsing around our local music shop (his new hobby) we came across a GOOD second hand Clarinet. Well the rest is as you guessed. I picked the instrument up at the music shop last night, after they gave it a good service and took it home. At this point Evan had never put his mouth to any reed instrument. Anyway within an hour he was playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and “The Slovakian Hoop Dance” (excuse the spelling). Quite incredible.

Anyway, folks Gotta run, some of us still have to work.

Stay well and love to all.

Alf and E

17th July2000

Hi All,

It’s Monday 17th July and we’ve just completed a wonderful week, well, actually 10 days. I have been on leave since 7th July. Irene came down on Thursday and we went up to Grahamstown for the festival on Friday and Saturday 7th and 8th July. It was great! We had wonderful weather and saw some lovely theatre, most of which was musical.

Friday afternoon we went to see a new play by Ben Voss and partner it was called “Foul Play” a very funny Rugby comedy, which he wrote, produced and starred in. At the same time he was also in his now famous Cricket comedy “The Final cut” alternating performance every day during the festival. He’s so busy that we weren’t able to speak to him. That evening we went to see the New Arts Symphony Orchestra perform their penultimate concert. It was very beautiful but sad as all the musicians have been retrenched. Our wonderful government has seen fit to withdraw all subsidies to the arts and this is now the fourth symphony orchestra to disband, very sad. The next day (Saturday) we went to see a piano recital by one of the Rhodes music professors, absolutely brilliant performance. He did six or seven heavy Beethoven pieces without sheet music. We then went up to the Monument where E TV was broadcasting live, we saw a wonderful black men’s choir, a group of gumboot dancers and an excellent Jazz quartet, all this for free. We then rushed back down to the town to see a street theatre group from France, they performed a parody of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” they called their show “The Tragic Flute” The cast of 7 or 8 are all accomplished musicians and hilarious comedians. I would say that their performance was certainly one of the highlights of the festival. After “The Tragic Flute” we, again had to rush to get to the next show. The next show was at the Cathedral, the wonderful old cathedral in the centre of Grahamstown; it was a performance by SA’s top guitarists, Steve Newman, Tony Cox, George Geomedes and Sid Kitchen. Needless to say, it was a magnificent performance; those old cathedrals certainly have superb acoustics. Our last show of the weekend was the National Youth Jazz Festival, for me it was the highlight of the weekend. The concert was at a venue called the Jazz Hotel, which has a VERY bad reputation as a dive. The performance was supposed to have started at 7:30pm but while we were waiting to get in they announced that there would be a delay as the sound equipment had been stolen and they were trying to locate substitutes. Typical. Anyway after about a half-hour wait and a free drink we were allowed in and the show began. The first half featured the National Schools Jazz Band who was phenomenal and the second half featured the National Youth Jazz Band who was even better.
The vibe and atmosphere was electric and all in all a fantastic ending to a wonderful weekend. Sunday morning we returned to EL where we had to pack for our drive to Durban on Monday morning. We arrived in Durban at 6 o-clock Monday night.

Tuesday was spent in Isithebe at CompuQuest and saying farewell to all my old mates. That night Irene, Joe (our partner) the E and I went to the Sneddon theatre to see a Themi Venturis production called “The Guitar That Rocked the World” it’s the life story of the Fender Stratocaster guitar. Great show, which everyone enjoyed.

Sunday morning saw the E and I driving back to EL and back to the humdrum of suburban life. We have made our flight reservations and will be flying out of JHB on November 6th arriving in Auckland on Wednesday 8th. We will be flying Malaysian Airline and spend a day in Kuala Lumpur. We would like to spend the weekend of November 4th and 5th in JHB (if my darling sister would allow) so we can say farewell to the family.

CompuQuest is being wound down and Irene will be joining me in EL at the end of August, so we will have two months together to pack up and ship and get rid of our unwanted stuff. I am starting to get a little impatient.
Well I have exhausted my news for now so I’ll sign off with a thought for today.

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?

Lots of love to all from

The E and Alf

27th August 2000

Hello all,
Well its Sunday morning, 11:25 and I’m sitting at home waiting for Evan to come home. He slept at a friend last night. I have done my weekly grocery shopping and thought this will be an Ideal time to fill you all in on the current happenings of the Wood family.

