Friday, December 14, 2007

Pete Reinders at 60

- Kallie Erasmus-

Pete Reinders really is a doctor. Not that the big-city specialist who had his call repeatedly interrupted by assorted sheep, chickens and turkeys believes that; nor anyone who has seen him issuing referral letters in a script so neat it could have belonged to that irritating girl in Std 4 who was always best at everything.

What proper doctor, one may well ask, has a predilection for bully beef, well-done lamb chops and aimless wanderings wherever the untrodden path takes him, a penchant for telling really bad jokes and an absolute aversion for onions?

As likely to be encountered with friends sipping whisky next to a mountain stream at sunset or cruising down the Leeu-Gamka road to fetch lucerne for Lammie the reprobate Reinders ram, pipe in mouth, as in his rooms, it didn’t take Pete long to become as much part of Prince Albert as AllPay and Skapieseinde.

Before you get the wrong idea, there is plenty of substance behind that laid-back pose. Dedicated, diligent and ever-willing, Pete makes house-calls and never switches his cell-phone off. Adored by the readers of his regular column on medical issues as much as for his whacky sense of humour (the one about the dangers of amorous engagements in restricted camping equipment without due consideration for the passage of time and less supple joints was particularly popular) as for his encyclopaedic medical knowledge, Pete may not look the part, but Prince Albert is really fortunate to have him.

And then he went and turned 60!

Now, for those who are old enough to have played yoyo and dingbats when cold drink companies still cared will know that not too long ago 60 was old. I mean really old – the “he had a good innings” kind of old. Back in the day people were squabbling over breakfast on their 60th birthday about whether to move in with the kids or to cut their losses and ease up to the geriatric buffet at the local old-age home. Not our Pete.

He postponed the joys of spoon-fed mashed bananas, preferring to go walkabout with his sons in the Kalahari instead. By the end of the trip, no doubt, Pete will be puffing contentedly on his pipe as he waits for Richard and Jake to catch up.

At 60, Pete is living proof that life is far too serious to be taken seriously. Whether in the garden with his hands in the dirt, in his rooms (having washed his hands and dirtied the towels to Blommetjie’s unbridled dismay), in front of the braai or on the leather bench in the lounge watching TV with Megan (he is 60!), one thing is sure, he still can’t understand why some people think of him as a grown-up.

And so it goes ….

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