Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Private Health and Insurance continued (3)

I was being tied to the bed and placed in traction, when the ambulance driver who in his defense had been amazing and had never left me for a minute all this time, except of course when we picked up his kids from school, took them home and had to change ambulances on the N2 for some mysterious reason, asked to be paid in cash. He had somehow produced an invoice for R2000 and was insisting in being paid in cash before he could leave.

They were finally cutting the top part of my wetsuit off, shit it was brand new and was its first surf, and had tied 10 kg weights to my feet and with a strange harness type thing under my chin and around my head tied another 10 kgs to my head. Kind of like the good old medieval days of being stretched out on the rack and tortured to death.

Strangely it felt instantly better, thank goodness my mother was there she went and drew two grand out of the ATM, funny that is the maximum withdrawl amount a day and paid the ambulance driver.

Finally I felt I could at last relax. I truly dislike hospitals, way too many dark times have I spent there, but right at that moment, it felt good it felt safe.

I had been in a state of maximum tension for about 5 hours which even the morphine had not been able to suppress. The moment I was finally in bed and waiting for the orthopedic and neurosurgeons to arrive and the blankets had been pulled up, I at last let the tension slide away.

Within seconds I felt the nausea, the human body has an astounding ability for self- preservation, I knew what was coming next and asked the young nurse who was still hovering around the bed if he could do a log roll as I urgently needed to roll onto my side. I had vomited face up after surgery in 85 and had almost drowned in bed then, not today, not twice in one day. I needed to get onto my side and quick.

The second I was on my side I vomited a jet stream of seawater and mutton curry pie all over the helpless nurse who was still holding me. The force of it even surprised me as until that point I had felt no need at all to vomit. It flew across the room and hit the far wall like it was coming out of a fire hydrant.

Of course I had swallowed litres and litres of seawater trying to stay alive earlier, if I had vomited any time before being safe and in hospital the odds of me making it would have been so much smaller, the uncontrolled retching movement would have damaged the crushed vertebrae and it would more than likely have been so severe that they would not have been able to be saved.

Deep, deep down somewhere in my subconscious instinct to survive it had kept me from vomiting until it was safe to do so.

As the staff went about cleaning me up and remaking the bed and resetting the traction, out of the corner of my vision I saw a nurse approaching with a syringe in her hand. The healing process and new beginning was about to start.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Private Health and Insurance continued (2)

Eventually my mother arrived and things started to move forward at last, she had been told what had happened while I was still on the beach and had gone and got my phone and wallet up at the house on the hill.

While she was harassing the nurse at reception another nurse was asking me to fill in a set of forms. I am not quite sure if she was a retard or just did not notice I was tied to a stretcher and was in no able state to be filling out any forms. However she insisted and eventually wrote down all the information she wanted herself. As soon as she left, the nurse who had been talking to my mom came over and asked me to fill out all the same forms again. That was enough I lost the plot and started a morphine driven verbal tirade at the surprised hospital staff. I was drugged up to the eyebrows and in a hell of a lot of pain and she was asking me to fill out a set of forms I had just finished filling out, I heard Glenn giggling somewhere as my mom  desperately tried to calm me down.

The nurse had maxed out my 3 credit cards and was explaining I had 10 days of hospital care paid for but would need to negotiate a private deal on any treatment received by any doctors or surgeons and was now asking me to sign the credit card slips, JESUS, this was like a Monty Python skit.

Just when I thought things could not get any worse another nurse came up to me and asked if I could fill out a set of forms before I could be admitted to a ward.

I could hear Glenn now laughing hysterically somewhere as I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and seriously wondered if it would not have been better if George had not arrived in time and had just left me floating face down back at Tubes, it seemed like a lifetime ago.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Private Health and Insurance Continued.

When you are having a bad day they normally only get worse, today was going to be no different.

I had been lying in my wetsuit for about five hours by the time we eventually got to the hospital in Port Elizabeth I was freezing cold and the pain was getting out of control again. The silver foil space blanket was not keeping me warm and even though it seems impossible the feeling of it touching my shoulders was causing me a lot of pain and was driving me crazy.

I was wheeled into the reception of St Georges and the second part of my bad day began.  

The nurse asked me for my health insurance policy number, which of course lying tied to a stretcher, head bashed open, neck broken, paralyzed arms and legs in your wetsuit, no identification, wallet or telephone, the last thing you would ever remember is what your insurance policy number is. However until you supply said information or pay in cash, you can moan all you like and you will still remain outside tied to your stretcher.

Full of blood, sea sand, in a wetsuit and absolutely no way in the world will you be let into a ward and be seen by the doctor who is waiting to see you. Yes my day was definitley not getting any better.

“Viva” the private health system.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Weekend musical interlude.

Punk Rock, Ska and Reggae. The days of death to Disco, I grew up with the Bee Gees and all the disco greats engrained in my brain from all the afternoons sitting at Feathers, were my mom worked, the fashion store par excellence in Durban at the time, where disco music ruled.

We hated it and went in the other direction, angry music, rebel music, music for change.

 The Dead Kennedys being by far the favourite punk band.

Then came Ska.
The Specials ruled.

Bob Marley

and of course the Clash. The only band that Matters.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Jeffreys Bay 1981 (2)

It’s the love that grows slowly almost from nothing, the love that you don’t even realize exists until one day its gone, or you think it is gone, the love that lasts forever. That love is the one to hold onto through thick and thin, against all the odds. That is a love that counts.

Seal Point 1980.

We came around the corner and there she was in all her stunning glory, a set rolled through from the outside point, barreled emerald green over full stop, then hit the inside and just raced off into the distance. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

Simmsy, Rustin, Bill and Kay were all there that summer, they were all top surfers who had competed in the South African surfing championships, I felt at ease in the lineup with them they encouraged me to compete, to come into town and try my hand at the Natal monthly competitions. A few months later after watching Pottz do the impossible at the Gunston, I finally made my mind up.

