Although there were gaps of a year or two, sometimes, between seeing each other, my friend, Jed (Charles Howard) the snake-man, and I kept in loose contact. He and Valery Gillespie got so quietly married in a magistrate’s court that I didn’t know it had happened until after it was done.
Jed had been asked to be godfather to my daughter, Nicci, but refused with his assertion that he would make a poor one. We could not budge him on that decision, which was a pity as he was very good with kids who took to him with the same trust that animals did. As it happened, Bruce and Joey Barichievy were kind enough to take on the godparent duty.
When sadly, but not regretfully, my own marriage did not last, one was forced to reassess friendships. Those that have not experienced this stressful event still, sometimes, even in this day and age, sit in judgement of those involved and, not infrequently, friendships suffer. After a few occurrences of cold shoulder treatment, one might might be excused for avoiding other friends in the assumption that they will look down from moral high horses. During a telephone conversation with my father, he mentioned that Jed had been trying to contact me. With shame, I realised that he would not be one to sit in self-righteous judgement and that it had been too long since I had been in touch. I phoned him to say that I would be in Johannesburg with my girlfriend, Sheila, the following week for a meeting with the stock-feed firm, MEADOW FEEDS while they still employed me.
Jed consulted with Val and came back to say that, if he had been on his own, he would have asked us to stay the night, but Val would not have Sheila in the house! To compromise, we arranged to meet at a small pub near the farm that Jed managed on the outskirts of Johannesburg in Muldersdrift.
Sheila and I arrived first. There were several people there and we soon fell into conversation with friendly strangers. When Jed and Val came in, we were sitting apart and were each in other circles. I greeted them and ordered drinks. Val greeted other old friends and soon we were circulating before I could affect any introductions. At one point, I saw Jed deep in conversation with Sheila. She was laughing at something that he had said and I was so pleased that they were getting on so well. Then he leaned out behind her and called to me:
“So, tell me mate, where is this Sheila woman, then?”
We laughed about that for years to come! We slept at their house that night and spent the next day, a Sunday, with them.