MK ( / South Africa)

The Giddy Goat!

The year was 1943 and whilst Hitler was rampaging across Europe here, at home in South Africa, a young boy was creating havoc by scaring his sisters witless with his own particular brand of war games.

Television had not yet made its appearance but perhaps radio and dinner table talk between our parents, family and friends was spilling into the little tyrant’s brain but whatever it was, we were not amused.

As soon as the nights began to draw in, Dad would yell ‘Blackout! ’ and everyone would rush to hang blankets over all uncovered windows and doors. Not even the tiniest crack of light was allowed to be seen from the outside. It is odd now to think of South Africa having been subjected to blackout rules just in case the odd German spotter plane spotted us and, of course, we thought we would then all perish by being bombed alive or something equally as bad. Not wanting any of this nonsense, we did what we were told.

So it was that on one of these nights our brother Tony slipped outside via the kitchen door, ran around the house and then crept back up the stairs to knock on the front door. Rat-a-tat-tat. Mum and Dad, to tell the truth, did not appear to be unduly put out but we three girls huddled together in the passage, gripped with fear. Being the oldest girl and at only six years old to Tony’s seven-and-a-half, the younger two girls would take their lead from me. If I giggled, albeit nervously, they giggled. If I shivered and made puddles on the floor, so did they. It was not unusual to hear the drone of an aeroplane across the night sky and it was always a slightly menacing sound and my heart would beat faster than usual. That, coupled with the sharp knocking on the front door almost paralysed us with fear but worse was to come.

‘Achtung! Achtung! ’ a voice yelled as Dad opened the door; the three of us beating a hasty and terrified retreat to the bedroom, slamming the door behind us. We were frozen with fear. The Germans had managed to reach us all the way from Europe and were going to shoot us or bomb us or both.

There followed a rumpus in the hallway as Mum and Dad remonstrated with Tony for frightening us like that then laughter and shouts for us to come out of hiding. ‘It’s only Tony playing the giddy goat, ’ said our ever pragmatic mother. I remember very well what I would’ve liked to do to that giddy goat.

by Margaret Kollmer

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