As the time to leave draws closer, I find that it seems to drag. I am now counting the minutes and hours rather than the days and weeks, I get irritable and impatient. Anyway the sale of CompuQuest/Netheads is all but complete with just the last remnants of furniture and spares to sell off. Irene and Joe have been working like slaves to get it sold by the 30th of August. I feel so sorry for my darling wife who not only has to see to the business but has to pack and move her personal belongings down to EL and then the packing begins in earnest in EL. Fortunately, most of the bigger stuff in EL, which we are not taking with us, is sold, so we now have to concentrate on getting rid of the smalls. I have only one month left at work and my successor starts on Friday 1st September, so I’ll be training him and handing over my duties. I leave at the end of September and can then get in and dispose of the remaining stuff and tie up any loose ends. We will be leaving EL about the 3rd November and travel to JHB where we will spend a few days with Margie and Joe and say goodbye to all the family and then fly out to Auckland on Monday 6th November.

It is now 2:50pm Sunday afternoon, the E arrived home from his friend at 11h45 and we decided to do a movie, so we have just got back from seeing “Big Mamma’s House”… not bad, light comedy, quite enjoyable but won’t win any Oscars.

Two weeks ago Evan took part in the East London Music Festival, a music extravaganza involving ALL the schools in the area, from Junior Primary to High school. He was chosen as part of the woodwind group, which combined with selected musician from all the other school to form a mass band of over 100 kids, a mass choir of 1000 kids also from all the schools supported them. The orchestra comprised woodwind, brass, strings and percussion. They performed wonderfully. Quite a feat for such young children. I enjoyed it immensely. On the subject of music, I have never really been a lover of ballet, however, the East London College Ballet department put on a Dance Extravaganza at our Guild Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The E and I decided to go and I must admit that we both thoroughly enjoyed the performance. The dancing was of the highest standard and the music was great, and dinner was thrown in as well, all for the HUGE cost of R30 per ticket.

The weather here in EL has been marvellous, with summer fast approaching the daily temperatures have been in the upper 20’s, very nice. I understand that the weather in London has also been good of late with high temps…hope it lasts.

Well my news has dried up so I’ll end off with a number of quotes from children who were asked “What is Love” A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

“Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.”
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”
“Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.”
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

“When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you any more. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.”
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and then he wears it everyday.”
“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”
“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.”
“Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.”
“Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
(I saved the best until last.)
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”

Lots of love

Alf and Evan

Newsletter Foreword

Featured

Foreword

1998 was probably the most traumatic year of my adult life. When I think back to that year and what we as a family went through, I am surprised that the black depression didn’t hit me then.

My beloved mom, Ray Treges passed away after numerous strokes. She died alone in a stroke victim rehabilitation facility in Johannesburg on March 15th, a few days after her 67th Birthday on 8th March.

Both my sister Margie and myself were devastated by her death as were most of the our family, we all loved her very much and miss her so much to this very day. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.

I had no sooner got back to work after the funeral in Johannesburg, when I was told that the MD of the company would be coming up from head office to have a meeting with me. I was then general manager of a packaging factory in Isithebe- Northern KwaZulu Natal.

Our MD arrived and in a private meeting I was informed that a decision had been made by the board of directors to close down the Woven’s division of the factory and sell all the machinery and assets to a Taiwanese company and that the Woven’s division will only operate as a sales and marketing company and will contract all the manufacturing to the Taiwanese company who were opening in the Isithebe area. In the sale agreement with the new company, an agreement had been reached that they, the Taiwanese company would undertake to employ some of our staff and that I was not one of them. However they, DBC Wovens would still retain me on full salary until everything was wound up and the doors of the old factory were closed. They needed me to negotiate the best redundancy package (from management perspective) with the trade unions representing the workers. I did this to the best of my ability and am proud to say that all were happy with the outcome. As far as I was concerned, my redundancy package involved six months on full salary while alternate employment was sought for me within the group. I had no alternative but to agree and on April 1st I moved into a position with the computer company which we had started a couple years prior and was being run by my wife Irene and business partner Joe Náude. This arrangement was okay while I was still earning my full salary from DBC but the computer company was not big enough to sustain me as well. I was beginning to get very anxious indeed.

