Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mayhem in Mayfair

Being a poor area, the suburb of Mayfair attracted people of many different nationalities and many different social classes. Among my fellow school pupils there were children of German, Greek, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, English, Welsh, Croatian, Afrikaans and Lebanese origin. Some folk were financially comfortable (by Mayfair standards) while others were dirt poor (by any standards).
The Afrikaners were among the poorest and worked for the Railways or the Post Office, most often in menial, lowly paid jobs while the Lebanese (or “Lebs” as they were more commonly referred to) worked for themselves running shebeens, selling liquor after hours and weed at all hours. They also did a little illegal gambling on the side and were available as “muscle” to settle disputes. The following poem describes an incident to which I was witness aged about ten or eleven at the time.

Mayhem in Mayfair

That fateful Saturday in Mayfair was, to all purpose and intent
No different from any other that routinely came and then went
There was simply not an inkling of the violence that would come
To scar so many folks before this sad day was finally done
 
Two young girls played with their dolls beneath a poplar tree
Play that should have come to naught but that was not to be
For they began to wrangle as children frequently do
And in this act the makings of a feud began to brew
 
An older brother intervened and smacked the little friend
Who’s brother then came running, his sibling to defend
And thus it escalated with members from both clans
Trying to kill their neighbours with flailing boots and hands

One side sent for reinforcements that lived not far away
And were willing to defend their kin in just such an affray
Soon five cars screeched up and spewed out twenty men
Who stormed the Strydom semi and when they left again

The furniture was kindling, the people bruised and bleeding
Who knew that this was where a kiddies spat was leading?
The vanquished left soon after with no forwarding address
Perhaps it was simpler to move than to clean up the mess?

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