A Novel of a Road-Rage Decision.

I thought, after a really nasty attitude by a traffic cop roadblock, that I might just understand the ultimate road rage of losing it completely and blowing them away. That action which would send one’s life to hell because of one stupid emotional blow-out.

purgatory cov frontPURGATORY ROAD – self-published 2008. Originally written in the ‘70s, this is another non-PC tale set in Southern Africa. I didn’t try to dolly it up to meet our more exacting PC obligations of the present, but to reflect the moment in history through the eyes of a South African pale-face.

At the time, in the early ‘70s, Apartheid South Africa was under siege from the self-righteous West and by the Communist Block (in retrospect, a weird alliance.) From a vision of Southern Africa’s nations proudly developing their own states separately, Apart-ness morphed into a majority oppressed by a privileged minority. Of course the vision was flawed, and even naive, but the intentions were, I perhaps also naively think, not bad. They just could not come to fruition in any practical manner, so the experiment exploded when nobody else shared the impractical dream.

The Bush War in Rhodesia was in full cry. Both the Rhodesians and South Africans were under sanctions. Petrol was rationed; speed limits to save fuel were in force. PURGATORY ROAD unfolds against that background as a stockfeed salesman speeds home to his little farm at midnight and runs afoul of a roadblock manned by corrupt police. He stands to lose his little dream-farm, and his job.

He snaps. Minutes later, he is a murderer.

At home, he finds that his wife, a city girl, has left him. With a death sentence awaiting him and nothing to live for, he sets off for Rhodesia and the Bush War, to commit a useful suicide.

It is a tale of redemption set against the powder-keg of 1970s Southern Africa.

Some reviews:

What sets Peter J Earle’s debut novel,

Purgatory Road, apart from the

rest of the genre is his compelling

no-nonsense, fast-paced narrative using

credible characters and a strong

sense of location, delivered in

unpretentious language.

In short: refreshing and remarkable.

– READERS’ FORUM BOOK CLUB –

Dexter Petley

Dexter Petley – author

…a veld-noir

just ripe for the

picking with an

original setting

and an incredible

knowledge of

the terrain. – Dexter Petley, author.

 

James NESBITT

James Nesbitt – author

“...Stafford is a product of his times — born in South Africa well before the end of apartheid and white-minority rule in that country, drawn to again take up arms to defend white-minority rule in Rhodesia as a death-wish penance for his horrible crime. Earle makes no apologies for Stafford being on the wrong side of history and portrays the time and place of his novel with unblinking frankness and the same absence of apologia….Stafford knows he is caught in a vise and that’s what makes this such a classic noir tale. The setting may be the veldt, but the feel is the concrete urban jungle of American noir. Earle deftly ratchets up the fear and pressure while masterfully bringing to life one country well before its dramatic change and another that no longer exists. That’s what makes PURGATORY ROAD such a crackling read.”Jim Nesbitt, author of THE LAST SECOND CHANCE and THE RIGHT WRONG NUMBER

Enquiries and Orders for the soft-cover edition from me: sales@peterjearle.com

eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Purgatory-Road-Peter-J-Earle-ebook/dp/B01M6ZJX5S

More reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11423727-purgatory-road

 

Posted in Backgrounds, Exploring Africa, racial development, Shaping a writer, South Africa, Writing novels | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Non-PC Reflections on my first novel

Some South Africans clearly remember the increasing difficulties of life in their country as the World focused, in the seventies and eighties, on bringing the Apartheid regime to its knees by, among other methods, increasingly throttling sanctions.

Both the sanctions and the resistance thereto impacted on both the Haves and the Have-nots. Besides the tightening of belts, heightened security and stringent racial controls, there was innovation and invention.

A view through white eyes during that time expressed now is of course blatantly non-PC. However, it is historic. There is also no doubt that a certain feeling of guilt for their privilege was at the time, if not blossoming, beginning to bud.

