Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Clippety-Clop Blog

Mrs Kaartman and I began our married life teaching at Kettley’s Country Day School. I mention that because Kettley’s has not a single entry on Google, and it’s high time it did – anyone who would like to share anything about that extraordinary school can contact me at
    This was the only non-racial South African school during the apartheid years of BJ Vorster – and it was, to boot, a private school that uniquely served the economically disadvantaged. It sadly died when a crooked lawyer wrote a crooked constitution for its Board of Governors, and a huge grant of cash that Anglo-American wanted to pump into the place simply withered away ... but I digress. My sole purpose in mentioning Kettley’s was a sneaky way of bringing me to Cape Town High School. 

A Kettley’s kid in the school playground

One of my jobs at Kettley’s was to find high school places for our graduating Standard Fives – usually two or three kids in the early stages of spotty adolescence. There were five of them in that year when all their parents wanted them to move on to Cape Town High School.  I was sent off into the City to see the Principal, hoping to convince him that our Kettley’s kids would be worthy entrants.
        Max Leeuwenburg was the Principal at the time, a tall, rangy man with bushy eyebrows, a ready smile and (so his son Jeff always claimed) a grandfather who had been a Dutch pirate in the Sumatran sea. Before I could put my kiddies’ case to Max he smiled piratically and said, “Tell their parents that they’re all accepted. Would you like a cup of tea?”
    That was that – no entrance tests, no academic records, no nuthin’. “Kettley’s kids are always,” Max explained, “an asset to my school.” Turned out that Kettley’s tiny contribution in numbers had led to a regular stream of Cape Town High head girls and boys over the years; my lot were no exception – two of them went on to become heads of their new school.

Some Kettley’s kids – a couple of future Head Girls and Boys
 amongst them – with some friends. At Toorwater hot springs in
 the Karoo; the two under-dressed little girls flanking the boy
 with the snowball have just come out of the 38°C pool ...

Which was why, a few years later, I went back to Cape Town High with a problem around a child who had reached the registration age for national service in the bad old SADF. The head had changed; Neil Berens was as tall as Max, with a beady eye and a ready smile but (probably) no pirates in his family tree. I put my problem to him: how to register this boy – who might have held foreign citizenship – for National Service. Neil smiled; he winked engagingly and piratically and replied, “What National Service?”
That was about 1979, and I reckon that this singular act of civil defiance might have been the tipping point that eventually led to the collapse of the authoritarian National Party government, also known as the Apartheid Regime.
At about the same time we got to know Neil’s wife Penny – not well, you understand, but through the regular appearance of the Std 5 girls from Micklefield School on an environmental course we ran. Penny was principal of the school, but the girls would be accompanied by June Clark, a most wonderful person who, as the girl’s geography teacher, was constantly embarrassed on these courses because the Micklefield girls were from the only school that regularly got lost. We used to set visiting kids off to find the campsite all by themselves; they had to walk about 3km down a wide-open beach, cross a large, open and shallow pan with no geophysical obstacles, where they would be met by local kids who would guide them the rest of the way (often by actually holding their hands).

Of all the schools who ever came to us, only the Micklefield girls regularly (in fact, on an annual basis) got lost during this challenging endeavour ...
Which is a sneaky way of introducing the very excellent Chris Berens, the son of Neil and Penny, who has made up for the geographical ineptitude of generations of Micklefield Std 5s and his father’s wilful disregard for dictatorial authority by becoming a most estimable mapmaker and artist extraordinaire. With Fiona Berrisford he is the creator of those amazing silver and blue moon and tide charts that you’ve seen in your own and your friends’ houses.
Chris also creates maps, and you can find out more about them at . He also runs MapLand, a spatial data management consultancy that specialises in a “common sense approach to mapping”. Which is why we asked Chris to produce this superb relief shading for our forthcoming Cederberg Hiking map:

Chris’s work on the left; combined with
our own height shading, on the right ... 

... and here’s a little piece of the final map, to whet your appetite ...

Click on the map sample to enlarge it ...

Chris’s own commercial maps include wall maps of South Africa, the Western Cape and Limpopo, but you should also visit ClipClop’s own site to see the full range of their creative genius: . There’s a great glimpse of Fiona’s wonderful mosaics, too. Buy ClipClop products now – they come in neat cardboard tubes and make absolutely fantastic birthday, wedding, Christmas, you-name-it presents, too.
Kom koop!
Kaartman, July 2012

1 comment:

  1. Wow Peter, what a trail! You missed a bit about Fiona attending Micklefield (swears she nevergot/gets lost). Shading is a great beginning, perhaps we should try a more detailed DEM.