 Full Stop, Seal Point 1980

That summer at Seal Point, the seed was planted unknowingly. It was planted deep in my soul, a love for the natural beauty of the Eastern Cape and Jeffreys Bay. Unconsciously almost everything I have done since that moment in 1980 has drawn me back again and again. A long distance love affair, an everlasting love against all the odds and it has resulted in me lying tied to a stretcher in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital.

Sometimes love hurts.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Jeffreys Bay 1981.

1981 was a big year that is for sure. The summer of 1980/81, we went to Jeffreys Bay for the very first time.

It’s a long drive south from Durban to J bay, a 1000km and 11hours in the back seat with Troy in the 3 litre Ford Cortina station wagon. It’s a good drive, down the Natal south coast to Port Shepstone then up into the Natal highlands and Kokstad and into the Transkei, to Umtata. That bit I had done a thousand times before going camping with my grandfather ever since I could remember. But onto East London, back inland to King Williamstown, down to the coast again seeing the Sundays River and the huge sand dunes. Then Port Elizabeth and another hour to J bay. The whole way Joe Jackson, Police and Bob Marley blaring out of the tape deck speakers and my excitement growing with every kilometer we got closer.

We actually stayed in St Francis Bay, right in the centre near the beach, in a big house for the two weeks we were there and only went into J bay a few days later.

The road from Humansdorp to St Francis was still a dirt road and had the most amazing dips and humps on the last long stretch into Seal Point, like a huge roller coaster. Seal Point itself has hardly changed the bay has a lot more houses but the actual last bit of road into and around Seal Point is exactly the same.

It was a stunning hot summers day the very first time I saw her, we drove around the corner mid- morning, the south westerly offshore was blowing lightly and a set was charging down the point as I got my first glimpse of perfection. It was high tide the water was emerald green and it was like seeing your dreams come true right before your eyes.

Politics and Sport 1981.

At the time we did not know it was the beginning of the end.

It was still pitch dark when I walked down to Wades house with my board, it was blowing South West and we were going to watch the rugby then go into town for a surf.

The Springboks were on tour in New Zealand, it was a strong team and they were going to win the test series, it was tied at one test each. The Springbok team was amazing, Naas, Ray, Gerrie, unbeatable.


We sat there early in the morning dumbfounded at what we were seeing, flower bombs, rioting, and a last minute penalty that won the test series for the All Blacks.

We went into town and surfed, to lose like that hurt. Not in our wildest dreams could we imagine that morning we would not see the Springboks play again for another decade.


Politics and sport were as of that moment joined hand in hand and being a South African trying to compete at anything anywhere in the world was going to become a nightmare.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Garvies Beach (4)

The Garvies pipe was everything to us, our symbol, our rock, never changing, always there.

It saw it all. The girls we dragged up the pipe into the chamber under the car park. I once managed to convince both Super Moo and Minnie Mouse that they both needed to see the marvels that were in store for them up the pipe. It witnessed Thomas ride his racing bike off the end into the high spring tide shore break. We were standing on it one fine dawn morning when Lofty drove down onto the beach with his XT 500 we were still just grommets, he waxed up his board in front of us, then walked down onto the beach swearing and beat the living daylights out of every single fisherman on the beach before paddling out still swearing like a mad man. It watched as they tore up our car park and tried to build 21 duplex houses on our beach, it watched with glee as we stopped that little evil plot. It watched us go off to the army, it watched us pray for surf. It stood strong and silent as we painted it with huge big white letters so as to leave no doubt “Don’t Live Here, Don’t Surf Here” 

It watched us grow from grommets to men, it watched us go from learning to stand to getting barreled off our heads, it watched us fight, it watched us love. It saw it all.

We have gone, spread out all over the world, only Greg remains faithfull to the end.

It stands there today unchanged, our symbol, our rock, never changing, always there.


Vimeo version if youtube is blocked.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Garvies Beach (3)

Head wounds bleed a lot, of course my first surfing injury was at Garvies. Airforce One came down swallow tail first onto my head one afternoon while surfing after school, Thomas was right next to me as my head opened up like a melon, he walked me back home blood streaming down my face, back and shoulders. We were staying in Admiral Road while our house was being renovated and Gretta almost had a heart attack when she saw me. I remember it perfectly it was a Thursday afternoon, and my dad was at the 4 miler down at the Bluff Athletic Club and came home late that night after a few beers, I sat in the kitchen waiting for him to come home as he was the only one who could take me to the hospital. By the time he finally got home a few hours had passed and the bleeding had eventually stopped. He took one look at the cut, shaved a big bald patch on the top of my head, kind of like a monk, pushed the cut closed and stuck it together with a few plasters. First aid 101, if you can fix it yourself, why bother with a doctor. So when I put my fin into my throat a few weeks later, we just kept surfing.

We literally lived at the beach, we surfed before school which meant waking up at 4am, going past Leroys house, climbing up the gutter pipes onto the ledge that went around the house on the first floor, edging along it past his sisters bedroom to his bedroom and then waking him up. We had this thing that we had to be in the water before the first rays of the sun rose above the horizon, if the sun touched us before we were in the ocean we would turn into stone, so we would sprint down to Garvies, surf then be back home before 6,30am and then go to school. Of course if the surf had been absolutely pumping. Like the one stunningly perfect morning I can remember when there was a slight oily shine in the water, on those days I would get Wade and walk straight out the back gate and back down to the beach.

On weekends we would sleep on the beach, no sleeping bags, just on the sand with a blanket around the fire, not a care in the world.

Those days were fast coming to an end.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Garvies Beach (2)

Surfing had taken over. I honestly thought about going surfing, about the weather, about technique, every spare second of my day was lost to surfing, it was bordering on obsession. School work started to suffer.

