A Jetsetter’s Photoless Photo Album — Worcester

Worcester — no, not the one in England, but the one in the Cape, holds some bitter-sweet memories for me. It was there where I experienced the pain of being labelled “not good enough to succeed”, but also happy memories of special people and good times. Though the place has evolved somewhat since I left, let me tell you about the Worcester I remember.

It’s a small town in the Hex River Valley — a beautiful place between the mountains. It was stiflingly hot in summer and icy cold in winter, adding to that miserable state the fact that it rains in winter. Because of its location, right in the valley, virtually every street had to have a gutter; this prevented flooding of the town.

I remember nicking chappies from the café. I remember the negosiewa where I used to buy about three handfuls of almonds for R5. And I remember the chico the clown desserts we always ordered when we were treated to a meal in Spur.

I remember that every hostel purported to have a ghost or two. In the boys’ hostel, the resident ghost used to wash their backs – or so the story goes. No ghosties did me any favours, thanks. 🙂

I’ll never forget some of the teachers. Since Worcester is where I went to school for the most part, these colourful people are a part of the town. Here are some of my snapshots:

Mrs. Van Rooyen: Some of us in our class used to infuriate her; we used to ask her biblical questions that were impossible to answer. We used to say very heathenish things just to rile her up. I bet she thought I’m destined for the hot place.

The top snapshot though is when she asked one of the other pupils in my class for a toffee. He didn’t want to give it, but because she demanded it, he reluctantly did. She sat at her desk, lustily chewing the toffee until … a shriek; she broke her tooth.

Mr. Hartmann (Sir): Always such a diehard gentleman, hence the nickname Sir. He was my primary school English (and some other subjects which I can’t remember) teacher. He had a soft, rich voice, and a terrible Afrikaans accent, which, in a predominantly Afrikaans school, earned him some serious mockings. Now, there is a lot I can tell you about Sir – and I think I’m going to do just that.

The first stand-out incident I remember was one day during my standard 3 year. I was dating a boy named Neville. One day during games time (it was end of term), Sir surprised me into laughter when he said: “Neville, I see STARS in your eyes.”

Then: I think I was in Standard 4. Me and a friend were walking around the school premises in the vicinity of the hall chatting when I heard a loud explosive sound one should not hear in public (no need to say more, I hope). We stood surprised, wondering where the sound came from.

While pondering the mystery, we heard it again – much louder this time. Now bear in mind: I was just an immature little girl. And here’s what I did:

I clapped my hands and shouted: “Well done! Well done! Louder! Louder! There was a hushed silence, and then a rich, well-manicured voice said: “Trrracy, you ARE making a noise!” Well, my cheeks nearly burnt a hole in my face.

He tried to be professional at all times. But us pesky pupils made his veneer slip a little. Sometimes more than a little.

I remember one day seeing him really angry. He couldn’t pronounce “diere” (animals) and it came out like doors. So, unthinkingly, a fellow pupil wrote the word as he would pronounce it.

I’ve never heard him laugh until one particular day. He was helping me prepare for a debate, and I wanted to say “I am in favour of”, but said “I am in flavour.” He roared with laughter and so did I.

There’s much more I can say, but I’ll leave the poor man alone. I bet he doesn’t want to remember our terrible class anyway, what with the grey hairs we probably brought about. So on to the next victim.

Mr. Wright: First up, one day while we were writing our exams, he did some acrobatic trick, jumping from desk to desk. Unfortunately, somewhere in all of this, he misjudged the distance and hit the floor. No silence after that, just side-splitting laughter.

I was supposed to mention that he was my primary school maths teacher. Whenever we got our multiplication tables wrong, he would say: “Ha! Tables are for the birds! Why learn tables? Tables are for the birds!!”

I remember for some reason a double maths period was cancelled. Good old Trasles did a whoop, a shriek and a jig and shouted: “No horrible maths today!” I didn’t feel so elated though, when I found him standing behind me, and heard the hurt in his voice.

Now that I look at my album, I realize just how fat an bulky my Worcester album is. So, I’ll save some for later – else I’ll be writing a novel. So stay tunedfor more Worcester weirdness. 🙂

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