Barros eBookCommunism was the bogeyman of the day, and a tool of good use by the burgeoning Black Resistance. My novel, written in the ’70s but finally seeing light of day in 2008, THE BARROS PAWNS, reflects this unease at the imbalance of justice, as well as the feeling of threat and the security methods used to counter the Communist advances. Only a thriller novel of adventure and the efforts by various ruthless interested parties to manoeuvre the struggle of Frelimo in Mozambique to shed the yoke of Portuguese colonial control, the background, nevertheless, is a reasonable reflection of the times.

Prof Pelissier

Dr René Pélissier

French historian, Dr René Pélissier, had this to say about THE BARROS PAWNS:

…We have in hand a late testimony on the Wagnerian twilight of Portuguese colonization in Mozambique in 1974, little before and after the 25th of April. We are under the impression the author of “The Barros Pawns” is not only inspired by Jorge Jardim, but he has visited him or has been close to him, at least at the end of his golden age.

In any case, the author probably lived in Central Mozambique at that time (early 1970’s), as he reveals himself to be an expert on the Rhodesian and South African Secret Services, as well as on the shady world of mercenaries which some rich (or super-rich) colonists of the Extreme Right want or wanted to recruit in order to save their interests against the MFA and the FRELIMO. One does not improvise to be a specialist of the aviation club of Beira, not without having known the place and Jorge Jardims’ parachute girls, at the time they were illustrated in magazines.

The incredibly complicated story of a band of mercenaries, who are killing one another due to lacking leadership, the invented episodes by the author etc, are all less essential in comparison to the realistic description given of the “end-of-era” sentiment, which reigns in the Portuguese army in 1974.There is no consideration for its army’s martial qualities (except when in the commandos), any more than it admires the settlers’ indecision, divided between its generations. No matter what it is, it is a book which subscribes itself under a series of relatively old fictions in English on Central Mozambique and even on Zambezie. The unforeseen heritage of Livingstone? Perhaps not, but certainly that of the Company of Mozambique, without any doubt.

Translated from the French by Ximena Maartense. (Bold emphasis by me.)

Jardim ladies

Gorgeous Jardim girls with their mum.

For the record, I had heard of Jorge Jardim, and indeed, as a skydiver, of his adventurous and beautiful daughters, who sparked my imagination, but my characters actions bear no resemblance to those of that family.

The Softcover edition of The Barros Pawns is currently out of print, but the eBook is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5RYRBC/ 

Enjoy.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7945783.Peter_J_Earle

Posted in Backgrounds, Exploring Africa, Shaping a writer, Writing novels | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Church on Time

A girl’s wait for Mr Right gets to the point where whether she and Mr Right can still share children gets a bit iffy as she sidles up to forty. So at thirty-four my daughter was cutting it a bit fine, I would have thought, but then she phoned to inform us that she had met him at last at her church. Mr Right, alias Frederick Malleson, was duly brought down from Pretoria in mid-January of 2008 to meet us. Besides having their church in common, both had been brought up on farms. Frederick’s family owned a large dairy operation on the outskirts of Pretoria, with a milk processing plant as well as a large herd of Ayrshires.

Nicci wed - Fred

Mr & Mrs Frederick Malleson

They were engaged in March with the wedding set for July 5th, 2008 with the chapel of Lord Milner School, Settlers as the venue. Sheila, who had sworn never to venture to the metropolis of Gauteng ever again, reneged for the occasion, and we set off on the twelve hundred km journey to Settlers, and Greet and Dennis Driver’s farm beyond.

We deviated in the Free State to overnight with our good friends, Greta and Carlo Bighi; a good excuse to see them and catch up. As we entered the nightmare traffic of the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria the next day, Friday, Sheila lay down on the mattress in the back of the Venture van and closed her eyes to avoid seeing it while I drove. With boondocks relief, after a 4pm deadline for a rehearsal at the school, we made it to the tranquility of Dennis’ farm in the Bushveld where we were given a camp chalet to share. It was one of several used for visitors and wild-life students attending lectures on their game farm, where members of both families were made welcome for the occasion.

Nicci wed PJE & brideIt was with some surprise and embarrassment that I had discovered that it would not be Dennis, her step-father, who would be giving Nicci away, but myself. She rightly called him Dad, and me Peter. However, I was really honoured.

