In defiance of the Fortune-teller and his prediction of me being disastrous marriage material, I wrote a poem for Greet, my fiancé,
Oh, dreamer, keep your wandering glance
Down at your feet for lest they chance
Be entangled by a vine or a gaping abyss find
And cast you on the sand.
That blue horizon that you see
Will ne’er be reached by such as thee
Whilst you’re walking on your own. You were not meant to walk alone –
No, this was never planned.
She’s your horizon, hope and goal.
She’s your heart, your life, your soul.
Nothing is too much to give, if she’s the reason why you live,
So take her by the hand.
On a sunny Friday in December, 1972, I took my father’s old Chev one-tonner to the grass landing strip on the edge of Warmbaths, with a wrought-iron garden bench on the back, to await the arrival of a twin-engined Beechcraft Baron that was arriving from Welkom in the Free State. The pilot was Herman van Hees, bringing his parents (my god-parents), two brothers and families to my wedding. The van Hees family was the closest thing to family we had in South Africa. Wonderful people. I loaded them all and back to the farm we went. Herman immediately became aware that the Earles were totally disorganised and took charge.
The church service was arranged to take place at the Anglican Church in Warmbaths, but the reception was to be held in my parents’ garden on their farm. My mother had taken to her bed in fright (these days she would be diagnosed as bi-polar), so my father had asked various golfing friends’ wives to apply their culinary talents to various bits of meat that he produced. Others, bless them, sorted the flowers, salads and snacks. Herman organised the seating and directed the arriving traffic carrying the various wedding necessities. Flowers, here, decorations there, grub in those, booze in the others…
My in-laws-to-be helped where they could, but were at a disadvantage, not knowing all these strangers. Poor Nico Burhoven-Jaspers; my best-man and brother-in-law-to-be was positively ill with nerves as he prepared his speech.
On the Saturday, half an hour before setting off for the church in our finery, my father doled out medicinal doses of champagne, which settled some collywobbles.
Greet (or Greetje, her real name, which the very English preacher pronounced as Creature. “Do you take this Creature to be your lawful wedded wife?”) was absolutely stunning. I was walking on clouds, only some of whom were champagne induced.
And, all those friends in one place! Incredible joy!