Monday, October 25, 2004

Tinkie's Big Time

In the far north of Namibia, in the days when the Transnamib was still a part of the South African Railways, Tinkie earned his keep as a shunter. It would have been a mistake to see him as a person who stood out from the crowd, for that he was way too thin and slender.

Or so everyone thought. Until the day he announced that he was sick and tired of working as a shunter, and sick and tired of being shunted about. He was about to show the world his true mettle.

There and then he resigned from the railways.

Tinkie and his cousin Hennie had it all planned. With Tinkie playing the bass, and Hennie as singer and lead guitarist, they were heading out on tour. At that time not many people knew about Tinkie’s musical abilities, but Hennie was well known as a man who yodeled like few others could, and when he sang “Ramona”, all the old ladies burst into tears.

As the plan went, the tour started in Windhoek, in the Sam Cohen Hall, and from there they were heading to Upington, and then on to Durban. They were convinced that by the time they reached Natal, they would be world famous.

In Windhoek the turnout was surprisingly good. As the evening progressed the bootleg was doing its job, and a little later Hennie saw his chance. “Tinkie”, he said, “That blonde has been checking me out the whole evening. Take over for a while so I can ask her for a dance”.

One dance turned into three, four. Tinkie was sweating it while Hennie had the time of his life. Nevertheless, by the last number of the evening, “Goodnight Irene”, he was back on his post to sob the affair to a dramatic close.

But this was not all. He had good news. Very good news, Tinkie heard. The blonde had invited them over for some drinks in her apartment.

As Tinkie said afterwards, “Guys. Don’t laugh, but that evening my own demise was staring me in the face. She invited us in, and I will never forget, as we passed her by she gave Hennie a pinch on the butt. "

"If she had only tried that with me…"

"The apartment was nice and roomy and there was a large white wardrobe against one wall, which according to her covered a doorway that led to the neighboring flat. In the other corner there was a type of bar where we made ourselves at home. I said, at home, but that is not exactly the right word; because we were barely sitting down, when with a terrible bang the front door was knocked open, clean out of its lock."

"And there in the doorway, with shoulders touching both doorposts, and with red curly hair scraping the lintel, stood Torokkolos - the biggest man I have ever seen. Just the thought of his words gives me the runs, to this very day. He didn’t talk; he roared: 'What are you guys doing with my fiancĂ©?'”

"Hennie was still getting up to try and explain, but with one step the man was upon him and hit him so hard that he ran the length of the room on all fours. As he was passing me by I realized that the END was here."

"But adversity teaches prayer, they say. I can today as I stand here testify as to the truth of that statement. Hennie still had not reached the far wall when I grabbed that heavy white wardrobe, lifted it clean out of the way, and ran through the divider into the next-door apartment."

"Right into another girl’s bedroom, just as she was putting on her nighties."

“'Oh! G__!' She screamed. Luckily I was still able to put her at ease while running past. 'No', I said, 'It’s not Him, it’s only me. But I am on my way out.'”

"Later that night, safe in our train compartment, but still shivering, I said to him: 'Hennie, on this tour we are going to get knocked senseless yet.' And I was right."

As told by Pierre.

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