I would get dropped off at school every day by my dad at about 6,45am, there were days when you just knew the surf was going to be going crazy, the autumn early mornings when the offshore was blowing, the sun was shining, the surf was pumping and not a single person was at the beach. Those were the days when I would walk straight in the front gate at school get a surf report from someone who had seen the waves as lots of my friends lived overlooking the beach go up to Wade who was my main bunking partner, not much had to be said we would just keep walking and go straight out the back gate of school and off home to steal our own surfboards and spend a day of paradise surfing while everyone was at school.

Sounds too easy and actually it was, but there were consequences. “Bunking” school was punished with 6 of the best. A caning from the headmaster that would leave your backside battered bruised and bleeding. We knew, the rules were clear there was no grey area, if you got caught you would be severely whipped and you would walk around in pain for a few days. You would be punished at school and then again at home. 6 of the best was not something to be taken lightly, it was pain. No matter how hard you tried to hold the tears back after the 3 or 4th stroke of the cane, the ones that broke the skin and started the bleeding, you could not. Evans the headmaster was not an absolute maniac, he would always let you regain your composure and wipe away the tears before you went back out of his office to face your school friends who were always listening and waiting with an evil sadistic glee.

We knew the consequences, so we would always take the back roads first to Wade´s house to pick up his surfboard then to my house to get mine. The Bluff was like living with one huge extended family everyone knew everyone, so if one of you parents friends saw you sneaking around during school hours it would not take long before you were in trouble, so we took the long back roads to make sure we were not caught.

Wade`s mom was always home so we always had some amazing story as to why we were back home from school so early. Our favourite was we collected so many newspapers for recycling we got the day off, I guess I will never know if she actually believed us, but she always just smiled and said that was wonderful and gave Wade his packet of Simba chips and off we went. No one was at my place except Gretta she lived in the kaya (Zulu meaning home) behind the garage and worked in the house full time, cleaning, cooking and basically running after us 24 hours a day. She would not believe a word of what I was saying and would scold me but would never ever give me up. Geez Gretta was a legend, funny how you only appreciate people when it´s too late sometimes.

From my house it was a quick run up Bushlands Road, then down Marine Drive to Sloane Road and Garvies.

It was just Wade and me at Garvies all day, and it was glorious. The teachers would come and look for us, but they mainly looked at Ansteys, and we were never caught by a teacher at the beach. We were however every now and again turned in by someone and the next day, first thing in the morning we would be told we were in trouble and would have to go down to the headmasters office  for our whipping at the end of the day. The waiting was the worst, knowing a beating and pain is imminent is not nice. We would try pad our pants with toilet paper, it never worked and the whipping was always the same.

The life lesson was clear, if you do the crime, be willing to do the time.

Did we do it again, pleasure and pain, action and consequence?

Absolutely, and we did, many more times.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Garvies Beach

We all pretty much started surfing Garvies at the same time, a kind of evolution from the safe waves of town to the rock and roll of the waves nearest to home. It was 79 or 80 when I finally got the courage to walk down Sloane Road with my little twin fin and face the local crew of older guys who ruled at Garvies.

We all did the same thing pretty much at the same time so it made life a bit easier. Paw Paw, Wade, Wayne, Thomas, Leroy, Jack, Johan, Baffy, Tony, Brent. We were the new wave of grommets who all of a sudden invaded the line up.

It was kind of a safety in numbers thing, but we all had to pay the price. There was a heavy bunch of older locals and they made sure we learnt how things were going to be if we wanted to call Garvies our beach. Chippy, Wayne, Brian, Rodney, Lance, Lofty and drunken Duncan they all rode motorbikes, had panel vans, girlfriends, charged hard and they made our lives hell.

There were rules.
1)      You would be buried in the sand as many times as need be and pissed on for any deemed offence.
2)      You could never paddle for any wave unless permission was previously granted.
3)      You had to go on any wave you were told to paddle for.
4)      You would be dragged naked around the car park for fun.
5)      You would not surf on the same side of the pipe unless invited.
6)      You would learn “ if you don’t live here, you do not surf here.”
7)      You would make sure “ Town Clowns go home”.
8)      You would respect your elders and obey their every wish.
9)      You would have dog shit smeared all over you.
10)   You would enjoy it and have fun or you would be punished.

That first summer I spent every single hour possible down at the beach, there are no shops, showers, toilets or anything down at Garvies and it was heaven. We would starve, dehydrate, get burned to a crisp and at the end of every day crawl up the hill and home as happy as you could possibly imagine.

They were the glory days we knew our turn would come. In time it would be our responsibility to uphold the tradition and keep our sanctuary safe from intrusion.

I don’t think we ever imagined just how out of hand things would get.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Bluff.

If you ask someone from the Bluff where they come from they will never ever say they are from Durban, the answer will be the same every time “The Bluff” the response again is always the same, “ Rough and Tough and you come from the Bluff”, to which your reply is a simple “Of Course”. My family have lived on the Bluff for generations and it will always be home.

The Bluff is a narrow peninsular of land that sticks out into the Indian Ocean on the south side of the Durban harbour and obviously is in Durban. People from the Bluff don’t consider themselves to be from Durban. We just feel that we are different, as of course we are. “A breed apart on the other side of Durban”

There is pretty much only one way in and one way out to and from the Bluff and it has some of the best waves you can ever imagine, it holds the NE wind pretty well which is direct onshore on the main Durban beaches. Localism at all the Bluff beaches has always been a thing and they have been fiercely protected for a long time. North to South the main beaches are Garvies, Ansteys, Cave Rock, Brighton and Treasure, with huge spaces of empty breaks in between. It is an empty paradise of waves, fishing, diving and all the good important things in life. The Bluff is never flat it gets every bit of North and South swell the Indian Ocean can muster.

