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News from Mike Connolly (YG 1958)
16 May 2020
Below is a newsletter sent by Mike Connolly (YG 1958). If Old Scholars would like to contact Mike, we have a "Find Friends" service on the website (you need your log-in credentials to access this).

News from MIKE CONNOLLY (1951-58) – Cape Town, RSA

After some happy 28 years in the leafy suburb of Constantia, Maureen and I moved in August 2019 to Noordhoek Manor Retirement Village in Noordhoek – an attractive district to the south of Cape Town. There are just over 200 residents in the Village – a secure gated community with its own well-appointed clubhouse and frail-care facilities. Our small detached cottage has wonderful mountain and sea views and we have been very warmly welcomed.

In November 2018 we were delighted to host a visit from my former classmate, Richard Higgs, and his wife, Jo, with whom we have been in regular contact over the years and who spent a few days with us on their way back to the UK following a trip to Madagascar. They are keen birders and were happy to record many interesting sightings! I am a (bowls-playing) member of Western Province Cricket Club and I took Richard and Jo to show them over the wonderful Newlands Cricket Ground and the WPCC Members Stand. Naturally we reminisced about our cricketing exploits at FSSW - amazing how one recalls all the good performances and quietly forgets the not-so-good days...!

My modest keyboard-playing prowess led to my being invited (along with Maureen) to join a Sing-along Group at the Village and I am now their regular weekly accompanist. This activity also led to my being asked to take over the running of the Entertainment Committee, which I thoroughly enjoy (sadly put on hold because of the pandemic right now).

At Christmas 2019 we were visited by our daughter Maxine and her family whom we had not seen (other than on Skype) for about 2 years. Maxine is married to Everton Davis - formerly an excellent Harlequins and England “B” winger – and naturally I had some fun pulling his leg about SA’s World Cup win over England! They have 2 daughters: Phoebe (14) and Maia (11), both of whom are keen on dancing and cooking!

On 19 January 2020, I celebrated my 80th birthday with some special friends at a local wine farm. It is a particularly special date for our family as it is shared with our daughter Michele’s twins, Daniel and James (8)!

In early February 2020, Michele and her family -husband Larry and the twins plus elder brother, Michael (11) - spent a lovely fortnight with us – also after 2 year gap.

Then came March – and with it the pandemic....and the great majority of us in the Village were immediately classified as particularly vulnerable over 65’s. The SA “lock-down” followed shortly after the UK’s – and we are still very much holding our breaths. The medical facilities, whilst of extremely high standard, are in general relatively limited in availability to the less well-off majority of the SA population. And many of the poor live in very crowded accommodation with minimal facilities – what could be a recipe for disaster.

Though our current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is well-respected (and we are all so relieved that his predecessor, Zuma, was finally ousted after his disastrous term of office), unfortunately he does NOT yet have a team commanding the same respect. As I write this, at the beginning of May, the SA lock-down regulations have been slackened a little, but we are probably nowhere close to the eventual peak in infections.

Like everyone else, I am dearly missing my recreation activities – bowls, snooker, darts (!), cricket watching, etc – but we ARE very fortunate to be able to take very pleasant walks around the Village, with its spectacular views . On the other hand, of course, we have NO excuse for falling behind with jobs around the house, correspondence and general personal admin work - but still continue to do so!!

We watch the UK news programmes anxiously, fearing for the safety of our family and friends – but believe that the UK Government is doing its level best to get the Nation through the crisis. I do hope that, by the time you read this, our confidence will prove to have been justified – and that SA will duly follow suit.

I would close by wishing all my surviving classmates and other fellow 1951-58 scholars all the very best and hoping that there will one day be the opportunity to meet up with some of you once again to compare our experiences of what has been an amazing past 80 years – and, particularly, to be able to talk about how we all coped with 2020!

MIKE CONNOLLY
May 2020
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