Many decades ago when I was young and sprightly and didn’t have a drop of common sense I met a boy – we’ll call him The Restorer. He used to buy old and broken cottage furniture and restore it to it’s original glory. He had a love of wood and somehow worked miracles where none should have been possible. Despite this fact he was completely under-appreciated and like me, was always one step away from ruin.
He had a mop of unruly hair and was gorgeous. Funnily enough we remained friends and as far as I can remember never attempted to engage in any relationship shenanigans. Our friendship was fun and laugher and as you will see later, almost an incarceration too.
Well one night we decided that it would be a terribly good idea to head off to Hermanus (about an hour and a half out of Cape Town), in the middle of the night, after imbibing a good few buckets of cheap wine.
How we got there in one piece I’ll never know! Our ‘transport’ was The Restorers panelvan – complete with a full Union Jack painted on the roof and dark blue everywhere else. Besides it’s rather dubious appearance it also had the distinction of being the ‘hot wire car’ – in every sense of the word!
The restorer, being of modest means, had been forced to continually fix his van himself, and as a result there were loose wires hanging down from the dash (and strangely enough also from the roof), and because his starter motor had got trashed or he had lost his keys- I’m not sure which, he was forced to hotwire the van to start it.
So there we were, pissed, giggling and driving a deathtrap with a blazing flag on the top when we arrived in Hermanus.
Of course it was the middle of the night, of course our music was blaring, of course everything was VERY funny. So what do two pisscats get up to in a small town that is fast asleep?
Steal plants of course!
I haven’t been there for years, but ‘back in the day’ Hermanus was tiny and had the most beautiful, quaint little shops, all cottagey and personalised. Most of them had their own stoeps out front with gorgeous plants and flowers to make it homey. We loved homey!
For whatever godforsaken, idiot-motivated, gobsmackingly stupid innebriated reason, we decided to load up as many plants and flowers as would fit into the back of the van.
Now we had already turned our music down, so as not to be a public nuisance……..but we’d forgotten to stop laughing. As it turns out we had been giggling and cavorting so loudly that we had woken up an old aunty who lived above one of the shops. She had immediately called the police to come and investigate.
So there we were trying to squash yet another plant into the back when we were suddenly mesmerised by a very bright blue light – aliens?
Two policemen got out of their car slowly and politely asked us what we were doing. I assume we gave a semi-coherent answer and I assume we were still giggling because they decided not to immediately arrest us. They realised we weren’t hardened criminals, just two young idiots!
We had to put all the plants back while they watched, which was hysterically funny. We were tanked, how the heck could we figure out which one’s belonged where.
‘Oi you! did we take that green one with the purple thingy’s from this stoep or that garden????’
For better or worse we returned all the plants.
It was time to face the music. Despite the fact that the police had decided NOT to arrest us, they were however, going to make sure we left their town. So The Restorer was put into the cop car and I had to ride in the deathtrap with the other policeman.
He was enormous, the deathtrap wasn’t.
The conversation went something along the lines of :
‘watch your head…Sir, there are live wires hanging down from the roof.’
‘you’ll have to drive cos I’m too drunk and besides, I don’t have a licence and only drive when sober…..’
‘keys? there are no keys, you’ll have to ask my friend which 2 wires he puts together to start the car……’
So eventually we were driven to the outskirts of Hermanus with 2 kind but somewhat unamused policemen who asked us sweetly NOT to rush back, EVER!
Looking back it’s still damn funny, but for those of you thinking of trying the same thing – DON’T!
Before we started wiping each other out by getting trashed and aiming our cars, things were more lenient. Nowadays you would get locked up, fined and have your licence suspended and that’s just for the driving – stealing plants would be added to that too.