More than half the area of the Bluff is made up of military area on the Northern end and was home to the elite Recce divisions of the SADF. I lived on the Northern side of the Bluff, my primary school was a few hundred metres away and the nearest beach to home was 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Surfing the Early Years (Gunston 500-1981) 2.

If we put what happened those two weeks in Durban into perspective it is just mind blowing really.

A 15 year old grommet from your local beach, enters your local world tour event, via the trials, makes the main event, and wins every single heat and only loses to Slater in the final. Absolutely amazing!!!! Then the very next week he does exactly the same thing and loses to Parko in the final. Well that’s what happened. It happened right before my eyes and will never ever, ever happen again.

I had never ever surfed in a competition before that week, but that changed right there and then. Surfing was a school sport and I decided that I would begin to compete. At school we had to do two sports a year a winter sport and a summer sport. Rugby was compulsory we had to play rugby in winter so I decided surfing would be my summer sport. We had our school surfing competitions at Ansteys beach every Saturday morning.

Ansteys Beach, looking north to Garvies.

I did not surf at Ansteys but a kilometer up the beach at Garvies. We had a good friendly rivalry at school between our beaches and no one had ever beaten the guys from Ansteys ever. Our school had a great surfing history with Spider, Arthur, Rudi, the Spowy brothers and Brad all having surfed for South Africa and they all came from Ansteys.

By 1982 I had my Air Force One, Spider Murphy twinfin and Garvies had gained total domination of the Grosvenor Boys High School surfing bragging rights.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Surfing the Early Days (Gunston 500-1981)

It was in 1981 when everything changed forever.

I had made the change to the Bay Bowl and started hanging out at Dantes, watching the best surfers in South Africa every second weekend when I spent time at my Moms house which was just down the road. We had gone to Jeffreys Bay for the first time in summer of 80/81 and I had shared the line up at Seal Point with Simsy and Rustin, who both were standouts for the Natal provincial junior surfing team. That trip was one of the best holidays I had ever been on and it really was love at first sight. That summer a fire was lit in my soul which still burns bright to this day.

The Bay in all her glory.

Pottz surfed at South Beach, he was just another one of the guys who absolutely ripped in Durban, there were a lot of unbelievable surfers around at all of the beaches. It was obvious Pottz was amazing but so were Tucker, Burn, Hooded, Spowy, the list of red hot groms was long. I never at the time realized how high the standard of surfing in Durban really was. We were so isolated from the rest of the world and we only ever got to see other international surfers when the circus came to town for the Gunston 500. The tour surfers were like gods, I had them plastered all over the walls in my bedroom, every centimeter of wall had cut up surfing magazine pages of the world´s best surfers staring down at me 24 hours a day. I would lie in bed and dream of surfing those exotic waves that every now and again we would see when a surf movie came to town and was shown at the Jewish Club, we would go at least twice to see the same movie so it could all sink in.

The Gunston 500 was a big thing in Durban, thousands of people would flock down the beach every day and watch the contest which was in our winter school holidays, I would go down every day and I would watch every single heat, it was the greatest show on earth, I would go and just suck in as much as I could.

Pottz had just beaten Shaun Tomson in his very first event as a pro the week before the Gunston and went on a rampage that July which to this day is unequalled in the history of the ASP. He was 15 years old and in his very first world tour event he destroyed everyone on his way to the final, where MR the reigning world champ finally put an end to his charge. He did exactly the same thing the very next week at the Mainstay world tour event. He was just another one of the crew and at 15 years old had just come second twice in a row in his very first two world tour events.

I had sat on the roof of Newtons and watched every single minute, it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

1981 was a big year for lighting fires in my gut that’s for sure.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Jack and Leroy

Jack and Leroy, lived closer to the beach than I did. I had to walk past Leroys house on the way to the beach everyday. We were at school together from day one. Jack was in my class since we were 10 years old. Leroy was a year behind. We learned to surf together, we learnt everything together.

We now live spread out over the world. I am by far the happiest when we are just sitting out in the lineup talking shit as if we saw each other every day. Just surfing, laughing, our problems left behind on the beach.

Jack and Leroy know if they asked me anything, I would come anytime anywhere and I know if I asked they would come anytime anywhere.

We also know we would never ask.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Surfing the Early Days (1975-1980) 2

We grew up without TV that only came later to South Africa. I would wake up before dawn and walk down to Wade`s house and his older brothers or dad would drive the 20km into town and South Beach. We were so surf stoked we would paddle out before the first light of dawn and sit out at backline in the pitch dark. The only way we could tell if a wave was coming was when the horizon which was always lit up with the cargo ships that were always at anchor awaiting entry into Durban harbor, suddenly went black. That meant a wave was coming and we would turn and paddle. We had no wetsuits, no leashes, none of the equipment the groms have now days. Our leash was a bit of surgical rubber with a sock tied to one end which we then tied to our ankles. Surf shops did not even exist yet.

For breakfast we would run to the Bakery and get the reject donuts, Chelsea buns and bread that had just come out of the ovens but had small defects so they were sold to us for almost nothing at the back entrance.

I soon got bored of the waves at South beach as they were pretty soft and easy to surf the next spot north was the Wedge. I loved the Wedge, good surfers hung out there it was a very shallow reef break that broke up close to the old wooden pier. I loved the left that came off the reef and I soon ended up surfing there more than anywhere else. Even though Bruce was always up at the Bay, I was nervous to go there without him all of South Africa`s best surfers hung out there and I needed to get a lot better before I dared paddle out at the “Bay Bowl”.

Espo ruled the wedge, he pretty much ruled everywhere but he was the undisputed king at the Wedge and he took no shit from anyone. Every wave was his and he ripped, we all wanted to be like Espo.

