Harsh Rejection, Deep Scars

Posted on by bewilderbeast

If you’re writing an olden days blog you run out of material. Only so much happened from when I was born till I met Aitch, which is the timeline of this blog – my Born, Bachelorhood and Beer blog. So there’s recycling. Here’s a post I wrote in 2014, twice updated and embellished:


In high school we had an older mate who was in the Free State koor. He was famous in Harrismith for that. You could say he enjoyed Harrismith-wide fame. His nickname was Spreeu but we called him Sparrow. Everyone knew Sparrow – Chris Bester – and everyone knew Sparrow was one of ‘Die Kanaries – Die Vrystaatse Jeugkoor.’ Fame! Travel! Bright lights! Girls threw their broekies at the Kanaries! OK, maybe not.

One day a buzz went round school that Septimus – apparently he was the seventh child – Smuts, Free State Inspector of Music was there – here! in Harrismith, city of song and laughter – to do auditions for new members for this famous koor.

We were there! Me and Gabba. Neither known for having the faintest interest in warbling before (my membership of the laerskool koor a distant memory – I was over the trauma). Nor any other form of culture come to think of it, other than the fine art of rugby. Gabba was a famous – beroemde, kranige – rugby player, having been chosen for Oos Vrystaat Craven Week in Std 8, Std 9, Std 9 & Std 10. Strong as an ox, great sense of humour, good heart.

People were amazed: “What are YOU ous doing here?” they asked as we waited in the queue. We just smiled. We’d already missed biology and PT.

Septimus was a dapper little rockspider full of confidence. He gave Gabba exactly three seconds and sent him packing. Gave me ten times longer and said ‘Nice enough, but no range.’ So back to class we went, crestfallen look on our dials, mournfully telling our mates and the teacher that we COULD NOT understand how we’d been rejected and there must have been some kind of mistake. Tender-rigging, maybe? Maybe our voices were taken out of context?

– Gabba in choirboy mode – Seppie at the piano –

The maths teacher Ou Oosie raised his eyebrows behind his black plastic bril, but we stuck to our story: It had been a longtime deep desire of ours to sing for our province and the rejection cut us deep.

It became my & Gabba’s standing joke over the decades that followed. Every time we met we’d have a lekker laugh. Then he’d update me on our hoerskool athletics records: his for shotput and mine for the 100m sprint. Mine was eventually beaten about twenty years later. Gabba said ‘hier’t n nuwe oukie gekom wat soos die wind gehol het.’ His shotput record probably still stands, as far as I know. It was a mighty heave. I choon you, on that day in 1972, he stooted that gewig moertoe.


Decades later, research has uncovered what Septimus was looking for. If only we had known! Here’s the criteria they were looking for in aspiring choristers in the late 60’s, just a few short years before this appearance of ours on Harrismith’s Got Talent (HGT©):

We may have scored E’s and F’s on most of these, but on Intelligence and Dedication we surely got an A? Also, if we’d known that Septimus the choirmaster had ‘n besondere liefde vir die gedrae polifonie van Palestrina se koorkompetisies,’ we’d have practiced that shit.


spreeu – starling, but mistranslated and verengels as ‘sparrow’

verengels – anglicised; corrupted

Die Kanaries – ve canaries

Vrystaatse Jeugkoor – Free State Youth Choir; it must be confessed we would mock it as the Yech Choir

broekies – panties; maybe bloomers

beroemde, kranige – famous, outstanding

Oos Vrystaat – Eastern Free State; our neck of the woods

bril – spectacles; eyeglasses

hier’t n nuwe oukie gekom wat soos die wind gehol het – a new guy arrived in the dorp who ran like the wind

stoot a gewig – shotput

moertoe – a long way

‘n besondere liefde vir die gedrae polifonie van Palestrina se koorkompetisies – fuck knows


Here’s Sep and one of his choirs with which he gained moderate regional fame. Of course he dipped out on international acclaim by not signing up me and Gabba as a duet.


Source: https://vrystaatconfessions.com/2021/04/22/harsh-rejection-scars/