At the camp, Frederick’s family provided the loaves and fishes for us hoards and we slowly got to meet them all and renew acquaintances with Greet and Dennis’ family. The Saturday morning, after a Bushveld stroll, greeting old tree friends, we had a slap-up English breakfast provided by Frederick’s mum, Anna. Sheila went off to Settlers to join old friends, June and Gay Sabatier, and her nephew, Andy Maling and his wife Colleen, who had been accommodated in the empty school hostels. I joined Nicci in the bridal car, an Audi Quatro driven by my son Ryan and accompanied by  their sister Cathryn, a bridesmaid.

Nicci wed portraitNicci was not at all nervous, that I could see, and all the tales of the glow of beauty that enveil brides on their wedding days were evidently perfectly true. She was on my arm as we followed the bridesmaids and flower girls up to the chapel which was the ex-dining-hall when I had attended the same school in 1953-59. When I had handed her to Frederick and answered the minister’s query as to who giveth this woman to this man? in the affirmative, I could go and join Sheila for the rest of the service.

It was a fine wedding. There were more than 200 guests. Kids were welcome and catered for with a play room and a movie room. Speeches were entertaining, and I was surprised to find that Andy had been asked to speak on the influences Sheila and I had had on Nicci! He did a good job of that, his first ever public speech. Then Ryan, then the two best men, then Frederick, and even Nicci herself got a speech in! It was wrapped up by a speech by Dennis’ sister Margaret Acres who spoke about Nicci’s achievements. I was very proud of Nicci, but can take no credit for being any influence on those. Her B.Sc in Physiotherapy and her Masters in Development Studies were her own hard work and intelligence.Nicci wed vows

Nicci wed Earle fam

L-R: PJE, Sheila, Ryan, Elaine; seated: Nicci, Frederick with Thomas.

Later, as the party got into full swing, a friend of Nicci’s mimed Ray Steven’s Ahab the A-rab which was excellent. Then we got a song-sheet to sing off, about Frederick’s meeting with Nicci to the tune of Doggy in the Window which was also a scream. A lovely wedding, indeed.

We returned to the farm just before midnight to sleep, then went back to Settlers to join June, Jonathan and Gay, Andy and Colleen for breakfast, chatting until noon when Andy had to leave to catch their flight back to Cape Town. Sheila and I drove to Bela Bela (Warmbaths) to catch up with old friends and spent the night again in our chalet on Dennis’ farm. Slowed by a horrific road in the Free State, we only made it to Ladybrand the next night, but were home again the following one. No place like home.

Oh yes, and their honeymoon…

From Nicci’s letter in August:

By now you know about that ‘top-secret’ honeymoon … When we finally left the reception, we made our way to Zwahili Game Lodge, an exclusive (12 guests at full capacity) bushveld resort about 40 minutes drive from Settlers. We stayed in a luxury thatched-roof tent-cottage with gorgeous views over the surrounding bushveld and koppies. Frederick had wisely booked both Saturday and Sunday evening there so that we did not have to travel the day after the wedding. We had a lovely relaxing day on Sunday: a late morning, afternoon nap and a game drive after high-tea, followed by a 5 course meal served to us in our own cottage! We actually felt a bit guilty knowing how hard everyone was working to clean up!

On Monday morning, after a late start and a stop to pick up shopping supplies on the way, we drove down to Clarens – a little tourist town in the South Eastern Free State, nestled in the Maluti (Lesotho Drakensburg) mountains, and filled with art galleries, antique shops, restaurants and coffee-shops. Our room had a lounge and a fire place, with a four-poster bed, under-floor heating and a great view of the mountains. It was a really lovely week, with just the right balance of relaxation and adventure. We planned it so that we had one main activity per day, which took up no more than 4-5 hours, and then spent the rest of the time sleeping, eating and reading together. Our ‘adventures’ included abseiling, quad-biking, hiking in the Golden-Gate National Park, and visiting a spa for a steam and massage. Neither Frederick nor I had been abseiling or to a spa before – so both were new experiences. Unanimously the abseiling was the value for money winner and most likely future repeat!

