Barry didn’t do particularly well at school.
He had to study hard, but was lazy. He only excelled in the subjects where he enjoyed the interaction of his teacher at the time. The different subject choices were immaterial, he only chose the subjects that came with a pleasant teacher…
During his junior and senior schooling years he excelled in Mathematics, Afrikaans (2nd Language), History and Accountancy. He didn’t have much interest in biology, geography and English (1st Language) as he deemed the teachers to be boring. During his final year of schooling his abilities in Accounting were so highly developed he outshone all his classmates including the most brainy of them all Nigel. Nigel received book prizes for all the subjects, except for Accounting, where Barry took the prize.
Everyone thought that Barry was going to study to become a Chartered Accountant, as he even won awards and a bursary to do so. Unfortunately, South Africa was at war with itself and all young white men were conscripted to do military service. Barry was no exception, however he deemed that a two year stint in the armed forces would be such a waste of time, he consulted with others to weigh up his options. His best friend Gavin had decided to go to University and stay there as long as he could, and in doing such avoid the conscription and prepare himself for the life ahead. Barry’s foster parents were not interested, and stated that he could only attend University if he had a full scholarship, but that as a patriot he had to complete his military service. this was a dilemma.
During his final year at school he and his best friends were tasked to interview a famous poet or writer for their Afrikaans oral exam. Barry had the bright idea to interview the then Prime Minister of South Africa, John Vorster. (details of this encounter and subsequent interactions are dealt with in another chapter). Whilst he was at the Houses of Parliament he spoke to a senior policemen, who unbeknown to Barry was in charge of the protection of the Prime Minister. Barry told him how much he wanted to study to be a Chartered Accountant, alternatively if he couldn’t he wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. The wise old policemen looked at Barry and smiled…. he told him to consider joining the South African Police, and he stated that there were opportunities in the Police to further his studies and also to be a helicopter pilot. The old policemen told him that all of his training and studies would be free. Barry was sold, he was joining the South African Police where he will attend university and then become a helicopter pilot as well. Barry then went into the large office in the Houses of Parliament and met Prime Minister John Vorster. Barry, when asked by the Prime Minister what his future plans were, proudly replied that he was joining the Police Force, and the Prime Minister who had previously been the Minister of Police, beamed broadly. The ice was broken for a very congenial interview for the four boys.
Barry proudly told his foster parents that he was joining the Police at the end of his school year, as he will be studying at their expense and that he was joining a special unit that is tasked for protecting the State President and Prime Minister, as John Vorster had suggested he do. The foster parents were amazed, but pleased that Barry was going to serve his country, and that he was hobnobbing with the political elite.
It was a good day… Barry was to study and be a bodyguard … how exciting.
After the basic training of six months in the Police College in Pretoria, Barry signed up for the elite (or so he thought) Special Guard Unit, a select division tasked to protect the State President and Prime Minister. At the time, the cabinet ministers and their deputies did not enjoy selected protection services, as such benefits were only available to the highest offices of the country. To his amazement, there was no additional training required to protect these important people.
After a few months it became apparent that the exciting job was actually just a menial guarding job around a house or at a gate. The only training ever received in addition to the basic police training, was contained in three rules: Nobody is allowed to face the house when guarding it, one must escort the VIP’s when they take a stroll in the vast gardens, but a following distance of at least 150m had to be maintained in order for the VIP to expel flatulence in private and lastly when on gate duty, one had to salute smartly when the VIP’s traveled through the gates.
The commander of the SGU was a dynamic man, Lt Col Roy During. Barry was so impressed with this leader, that he even modeled his own signature similar to the Colonel’s. One day when visiting the guards on duty the Colonel asked Barry what his aspirations were, and Barry took the opportunity to blurt out he wanted to be a bodyguard and study further and then be a helicopter pilot. The Colonel, looked shocked, but smiled at the 18 year old young man in front of him.
A few days later Barry was summonsed report to the Colonel’s office immediately. Barry was wary, but hastened to get there swiftly. The Colonel waved him inside and closed the door. Barry was amazed at the physique of the Colonel, no wonder his name was Ysterbors (Iron chest), apparently he could do 200 chin ups in full uniform without breaking a sweat. Barry was nervous, and the Colonel asked him why he thought he could be a bodyguard , a student at Government expense as well as a helicopter pilot. He seemed amused, but was intrigued by this young man. Barry proceeded to tell him about the meeting at parliament and that the Colonel there had told him to follow that path.,
Colonel During scowled. He told Barry that he had been lied to and then explained how that Bodyguards in the Police had to be Commissioned Officers which took approximately 10 years before it could be materialized, and then they are selected by the President before they are appointed. He further told Barry that there was no University bursaries and the only policeman that went to University were undercover spies for the Security Branch, also only seasoned policemen and thirdly the helicopter pilots of the South African Police were actually seconded from the Air Force. Barry gasped in amazement, and suddenly regretted his decision. He could have taken the bursary he was offered and been studying at Cape Town University, in fact his first year would have almost been completed, he started shaking with anger. The man they called Ysterbors looked at him and empathized that he had been duped. He said he was going to report Colonel Mouton for lying to Barry. Barry then asked the Colonel not to, as he would be fine.
Barry went back to his room at the Police Barracks and sobbed privately for an hour. He hated being lied to. It was then that he made up his mind that he would write the material for a degree that others would have to follow to obtain a degree. He, Barry would have his own Degree. His naivety gave him solace.
Two years later Barry had attempted studying a B.Comm at the University of South Africa, but the various duties he performed prevented him from making the timelines for submissions in the correspondence course. The irony was that his two immediate superiors were studying their degrees, and had dumped their work on Barry, which prevented him from completing his degree. They both got their degrees and subsequent promotions…. Barry never did.
Over the ensuing years Barry kept his promise of self study with the purpose of gathering sufficient information to write the contents of a degree that students would follow. He collected a massive personal library of over 250 topical books and read them all. He had his books stored in his office and his small Barracks room. When doing inspections, the two “degreed” officers always took an interest in what topic Barry was reading at the time and made many friendly comments that he should have been a student. Barry smiled and grimaced inside.
Barry never got to study further formally,but as can be seen in another chapter, he became the only member of the Board of Directors of a large international company without formal education, but was treated as an equal. He often boasts this fact to academics, which he secretly admires and envies. He resigned himself to the fact that he would never be the academic he wanted to be, but he did become an instructor in many fields and has a passion for helping others grow their knowledge.
Barry could’ve become a fully fledged academic and even reached doctorate level, had he not been so naive and gullible. Today he lives in a dream world in terms of academia, and wishes things were different, but resigned himself to the fact it would never be. He tries to surround himself with academics, poets, and like-minded individuals to hide his failing as an academic.
Is this why the Universe led him to meet the Unique Academic.
A cruel twist to follow…