I learned my driving skills at an early age. It was as if my dad could not wait for me to grow up. I was eight years of age when I drove my dad’s Chrysler for the first time.
My dad and his good friend Oom Andries, used to drive around in the veld on weekends, looking and discussing various aspects of the availability and procurement of water for our town. We lived in an area that did not get much more than 250mm of rain per year and the availability of drinking water for the town was of vital importance. My dad was at that stage and for around thirty years, the Mayor of our town, and Oom Andries was a Drilling Contractor with a vast knowledge of searching for underground water.
This one morning we were out and about again and my dad and his pal had wandered off about a kilometre from the car. My brother, Julian and I were left sitting in the car. Always eager to take a chance and test my skill, I decided to drive along a bush track, to an area close to where dad was standing. I had watched dad manipulate the clutch and the gears many times and set out to do what I had seen him do. I managed to start the old car and change gear from first to second with a slight lurch. There I stayed and drove along the track at about 20 kilometres per hour. It was an exhilarating experience. My heart was pumping faster as I got an adrenalin rush, mainly due to the excitement of being successful in getting the car mobile so smoothly and also wondering what in the world my dad would make of this.
My first drive was as short lived as Orville and Wilbur Wrights first flight. But it was a start !!!
“Well I never!” Oom Andries exclaimed as I arrived near where they were standing. What would my dad say??
“Well done, son,” my dad said in a controlled voice. What could he say? But then Oom Andries heaped praises on me for being able to drive a car at such a young age. What followed was that at every opportune moment I was able to drive the car when we were out in the veld.
That night as I lay in bed after the day’s events I was dreaming that it was only ten years before I could get my licence and drive legally on the road.
My dad gave me encouragement and took me on driving lessons. Soon I was driving my Uncle and Aunts farm truck and doing errands on the farm, carting workers and materials around and showing off my prowess at driving. But the high and the mighty fall when they outgrow their age and I came unstuck on a number of occasions which got me into just a tad bit of strife.
So began a love affair with cars and driving which has taken me into remote areas of Africa and Australia.