“Yep,” Vetfaan smiled,” right through Malan, and Strijdom, and Verwoerd…all the way to Zuma. And, despite all the changes, she remained the same.”
“Not quite.” Boggel is the practical one. “She doesn’t look as new and fresh like she did back then. Got a few scars to boast about, she does. A wrinkle here and there, and the bit of sagging up front.”
“It doesn’t matter, Boggel, if she still gets the work done. That’s what counts. Looks don’t matter if she is reliable as ever.”
“So,” Boggel is always ready for a party, “are we going to do the jubilee-thing? They seem to be big on it in England. We can have a parade down Voortrekker Weg, with Sersant Dreyer and Vrede leading the crowd. And I think Sammie still has some of those crackers we used to light – remember how we celebrated Guy Fawkes back in the Nineties? Sersant can even fire his pistol for a change: a six shot salute to reliability and dependability. I mean, it is such an occasion to show our respect.”
“Yes, and what about a barge? We can drag Vetfaan’s old trailer down the street as well, with Gertruida all dressed up and waving at the rest of us. It’ll be pretty awesome, especially is she gives a speech in front of Boggel’s Place.” Kleinpiet gets that far-away look. “But maybe we should have a thanksgiving, first. Oudoom would like to see us all in church for a change.”
Gertruida does her hippo-sound. “Harrumph! Gentlemen, please! This is inappropriate. Celebrating a thing like this in church? Wouldn’t a simple round of Cactus Jack do?”
This time, Vetfaan gets mildly upset. “I’ll have you know, Gertruida, that sixty years of service is exceptional. I only had to change the oil a few times; that’s all. This tractor is a true-blue, original, genuine dinkum, Massey Ferguson. They don’t make them like they did any more. My Dad bought it in 1952 and it’s still serving me well. I insist on proper protocol for a diamond jubilee.”
The little crowd around the ancient tractor agrees – but then decide to skip the protocol, the majestic procession, the church and the speech. Instead they’ll get right down to doing what they do best.
“You know,” Vetfaan says a little later when the Cactus makes his eyelids droop, “it really is something. Special, I mean. Ag what the heck – lets have another, Boggel.”
Diamond Jubilees in Rolbos follow a different pattern to the British equivalent. Here the patrons of Boggel’s Place know how to celebrate the life and times of a faithful and ever-serving monarch of a farm in the desert. For the first time in the bar’s history, Boggel is worried about the bar running dry. It’s just one of those parties that go wrong from the start – a phenomenon we all have experienced. For no reason at all, it is a huge success, as parties go. The singing goes on until Vetfaan insists on driving home on Elizabeth, as the Massey Ferguson is called.
Early the following morning, Platnees asks Precilla to give him some paracetamol, Brufen, Voltaren and Disprin. “Hai, Mister Vetfaan isn’t well today, Miss Precilla, he needs a lot of strong medicine. He says he’ll have to stay in bed for a few days.”
“Just like the Duke in London. The tractor is still going, but the driver is in hospital.” Gertruida wags a finger in the air: “Men just don’t have the staying power. That’s why vehicles get referred to as female.” She looks up at the bleary and morose little crowd at the bar. “Boggel, give us a round of doubles, will you?”