The old wooden pier was an excellent fishing spot and it was always full of fisherman fishing for Shad, Grunter and Pompano on the Wedge reef. This always lead to drama as they would cast their sinkers and hooks right into the middle of the tightly packed bunch of surfers surfing on the reef. The surfers and fisherman have always had a love hate relationship on the Durban piers. The day a fisherman casted a sinker that hit Espo was a day I will never forget. He did not say a word he paddled in, went to his car, which then you could park right in front of the aquarium on the lower Marine Parade. He took out a baseball bat and calmly started at the base of the pier and one by one beat the living daylights out of every single fisherman on the pier. 

Years later, the guys at Garvies took this fun little pastime to a whole new level.

Surfing the Early Days (1975-1980)

Surfing the early days. (1975 -1980)

It took a few years after that first day in Ballito before I started surfing with my friends Wade and Paw Paw. We would go down to South Beach where the waves were smaller and a lot easier to surf, I had been given an amazing new purple Lightning Bolt channel bottom single fin and it was my absolute pride and joy. 
South Beach, 1975.

We lived on the Bluff and the waves there were way too heavy for us at first and the older locals were also a wild bunch and they scared the hell out of us. So the first few years we would go into “Town” early in the morning and learn to surf by ourselves. My Mom and Bruce lived in town pretty near the beach so it made things really easy. We would get a lift into town spend the morning at south beach, surfing and just hanging out by ourselves.

The Bluff and Town.

They were amazing times, there was no danger the beaches were safe and we had everything you could possibly ask for. Soccer was still my main sport and surfing was just a pastime really, we lived on the beach and surfing was just something you did. Sport in those days was just that, sport. There was virtually no professional sport of any kind at all and believe it or not any kind of organized sport on Sunday was not allowed by the Nationalist government.

Not for a second did I ever think that surfing would become such an important part of life.

I never set out with that goal in mind, it just kind of fell into place, one step at a time. Looking back I sometimes feel it was destined to be. My uncle “ Harry Hot Dog” was one of South Africa`s pioneer surfers and a surfing living legend. Bruce was one of the main men at the Bay of Plenty, the spawning ground of South African surfing talent and last but by far the most important piece in this equation was I lived just a few hundred metres from Garvies Beach on the Bluff. One of the most localized beaches in Africa and one of the best beach breaks in the world.

Garvies Beach.

Be nice.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Flight 224 (part 2)

Flight 224.

At the time this was exciting news, PP was my friend, we had an inside track as to what was going on.

However and this has come back to me many times over the years. I saw him every day and what for all of us was just another adventure story, for him and his family, must have been a living hell.

 PP never showed any emotion, I actually don’t think any of us ever did, deep down inside we had grown cold. Emotion was a sign of weakness and any weakness was instantly taken advantage of.

PP`s dad had stayed behind, to fight a rearguard action, so his team could escape on the Air India jet. The stuff of legends, you truely could not make this up. He was captured and sentenced to death.

I saw PP every day at school for 2 years while his dad was on death row. We went surfing, life went on. I have thought about that a lot. I could not imagine my children having to deal with that, I honestly tremble at the thought of my children having to deal with that.

In a way he is a hero, an example. A lot later in life, when I needed inspiration to get through tough times I have thought of PP and how hard that must have been.

Even though I had no idea at the time I was learning a lesson, no matter how bad things seem, keep the faith.

His dad eventually came home in 1983.

-The Seychelles Govt arrested the seven (6 men and 1 woman) who remained on the Seychelles and tried the men (June-July 1982). The charges against the woman were dropped.Four of the six were sentenced to death (Brooks, Carey, England and Puren), Dolinchek was sentenced to 20years imprisonment and Sims to 10. After negotiations, all were eventually returned to SA in mid-1983.

-In January 1982 an International Commission, appointed by the UN Security Council, made an inquiry of this mercenary aggression.
-Hoare and his mercenaries (45 in total??) were tried on their return to South Africa, but not for having attempted to organize a coup in a foreign country. The accused were charged before court with specific offenses under the Civil Aviation Offenses Act of 1972. The judge concluded that the SA Govt. was not involved in the Seychelles affair. Hoare got 10 years, Peter Duffy (??), Mike Webb, Tullio Moneta and Pieter Doorewaard (probably the most senior of the Recce Commando reservists) were sentenced to 5 years, Ken Dalgliesh to 1 year, and Charles Goatley to 2 1/2 years; The other mercs (39?) were freed.
-Pretoria Govt, embarrassed, opened negotiations for the return of the 6 arrested men. SA govt. paid President René a ransom of $ 3 million (of which his cabinet was not informed) and came to a broader understanding wit Pres. René personally
-Beset by attention of foreign secret services and by plots of within, Pres. René asked his friend, the Italian businessman Mario Ricci to help improve his security service . He realized that he needed to adjust his foreign policy to accommodate SA interests, at least in some measure.
-In the aftermath of the 1981 coup attempt SA secret services came fully to appreciate Ricci's significance as a potential intermediary with President René. SA "super-spy' Craig Williamson developed in the mid-1980's a close relationship with Ricci.

1. Seychelles was of considerable strategic interest to the USA, USSR, France, South Africa and
others, all of which sought to exercise influence in this islands.
After 1979 (when SA's main supply of oil was threatened) Seychelles had a minor but distinct role to play in the new strategy of the 'total onslaught'. The islands offered a) potential military facilities and
b) could possible be used as a base for clandestine trading purposes in the face of economic
sanctions (after the Iranian revolution of 1979 especially oil). SA was unhappy with the rule of
President René, far to the left of his predecessor. So, a coup was planned with the
objective, to bring down the government of President René and install Mr. Mancham (the former
President): the long term aim in overthrowing the Seychelles Government was to have a
base from which the Tanzanian Government could be destabilized, Mr. Dolinchek said. Other
reasons included landingrights for SAA aircraft and a strategic base on the important Cape sea

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Flight 224

Air India Flight 224.

