Monday, June 28, 2010


I haven't mentioned yet that standing inspection was the bane of most military conscripts' lives. The weekly inspection was held on Monday mornings, which meant much of the weekend was taken up with washing and ironing clothes and cleaning the old "geweer", or rifle. As recently as last night, I have had ongoing nightmares about this particular aspect. Indeed, while I saw no active conflict, I still have regular nighmares about simply being in the military - interminable months of time wasted in that awful environment. Anyway, preparing for inspection offered more cannon fodder for my eager pen, and even the odd watercolour.

I can still picture this oke, an Afrikaans guy who was meticulously spick and span. Here I did a quick watercolour sketch as he ironed his clothes. Note the little orange cup of water on the left, which he would have used to dampen the clothes.

Invariably, if you happened to be at one of the ironing stations, a mate would join you for a chat. Here I caught a guy, possibly at the same spot as the one shown before this, in a few fineliner lines.

Hand-washing your clothes was another drag. Note how, in this ballpoint sketch, the guy's head is shown in two places. That is the beauty of drawing. You are able to follow life as it happens.

On occasion some people, somehow, even in a "white" military base, managed to "outsource" their labour to willing black okes, like this guy doing some washing, complete with beanie.

Another view of the same black guy washing.

Inspection was, of course, not only about your clothes. In this quick sketch I suspect the guy is putting the finishing touches to his bed. Often okes would sleep in their sleeping bags beside their perfectly made beds the night before a major inspection.

This flurry of lines I suspect depicts a guy polishing his boots. I quite enjoy the feeling of frenzied activity.

The shiny floor of our massive bungalow in Kimberley. About 110 people were arrayed in six or so rows of beds/steel cupboards in this former aircraft hangar. Here I've drawn the one electric polisher we had at our disposal on a shiny section of floor.

I think this is a guy called Trevor Keyter, mentioned earlier, hard at work with that polisher. Again, I like the free-flowing lines here.

Two more quick sketches of Mr Keyter hard at work.

Mr Keyter again, putting a final glow on his boots.

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