Reading? Really?

Posted in Family, Shaping a writer, South Africa | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Smoke, but no Fire

When Dawid October approached me for advice about selling his home on Plot 222, Haarlem, I asked him what price he had in mind. He said R35,000-00; then when he saw the look of horror on my face: “Do you think it’s too much?”

T-Chimneys.jpg“Too little!” I said. “It’s worth twice that.”

“So, do you want to buy it?” he asked.

“No, I thought you wanted me to find you a buyer?”

“Yes, but why don’t you buy it?”

The property was located on the main road of Haarlem, the house had a good roof but no floors, no ceilings, the internal walls were disintegrating, and, worst of all, it had two families living in it.

I would hate to live on the main road, being a bit reclusive by nature, but it might make an investment to repair and resell. So, reluctantly, having a small inheritance to invest, and believing in property as an investment, I bought it. At least nobody could accuse me of taking the seller for a ride.

Dawid moved out of his half of the building, but his three cousins, resident in the other half, had not moved out in the three months notice I had given them. I pleaded and begged, but two months later, they were still there. I started knocking down the interior walls to use as fill under the yet-to-be floors. The brothers moved at last.

Dawid’s grandfather had two sons and two properties, side by side. He gave the elder the one with the dwelling on, and the younger got the other without, but it was understood that they could share the house until the younger built his own house next door. The sharing of the house involved two kitchens, so, another chimney was built, but no house next door.

The two brothers grew old and passed on. The older left his plot, with the house, to Dawid, his only son. The younger gave his empty plot to two of his four sons. The other two got property elsewhere. A dwelling was started next door but never finished; thus three of the sons had stayed on, sharing with Dawid.

Twin Chimneys.jpg

Twin Chimneys, before the addition of the veranda,

Some sort of pub, or restaurant, I thought, being on the main road. I put in concrete floors, tiled them, outfitted the outer rooms as a kitchen with worktops, and an office with adjacent toilet and shower in case it was used as a flat. The two chimneys, side by side, made an interesting feature for the dining area with a yellowwood bar-counter, behind which was a wash-up sink and secure store for booze. Alongside these were a gents and ladies washroom/toilets.

Then, with approved building plans, I added a big 6x12m veranda on the street side. And along came a gent from Cape Town, with family in Haarlem, to hire it from me as a night-club. Well and good. I gave permission for him to close in the veranda area to use as a disco, and he started to apply for permits. I accepted a low rent for six months to give him time to get his ducks in a row.

He spent mega-bucks on painting it out, adding security lighting, sports-bar TV screens, stools and tables, fridges etc. His young relative, Reagan, was a DJ, but he cautiously invited local dignitaries and senior citizens to an introductory opening where he explained the need for a licence pub, the only one in the village, to prevent young folk from driving to neighbouring towns for such entertainment. Everyone there agreed that it was a good idea, but the ANC councillor did not attend, although he had been invited. He set about condemning the idea of a bar in his town, even though he did nothing to eradicate the more than a dozen illegal shebeens. He set about stymieing the applications for licences.

To bring in something while waiting for his permits, Reagan had some disco events, even advertising them, saying, “Bring your own XYZ.”

A paleface, newly moved to the village, had built his home on the main road a block from the pub. He phoned me at two in the morning and yelled at me about the noise. I told him that what the business owner did with it was not my concern. I had to turn off my phone every Saturday night. He also involved the police with a written complaint, which did not help with the application at the liquor board… He was the only one whoever complained.

He also complained to the building inspector that I had closed in the veranda without permission. The Inspector wrote me an ultimatum about submitting more drawings or tearing it down. I tore into the Inspector about his allowing hundreds of tin squatter shacks all over Uniondale and elsewhere, but being petty with my veranda…

The ANC councillor once pursued me home, filled with righteousness about alcohol and the devil, but I pointed out that he was in a marvellous position to aid the community with the chance of several jobs, as well as a locally run  business to be encouraged and should grab the opportunity with both hands. He simmered down; admitting he had arrived with anger and was leaving with something to think about. He did withdraw his opposition thereafter, but it made little difference as the damage had already been done, and he lost his position to a DA councillor in the next election. The DA councillor was no help either. Lately, another ANC councillor has the position and things now look a little more promising as he tries to persuade the Municipal hierarchy that the village does need a place of entertainment.

