There are many songs written about silence which is a bit ironic when you think about it. Last night, after my weekly concert, Leonard Cohen it was, I listened to Simon & Garfunkel, the Sound of Silence. It struck me this morning that there are different ways of waking up. I always beat the alarm clock, these days in the form of a cell phone but what about you?
Did you wake up to children demanding attention? What about a husband or wife greeting you with the customary "morning Honey?" Perhaps you are one of those who wait for the maid to start the hoover before you reluctantly move your ass from bed. I would not know but I do frown on people sleeping late or is to be found in pyjamas after 8am. Personally, I would see that as a reason for divorce but that is me and as you know, I am often wrong. However I do know the sound of a hairdryer imitating a Mirage at full afterburner is enough to wake me instantly. I may even dive for cover (it happened before) and it is guaranteed to ruin my day (another reason for divorce). I don't even own a hair comb never mind a hairdryer. I mean just look at me and see the reason why.
I suppose it is the same as the smell of coffee early in the morning, or bacon and eggs. There is some magic about it. I know of many who would not begin their day without it. I know I would take a very dim view on anyone not offering me coffee the moment I arrive for a meeting, even cheapskate coffee extract would be nice. These days, being my own boss and old enough to be seen as eccentric I would ask if not offered. Yeah, you change through the years. Thirty years ago I would have suffered in silence.
But do you really change that much with the years? It struck me that I still have the same music taste I had at school. If I disliked the song then, habitually the underground ACDC type of crap, then I would dislike it now. At the same time, Neil Diamond (banned by my late wife as a demorat) is still the man. So I have to wonder, is that what is called boring? I remember at my current age my father was a grandfather and I know there are some, I met one or two, who reaches that state of affairs at 35. From then I usually run away, I cannot be seen with such old people!
And then you look in the mirror, you know the ones in clothing shops designed by an evil (and thin) engineer to show your extra fat (good living says I) and the age in your hair, being totally grey and mostly non-existent. The next sign is you hear about other widowers / widows of your own age though it must be said they were also cheated. It shows when you buy a car and the strength of the aircon is more important than speed but that was alas like that for me. We used to say you could recognise a Flying Squad driver from afar, not so much because of his drive style which is close to hooliganism in motion but his right arm. Yep, is would be sunburned as we had no aircon and the windows wide open.
From a crime prevention view that is not wrong...you hear a lot more when the windows are open. The passenger, or crew, as we called him and gave him the evil eye to understand his ranking order is lower than yours no matter what his rank, had a tanned left arm. The arm was always outside and tanning. That is what happens when you drive a right hand steering wheel car. We must have looked damn odd but so it was.
In those days, you needed to be colonel to rate aircon and we looked down on the civilians (we called them "hase" which translates to hares) as weaklings who did not quite understand that a bottle of Coke can defeat any heat. Perhaps we were jealous of their ice cold car interiors but I don't remember it like that. I remember them being very courteous and when foreigners, staring at our assault rifles. Well, it was usually aimed at their heads so they got the message on how close they were to death. We were not playing at cops & robbers...that was our way and the only way to survive the mean streets. But today, the idea of a 19 year old constable pointing an assault rifle at me fills me with dread. I would say he is too young and immature to even have access to such things and yet, we would have kicked your ass for saying that to us. Anyone older than 30 was to us ancient and above 45, well, they had their time and should really stop stealing oxygen and die in peace. I vaguely knew that they may felt different about such views.
This reminds me of that old country western song of Don Williams, "Amanda." "It's an awful awakenin,' In a country boy's life, To look in the mirror, In total surprise, At the hair on your shoulders, And the age in your eyes." Or Bruce Springsteen with "My Home Town" and I was 18 when that song first hit the airwaves. "I'm thirty-five we got a boy of our own now, Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around, This is your hometown." And now I am twelve years past thirty five and beginning to wonder if I will make 50. I am not scared of age though, every day is one day less and one day closer to where I want to be, with my wife.
I am sure we can mention a lot more than the above as we go down in memory lane. Every song brings its own unique memories. I remember Tina Turner and her "Simply the Best" as we drove with our Casspirs through the bushes and veldt searching for terrorists. We really believed that, we were the best and the statistics proved our claims. Then later years when Melissa came on the scene she would play "I am only me when I am with you" which played at our wedding. Yeah, the sounds of silence are something you have to fight against as you grow older. You need to keep your memories and to do that you need to live now, so you have memories later.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.