The third factor to add to 1998 being my most traumatic year was that on June 2nd I turned 50. Where was I going to find a job at the age of 50? I had been trying to find alternate employment but the moment any employment agent heard my age they would smile politely and say sorry, they don’t really have anything for me or that I was far too “qualified” for the job. I was trying to remain positive and my wife was a pillar of strength but inside the black depression was starting to take hold. I was becoming more and more terrified about what was going to happen.

I was probably at my lowest when I received a phone call from a good friend, Monty Munstermann who was the MD of Ultrapak in East London, one of the other packaging factories within the DBC group. He asked me to go in to see him at the DBC head office in Durban. I promptly agreed and headed off to a meeting with him.

The board of director had found a position for me at Ultrapak but I would have to relocate to East London. The position would involve liaison between customers who were largely Dairy farmers and Bakeries and the Factory. It would also involve production planning in which I was quite experienced. I had met the GM of Ultrpak before and liked him a lot so was sure I could fit in well. However, I was not too keen to move to East London as we had the computer business which was ticking over very nicely and was giving Irene a good salary as well as giving a good living to all who were working for her. I told Monty that I would have to discuss it with Irene and asked if he would hold the position for me for a few days. He readily agreed and offered to send me down to EL to have a chat to John Wilmers the GM of Ultrapak. He also suggested I take Irene down to have a look.

Irene and I had a long discussion and decided that it would be a good idea to go to East London, have a look at the factory and the town and chat to John. I could then decide if I should take the position or not. Well I did just that and found that I could probably be very happy in East London and anyway nobody was pounding at my door to offer me any kind of job in Durban. So after a further family discussion it was decide that I should take the job and move to East London. So at the end of August 1998 I moved down and took up my new position at Ultrapak. The Company had agreed that Irene and Evan could continue to stay in the company house in Blythedale Beach until the beginning of 1999 when they planned to sell the house. Evan was to join me in EL and Irene would get a small flat until she could sell the business and join us in EL.

Bradley, our eldest son who had been living in London since 1996, had come over with his girlfriend to spend Christmas with us. The factory closed for the Christmas holidays so I joined the family, Darren, our middle boy had just completed matric and was contemplating going over to London to join his brother Brad. In the meantime he had moved into our bachelor flat in Durban with a friend.

After spending a great Christmas with the Family, Evan, Nancy (our domestic housekeeper) and I headed off to EL. I had found a nice four bed roomed house in Beacon Bay and the furniture was packed in a container and shipped down. Irene had found a little flat in Ballito and moved there. She would start the process of selling the Computer Company.

Evan was enrolled into his new school and so began our new life in East London. Irene would join us every second weekend or we would drive up to Ballito when we could. It was quite a trying time for all of us and particularly difficult on little Evan. He was only 9 years old and having to live without the comfort of his mom around. He was a very brave little boy. I was and am very proud of him.

It was about midyear that Darren set off for London. It was particularly hard on Irene as she was now left alone in Durban; also she had lost her beloved dad, Willy Maine earlier that same year as well as finding out that her brother Bert was diagnosed with cancer.

The previous two years had put a huge strain on us all so we decided to treat ourselves and spend Christmas and the Millennium in London with our sons and other family. It was just before we left for London that we got the bad news of the death of Bert. It was a real sad time for all. However the wonderful family reunion and Christmas and New Year helped to brighten us all up.

On our return to SA in January 2000 I decided to start sending out News Letter from EL and also we had decided that when Irene finally sold the business in Isithebe she would move down and we would start making arrangements to immigrate to New Zealand. Irene had applied and received NZ citizenship through her grandfather being a New Zealander. Bert had been very keen to immigrate but unfortunately was never able to fulfill that dream. We thought that to honour his memory we would make the move.

What follows is a collection of most of the News Letters from East London and New Zealand to family and friends in SA and around the world. The News Letters were co-authored by Irene and hopefully take the reader on a journey of discovery and history of our lives in EL and New Zealand.

We tried to make them as amusing and interesting as possible. Please enjoy.

Alf Wood