25 November 1981.

I tried to tell this story a few times a long time ago but, I could just tell no one believed a single word I was saying. This was before Google so there was never any proof just my story.

PP sat next to me in class throughout high school, he lived about 500 meters down the road and we were pretty good friends. He had an older brother JP and a younger sister. His dad Jerry sold second hand cars in Durban and was French. We all knew he was a soldier of fortune and was one of “Mad Mike Hoares” right hand men. We had heard the stories of the revolution in the Belgian Congo and how romantic and adventurous it all sounded, but we often heard battle stories at school. There was always some one`s older brother, cousin, or friend who was on the “Border” and every now and then we would see a few secretly taken photos of the guys up in Angola. The photos of a contact were by far the most eagerly shown around. The photos of bloated dead bodies of the “Terrs” were the most prized.

The news spread though the school like wildfire, a commercial airliner had been high jacked and was going to land at Louis Botha, Durban International Airport. Our school was close to the airport and right under the flight path of any landing airplane when the south wind blew.

Within hours we heard the news on the radio, PP`s father was somehow involved.

Date (coup attempt): 25 November 1981
Place: Mahé International Airport on Mahé Island (Seychelles)

Objective of the coup was to bring down the Seychelles government of President France-Albert
René and to re-install the former President James Mancham.

President France-Albert René: he ousted the former President Mancham in the 1977 coup
[SE:167]. Mancham had been 'enthusiastically wooed by former information Secretary Eschel
Rhoodie as a politically ally' and SA was unhappy with the rule of René. After the overthrow of
Mancham, SA aircraft landing rights were withdrawn and SA'n economic overtures collapsed.
[S.Tribune 29/11/81]

Hoare and his 43 mercenaries (Notes*1) were disguised as tourists: rugbyplayers and members of
a beer-drinking group called the "Ancient Order of Frothblowers." They arrived in a Royal Swazi jet on Mahé, carrying their own weapons. Nine mercs (members of Hoare's advance guard) were already on the island on the evening of Wednesday, 25 November 1981.

-In 1978 Seychelles exiles in SA, acting on behalf of ex-president James Mancham, began
discussions with officials concerning a coup attempt to be launched in Seychelles.[SE:172] Gérard
Hoareau, Seychelle dissident, was one of the authors of the 1981 coup attempt. Later expelled from
SA. -As coup plans developed, the operation became en object of struggle between the Military
Intelligence service (MI) and the civilian one (NIS). The SA Government allocated the coup
operation to MI, but appointed Martin Dolinchek as a liaison officer on behalf of the NIS. [SE:173]
- Operation entrusted to Mike Hoare ('Mad Mike' Hoare), an Irish mercenary soldier (ex-Congo)
living in SA as a civilian. Among the 53 people selected to carry out the coup: some members of the
SA special forces (Recces), several former Rhodesian soldiers and ex-Congo mercs [SE:173;

Coup attempt. The coup attempt was unexpectedly triggered off when an alert customs official
spotted an AK-47 assault rifle in the luggage of one of the mercs [RDMail 13/4/82].The invaders fought a brief gun-battle at the airport and 45 live mercenaries escaped aboard an Air
India jet (Air India Boeing aircraft Flight 224) which happened to be on the tarmac and which they
hijacked. One merc had died during the skirmish. Five soldiers, a female accomplice and also
Martin Dolinchek (alias Anton Lubic) were left behind.[Mockler:311]
The mecs took some hostages, who were later freed unharmed.
A police sergeant was wounded and an army 2nd lieutenant David Antat was killed

dont be mean

Monday, 8 April 2013

Morphine Memories One (full Chapter)

Morphine Memories (one)

Pantin, Spain. 31 July 1993.

I am not sure how the handcuffs got into my possession I think they were bought by the boys for psycho slut, the French groupie that had been stalking us for weeks. For some reason they were in my Kombi, I know Miss Piggy had put them to use the night before in the car park in front of where we were staying at Casa Ramos up on the hill above the beach in Pantin. The whole restaurant had marveled at how brightly luminous condoms can shine from behind misted up backseat car windows, but that is an entirely different story altogether.

The day had ended badly. I had just lost my heat in the round of 32, I needed a pretty low score and slipped and fell on my last wave, ended up 3rd and eliminated with an equal 17th place. I was not happy, I was used to quarter finals or better, this was my last year on tour, I wanted some good results. I was pissed off. For some reason there was a lot of green seaweed in the water it was terrible, slippery and caused a lot of drag, I had decided to surf without a leash and had fallen on my first wave and lost too much time in that green mess, a bad error of judgment, I was not happy that afternoon.
Most of us travelled and lived in camper vans and Kombis, a small flotilla of vans following the European leg of the ASP world tour, we were a pretty tight knit bunch and were on a kind of permanent surfing adventure, from town to town, country to country, it was astounding really.

There were always girls around, they loved hanging out with us in the vans, they were not shy, they were far from shy. None of us spoke Spanish and none of them spoke English. That never seemed to matter we all spoke a common language.

Grish and Spence, stopped at my van, they were going into town, it was going to be a big night, there was a rock band playing, everyone was going to Ferrol, it was Saturday night, summer and we had all lost that day. It was time to let of some steam. I thought about it for a few minutes said, right let`s go. I kicked the girls out and got ready, one of the girls got back into the van and was making a bit of a fuss, I had no idea what she was going on about, but she refused to get out. Clearly she wanted me to stay with her but that was not going to happen.

The handcuffs were on the stove. I handcuffed her to the bed, locked the Kombi, got in the car with Spence and Grish and we drove into Ferrol 20 km away, little did I know then the biggest night of my life was waiting in Ferrol.

