Written by Chris De Flamingh
I have had many memories throughout my life, some happy and some sad.
During the 1970’s growing up I remember we used to look after a beautiful female fox terrier who belonged to our next-door neighbour, her name was Suzi. This was my first best friend and it felt like she was my own dog as we used to take her in quite often when our neighbours went on holiday.
One sunny day it was late in the afternoon and the neighbours facing our front door had a red brick wall next to their house I was over by the neighbour playing with their kids outside in the garden. I decided I was going to climb this wall cos being a young small boy I was always very curious and up for a challenge to find out what certain things would be like after exploring them. I climbed the wall and found out in no time that this wall was not sturdy (cement plastered) and gave way as soon as I climbed it. It collapsed in an instant and I had a fright but only sustained some minor bruises on my leg. My ego was the biggest injury.
At the age of 4, I had an accident after falling into the hot tub in Youngsfield military base and sustained a fair amount of burns to my body as described in ‘my life story’.
I also had a great fear of heights and at the age of 11 or 12, I went to a school friend’s house and his dad was also in the military. They had a huge trampoline in the backyard and always enjoyed playing and jumping on it as a kid the few times I did visit them. They had a big old tree in their backyard with a wooden platform fitted between the tree branches (tree house) high up in the tree. I climbed up the tree and attempted to step across to another tree branch and my hand slipped off the tree branch and fell to the ground flat onto my back approximately 3 to 4 metres down. I had some pain but it was more so the shock of that moment as I could not believe what had just happened. I swiftly got up and walked home crying.
Whilst living in Kenwyn, Santa delivered my first BMX bicycle. I was so excited, about my first personal transport. I was independent, I was free, and I could explore. I planned all my day trips carefully. Mom prepared me a picnic of sandwiches, cold drinks and of course the much-required stack of sweets and chocolates.
Sometimes a friend would join in the fun and sometimes I went alone. My trips were as far afield as Kirstenbosch, Constantia and Newlands swimming pools. Travelling all the way from Wynberg was a good distance for a child
Other day trips that I remember were the train rides to Town (Cape Town) with mom and brother. These trips were always filled with excitement for a young little boy, a train trip followed by the smells and sights of the big city itself followed by lunch at a restaurant in The Golden Acre
My family often planned long trips to Eastern Cape or the Transvaal. Mom would always have a huge hamper of roast chicken and potatoes with rice and other veggies. The special treat was the instant puddings and jelly we ate if we were good in the 20-hour car trips
Originally as every young child, I was very close to my mom, as a typical rebellious teenager, dad was my hero and comfort. I clashed with mom for many years before our bond grew close again. Today, I think back in horror at the words I spoke to mom, but realize that I was naïve and had to learn about life.
My dad was a very strict straightforward person and did not stand for any nonsense whatsoever. If you didn’t listen, he would merely lift his big hands and take a good hard swing at us and you know what you have done wrong and believe me, it did not tickle. It hurt like hell. Those were the good ole days and I never regret my upbringing ever.
It taught me to respect and improved my character as a person.
I often climbed into dads car to play with the car switches until one day, I snapped the cable that unlocked the bonnet. My dad was very enraged and he gave me good hiding as a result. Ever since that day he always kept the car locked whilst parked in the garage.
He had to spend money to have it repaired. As a ruling because of similar events that resulted in things breaking, I stopped fiddling with other people’s property as I was always extremely curious about what a button on a radio or some or other piece of equipment would do, had I pressed it. I would always end up breaking something or something would fall and break, so I eventually learned my lesson as a kid and stopped messing with stuff that either did not belong to me or did not apply to me.