Rare act of courtesy buoys spirit

The title of this column suggests that it is all about cycling which is not always the case.

However, this week’s column certainly has its roots firmly entrenched “from my saddle”, as it were.

The gist of the article that follows stems from an unusual incident during which a motorist showed extreme courtesy to me, as a cyclist, when we met at an intersection before I headed off on my cycle through the bush last week.

Although the motorist had the right of way having reached the intersection before me, he smilingly waved me through. In acknowledgement, I raised my hand and he, still smiling, gave me a thumbs-up.

My spirits were lifted by this simple act by a complete stranger and this set off a train of thought that formed the basis of this article.

On the morning of January 1, 1970, I and a student from Rhodes University, Shorty Vlok, were on duty at the pub in the Winston Hotel in Port St. Johns.

It was a stunningly beautiful day and the sea was so inviting that to a surfer, it was purgatory having to stand behind the bar counter instead of being with our friends who were at the beach. The pub was very quiet as most people were probably recovering from seeing the Old Year out and the New Year in, the night before. This only aggravated our disposition because with no customers to serve, time dragged by and a year seemed to pass with every hour.

At 11am we had not served a single drink, and Shorty and I comforted each other by reminding ourselves that our shift only had another three hours to run. Then things suddenly changed. Cars raced up the street and stopped right outside the pub.

Car doors slammed and our friends streamed into the pub! We could hardly believe how quickly the quiet, gloomy bar was transformed into a place that had become a hive of activity with about fifteen of our friends all clamouring to be served. We were informed that while they were having a wonderful time at Second Beach, they thought of Shorty and I missing out on the fun by having to work. To a man (and woman) they decided to head into town and join us.

In those days Port St. Johns, although an enclave of the Republic, fell under the liquor laws of the Transkei. This meant that women were allowed into public bars. This unselfish act was orchestrated by a Rhodes student with the surname of Shuttleworth.

I cannot recall his first name. He was an accomplished guitar player specialising in folk music. Shuttleworth had brought his guitar into the pub and, before long, the bar was filled with laughter and singing!

This jollification resulted in drawing passers-by into the pub and business boomed! Shorty and I were kept so busy that we missed our lunch. In fact, when we eventually relieved from our bar duties, it was almost 3pm!

I lost touch with Shuttleworth but often think of him and of that day.

I wonder whether any reader might know of him? It would be great to meet up with him again and relive the memories of those halcyon days.

  AUTHOR
Henry Parsons

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