Magirus – The Story Of A Second-Class Citizen by Clive Hay is available now. This extract is published by permission.
We were blissfully unaware that our status was going to change from an army band playing for the PF’s, to a bona fide gig band in our own right. As far as we were concerned, we’d just won a competition. We had no idea that the people who had seen us perform that night were going to be asking us to do just about every gig in town.
It all started innocently enough with Hugh and I sitting in the duty office about five days after our triumph. Someone had phoned the base enquiring after us, and the call was put through directly to our office. The captain was still on his course and would be for the next few weeks. We has an NSM lieutenant in charge of us who was totally on our level, so as a result, Hugh and I had, for all intents and purposes, the run of the place.
“Transport 1:1, Private Hay speaking.” Heavy Afrikaans accent on the other end. “Hello, ya, we are having a dance this Saturday, and I was wondering whether we could book the band? I know we is taking a chance – you guys must be very busy.”
“Actually, we’ve had a cancellation this Saturday [lies] and we happen to be free, so we can do it.”
“Ag, fantastic man!! What do you guys charge?”
Long pause. “Um, er…” This was the first time we’d been asked that question. “R150 for four forty five minute sets.”
“Great! Can we book you?”
“Sure. Please give us your address and starting time.”
Wow! A paying gig!? Hugh and I were both excited, but flummoxed. How were we going to get there? What kind of permission did we need? Who did we ask for permission? The captain was not around! We had to think fast, so we went to our NSM loot and asked him. He cleared it with the major and we were good to go. The second problem of transport was cleared when we realised that we were part of the transport division and had the power to requisition vehicles from the vehicle pool for the whole camp. That Saturday we got ourselves a Bedford truck, loaded it up with all our gear, and after showering and getting dressed, we were on our way.
The gig went off without a hitch and we got back about 1am. As it was a Sunday the following day, we could sleep in a bit at least, which we happily did.
On the Monday, we had work to do! Hugh and I sat down and worked out how we were going to present our services to our prospective clients. After some discussion we agreed to offer the following services: For both bands combined we stuck with the R150 fee; for my seven-piece band we charged R120; for Vincent’s five piece we charged R100; and for a small combo of three, or the boereorkes, we charged R90. Very pleased with this outcome, we informed the others, who seemed quite happy with this arrangement. The camps 21C, Major Ferreira was then informed and it was decided, somewhat to our dismay, that half the proceeds for each gig would be kept in a slush fund by the camp. We expected to not see this money again. I was wrong…
Actually, life in the office without the captain around was very pleasant. We had pretty much the run of everything, and soon got used to being in a fair position of authority. Peachy! In fact, we got so used to calling the shots and running the show that when the captain returned I was at the forefront of his wrath and his bid to restamp his authority. Until he returned, however, we were almost a law unto ourselves.
In the meantime, I was trying to kick-start my romantic life. I was happily single until the night I met Sandra – now I wanted to be un-single. That first phone call is always nerve wracking. Mother was only to happy to hand the phone to her… It’s Clive…From Magirus…The army band, man!
My heart was in my mouth. “Hi, Sandra, it’s Clive. How are you?” And so on. Mystery girl, this one, I could never read her. I was hooked! I managed to wangle a visit on the Wednesday night. I was so nervous I decided to take Kevin with me for moral support, and because he had access to a vehicle and had an army driver’s license!