Yes, it was a bit of a violent place to live.
And, I too, discovered I had a violent streak.
There was a dam next to the shop.
No, not a dam.
One of those brick reservoir things.
And the kids would swim in it.
But it was near the road.
One day elder son came running in to say someone had thrown a stone and it had hit younger son on the head.
I flew out of the shop.
Asked who had done it.
Son pointed to a man sitting on the bank on the side of the road.
Between two of his mates.
All men in their early twenties.
I never stopped to think.
A failing of mine.
I walked over and, bringing my arm from way back, I slapped him across the face.
Damn it hurt.
Fortunately, the guy’s mates thought it was hilarious and they walked him off.
In retrospect that was probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done.
However….no-one ever threw another stone at my kids.
The Africans always give you a Xhosa name.
When we first arrived there mine was “the quiet one”.
I am pretty sure that wasn’t my name when we left.
As I mentioned the shop and house were in a black village.
With gravel roads and no street lights.
Elder son and some of his friends decided to run away from home.
They were going to head for East London (not the one in England) and steal a yacht.
Not, you understand, that any of them had ever been ON a yacht.
They arranged to meet at midnight.
Well, they would…so much more exciting.
Son got as far as the front gate.
Realised it was pitch dark.
And that was the end of running away.
If he had told me I would have given him a torch and some sandwiches.