Die Foefieslide

The contraption that we called a “Foefieslide” was created by slinging a length of steel, multi strand cable between two trees.  The trees had to be at different elevations so that the cable ran from a high point to a low point and the steeper the angle of decline the better.  A pulley wheel with a handle was slid onto the cable prior to securing the cable ends to their respective trees.  A length of rope was tied to the pulley so that it could be reeled up to the high point where the brave (or stupid?) could grab hold of the handle with both hands and then launch themselves to slide down the length of the cable.  Generally the height of the cable above the ground was sufficient to dissuade the one sliding down from letting go.  The choice was simple.  You could let go and break some bones in the fall or you could hold on until the end of the ride.  No one let go!

On the day in question we had a newly made slide that was not only high but ran over water and it needed a test run.  Quite stupidly I had volunteered.

 Die Foefieslide

 Staal tou tussen twee bloekombome
Lekker styf gespan
Oor die water lê sy weg
Met slegs ʼn katrol om aan vas te hang
 
Stewig vas aan beide kant
Een hoog daarbo die ander laag
Finaal getoets, ja als is reg
“Toe nou manne wie gaan dit waag?”
 
“Ek’s nie bang” sê ons jong held
En begin die boom te klim
Sjoe! Maar dis hoog as ek moet val
Bly daar van my bra min
 
Dis nou te laat ek kannie terug
Al breek ek hier my nek
My bek’s te groot dit weet ek goed
Daar’s nou geen kop uittrek
 
Vat dan goed vas en skop my weg
Op pad met volle vaart
Dis maklik vir dié daar op die wal
Hulle gee my goeie raad
 
My oë is toe, my hande klam
Meteens tref voete grond
Ek’s veilig nou en sê “Dis niks”
Maar my hart sit in my mond
 
Nou gaan die ander een vir een
Ek lag vir hulle vrees
Dit kan ek doen, ek is mos baas
Ek het die foefieslide oorheers

Kleilat Gooi

My youth was spent (or perhaps misspent) in the vicinity of a number of goldmine dumps and two small dams. The dams were fed by a combination of water pumped from mine dewatering operations and rainwater runoff, neither of which was very healthy I suspect. We didn’t care whether the water was good for us or not and played and swam many long summers away in the one dam or the other. The upper dam was known by us as the “Blue” dam while the lower dam was the “Brown” dam. The major difference between the two was that the “Blue” dam had sticky yellow clay deposits along its shoreline and we spent many happy hours making war by hurling clay balls at one another using short sticks cut from the blue gum trees. The idea is simplicity itself. First you cut a 600 to 700 millimetre long blue gum stick of about 15 to 20 millimetre diameter. Then you gather a huge lump of the yellow clay and knead it until it’s nice and plastic. Then you mould a lump of clay the size of a golf ball on to one end of the stick and holding the other end firmly in your hand, you swing the stick in a 90 degree arc starting from a horizontal position and stopping abruptly at the vertical position. This action has the effect of releasing the lump of clay from the tip of the stick and turning it into a projectile that, with practice can be accurately aimed at a target and delivered with painful consequences if the target happens to be human.

Many a bloodless battle was thus fought between two opposing armies and the most serious injuries that I can recall were some lumps and a few multi coloured bruises.

KLEILAT GOOI

Daar onder by die Bloudam
Was die klei so taai en geel
En elke dag was dit onspret
Om kleilat te gaan speel
 
Gepaste lat van bloekomboom
Brei klont stewig op sy spits
Lanseer die skoot op volle vaart
Die vyande goed te klits
 
Dis ek en Bob teen Boet en Jan
Elkeen het hope klei
Staan dan gereed, oorlog begin
Die klonte gons verby
 
Jan tref vir Bob hier langs sy kop
ʼn prima skoot voorwaar
dis twee teen een tot hy herstel
ek gooi net aanmekaar
 
Boet tref my skielik teen die bors
Dit pyn maar ek moet veg
Ek korrel goed en brand weer los
Jan snik en vryf dan aan sy nek
 
Die stryd woed voort met onopthoud
Tot laat sons ondergaan
En more kry ons weer die kans
Ons vyand te verslaan

Die Kettie

I grew up in an area close to several small dams and a number of blue gum (Eucalyptus) tree plantations. The trees served as nesting places for a variety of bird species chief of which was the turtle dove. At weekends and during school holidays I would spend many happy hours in the plantations “hunting” turtle doves with my trusty homemade catapult which consisted of a forked stick with a length of elastic (cut from an inner tube) attached at one end to each of the two forks and a patch of leather joining the two lengths of elastic at the other.  Had I relied on my hunting ability to feed myself I would have frequently gone hungry but at the time I imagined I was a master hunter. The commonly used Afrikaans word for a catapult is “kettie” and this poem is accordingly titled “DIE KETTIE”.

Die Kettie

Met n rekker van n trekker binneband
En ʼn mikstok van n bloekomboom in hand
Was ek die bobaas kleinwild jagter
Geseen met bomenslik spoorsnykragte
Om troppe voels van eenderse vere
Plus hope ander ongedierte menere
Te laat les opsê met onfeilbare skoot
En ʼn spoelklip as boodskapper van die dood