The children were small so a long time ago, I opened the top drawer of the yellow wood chest where we kept important papers, passports, things like that and saw a heap of pages covered in Peter’s inimitable left-handed script. I started reading and it became clear right away that these were Peter’s memories of childhood. I had no idea that he had even started on such a project.
“When did you write this?” I asked him waving the papers in the air’
“What do you think I do after you got to bed every night at nine,” he answered.
Ah, the days before television.
Here is an excerpt describing something he witnessed while on one of the many family holidays to Coffee Bay in the ( then) Transkei.
We were rained in.
Once my father put chains on the wheels and we went to see a recent shipwreck. After getting out to walk after the cars along the road, we came to the hills and slid and glided onto a narrow track. I saw my father’s hands go thump, thump, thump on the steering wheel as we sailed first this way then that. Eventually the track with its hump of folding grass in the middle ended just short of the steep descent to the rocks below. A huge freighter lay against the shore and a cable ran down the hill at an impossible angle straight into an enormous gaping hole in her black side. The hilltop grass gave way to thick bush which almost ended in the sea and a great gauge of red mud marked the track up which salvage attempts had been made to drag things up the hill. The rain stopped.
There was a big sea running, and under the soft grey clouds the rain washed air produced a light of glowing colours and the muting of all but the most ferocious growls from the sea and only served to heighten the colour of the great blue and green swells pounding the black hull and sending great sheets of spray hundreds of feet into the air to smash into the white superstructure and flowing back in rivers and waterfalls to form long trails of white foam drifting back out into the deep blue water. Then it began to rain again and everything disappeared.