Fit as a fiddle

Here’s some good news. Willy Webb is as “fit as a fiddle” after her heart operation and is back in recycling – this time for Bergvliet Primary in their Alphen Way garage behind the school in Children’s Way. 
She is assisting and advising Ingrid Godfrey, who in May 2016 – a month after Bergvliet High’s recycling unit was shut down – took over the existing recycling depot at the primary school.

Ingrid and Weldon Stevens are running it with a team of six helpers including Jenny Grinstead, her former recycling colleague at Bergvliet High. Both women gave me a warm welcome when I popped in expecting to find Willy – who had emailed me about her return to health and recycling – but found it was her day off.

For more than 25 years this indomitable woman, who drove a man-sized truck and won umpteen Collect-a-Can competitions, ran an efficient recycling unit in two garages at Bergvliet High. As well as raising valuable funds for the school – R192 000 in the last year – she and her hard-working team of volunteers provided a service to residents in the Constantia Valley. Alas, at the end of 2015, a series of unfortunate events lead to the closure of the popular facility.

It started with Willy’s heart problems, which left the team without her strong leadership when the closure of the City’s Ladies Mile dump put intolerable pressure on the recycling unit. Lazy householders began dumping anything and everything mixed up with their recyclables. I recall being horrified at the mountain of black plastic bags which the not-so-young women were expected to, and eventually did, clear out. They were stars.

However, the school’s management was getting browned off about the abuse of their facility and with the formal retirement of Willy Webb decided to shut down the recycling unit and reclaim the garages for their own use.

Bergvliet Primary’s unit is open, including school holidays, from Monday to Friday, (except on Wednesday), from 7am until 2.30pm and on a Saturday from 7.30am until 1pm.

“We take everything,” wrote Willy, “except polystyrene and plastic bags as manufacturers have mixed certain plastics making them unacceptable to recycling firms.

“Hopefully they will sort out this mess as we do not want to have our ‘national flower’ (i.e. plastic bags) back on the trees again.”

Fun or fraud?

When walking the dogs recently, I was nobbled by a sceptic who wanted to know what happened to the medal which a local runner had received after she had helped her exhausted nephew finish the recent Cape Town Marathon. “If she kept it,” he said aggressively, “it would be fraud as she didn’t run the race herself. You must report her.”

I shouted back that I had no intention of doing anything of the kind. I knew the woman to be honourable. As indeed she was. She told me this week she had handed the medal back to the officials at the finish line.

“They insisted I deserved it, but I said I was very happy with my medal for finishing the 10km race.”

In case you missed the original story, this runner heard that her nephew was seriously struggling in the heat, and, on completing her 10km, she ran 3km in jeans from the marathon’s finish line to meet up with her exhausted nephew. Together they made it to the end amid cheers from the watching crowd.

“I didn’t tell him that the gun had gone off. I said, ‘You wanted to run 42.2 km and that’s what we are going to do.’ And he did.”

That’s when they both received medals from the big-hearted race officials.

Music to the ears

The current crisis in Calvin’s life by the havoc of Hobbes playing barber reminds me of a similar tale in our family’s history.

The late George Walker, then violinist leader of Durban’s Municipal Orchestra, drove with his wife, Vi, from Natal to look up their Cape relatives, including son Phil and daughter-in-law Belinda Walker. We suggested they come to Langebaan with us as they would also see their nephew, Rory Lello, who had a weekend pass from Youngsfield.

Rory, always bucking the short-back-and-sides regulation, had been ordered to have a “proper” haircut before returning to camp on Sunday night. “No problem,” said Uncle George, “I’ll sort you out.”

At 2.30pm on Sunday, the anxious Rory placed a kitchen chair under the gnarled old tamarisk and, like a sacrificial lamb, waited for Uncle George to begin. Delicately picking up the old kitchen scissors as though they were the bow of his beloved violin, his uncle began “playing” with all the confidence of Joshua Bell the “Allegro vivacissimo” finale of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

We watched in horror at the craters and ridges as lumps of hair were chopped. Without a mirror Rory could not see what was happening but kept nervously asking if it looked “okay”. We made reassuring noises and played dumb.
He was lambasted and gated for two weeks when he returned to Youngsfield.

Pay up for safety

I overheard patrollers of Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch discussing how disheartening it was to get members to part with R200 for their annual subs. Only 567 households, or 39%, have paid what equates to R17 a month, hardly the cost of a loaf of bread. Yet it’s needed to keep the cameras going.

Their office at the library is open for subs on Saturdays from 10am till 1pm.

Hang ups

The weakness of cellphones is that you can’t slam them down on a rude caller.