I have already told you about the time I was driven to Maanhaarand with a Spitfire pilot to have my head stitched after some rifle target practice. It seems that every time I injured my head my father was around, usually taking me to the nearest medical facility. The island of Aegina off Athens is home to the remains of Agios Nectarios, the Orthodox Saint of the last century. I do not remember the pilgrimage aspect, as I was only six years old. That we were being treated to an island holiday was all that mattered to me. I was happy my mother and father had returned from their European tour. I always suffered from separation anxiety, and I anticipated the gifts they would always bring back. This time it was a sheep horn with a mouthpiece to make it into a bugle. This was the cause of the first of my head injuries.
Give a boy a musical instrument and he’ll play it. I did just that. Also, try putting a boy to sleep for a siesta on an island and he will rather play his bugle. So off I went and was walking along the marble parapet of the island hotel calling the troops to war when I lost my footing and fell headlong onto the marble steps. I cut my left forehead and broke the mouthpiece of the bugle. Damn! My parents were not to be disturbed so I went to my Aunt Kiki’s room complaining about my broken bugle. She feinted when she saw the blood streaming down my face and my brother called my parents. The clinic was a hot taxi drive across the small island, and I remember sitting in the primitive waiting room; my father pacing up and down, having had his siesta interrupted. His day got worse when the buxom matron whisked me from my protective family and took me to the procedure room. She tucked me under her arm, did not clean the wound and stapled it closed with 4 or 5 staples. After a simple bandage dressing she returned me to my father before he could complain. He did not like not to be in control, especially in medical waiting rooms.
The next injury was at home. My brother and I were playing war with our plastic toy soldiers. We would throw stones at each other’s troops and see who had the most survivors. I was a casualty with a stone to the head, but the bleeding stopped. It started bleeding again that night when my mother was washing my hair. I think John got belting from my father before he took me to the Union Nursing Home for stitches.
Then came the Spitfire episode.
The last injury my father did not know about. I was working at Borakalalo Game Reserve in the North West province and a pole fell and split my head, with a 10 cm laceration. Allen drove me about 50 km to the nearest doctor to be stitched and then I realised until I had to go straight from the bush to the airport to say goodbye to my parents who were leaving for Greece. I was in khakis and kept my bush hat on. Underneath my thick black hair was congealed with old blood. My father took the hat off to ruffle my hair and kiss me goodbye. I got a mouthful for using hair gel!
Funny thing about head injuries; they don’t hurt like a broken heart.