*Fuzzy Photos & Unreliable Tasting Notes
Above: Happy ending (l to r) My brother Paul, Ivor Wilkins, Me, Shelley-ann (Shan), her sister Kerry, their sister-in-law Susie Deale.
The whirlwind continued upon our return from our Cape Tour. Life was a series of jolly japes with friends and family with a lot of love thrown in. With Shan's support I switched my rented bachelor pad for a mortgage and an apartment in a tower block. Where was it heading?
On a bit of a labyrinthine journey it turns out. The romance continued but so did my impoverishment, having embarked on a career switch that involved starting from the bottom again. I had left my beloved journalism in search of mammon in the form of the pot of gold that was computer programming. But first I had to earn a pittance while learning the ropes.
I also had to sell my beloved Honda to scratch up a deposit for the above-mentioned apartment but had somehow never taken my girlfriend for a ride on said motorbike, although she'd been longing for a spin. This was rectified on its last day in my possession and while shuffling it and Mum's bakkie (ute) that I was using to move furniture, I managed to reverse into the bike. The damage was minor (just a front indicator light) but I had to give its new owner a substantial discount when he came to pick it up later in the day.
Shan had recently started a job as a house model at a clothing manufacturer in Umbilo and, while this wasn't her life's ambition, she made a new set of friends in the clothing industry.
Model to manager
This part of the story is not exactly sequential with the rest of the narrative ... it kind of overlaps at either end. Friends who follow this blog might recall that I came up with a plausible yarn vis-a-vis my beloved not needing to have a temporary (a year or two) sabbatical from our relationship while she toured the world with her bestie, spookily also named Shelley-Anne. I promised that we would do all these things together but it became evident that I would have to scrabble up the corporate ladder a bit before I could support a mortgage and a globetrotting lifestyle (many years later, globetrotting consumed my working life and that had its own challenges).
But at the moment I was nearing thirty with a 19-year-old girlfriend. By mid-1980 some kind of stasis was setting in. I won't say we'd got into a bit of a rut, but the signs were there. In the mean time I was continuing my long-distance running (I had completed the 55-mile Comrades Marathon in 1978 and was trying to regain the impetus/fitness). This was quite a selfish pursuit for a bloke conducting a relationship with someone not in the least interested in pounding the tarmac. It also resulted in bit of a bizarre incident that will take us off on a bit of a tangent ...
Shan was a competent driver and shared an automatic Chevrolet with her mother. But she had not had much experience with a manual car so I was encouraging her to use the Renault 5 recently returned to me by my ex-wife, Carmela.
On this particular evening I set off for a 10km run. I'd given Shan the route and she was to set off to collect me in the trusty Renault after an hour. Only I had a massive catastrophe while attempting to hurdle a double Armco barrier. Of course I did! My toe caught the top of the barrier and, as I came down, I tried to save myself by sticking out my arm at an awkward angle, dislocating my shoulder.
A kind couple saw it all happen and loaded me into the front passenger seat of their car and started to drive me home; they had offered to drive me to hospital but these were the days before mobile phones and Shan would have been beside herself if she'd trawled the route and I'd disappeared without trace. As luck would have it (thankfully I still had a few reserves of that at least) I spotted the little red bug coming the other way and my new friend managed to attract Shan's attention. The first thing she noticed was my ashen face in the passenger seat.
To cut an even longer story short, we ended up much later at Entabeni Hospital, our GP having failed to be able to relocate my shoulder at his home.
So, in a space of not very many months my 19-year-old heartthrob had had to step in twice to put me back together with hospitals involved.
Above: spot the Shelley-ann; (top, l to r) Catalogue duties with an unknown model; on the catwalk with Charmaine Naidoo and Dudley Haskins; (bottom, l to r) fancy dress party with Carla and other modelling friends; now a manager at Smiley Blue, seen here with Rita Coolidge, Martin Locke and Jenny Toms.
Above - jolly japes (l to r): acrobatic dancing at Garnet's pad in Musgrave Mansions; heaven knows but Shan seems to find it amusing that I've gained a third eye between my lips.