Grish looked at me and smiled, he knew, he was the best player of all. It had all started with Gorilla Biscuits and Bullo a year ago In Tapia, or was it that first day in France in Lacanau when we stumbled onto the nude beach searching for good waves in the forest. No of course not, actually it began the very first day I arrived in Europe back in April 90.

I had never seen anything like it. South Africa was just so different, nudity was banned. Any kind of nakedness was not allowed the Nationalist government had made it a criminal offence to print or publish any kind of nudity. We had been led to believe it was a sin and the NGK (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk ) deemed any kind of moral misbehavior would most certainly end up with you burning in hell for all eternity. After my first night out in Newquay where I just happened to bump into a bunch of nurses on a hen`s night out, I knew I was damned.

It was Bullo in Tapia that started to keep a tally after Gorilla Biscuits and her friend had taken advantage of us while we were happily experimenting with the wonders of Cidra, the Asturian apple cider that was freely flowing in the bars of the small port town one night.  We never paid for drinks the bars wanted us there, where the surfers were, that’s where the action was and everything was always free. They were crazy times.


I was in the first heat of the contest the next day, so I needed to get back to the Kombi, rested and ready for the final day. Cidra is like apple juice and it sneaks up on you and when it hits it leaves you in a mess. One minute I was fine the next I could hardly stand, I needed to get back to the Kombi.

Bullo gave her the name Gorilla Biscuits and she came out of nowhere I had not said a word to her all night but the moment I left the bar she came running after me. She was French, a yoga instructor and I was doomed.

Spence frowned at me and asked “did you just handcuff that girl to the bed” I laughed, they were real metal but were just toy handcuffs and were broken. She could easily get out of them and unlock the van from inside and leave. Grish laughed anything for another dot on the door.

Everyone knew what the dots on the doors of the Kombi stood for, we were the “Surfers from Hell, the Death Division” and we were free on a wild rampage through Europe. I really cannot explain the feeling of freedom and adventure of those years. Before everything had been so structured, discipline was everything in South Africa, first at school then the army. There were always consequences for any deviations and they usually always involved punishment and pain.

Bullo started the tally. It eventually evolved to the dots on the door, but began with Gorilla Biscuits friends panties tied to the radio antennae of the Kombi, a trophy for everyone to see, proudly flown from town to town, country to country.

I never made it back to the Kombi that night in Tapia, It was Bullo´s turn. I ended up in the backseat of a two door Peugeot 106 which was parked in the middle of the town square. Biscuits helped me there, I was all of a sudden in no state for anything and started vomiting like crazy, all over her, all over her car, someone must have slipped something into my drink. I was dead on my feet. I awoke the next morning with the blazing sun in my face, totally naked with a bunch of old women dressed in black shouting at me through the car windows. Biscuits had disappeared it was late in the morning and I had no doubt missed my heat and an opportunity to earn a bit of badly needed cash.

That night I realized I was out of my depth, I was not prepared. Growing up in Apartheid South Africa had not prepared me for this. I had always considered myself a liberal thinker, we were a liberal thinking family at home in Durban.

I vomited on Biscuits head and without so much as a blink she looked up and kissed me, now that was a defining moment. It was the moment I realized I knew nothing and was about to enter into a whole new phase of education.

I will never forget that moment, it was brief, an instant in time but it is forever imprinted in my brain. The moment she came across the park towards us, we had arrived in Ferrol it was a glorious summers evening, still bright daylight at 10 in the evening. We had arrived right into the middle of the town`s summer festival and there were hundreds of people in the streets.

She came directly towards me and we crossed paths, our eyes met just for an instant and I swear my heart skipped a beat. I had seen many beautiful women in Spain, there are swarms of beautiful women in Spain they are everywhere but she took my breath away.

She was wearing an amazingly sexy Gaultier black leather waistcoat with silver pointed studs, tight fitting blue jeans, jet black long flowing hair, she was a goddess. Our eyes met she walked past me and she was gone into the crowd.
We crossed the park and went into the club. It was packed the whole contest was already there it was going crazy. Grish and Spence pushed in the crowd and that was the last time I saw them that night.

There are times when you can just feel it deep down inside, a kind of shiver a nervous thrill, you just know that something big is happening. It is not a conscious thing, like a deja vu kind of feeling you just know something is going to happen. The moment I stepped into the club that night, I got goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Yes it was going to be a huge night.

Peth was there, Beto was there, they were ASP judges and they had a group of girls cornered at the bar, they knew I had just lost in the last heat of the day they called me over and offered me a drink. We were like a big travelling circus, they knew what I normally drank, Peth handed me a vodka and orange, looked me straight in the eyes and said, you take the short one with the blue eyes and I´ll take her friend with the big tits.

I swear in Spain there must be more bars than people, it has to be seen to be believed. The way it works is you have a drink or two in one bar then move onto the next as you go along you collect more people into your group and lose others. The night never ends as it began and never ends as you expected. It’s a real life living experiment of the “Chaos Theory” and it is glorious.

Peth, Berto, Blue Eyes, Big Tits and myself were cruising we had gathered quite a number of people in our pack as we went from bar to bar. It is nothing like F1 after every pit stop, you do not go faster your chances of spinning out just become greater and greater. I was learning fast, this was not a sprint like South Africa where everything closed just after midnight or like the UK where the bars closed at 11pm. This was a marathon, the discos only opened after 1am and the parties lasted till long after the sun had risen the next day. After the shock of being abused by naughty Gorilla Biscuits in Tapia, I had learned my lesson. Pacing yourself was everything.

