Illicit and Innocent

Reading something posted today brought a flood of bright memories – I was transported back 30 odd years to a summer night in Franschhoek.

A small group of us girls are creeping down the wooden stairs of our hostel – stepping slowly,  holding our breath as we expect the old wood to creak and protest at every footfall.  Then past the closed door where our ancient house-mother sleeps, quietly-quietly opening the sash-window that leads onto the porch – one, two, then all of us are out – down the short drive and we’re FREE!

Keeping our voices and giggling on *whisper*, we meet up with a slightly larger group of boys from the hostel over the road – we’re mostly the English kids, the ‘weggooi kinders’ is what townsfolk call us, but tonight we’re like family.

I think I was one of the youngest at 13, Llewellyn the eldest at 17 and a range of kids in between.  On our first outing we may have put one of the matron’s HUGE bras on the Huguenot Monument statue.  The town reeled.  We never ever owned up.  I’m only sorry that we didn’t have a camera.

All of our excursions had the double-edged delight of being both illicit and innocent.  Illicit in that we were not allowed to be there, that we wandered through vineyards like the King of Siam eating dew-cooled grapes, that we smoked cigarettes and moaned about the system.  Innocent in that those were our most heinous crimes – we were chaste, and our biggest thrill was singing Leonard Cohen songs at the tops of our voices while looking down at the moonlit valley…. “so long, Mary-Anne, it’s time we began…”

J.Hart (2007)


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