The section of the village in which the property is situated had been officially designated as commercial, but I still had to apply for rezoning, which took months of meetings and cost me R8800-00 to George Municipality, under whose care we lie. They eventually sent me a letter confirming that it was rezoned to commercial in 2014, but didn’t bother to give me the certificate which is required for all licence applications…

They eventually sent one late last year for a residential zoning! When I went to George to get the correct one, they had lost all my files and grudgingly gave me one earlier this year (2018) which excluded a place of entertainment.

To date, August 2018, licenses are still being sought. I could weep for my tenant, but unable to raise the rent as per agreement, I calculate I have sacrificed more that R110,000-00 loss of revenue. More fool, me, but half a loaf is better than zilch. Nobody else has offered to hire the place, and I am too busy writing to run a business there myself…

Posted in Building, Shaping a writer, South Africa | Tagged , | 1 Comment

MisManagers, Managers & Misses

Where one tiptoes on the edge of libel, slander and deformation of character, it would be sensible to use pseudonyms. The title to this blogpost is also not entirely accurate as the characters were what we all are; a mix of mostly good and a tad bad. Where I’d like to use their proper names to acknowledge the good, I’ll use other names to mention the bad, but without the bad, there’d be nothing much to write about.

West facade BP.jpgI had three managers to run the Backpackers after it was up and going. I’ll call them Fred, Freek and Frank for fun and for the eff.

Fred was a youngster, twentyish; a farm lad, willing and friendly, at a stage where he hadn’t a clue what he was going to do with his life. At a loose end, I thought he could use some time to get a chance to meet people and hearing their stories, be encouraged to decide what direction to take.

It seemed to start off okay. While I was watching, things got done and visitors gave me mostly positive feedback. However, the nature of the job involved a lot of trust. Visitors paid in cash and although there was a visitors’ book, it was not always filled in. I had to trust that all fees would find their way to me. After a while, I began to hear of clients that came and went without there being any record, but very difficult to prove.

Then there was an electrician who needed more permanent lodging. We came to an arrangement for a weekly fee at a special rate. Fred and the thirty-year-old from Jo’burg became drinking buddies. Excuses were tendered why the rent was not paid or was late – the contract he had on a farm hadn’t paid him etc. Then the man disappeared, 3 weeks rent in arrears, along with several items from my store room including three Surveyor’s levels and a theodolite. I could hardly accuse Fred of being complicit, but… Fred moved on.

Of course it was me that found himself back in the Backpackers as manager until other possibilities arose. A promising replacement was a wiry middle aged man we can call Freek (an Afrikaans variant of Frederick). He was a man with a very interesting background which is another reason for giving him a pseudonym. His proposal to use one room as a leather working shop met with my approval and gave him an income to augment the accommodation and the pitiful salary that I was offering. There could be an added advantage to me as he proposed giving leather-working classes of a week long, and the students would naturally be housed at the Backpackers. If memory serves, he did hold one or two of these. Besides, I rather liked him.

His story was that he had been brought up to the age of six in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia (South-West Africa) by San tribesman, because his parents had fled into the desert to escape the government authorities. Having been a German colony up to the First World War, there was still a large German population, amongst whom there were many Nazi sympathizers, including his parents.

Taken from the San by well-meaning authorities, he became a ward of the state until he matriculated and joined the army. With a sharp brain and wit, he moved into the intelligence field. He related to me how he plied his intel-gathering trade by serving as a Koffie-Moffie, the derogatory term for an airline steward, in which capacity he would overhear and record any anti-Apartheid utterances during the flights. He didn’t go into detail about whether any of this info was of any use to his masters, but did not want his previous occupation to become known in the New South Africa. At the time, there was, he said, a woman who wanted to write a book about his experiences, and I got the impression he was rather nervous about how much to relate.