One of Spain´s biggest and best all time bands was playing in Ferrol that night and the town was packed, the streets were full, the bars were full, once again I felt that feeling. South Africa had not prepared me for this I had never seen so many happy young people, freely walking the streets, no restraints, no restrictions of any kind. In South Africa we had just come out of a “state of emergency” where martial law had been declared and no one freely roamed the streets at night. This was a new thing for me.

I saw her again, almost in the same place, this time we crossed paths going in opposite directions. She gave me a sultry defiant stare and the smallest of smiles as she brushed past into the crowd. She was going to the bar we had just left. Blue Eyes gave me a dirty glance as I turned around and watched her walk away into the ever growing crowd.

At the last possible moment just as she disappeared into the mass of people going to the rock concert, she turned ever so slightly and looked back and smiled.
Bingo, it was game ON.

I have no idea how long the bar roulette went on for, it seemed as if the whole of Ferrol was out that night, we kept on bumping into people from the contest then losing them again only to meet up later somewhere else. The boys from Pukas in their Renault Espace, were on a mission, with Pablo and Ignacio leading their charge. They were by far the real masters at this game, I was just a mere apprentice we could not keep up and always seemed to be a few paces behind them. Throughout the night they seemed to drift in and out of vision as we kept crossing paths, their car always full of laughing girls and raging surfers. If an award for the naughtiest guy on tour was awarded Pablo would have been the winner hands down, if ever there was a problem Pablo was guaranteed to be involved.

The year before in Pantin we had drama in the water, it was solid a good 8 feet, big lumps of ocean, perfect for me, I had 3 Basque surfers, Pablo, Gorka and Jorge in the quarter finals. It should have been an easy heat, semis next almost a sure thing.

We were sitting up against the cliffs and as soon as the heat started I dashed into the middle of the bay with Pablo sticking to me like glue, a perfect left stood up right in front of me and I was perfectly placed to get a bomb wave in the first minute of the heat, a perfect start.

I looked at Pablo he was too deep, impossible for him to go, he was famous for playing dirty, He was paddling over the wave and shouted for me to go, I turned took two digs and was up and gone. As soon as I committed he had turned and thrown himself over the falls, somehow made the drop, bottom turned and was right behind me. A classic interference, my contest had come to an end.

I was not angry I was fuming, I wanted to smash his head in, instead we were getting caught by set after set and getting smashed ourselves right up against the cliffs and rocks of Pantin. Earlier in the day the contest had been called off while one of the Owen twins rescued another competitor who was drowning in the middle of the heat, so this was not a game this was heavy water pushing us up against the rocks. My anger dissipated fast as survival came first.

Eventually there was a break in the sets and we made it safely back into the lineup I was swearing and cursing at Pablo the other two competitors gave us both a nervous glance and moved as far away from us as possible, I said to them not to worry they would advance into the semis as Pablo was not going anywhere. I grabbed his leash, wrapped it round my arm and paddled him out to sea. He was not going to get another wave, not if I could help it.

We sat in open ocean for the next 25 minutes with Pablo frantically trying to get away but I held him like my life depended on it, the whole beach and every other competitor was watching, let this be a lesson. With a minute to go a perfect big right stood up right in front of me, I let Pablo`s leash go paddled for it and went. It was a perfect wave I got a big score and just missed making the semis by a fraction of a point. Pablo got last the only wave he caught that heat was the wave of the interference. We had a little scuffle on the sand before we were broken apart and we went our separate ways.

So that night when I saw Pablo being chased out of the disco we were about to enter and down the road by a group of apparently very angry guys and a few policemen, I smiled put my arm around Blue Eyes and walked in.

Things went downhill pretty fast from there. It was packed, more and more people poured into the club, our group was growing by the minute. I have no idea how or why the owner of the club came over and ordered us all another round of drinks, he started talking to Peth who was by now hardly able to stand and was drooling all over Big Tits.
One minute we were all in the mosh pit, going berserk and the next we were on the stage, the owner was mumbling something to me and was handing me  notes of cash. I had no idea what the hell was going on, Berto said to me dance, just dance, dance, dance.

Berto who at the best of times was a bit creepy was the one who started it. The stage had a kind of walkway, so like a bunch of dancing monkeys, we started dancing. The crowd was loving it and then all of a sudden went wild. I turned around to see Berto had started to rip his clothes off, I had no choice but to do the same.

I suppose there is a first time for pretty much everything in life and this was the first time I had literally hundreds of crazy screaming girls at my feet and they were shoving more notes of cash at us. The rest of our group were literally rolling around on the floor laughing, it was pretty hilarious. We were down to our underpants and people were stuffing money into them, it was one of the most bizarre situations ever.

I looked over at Peth and Big Tits and there she was, talking to Blue Eyes staring right at me. She was the only person in the club who was not laughing.

Shit! she was friends with Blue Eyes and Big Tits, I jumped down off the stage, managed to rescue most of my clothes, shoved the notes I had stashed in my underwear into my pocket, quickly got dressed and walked over to Peth as if nothing had happened. Everyone was laughing hysterically as Berto tried to get naked and the bouncers pulled him off the stage and out the back.

I looked at her, walked up and said let`s go, she said ok and we left.

We walked the streets talking, the Pukas Renaut Espace was still cruising around like some kind of ghostly phantom. I wanted to see her again, we sat in the park, and before we knew it the sun was rising, everyone had disappeared and I was stranded in Ferrol. She walked me to the taxi rank, pushed me in a taxi and told the driver to take me back to Pantin.
The taxi driver was jabbering away the whole trip but I had half passed out in the back seat, I grabbed some of the crumpled notes I still had in my underwear, paid him and opened the door to my Kombi. The moment I stepped in she hit me and started yelling like a mad thing. Jesus Christ what the hell was going on?

I had forgotten all about the girl handcuffed to the bed, what the hell was she still doing there. She was still handcuffed to the bed and had wet her pants.