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A busy weekend

16 September 2018

We’ve had a busy few days.

First we went to the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, Johannesburg. That was at 5:50 am on Friday 14th September. We normally leave home at about 6:00 am to go to TGIF, but getting to Johannesburg means leaving home before 4:30 am. And already the traffic buildup has started.

If you want to know what it sounds like, see here.

Celebrating the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross at St Nicholas of Japan Orthodox Church, Brixton, Johannesburg, 14 September 2018

Such things probably would not seem “busy” to our younger friends, but since we are both retired, going to two events in a day seems really busy.

After the service in Brixton, which ended about 7:30 (in time, it was hoped, for people to get to work) we headed off to my old school, St Stithians College, where Mike Nayler and I had been trying for about a year to organise a class reunion of my matric class, the class of 1958. As far as I am aware, that class has never managed to organise a single reunion in the 60 years since we left school. Other classes seemed to masnage it, but ours didn’t. As it was, there was a fairly large contingent from the Class of ’68, but only two of us from the Class of ’58.

St Stithians Alumni reunion, 14 September 2018. On the left, Steve Hayes and Mike Naylor, the only two from the Class of ’58. The rest are from the Class of 68.

I met Mike Nayler’s grandson, who asked about traditions of the school, and I recalled that on this day 60 years previously we had hauled David de Marrilac out of bed, and dumped him in a cold bath. It was his birthday, and that was our traditional way of celebrating someone’s birthday. So, a happy 70-somethingth birthday to David de Marrilac, wherever he may be.

St Stithians College, class reunions of the Classes of 1958 and 1968.

There was a service in the Boys’ College Chapel — when we watched it being built in 1953 it looked quite big, but now it barely contains the senior boys of the school — presumably the junior boys and girls have their own chapels or use it at different times. I compared it with the “assembly” we had in my time at the school, where we would sing a hymn, someone read a passage from the Bible, chosen by the headmaster Wally Mears, and given to the reader for the week beforehand. There would be a prayer, announcements and we would all go off to class. At this time there was no Bible reading, but there was a violin piece played by one of the boys.

Chapel service at St Stithians College during our class reunion visit.

Then we went to have a look at Mountstephens House, which I had not been in, so |I wasn’t interested in going upstairs and inspecting the dormitories, and we sat in the common room, which, unlike the common rooms of our time, had furniture and nothing more. Presumably the current generation has no need of the books and magazines that filled the common rooms in our day, because they have everything they need or want on their cell phones. We chatted a bit to David Evans — he was one of the 1968 cohort at the school, so I hadn’t known him at school, but we had met when we were both working in the Anglican Diocese of Pretoria in 1984, and he had joined the Roman Catholic Church and is now priest in charge of Benoni, and the only married priest in his diocese.

We adjourned to the Higher Ground, the alumni club at the northwest corner of the school grounds, for a beer, which the chairman of the Alumni Association very kindly offered to pay for.

A keg of rather expensive Belgian beer that David Evans (left) sampled. On the right is Mike Nayler, the only other locatable member of the Class of 58.

We left and returned home.

Next morning (Saturday 15th) we went to the English Divine Liturgy at St Sergius Church in Midrand, which didn’t start quite as early at the one at St Nicholas, and then went on to the housewarming party of Ant and Nomtha Gray. We had been to one previously, but that was only a rented house, and this one was the real thing. Nomtha is the daughter of an old friend from student days, Stephen Gawe, who died recently and was given a state funeral.

Among the guests were Tim and Ilse Wilson, whose names sounded familiar, and we seemed to have a lot of friends and acquaintances in common, but we could not recall having met. When I got home I checked and found that I had been present at their farewell party at the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital in Nqutu, Zululand, in 1972. We talked on the past, and the need to record stories of the past. And then two other guests arrived, whom we had met at Stephen Gawe’s 80th birthday party, back in December, Pinkie Nxumalo and her daughter Sibongile. And on that occasion Pinkie Nxumalo too had been talking of the need to record people’s stories.

Sibongile and Pinkie Nxumalo

So we had quite a busy weekend of meeting old friends, and friends of friends, and family of friends.

And then on Sunday we went to Atteridgeville for the Hours and Readers Service. It was the Afterfeast of Holy Cross Day, which we had celebrated on Friday, so we commemorated it again in the African Orthodox Church in Atteridgeville.

The African Orthodox Church in Atteridgeville, Tshwane, where we celebrated the AfterFeast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross.

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