All of us had, had an easy life, pretty much the best of everything. I know I did, I really thought it was normal, that’s just the way it was.
We had a live in maid Gretta, she did everything, I had never washed the dishes, washed my clothes, made my bed and had most definitely never ever done any ironing before.
Basic training inspections were brutal, designed to break you, to break down your resistance slowly but surely, it was impossible to be 100 % perfect the corporal would always find something wrong and we would all be punished, no matter how hard we tried to get it right, we never could.
Winters in Pretoria are cold, freezing cold, the temperature drops into the freezing zone every night so waking up at 4am every morning to polish the floors, make your beds, iron your uniforms with absolute precision after only a few hours sleep every night slowly but surely chipped away at all of our moral. The combination of extreme physical activity day after day combined with the lack of sleep and continued punishment broke a lot of guys. It seemed never ending soon it was a mission just getting through each day.
The isolation from everything was complete, no telephones, no contact with any friends or family only via written mail, no TV, we did have a radio in our bungalow but that was it. I remember listening to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. South Africa was banned from competing but Zola Budd was there running barefoot for the UK but we all knew she was South Africa`s great hope for a medal. On the last bend of the last lap she tripped and fell taking out the other favourite from the USA.
Toast was a Springbok surfer and he arrived into our company 4 weeks late, he had been competing somewhere and had been given permission to arrive late, he missed all the worst of training. It was then I realised sport gave you breaks in the SADF, if you were an elite sportsman doors opened.