It was only a fortnight but could have been forever
I'm sure it happens to many couples at some stage during courtship, even those who appeared to have been as smitten as we had been from day 1. Shan announced in June that she wanted out. We were en route to a party and I was thunderstruck. I didn't help matters by over-imbibing-in-extremis at the party. Not in an aggressive way but I felt as if my life had caved in.
Once I'd sobered up (it might have been a day or two) I tried to repair the situation. Shan wasn't speaking to me so I tried her siblings and their Mum, perhaps for some advice or maybe even for some intervention on my behalf. The least I had hoped for was some means to contact her myself.
But ranks had closed. My despair descended into resignation ... there seemed to be no way back.
It was at this time that I was walking along Durban's West Street and by pure happenstance bumped into a good friend of us both, Nadine Pauling. She could see I was out of sorts, extracted the story while we stood there on the pavement, and commenced putting me back together.
The gist was that she'd rarely seen a couple as made for each other than Shelley-ann and I were. In a kindly voice she told me in no uncertain terms that I owed it myself, Shan and our circle of friends to make a more concerted effort at reconciliation and a new start.
With Nadine's help I regained my mojo. I had to do some detective work to discover Shan's whereabouts and by the evening of that day I was knocking on a friend of her's door where I'd found she was likely to be. I managed to persuade her to leave with me so we could reopen a dialogue.
She wasn't entirely convinced but agreed that we could take a weekend break together in the Drakensberg at the Giant's Castle resort to review the situation.
Above - some pensive moments at Giant's Castle.
The reconciliation wasn't immediate but within a few weeks, Shan being Shan, she'd made up her mind and engagement was on the cards. Not only that but, if we were going to get married, why procrastinate, she declared. A date was set for the 13th of December, 1980.
Of course you can imagine the rumours around Durba of pregnancies, etc.!
Above - some snogging takes place (l to r): still in the berg and a tentative reconciliation; some while later back in Durban an engagement is sealed.
Above: OK, we've agreed to get married, now let's get the show on the road.
One small challenge was that my fiancée wanted a proper celebration. I wasn't averse to that notion, either. But there was a small snag. None of us, apart from my parents, had any money to pay for a conventional reception and all the trimmings. My Dad would've liked to contribute but was sensitive to the humiliation this might involve.
So it was all hands to the pumps for the family. Judy rounded up her Morningside mates, many of whom manned pumps, too. Pam (Shan's wonderful godmother) and Gordon Baber provided their home and garden with a splendid view of Durban for the venue. Special mention should go to Mart for funding the food and for giving Shan away at the ceremony.
The result was a happy and splendid wedding celebration with close friends and relatives.
But, before that, we had to convince a minister to marry us. Shan had set her heart on the ceremony taking place in St James's Anglican Church in Morningside; evidently generations of her ancestors had had their nuptials formalised there. But there were obstacles. The minister, the Reverend Kingsley Walker, was a decent enough cove but our request hit the buffers when it was established that I was a) divorced and b) had never been confirmed in the Anglican Church. My parents, although nominally Anglican, were pretty much agnostic and I had had no inclination to sit through confirmation classes as a teenager.
As I said, Rev. Walker was a decent fellow and wanted to marry us but he had to get permission for a special case from the Anglican Bishop of Durban. The latter was a different breed of cleric. Bully is really the only word that springs to mind. He had nothing but contempt for me, being an unconfirmed divorcee. I was dismissed while he submitted Shan to what can only be described as an interrogation. Only a bully would have held it against her that her parents and husband to be had been divorced. She was furious and depressed at the same time. Eventually, however, Rev. Walker contacted us with the news that he would marry us in St James's with one proviso: I would have to be confirmed and Shan would need to go through the process with me, despite having been confirmed herself. As the next confirmation classes were after the wedding, we'd have to agree to attend as a married couple (more of this later).
Above: the same happy couple as depicted at the introduction to this blog but this time with my parents, Shirley and Woody and Shan's brother Martin, standing in for their Dad, Arthur. Their Mum, Judy, is on the extreme left..
Above: Nadine, at our wedding, making sure we are well and truly hitched.
Assorted wedding photos to follow:
I won't caption all of them, hopefully most are self evident so I'll just add context where I think it helps.
