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My Life Matriculation


The story of my life in Krugersdorp continues. In the last episode , The Plumber, you left me standing open mouthed in my uncle Louie's shop. He had just ordered Ma to see that I return to school and not run around searching for a job as a meagre shop attendant.


The Summer vacation over, I returned with Ma and Pa, in the bottle green Chev Biscayne from our annual holiday by the sea in Muizenberg.

All my uncles and my old man owned a house on the mountainside, just below Boye’s Drive. Each evening after returning from an outing to Cape Town or from a swim in the stunning surf of the Indian Ocean, I would sit on the white washed balcony, watching the moon and the stars appear over False Bay.


1954 had begun with the carnival in Cape Town’s Adelaide Str. Now, back in Krugersdorp, with my memories, I sat in STD VIII in KHS. My parent’s aspirations forgotten, I was on the path of scholarship. I still had no idea what career to follow.

The reason for the block in my mind was simple. I thought only in terms of a career for earning a living. That is no way to choose a career, I can tell you. The most highly paid jobs in the future might turn out to be the lowest paid jobs of the present. For example nobody would pay tuppence in 1954 for a computer operator, and who would have dreamed that an astronomer would earn millions in 2020.

I dreamed of being a writer, but only a few writers earned a living from a writing career. So that was out of the question.

At least now I knew for certain that I would have to pass matric and I’d have to study something that required academic study. So I can say, I had learned something.

I passed STD VIII, now what? I entered STD IX. The number of things I didn’t understand had been mounting up steadily. At the end of STD IX they had swamped out the things I understood. I drowned in the things I couldn’t understand. Telling my teachers that I loved learning didn’t help, they sought proof in solid answers in exams. I couldn’t produce the goods.

With new determination to acquire a matric certificate the folks forked out the money and sent me to Damelin College.


At that amazing institution nobody cared whether I understood or not, nor whether I liked the subject or not. Mr Witt crammed mathematics into my head. Mr Kriel Afrikaans and history and another teacher, Mr Brummer, a tall slim guy, always in a grey suit, whose name I can’t remember, crammed me full of Economics and Commerce. I regurgitated everything, like a parrot, in the exams and passed with flying colours.

Now, once again the critical choice had to be made. This time it would have to be academic. Plumbing and keeping shop were no longer alternatives, matric had raised my level and there was no going back.



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