Out of the blue, for no reason at all, I found myself recently thinking about my high school Afrikaans teacher, Mr H, a character from my school days in South Africa in the early 1990s.
Mr H was a short, little man with glasses, a thin moustache, balding and bloody terrifying – well that’s how I remember him – we’re talking 1990 or 1991!
His most famous line, one I will never forget until my dying day was yelled out one afternoon after lunch break, probably as we sat behind our desks listening to Mr H read out aloud, that old South African literary classic “Kringe in die bos” (Circles in the Forest) by Dalene Matthee.
Now, I should first point that we were all jewish kids at jewish day school in Johannesburg.
And I remember we had a double period at the end of the day, where we had to sit and listen to Mr H, in his posh Afrikaans read aloud, with dramatic pauses in all the right places, a story set in the Knysa forests about woodcutters and an elephant called “Old Foot”.
God help anyone who forgot their copy of “Kring in die bos” at home…God help anyone who did not prepare or do their homework.
Anyway, the words that leapt out of Mr H’s mouth one afternoon, in that dim classroom as we all probably thought about going home, or rugby, or girls or that new cartoon show, The Simpsons, and accompanied by the evilest look you can imagine were:
“I thought this was a kosher school, but I see its full of pigs!”
I don’t remember anyone laughing at the time, but we certainly laughed about it later. It was an outrageous thing to say and I wonder if it was a line he kept tucked in his back pocket for special occassions, because surely it could not just have come out fully formed like that.
Mr H was prone to quite a few outrageous one-liners, which I still remember quite vividly. One of his best lines and one said on a few occassions was:
“Barbare, morone, idiote”
“Barbarians, morons, idiots”
Another, reserved for people who forgot their copies of ‘Kringe in die Bos’ or their homework:
“[insert classmates name]…do you want me to lick your arse for you too?”
Funny the things you remember from your school days!