Above (l to r): Patrick Deale (Packet) delivering the patriarch speech; Ivor, best man; Andrew Hathorn was Master of Ceremonies; c'est moi, the groom.
You can see from the picture of Ivor, and from Susie's response, that Ivor's speech went down a treat. The Eriksen patriarch, Peter, (Judy's brother and an attender of many grand functions) exclaimed that it was the best speech at wedding he'd ever heard.
I guess this is where Kerry gets her own back, too. She asked me what rôle Andrew was playing at the wedding:
"MS," I replied.
"MS?" she quizzed.
" Master of Cere...; oh shit." by this time Kinks a.k.a. Kerry was in hysterics.
Above (l to r): the ones facing the front are my sisters, Cath and Sue, and Mary Hathorn; me with Chas Phillips and Rory Lynsky; Ian Curran, Mart and Guy Haines; Deane MacEwan, Sue and Norman a.k.a. Spike/Tony Kinnear.
Above: And we're off ... 
It had been a happy wedding, achieved on a shoestring by the participants, especially the mother-of-the-bride, Judy, aided and abetted by her friends and family. We didn't have much left over for a honeymoon and my dad, Woody, came to the rescue with flights and accommodation at Wilderness on the Cape's Garden Route. We stayed in the Wilderness Hotel, a fairly posh establishment in those days, which we seemingly shared with other honeymooners and a bunch of lantern-jawed musclemen. You could tell the honeymooners as we were the ones all drinking Pina Coladas before and during the evening meal. We blamed that on a hit song du jour, Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by one-hit-wonder, Rupert Holmes.
We had shared the outbound flight with the group, Blood Sweat and Tears, who were on tour in South Africa that year (we'd seen them in Durban a few days before). We'd been thrilled to meet and congratulate them and became even more beholden when it was discovered that the bridal couple had been allocated seats apart and the band cheerfully shuffled their coterie around so's we could sit together in the best seats.
While at Wilderness I decided to paddle my bride up the picturesque lagoon in a canoe whose gunwales protruded not much more than 6 inches from the water. It had been peaceful and romantic until we we had just turned for home and this massive powerboat appeared to share our water. The lagoon was small and the boat was fast and sped to and fro getting closer and closer to our hapless craft. I don't know how I managed it but I slammed the paddle down across the cockpit with a loud bang and gesticulated at our tormentor.
The phrase "Fuck Off" may have passed my lips just as I recognised the speed boat's driver. it was P.W. Botha the then Prime Minister of South Africa's Apartheid government. We nearly capsized in our hilarity.
Once we had regained the shore, made more difficult by near hysterical laughter from our experience, it occurred to us that that was why we were sharing our dining room with the muscle men. They would have been operatives of the dreaded special police that upheld apartheid in those days. The ones whose children were shouting and screaming in the pool "Gooi my na die son" to their neanderthal fathers, whereupon a "kind" would be thrown into the air screeching with delight seeming to hover before descending into the water. Attempts by non-bodyguard fathers to achieve the same feat with their own children were met with abject disappointment.
But no-one could dampen our sojourn in this all too short idyllic interlude ... "another Pina Colada, please barman."
Back to reality
As suggested by the first subheading in this piece, Shan left being a house model to become manager of a fashionable boutique, Smiley Blue, in Durban's then prestigious Musgrave Centre. I continued learning to program computers by day and resumed by night a degree in economics that had been abandoned a decade earlier for the delights of journalism.
And there were the confirmation classes we'd promised Rev. Walker we'd participate in, thereby earning the right to be married in St James's church. Some of my friends raised their brows that we were actually fulfilling this promise but we had given our word. At first we found it mildly diverting to debate elements of doctrine with a man of obvious intellect. But the precious weekly 2-3 hours of an evening devoted to meetings (that were increasingly proving to be more of an opportunity for acolytes to swoon over the handsome minister} soon became a chore.
After we had dutifully fulfilled our obligation for quite a few sessions, Rev. Walker entered the room for a session with his customary mug of tea, sat down, and immediately demanded: "Can anyone tell me the meaning of life?"
Before I could fully think it through, "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" escaped my lips. It was crass, I know, but it earned our release from the remaining evening soirées.
We shall see ... maybe Topless in Tinos (Serifos surely? Ed)?
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