Along the street from the Backpackers, there lived a man, call him Bob, who professed to be a website wiz, whom I paid R800-00 to set up a site for the Kammanassie Backpackers. He gave me the address and I thought it looked alright; said go ahead and activate it. He didn’t.

The reason for that is bizarre. In mid-February, 2007, I was delivering milk for Sheila in Uniondale when I stopped at the Backpackers to do some bookwork. I found Bob looking for his friend, Freek, with a pick-handle to beat his brains out, he said, because his wife had run off with Freek! When he finally left on his search, Freek turned up. I had to warn him because it would be most inconvenient to have my manager’s head bashed in. He admitted that he would like to run off with Bob’s wife, but had not yet done so. Long story short: he eventually married her and they left town to go and live elsewhere, but in revenge, Bob would neither activate the website, nor return my money. Bob moved to George but I did see him there twice, and yelled Thief, thief! at him, but that didn’t help.

Renting Bob’s house in Uniondale from him were a couple we briefly got to know. Call them Frank and Flossy. Because it was so close to the Backpackers, their offer to look after it was natural, and convenient. Frank was a muzo; an ex-South African Navy Bandmaster who was teaching local school kids to play and march. I liked him, too.

Ironically, his Flossy ran off to the City of George with Bob. Frank moved into the Backpackers which gave him a small salary and accommodation while he gave music lessons. When a nice shy lady, call her Sue, moved in with him, we thought that would be a happy ending. They started a plant nursery and seemed pretty content.

But the wheels fell off somehow. Sue moved out and the local church organist, a farmer’s wife, moved in. The income from guests, which had been pretty meager, now dried up. I heard from the cleaner that they were actually turning people away. Shortly after that, they moved to George to play with organs, there.

KB SW elevOn the point of closing up the business, anyway, a construction company came to town to upgrade a nearby road, and hired the whole building for a year at a good rental, which was great except for the damages. After that, I decided on permanent accommodation for four singles, and put it up for sale, in which state it remains until the present.

FOR SALE R695,000-00, anyone? Current income: R6,000-00 p.m.

Posted in Shaping a writer, South Africa | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Johan du Plooy – Artist.

Pics 2018 JduP.jpg

Johan du Plooy – artist & salt of the earth.

A delightful new acquaintance of ours, soon to become a firm friend, settled in Haarlem in 2007 a block away from our home there. South African artist, Johan du Plooy, set to improving the rundown cottage he had bought, laying concrete floors, rewiring it and adding a bathroom. A man with green fingers, he soon had a flourishing vegetable patch going.

We could not wish for a better friend, knowing that if the tornado hit the manure, he’d be there to help. It gives me the feeling that I need to be worthy of that friendship, and likewise be the friend I’d like to earn.

Johan d PBorn 1939 in Rustenburg, Johan’s parents soon moved to Heidelberg where he was to complete his schooling. Art was not offered as a subject, but that was where Johan’s passion lay. At age 22, he began his studies at Central School of Art & Design, London, UK in 1962. He made use of the opportunity to travel and explore parts of Europe; Greece especially made a deep impression. It was six years before he made his way back to South Africa.

Kougarivier painting

Kouga River

His sculptures were chiefly in indigenous woods and his paintings are mainly in oils, primarily representational, latterly evolving towards surrealism and abstract.

Pics 2018 JduP Paintings 003.jpgPics 2018 JduP Paintings 004

 

 

The largest piece of his life spent in one place was 22 years spent in Herbertsdale, southern Cape Province, where, for 12 of them, he was the Mayor of the town. He is proud of his involvement in various projects for the betterment of the poorer communities there, including the establishment of a profitable bakery.

From there he moved to Calitzdorp for some years, then, all too briefly to Haarlem, and now lives in Krakeelrivier where he is still hard at work at his easel.

Pics 2018 JduP Paintings 005

Genesis

If a man fails to keep pace with his companions perhaps it’s because he hears a different drum …Let him step to the drum he hears!  – Henry David Thoreau.

