Two years of my life as a military conscript were coming to an end. In army parlance I had "min dae". I was an "ou man" now, having endured whatever so-called national service threw at me from July 1979 till the end of June, 1981. What the period did provide, in retrospect, and as this blog has shown thus far, was an incredible opportunity to hone my drawing skills, acquired during a four-year fine art diploma course at the East London Tech from 1975 to 1978. As the end approached, I even lashed out on a proper sketch pad, costing all of R1.05. These are some of the drawings done in it. I was in a smaller bungalow now, with about a dozen okes, all of whom knew that this was only the end of the beginning. "Camps" of one- and three-month duration beckoned, with four months expected of us every two-year cycle for the next 10 years or so.
Being almost part of the furniture at 1 Intelligence School, Kimberley, we even got on fairly cordially with the RSM, mentioned earlier. This is his dog, nicknamed "Troep", which meant he ordered it around like he did the rest of the troops.
I packed several faces onto this page, including two or three who've cropped up earlier. That's Koertie on the right, and the excentric McCann on the left.
McCann was a total character. After the attempt at a realistic sketch, top, I did a quickie below which seemed to capture something of his zaniness. He had the ability to grow beard-like stubble in the space of a weekend.
This, I suspect is Peter Bain, a colleague from the Cape, who was in that final bungalow.
McCann joined some of the okes bent on boosting their muscles by working out with weights.
This comprises several sketches of Mr Bain. As noted earlier, writing home in those pre-cellphone, pre-email days was a regular occurrence.
How's this for a pencil portrait of aforementioned Peter Bain. There was one oke with us, whose first name only I recall as Ronny, who would always rip Peter off with the now seemingly childish misspelling of his name: "Peter B, A, N, Bain." Strange the things you remember.
I can't recall this guy's name, but he was an Afrikaans oke from East London. That seems to be the pencil shape of a dog, probably Troep, while below left I have dressed the canine in military gear, so he can pull his weight.
During my art school diploma course I designed several chess sets, and made a few as well - from ceramics and carved from wood. So here, next to a careful study of my army boot, are ideas for another set.
Somehow I always found time to jot down a few images of the okes as they prepared for inspections, or whatever.
A few more guys from the period near the end of our two years. The chap shown twice on the right is, I think, the same one mentioned earlier, from East London.
Oh to fly away back to civilian life. This odd, smirking creature emerged from my subconscious probably around the time the "Forty Days" bug was biting.