Chapter 32: Goodbye to the Museum and another trip to Europe

There was the usual ‘farewell’ party on my last day in the Museum when the Board of Management and my helpers and most of the personnel of the Kaffrarian Museum came to bed me ‘Good bye’. Moreover, my disappointment was increased when my replacement found that the work was too much for him. He was one of those unfortunates who felt that everybody he meets is trying to do him down, that he must be on guard against the world, even those with whom he had to work. He was always ringing me up and warning me that this person or that, who was professed to be my friend, was actually working against me. He lasted only seven months and then had to resign because his health broke down. But meanwhile my secretary in the Museum had resigned because of him. Then I was asked to return to the museum until the Board could find another person to be curator, so for three happy weeks I resumed my work there, to the great delight of my friend Barry Rani. Then the Board found two ladies who could take up the positions of Curator (or Curatrix!) and Museum Secretary. They were both Anglicans and very much interested in mission work, so I thought that the Museum was in good hands. But when they had been there for only a month or two the Curatrix’s husband was transferred to some place up country, so of course she had to resign; and her friend did the same, as she would not work with anybody else.

Although my connection with the S.A. Missionary Museum was officially at an end I was still very interested in it. Thus I was very distressed when I received the news of the ‘forced’ resignation of my substitute, especially as the Museum was for a time kept locked, with a placard on the door to say that anyone who wished to inspect it should apply to the Kaffrarian Museum. This was, if I remember correctly, two streets and three blocks away, so I don’t think many people availed themselves of the invitation. Later, several people were tried as Curators but few of them lasted more than a month or two; for most of the time the Museum stood locked, aloof and lonely. Then, a few months ago (this is being written in April 1991) Brian Randles wrote to me to give me the welcome news that a retired Anglican priest and his wife who themselves had done much mission work had volunteered for the post and been accepted. This was very welcome news. I have sent to them a fairly big carton with many missionary letters, brochures, pictures, newspaper clippings, etc., from which they should be able to build up considerably the information in their files.

I should have mentioned that Mr Barry Rani stayed on in the Museum for several years after I had left it, but then had to resign as his eyesight had given in. Very soon after that he died. He had not only been a tremendous asset to the Museum but was one of the outstanding leaders in his community, to whom his death was a great loss. ‘We will remember him.’

Margery, Murray Helen and Mark having coffee somewhere in London

Margery, Murray, Helen and Mark having coffee somewhere in London

Meanwhile in 1983 Margery and I with our friends Mark and Helen Taylor made another trip overseas. The Taylors knew a certain travel agent in England who arranged things for us. This time we had to travel by air, as the century-old mail and passenger service by sea had ceased. We decided to travel by British Airways, as South African Airways were not allowed to travel directly to Europe over Africa but had to make a large detour over the sea, adding many hundreds of miles to the journey and thus many hours to its duration. For the first part of our flight, to Nairobi, the plane was fairly empty and, as we were flying in the night we could make ‘beds’ of the seats and try to sleep. But when we reached the Kenyan capital a horde of passengers boarded the plane and every seat was taken, so we were forced to sit upright on the seats, surrounded by other passengers. As most of them were smokers we were soon enveloped in cigarette– and pipe-smoke, which added to our discomfort. How we wished that we could still have made the journey in a comfortable ship, even if it added ten days to the journey! When at last we reached Heathrow we wished to be taken to London immediately, for it was raining and very cold, but the Taylor’s friend was nowhere in sight, so we had to more or less sit on our luggage and wait. After about 20 minutes he came, most apologetic about his lateness but explaining that he had been caught in thick mist and had had to slow down to almost walking pace. He quickly packed usand our luggage into his car and at last we were on our way to London.

Murray, Marge, Helen and Mark with the leaf vacuum cleaner in Regents Park

Murray, Marge, Helen and Mark with the leaf vacuum cleaner in Regents Park

He owned a block of flats in Hammersmith and had arranged for Margery and me to take one of these while Mark and Helen had one below ours, so we were all together.

On this trip we did not have Geff Keen to help as he had died some years before; nor did we have his niece Barbara Waugh to stay with as she had gone to live in British Columbia, where she is still. She is Principal of a school in Vancouver and often sends us calendars or photos depicting the beauty of the place. She would love it if I or any other of the family would join her, on a visit or permanently, and I would love to do so, but I can’t afford it and also could not withstand their winter weather, always snow-covered and with temperatures many degrees below zero!

The last page of the manuscript

The last page of the manuscript

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