1977: Sheila met Pat and Peter Read, who were dairy farming in a nearby district outside East London, by going to inseminate some of their cows. We became fast friends with them. Peter had been at Pretoria Boys’ High School when I was there, but two years ahead of me. Although we moved to Cathcart, a hundred kms away, we still saw them quite often as we came to visit Sheila’s parents for frequent weekends. We also re-established friendship with my old mate, Bruce Barichievy, who had bought a farm near Haga Haga, not far away.
Although my area included the whole of the Eastern Cape Province, I covered the southern Free State, parts of the Western Cape and even went as far as Natal. It was a way of seeing a lot of the southern end of Africa, and especially interesting getting to know the various types of stock farming; even rabbits and trout. Naturally, they were often mixed farms, so I learned about all sorts of crops, from pine-apples to maize.
My boss, the owner and manager of the stock-lick factory in Queenstown was Basil Wormald, I found him to be a quiet, cautious man, not given to personal empathy. When our relative divorces were finalised and Sheila and I got married, there were no congratulations; only a comment about my needing to work harder now that I had responsibilities!
We got married on a Monday morning, my 31st birthday, in the magistrate’s office in Cathcart with two secretaries as witnesses. We then set off for Natal together, as I had to go and see about a prophylactic de-worming additive for our blocks at a laboratory in Pietermaritzburg, and find clients on the way. We had lunch with an acquaintance of Sheila’s who had moved to Umtata, on the way. As she was a working girl, we had no alcohol. We spent the night with Sheila’s farming cousin, Keith Hope, near Richmond. As Christian Scientists, they offered us no alcohol and for fear of embarrassing them, we did not tell them that it was our wedding day. It passed, totally dry! Beside my work related duties, we spent a few days in the Drakensberg’s Loteni National Park as our honeymoon, heading home at the end of the week. On the way we stayed overnight with another of Sheila’s farming cousins, Peter and Pat Wallis, near Matatiele.
“So, when are you two getting married?”
“We did, last Monday.”
“Oh, Sheila, your mum must be thrilled!”
“She doesn’t know, yet!”
When we did tell her, that weekend as we picked up Sheila’s boys, she was not amused.
“What did you do a silly thing like that for?” Mrs Maling said, but Sheila’s father was thrilled. Her mum eventually got used to the idea, although it took a while.