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ALAN MALING – Artist

My wife Sheila’s second eldest brother, Alan, passed away in 2007 in Vereeniging Hospital, Gauteng Province, aged sixty four. He was admitted on 10th August; Neil, his brother was informed that he had difficulty breathing and was on oxygen, but he passed away on the 13th.

Alan Maling_2

Alan Maling – artist

When Sheila started her tertiary education as a student nurse in Cape Town in about 1970, Alan was there to keep a brotherly eye on her. They became close during this period, and her progress as new wife and mother in the years that followed were keenly and proudly watched. Her divorce was a serious disappointment and was the reason that Alan and I had a rocky relationship. He disapproved of me as partner for his only sister, and although we actually got on well after his initial bristling, every time we met, the same scenario would play out again and again each time we did so. I liked him. I found him very entertaining with a great sense of humour and was saddened by the fact that he kept reverting to a state of animosity.

Alan Maling_5

Alan Maling

Years back, on visiting his eldest brother, Tom Maling in Johannesburg, I found Tom and his wife away and Alan was house-sitting. Tom’s youngest son, Neville was not yet back from school. Reluctantly Alan invited me in. Soon we were amicably drinking red wine, and he suggested a scene where, when Neville got home, he would find us both covered in tomato sauce, still fighting!

AM-boat

Fishing boat

 

Of his art, another South African artist, Johan du Plooy, has said that Alan’s use of shadow was exceptional and he appreciated Alan’s skill. His work can be found in homes and galleries throughout South Africa.

AM_Cosmos

Cosmos

After his passing, his cousin, Norah Shelver (nee Gibson, now Wingreen) wrote the following which I am grateful to share here:

MEMORIES OF

ALAN ERNEST MAXWELL MALING

I was six years old when Alan was born in 1943. He was the second son of Chris (Christopher Thompson Maling) and VicMaling (Victoria Alice nee Tricker). Aunty Vic was my mother’s eldest sister. As my father had died when I was in my third year, the Malings became very significant in my life. My mother stayed with them until she found work in Johannesburg, and I spent many school holidays with them throughout my youth.

Alan was an intelligent, talented child. He had a great interest in cars and from an early age he could identify every car on the road. He was fortunate to have a father like Chris who was not only mechanically minded, but a great teacher.

Aged twenty, I decided to complete my nursing training at Frere Hospital in East London (Eastern Cape Province) in 1958, where Alan was a boarding scholar at Selbourne College at the time. He had several friends from Rhodesia, together with whom he would visit me at the Nurses Home, and one of them even invited me to partner him to the matric farewell, which I loftily turned down!

By this time Alan was already showing great promise as an artist and gave me a painting of Xhosa women living on the Maling farm. This is still one of my favourite possessions.

Alan took up Interior Decorating; working for Uptons in Port Elizabeth for a time, where I visited him in hospital when he contracted infective hepatitis. He later moved to Cape Town, where, when I was studying psychiatric nursing at Valkenberg , and my daughters were at Capetown Technical College, we saw a lot of Alan and enjoyed his company. He had a small studio at Firndale Mansions, Tamboerskloof where we would spend many an entertaining evening with him and his friends, sharing mince dishes, wine and music. Edith Piaf, and Chris de Berg were among the favourites we had in common.

Money was always in short supply with Alan, but he was disdainful of the suggestion he produce pot-boilers to help with his income. I loved his scenes of fishing boats at Hout Bay, and the cottages and scenes of the Genadendal area. We loved the opportunity to attend his exhibitions set up by his friends. We had cocktails at the Mount Nelson Hotel where a mutual friend, Bruce Gardner, would play the piano and join us during his break. Another joy was outings in the vintage cars that Alan slowly collected, attracting attention wherever we went.

Contact was reduced to phone calls when Alan moved to Henley-on-Klip in Gauteng, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. The last time I saw him was when we both stayed with a cousin to attend the 90th birthday of our mutual Aunty Jewel. Such fun memories.

Where do we go when we die? We remain in the hearts of those who loved and remember us.

Farewell, Alan.

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