Ernie ‘Carruthers’ Alder – Nibble my ear

Umko Ernie John Oliver
Hugh Raw wrote in:
Hi Pete – I have a little anecdote about Ernie Alder.
He runs a tight ship – always has, even when in the HR department in charge of pension matters at Durban Municipality. He is to this day the stalwart of KCC race organisers. This is no doubt because he is a stickler for accuracy in all he does.
It was my cavalier approach to filling in race entry forms which brought me into direct conflict with this very direct man. I don’t know why it is but when the form requires answers to questions like SEX , I write Yes Please and under name of Medical Aid I write GOD.
The phone rang pretty quick after that, “You haven’t completed the entry form – you are not entered in the race yet,” growled Ernie in his “nice” voice. “What is your Medical Aid’s phone number – You got a Hot Line upstairs?”
So I supplied the missing info with lots of apologies and the phone went dead. On the morning of the race at Hella Hella start I cockily asked him if I could change my entry from a K2 to a K3. In those days a K3 was a nuisance and entry forms did not cater for them.
So I supplied all the extra info and with the help of Ernie and The Bearded One it was sorted out.
In front of the amused crowd Ernie said, “Nibble my ear”, leaning in closer to me.
“What for,” I spluttered .
“Just nibble my ear. I like a bit of passion when I’m being fucked around.”
Interview with Ernie Alder for The Umko 50 Years book;
We met at Circus Circus, Musgrave Centre on 6 Aug 2015
(draft version hand-written)The year ____ Bill Barron was the chairman.
The UMKO overnight campsite flooded – Rained out
Paddlers’ kit was left in the valley on Green’s farm.

Before he leaves the kit, Ernie parks the two kit trucks back-to-back with the doors against each other so they cannot be opened. He leaves the hired security guards there and drives out in his own 4X4 bakkie.
Some paddlers are desperate:
– My air tickets to Aussie and my passports are in my bags!
– My special keys to open the bank are in my bags!
((Query: A motorbike went in to fetch that urgent stuff???))) – IS THAT RIGHT?
Farmer Green goes in on horseback to give food to the guards.
Over a week later Green phones to say “You can come now”. Ernie, Charlie Mason and Roy Swingewood fetch. The wet kit is taken to KCC, locked up, only Ernie and Bill have keys.
All paddlers are always instructed to mark their kit clearly. And of course, they did like normal co-operative paddlers.
Ja, right!!
They sorted out the marked kit (a few bags). Then they went thru the huge mountainous pile of unmarked bags (HOW MANY PADDLERS?), opening and searching for ID (eg wallets) and then labelling bags and sorting them into piles judging on addresses found. One wallet has R7000 in it!
Pete Zietsman needs his bag urgently, so he comes in and helps. They spread it out on the KCC lawn to help in the search. The kit is starting to smell bad. The ‘Transvaal’ pile especially is smelling worse & worse.
Then the Transvaalie kit gets shipped behind the Boerewors Curtain by courier to Dabulamanzi club in JHB thanks to Daphne Hawarden’s connections. Ernie and Colin Mercer leave DBN at 11pm, drive to JHB to be at Dabulamanzi early. Paddlers have been notified to fetch their kit at Dabs club from 8am.
Paddlers find their kit, sign for it and leave. Some say thank you.
One bag has expensive camera equipment in it, fetched by the relieved owner. Another worried-looking owner claims the bag that Ernie knows has the fat wallet in it, so Ernie watches him. This paddler feverishly dives into his bag, finds his wallet, whips it open and counts. With a hugely relieved look he scurries off.
“Uh, excuse me!” calls Ernie.
“Get your bag?”
“Everything in it?”
“Wallet as you left it?”
“A thank you would be nice”
“Oh, thanks” he mutters.
“Our pleasure” says Ernie.
AND THEN they finally open a bag and find the source of the particularly bad smell:
Two huge raw, green Texan-size rump steaks!!

Once The Food Went Vrot!

The day before the 19 __ race Ernie fetched the food frozen in a huge pot. As it thawed it became obvious something had gone wrong (‘it went bloop!’) and replacement food was needed. At short notice. From his flat in Musgrave Road Ernie starts phoning. “I need food for ((300)) people, can you help?”
No. No. No.

Then the Royal Hotel said yes! “Can you have it ready by 2pm?” No, but they think they can do it by 3pm. Its finally ready at 5pm.
Ernie fetched it at the Royal in Bugsy Grant’s big Ford F250 truck, puts it next to the tents and tentpoles and sets off for the Umkomaas valley. On the way they’re stopped three times by police road blocks (‘dagga road blocks’). Each one wants to search this heavily-laden truck with its back wheels invisible under the loadbed and its headlights aimed at Venus. The last lot put sniffer dogs on it who get very excited at the thought of a meal from the Royal Hotel!
Thank goodness when they get to the Old Buck campsite the army truck Chris Greeff had arranged was there and their tents were being pitched (despite the troopie driving the truck having made an unauthorised detour to visit a chick he once met).

On the way back the slightly lighter truck hits tar and picks up speed only to disappear in a cloud of dust (this according to the driver of a following BMW). A loud bang had preceded a loss of control – right rear tyre burst. However, having Driven the Fastest Milk Cart – in the West, this was but a small challenge to our Ernie, Ernie, and he brought the F250 to a safe halt where the wide-eyed Bee Emm driver helped change the tyre.

Back at his Musgrave Road flat Ernie showered and changed into his paddling kit and drove to the start at Hella Hella.

YES, dear paddlers, remember who our oft-maligned and slandered officials are behind their official badges and uniforms: paddlers like you and me – except ones who do WAY more than you and me!!

So without a wink of sleep Ernie sets off from Hella Hella on Day One in his Accord with his “paddling captain” Greg ‘GT’ White sitting in front. This Day One just happens to be the longest-ever Day One of the Umko before or since: 75km (or longer – depends who you ask) all the way to Old Buck (or some other – depends who you ask) Rapid! Even Oscar said as he pulled in at the overnight stop that day “Never in my life have I sat on my arse for so long!”


Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

2 thoughts on “Ernie ‘Carruthers’ Alder – Nibble my ear”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s