In the days before tbV and Settlers of Catan, we had to find other ways to amuse ourselves, and most of those happened at a place called Highbury.
Located in Rustenberg Ave, just off Main Road in Rondebosch, Highbury was a Young Adults house run by Claremont Baptist church that housed a number of residents who rented rooms, as well as Dan and Heidi Truter who helped run the place. It is the place of much legend and many great memories and hopefully some of the residents and frequent visitors will come and add some stories in the comments section below.
i never officially lived there, but for a long time i was an honorary member and resident, simply by proxy.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Coffee, deep philosophical or theological conversations, pranks, laughs, shared meals, relationships, parties and repeat viewings of the Tom Hanks classic ‘Joe vs the Volcano’ were all a part of the rhythm of Highbury, but probably the highlight for me and countless others were the card games we played there.
In the days before Catan, Kucky Sahn, Dominion and Tzolk’in there were two types of games…
Card games and Yahtzee.
i think we probably started with Hearts and occasional games of Bridge and Yahtzee was always a great alternative… but it was when i introduced a game called Rage [from the makers of UNO] that everything changed.
Rage is a simple trick-bidding-and-chasing game [similar to Bridge] with a bit of a twist in that it has five action cards that can shake everything up. i was introduced to it when i was very young and then it kinda lived in the back of a cupboard somewhere until i rediscovered it and took it to Highbury and we started to play. With room for up to ten players, it was an excellent game to bring together the young adults that would frequent Highbury and it was where Dan and myself came up with our cunning ploy.
Picture this: 11.15pm and the 6 people who remain [all Highbury residents now except for me] have just finished up a game of Rage [which takes about 40 minutes to play a full game of] and are making the signs of getting up and going to bed. Dan looks at me with his devious Dan grin. I look around the table and say, “What’s the difference between 11.15 and 12?” and so we play “one more game”. At twelve o ‘clock Dan notes that the difference between then and 12.45 doesn’t seem to be such a huge chasm. And so it continues until we hear the birds tweeting and realise it’s now 5.15am, we’ve played all through the night, and some people have lectures or work in a couple of hours.
We would do that often and 2am Rage games at Highbury are definitely a life highlight of mine. Packed with banter and much laughter and repeat cups of coffee and occasionally ending up a Rhodes memorial or UCT Jammie steps with a flask of coffee to welcome in the new day. Those were good times.
TWO RED CARDS AND A NERVOUS MOM
Two stories that stand out in my memory:
# Rule number 1 of Rage is you ALWAYS have to play the colour that is led if you can. It’s the first and most important rule which i always stress a lot when i teach the game and which people always mess up on, because they panic with picture cards and trumps and other such things. But probably the best moment of it was when a guy called Andrew was meant to play a red card and he didn’t and then the next round he played a red card and we called him on it and his response was, “But I had two red cards.” So always play the colour if you can unless you have more than one of them and then you’re fine?
# A more hectic story and possibly just one of two times that our ‘What’s the difference between?’ strategy failed dramatically [the other when a bunch of guys had slept over at Highbury to attend the early morning Sunrise Easter service the following day and we played cards all night and then everyone overslept and missed it, which caused some mild trauma for some] was with a guy called Dave. Dave stayed with just his mom and he was not a regular at Highbury, but the one time he came and played and fell into the ‘What’s the difference?’ vacuum and suddenly it was 5am. On the other side of town it was 5am and Dave had not come home and his mom hadn’t know he was at Highbury and so had phoned all around and was about to start on police stations and hospitals. Fortunately for everyone, the hospital she picked to phone first happened to be the one that Andrew [of ‘But I’ve got two red cards’ fame] was working at as a nurse and somehow took the call and was able to direct her towards Highbury to be reunited with Dave. We didn’t see Dave at card nights for a while. [or maybe ever again?]
THE MAN WITH NO FACE AND THE MAN WITH ALMOST NO FINGER
The residents will have many more fun stories [many involving nudity cos apparently there was a lot of walking in on people accidentally while they were changing that went on during those years] but the last two that come to mind involve missing and almost missing body parts.
# i remember the first time we heard the R.E.M. song “Calling Jamaica” was at Highbury and how we’d sing it loudly and proudly around the games table until someone pointed out to us that the line was actually, “Call me when you try to wake her up” but to this day i typically fondly sing ‘Calling Jamaica’ in reminiscence. But a more classic blunder that happened was when Arrested Development was playing one of my favourite songs at the time, Mr Wendal and the line of the song goes, “I saw a man with no clothes, no money, no plate, Mr Wendal, that’s his name.” And i feel like it happened spontaneously, but the one time the song came on and Justin, Carolyn and myself were in the kitchen and as the line happened, Justin and i both decided to change the word ‘plate’ for ‘face’ so the man with “no clothes, no money, no face, Mr Wendal.” Then a short while later there is a line about Mr Wendal eating off the food we waste, and Carolyn bursts out, “But how can he eat when he has no face?” [cue much laughing and a never to be let forgotten story]
# the second story was less humorous, but was the time i almost sliced off a finger in a water fight. You know, like you do. So a water fight was happening and i believe that i was chasing Heather Rae with a glass of water and she ran up the stairs and at the bottom of the stairs i moved the glass forward in an i’m-going-to-spray-you-with-water fashion and the only problem was that the edge of the glass caught the edge of the stairs and so with much force in a forwards direction i drove shattering glass with a backwards momentum into my left hand middle finger. One hospital visit and a LOT of blood later, but fortunately not even a stitch needed [and so almost severed finger might have been a bit of a click bait] i was good to go, but i do believe we postponed the water fight to another day.
i am still really good friends with a bunch of people that were part of that time in my life which bears testimony to some strong relationships that were forged there. The last memory that comes to mind is the time i had a lecturer coming to the school where i was doing my prac teaching the following day to crit a lesson [one of the most important marks of the year] and i hadn’t prepared the maths lesson i was going to do and we had a 3 or 4am Highbury session and then i went home, planned the lesson, went to school and got the best mark for any crit lesson i ever taught. There really was no difference between 1.15 and 2am that night…
Good memories, good times, good friends. If you were someone who was ever a part of Highbury or have a story to share from your time there, please leave your mark in the comments section…